Tag Archives: grilling

Quick & Easy Weeknight Dinner – Grilled Vegetables & Rice!

1 Sep


Two staples that will pretty much always be found in my kitchen: vegetables and rice. Since we haven’t ventured to the grocery store in far too long, dinner had to be whatever we had on hand! After a rather laborious dinner the other night, I was in no mood for drawn-out dinner shenanigans, so N got some rice cooking while I was on my way home. I whisked together a quick+simple marinade for the vegetables (soy sauce, ginger, sesame seed oil, LOTS of garlic, agave nectar, & chili paste), sliced some zucchini and green bell pepper and let sit for a few minutes while the grill was heating. The awesome thing about vegetarian marinades? They can also be used as sauce after everything is cooked without worrying about contamination from raw meats! Nom nom nom. While the vegetables were grilling and the marinade was looking a little lonely, I sliced up some beefsteak tomatoes and let those soak up the lovely sauce for a bit. No need to grill the tomatoes, these tasted great raw! Once done, everything gets thrown in a bowl to commence devouring.

Notes:

  • Need protein? Use Quinoa instead of rice. Thought of doing this after the rice started cooking, unfortunately…
  • Turn this all into a wrap! Add some beans & cheese and you got yerself a burrito.
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Grilled Vegetable Salad & Fruit Smoothie

17 Aug

We have a problem. The significant other and I tend to buy way too many Groupons & Livingsocial deals…and then forget about them until right before they expire. We bought a voucher for $30 worth of organic, local vegetables delivered to our door like three months ago…and got out veggies this morning! The tub was packed full of leafy greens, potatoes, corn, broccoli, eggplant and carrots. Now to find a way to use all this!

Lunch was easy to throw together. I salted and let eggplants slices sweat for about 30 minutes. I sliced some zucchini squash and heirloom beefsteak tomatoes and let those marinate in garlic powder, salt+pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil while the eggplant was sweating. The grill was then fired up and everything thrown on for about 10 minutes. Grilled Vegetable Salad!  The great thing about marinating vegetables is that the leftover marinade doesn’t go to waste, unlike when you marinate meat stuffs. Leftover marinade = lazy man’s salad dressing. The salad was gorgeous and bright BUT unfortunately, the eggplant was SO BITTER! Such a bummer. I know salting/sweating helps with the bitterness, but wow, it was pretty much inedible. It made my mouth hurt so much! Oh well! I devoured the rest of the salad and ended up pitching the eggplant. Not sure what went wrong, maybe just a bad aubergine?

I also made a fruit smoothie to add a bit of sweetness + daily serving of fruits to the meal. LOVE smoothies, especially on hot summer days! We try to buy and use fresh fruit as much as possible, but sometimes it’s too expensive or not available! When fruit is on sale, we buy a lot of it and freeze it. Perfect for smoothie making because you don’t need to add any ice. This smoothie consisted of: pineapple slices, strawberries (with the greens still on top), blueberries, and orange juice. Simple, but so sweet and refreshing!

 

Super excited to be seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, Incubus, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre tonight! Just hoping the thunderstorms roll right on past us 🙂 Have a wonderful Wednesday!

French Bread / Grilled Vegetable & Pesto Paninis

11 Aug

Ah, the beloved crusty french bread. A seemingly difficult task to recreate this fluffy/crispy dichotomy, it turns out to be a rather simple recipe with a few basic ingredients. When I stumbled across this recipe at “Gourmet Mom On the Go”, I immediately knew I had to try it. Such an easy approach to making something I would typically buy in the store. I pretty much followed her recipe exactly, except I made it even easier…by utilizing by bread maker. Lazy lazy, I know, but it got the job done without me worrying if I had killed the yeast! I also didn’t roll the dough out like she did…I just kind of blobbed it together until it was a nice shape. Sidenote: shape it into a boule and you have an AWESOME breadbowl for a hearty soup! Might have to try this in the winter… This bread was perfect for what I had in mind for dinner: PANINIS!

We’re getting to that awkward point in the week where it’s too soon to go to the grocery, yet you have to use some creativity to figure something out for dinner. Zucchini squash, heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers, and a quick spinach pesto make these hearty paninis. The squash and bell peppers were tossed in some olive oil + salt/pepper and grilled for a few minutes. I whipped up the spinach pesto using a couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach (feel free to sub some fresh basil in there), walnuts, garlic, salt+pepper, and olive oil. Whizzed it in the VitaMix until pasty and spread it on the sliced french bread. I bought a couple heirloom beefsteak tomatoes the other day from a little farm that’s across the street from the library I work at…in the middle of the neighborhood! Such a neat little farm. The tomatoes tasted SO good fresh, no need to grill or prepare them any other way. Layered the grilled vegetables on top of everything and whipped out the panini press. It’s always nice to kind of feel like you’re justifying having a ridiculous amount of kitchen gadgets by actually using them. If you don’t have a panini press, just make them like you would a grilled cheese. Or even throw them on the grill if you’re looking for those authentic grill lines. Quick and easy dinner using ingredients I already had. Love it.

The bulk of my day tomorrow will play out as such: up early to go to a couple intriguing estate sales to scope out some Pyrex, whip together a fruit salad for a pot luck at work tomorrow, work, rejoice at being one day closer to having the children out of the library and back at school, and finally, come home. Relax. Possibly do something with the butternut squash that’s been sitting on the counter. Perhaps. But now? TO BED!

Seitan (Carne) Asada & Spanish Rice

10 Aug

I always forget to put an apron on. I have a perfectly awesome apron that my mother made just for me! BUT I ALWAYS FORGET TO WEAR IT. My vigorous stirring of Arborio rice left me with tomato splatter all over my shirt. The things I do for good food!

Seitan is definitely my favorite out of all the meat-alternatives out there. It’s chewy and flavorful, but isn’t soggy and strangely textured like some of those “others” out there (*ahem* tofu). I’ve made it a few times before, but always find it to be an annoying process even though there’s only a few steps involved. There are so many different ways to prepare it and I decided to use the Bible of all the vegan cookbooks: Veganomicon. It’s a basic seitan recipe that you can shape to your own tastes or to match whatever recipe you’ll be using it for. Definitely better than store-bought!

Seitan Recipe (in Veganomicon & The PPK)

The only changes I made to the recipe were spices, in order to complement the carna asada marinade that I would be using for the seitan. I added lots of garlic powder, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and omitted the lemon juice. Prepared as the recipes states, except I just left my hunk of gluten in one blob instead of dividing into two.  I wanted something that I could make slices out of and felt this was a good approach.

Carne Asada Marinade

Seeing that I was missing quite a few vital ingredients to the carne asada marinade and didn’t feel like meandering to the grocery store, I winged it. I combined elements from recipes on AllRecipes and Simply Recipes to come up with a quasi-carne asada marinade. If you have a reliable and authentic recipe, use that. The marinade I whipped up was great, but needed a bit more spice to it (jalapenos would have solved this problem). Also, I was only able to marinade the seitan, zucchini and bell peppers for an hour. The longer the better! Two very essential ingredients to the marinade (in my humble opinion): fresh garlic cloves and fresh cilantro!

Slice the seitan into long strips and place in non-reactive bowl with sliced zucchini and bell peppers. Pour marinade over and let sit for at least a couple of hours. Fire up the ol’ grill and cook until desired crunchiness in vegetables. Roll in a whole wheat tortilla, drizzle with some leftover marinade and serve with fresh avocado, pico de gallo or spanish rice!

Spanish Rice

When I learned that one of the best ways to prepare rice is to saute it in some garlic and oil before adding water, rice became a whole lot more exciting. For spanish rice, I prepared some arborio rice (the stuff you use for risotto) using a can of unsalted diced tomatoes and low sodium vegetable stock. Towards the end I stirred in more garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and chili powder. Easy! Not particularly authentic, but delicious.

 

Wednesday already? Hard to believe that my classes start in 12 days…and I’m running the Warrior Dash in 11 days…eek! This also means that the kids that incessantly loiter at the library will also be back in school very soon…yeeeeeessssss…! Happy Hump Day, everyone! 🙂 The weekend will be here soon!

Taco Pizza

7 Aug

deelish.

I saw Pioneer Woman’s post on Taco Pizza back in May and was intrigued. A combination of two things I adore: taco + pizza.  PW made the recipe very easy to follow and rather a quick meal to throw together, as long as you have the ingredients. I tweaked it a bit for my own tastes (and made it vegan!)

Taco Pizza, originally by the Pioneer Woman!

I only changed a few things, but followed her recipe pretty closely. Instead of black beans, I used vegetarian refried beans as the base (or sauce, I guess) of the pizza. I also used Mexican-style veggie crumbles, heated in a pan with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder + some water. I smooshed the pizza onto my Silpat, making it thinner than I normally would. I assembled it as such: refried beans generously spread around, veggie crumbles, & vegan cheese (I grated some Follow Your Heart cheddar…not as good as Daiya, but it got the job done.) This was baked for about 20 minutes. Once done, I spread some homemade salsa on top with chopped fresh baby spinach.

My favorite part of this dish was the sour cream mixture drizzled on top. I made this using raw cashews (soaked for one hour), lemon juice and salt. Processed until smooth, then added one avocado. Along the way, just to help with texture and thinness, I added some water. Lastly, Cholula hot sauce was folded in and voila! A very flavorful, but dairy-free sour cream substitute. It was very rich-tasting and creamy, thanks to one of my favorite things in the world: the avocado. This had a sort of refreshing, cooling effect to the spiciness of the fresh salsa and pizza. YUM. Happiness.

Gardening, Food, Farmer’s Market, Zoo, More Food…

24 Jul
Tapir snoooozin' at the Denver Zoo

This is how I feel after a weekend of indulgent eating...

What a weekend! There was much running around and attempts to stay cool (mid-90s for the past week here in Denver! Though I shouldn’t complain–there are so many other places hitting over 100!) It seems as though many of my activities revolved around glorious FOOD!

Waiting for us Saturday morning at the community garden we’re a part of (at the library I work at) were tons of WEEDS due to last week’s downpours! We had a garden workday in order to combat this inevitable issue and made some progress…but of course, the work is never done. In our plot, we’re growing carrots, snow peas, jalapenos, habaneros, heirloom tomatoes and jack o’lantern pumpkins (which have COMPLETELY taken over). Had to trim the pumpkin vines back a bit since they were taking hold of one of our precious tomato plants. Can’t wait to see the pumpkins when they are ready to pick!

Denver is a great place to find interesting things to do on the weekends, like the Denver Food Truck Renegades Party! This was a great event that took place in an empty parking lot downtown (cement…so hot…) and was filled with 14 local, independent food trucks! We walked the .8 miles in the heat and it was so worth it! This was such a great people-watching opportunity (the anthropologist inside me was thrilled) and a great way to support these unique businesses!

http://www.bonbonbuggy.com/

Delicious treats from the Bon Bon Buggy!

http://www.steubens.com/

Steuben's is great restaurant in Denver and they also have a food truck!

Sunday involved a delightful (albeit sweaty) bike ride over to the Farmer’s Market in City Park! Also great for people watching, especially this week since there was a fun bluegrass/folksy band playing (pretty sure none of them had shoes on). We have so much food at home, but it’s just so tempting looking at the piles of fresh produce! We resisted and only got some whole wheat tortillas (delish!), some Argentinean lemonade (very sweet, almost had some hints of peach?) and a black blean & guac pupusa! So. good. Looks pretty simple to make, though I’m sure I’ll reject that statement once I try…

Such a happy sight--the mixing of food, people and sunlight!

Black bean and guacamole pupusa! yum!

Somehow this innocent trip to the Farmer’s Market turned into stopping at the Denver Zoo, buying a year membership and wandering around snapping photos of the pachyderms (best word ever), marsupials and birds! I love that we are within a 10 minute bike ride of the zoo! Though I don’t completely agree with the “zoo” concept (animals don’t belong in an urban setting), I do enjoy the educational aspect and understand that under certain circumstances, the zoo can promote mating for endangered species. Take the good with the bad, I suppose. The tapirs that they were “encouraging” to mate seemed pretty disinterested. Just wanted to sleep!

yummeh om nom nom nom

Om nom nom nom. Some of these may have disappeared before assembling the fajidillas!

Apologies for butchering the Spanish language with my made-up words.

The quesadilla/fajita hybrid! the fajidilla? quesajita?

With our goodies from the Farmer’s Market, we whipped up an easy meal of pseudo-quesadillas. Really, these were more like a mixture of fajitas and quesadillas. We grilled a bunch of vegetables (lightly tossed with canola oil and salt), layered them like a quesadilla with vegetarian refried beans and Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese. Grilled them a bit longer…whipped up some rice (which I forgot I wanted to make spanish rice! next time!)…and some guacamole! I absolutely love Haas avocados. Can’t get enough. Especially when they are 2 for $1 🙂 We really should have made only one fajidilla (quesadilla+fajita) because the thick zucchini squash really made them hearty! Quite tasty.

Another week gone. Another week closer to the Warrior Dash (eeek!) Going. to. pass. out. I can jog well at 5280ft here in Denver. The dash is at Copper Mountain which I think is like 7000-8000ft above sea level. Ack! Oh, Oxygen. I need you. It will be great fun, though I will be the one breathing loudly and stumbling about as the 60 year old marathoner passes me. Can’t wait!