Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a better breakfast burrito

If I have not properly expressed this previously, let me tell you that I am not a morning person. I'm the girl rolling into work at the crack of 9 am, still putting on makeup, and eating oatmeal out of a coffee mug. For these reasons and many more, I rely heavily on late night planning, and frozen, homemade breakfast burritos. A while ago, I made my first batch of breakfast burritos, and since then, I think they've just gotten better. In fact, this last round has been the best yet!

Stuff you need: 1. Whole wheat tortillas 2. 1 block firm tofu 3. Morningstar sausage patties 4. Roasted green chiles 5. Your favorite salsa

Begin by squeezing your tofu like you would for any other recipe- I like to wrap mine in a paper towel, and set something heavy on top of it while I prepare everything else. Meanwhile, you can chop your chiles and defrost your faux-sausage.

When the tofu is ready, crumble it into a skillet with a little olive oil, the Morngingstar sausage, green chiles, and some spices until everything is warmed through. In my tofu/faux-meat mixture, I like to add hot sauce, garlic salt, and cumin. Yumm.

When your burrito stuffing is tasting the way you'd like it to, grab a tortilla, spoon a healthy helping of the tofu mixture into the middle, add a bit of salsa, and then wrap the whole thing up in a square of foil.

Keep wrapping burritos until you're out of filling and tortillas, and then pop them into the freezer for future use. For me, 1 block of firm tofu made about 6 burritos.
When you're ready to devour your breakfast burrito, wrap it in a paper towel, and microwave it on high for 1 minute on each side. The tofu is difficult to heat all the way through, so it may need a little extra time as well. This not-so-fabulous picture is taken inside the microwave at my office. While not super aesthetically appealing, it was absolutely scrumptious, and the perfect way to start off a long day at work.

The combination of the fake sausage, chiles, and salsa, are the perfect mix of texture, heat, and flavor. They're fast and easy to make, they're absolutely delicious, and they're a total life saver first thing in the morning. You better believe I'll be making more of these very soon :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

southwest veggie bake

Last week was crazy for me. Between multiple grandparent birthday dinners, 10 hour work days, and a few kickboxing classes, I barely had time to breathe, let alone cook! Luckily, with some quick, simple recipes, and some planning ahead, I survived the chaos! One such recipe I made, was inspired by this summer vegetable tian over at Budget Bytes. The reds, greens, and yellows of the tomatoes and squash, were totally eye-catching, and I knew in a moment that I had to make my own version.

Stuff you need: 1. Yellow squash 2. Zucchini squash 3. Tomatoes 4. Black beans 5.Sharp cheddar cheese 6. Your favorite salsa

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees while you get everything else prepped. Slice your squashes into rounds, and your tomatoes into chunks that are roughly the same size. When everything is chopped up, arrange all the slices in a greased baking dish, until it's completely full. Give it a good sprinkle of salt and pepper, and maybe a little cumin too for good measure.
Next, combine 1/2 cup black beans, 1 heaping cup sharp cheddar cheese, and 1/4 cup salsa in a bowl, and stir everything together, until it's mixed well. Spread this mixture on top of your veggies, and then cover the dish with its corresponding lid or some foil.

Pop the dish into the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the the vegetables are tender, and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Now grab those hot pads and retrieve your meal! I gobbled mine down with a little more salsa on the side, but it was pretty tasty on its own as well.

The colors of the summer vegetables are so pretty, and the meal came together incredibly quick. It's a great dish for a busy week, because I managed to do laundry and other chores, while I waited for it to bake. I also liked the addition of black beans and salsa, which gave it a little protein, and a gooier texture. Next time, onions, potatoes, and more spices would all be excellent additions. It was the perfect dish for a busy week, and it made enough for lunch the next day too- bonus! :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

spinach stuffed shells

One of my favorite things in the world is making dinner with friends. There's nothing like getting together on a beautiful evening to drink wine, gossip, and create something simply delicious as a group. I honestly think the meal tastes better when the effort is shared through hard work, and lots of laughter. Tonight happened to be one of those evenings when Michael, Jenna, and I got together to watch the newest episode of True Blood, and make spinach stuffed shells over a few bottles of cheap white wine. Nothing could possibly make me happier :)

Here's Michael & Jenna slaving away over my stuffed shells. You can tell they're good cooks 'cause of the pouffy hats and curly mustaches.
Stuff you need: 1. Pasta shells 2. Ricotta cheese- 1 15 oz tub 3. Parmesan cheese 4. Fresh spinach 5. Fresh basil 6. 2 jars red pasta sauce of your choice 7. Garlic

First and foremost, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and crack open that first bottle of wine- making stuffed shells is a slightly long and tedious task, but trust me, it's totally worth it in the end. When the water comes to a rolling boil, throw in your shells with some salt, and cook them until they're al dente.

While you're waiting for your noodles to soften, sauté the spinach and diced garlic in a little bit of olive oil, until the leaves are nice and wilted. Combine the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, and chopped basil in a bowl, and mix it all up with some fresh ground black pepper. We kept things simple with spinach and cheese, but other veggies or faux sausage might also be a nice addition to the stuffing mixture as well.

When the noodles are softened, drain them, and rinse them under cold water. Be warned. If you skip the cold water step, you will burn your hands off. TRUE STORY.

Take the shells, stuff them with the cheese mixture, and place them into a baking dish that has a layer of the pasta sauce on the bottom. Keep filling up the shells until you're out of supplies, and then cover the whole dish with another layer of pasta sauce. Pop the pan into the oven for around 20-30 minutes, or until it's warmed through and bubbly. Pull out the pasta, give it a good sprinkle of parmesan, and put it back into the oven for a final 5 minutes. When you can stand it no longer, serve up those shells and dig in!
Oh my, look how delicious those little cheese pockets look before and after getting baked into gooey deliciousness. For time management and calorie intake, it's definitely not a meal I would make all the time, but if you'd like to show off a bit, or celebrate a special occasion, this is just the dish! And let's be honest, anything cooked in mass amounts of pasta sauce and cheese has to be outrageously delicious, right? RIGHT.

Great food, great True Blood, great friends, great night.♥

Thursday, August 18, 2011

roasted green chiles 2 ways

You know what I love? Summer produce. Everything is beautiful, in season, and delicious. When I went to the grocery store last night, I was excited to see that green chiles were cheap, so I scooped up a handful of Anaheims, and began to hunt for tasty recipes. After browsing all the great ideas on Central Market, I decided to make my own version of the black bean stuffed bell pepper, and then add a chili cheddar biscuit on the side.

First and foremost. Stop everything you're doing, and roast your peppers! I didn't know this was necessary, but a chat with my mom confirmed that roasting your chiles is the best way to go. Simply plop your peppers onto a baking sheet and let them cook under the broiler approximately 5-10 minutes or until they're brown and blistering. Make sure you flip the chiles half way through to get both sides cooked, and when they're looking browned to perfection, take them out, peel off the skin, and use them up!
You can immediately use them in your recipes, or seal them in a plastic bag for future use. Tonight I did a little bit of both-I used 2 for my dinner, and stored the rest for stew, or burritos, or something else amazing.

For the quick-fix chili cheddar biscuits you need: 1. Bisquick Heart Smart mix 2. Milk- I used rice milk 3. Cheddar cheese 4. Roasted green chiles

I know using Bisquick is like, half cheating, but when you work all day, and want something delicious and fast, then shortcuts are often the answer. Besides. The Box said Heart Smart, so it can't be all bad, can it? :)

Follow the directions on the back of the Bisquick box stirring together the dry mix with your milk product. Add a healthy 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, 1 diced, roasted green chili, and pop those babies in the oven. 9 minutes later you will have yourself 5 soft, moist, cheesy biscuits, with just a slight hint of heat. They were absolutely to die for, but note for next time: more cheese & more chiles. Yummm
For the stuffed bell pepper you need: 1. 1 Bell pepper- I used red 2. Cous cous 3. 1/2 cup black beans 4. Cheddar cheese 5. Your favorite salsa 6. 1/4 diced onion 7. 1 roasted green chili diced

Start off by preparing your cous cous. You can also use rice, or any other grain, but I used cous cous since I had it on hand, and it cooks very quickly. While your grain is cooking, cut off the top of your bell pepper and scoop out anything that's inside. Now chop up your onion and green chili, measure out your cheese, black beans, and salsa, and when the cous cous is ready, mix everything together in a bowl and stuff it inside of your hollowed out bell pepper. You will definitely have lots of extra filling, but you can serve it as a side, or snack on it while your pepper is cooking.

Place the stuffed bell pepper into a baking dish with about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom, and put it into a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes. The recipe I based mine off of said 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, but just check on it occasionally, and when the pepper is soft and the stuffing is heated through, you're good to dig in!
Biscuits and stuffed peppers? A slightly strange combination, but both fantastic uses for my roasted green chili peppers. The slight hint of spicy heat in both recipes was perfection. I think my first time roasting peppers was incredibly successful, and now I can't wait to try my roasted green chiles in all sorts of new recipes! Yayy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

oh hello again

Good news! I'm alive. It's been quite a while since I last posted, but I think everything is almost back to normal. Since my last entry, I've celebrated some birthdays, traveled to Chicago for Lollapalooza, hosted a 17th annual slumber party, worked a ton, visited Colorado's first Ikea, and moved out of my wee studio and into a new place with my friend Molly. Phew! Tonight has really been the first time in weeks that I've had the chance to hit the gym, make a healthy dinner, relax, and update this blog!

Until I get the chance to grocery shop for my new place, here are just some fun things I've been loving recently:

I just finished reading Food Rules by Michael Pollan, and have now started on Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. If you're interested in what you consume, both books are fantastic. Food Rules is elegantly simple, and straight forward- a collection of fun suggestions for all your eating habits. Each and every rule makes perfect sense, leaving the reader empowered and excited about eating well. Eating Animals, on the other hand, takes a different approach at the food concept. Jonathan Safran Foer is an amazing writer, and his literary voice really shines in this novel. However, if you are faint of heart, be warned, because there is a lot of gruesome information on factory farms- far more than I anticipated. Depending on what you're looking for, both are good books, but very different ones, indeed.

Speaking of eating, I've had almost no chance to cook these past 2 weeks, but have been pleasantly surprised to still be able to find some tasty meat-free treats. Among all the burgers, pepperoni pizzas, and chicken burritos at Lollapalooza, I was super excited to find tons of vegetarian options. In fact, Crescent foods, was completely meat free! Big kudos to you Lolla :)
It was a rowdy weekend filled with fantastic music. One of the big sponsers is always Budweiser, and even though too much beer guzzling makes me feel terrible, it's at least nice to know it's vegan friendly! I've recently discovered Barnivore, and I'm completely fascinated by what's in my favorite cocktails. It's actually quite surprising :/

Anway, I could ramble on all night, but it's time to get to bed. I can't wait to organize our kitchen, pick up some produce, and start making more delicious food! More fun to come, I promise :)