{Vegetarian} Brunch Tostadas

You guyyyyyys. I know, I’m always like, oh this is the best recipe ever and you just have to try it. But seriously, it is the best freakin’ recipe ever!!!!!!! I am obsessed with Mexican flavors in case you haven’t noticed by now. (Click on every word in the previous sentence to find my favorite Mexican inspired dishes!)

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I am always trying to come up with different ways to use my favorite ingredients in new recipes and this one is a blue ribbon winner dear friends!

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Also, it could NOT be any easier. Warm the tostada shells in the oven while you saute onion and garlic with your beans and some spices. Fry a couple eggs and garnish with cotija cheese and pico de gallo and you’re brunching like a rockstar!

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It’s easy enough that you could actually probably swing it on a weekday morning too. But it might be best enjoyed on a sunny, slow Saturday morning out on the deck with a big cold brew decaf caramel latte. Keep your eyes peeled for that latte recipe coming soon!

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It’s time to brunch bishes.

{Vegetarian} Brunch Tostadas

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 6 tostada shells
  • 8 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon diced chiles in adobo
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread tostada shells out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake them for about 2-3 minutes just to warm them through.

While the oven is preheating, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add black beans, red beans, cumin, chili powder, chiles in adobo and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Turn heat to low and use a potato masher to mash beans. Mash until about half are mashed and half are still whole. Turn heat off, but leave pan on the burner to stay warm while you prepare the other components of the dish.

Fry eggs in batches by heating olive oil a large saute pan over medium heat. Use 1 teaspoon of oil for each egg. Crack them into the oil, season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute, uncovered. Turn heat to low and cover pan with a tight fitting lid. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. Cook remaining eggs in the same fashion.

To assemble tostadads, divide bean mixture between shells, spreading it in an even layer. Then add fried egg, a heaping tablespoon of cotija, a heaping tablespoon of pico and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Serve immediately!

Lemon and Dill Goat Cheese Bites (3)

{Vegan} Orange Ginger Asian Quinoa Salad

This is my favorite time of the year. Summer has arrived but it’s not quite in full swing yet so the air is warm, but not yet humid. The evenings and nights get nice and cool but you can still sleep with the windows open. If ever there was a perfect time to live in Wisconsin, it is now!

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This surge of warm weather and endless sunlight always gets me craving big bowls of fresh veggies for lunch. If you feel like you’re in a lunch rut or you’re sick of your usual salad routine, this quinoa salad is for you!

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You can make a big batch that will last all week, and like a fine wine it only get better with time. You could easily switch out the quinoa for pasta in this recipe too.

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Fresh squeezed orange juice sets this dressing apart from all others. Fresh ginger and garlic along with rice vinegar and soy sauce give it that classic Asian flavor that you’re looking for, but the orange zest is what really gives it a big burst of freshness.

{Vegan} Orange Ginger Asian Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • optional: sesame seeds for garnish

For the dressing:

  • zest of half an orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/2 inch cube ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

In a small saucepan combine quinoa, water and sesame oil. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat to low. Simmer on low for 12-15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, fluff with a fork and place in fridge to cool.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl combine cooled quinoa, carrots, cabbage, edamame, red pepper and dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired and serve!

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The Best Southwest Dressing Ever

I am so guilty of buying those bagged salads in the produce section at the super market. I LOVE THEM. Whenever I am feeling unmotivated to meal prep for the week, my go-to is any kind of southwest or chipotle cheddar salad. But at $4-$5 a pop those bagged salads are not a very economical solution to my mid-day meal hunt. So this week, feeling quite motivated and also a little strapped for cash, I decided to create my own southwest style dressing.

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To be honest, I’ve tried repeatedly just to buy a southwest dressing and I cannot find one to save my life. I’ve seen a couple southwest ranch dressings out there but they’re not even close to the same. Too much ranch (is there such a thing?!) and not enough southwest.

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I’ve had the southwest salad a Mickey D’s a few times (see, I told you, I really am a southwest salad connoisseur) and it comes with the most glorious Newman’s Own Southwest dressing. After a little research I discovered that Newman’s Own makes it exclusively for McDonald’s and you cannot find it anywhere else. So Mickey D’s has the monopoly on the only delicious southwest dressing ever.

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Until now! I would venture to say that this dressing might even be better than Newman’s Own. But I’ll let you be the judge!

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The Best Southwest Dressing Ever

  • Servings: 8-10
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Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 16 oz. light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add all dressing ingredients to a large mason jar and shake vigorously until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (1)

 

 

Bacon & Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

Do you have a Woodman’s where you live? Have you tried ordering your groceries online? You literally pick out exactly what you want (including back ups in case they are out of something) and pick the date/time you want to pick them up. They text you a reminder when your groceries are ready and you text them back when you have arrived. They wheel the groceries right out to your car and even help you load it up. It literally could not be easier! It has saved us so much time it’s ridiculous! There is a $4.95 charge if your order is $50-$99.99 but get your order over $100 and it’s free! In the long run I’m convinced it’s also saved us money too, because there’s no impulse purchases as you’re navigating the aisles.

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The biggest plus for me is the not having to deal with the anxiety and annoyance of grocery shopping. I hate dealing with the aisle blockers, slow walkers, dilly dalliers, loud talkers, yelling parents, screaming children (mostly my own) and worst of all those shoppers who act like they are literally the only people in the entire store. You know the ones, blocking the entire dairy aisle with their perpendicular cart only to leave it in the middle of the aisle and wander down 10 feet to look at the sour cream. Meanwhile a line of 8 people is waiting to get around her. I may have lost my temper a bit and after politely saying, “Excuse me” also muttered under my breath, “Not like there’s a line of 10 people behind you.” This lady got super pissed and started yelling at me. Admittedly, I was being a bit snippy and I probably deserved the words she said to me. But damn lady, get outta the freakin’ way! We all have places to go and no one wants to stand here and watch you spend 20 minutes debating sour cream brands.

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So now it’s click, click, click, pick up my groceries and I’m done. No more starting shit at the grocery store for me!

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I do have one complaint though…I hate all the plastic bags! I have tried writing “paper bags only, no plastic bags please” in the notes section of every single order, and I still get everything in plastic bags. I could probably bring my own canvas grocery bags and switch them out, but you know they are just going to throw away those plastic bags and no reuse them, so what’s the point? At least when I get them home, I can recycle them. But, come on Eau Claire, let’s get on this “plastic bag ban” bandwagon please!

Rant over. This pizza is delicious and you need to make it now. It easy, it tastes great and your family will love you for putting this delicious creation on the dinner table.

Bacon and Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

  • Servings: 2-3
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Ingredients

  • 1 (12-14 inch) pizza crust (1/4 of my no knead pizza dough recipe)
  • 1/2 recipe of my homemade dill pesto (or 1/2 cup of your fave pesto)
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: fresh chopped dill

Directions

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. If you’re using my no knead pizza dough recipe, line a pizza pan or baking sheet with foil and and sprinkle a thin layer of corn meal to prevent the crust from sticking. Turn the dough ball out onto a floured work surface. Gently shape it into a disc, then carefully working in a clockwise motion, gently press and stretch the dough into a 12 inch circle. Don’t overwork the dough; the less you touch it the better. If you’re using a pre-baked store bought crust you can skip these steps and just place your crust on a foil lined pan.

Spread pesto in an even layer across the pizza, leaving about a half inch of crust. Then add, leeks, bacon, mozzarella and Parmesan, spreading everything in an even layer across the crust. Bake for 15 minute or until the edges are dark golden brown and the cheese starts to brown as well. Garnish with fresh dill and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (7)

The Best Ever Crispy Baked Fries

Spoiler Alert: If you just want the recipe keep scrolling because Olivia’s about to get real. I can’t say for sure what it is, but there’s a certain quiet loneliness about the late winter months that I just can’t seem to shake. The warmth of the holidays has worn off, the sun is out for like 3 hours and I’m not much of a cold weather person so I don’t really get anytime quality time with mother nature. Did anyone else feel the seasonal anxiety and depression that comes along with winters in Wisconsin this year? I honestly have never realized it before. But looking back, the last few years I’ve been buried pretty deep in those mid-winter blues. As the sun starts shining, the temps warm up and I come out on the other side now, I noticed that I have quite a distinctive pattern around the same time every year. Usually it’s late January or early February, but sometimes it even rolls into March. I start to feel really out of it and melancholy and start contemplating life and how crazy it all is. Which prompts me to schedule a visit with a doctor, who of course tells me everything is fine and then spring comes and I forget all about it. One year it was a few trips to the ER, a few EKGs and finally an echo-cardiogram because I was having palpitations and chest pains (which I later realized were actually panic attacks). A couple years in a row it’s just triggered me to schedule my annual exam and have some labs drawn; I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve tested my thyroid levels. This year it was some delightful rectal bleeding and lower abdominal CT, followed by a colonoscopy. Oh, and there’s usually a drastic hair cut or color thrown in there somewhere. How have I never noticed this about myself before? But with this realization comes the ability to do something about it!

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Move to a warmer climate, right?! JUST KIDDING. I do love Wisconsin; mostly because it’s where my family lives, but I also appreciate the seasons. Even if I go a little crazy for half the year. Every season has it’s pros and cons, but I like living somewhere where you get to experience each season so distinctly. Plus I hate big spiders, snakes and scorpions. So climates where it’s warm all year are out of the question for me. I need that deep freeze to make sure the spiders only get pretty big and not gigantic.

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This past winter my anxiety actually got so bad and constant that I considered adding some sort of prescription pharmaceutical to my daily routine. Which if you know me at all, is quite a surprising thing to hear (see my latest post regarding a sedation free colonoscopy) because I am someone who hates to even take Excedrin when I have a raging migraine with aura. But, almost like clockwork, the seasons have begun to change and I am feeling good again. Certainly not anxiety free, but leaps and bounds better than I had been feeling even just a month ago.

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*Just to clarify: I am in no way putting down those who take prescriptions for anything. I realize it is very necessary for many and might even be for me some day. I just really hate to put any medication of any kind into my body so when I started to consider it, it was a sign that my anxiety was really starting to take a toll on me. It’s so important to listen to your body and take it’s queues.

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The Best Crispy Baked Fries

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice each potato into 1/2 inch slices, then cut each slice into 1/2 inch wide sticks. So basically, cut the potatoes into french fries. Then add potatoes, oil, garlic powder, thyme and paprika to a large bowl. Add a couple generous pinches of salt and large pinch of pepper. Stir until seasoning is well distributed and fries are well coated.

Spread fries in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the fries so all sides get nice and crispy. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Then crank the heat to 500 and bake for 15 minutes. Flip fries and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until desired crispiness is reached. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I’m not going to pretend like mine isn’t Heinz ketchup, because it is.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (8)

{Vegan} Quinoa and Lentil Tacos

You may have noticed that I’ve been pretty silent on the blog and my social media pages this past week. Well, that’s because I’ve been eating the blandest of bland food in preparation to be the lucky recipient of a colonoscopy! *insert shudder and disgusted face here* A colonoscopy at 30?? Yes, my friends. A couple months back I experienced some rectal bleeding that lasted about a week. To be honest, it scared the shit out of me. Pun intended… I can only attribute it too a few too many take out pizza nights accompanied by a couple too many glasses of wine. Other than that there was no change to my diet, exercise or sleep habits. I experienced no pain, no cramping, nothing out of the ordinary other than some very bright red blood in the toilet bowl and streaked through my stool. I know, too much information, but after doing some research, colorectal cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer related death is this country. So it’s time to start talking about your poop people!

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Even with the introduction of fiber supplements and ridiculous amounts of fruits and veggies, the bleeding continued every morning like clock work all week. By Friday morning I was feeling light headed and dizzy (most likely related to the unsettling feeling of now knowing what the hell is going on with my body). I could only get an appointment with the GI doctor if I had a referral from my primary care doctor or an urgent care doctor. I didn’t have a primary care doctor (although you can bet your bottom dollar that I do now and you should too!) and after a quick trip to urgent care I was told they don’t treat issues like mine and that I needed to go the ER. So, after an abdominal CT and some labs they said everything looked normal and I finally got that referral to the GI department!

Of course, the GI provider told me that while the CT didn’t show any masses or abnormalities, they really wouldn’t be able to rule everything out until they did a colonoscopy. Now I am one of those people who likes to really do my research and know exactly what I can expect before something happens. I told the provider I needed to think on it and mentally prepare for the colonoscopy before scheduling one. A little background info on the topic: My grandma is almost two years cancer free after her own battle with colon cancer, so this really hit close to home for me. She had a large mass removed from her colon along with chemotherapy treatments and to be honest, she handled it like a champ. Although they say your risk only increases if you have a first degree relative who had colon cancer, I have to imagine that my risk is still somewhat increased if I have a second degree relative who had it. In my mind, I knew that I had to have the colonoscopy but I needed some time to learn more about the process and what I could expect. The provider I had the consult with assured me that the risks were minimal and rarely occur, but there was the possibility of perforation of the colon (when removing a large polyp) and there’s always risks with sedating a patient (issues related to heart rate, blood pressure, etc.).

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Armed with my limited knowledge of the procedure, I started doing some research using the good old Google. I discovered that in most cases the patient is sedated for the procedure and has no memory of it at all. They wake up and hang out in the recovery area for about a half hour and then head home to sleep and relax for the rest of the day. Obviously sedation affects everyone differently, but many people feel foggy and out of it for the rest of the day. You aren’t permitted to sign legal documents and are considered legally impaired for the rest of the day. While having no memory of the procedure sounded great, being sedated and out of it for the rest of the day just did not sit well with me. The more research I did, the more articles I found about sedation free colonoscopies. I was surprised to find out that most health care providers, health care staff and those who are “highly educated” opt for sedation free colonoscopies because it’s just not necessary to be sedated. Now, I don’t have a college degree but I can tell you that I if I don’t have to put sedatives in my body, I don’t want to. I hate to put any anything in my body if I don’t have to (unless it’s wine or pizza…now you see how I got in this predicament). I don’t even like to take Excedrin when I have a throbbing migraine with aura so the thought of a sedation free colonoscopy appealed to me.

Contrary to popular belief, colonoscopies are not painful. Your colon actually does not have nerve endings that sense pain, temperature or touch. Most people who experience extreme pain or discomfort during the procedure are those with inflammation, digestive issues or obstructed bowels.

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Post Procedure Update:

WOW. Glad that’s over. But seriously, it was no where near as bad as I was expecting! Like I mentioned above, I started eating a low fiber, very bland diet about 4 days before the procedure and also reduced my overall intake of food. The day before the procedure I only drank clear liquids, ate gummy bears and lemon popsicles. While the lack of food for over 24 hours was not as hard as I thought it was going to be, I did have a lot of difficulty focusing at work and only lasted for about half the day before I had to go home and be foggy in the comfort of my own home.

I made sure to pump myself full of water in anticipation of the dehydrating prep that I had to drink the night before the procedure. In most articles I read, the prep portion was the hardest for patients to complete. It requires you to drink 16 (8 oz.) glasses of this nasty, salty liquid. You drink 12 glasses the night before and 4 glasses the morning of. I channeled my younger partying days and poured myself shots of the prep liquid which I threw back and then chased with white Gatorade. This made it a lot easier for me, but seriously drinking 72 oz. of liquid in 3 hours is quite a feat! The actual evacuation of my bowels really wasn’t too bad. I hadn’t eaten much over the last few days, so there wasn’t much left to come out! I heeded all the warnings and was sure to use baby wipes instead of toilet paper during the process which made things a lot less painful. Overall, while unpleasant, the prep was not awful. The worst part was just the sore bottom afterwards. Thank you Desitin!

Although by the time the first round of prep was completed things were coming out clear, I drank the second round of prep in the morning as instructed. I read many stories of people’s colons being too dirty to undergo procedure and having to reschedule and start the whole cycle over–no thank you! So I choked it down and then rested for a few hours before my appointment. My appointment was in the afternoon because they were able to squeeze me in on short notice with my doctor of choice, Dr. Jaime Zighelboim. He was a clear choice for me after reading this article about how he performed sedation free colonoscopies. I found my experience to be very similar to the lady in the article.

I do have to note that I was overwhelmingly impressed with the nursing staff and their ability to keep me feeling very calm, comfortable and relaxed during my entire visit. My admitting nurse had me laughing and was very encouraging when I relayed my plan to forgo sedation. He described the procedure in great detail so I knew exactly what to expect. He explained that the first part of the procedure they are just working on getting the scope all the way to the end of your colon, then the remainder of the procedure they are cleaning the colon with water and suction while they inspect every inch. Once you make it through the full insertion of the scope, the removal process is a piece of cake. He also explained that they would still place an IV in my arm in the event that I did choose to have sedation mid-procedure; they would be able to hook me up and get those going right away. It was comforting to know that if it was painful or uncomfortable, there was always the option of sedation.

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It seems like such a small thing but it also really helped to have the procedure nurse hold my hand during the entire procedure. She kept asking how I was doing and reminded me to breath during the times where I felt some pressure as the doctor guided the scope around the 90 degree angles of my colon. At first, I closed my eyes and didn’t want to watch the TV screen projecting the view of the scope. But as I relaxed, I opened my eyes and started watching as he steered the scope skillfully shooting water at little particles that were stuck to the walls of my colon. His movements were calculated and confident. I truly felt like I was in good hands.

For the most part, it really was an uneventful procedure. It lasted maybe 10-12 minutes. I felt some little wiggles from inside and I could feel the presence of the scope just at the opening of my rectum but it was well lubricated and was not painful during insertion or during the procedure. I did feel some poking and pressure once and it lasted for maybe 8 seconds. It was on my left side and it was just as the scope rounded a sharp corner. On a scale from 1-10 I’d give the pain maybe a 3-4. It was not a pain like when you cut your finger or even when you hit your shin on something. It was more just a poking pressure. I took a few deep breaths and closed my eyes again and it was pretty much over as quickly as it as it began. During this time the doctor explained that while the colon itself cannot feel pain, the pressure that I was experiencing  was the ligaments that hold the colon in place stretching and moving as scope navigated the corners. In the end, I was given a clean bill of health and sent on my way!

I realize this is like WAY TOO MUCH detail for some people. But honestly, it’s something we need to talk about. I wonder if my grandma would have had a colonoscopy earlier in her life if she’d known what to expect and known the consequences of not having regular exams after age 50 or before if you are having issues. It’s amazing that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths in this country despite it being extremely preventable and treatable in many cases with early detection and regular screenings. So that’s why I chose to write about it. Because colonoscopies have a bad rap and they really don’t need to.

Personally, I would 100% do it again without sedation. Being awake and aware of what was happening to my body felt empowering. Being able to get up and walk out of the hospital after the procedure felt great. If you are contemplating a colonoscopy without sedation, I would strongly urge you to try it. You can also opt for the drugs if it’s not your cup of tea. It’s important to remember that you have options, and to find a health care provider you trust who is willing to discuss alternatives to traditional medicine.

{Vegan} Quinoa and Lentil Tacos

  • Servings: 8 tacos
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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups cooked red lentils
  • 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium tamari
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Start by heating oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with tamari and water. Then add lentils, quinoa, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook until just heated through.

Serve with your favorite taco toppings! I chose my favorite Chipotle Lime Slaw, sauteed veggies and fresh made guacamole.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (9)

Spicy Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

Do you ever feel like you overthink things? Like maybe you put way too much time and energy into something that really would be better off if you’d just let it be? Or sometimes you try to make something more complex or intricate than it needs to be? Of course not, me neither.

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Hah, yeah right. For me it’s my recipes and food photos. Sometimes I think they need to have 20 ingredients or they’ll be too boring and simple. I will make something, taste it 1000 times and even though it’s delicious, I will stress over whether it could be better. More salt, some acidity, a hint of heat? Let it go already! Sometimes I think I miss out on the good looking for the perfect. Have you heard that saying before? It’s really been resonating with me lately. Don’t miss out on the good looking for the perfect. And honestly, when I see a recipe with too many ingredients or something that seems too difficult or time consuming, I generally scroll on past. So why, you might ask, would I think that my recipes need to be complex and over the top? Because, I tend to overthink things!

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My other obsession is getting the perfect shot. I hate to even admit it but I will sometimes spend 1-2 hours staging the scene and taking 389 shots of the same dish. Even though I know I really love the first 5 and probably don’t need to spend any more time fussing. And as you can see 4-5 is usually the sweet spot for blog pictures, so any more than that is really just overkill.

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So, here’s to not overthinking things. Appreciating whole foods prepared in simple recipes that taste delicious. I think I might have stumbled across my new catchphrase…

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Also, do you remember last week when I was all, “Oh, I’ve gotta get one more soup recipe in before spring arrives!” Well, spring is still here. Along with 12 inches of snow. Although I really shouldn’t complain because one year we got this much snow during the first week of May. So this is at least a couple weeks earlier. And this is a great excuse to hunker down and snuggle in with a hearty bowl of soup while the flakes fall and binge watch Netflix.

Spicy Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 12 oz. ground hot Italian (or mild) sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (12 oz.) can of your favorite beer
  • 1 cup red lentils, uncooked
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 heaping cups chopped kale
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

In a large pot over medium heat, brown sausage, using a spatula crumble until cooked through. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and saute 1 minute, stirring frequently. Deglaze pot with beer, then add lentils, tomatoes, chicken stock and water. Stir to combine. Cover pot, turn heat up just to bring things to a simmer, then simmer on low for 15 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes.

At this point remove from heat, stir in cream if desired and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets

{Vegan} Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad

This salad is fast. It’s easy. It’s simple. And so, this post will be too! This is another one of my favorite meal prep recipes for lunches during the work week. I like to bring something cold for lunch so as not to fill our tiny office with the fragrance of my favorite curry recipe or roasted poblano soup. While I enjoy all those smells and flavors, I realize that everyone may not. So I usually save those gems for dinner and bring something equally as flavorful but slightly less offensive to the senses of those around me.

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Enter, pasta salad! You might be saying, didn’t you just post a pasta salad recipe last week?! Yes, I did. But that was last week and this is now. And when summer comes and you’re not sure what to bring to your friend’s BBQ, now you have this recipe and you have that Mediterranean pasta salad from last week. So you’re welcome!

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I like to use spaghetti noodles because I love to swirl them around on my fork but you could use any shape you want. Just try to make sure it’s whole wheat. It’s way better for you and once you get used to the toothier texture you might find that you prefer it over regular white pasta.

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{Vegan} Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

For pasta salad:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper diced
  • 1/4 red onion, petite diced
  • 1/2 a small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, shredded
  • 3 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups cooked, shelled edamame
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

For dressing:

  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

This recipe really couldn’t be much easier. Add all pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl. Add all dressing ingredients to a large mason jar and shake it up real good. If you are planning to serve the pasta salad immediately, pour dressing into the serving bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Garnish with sesame seeds.

If you are planning to meal prep this recipe like I did, pour about 1/2 of the dressing into the serving bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Then divide into 8 containers and garnish each container of salad with sesame seeds. Each morning before work, or just before serving add another splash of dressing to the salad. This will ensure that the noodles don’t get too soggy and that your pasta salad is still flavorful a few days later.

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