Colorful Caprese Salad

MMMMM…Summer. I have been enjoying the sun and reading and most of all cooking. Most people in San Diego do not have AC, which usually isn’t too much of a problem until your apartment is 83+ degrees inside. That makes turning on the oven a huge turn off, which brings me to summer salads. Cool, flavorful, refreshing and filling are all found in this summer salad. Normal caprese salad consists of basil, garlic, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I added some beautiful mini sweet peppers and it was delicious!

 

Ingredients:

6-8 Mini Sweet Peppers

1/3-1/2 c Mozzarella Pearls (little balls of mozzarella)

3-4 Large Leaves of Basil

5-6 Cherry Tomatoes

2-3 Cloves of Garlic

Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: Thinly slice the sweet peppers and basil. Cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters and mince the garlic. Add all the ingredients in a bowl and mix, adding the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

And enjoy!

I enjoyed this poolside with a new book in hand :)



A Fresh Take on Lasagna

Summer food to me should be fresh, simple, and easy to make. This was a quick meal I whipped up to use some summer veggies and my favorite heirloom tomatoes. It is layered like a lasagna but lacks the heaviness of tradition cheesy and saucy lasagna. The cheese I used on top is super thinly sliced smoked provolone, but you can skip it if you like, or top with your favorite cheese. Please note the cheese makes it look kind of ugly in the picture but it was actually really good and great as leftovers.

Ingredients:

Eggplant

Squash

Tomato

Tofu

Fresh Herbs

Salt and Pepper

Cheese (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice up all components to the same thickness for even cooking. Spray or grease a glass baking dish with olive oil and begin layering. I did tofu first to line the bottom completely then eggplant next

topped with fresh basil and rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.

Next up were the star of the show, the heirloom tomato, again topped with herbs and salt and pepper.

I really do love these tomatoes and cannot wait to start getting them in my CSA box. Come on where are they??…Please?

Next some yellow squash (I added herbs on this layer too, just not pictured).

Followed by cheese! Bake in the oven covered (with foil) for 15-20 minutes, uncover and allow the top to brown and the veggies to begin to bubble (approximately another 15-20 minutes).

You should let the pan cool off and set for about 10 minutes. Then cut in and enjoy! I ate my leftovers in pitas as sandwiches. It is really versatile, throw in any veggies and any herbs you have! It does get pretty watery from cooking, but just cut and transfer to another container for storage.



What I ate Wednesday, #2

                                          

I can’t believe it has already been a week since the last/my first WIAW! Here it goes again:

Breakfast-Siggi’s with plums and blood oranges from my CSA box. Delish!

Lunch- pita with avocado and cucumber

and another pita with leftover vegetable “lasagna”- made with tofu, eggplant, cheese, yellow squash, and tomatoes (recipe/tutorial to come soon)

Dinner- More leftover grilled pizza…yummmm

And Happy Hump Day! I think the week might actually be going fast for a change..or maybe I am just keeping really busy. Craft night tonight..be warned fun projects are going to pop up on the blog soon :)



How to Grill Your Own Pizza!

I love love love LOVE pizza. You can ask anyone. I eat it just about every week, Ryan loves to point it out. I just can’t help it. It is probably my favorite food and I don’t really like to pick favorites. I don’t have a favorite color or book or movie, but I do have a favorite food my dearly beloved pizzzzza! I would eat it everyday if I could, but I try to practice some restraint. One of my favorite ways to cook in the summertime is via the grill. Yes I’ll admit I don’t even know how to turn it on, but once on I can become a grilling machine. 

Ingredients:

Dough of your choice (you can even buy precooked crusts but, I recommend using dough for the ultimate experience.

Cheese (vegan or regular, I used gouda and cheddar)

Veggies ( I used shallots, zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes)

Fresh Herbs ( I used basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary)

Pasta sauce ( I used a bottle of eggplant pasta sauce, but you can let your imagination run wild or even keep it simple with olive oil as the base)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Step One: Roll out dough to the thickness you desire. I try to get mine pretty thin because it will raise while cooking, and the thinner it is the easier and faster it will cook. Use plenty of flour to keep dough from sticking.

Step Two: Thinly slice zucchini, shallots, mushrooms, and herbs for the pizza toppings. 

Step Three: Saute garlic, shallots, and mushrooms in a non stick pan on medium low heat for 1-2 minutes until tender.

Step Four: Grate cheese and grill the zucchini. Before grilling the zucchini spray (or lightly coat) with olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill (medium heat) for approximately 2 minutes on each side.

Step Five: Spray the pizza dough with olive oil and place on the grill. Be careful this can be tricky. If you are worried about this step make smaller sized pizzas for easier handling. Close the grill lid and cook until the crust is browned on the bottom. Depends on the grill, but approximately 5-10 minutes.

Step Six: Coat the top side of the crust with oil now. Be especially careful if using spray, it is flammable. Now FLIP!! This is tough use some tongs or spatulas to help out with this step.

Step Seven: Apply sauce directly on the pizza crust! Work quickly you dont want the crust to cook all the way and start burning before you have the toppings on and cheese melted.

Step 8: Apply all the toppings!

Step Nine: Close the lid immediately after getting the toppings on and cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy.

Step Ten: Reveal! And Enjoy!

This pizza really did turn out to be one of the best grilled pizzas I have ever made. The rosemary and basil really made it extra special. Fresh herbs are beautiful and can really add so much to a simple dish. Happy Grilling!



Cauliflower w/Crispy Parmesan

I made this last night as a quick side dish to dinner. It is roasted cauliflower (from my CSA box :) ) with some parmesan cheese on top. It is super easy to make and if you love cheese like I do it can be quite satisfying. I couldn’t stop eating the crispy cheese off the pan, it is sooo good!

Cauliflower w/Crispy Parmesan:

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower

1/4 c or more ;) of grated parmesan cheese

salt and peper to taste

1 tbsp oil to coat pan ( I still use foil for easy cleanup)

1 tbsp olive oil 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees clean and cut cauliflower into florets. Line a pan in foil and coat with olive oil or use spray oil.  Toss the cauliflower in 1 tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes and then remove from oven and sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the cauliflower (letting some get on the pan to make little cheese crisps). Place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until browned and the cheese is completely melted and crispy. Take out and enjoy! 

I enjoyed these with some hummus on the side to dip the cauliflower in.. yummmy 



Addicting Roasted Chickpeas!

I have made these twice already in a week! They are super super addicting, I risked burning my tongue and fingers multiple times picking these up straight out of the oven. They are perfect as a snack, in tacos, on salads, and the best part is they are extremely easy. With only 5 ingredients (chickpeas, tajin, lime, olive oil, and cayenne) these babies take less than a minute to prepare and under 30 minutes in an oven to cook. Tajin is one of my favorite newish spices I have been using lately.

Information about the secret ingredient: Well it’s not actually too much of a secret in Mexico. Tajin is a mexican spice with a strong chili and lime flavor which is typically eaten on melon, mangos, or other fruit. I cannot get enough of these so I thought I would share my find with you.

Roasted Chili Lime Chickpeas:

Ingredients:

1 Can of Chickpeas

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tajin

Juice from 1/2 a lime

Cayenne to taste

Directions: Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Drain the chickpeas and rinse with water. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat the chickpeas thoroughly. If you want a more subtle flavor use 1/2 tbsp of tajin and increase from there. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Serve/eat immediately as if you could resist ;)

Picture before baking:

Picture from the first time roasting chickpeas (forgot them in the oven..oops, but if you like things slightly charred just cook them longer)



Native Foods

Over the weekend my Aunt treated us to dinner at Native Foods. They are a 100% vegan restaurant and probably my favorite of the ones I’ve been to. Check out the menu here. It is amazing that this little gem exists in the middle of the desert, and they have locations in Los Angeles now too! I ordered the wild buffalo ranch salad ( i subbed in their housemade tempeh) served with Louisiana hot sauce, yes please!

 

Ryan and my aunt both got the special which was a portobello sausage burger (made with housemade seitan) with a side of choice. And we all got some amazing, refreshing hibiscus iced tea.

I have never been disappointed at Native Foods, even the cookbook I have from there is amazing! Fresh ingredients and delicious vegan food!



Competitions

Do you ever want to be on shows like Top Chef or The Next Food Network Star? Maybe even a contestant on The Price is Right? Well, I will tell you a secret, I used to study The Price is Right as a kid and memorize the prices of different foods when I was dragged around to the grocery store. Now I just dream of being on Top Chef for vegetarians or something like that..

At work I signed up for a simple food competition for our company’s wellness fair. We had to choose a healthy recipe from our health portal and 5 judges had to sample and judge it based on cost, calorie content, taste, presentation, and time to prepare. Well, one of the judges wouldn’t even try my dish because they didn’t like asparagus and I made an asparagus frittata. So yeah go figure I didn’t win.

I sampled my dish for breakfast along with some Justin’s Maple Almond butter which I really enjoyed!

Here is my presentation..well last minute put together presentation haha

Asparagus Fritatta:

1/2 lb Asparagus

1/2 Red Bell Pepper thinly sliced

4 Shallots thinly sliced

4 Egg Whites

2 Eggs

1 clove of garlic minced

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Pepper

Directions: Chop the asparagus into 2 1/2 inch sections and boil for 2 minutes, drain and remove from heat. Saute the shallots and bell peppers with garlic on low heat in a cast iron skillet for 5 minutes or until tender. Add these to the asparagus and set aside. Whisk the eggs together with salt and pepper and add a splash of milk (dairy or non dairy) if desired. Stir the veggies into the eggs and pour into a hot cast iron skillet. Allow the bottom to set for about 5 minutes and then place in 400 degree oven to finish it. Top with parmesan cheese after a couple minutes and then return to oven to brown. 

Next competition I will win! I will try at least ;)



Trying New Things

So if you know me you know I am not the most adventurous person. It really isn’t that I am afraid of the world, minus a few irrational fears, I just don’t like going too far out of my comfort zone. I like routines and I like to do things I know I enjoy. I recently embarked on a mission, to find a type of exercise I ENJOY. While it might not sound like a large endeavor, it is for me. I used to dance for fun, but with my knee/back injuries I really can’t get back into it until I am stronger. I have recently tried out yoga and loved it, minus the outrageously large price tag. Biking outdoors is an option, but having to stop at a million stop signs and traffic lights kind of aggravates me. The gym? NO WAY. I do it, but hate every minute of it. Stationary bikes? Really? I feel like I am not going anywhere. Don’t get me started on sports…

So now what is left..running? swimming? Well I decided to give both a try yesterday. Ran about 3/4 mile and I thought I was going to die. My ear plugged, I was coughing and couldn’t breathe. Out of shape or asthma? Who knows probably a combo, but I will give it a try again soon maybe at a slower pace. Ryan kept warning me to slow down but I am a person who wants to get somewhere, jogging seems unnatural. Swimming went a little bit better. I mean I can doggie paddle nicely. You would think growing up with a pool in my backyard would make me a great swimmer, but it is just not the case. I think I am meant to be a couch potato. But on a serious note, I think I could enjoy running and swimming more if I ease into it, and I will give it a serious try.

After all this hard work phew! Dinner was made..Squash pasta, baguette (from bread and cie), roasted garlic, and a beer. 

We have been getting tons of squash in our CSA box and farmer’s markets. Just trying to use it up in different ways so we don’t get tired of it.

Squash Pasta:

5 yellow or green squash

1 cup pasta sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

Kosher Salt to taste

Directions: I used a peeler to make squash ribbons, though this only lasted for 3 squash because I got lazy and thinly sliced the last two. Saute the squash in the olive oil until tender (approx. 5-10 minutes) and add salt to taste. I sauteed the squash in batches because I didn’t have a large enough pan to do it all at once. Top with any pasta sauce of your choice, or eat as is!

Roasted Garlic:

1 head of garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the outer layers of the garlic skin, leaving the head intact. Cut off 1/2 inch of the top to expose the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and cover in foil. Place in oven for approximately 30 minutes or until soft. Eat on top of pasta or bread or crackers. Delicious!

What is your favorite exercise?



Easy and Delicious Teriyaki Stir Fry w/Tofu

I love stir-frys, so easy, quick and beautiful with seasonal veggies. This one I used squash, chard, bell pepper, and carrots, and tofu. I usually serve a stir-fry with a side of brown rice or soba noodles. I had some leftover teriyaki sauce (not gluten free, but you can definitely buy or make gluten free teriyaki sauce) which I needed to use up and tons of veggies so this dish just came together. I marinated some cut tofu in the teriyaki sauce for about an hour before browning them on a non stick pan with some light oil. While those were browning I cooked the veggies in batches on a skillet with some olive oil and sesame oil (peanut oil would have been best because it is better for higher temperature cooking) until browned. Then all that was left to do was plate the veggies, tofu, and rice topped off with teriyaki sauce. If you don’t have teriyaki sauce at home you can skip it and use soy sauce. And of course I always add sriracha!

Easy and Delicious Teriyaki Stir Fry w/Tofu

I love stir-frys, so easy, quick and beautiful with seasonal veggies. This one I used squash, chard, bell pepper, and carrots, and tofu. I usually serve a stir-fry with a side of brown rice or soba noodles. I had some leftover teriyaki sauce (not gluten free, but you can definitely buy or make gluten free teriyaki sauce) which I needed to use up and tons of veggies so this dish just came together. I marinated some cut tofu in the teriyaki sauce for about an hour before browning them on a non stick pan with some light oil. While those were browning I cooked the veggies in batches on a skillet with some olive oil and sesame oil (peanut oil would have been best because it is better for higher temperature cooking) until browned. Then all that was left to do was plate the veggies, tofu, and rice topped off with teriyaki sauce. If you don’t have teriyaki sauce at home you can skip it and use soy sauce. And of course I always add sriracha!