Tag Archives: vegetarian

The Doughbar Doughnuts

Last week REB and I indulged in a treat he had shipped to our house from The Dough Bar – protein doughnuts! As promised, here’s a quick review on them, what they are, how they tasted and overall thoughts!**

For those of you who don’t know what it is, The Dough Bar was started by a husband-and-wife team in California with a mission to provide a healthy alternative from traditional doughnuts and theirs are handmade, baked, lower in carbs and sugar and full of protein. It’s a great way for people to indulge in something sweet without straying from their fitness goals. They created this company, which will ship a box/pack of doughnuts right to your door.

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Orders are placed on a Thursday through their site, and then shipped on a Tuesday. And they sell out quick! It’s a pretty hot commodity I guess! REB placed the order the Thursday prior, they were shipped on a Tuesday and we received them on a Thursday; so about a week turn around time from order-to-door.

Upon arriving, the packaging was cute! I liked how they looked like homemade, hand packed boxes because they are. I also liked their little note card that explained their mission, how to eat them, store them and how to spread the word of the product and business.

My favorite thing is what they stood for: “We are excited and humbled to share our vision with you – which is defined by nutritious eating, active living, and giving back to others.” They find ways to give back to the community and charities. A portion of sales go towards a charity of their choosing for the month, like helping reduce childhood obesity or helping kids get up and moving. I really liked this about them!

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So now, onto the doughnuts! The doughnuts are in vacuum sealed plastic and the glazes that come with are in little plastic containers. REB ordered a dozen doughnuts in various packs/flavors:
• The Classic Variety Pack with 1 of each: Maple, Cake Batter, Chocolate and Vanilla
• A 4 Pack of Cookies & Creme
• A 4 pack of Vanilla Bourbon

We put half the doughnuts in the freezer to help keep them fresh since we knew we weren’t going to eat them all in that day. We placed them in the fridge to thaw overnight when we were ready to eat them the next day or whenever.

The concept to consume is pretty simple: remove doughnut from plastic, place on plate, warm in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Warm the glaze in the microwave for 5-8 seconds until melted/thinned out, drizzle over doughnut, add garnish if provided. E N J O Y !

We did find we had to warm the glaze up in batches of 3-4 seconds at a time since we didn’t want to melt the plastic container it came in, but other than that, the whole process is pretty fool-proof.

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Cookies & Creme with Oreo Crumble

Now, here’s the thing: you have to take these for what they are. These are not Krispy Kreme doughnuts, nor are they trying to be. You aren’t going to bite into it and taste something from your local bakery. However that said, these are not bad at all.

I will say that there are certain flavors I favored over others. For one thing, the chocolate did not remotely taste like chocolate or look like a chocolate glaze, which was a little bit of a disappointment. The vanilla bourbon and maple were probably my favorites – the glaze was more like an icing and tasted delicious! The doughnuts are pretty dough-y and can seem a little chewy, but again, you’re nuking them in the microwave and they’re baked, not fried.

Here’s the breakdown of Macros per doughnut on average (this includes the glaze):
Calories: 179
Carbs: 21-23g (depending on flavor/glaze)
Fat: 5g
Protein: 11g
Fiber: 2

Overall I am pleased with the product. It was a no-guilt treat for us. I know some of you might think “Well, if I’m going to treat myself, I’m going all out” and that’s totally fine! I’m not a big doughnut person to begin with, but these are something I can feel OK about eating every once in a while if I want that sweet treat or need something with protein post-lifting/working out a shake won’t cut it. They are a little expensive, but they are handmade, hand packaged and shipped from California. Plus, I really like their mission and the way they give back to the community, too! If you guys try them, let me know what you think!

What is your favorite doughnut flavor?

 

 **I was not compensated for providing this review. Nothing in this post was sponsored. The views and opinions are my own!

Mikette Bistro and Bar

Both REB and I recently went to the new French bistro and bar on the north side of Ann Arbor called Mikette Bistro and Bar. It’s the third restaurant opened by owner-operator Adam Baru. He owns two other places both located next to each other in downtown Ann Arbor (on the same block as my office building actually!) called Mani Osteria (a wood fire pizza place) and Isalita (higher end Mexican street food). We have been to both Mani and Isalita, and I have to say, I think Mikette may get the higher vote from me!

This restaurant used to be the small cafe called Cafe Marie, which was known for its weekend brunch. I’m sad we never got to try it, but after more than 20 years, they closed their doors in 2015. Ann Arborites were curious as to what would go into that space, and were pleasantly surprised it would be this new French place!

Walking into Mikette, both REB and I felt like we were going to a brasserie or cafe like the ones we frequented in Paris. Given Adam apparently spent summers in France, it was pretty spot-on. The only big difference is that the places in Paris are tiny and tables are right next to each other since they try to pack as many people into it as possible. The “American” touch of having it be more of a place suited to fit Americans so you actually have room for your elbows, was nice. But the details! Ohhh the details!

The central area was lined with the giant red booth and then little bistro tables were set around around it. The bar was long and beautifully lit and actually crowded with folks seated there. They even had tall two-person booths along the window to the side. The ceiling is kept exposed for the most part, but there are giant French posters stuck up there so when you’re sitting you can look up and see a vintage fashion or entertainment French poster.

We could tell the menu had a southern France theme to it, since so many dishes features flavors of Procvence and there are even some Moroccan-influenced dishes. FullSizeRenderFrench food in general is actually a vegetarian’s worst nightmare. There isn’t a lot the French can offer people who don’t eat steak, chicken, or raw ham tartare (yes, we did see that while in Paris). We had a hard time during our honeymoon since we were getting sick of having eggs, goat cheese salads or bread for almost every meal – haha. However, we were surprised and happy with the options Mikette did have for us! REB figured out quickly that the left column of their small plates menu was all vegetarian-friendly and the right was all non-vegetarian. After perusing the menu for a few minutes, our server suggested we order several things since they would come out as they’re prepared. We decided to go with:

• Gougeres (goat cheese popovers)
• Pomme Frites (because obviously)
• Ratataouille
• Bread & Butter (because Zingermans)
• Omelette to split

I was so happy with our choices! The bread and butter we knew wouldn’t be a bread basket, but probably just a baguette with some salted creamed butter and it was just delicious! Honestly, I could have eaten more than they offered ;)

The popovers were a-ma-zing! The goat cheese and black pepper were bold flavors that didn’t clash! The dough was so soft and almost delicate that it felt like it melted when we’d bite into it.

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I don’t think I need to go into detail about the French fries. They were cooked to perfection, crispy and the aioli that came with it was delicious. The star of the night for us was the ratatouille. It was served almost like a bruschetta! The Provencal flavors were so prominent, the tomatoes and vegetables roasted to perfection and were still juicy and when topped on the goat cheese crostini – I can’t tell you the magic that was happening. It was so, so good and I secretly wished we had ordered two I didn’t have to share with anyone.

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Next up: the omelet. When it was originally served, one of the servers came by and said they noticed it looked to “herby” so they took it back in order for it to be prepared the proper way. I was actually shocked by this but so happy they did this for us! It was a pretty classic omelet, complete with French trifold, still soft and not overcooked and while we would have probably eaten the super heavy-on-the-herbs one, they get top marks for recognizing that and redoing it for us!

Our night ended with dessert: creme brulee for me and pot de chocolate for him as well as a kir royale to finish. I have to tell you: The French know how to do dessert and the folks at Mikette took that on pretty well. Both were so rich, decadent and I’m glad they were the serving size they were since it was so rich!

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Overall, we had a wonderful dining experience: the staff was well informed, recommended some great things for us, offered tips when ordering and were friendly and attentive. The food was superb and the atmosphere wasn’t stuffy like some French places can be. We will absolutely be back here and we’ve been raving about it all weekend to friends in the hopes they too will go and enjoy!

So, well done Adam. Not only do have two successful restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor, but you’ve managed to create a pretty authentic French brasserie experience for residents too!

What about a restaurant impresses you the most?

Vegan Chicken Curry

Last week in my Instagram account some of you may have seen a photo I posted of a vegan chicken curry recipe I had made. I have been wanting to share this recipe for the past week!

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The recipe is my take on my dad’s chicken curry recipe which he used to make when I was a kid. We didn’t eat a lot of meat in the house (like ever, since my mom is a vegetarian and did the majority of cooking) but every now and then he would bust out the pressure cooker, some chicken, his spices and spend hours making this delicious curry.

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Daddio!

My dad is incredibly charismatic, hardworking, serious but still has his silly and fun side and he instilled so many characteristics my sister and I carry with us today.

My parents are now jet-setters. I think I might have mentioned that once or twice before, but they are. My dad is a professor of engineering at a private technical school up here in Michigan and he takes a sabbatical every year and teaches overseas. My mom, retired from secondary education, goes with him because, well, why would she stay here in the cold by herself? So I pretty much don’t see my parents from about December-June each year. It’s hard, sure, but I just think of how they finally get to have time together, seeing the world! Plus he gets to teach in a far more relaxed environment every where else in the world than America where stress and long hours are the norm.

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Parents at my wedding

I miss my parents a lot – a little more than usual – and realized that I missed just having a comfort meal with them. My sister and I can each probably name off 10 things my mom makes that we absolutely love that we consider comfort food. But for both of us, my dad’s chicken curry was by far our favorite thing he made for us (well, ok aside from his famous Sunday French Toast).

I emailed my dad and asked for his recipe, but he’s been so busy teaching, so I decided to try to take a stab at making his curry with vegan chicken. And I have to say, it turned out pretty well! I used Gardein Chicken Scallopini as the protein, but you could easily use tofu if that isn’t your thing. Meatatarians can of course use chicken.

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Just a few simple ingredients and this was ready to eat in about 45 min., including inactive time. I remember it took my dad a few hours to put his chicken curry together since he’d let the chicken marinade, then cook in the pressure cooker, he’d also make the garam masala fresh. I always make a giant batch of masala so I had that on hand, and using vegan chicken meant no pressure cooker!

So my version might not be exactly like his, but it certainly was comfort food for me and reminded me of Saturday night dinners at home.

And, it felt like maybe all of us weren’t so far away from each other.

Vegan “Chicken” Curry
 
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A vegan take on South Indian chicken curry
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups meatless chicken breast protein (Gardein Chicken Scallopini or similar; about four scallopini pieces), thawed slightly and cut into cubes/pieces
  • 2 tbsp lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • ½-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped (1 small onion or ½ medium onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp (or more if you desire!) garam masala (make your own or buy store bought)
  • 1¼ cup tomato sauce (3/4 of a 15-oz. can)
  • ½ cup lite coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. For the marinade:
  2. Combine chicken pieces, garlic and ginger paste, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt into a small bowl. Stir to coat all pieces. Cover bowl with saran wrap and set aside for 15-20 min.
  3. For the curry:
  4. Add olive oil in a saucepan or large skillet until heated. Add onion and sprinkle with pinch of salt to help sweat them out. Cook until 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Next add the garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add tomato sauce and garam masala. Cover and cook 5 minutes until simmering. Give it a quick taste, add more garam masala if needed.
  7. Add chicken pieces back in, leftover marinade and all, stir, cover and cook 5-8
  8. minutes.
  9. Add the coconut milk, stir, give it another taste and add more salt or spices as needed. Leave uncovered and cook another 5 minutes.
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve over rice, quinoa or grain of choice.
Notes
Could substitute Greek yogurt instead of using coconut milk if you want it vegetarian vs. vegan
Could use chicken instead of vegan chicken for the carnivores!

What comfort foods remind you of home?

“Chicken” Noodle Soup

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Polar Vortex 2.0 is in full force! Again. It’s rather annoying and inconvenient if you ask me. People who start giving me the “Well, you live in Michigan, Aparna. What do you expect?” crap will get my death stare. I realize where I live, thank you, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it any more or less. However, I do realize that complaining about it doesn’t change the fact that we probably haven’t seen the worst of winter yet in Michigan. Please, don’t throw things at me for saying that.

So in and effort to ensure we are warmed to the soul and don’t end up looking like this…:

…we’ve been eating a lot of soup. Now, this can get challenging and tricky when you’re like me and want to make sure everything you’re currently cooking – soup included – fits into the whole “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.

Let’s not forget that I live with someone who, like any normal person would, gets bored with certain recipes when they go on repeat each week, so I need to keep things interesting. While I don’t mind having a hot bowl of chili or minestrone or Pho every night, REB isn’t as inclined or excited by it. I don’t think. I’m sure he’s starting to get to his limit of “Seriously? No carbs or cheese again tonight?”, but he’s being a good sport and he’s also being highly supportive. Then again I do most, if not all, of the cooking so is he really in a position to complain? I keed, I keed! I appreciate his feedback and input probably the most out of everyone since he has to eat whatever I end up making. Or at least try to. I’m getting off point.

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He made a very good point to me earlier in the week though. He told me to quit trying to be all food-bloggy-fancy-schmancy and just make something simple but flavorful and filling. I said to myself, “Hey I can’t do that!” and that’s how this soup came to be. Yes, it was yet another soup recipe I made during the week, but it was simple, full of flavor and actually pretty OK for you in terms of fiber, protein, fat, etc.The biggest factor: it was filling and good enough that if you went back for seconds or thirds, you wouldn’t feel so guilty doing so. Plus it’s a classic! Whenever I think of chicken noodle soup I think of the Campbell’s soup commercial with the kid who turns into a snowman from playing outside but a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup from his mom warms him right up!

I listened to him and kept this soup and its ingredients pretty simple but it was perfect. And while we are no where near the end of winter here in Michigan, we at least have some options to help keep us warm and satiated. With that in mind, my complaints about the cold will get toned down a bit.

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But don’t worry. I’ll probably complain a whole bunch about the heat once we get into the dead of July. I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

“Chicken” Noodle Soup
 
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Beat the cold winter blues with a hot bowl of this classic soup fit for vegetarians and vegans alike!
Author:
Recipe type: soup, vegetarian, vegan
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ small white onion, diced
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and cut into discs
  • 2 celery stalks, wiped clean, halved length-wise and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon (about 4-5 sprigs) thyme, finely chopped
  • 4 cups (32-oz. carton) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 oz. whole wheat wide egg noodles
  • 1½ cups (about 24 strips) frozen meatless chicken strips (Simple Truth brand or similar), thawed and cut into bite size pieces
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. tart by heating olive oil in a stock pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme and stir well
  3. Cook until softened but not browned
  4. Next add vegetable broth, stock and water and stir
  5. Bring soup to a boil, will take about 10-12 minutes to bring to boil
  6. While soup is coming to boil, take the frozen meatless griller strips, place in microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds-to-1 minute or until thawed. Cut strips into bite size pieces
  7. Once soup is boiling, add the meatless chicken and noodles and cook until noodles are al dente, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Ladle 1 or 1½ cups into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy!

 

Guest Post: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

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I’d like you all to say a big hello to Richard! He is Amber’s husband, now a good dude friend to both REB and me, and he also happens to be a fantastic cook.

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Something Amber and I started last year was A&A Night where we would get together once a week because both our hubby’s were busy studying with schoolwork or had class. Sometimes I would cook and sometimes she would, but most of the time Richard would step up and cook for us. And I am grateful that he does! A recipe of his that I have enjoyed on more than one occasion is his vegetarian shepherd’s pie. It’s time the world know the secrets behind his delicious recipe. I asked Richard to share this recipe on my blog in a guest post and he happily agreed to write it. I hope Richard will come back and share more recipes on the blog, but for today here’s his herbivore-friendly shepherd’s pie!

Thanks Aparna! Before I started living with my future wife in 2007, microwaving a burrito or making boxed mac and cheese was the extent of my cooking expertise. This suited me just fine when I was single because I’m very lazy and cooking real food seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. When I moved in with Amber she was a student and since I had no job and wasn’t in school yet, cooking duties defaulted to me and my microwave classics were no longer sufficient. My creations in those early days weren’t always nice to look at or particularly edible, but I slowly learned a thing or two and figured out how to make pretty decent food.

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Fast forward to 2014 and I still do all the cooking. Amber and I have been married for almost six years and she’s been a vegetarian slightly longer than that. I’m not a vegetarian, but making a meat and non-meat version of dinner each night sounded like a bummer so our dinners are straight up vegetarian. This has forced me to be more creative and try new things because it’s easy for me to make an awesome meat dish, but an amazing vegetarian dish takes a bit more effort and finesse.

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I rarely follow a recipe when I cook. I tend to get inspiration from a recipe and then make my own version of it which often leads to multiple variations of a particular dish as I tweak things here and there to perfect it or change certain ingredients. My shepherd’s pie is a good example of this because it’s so easy to change what you use as the filling to keep yourself from getting bored with it. The version posted here uses frozen vegetables because it’s super easy and sometimes you just need a really easy dinner option.

Without further ado, Richard’s vegetarian shepherd’s pie:

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Guest Post: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
 
Simple dinner that’s pretty damn tasty.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: vegetarian
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 4 medium potatoes (any will do, I used russet)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sriracha (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 small white onion diced
  • ½ tablespoon fresh garlic diced
  • 2 cups chopped mushroom (any variety)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1½ cup frozen peas
  • 1½ cup frozen carrots
  • 1 pound soy crumbles
Instructions
  1. Cut up potatoes into large chunks, place into a pot, and cover with water. Boil potatoes until soft, about 20 mins.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot over medium-low heat.
  3. Dice white onion and garlic, add to stock pot.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Once, onions begin to turn translucent (about 5 mins), add frozen corn, peas, and carrots.
  6. In a measuring cup or bowl combine vegetable stock, soy sauce, and sriracha. Whisk together and add to stock pot 5 minutes after frozen vegetables, bring to a simmer (don’t worry if it looks a little soupy, the soy crumbles will soak everything up).
  7. Chop mushrooms and add to stock pot along with soy crumbles.
  8. Allow mixture to heat through, add salt and pepper to taste, and then transfer to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (or any suitable dish or dishes).
  9. Drain potatoes and place in large bowl, add butter and mash. Add milk and salt/garlic and mash some more.
  10. Distribute mashed potatoes evenly over filling and put the whole thing into the oven. After 30 minutes in the oven you’re ready to eat.

 

He’s being humble folks – he’s a great cook and this recipe is proof of that. Give it a try, you will love it! He is right though. You can totally alter the ingredients for the filling, or maybe even use mashed sweet potato for the topping if you want to get more fiber in there. But honestly, a bowl of this shepherd’s pie is totally perfect as is, especially during this Michigan Polar Vortext nonsense.

A big thank you to Richard! I hope you will return soon to share another tasty recipe!

 

Way Rad Bowl of Pasta

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I didn’t know what else to call it. It has so many preparation-detailed ingredients that the full name would be something too long and annoying. So way rad bowl of pasta it is, because that’s what it was.

Sooo yeah. Remember how I said I wasn’t eating carbs and I missed them oh so much, but I refused to eat them? I kicked myself in the ass and told myself “moderation and portion control, betch” and then made this way rad pasta dish. And I would make it again, too.

I made this the night before our treadmill finally made its appearance in our basement gym, when I knew I would be running like mad the minute the delivery guys left my house. So I decided it would be best to pretend like I was running a marathon thereby validating a big bowl of pasta.

Although the base of this recipe comes from Cooking Light, I had to make some changes so it could fit into my “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.

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For instance, I used whole wheat pasta, used a lighter cheese, and since we needed some kind of protein in there other than cheese, I threw grilled portobello “steaks” on top. So my version was born and was received well by both me and the man of the house.  I can’t get over the smokiness and spicy flavor this dish had, but tossing it all together with seared tomatoes and fresh spinach in a chili garlic sauce? Fuhgettaboutit.

Make it. Moderate it. Portion it well. Eat it. Delicioso. Fin.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Fettuccine with Chili Garlic Sauce and Portobello Mushroom
 
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A robust bowl of whole wheat pasta, seared tomatoes and fresh spinach tossed in a chili garlic sauce, then topped with sliced portobello “steaks”.
Author:
Recipe type: pasta, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. whole wheat fettuccine, or long pasta of choice (linguine would be yummy)
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (use ¼ if you prefer less spice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-oz. can organic tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oz. part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, de-stemmed and gills scraped out
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions, about 7-9 minutes, or until al dente
  2. While the pasta cooks, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange tomatoes cut side down and cook 1 to 1½ minutes or until tomatoes start to soften or burst. Remove from skillet, transfer to bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the 1½ tablespoons olive oil over low heat.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and salt, stir and cook 5-7 minutes or until warmed through.
  7. While the tomato sauce simmers, the pasta should be done so you can drain and set aside.
  8. Get your grill pan ready or a separate pan and grill up portobello caps until browned and grilled well.
  9. Slice mushrooms and set aside.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the spinach, cheese, and drained pasta and toss well to coat.
  11. To serve, add mixed pasta to bowls, spoon a few grape tomatoes around the outer edge of bowls and top each bowl with sliced mushroom.

Ratatouille Quiche

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It’s just a matter of time until my 30th birthday and that 31 Before 30 list doesn’t look any smaller. REB told me to re-purpose or rewrite certain things on the list, but I told that would be cheating and I couldn’t live with myself [dramatic moment]. I’ve come to the realization that I am not going to even be able to tackle half the items on that list.

But that’s life. And life has taken over. Everything.

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I’ve made myself too busy for words and I’ve literally dug myself into a hole. Deadlines at work, working longer, later hours, being a grouch at home, obligations on weekends… I need to learn to say “no” to people. But I also have this compulsive need to please people, so this hole I dug has become home.

So in an effort to decompress and not think about anyone but myself, I looked at my bucket list and decided I was going to tackle something. Making a meal entirely out of farmers market finds. Done.

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I have been waiting almost a month to share this recipe with everyone, and I am so happy I finally get to!

I went to the market a while back with a plan of what I wanted to make, and then completely changed it when I walked by several tables with the most delicious looking peppers, eggplant, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I instantly thought of ratatouille, but then thought that would be more appropriate for a fall-time dinner. The only way I could think to lighten and “summer” it up was to make a quiche and pair with a light, refreshing salad. So that’s how this quiche came to be.

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Aside from some basic ingredients (like balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper) and crust (because I am not a baker and I hate making pastry shells, so I bought a frozen whole wheat crust), everything for this meal was from the market.

This quiche was perfection. It wasn’t too heavy and I paired with a side salad of fresh arugula and basil. The basil was purchased at the farmers market, but also from my friends who have a community garden. They had an abundance of basil and were generous enough to give me some leaves!

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 I may not get everything done on that list, or even come close to crossing a few more items off between now and the big 3-0. But, it was at least still a fun experiment to try and I did get to cross off some things! So that makes me pretty happy. And I get to eat something delicious here and there when my life hasn’t taken been taken over by work. That’s always a good thing in my opinion.

Ratatouille Quiche
 
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Author:
Recipe type: quiche, vegetarian
Cuisine: brunch, French
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen whole wheat crust (take it out while you are prepping and cooking, so it’s ready to use when you’re done – does not need to be fully thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup eggplant, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup summer squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup bell pepper (red and/or green), cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Gruyere cheese (or similar), shredded
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ cup skim milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large skillet or pan heat 1 teaspoon olive oil until hot
  3. Add eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and onion and cook 8-10 minutes until softened and tender
  4. Sprinkle salt, pepper and fresh thyme, and stir
  5. Transfer cooked vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
  6. In a separate, large bowl, beat eggs
  7. Add milk and whisk until combined
  8. Place prepared crust on a baking sheet (will prevent any spills!)
  9. Pour cooked vegetables into crust
  10. Sprinkled with shredded cheese
  11. Carefully pour egg mixture on top of vegetables
  12. Bake for 30-40 minutes until eggs are cooked, or when knife inserted in middle comes out clean.
  13. Serve immediately

 

 

Quick Quiche

When people ask me what my favorite meal of the day is (and yes, I do get asked that – ha), it’s always a pretty easy answer for me: brunch.

I could eat brunch any and all the time. I love it. I love the idea of having a nice big cup of chai, and then eating an assortment of pastries, breads, having quiche, crepes, French toast or some kind of Eggs Benedict that is Aparna-friendly. Throw in a bloody Mary and I’ll be the happiest person you know.

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To go along with that, one of my absolute favorite things to do is eat brunch al fresco. I love when it’s so nice outside and REB and I eat outdoors either at our house or downtown.

If you haven’t taken a look at the weather map lately, you should be happy. Unless you live in the Midwest. It’s the second week of April and we’re getting our yearly dose of you-thought-it-was-spring-but-we’ll-throw-snow-back-into-the-mix-because-obviously. Damn weather. It’s making my dreams of eating brunch outdoors a nonexistent one.

So to give Mother Nature a metaphorical F-U, I made quiche (I don’t know how that’s a metaphorical F-U, but just roll with it). I also made it without a crust because I didn’t have any and didn’t feel like going to the store to find a ready-to-use one that doesn’t list lard as an ingredient, and I certainly didn’t feel like making a crust. So maybe it was a Frittata, except I didn’t cook the eggs in the pan before I baked it. OK so maybe it was just an egg pie, but I’m calling it a crustless quiche, kthx.

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Regardless of what I call it, I can call it delicious. Because it was. I ended up using things in the fridge and pantry because 1). They were about to expire and 2). I didn’t feel like venturing out into the cold mess that was outside my patio doors in order to try and make this creative. We were also starving so phone pictures will have to do. The idea was quick, people. I definitely made sure it was and was in my belly in record time.

I hope this weather lets up and the snow really doesn’t show its face. I’m kind of over it and more than ready to start wearing all the skirts and dresses I put in perfect view when I open my closet, and took great pleasure in shoving the sweaters and other crap into the back corner.

Maybe Michigan will play nice and give us one great, warm weather day.

That’s probably asking too much though.

Crustless Quiche
 
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A quick and easy crustless quiche full of veggies
Author:
Recipe type: quiche, eggs, vegetarian
Cuisine: Brunch, Breakfast
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed/warmed and squeezed dry of liquid
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ cup Light soy milk (or regular milk is fine)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Nonstick spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium or large sauce pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes until they just start to soften. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Next add the sun dried tomatoes and cook 3-5 minutes.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, thaw or warm frozen spinach. You may need to microwave it. When it’s warmed through (and mostly unfrozen), place in paper towels and squeeze to let out as much water as possible.
  4. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with Nonstick spray liberally. Spread spinach evenly on bottom of pie dish.
  5. When vegetables are done cooking, pour mixture over the spinach and spread out evenly.
  6. Next add feta cheese in even layer over the vegetables
  7. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add soy milk. Whisk to combine. Next add the black pepper.
  8. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the vegetables and make sure it covers all of them.
  9. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake the quiche for 35 minutes until cooked through. Then heat under the broiler for 2-3 minutes just to brown and melt the cheese more.
  11. Serve immediately.

 

 

Lentil Chili

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One my best friends, Allison, lives 752 miles away in Oxford, MS (home of Ole Miss, the Manning’s and my Rebels. Hotty Toddy!). She and I have been friends since we were 12 years old when training bras were a big deal, school supplies translated to Lisa Frank, three-way calling was the “in” thing,  and our crushes on boys only lasted one week.

I hate that she lives so far away! It’s pretty dumb. Then again, she probably thinks it’s pretty dumb I chose to live in a state shaped like a mitten where it gets colder than ever, while she gets to maintain a garden in February like it’s no big deal – pretty badass if you ask me.

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The point is, she’s one of my rocks. I talk to her every. single. day. You heard that right.

Friends are essential. Especially ones you’ve known more than half your life. I was in her wedding, she was in mine. She’s heard me cry, I’ve heard her cry. She’s vented to me about what upsets her and I’ve vented to her (sometimes multiple times a day) about what’s bothering me.

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One thing she and I definitely do is exchange recipes. We’re both big foodies and literally spend hours talking about food, coming up with recipes, giving each other tips or suggestions on how to alter a recipe, what flavors would work and more. We’ve even thought about starting a blog together. She’s all classic-southern-comfort-cooking-but-also-healthy-ethnic-dish (or feasts as I call ‘em) gal, and I’ve got the vegetarian-health-nut-freak-thing on my end. Together, our kitchens are unstoppable!

So this lentil chili was born as a result of one of our chats. It’s her lentil soup recipe and my vegetarian chili recipe. Together they’re married in soup harmony. Equal soup rights, y’all. Support it.

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It turned out boss, and made enough to feed an army. And if I could, I’d fly her up here to eat it with me. Then we could laugh, eat good soup together, talk for hours and it wouldn’t seem like she’s 752 miles away.

Lentil Chili
 
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My best friends lentil soup recipe combined with my vegetarian chili recipe. Together, it’s an unstoppable force of flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Chili, Soups
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can fire roasted diced tomato
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1 cup brown lentils, picked through, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 15-oz. can peeled, crushed tomato
  • ½ cup meatless crumbles (Boca brand or similar)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Start by heating olive oil in a large stock pot.
  2. When heated, add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
  3. Then add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Next add carrot, green and red bell peppers and cook until peppers and carrot are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the drained beans and vegetable stock and cook another 10 minutes.
  6. Then add in the lentils, cover and let the soup come to simmer, another 8-10 minutes.
  7. Add your spices: cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and also add in the frozen corn kernels. Give the whole soup a good stir.
  8. Finally add the crushed tomato, meatless crumbles, salt and pepper and stir well.
  9. Cover and bring to small bubble and then simmer 30-35 minutes.
  10. Top with your favorite garnishes and enjoy!

 

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” Primavera

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March has officially become one of the busiest months for me! I have something happening every single weekend this month. Let me prove it (because I know you’re all dying to know ;)…):

  • March 2 – We celebrated our friends birthday last weekend, and had a night on the town. It was so great to catch up with everyone!
  • March 9 – Attending a day conference for work (hooray developing skills!) and then in the evening I get to see Diana from Veggie Next Door!! She and her fiance (squee!) are visiting their friends in Ann Arbor and I’m so excited to see her again, and hopefully make some new friends!
  • March 16 – I’ll be in the Chi for St. Patty’s weekend to visit the seester and my friends out there. Taking a nice long weekend from work to just kick back and have fun.
  • March 23 – SHOOTING MY FIRST WEDDING! Can I even begin to tell you how excited I am to be doing this? One of my best friends and I have been asked to photograph the wedding of someone she knows, and she and I are over the moon about it. I’ve also already planned to assist another one of my amazing photographer friends with weddings she’s doing this spring and summer. Yay! It will be amazing experience and hopefully slowly get my feet into the whole biz ;)
  • March 30 – GARBAGE! I have wanted to see Garbage live since I was in high school! Yes, I’m almost 30 and yes my friends and I will likely be the oldest people there. But then again, maybe we won’t. I’m sure there are still 30+-year-olds living in their 14-year-old bodies who are as excited as I am ;)

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Another happy news announcement: I’m registered for my first 5K! I’m doing the Color Run in Ypsilanti May 11 so I’ve been hitting the gym to run until I reach the 3.1 mile mark. I can’t wait for it to get warm outside so I can do some running outdoors. I think anyone can agree that running outdoors > running on a treadmill indoors.

So yeah, March is going to go by fast I’m sure, and there’s so much more exciting stuff happening almost every weekend after, but I’m ready for all the fun! Plus I’ll get to cross off a handful of things on that lovely list I have going ;)

So to celebrate and live in the fun and also help prep my meals for the week, I decided to make risotto. Since it’s one of my favorite foods, it had to be done. The biggest difference this time was I used Israeli couscous instead of Arborio rice. I just used more couscous, and less stock and added a whole lotta veggies. In the end it tasted like the real deal but wasn’t as heavy. The great thing about risotto is you can add whatever you want to it and it probably won’t taste bad. For this one, I used carrot, zucchini, baby Bellas and asparagus spears. I could see all kinds of veggies going into this though: leeks, artichokes, roasted eggplant, peas, peppers.. have fun with it!

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Hashtag dopeshow anyone?

Yeah, I said it.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” Primavera
 
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Tastes just like classic risotto primavera, but lighter and creamier!
Author:
Recipe type: Risotto-ish, vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian-ish, vegetarian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 oz. frozen cut asparagus, thawed
  • 1¼ cup Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large pan over medium high heat until melted.
  2. Add the chopped zucchini, carrot and sliced mushrooms and cook until tender and softened, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, add 3 cups vegetable stock to a saucepan and keep warm over low to medium heat.
  4. When the vegetables are done, remove from pan, set on plate and set aside.
  5. In the same pan, add the remaining oil and butter.
  6. Add the couscous and cook 2 minutes or until lightly toasted
  7. Add the white wine and cook 1-2 minutes or until alcohol is cooked out.
  8. Next add stock about ½ cup (or ladle) at a time, stir until absorbed. When the couscous has absorbed some of the stock, add another ½ cup.
  9. After 2 cups of stock have been added, pour the cooked vegetables back to the pan with the couscous. Continue ladling ½ cup until all the stock is gone.
  10. Add the thawed cut asparagus, cheese, salt and pepper and stir until all combined and the couscous is cooked.