Monthly Archives: April 2011

Mexican Bean dip.

I wish I could say that I was in charge of an easter brunch and have some fancy delicious vegetarian recipes to share from this weekend, but I was not in charge! I sat back and played with babies and dogs all weekend. Rough life.

There was one night this weekend that I did get to step in the kitchen and take charge. Brent’s brother-in-law was craving guacamole, so Mexican food was the plan. Baby Thomas was getting bored of Easter food anyway. 

I decided to make a bean dip. This is a super easy vegetarian appetizer that is so delicious, awesome for parties and amazingly inexpensive. My friend in high school made this recipe up and I’ve made it often ever since.
Mexican Bean Dip: The Ingredient List
1 can of vegetarian refried beans
1 cup of your favorite salsa (not-chunky)
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded/diced
1 T diced onion
1/2 cup cheddar or mexican blend cheese, divided
1. Open the can of beans. Pour in an oven safe baking dish.
2. Add salsa, jalapeño (you can use more jalapeño or jarred ones if you’d rather), 1/4 cup cheese and onion to the beans. Stir well.
3. Pop the dish into the microwave for 2 minutes or until everything is heated through.
4. Pour the rest of the cheese  on top of the bean mixture. Add more than 1/4 cup if you’d like.
5. Place this in the oven at 400° for about 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Feel free to broil as well.
This serves best with some tortilla chips or corn chips of some sort. To be honest, I’ve never tried this awesome recipe with anything else. I’m open to suggestions!
Along with my appetizer, the carnivores had grilled chicken tacos and I heated up a can of black beans for my taco filling.

vegetarian taco filling. delicious!

Most everyone decided to put a little black beans in their taco, so they were a hit. Also, no meal would be complete without a topping bar so we made a nice looking spread.
What would you make for a Meatless Mexican Meal?


Come on, who doesn’t love cheese sauce!? If you don’t, you just haven’t made this recipe yet.

I love vegetables now, but as a kid I’m sure I wasn’t their #1 fan. I think my Mom made this cheese sauce as a way to get us to eat an excess of veggies. I don’t need to be tricked into eating vegetables anymore, but I still love this cheese sauce. We always had it served with noodles too and it makes an amazing mac + cheese. It’s super rich, and not the healthiest so we didn’t get to eat it very often. A good rule, even today.

The cheese sauce is a little tricky if you’ve never made a roux or a white sauce before, or if you’re me, but it’s awesome. And worth it.

Cheese Sauce w/ Broccoli, Cauliflower // Mac + Cheese

The Ingredient List:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1-2 broccoli crowns
  • 2 servings of cooked elbow noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt + pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk-warmed
  • 2+ cups shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
1. Cook the elbow noodles according to the box, and set aside.
2. Wash and cut the broccoli and cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Use a vegetable steamer and in a large saucepan, bring 1 in. of water, broccoli and cauliflower to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 5-15 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until blended and a little brown.
3. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; add cheese, stirring until melted. 
4. Drain veggies and noodles, pour cheese sauce over top… and dig in!

Mmm. Mac + Cheese! Veggies + Cheese sauce! So versatile!  You can serve this cheese sauce with any vegetable or type of noodle you like. You can even double the cheese sauce recipe and pour it over noodles + throw it in the oven for a traditional mac and cheese.
What would you put this cheese sauce on?

Falafel + Greek-ish couscous

You get a twofer today! Not that Toofer, but two recipes in one!

Last night our pal Megan had a birthday potluck. Brent + I spent a large portion of the day doing exactly what we wanted… which was not much other than catching up on the DVR, complaining about where Spring went (it snowed Friday night) and looking around town at vintage shops for a birthday gift. After all that excitement, it was time to get cooking!

I love falafel, but it is often fried and gets a bad rap as being unhealthy. The recipe I made is very healthy, easy and best of all, a very inexpensive recipe!  I made a modified version of a Ellie Krieger’s falafel recipe which can be found here.

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 squeeze lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine all felafel ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 10 seconds. Stop motor and scrape down sides of bowl, then pulse for another 10 seconds, until all ingredients are well incorporated but mixture is still slightly coarse and grainy.

this mini chop rules. i'll upgrade to the full size food processor one day!

3. Form mixture into 12-16 falafel balls and spritz with Pam or brush with olive oil.

all in the oven

4. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes, flip falafel balls and bake an additional 20 minutes, until falafel balls are crisp and browned.

The recipe doesn’t make too many falafel balls, so I’d highly recommend doubling it if you are serving these at a party. To make up for the lack of falafel to go around, I decided to make one of my old staples. A couscous salad of sorts.

I had Israeli Couscous on hand, but this works awesome with quinoa, faro, orzo or regular couscous.

Greekish-Israeli Couscous Salad: The Ingredient List
1 box Israeli Couscous (Trader Joe’s brand is the best!)
3-4 T red onion, diced
2 T italian (flat-leaf) fresh parsley, chopped small
2-4oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 a lemon’s juice
2-3 T red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt + pepper

1. Mix lemon juice, vinegar and a tad bit of salt and pepper together in a bowl. If you like olive oil, go ahead and add about a tablespoon to the mix.
2. Follow cooking instructions on the Israeli Couscous box.  Add cooked couscous to the bowl containing the dressing. Toss with the vinegar/lemon juice and let it cool down for about 20 minutes in the fridge. I like to stir it around a few times to make sure there is enough dressing on the thing as the couscous will absorb the dressing as it cools.
3. Add the onion, parsley, and feta cheese. Add more lemon juice/vinegar if needed. If you have any other veggies (tomatoes! cucumbers! olives!) that you like, throw them in!

I like to eat the falafel on top of this salad, or wrapped in a pita w/ some salad and lettuce for an awesome lunch or dinner.

Both of these recipes are very easy and are party hits! Feel free to leave out the cheese in the couscous to make it vegan. What’s your favorite thing to bring to a party?

Stuffed Mushrooms

My grandma made these stuffed mushrooms all the time, but I never wanted to try one until I smelled them cooking. The smell of these will make your mouth water… especially the stuffing. You will want to eat all of the stuffing before they even make their way into the little mushroom caps. I’m getting hungry typing this, so I’ll get right to it so that you can jump off your couch or out of your work chair and go get some mushrooms to make this recipe STAT!

Stuffed Mushrooms: The Ingredients:
1 box white mushrooms
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (I like Italian seasoned ones)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 cloves minced garlic
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
1 T white wine

1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. Wash then stem the mushrooms so that just the little caps are left over.
3. Take the mushroom stems, along with one whole mushroom and chop them up into tiny pieces.
3. Spray some Pam in a frying pan and drop the garlic in for about a minute or two on medium heat.
4. Add the breadcrumbs, parmesan, and parsley and let them mingle around until warm. If it looks a little dry, feel free to add some white wine.
5. Let the filling cool, and stuff those mushrooms! You can sprinkle some cheese on the top of these if you’d like
6. Transfer to a Pam’d baking dish, spritz some Pam on top of the mushrooms and put in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is heated through and a pretty golden on top,.

These are great little party appetizer or a side dish, or awesome as a meal if you pair them with a salad and maybe a piece of crusty french bread. 

I had these the other night as a side dish to homemade pizza. Great combo. What would you eat these with??

Side dish dinner

When I was younger and first started going out to restaurants with friends, there were very limited vegetarian options. Things have really changed and I can go pretty much anywhere and eat an entree. But I often don’t.

I love side dishes, and will often make a meal out of them, even at home. I did this the other night! It’s so easy and quick, and it gives you a lot of variety on one plate.

Side Dish Dinner:

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cayenne Roasted Asparagus
  • Roasted Carrots
  • A piece of garlic toast (because. why not!)

Mashed Potatoes: I started by turning two yellow potatoes into Mashed Potatoes. I follow this step-by-step. My changes were that I only used 2 potatoes w/the skins on, 1/4 cup nonfat milk, and only a little dab of smart balance faux-butter.

Next up, Cayenne Roasted Asparagus

Step 1: Wash the asparagus and snap off the dead ends.
Step 2: Coat a sheet w/ Pam, plop the asparagus on the pan in a single file line.
Step 3: Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cayenne along with a tiny bit of salt on the asparagus. 
Step 4: Plop in a pre-heated 400°  for about 7 minutes.

I also made roasted carrots, find the recipe on this very blog! Right here.

All together with the toasted garlic toast.

Try this dinner with my or your favorite vegetable sides, ASAP!

Cinco de April Cheese Enchiladas

I got home really early from Vegas last Monday morning. I stumbled through work and when I returned home to zero food in our fridge. I was going to put off grocery shopping (tired + a post-Monday grocery trip seemed terrible!) but I had heard a “Cinco de Mayo” ad on the radio and looked at my phone to notice it was the 4th.

I alerted my boyfriend. “Ok, we have to go to the store and get stuff to make something Mexican and awesome for my blog. It’s Cinco de Mayo tomorrow!” And off we went.

Whilst in the store, I decided I’d try out my Mom’s enchiladas which I have made once about 2.5 years ago. They aren’t particuarlly good for you but after a weekend in Vegas, I didn’t feel like taking tequila shots or having Coronas (I don’t ever feel like drinking either of those things) and I knew Cinco de Mayo was a holiday deserving of these awesome enchiladas. So, the ingredients went in the cart and we made our way home.

Guys. As I was unloading the ingredients for these bad boys I realized… it was April 4th. Not May. I’m going to go ahead and blame sleep depravation for this one. And Brent, considering he didn’t correct me.

The Ingredient List
(as written by mi Madre, and below that for easy copy/pasting)

  • A pack of 20 yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 large can (19oz) of red enchilada sauce (Old El Paso is the best!)
  • 1 smaller (10 oz) can of red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cans diced/chopped green chilies
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar (Cracker Barrel 2% is the best)
  • 8 oz of Monteray Jack
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, diced


1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Dice the onion, shred the cheeses and combine both with 1 or 2 cans of green chilies in a bowl and set aside.

2. Pour all of the enchilada sauce in a huge frying pan and let it heat up on medium (about 1 or 2 minutes). Reduce to low.

3. Coat a large baking dish with pam and pour 1/3rd of the enchilada sauce into it to cover the bottom.

4. Wet some paper towels or a thin towel and place the corn tortillas in this in the microwave for about a minute or until the tortillas are warm. Keep the towel around the tortillas at all times, and if they become cold, just pop ’em back in the microwave. This will prevent cracking and breaking.

5. One at a time, dunk the tortillas in the warm enchilada sauce. This will be hot on your pretty little hands, so get used to it! (or let it cool for a few seconds) Then stuff the tortilla w/ some cheese/onion/chilies mix, roll it up (2-4 tablespoons worth) and shove it in the baking dish.

6. Do this until you run out of room in your baking dish. Make sure the enchilada rolls are very close together and pour all of the enchilada sauce leftover in the frying pan over the enchiladas.

7. Pop these in the pre-heated 350° oven, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes. I like these crunchy so I tend to leave them in longer, and I suggest you do too. Also, these taste better the next day, trust me.

If you have leftover cheese mix… make some rice (white or brown) and add it to the rice hot with enough salsa to coat the mixture. Microwave the mix for a minute to warm up the salsa and boom: cheesy mexican rice. This was a big hit at our Cinco de April dinner, and costs next to nothing to make.

I’ll leave you with a slide show (fancy!) of all the steps and the beauty of the final product. Maybe you could put this recipe on the back burner and make it on the real Cinco de Mayo.

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Vegas Food

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas for a bachelorette party.  It was my very first time in Vegas, and it was so much fun. My BFFs, sunny +  hot weather, pools, “free” drinks, clubs that play dance music, awesome people watching and a town of visitors who have lost all concept of time.

Everywhere we ate was great, and the customer service is to die for. This seriously is the land of hospitality; free drinks, free champagne, free desserts, nice staff and best of all; super accommodating to a vegetarian diet.  We had great meals and great service at Lakeside Grill, Tableau, Beso, Rare 120 and the mecca: the breakfast buffet @ the Wynn.

I read a Time article about the 10 things to do in Vegas and one of them was the breakfast buffet at the Wynn where we were staying.

It. Was. Awesome. The breakfast buffet was $21.50 ($20 + tax) and worth every penny! We got to the buffet at 10:30 so it was more like a brunch buffet… breakfast and lunch options. BONUS!!

This was a place where if you wanted to stay on your healthy eating track, you could do it! Temptation was everywhere, but it was still possible to load up on fruits, egg whites, salad, soup, etc. However, if you wanted to eat yourself silly with every cuisine imaginable (including fancy nachos and indian food!) and a dessert bar with beautiful treats, you could.

I decided I needed to take a video of the insanity that is the Wynn buffet for you all, so enjoy below. It’s a little fast and shaky, but please note I was running through a buffet line taking video with my cellphone, so I looked crazy.

If that isn’t a good enough plug for you to check it out, I’ll leave you with the mini cupcake of your dreams.

Thats right. GLITTER!