Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

I have two HUGE jars of these and I could not be more excited about it!

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

Ever since learning to pickle my own jalapenos and sweet dill cucumbers, I’ve had pickling on the brain. Every time I have a bunch of extra veggies, I think… hmm, can I pickle this? And since I make refrigerator pickles instead of properly preserving them by canning (which is still on my list of things to learn how to do), it is very easy and hassle-free, but will still last a very long time in the fridge.

Yum… perfect for snacking, for sandwiches, and my favorite… in a bloody mary!

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots are perfect for a bloody mary!

The first time I tried one of these bad boys was at Elizabeth’s in the bywater in New Orleans… only two blocks from where I lived. Best. Brunch. Ever. I am not kidding. If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, go here. Get the praline bacon (yes, I did just say praline bacon), and order a bloody mary- they are delicious, served at any time of day, and come with the best spicy pickled green bean you will ever have.

But, these are a pretty awesome substitute since I live 1,542 miles away from Elizabeth’s (yes, I did just google map that)

I don’t know if you know this, but we have an expert cocktail maker living in the house. Zach has perfected the old fashioned and Manhattan (both of which helped get us through the long, cold winter), makes a mean margarita for Mexican Mondays, and has now mastered an awesome bloody mary.* Between my cooking and his cocktails, we may have to start opening up our kitchen for business!

Back to the pickles. If you are missing one of the ingredients in the recipe, it’s OK- the most important things are the brine (vinegar, sugar, salt, and water), the cayenne pepper (for the spicy factor), and of course, the green beans. You don’t have to add carrots, but I did since I liked the pretty color combination and since I had them in my fridge already. This couldn’t be easier- simply put green beans and carrots in a jar, add spices, and pour hot brine over them. Done! 

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

*A word of caution: if you consume a bloody mary during the day you will likely need a nap afterward. Especially if you are me.

*Another word of caution: liquor contains a lot of sugar. Add this to the more obvious reasons why you should consume it in moderation. Many people who follow a strictly “real food” diet cut it all together- I’m more of an all things in moderation kind of girl, and I don’t believe in cutting anything completely out of my diet. I aim for 90-95% real, clean, unprocessed food so I can still enjoy things like cocktails, Reeses PB cups, and white pasta/bread every once in a while. For what is life without Reeses?! I do not want to find out.

Recipe below is for one, quart-sized mason jar. I doubled it since I had a whole pound of green beans to make two jars. Enjoy! 

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

You'll find these pickled green beans everywhere in New Orleans, especially in bloody marys! These are super easy, they pack a punch, and are great for snacking, for sandwiches, and of course, bloody marys.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 2 carrots, sliced into "green bean" size
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Fit as many green beans and carrots as you can into a jar, vertically.
  2. Add the garlic and bay leaf to the jar, using a chopstick or something similar to slide them down the sides of the jar.
  3. Add oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, celery seed, and peppercorns directly to the jar.
  4. Bring vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan to make a brine, stirring to make sure sugar and salt are dissolved.
  5. Pour brine over vegetables in jar, making sure to cover all the vegetables and fill to the top.
  6. Allow jar to cool, and keep in refrigerator for 6 months. These will taste best if you allow them to sit in the fridge at least overnight, and the flavor will intensify as time goes on.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/28/spicy-cajun-pickled-green-beans-and-carrots/

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Flounder and Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Pepper

I have been eating this at least once a week ever since I discovered the glory of fresh lemon pepper. I would hereby like to declare this as the Perfect Summer Meal. (Although I will definitely continue eating this all year round as well.)

 flounder and asparagus with fresh lemon pepper 3

Have you ever had the lemon pepper seasoning that comes in the spice aisle? Well, this is NOT that lemon pepper seasoning. I can’t believe I didn’t discover this sooner. It’s bright and citrusy without being too acidic, and adds HUGE, healthy flavor to an otherwise bland filet of fish and plain veggies. The result is a very healthy, light meal that you will want to eat every. single. day.

Here is the magical equation for all your fresh lemon pepper needs:

lemon zest + cracked pepper + olive oil + salt + garlic = fresh lemon pepper

The proportions of the ingredients are flexible; I provided measurements in the recipe below but if you just estimate, you really can’t go wrong. I used flounder and asparagus, but you can use any fish or vegetable you want here- cod, salmon, tilapia… zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, etc. Or, with chicken! It’s a great way to buy whatever is on sale or in season to keep an otherwise “fancy” dinner within your budget. I really should have just titled this post “Whatever You Want to Cook with Fresh Lemon Pepper.”

Another awesome thing about this meal- you use only one skillet (!!!) for the entire meal, which makes clean-up a breeze. I’ve been using my Calphalon nonstick skillet a lot lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cast iron skillet, and it will always be my favorite, but it’s just so heavy and it’s so hot outside. And, for light dishes like fish and veggies without a lot of natural fats, a non-stick skillet works really well without the fear of burning or sticking.

The asparagus (or whatever veggie you are using) is sauteed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and just a little bit of the lemon pepper seasoning in the skillet. No need to get a bowl dirty- just mix it up right in the skillet! As the veggies are cooking, rinse the fish and pat dry (rinsing in cold water will help dilute any unpleasant “fishy” taste, while patting dry will ensure the fish browns properly and the lemon pepper sticks to it), then coat with the rest of the lemon pepper seasoning on both sides. When the veggies are done, just transfer them to plates and cook the fish in the same skillet. Fish cooks extremely quickly, and with only a couple of minutes on each side, the veggies will still be nice and warm when you serve the meal.

Now, how easy is that? (Uh oh, I think I’ve been watching too much Barefoot Contessa on my summer vacation…)

flounder and asparagus with fresh lemon pepper 1

The lemon pepper can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for about a week until you are ready to use it, but even if you wait to make the entire dish all at once, it should not take more than 30 minutes.

Here’s the thing about lemon pepper- you use only the lemon zest. This leaves you with a lot of zest-less lemons. But you know what they say… when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Or… make avgolemono! Or… clean your cutting boards, brighten the metal on your sink and shower, or clean your dish disposal (or any of the other suggestions listed here). I chose the former to have with our meal- just mix the juice of the three lemons you have already zested with 1/2 cup sugar and 5 cups of water! Boom. Lemonade.

Hope you enjoy this Perfect Summer Meal as much as we did!

Flounder and Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Pepper

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Flounder and Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Pepper

Bright and citrusy without being too acidic, fresh lemon pepper will brighten up fish, vegetables, chicken, or other dishes! With flounder and asparagus, it is the PERFECT light, healthy summer meal.

Ingredients

  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 more for sauteing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. flounder, rinsed and patted dry (or other fish)
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed (or other vegetable)
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine lemon zest, pepper, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt to taste in a small bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add asparagus, salt and pepper to taste, and a small spoonful of the lemon pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon) to the skillet. Stir to coat, and saute until browned and cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, while asparagus is cooking, coat the fish with the rest of the lemon pepper evenly on both sides.
  4. When asparagus is cooked (after approximately 10 minutes), remove to plates to serve.
  5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet and place the fish in the skillet.
  6. After 2 minutes, flip fish to the other side.
  7. After about 2 more minutes, the fish should be cooked through (if it flakes easily with a fork, it is done). Remove to plates with the asparagus and serve with lemon wedges if desired.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/23/flounder-and-asparagus-with-fresh-lemon-pepper/

 

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Lightened-up Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Whoa.

Did I just discover the holy grail of Eggplant Parmesan? Methinks yes.

eggplant parmesan stacks 1

I love eggplant parmesan. And chicken parmesan. And [fill in the blank] parmesan (even veal, which I tried once, before I decided that I never wanted to eat baby animals again). It’s basically guaranteed to be good even at a so-so restaurant, but homemade… well, you can’t beat that.

[fill in the blank] parmesan can be somewhat complicated to make, because traditionally it involves breading and frying the [fill in the blank] part, THEN layering it with delicious sauce and cheeses, THEN baking it. It generally creates a huge mess and is fairly time consuming, regardless of how delicious it is. It can also be fairly heavy due to the frying, leaving you full of regrets, lying on the couch unable to move (no? Just me? OK then).

So tonight, I tried something different. Inspired by a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Meatless (one of my favorite cookbooks), I made individual eggplant parmesan stacks and sauteed the eggplant pieces with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, rather than breading and frying them. Then, I simply stacked with sauce, cheese, and basil, and baked! Delicious! And since I had a bunch of marinara sauce already made, the whole process only took about 25 minutes (besides the optional way I prepped the eggplant- see note below) and I barely broke a sweat (partly because the weather has cooled off substantially, but also because it was very easy).

eggplant parmesan stacks steps

And, since Zach is still out of town (WAHHHHH, again), it was incredibly easy to make this meal for just me tonight (especially since I went grocery shopping after my last post). I made two stacks and it was more than enough. If I had paired it with a side salad or pasta, one would have been plenty for dinner (recipe below is for four stacks, which feeds two or four people depending on how hungry they are). Despite the stacks’ small size and their light ingredients, the richness of the eggplant and the combination of flavors and fresh cheeses makes this a very satisfying, hearty meal.

eggplant parmesan stacks 2

I know what you are thinking right now, and why yes, I DID make that gorgeous loaf of homemade whole wheat bread in the background! I am experimenting with making a hassle-free whole-wheat bread from scratch and will post results in the near future. But if I am being honest, as pretty as it looks, it came out a bit dense. I have some tweaking to do before I post a recipe. Even so, this fresh bread was delicious with olive oil bread dip on the side!

Recipe and how to prep the eggplant below- enjoy! :-)

Optional eggplant-prep: Eggplant can sometimes be a little bit bitter and cause a bit of indigestion if not cooked thoroughly and prepared properly. In addition to cooking it thoroughly, one other easy thing can be done in advance to reduce the bitterness, if you have time. About a half an hour to an hour before cooking, slice the eggplant, salt it, and place it upright in a colander with a clean towel underneath, or in the sink. The bitter liquid in the eggplant will be drawn out by the salt and drip through the colander, almost like it is sweating (I apologize for the somewhat unappetizing comparison). After 1/2 to 1 hour, remove the eggplant and blot dry with a clean towel. Not only will the eggplant be less bitter and more easily digestible, but it will brown more effectively when sautéing because it is dry! Again, this step is not vital, but whenever you cook eggplant it is a good idea to do this if you have time (kind of like how soaking beans is way better than not soaking beans before you cook them- but it’s not necessary!).

eggplant parmesan stacks salting

 

Lightened-up Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 stacks

Lightened-up Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

These eggplant parmesan stacks are a lighter, quicker version of traditional eggplant parmesan. Eggplant is sauteed in olive oil, then stacked with sauce, cheese, and basil, and baked! Delicious, fresh, and super easy.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices of eggplant, approximately 1/4 inch thick (about 1 large or 2 small eggplants)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup julienne-cut fresh basil
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. (optional): at least 1/2 hour before cooking, sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices, place upright in a colander on a clean towel or in the sink, and allow the liquid to be drawn from the eggplant slices and drain. Blot slices dry with a clean towel.
  2. Season eggplant slices with pepper (and salt, if skipping optional first step) and saute for approximately 2 minutes on each side in a large skillet on medium-high heat in olive oil. Set on paper towel to drain.
  3. On a parchment-covered or greased baking sheet, arrange four slices of eggplant.
  4. Top each slice of eggplant with a spoonful of tomato sauce, a small piece of mozzarella cheese, approximately a tablespoon of parmesan cheese, and a pinch of the fresh basil.
  5. Repeat the layers two more times, omitting the basil on the last layer.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted (this doesn't take long because all the ingredients are already cooked and the eggplant is warm!)
  7. After removing from oven, add remaining basil on top of each stack (this is added after baking so it doesn't dry up or burn)
  8. Serve with a little bit of crushed red pepper and some fresh cracked black pepper on top, if desired.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/17/lightened-up-eggplant-parmesan-stacks/

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Veggie Burger Hash Browns

OK please don’t run away because you just saw that title and are sitting there wondering… “huh?” I am not crazy (promise), and this is seriously delicious. It’s like the vegetarian (vegan, depending on the veggie burger) version of corned beef hash! This meal is completely a result of my fridge and cabinets being almost bare aside from one leftover veggie burger, one potato, a half of an avocado, and one egg. And for some reason, about 387 onions*.

veggie burger hash browns 2

About a month ago I made wild rice and black bean burgers, and froze the leftovers in pairs in the freezer. I took out one pair and had one of them for dinner last night (Zach is away until Friday in Chicago {WAHHH} so I’ve been having to cook for one) and came up with this weird genius idea today when I was all alone looking at my sad little potato, 387 onions*, and the remaining veggie burger.

veggie burger hash browns 1

So I made hash browns, with the veggie burger crumbled in! Sooo yummy! I topped mine with a poached egg and sliced avocado, with fresh cracked pepper. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this meal is quick, easy, VERY healthy, and very budget-friendly. All good things.

veggie burger hash browns 3

This is an awesome way to use up leftover veggie burgers and to use them for a reason other than their intended purpose.  You can use any veggie burger you want (I used my black bean ones, but mushroom, chickpea, or any other kind would work as well), and I imagine that you can use zucchini fritters, or any other leftover food in patty form- like salmon croquettes or even a regular ol’ burger.

Now I really do need to go grocery shopping. Unless I can make a meal out of 386.5 onions*.

Enjoy!

*I actually only have 5 onions. I was exaggerating.

Veggie Burger Hash Browns

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Veggie Burger Hash Browns

Like the vegetarian version of corned beef hash- an awesome way to use up leftover veggie burgers or fritters! Delicious, cheap, quick, and easy. Top with a poached egg and/or avocado for a complete meal.

Ingredients

  • For hash browns:
  • 1 veggie burger, crumbled
  • 1 small potato, grated
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Extras:
  • poached or fried egg(s) and avocado to top hash browns (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients for hash browns in a small mixing bowl. Stir to incorporate olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet on high and add hash brown mixture, flattening with a spatula.
  3. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes to brown.
  4. Flip around the contents to brown as much as possible on all sides.
  5. Top with a poached or fried egg and sliced avocado, if desired.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/15/veggie-burger-hash-browns/

 

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Easy Taco Salad

Ever make tacos or burritos and have leftovers of all the different parts? Beans, cheese, lettuce, tortillas… well, this salad is a result of all of the leftovers from making burritos with my family, and using the leftovers to make a delicious Big Ol’ Salad (BOS). It’s a throw-everything-in-a-bowl kind of meal, topped with a simple dressing of sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce. Yum!

Easy Taco Salad 3

I can’t NOT talk about the delicious burritos we made, and will post about them in more detail sometime in the near future. My sister and her boyfriend have been in town for the past week (they live in San Francisco… so far away!) and so I planned a lunch for them, my father, and his wife of “make your own burritos.” Zach and I worked on prepping the different ingredients beforehand- I marinated the smoky Mexican chicken, we chopped a bunch of lettuce, grated cheese, etc. 

When it came time to eat, we loaded up whole wheat wraps with cilantro lime rice, the chicken, peppers and onions, beans, and other toppings. But, the cheese and the lettuce were forgotten in the fridge!! So the next day we decided to make a taco salad to use up these and the rest of the burrito ingredients.

Easy Taco Salad 2 You can throw whatever you want in a salad like this. We used iceberg lettuce as a base- normally, I don’t use iceberg because it doesn’t have as many awesome nutrients as a darker green, like spinach. But it does have an amazing cool crunch that’s perfectly paired with the other spicy Mexican ingredients, so I use it in tacos frequently. We added beans, shredded cheese, diced avocado, and tortilla strips (we made our own by frying some sliced corn tortillas in a cast iron skillet and topping with salt), and topped with a simple creamy, spicy dressing. 

Sadly, we had eaten all the smoky Mexican chicken in the burritos, as well as the sauteed peppers and onions, which would have been delicious in this salad as well. 

Easy Taco Salad 1

Next time I make this, it’s not just going to be from leftovers. I’m going to buy all the ingredients specifically for this salad and make enough to last me all week! It’s that good. Oooo and I think this would be amazing as a wrap as well. Yup, definitely trying that soon. Hope you enjoy this as an easy, delicious way to use up all those delicious Mexican food ingredients!

 

Easy Taco Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Easy Taco Salad

This salad is an easy combination of all your leftovers from taco night, topped with fresh tortilla strips and a simple, creamy, spicy dressing. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 1 can (or 1.5 cups) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 4 oz. monterey jack cheese (or cheddar cheese), shredded
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • a few dashes of hot sauce
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: any other ingredients you would use for tacos or burritos, such as chicken or beef, sauteed peppers and onions, etc.

Instructions

  1. To make tortilla strips: Slice corn tortillas into strips. In a cast iron or other large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and add strips, monitoring carefully so they don't burn. Toss to flip over once in a while, and after a few minutes, remove to a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Meanwhile, combine lettuce, beans, avocados, and cheese (and any other ingredients) in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. To make the dressing: Combine sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper, and hot sauce (I used about a teaspoon) to taste in a small bowl.
  4. Serve lettuce mixture topped with tortilla strips and drizzled with the dressing. Add more hot sauce if desired.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/13/easy-taco-salad/

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Pappardelle with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Marinara

We seem to be eating Italian food at least three times a week lately (something about summer just really makes you want pasta, if you ask me), so I always make sure my freezer is stocked with homemade marinara sauce. But I just ran out! Ahhhh! So, I’m sitting here making a double batch of it to restock my freezer until the apocalypse happens (or, until a few weeks from now). While it’s cooking, I’ll share with you the last thing I made with the previous batch: a super easy, super quick pappardelle with zucchini and mushrooms. 

pappardelle with zucchini mushroom and marainara 3

This is seriously delicious. And I’m serious, it’s SUPER easy and quick. It’s all the things I love in a home-cooked meal: cheap, fast, healthy, and tasty!

The entire dish, start to finish, takes about 20 minutes. As the pasta is boiling, just saute some chopped zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic in olive oil with salt and pepper for a few minutes, then add marinara sauce and heat up. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and you’re done!

pappardelle with zucchini mushroom and marainara 2

What sautéing mushrooms, zucchini, and other “watery” vegetables, it’s a good idea to give them a stir and let them sit for a few minutes without touching them. This will allow the water to release and evaporate, causing the vegetables to brown, rather than remain soggy. 

Confession: I did not use whole wheat pasta for this (GASP!). OK but Trader Joe’s has this amazing egg pappardelle pasta that is just soooo delicious. And $2! And yes, I am aware that I talk about Trader Joe’s a lot. I would like to remind you that I am a girl who loves healthy food and bargains. Which is what Trader Joe’s is all about. The good news: If you want whole wheat pappardelle pasta (which, by the way, is like a delicious, thicker fettucini), you can get it on amazon! Of course, you can just use spaghetti or fettucini instead of pappardelle if you want to. I promise it will be just as tasty. 

pappardelle with zucchini mushroom and marainara 1

When you add the pasta to the sauce, add it just after draining. There will still be some starchy pasta water attached to the noodles, making the sauce stick a little better. Serve with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper (omit the cheese for a vegan option)

Seriously… easiest thing ever. This is definitely going to become a staple for quick and easy weeknight dinners! Hope you enjoy :-)

Pappardelle with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Marinara

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Pappardelle with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Marinara

A super quick and easy meal for a busy weeknight- just saute zucchini and mushrooms, add marinara sauce, and add cooked pasta! A healthy, tasty, cheap vegetarian meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz. pappardelle pasta (or fettucini or spaghetti)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • olive oil
  • salt and papper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Boil pasta according to directions.
  2. Meanwhile, Saute mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a large skillet. After stirring initially, allow to sit undisturbed to allow the water from the vegetables to evaporate so the vegetables brown. (approximately 5 minutes)
  3. Add marinara sauce to vegetables, stir, and allow to heat up.
  4. Drain pasta and add to sauce and stir.
  5. Serve with parmesan cheese and extra pepper.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/08/pappardelle-with-zucchini-mushrooms-and-marinara/
 

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Mixed Greens Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

In a classic case of “let’s use anything I have in my fridge to make a delicious salad,” and “hmmm what am I going to do with the 437 peaches I bought from Trader Joe’s because they were cheap?”, this is what I came up with.

Greens, peaches, goat cheese, and walnuts tossed together and topped with Brianna’s poppy seed dressing:

Mixed Greens Salad with Peaches Goat Cheese and Walnuts 1

Holy moly. DEFINITELY making this again! It’s refreshing, light, and has a great balance of savory and sweet. Mmm.

Goat cheese pairs so well with fruit- the tartness from the goat’s milk with the sweetness of apples, dried cranberries, or figs is amazing. Sometimes as a snack, I will have goat cheese and jam on crackers. So I thought, peaches… why not? 

Mixed Greens Salad with Peaches Goat Cheese and Walnuts 2

In general, homemade dressings are far healthier than bottled. So… many… additives. Briana’s is an all-natural brand, but it still uses some refined oils (canola) and sugar. If you make your own poppy seed dressing at home, try to use olive or another unrefined oil, and honey instead of sugar. Hm. I should add this to my list o’ things to make! In the meantime, here are some yummy-looking made-from-scratch poppy seed dressings (and some salads to go with them- lots of fruit gets paired with poppy seed dressing!):

Mixed Greens Salad with Peaches Goat Cheese and Walnuts 3

I still have tons of peaches. And blueberries (the muffins didn’t quite finish them off). I see a blueberry peach cobbler in my very near future (as in, I am going to go start making it right now. No time to waste! Peaches too ripe!!!!! Ah, the stressors of summer vacation.)

Enjoy!

Mixed Greens Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Mixed Greens Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

Fresh sweet summer peaches pair very well with tart goat cheese. Add crunchy walnuts and some greens to the mix with poppy seed dressing and you have a delicious, healthy summer salad!

Ingredients

  • For each salad:
  • 1 cup packed mixed greens
  • 1/2 peach, diced
  • 1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled into large crumbles
  • 1/8 cup walnuts, chopped
  • poppy seed dressing

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and drizzle with dressing! Um... yup... that's about it! :-)
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/05/mixed-greens-salad-with-peaches-goat-cheese-and-walnuts/

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Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins (made with 100% whole grains and honey)

If you read my blog, you know that sometimes, when Trader Joe’s has produce in bulk for a really good price, I buy it. Then, I am stuck with tons of produce wondering, “what in tarnation am I going to do with all this?”

This is the burden I have to bear as a girl who loves both food and bargains.

So now I find myself with a surplus of blueberries and peaches. Last time I had a bunch of blueberries, I made mini blueberry scones… yummm. But, those were made with processed ingredients, including white flour and sugar. I set out on a quest to make something 100% whole grain, with coconut oil instead of butter, and sweetened only with honey.

And so, banana blueberry oat muffins were born! 

banana blueberry oat muffins 1

It’s a good thing I bought blueberries in bulk because it took me several attempts to get this right. Baking with whole grains is much different than baking with all-purpose flour. For one thing, whole grain baked goods can come out fairly dense. I have found that the biggest thing that helps avoid this is to not over-mix the batter. When you hear cooks on TV saying “stir until just combined,” they mean it. The more you mix, the denser it will be. So when you add the flour and oats to the wet ingredients, make sure you only just combine it, and then gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

banana blueberry oat muffins 2

A note about over-ripe bananas: please, please, whenever you have bananas about to go bad, don’t throw them out! Put them in your freezer until you want to use them for muffins, bread, or  banana chia seed pancakes. Freeze them whole, and when you need to use them, microwave for 45 seconds and remove the fruit from the peel. The peel will turn black and look unappetizing, but the inside is soft, sweet, and perfect for baking.

While we are on the subject of freezers, these muffins can be frozen for up to 6 months in an airtight container or bag. When you want one, simply remove from the freezer and microwave for 30 seconds to one minute for a quick and easy breakfast.

banana blueberry oat muffins 3

To serve, I recommend cutting the muffin in half, spreading butter on it, and grilling cut-side down for a couple of minutes in a cast iron skillet. Hey, there has to be butter somewhere, right? The result will be a toasty, buttery, crunchy outside with a soft, warm inside. Yum, I think I will go make one right now! Of course, they are delicious on their own as well :-)

Now I have to think of something to do with those peaches… peach cobbler? Any other ideas?

Banana Blueberry Muffins (made with whole wheat flour and honey)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Banana Blueberry Muffins (made with whole wheat flour and honey)

Made with 100% whole grains, no processed sugar, and coconut oil instead of butter! These muffins are hearty, healthy, and delicious, and freezable for a quick and easy breakfast any day of the week.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripened mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (regular will be fine, too)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1-2 cups fresh blueberries (or other berry)
  • Turbinado sugar for tops of muffins, if desired

Instructions

  1. Add coconut oil and honey to large mixing bowl. If coconut oil is solid, microwave for 15-20 seconds, until honey and oil are softened.
  2. Cream together with a mixer on high speed.
  3. Add egg and yogurt or sour cream, cream together.
  4. Add bananas, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt, and mix until well combined.
  5. Add flour and oats- stir until just combined.
  6. Fold berries in to mixture.
  7. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners; fill with mixture.
  8. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar (optional)
  9. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/03/banana-blueberry-oat-muffins/

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Roasted Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad with Garlic Toasts

Do you know what Burrata is?

It’s OK if you don’t. I only just found out about it a couple years ago. But seriously… BEST. THING. EVER. If you like fresh mozzarella (who doesn’t?), you will LOVE burrata. It’s a ball of fresh mozzarella filled with a mixture of fresh mozzarella and fresh cream. Yup, you heard that right. It’s the creamiest, most delicious cheese you will EVER taste. (Well, at least one of them- there are just too many delicious cheeses in the world to narrow it down to the “most” delicious, if you ask me.)

roasted tomato and burrata caprese salad 4

The only time we’ve had it is at fancy Italian restaurants as a special treat; as an appetizer, the dish can cost between $10-15 (not cheap). So when I found burrata at Trader Joe’s for only $4.99 for 8oz. (!!!), I was sold (as was the burrata). Two roasted tomatoes and some fresh basil later, we had ourselves a delicious, restaurant-quality dish for only about $4 total!

As a food lover, being on a budget can be difficult. So, Zach and I will frequently have “fancy” homemade dinners if we have some extra time and if we can’t squeeze going out to eat into our budget for the month. If you are looking for a quick and easy Caprese salad recipe, try my spicy Caprese salad. If you have a little extra time and are craving a little extra fancy, try roasting the tomatoes and making easy garlic toasts to go along with it (with burrata or with other fresh mozzarella).

roasted tomato and burrata caprese salad 2

I roasted the tomatoes just like I roast any other vegetable- with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I threw in a little Italian seasoning as well (basil, oregano, and thyme) and cooked them under my broiler on a baking sheet for a little while instead of in an oven (to cut down on time and to keep my kitchen a bit cooler in my non-air conditioned apartment). Roasting tomatoes brings out a deeper, richer flavor and cuts down on acidity, and makes them soft and spreadable.

roasted tomatoes

To make the garlic toasts, drizzle a little olive oil on some good bread and place under the broiler oil-side up after the tomatoes are done. After a couple of minutes or when they are toasted sufficiently, remove from the oven and cut a garlic clove in half. Rub the cut side of the garlic on the toasted bread. Done! This is an easy technique to make quick toasts to have with bruschetta, avocado salsa, or as a side to your favorite soup (I made them with split pea soup and it was scrumptious!).

roasted tomato and burrata caprese salad 1

To serve, arrange burrata on a platter and roasted tomatoes next to it. Sprinkle the whole thing with roughly chopped basil and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. This is an awesome appetizer to make for a party.

Best part? I only used half of the burrata, so I have a whole other one just waiting for me in the fridge right now! I forsee this happening again later this week. Or maybe in a couple hours. Yum times a million!

Roasted Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad with Garlic Toasts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Roasted Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad with Garlic Toasts

You don't need to go to an Italian restaurant to enjoy this decadent Caprese salad! Burrata (a cream-filled fresh mozzarella) is paired with roasted tomatoes and served with garlic toast for a rich, delicious appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 4oz. burrata (or fresh mozzarella)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped basil
  • 10 small slices of bread (I used whole wheat Tuscan pane)
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • optional: Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, and thyme)

Instructions

  1. Cut tomatoes into wedges. In a small bowl, mix tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add Italian seasonings if you want.
  2. Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler on high for about 5 minutes (or, roast in a 450 oven for about 10 minutes), or until starting to get black edges.
  3. Remove tomatoes from oven.
  4. Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil and place in the broiler for only about 3 minutes (or in a 450 oven for about 6-7), or until toasted.
  5. Remove bread from oven and rub with cut side of garlic clove.
  6. Arrange burrata and tomatoes on a platter; sprinkle with chopped basil and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  7. To eat, spread a small amount of burrata, a roasted tomato, and basil on each garlic toast.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/01/roasted-tomato-and-burrata-caprese-salad/

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Mixed Greens Salad with Egg, Avocado, and Creamy Lemon-Dill Dressing

Our fridge is barrreeee right now. After a dinner last night with Zach’s parents of “let’s eat every single leftover we have for a giant smorgasbord,” we were left with almost nothing. With no plans to go grocery shopping in the very near future, and not wanting to spend money going out to eat, an epic journey of discovery and imagination ensued to fashion lunch today.

OK, fine, it wasn’t that epic. Maybe I am being a bit dramatic. But, I am proud of myself for being creative.

And so, we had a BOS (Big Ol’ Salad) for lunch! Greens with hard-boiled eggs and sliced avocado, with a creamy lemon-dill dressing. All made with ingredients I happened to have leftover from other meals I made this week. I will definitely be making this again. Yum yum yum.

mixed greens salad with egg and avocado 3

As some of you who read my sriracha deviled eggs post know, I am a self-proclaimed horrible egg peeler. Well, not anymore! I have discovered, with the help of several comments from that post (thanks, Sandra and Cindy!) a way to make PERFECT hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel.

  1. Set eggs out on the counter to bring up closer to room temperature. Meanwhile, bring water and a few drops of olive oil to a boil (don’t ask me how the olive oil works, since the eggs are in SHELLS… I was skeptical as well but it works! Mind = blown.)
  2. Carefully with a slotted spoon, add eggs to boiling water.
  3. Boil for 18-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow eggs to rotate, thus centering the yolk more (a handy trick I got from my trusty Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book… a great book for lots of basic tips and fun vintage rhymes and pictures).
  4. Don’t allow to boil TOO rapidly or the eggs may crack… although, one of mine cracked slightly and it still remained intact. (Maybe the olive oil helped keep the egg white from escaping? Who knows. Magic.)
  5. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice bath. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes until the eggs are cold. Peel under running cold water.

Yayyyy! Now the next thing I have to master is baking a TASTY whole wheat bread from scratch (keyword=tasty. Any suggestions, folks?). That’s next week’s project. Moving on to the salad…

mixed greens salad with egg and avocado 4

The dressing was very easy to make and very tasty. The base I used was dill and lemon, but you can use any combination of herbs you want (which makes this a great way to use up fresh herbs that would otherwise go to waste), and you can replace the lemon juice with white or red wine vinegar, making it very versatile. It reminded me of an easier version of my homemade ranch dressing.

I added chopped dill, sour cream (Greek yogurt can be used as well), lemon juice, and salt and pepper to my Pyrex 2-Cup Measuring Cup (a great way to measure all the ingredients to a dressing without getting all your cup measures AND a bowl dirty- just make it right in the measuring cup!) and after stirring together, I added just a couple of tablespoons of whole milk to thin it out. 

 

mixed greens salad with egg and avocado 2

Just layer mixed greens, sliced hard-boiled egg (if you don’t have an egg slicer, it’s a handy kitchen tool!), and sliced avocado, and drizzle lemon-dill dressing on top.

Best BOS ever!

Mixed Green Salad with Egg, Avocado, and Creamy Lemon-Dill Dressing

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Mixed Green Salad with Egg, Avocado, and Creamy Lemon-Dill Dressing

A refreshing, filling, and flavorful salad with a simple homemade dressing. Great to take to work for a healthy, satisfying lunch-on-the-go!

Ingredients

  • For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or buttermilk to thin dressing out (optional)
  • For each salad:
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

Instructions

  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in bowl, jar, or 2-cup measuring cup. Mix well, and adjust seasonings if desired.
  2. Layer greens, eggs, and avocado in a bowl or on a plate.
  3. Drizzle with dressing.
  4. Save leftover dressing in an airtight container for about one week.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/06/28/mixed-greens-salad-with-egg-avocado-and-creamy-lemon-dill-dressing/

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