This is a multi-purpose, make-ahead staple that’s perfect year-round since it can be served hot or cold! I make large batches of caponata because it can be used so many different ways. I’ve tried numerous recipes over the years, and the one below contains elements from the different recipes that make it my favorite. Pictured are wanton shells filled with chilled caponata and topped with herbed goat cheese. Other ideas for cold/room temperature dishes: spread on top of crostini (sprinkle crumbled feta on top), as a sandwich spread, in a wrap, and as a dip. Ideas for hot dishes: use it as a chunky pasta sauce (topped with Parmesan of course!), place a spoonful on top of small squares of puff pastry and then bake, serve hot over quinoa/cous cous. In fall, when tomatoes are not very good, I replace them with butternut squash and it’s amazing!
One of the few things from Costco that I don’t need help going through is their 1.5 lb box of cremini mushrooms. Roasting the mushrooms seems to concentrate the flavors and make them extra satisfying. I like this recipe because its easy and uses ingredients I usually have in the house. A pound and a half of mushrooms sounds like a lot, but they seem to disappear quickly! There are so many ways to use these garlicy roasted mushrooms (e.g., as a side dish, with mashed potatoes, chopped up in wraps or a pasta dish, tossed in omelettes, plain, etc.)
Velvety and versatile. I’m totally addicted to this spread- it’s so simple and adds an interesting dimension to dishes when you use it. Although the ingredients look basic, the end result it truly greater than the sum of the parts, with no one flavor standing out. Trader Joe’s sells a similar spread, but they use canola oil, so I wanted to make a healthier version. I used avocado oil since I’ve been trying to incorporate more of it in my diet, but you could use any neutral tasting oil. Note: This spread does not heat well since it is mostly oil.
I tried Trader Joe’s Baked Sriracha Tofu a few weeks ago and loved it! It’s so versatile and totally changes the flavor of salads, sandwiches, stir fry, etc. Some days, I just end up snacking on it straight. However, I found myself adding a little more spice and sesame oil to the dishes I used it in… so why not make my own version at home?! The recipe below has become a staple in my fridge since it’s so easy to prepare in a big batch and use throughout the week. As an aside, I use the marinade left over from this recipe to make a stir fry sauce by dissolving 1/2 tsp of cornstarch in it and then cooking it on medium heat until it thickens and doesn’t have the whitish color from uncooked cornstarch.
I know you can buy marinated hearts of palm in a jar, ready to eat, but I just don’t like the flavor as much as marinating them myself at home (sans preservatives!). The recipe below takes about 5 minutes, and is totally worth the effort. I make the marinade so that I can use it as a salad dressing. A quick lunch idea is to chop up romaine, add a handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds and these marinated hearts of palm (without draining them).
It’s pumpkin season!!! This is a quick, easy recipe for pumpkin “hummus.” I’m calling this hummus even though there are no chickpeas because the texture resembles hummus. The milder bean allows the pumpkin and spices to shine. I may be partial, but I think the Indian flavors complement pumpkin well to make a warm, autumny dip/spread. I served the pumpkin hummus at party this weekend with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup Crackers. It seemed to vanish, so I’m not fussing with the recipe any more! =) You can make this a day or two ahead of time, and it will actually be better since the extra time will allow the flavors to meld better.
One of the biggest challenges to a high-fat low carb diet is not having the bread and crackers to snack on, use to dip, or round out a meal. Sometimes veggie sticks and cabbage leaves just don’t cut it! I love these crackers because they at fairly easy to make, full of good fats, filling, and last for a while in an air tight container (the ones in the photo are 2 weeks old). I have been using them to make open faces sandwiches, appetizers with flavored cream cheeses and herbs, croutons for salad and soup, and just plain as a quick snack when I get hungry. If you want variety, you can add spices to the mix.
My Hungry Harvest produce box this week came with 1 pound of watermelon radishes. If you haven’t had them before, they are tons of fun. The outside looks so boring- usually white or pale green, but then you slice it open and see bright pink/red! I find the taste is mildly peppery and slightly sweet. I usually just slice them thinly and put a little salt, pepper, and sometimes even butter for a fun snack. This time though, I wanted to make the 1 pound last for a while, so I pickled it. This pickle is great on a cheese board, in sandwiches, mixed into salads, or even just to munch on. I used a spiraler to get thin slices, but you can also just cut them by hand into thin slices.
This is my version of a spicy snack bread that is healthier than plain white bread. I really like how hearty it is. The savory flavors from Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper are so satisfying when I want a quick snack. I like eating this with the Olive Oil Butter Spread. =)
I made this green chutney for Mother’s Day since it was gorgeous weather outside and we decided to grill. The flavors are so light and fresh that I love it in sandwiches, wraps, with roasted veggies, as a soup garnish… pretty much anything summery. It’s also very versatile: thin it out with water to make a dressing, mix it into yogurt to make a dip, whisk it with olive oil to make a pasta salad. It also gets bonus points for freezing well. It’s amazing how a chutney so healthy and easy to make can be sooooo good!
This jam came into creation because I really dislike ketchup. It’s sweet and doesn’t taste like tomato to me. I’ve made a more than a few batches of the tomato jam, varying the spices and sugars, until I settled on the recipe below. You can definitely make a smaller batch and keep it in the fridge if you don’t want to go through the whole canning process. I really like this jam as a spread (especially with cream cheese), as a topping for soups, spread on cheese or roasted veggies, and many other ways… It’s not ketchup, but I’ll actually eat this! =)
This post doesn’t have recipes, just ideas. A little bit of this… a little bit of that… and suddenly I have a vat of spicy, chunky chili! Far more than I can eat at once. Luckily, chili freezes well. The list below is how I used up all my leftovers…. If anyone else has ideas, please share! As a side note, I think I’m always going to make extra now. =)
YUM!!!! I’ve had this sandwich 3 days in a row now, and I can’t get over (1) how easy it is, (2) how fresh and summery it tastes, and (3) how filling it is. The number of open-face sandwiches you get depends on how big your bread slices are and how thin you slice the avocado. The recipe below is for 2 slices of bakery size loaves of sourdough bread.
I realized that I use pesto in a bunch of my recipes, but never actually posted a recipe. Surprising, since I consider this a staple. It a quick way to make an okay meal taste special (pasta, sandwich spread, soup, grilled veggies, etc). Adding the other greens keeps the color nice and bright, and adds some additional flavors. Also, if I don’t have pine nuts, I substitute cashews and it still tastes good. This sauce also freezes well, so I often make extra and keep it.
A whole day off… that means bread time! I didn’t feel like making a regular loaf of bread, so I made focaccia instead. This is one recipe that I definitely recommend using good olive oil for. As far as the toppings go… make your favorite combo, clean out the fridge, use colorful ingredients to be festive… have fun with it!
Until last year, I always used to buy pumpkin pulp from the store, and I’ll admit, I still do if I’m craving pumpkin dishes and don’t have a real pumpkin on-hand. However, now, if I plan ahead, I prefer to buy my own pumpkin and cook it. It feels like the epitome of fall to go to a farmer’s market and pick out a pumpkin to bring home. I like using pie pumpkins because I find that they have less seeds and less stringy flesh. Don’t be intimidated- the toughest part is cutting the pumpkin in half… =)
I realized today that I use roasted red peppers all over my blog, and haven’t actually described how to roast them at home. I put “roasted” in quotes since these are actually broiled (not sure what the difference is). The first time I roasted the peppers, I was really careful not to burn it. Turns out, it actually tastes better if you completely blacken it! You can buy ready-made roasted peppers from the store, but I prefer roasting them at home. It’s fun and I find that it tastes more flavorful to me.
Nothing like the taste of fresh cream butter… This is my method for making butter in the Vitamix- please note that it is different from what is in the Vitamix recipe book. This is a little additional work, but I like how the butter turns out better and I feel like it lasts a little longer in the fridge. The directions look lengthy, but in total this takes me about 10 minutes to do steps 1-5, and then it sits overnight to drain. I tried to be as descriptive as possible, so please let me know if something is not clear!
The last of my Valentine’s Day posts… and probably my favorite. It’s light and easy to make ahead of time. I broiled the veggies ahead of time, and then just baked it for 10 mins right before serving. I used a variety of veggies, but you can mix and match any veggies you want. It’s a great way to use up leftover eggplant, squash, mushrooms, etc. You can serve it a variety of ways- plain, in a sandwich, on a bed of pasta, etc. I made a Roasted Red Pepper Coulis to pour on top, which was a great compliment since I didn’t add roasted red peppers to the stack.
I had some leftover ground some pistachios from a different recipe, so decided to make a pistachio sauce for one of the Valentine’s day dishes. I mixed this with ditalini pasta, but it also tastes good on veggies, toast, and even as a pizza sauce. Just a note, I used key limes last time to make this- and it came out more limey than using regular limes.
I had a Halloween party last year and completely forgot to post about it! I had the most fun planning the food for the party (as usual). The best thing about Halloween food is that you can be super creative to make things fit into the creepy, gross theme. Below is the table spread for the party, with links to the foods and how I did them (click on it for a larger image).
This is my new, healthy substitute for sour cream and cream cheese in recipes. Although lately, it hasn’t even made it into recipes- I end up finishing it with toast and crackers! Its so simple and tastes soooo good… slightly tangy and creamy. The only thing to remember is that you need to start making it at least one day before.
Aside from the time it takes to roast the eggplant, this is actually a really easy recipe. I love eating it in wraps, with crackers, on sandwiches, etc. I alternate between mashing the eggplant up completely for a smooth dip and cutting the inside into cubes for a chunkier dip.
What’s better than mozzarella? Marinated mozzarella!!! I love adding these marinated mozzarella balls to salads (I don’t need dressing then), sliced on top of pizza, on top of crackers, or even just plain. The best part is that it is relatively easy to make and stays good for a while! Also, you can make it a few days before you need it- actually, you should since the flavor gets better with time.
The last time I went to Trader Joe’s, they had a sign posted for a recipe contest using quinoa- so of course, I felt compelled to come up with something to submit! The constraints are that we can only use 7 main ingredients and it has to take less than 20 mins to prepare (excluding cooking time). So, given how much I shop at Trader Joe’s, I rummaged through my pantry and came up with ingredients to make quinoa black bean burgers. You can make a big batch of these burgers and freeze them. Just let them cool, then place them in and airtight container- separate the burgers with wax paper so they don’t stick together. Note: I used all the ingredients from Trader Joe’s because of the contest guidelines, but you can use non-Trader Joe’s ingredients and it should still work!
A little while back, my friend went to France and brought back Herbs de Provence (so exciting!). So of course, they sat on my counter begging to be used for all of 2 days before I obliged. This is a pretty simple and quick recipe that tastes wonderful spread on bread or crackers. I made it day before I wanted to use it so that the flavors would really settle in. Also, I stored it in the fridge and it stayed good for about a week (till I finished it that is!).
This is essentially a recipe for egg salad, but tweaked to be vegan. Even though I eat eggs, I don’t like the egg-y taste that regular egg salad/potato salad/coleslaw has, so this I love how this comes out. The main thing is to find vegan mayo like Nayonaise or the reduced fat mayo from Trader Joe’s to hold everything together. You can add anything you like, but this recipe has things that are on the crunchy side like celery and carrots. You can definitely eat it plain, or with crackers, but I like putting a thick layer of it a sandwich to make it a more of a meal.
Probably one of the quickest recipes I’ve made with an incredibly yummy result! I’m not usually a fan of feta because I find it salty, but it adds a great flavor to this. Also, I used bottled roasted red peppers, but if you want to use fresh ones, you can follow this recipe that has how to roast red peppers: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Although I titled this a dip, I can imagine it tasting great as a spread on sandwiches or wraps.
This is an extremely belated post since it is from the picnic we had for Mother’s Day. So, although Mother’s Day is gone, the dishes we made for the picnic are great summer foods. We decided to have a variety of salads and dips instead of one main dish, and we were definitely stuffed when it was over! Some of the things we picked up from Trader Joe’s, but the rest we made at home.
Continuing on my attempts to be healthy, these are flour-less vegan black bean burgers!!! It took me two tries to get it to the point where I like them, but I really like the taste of the burgers now. The best part is, you can make a big batch and freeze them. Just let them cool, then place them in and airtight container- separate the burgers with wax paper so they don’t stick together. The other great thing is you can eat them so many different ways. I ate them this week by putting them in a wheat wrap with salsa, a bit of avocado, and a cup of arugula. Last week, I used them to make veggie stacks by piling on sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, cheese etc, which was also surprisingly filling.