Tag Archives: zucchini

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.
Advertisements

First Time Trying Polenta!

25 Aug

My tastebuds no longer find polenta shrouded in mystery. I’ve seen polenta in so many vegetarian recipes, but have had yet to try it and experiment with it. At its most basic, polenta is just corn grits that is boiled until a thick paste and can pretty much take the form of whatever dish you’re thinking of (sweet or savory!) I just picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill corn grits, googled for some general advice/ideas on what to do with polenta and pretty much just made it to see if I would even like it. This really isn’t a recipe or specific dish per se because I just wanted to use up some veggies I had sitting around. And the avocado was staring deep into my soul, beckoning me to devour it. So it goes. I am loving all the roma tomatoes I keep picking from our garden! They are small, sweet and beefy and I seem to be eating them with every meal. Yay lycopene! Overall, I really enjoyed the polenta! It was creamy and I can see it having much potential to develop into any sort of dish. I baked my polenta because I wasn’t too in the mood for mush! This went well with some roasted veggies on the side.

Basic Polenta

  • 1 cup corn grits / meal/ polenta stuff
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups milk of choice (I used almond)
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Spices of choice (i.e. onion powder, garlic, chili powder, sage, rosemary…depends on the dish you’re looking to make!)
  • 1 cup of shredded vegan cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Tbsp of favorite sweetener (this was an afterthought to the dish–just a hint of sweetness would make this even better)
Bring liquids to a boil in a large pot. Slowly whisk in corn grits and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until thick, being sure to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. The polenta can be eaten this way or fried in a pan for a few minutes, spread into a thin layer on a greased baking sheet and cooked for about 10-15 minutes, flipping once during that time. There are also many other ways to prepare polenta! Just do some googling and experimenting. Leftover polenta is awesome. I think I will be slicing some of mine up and grilling it! Yum.


First week of fall semester has been conquered! Just 14 more…eeek! I really think I’m going to enjoy my “Religious Movements of the US” class. I am constantly fascinated by the objective study of religions, their ideologies and effects on society and truly get sucked in by learning about cultural taboos, similarities between all religions and their historical background, whether rooted in fact or fiction. This can be a touchy subject for many people, but I love this sort of controversy and seeing what it stems from. Thank you, anthropology! πŸ™‚ My professor for the course is definitely a button-pusher–from the moment she made her grand entrance into the classroom, she’s been dropping f-bombs, pushing boundaries and forcing us to think about our own beliefs. I really feel I learn the most from eccentric, critical professors that force your to think outside the box. Classes such as this one make me feel like the amount of money I’m putting toward my education is worth it. πŸ™‚ But now, it’s late and I have to get up early! Goodnight moon!

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!Β  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 πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Quick, Easy Zucchini, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

16 Aug

I was in no mood for a laborious, time-consuming dinner tonight. I found the solution sitting on my kitchen counter. I’ve been making an effort to buy much of the produce we love locally. There’s a small farm stand across the street from the library that I frequent and they have amazing heirloom beefsteak tomatoes. We also go to the farmer’s market at City Park on Sundays ($.25 jalapenos? awesome.), where we also get to pick up our share of the ELA Family Farms fruit CSA that we are a part of. ELA Family Farms is located in Hotchkiss, CO (about 240 miles away from Denver) and grow a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. We picked up our first share this past Sunday consisting of a bag of heirloom tomatoes, a bag of peaches and applesauce made from their own apples! As the season progresses, we will be expecting different varieties of tomatoes, peaches, plums, pears, apples and CIDER! For the entire month of October, we will receive a half gallon of cider every week. I love fall and cider and pumpkins and apples and orchards! If there’s one thing I miss about Michigan, it’s the sunny, brisk Fall days spent apple picking and devouring freshly made donuts at a cider mill.

With little inspiration or motivation toward making a grand meal tonight, I whipped up an easy, flavorful vegetable pasta dish that took about 20 minutes. The dry sherry used really helped bring the dish together and mellow the balsamic vinegar. This can be thrown together using pretty much any vegetables you have on hand, though I highly recommend some fresh, juicy beefsteak tomatoes as the main ingredient.

Quick, Easy Zucchini, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

  • 3 Fresh beefsteak tomatoes (also threw in a couple of romas we had on hand)
  • Half a zucchini squash, sliced and then cut in half
  • Fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • About 1/4 cup of dry sherry
  • a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 servings of whole wheat pasta

pretty pyrex πŸ™‚

Boil water! Cook pasta! Meanwhile…in a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and minced garlic (since I didn’t have any on hand, I just threw in some garlic powder later on). Wilt the spinach leaves by covering the pan for a few minutes. Add zucchini and beefsteak tomatoes, stir and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add spices to taste (basil would be a great addition). Add sherry and balsamic vinegar and simmer for about 5 more minutes until the sherry flavor has mellowed a bit. Taste and make sure it is savory and everything you hoped and dreamed for. Throw on top of the cooked pasta and, if you have any, garnish with fresh basil leaves.

 

I was super excited to see the tea towels I ordered from Etsy seller Zen Threads waiting for me in the mail today. I love functional, vintage-looking tea towels and these are super high quality. Look out for them in upcoming food pictures πŸ™‚

I’m loving these cool summer nights…Autumn is in the air! My favorite season. Can’t wait for the Aspens to start changing colors because you know what that means…WINTER IS COMING! I’m already itching to slap my skis on and tear down the mountains. But it’s still August. And it’s still in the 90s during the day. Reality check.

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.Β  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 RecipesΒ 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! πŸ™‚ The weekend will be here soon!

Grilled Zucchini with Rosemary Risotto & Balsamic Reduction

8 Aug

Late night blogging! I’m much too good at procrastinating. I’m currently lounging on our couch, half-watching the movie Sideways and listening to our ice cream maker churn some coconut milk ice cream. Delightful Monday night, no? Since I get off work so late on Mondays and Wednesdays, I always feel so crunched for time when making dinner, so I try to just whip things up quickly (or if all else fails, LEFTOVERS!)

Tonight’s dinner involved a little to much slaving over a hot stove, but was quite worth it. Arborio rice turned into creamy risotto is one of my favorite sides. I made this with some vegetable stock, cooking sherry (very important!) and rosemary stirred in at the end. A patron at the library came in and gave us a large stash of her homegrown zucchini squash, so I cut them in diagonal, 1/2″ slices, tossed in canola oil + salt + pepper and grilled them for a few minutes each side. Finally, the balsamic reduction. I must admit, I adore balsamic vinegar and always try to find a way to work it into a dish. I’ve never actually made a reduction, but it was easy enough. The only problem? I reduced mine too much! It turned into the texture of taffy. Tasty tasty balsamic taffy. Ah well, live and learn! The reduction was just some balsamic vinegar + maple syrup + onion powder + garlic powder + salt/pepper over medium heat for like 20 minutes. So many sweet, tangy flavors mixed into one dish. Now to find other things to make a balsamic reduction for…

I wandered into the thrift store about two blocks away from I work today and really had to use all my self-control to not buy more Pyrex dishes. I found a bunch of mixing bowls in various patterns (Homestead, Old Orchard and Snowflake patterns). I’m hoping they will still be there on a 50% off day! πŸ™‚

Oooh, I think it might be time to stir the chocolate chips in to the ice cream…yum!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal & Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

5 Aug


Looks like I have some bloggin’ to catch up on! Yesterday morning had me craving something sweet and filling…and oatmeal easily fulfills that task! Oats are high in fiber and help lower cholesterol…and taste good. Always remember to use rolled oats and not quick! I’ve been inspired by Kath over at Kath Eats Real Food because she always has such great looking oatmeal! Check out her “Tribute to Oatmeal” page for lots of tasty variations!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal with Sliced Raw Almonds, Chia Seeds and Wheat Germ

  • 1 apple, chopped
  • Lots of cinnamon! 1-2 tsp
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite sweetener (i.e. honey, agave nectar, etc)
  • pinch of salt
  • Nutmeg, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk (or water or any non-dairy milk you prefer)
  • Any toppings you like. In this case I used sliced raw almonds, chia seeds, wheat germ

Throw chopped apple + spices + sweetener into a saucepan. Let cook for a minute or two…then add rolled oats, stir, and add the almond milk. Bring to a low boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes (though everything takes longer at high altitude!) or until you have your preferred consistency. Top with tasty things and enjoy in your favorite dish (in my case, in my UGLY mug!)

Yum. So many different things you can do with oatmeal! This made enough to split between two people (I get so full after eating oats).

I had some green bell peppers sitting on the counter form the farmer’s market this past weekend and they were just on the brink of being too far gone, so I had to use them! I was able to whip this meal up in under an hour. Lots of protein from the quinoa and a variety of veggies make this a healthy, hearty dinner.

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 4-5 Bell Peppers, tops cut off and seeds/innards cut out
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (or use fresh!), not drained
  • Small can of sweet peas
  • Small can of sweet corn
  • 1/2 medium sized zucchini squash, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder (I LOVE GARLIC)
  • Vegan shredded cheddar cheese (highly recommend Daiya brand)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Parboil the bell peppers for 5 minutes, drain and set aside. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the inside of each pepper.

Prepare quinoa per your brand’s instructions. Add diced tomatoes, peas, corn and chopped zucchini. Mix spices in!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an oven-safe dish (PYREX IS AWESOME), place bell peppers upright. Carefully spoon the filling in. About halfway, add a layer of shredded cheese. Continue to fill up to the top and then add more cheese! Breadcrumbs would be tasty too. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until everything is looking cheesy, goopy and delicious.

Notes:

  • Want more protein? Add some black beans to the mix! Cilantro, jalapenos, onion and cayenne pepper would make this a great spicy dish!
  • No quinoa? Use rice or couscous!
  • Looking for a meaty version? Add your favorite veggie crumbles, like Gimme Lean!

Yesterday was tasty, I must say. So glad it’s FRIDAY! Most likely going GARAGE SALE-ING (sailing? yes. like on a boat.) tomorrow to try and find some interesting things. Estate sales are the best! Just have to weed through all the crap to get to the good stuff. Happy Friday!