tex-mex black beans + brown rice with soy chorizo.

Meal prep alert! Vegan, gluten free meal prep alert! This classic side dish turned main dish is easy, filling, healthy and meatless!

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I adapted this recipe from an old recipe from Fine Cooking and made it less of a side dish of rice and beans to a meal-prep worthy entree by the addition of soy chorizo, which I picked up at my local Trader Joes. You can certainly use 12 ounces of ground beef or turkey, shredded pork, or actual chorizo sausage. The soy chorizo was cheap, filling, vegan, and it’s oh-so delicious! I just take it out of the casing and crumble it in with the onion and garlic to saute. This makes about six one cup servings – perfect for work lunches!

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brown rice + black beans with soy chorizo.
adapted from Fine Cooking.

ingredients
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 14-1/2-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes with chiles
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
12 ounces soy chorizo
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

directions
In a small pot, combine the rice with 2 1/4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pan stand, covered, for another 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and set aside.

While the rice cooks, set a fine sieve in a bowl and drain the can of tomatoes. Pour the tomato juices into a 1-cup liquid measure. Add enough water to the tomato juices to equal 1 cup.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and stir-fry the garlic and onion until the garlic and onion become fragrant and slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add the soy chorizo (remove from casing, and crumble), and saute with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add the black beans, tomatoes, salt, cumin, oregano, and chili powder; stir two to three times to incorporate the mixture and cook the spices, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato juice and water mixture and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo and bean mixture absorb a lot of the liquid, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the chorizo and bean mixture to the cooked rice in a large bowl, toss gently to combine, and top with the chopped cilantro. Serve.

Makes 6 1 cup servings. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

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honey banana muffins.

These muffins are so easy to whip up, you can make them after a long day at work, after you make dinner, and treat yourself with one less than 30 minutes later! These are even pretty healthy, and clock in at under 160 calories per muffin, so you can get your sweet treat without the guilt!

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Muffins are one my very favorite ways to use up ingredients hanging around, especially produce. Banana bread is great, but banana muffins are awesome, perfectly portion controlled, and they freeze and thaw so well. The honey adds such a great sweetness, but if you want a little extra sugar, go ahead and add in a tablespoon. These are not super sweet so make sure you have extra ripe bananas. 🙂

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Two bowls and less than thirty minutes and you’ll have a dozen fresh honey banana muffins ready to be eaten! Feel free to toss in chocolate chips, walnut pieces, or (my favorite!) dried blueberries in for a fun twist.

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honey banana muffins.

ingredients
3 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup raw honey
1 tablespoon coconut palm or brown sugar (optional for additional sweetness)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt and lightly whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork and add the honey, sugar if using, oil, vanilla and egg. Whisk until well combined. Slowly add the flour and mix just until the flour is incorporated into the batter. Do not over mix.

In a muffin tin sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lined with paper muffin cups, add the batter to each cup, filling about 3/4 way.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

mexican chicken casserole.

Hi everyone! I’m back, and hope everyone is having a wonderful 2019 thus far! We are experiencing crazy weather here, frigidly cold temperatures reaching far below zero with the windchill to nearly sixty degrees just a few days later! We are back with freezing rain and wind today, which leads me to a comforting, Latin spin on lasagna – Mexican chicken casserole! This has the spirit of lasagna, but it is so much easier. Corn tortillas take the place of lasagna noodles, salsa instead of marinara sauce, and we are lightening up the cheese (and calories!) in a big way by using only 2 ounces for the whole casserole. That’s it. Trust me, there is so much flavor going on here that you won’t even miss the cheese. I promise.

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This makes enough for 8 servings, so it’s GREAT for a party, meal prep, and for planning ahead as it’s freezes wonderfully! You may find it a little dry post freezing and reheating, so a little extra salsa, lime juice, or avocado will help. If you prefer meatless, swap black beans in for the chicken!

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Mexican chicken casserole.
adapted from Cooking Light. 

ingredients
6 ounce cooked chicken breast, shredded/chopped
2 ounces jack cheese or mexican blend, grated
2 small zucchini, diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup onion, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced (red/orange)
1 cup roasted corn (frozen)
4 ounce can green chiles
10 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with chiles
1 cup salsa
8 6-inch corn tortillas
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare casserole, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, corn, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 4-6 minutes or until tender. Add chicken, green chiles, diced tomatoes, chile powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and sauté 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.

Spread 1/2 cup salsa over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of tortillas (two whole and two cut in half for each layer works for me) over salsa. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with 1 ounce of each cheese. Repeat layers, starting with remaining tortillas and ending with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes until bubbly and then turn oven up to broiler and broil for one minute.

Let set for 10 minutes, slice into eight squares, and serve.

Serves 8. Please choose organic ingredients as possible.

vegan baked pumpkin oatmeal cups.

say hello to my new favorite make ahead breakfast! Now, I am a smoothie/green juice girl through and through, however, sometimes I crave something with a bit more substance in the cooler weather. Our mornings here in NY have turned cold, dark and damp, so now is the perfect time to introduce these simple and delicious vegan (!) baked oatmeal cups.

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These are essentially muffins, but even easier! They are lightly spiced, and very moist and tender thanks to the canned pumpkin and the non-dairy milk. The hardest part of these is making the flax egg. To make gluten free, simply replace the flour with GF oat flour (grind the oats to a fine mill) or use an all purpose gluten free flour. These keep well in the refrigerator for a few days, and do great in the freezer! Perfect for cool, fall mornings.

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ingredients
1.5 tablespoons flaxseed meal + 1/4 cup water (whisk together and set aside for 10 minutes)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned or quick oats
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/4 cup avocado or melted coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut)

directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Add the coconut/non-dairy milk and flax egg and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sea salt and whisk.

Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Divide evenly into the 12 muffin cups and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and serve warm. To store, cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Makes 12 muffins. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

apple + aged cheddar salad with whole dijon vinaigrette.

I went apple picking with my friend a few weeks ago on a warm early autumn afternoon when the first apples were finally ready to be picked. She and I planned to use up the haul we picked for a variety of apple desserts – pie, crisps, galettes, you name it! When we got back to my house however, we were too tired to embark on a baking project. Instead, I decided to whip up a quick and easy salad with an irresistible mustard vinaigrette.

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This salad is nothing more than chopped celery, sliced crisp apples (empire, macoun, gala, pink lady all work here), crunchy fresh romaine hearts, an aged cheddar of your choice, topped with seared chicken breast (leave off if vegetarian), croutons and a delicious mustard vinaigrette. If you have a blender, the dressing is a breeze! If not, toss all ingredients in a mason jar, secure with a lid, shake vigorously.

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This salad just says ‘fall’ to me. The abundant produce, the cool mornings and shorter days. This salad is equally delicious with a crisp white wine as it is before a mug of hot apple cider. Your choice. Welcome back, autumn. I’ve missed you.

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apple + aged cheddar salad with mustard vinaigrette.

ingredients
2 romaine hearts, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup croutons
1 cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
sea salt and pepper

vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon whole dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
pinch of marjoram
1 teaspoon raw honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons onion, roughly chopped

directions
In a high speed blender, add all ingredients of vinaigrette and blend on high to emulsify.

Add all ingredients except chicken to a large bowl and add 1/3 of dressing and toss gently.  Divide amongst two plates and top with half of chicken to each plate. Add additional dressing if desired.

Serves 2 as an entree. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

 

grapefruit gimlet.

I know, I know. It’s Labor Day, it was 91 degrees outside today, and the markets and farm stands are positively overflowing with bumper crops of squash, tomatoes, peppers, corn, peaches, plums – the list goes on! So, it makes perfect sense that I am sharing a recipe with you that highlights a winter citrus fruit!

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Regardless of the exact wrong time of year to post this, I couldn’t resist the urge! I had a half of a grapefruit hanging out and got a hankering for a gimlet that I could not refuse! I used grapefruit juice supplemented lime juice, but you can use all six ounces of grapefruit juice if you’d like. I supplemented because my grapefruit only made about 4 ounces of juice.

I garnished with fresh mint because I had it laying around and I’m of the firm belief that most everything (especially cocktails!) can be improved with a sprig of fresh mint. Shake these up, strain and pour over ice. Enjoy with some friends; the ideal way to cool off during these last days of summer! Oh, and they’re pretty good during winter, too!

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grapefruit gimlet.

ingredients
10 ounces gin
4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
fresh mint springs, to garnish

directions
Combine all ingredients except for mint in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and pour into rocks glasses filled with ice. Garnish with mint.

Makes 6 cocktails.

 

zucchini with tomatoes + mozzarella.

Could there be a recipe that is more summery than one that consists of zucchini, grilled ever so simply, tossed with fresh, locally grown tomatoes, baby balls of fresh mozzarella, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garnished with basil? I don’t think so. This ‘recipe’ (can it even be called one due to its simplicity?) is everything I want in my late summer produce.

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I dub summer 2018 as the summer I fell head over heels in love. In love with caprese salad, that is. 😉 I’ve always enjoyed it just fine, but over the past few months, I’ve become borderline obsessed. Now that it’s August, and the markets are just bursting with bumper crops of tomatoes of all kinds, it’s caprese time 24/7. No lie, I ate it for breakfast last weekend.

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To keep my seemingly endless salad obsession fresh, I got slightly creative and paired it with some zucchini and yellow summer squash I had that I quickly roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of sea salt. You could easily toss the oiled rounds of sliced squash on the grill for 6-8 minutes, but for some reason, tossing them in the oven for a quick roast seemed easier than heating up my grill pan (although the directions below are for grilling). Grilling them would be peak summertime, and something I would absolutely do if I had an actual outdoor grill. Maybe next summer!

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Grilled squash is wonderful at room temperature, so I would allow them to cool just slightly before you top them with the sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Give the whole platter a drizzle of oil, some balsamic glaze (homemade by reducing the vinegar in a pot for 10-15 minutes until thick and sticky), and some extra salt and pepper. I promise, you won’t be sorry!

zucchini, fresh tomatoes + mozzarella.
adapted from NYT Cooking. 

ingredients
1 pound zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 pound tomatoes (roma, campari, anything that looks good)
1/2 pound baby mozzarella balls, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
balsamic glaze
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt + black pepper

directions

Heat a grill. Brush zucchini rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, until tender and can be pierced with a fork. Alternatively, heat the oven to 450 degrees and roast the zucchini rounds for 10-15 minutes, flipping over once during cooking. Remove from grill or oven and let cool.

On a serving platter, arrange the zucchini. Top with halved cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella, and basil leaves. Season with sea salt, pepper, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

ginger chicken lettuce cups.

These are the perfect thing for late summer dinners: minimal effort, fresh, filling, and full of refreshing ingredients! These lettuce cups are ideal.

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This recipe is so simple, but I warn that it is best eaten in one sitting. If you’ve been around here at all, you know I usually make dishes with the knowledge/intention that I will have leftovers. In fact, I try to find recipes that will get better the second and third day. Due to the fresh herbs and cucumber, this is best served immediately after making.

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The flavor is delicate and light — perfect for end of the summer (<– how?!) entertaining!

ginger lettuce cups.
adapted from Tasty. 

ingredients
16 ounces ground chicken breast
4 teaspoons olive or grapeseed oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1/2 cup pickled red onions
1 english cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
boston lettuce, leaves separated for cups (about 20 leaves)
crushed peanuts, for serving

directions
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute, until everything is fragrant and the garlic is starting to turn golden brown, about a minute. Add the chicken, season with a touch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through and broken up into small pieces, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the fish sauce, rice vinegar, and pickled red onions and stir to combine. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cucumber, parsley, and mint and gently toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter.

Serve the chicken mixture with lettuce and crushed peanuts. Serves 4 as a main, 8 as an appetizer.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

whole wheat fresh cherry almond muffins.

When faced with more fresh cherries than a girl can consume before they go … sub-optimal, what is there to do? Why, make fresh cherry muffins, of course!

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These are heavenly. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised at how lovely they came out, especially when I made them on such a whim. I had purchased a healthy amount of the cherries at my public market the previous weekend, and realized at the end of the week I needed to figure out how to use them up. So… I first thought about a yogurt cake flecked with cherries, but that quickly morphed into muffins. I was out of vanilla (despite JUST going to the store), so I swapped in almond extract. Luckily for me (and you!) the flavor of almonds go beautifully with cherries. The flavor here is just so complex yet light.

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Now, I used white whole wheat flour — this is my standard flour and it always works out. The flavor is slightly nuttier than bleached white flour; which I consider a plus! I used about 3/4 cup of sliced/pitted cherries and I think anywhere from 1/2 to a full cup would work. I used nondairy milk as per usual, but you could swap in regular milk (I would say anything but skim) with success. Enjoy these, and I dare you to eat just one!

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whole wheat fresh cherry almond muffins.

ingredients
1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cups coconut palm or raw turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup non dairy milk (I use unsweetened coconut milk)
3/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted
1 teaspoon sugar

directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line with muffin liners. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt.

Whisk together the egg, almond extract, milk in a small bowl and add to the mixer on medium low, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed to ensure the dry ingredients are properly incorporated. Add the cherries and mix slowly, until just incorporated. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until two-third’s of the way full and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar over each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing. Makes 12 muffins.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

mediterranean pasta salad with red wine vinaigrette.

So, I know I JUST posted a pasta salad recipe, with feta no less, and here we are again! But I promise, this one is completely different in flavor, super simple, makes good use of the farmer markets’ abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers, and is a total crowd pleaser! Promise you’ll make it with me? Because I’ll be eating this allllll late summer long.

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Now, I don’t love olives, but I added them in as they are a classic ingredient in Greek salads, and lots of people enjoy them – just not me! 🙂 I made this for a party on the 4th of July, and it was a hit! The real star is the red wine-oregano vinaigrette – so so tasty! It’s my spin on a Greek-inspired vinaigrette, but it’s so versatile! It’s great for pasta salads like this, lettuce based salads, or even as a marinade for chicken or fish!

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This is great for summer parties — the vegetables are hardy enough for the buffet table!

mediterranean pasta salad with red wine vinaigrette.

ingredients
16 ounces short pasta such as rotini, gemelli, ziti
8 ounce block of feta (in brine), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/8 inch slices, halved
2.25 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
1/4 bell pepper, diced (optional)

red wine/greek vinaigrette:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
scant 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2-3 garlic cloves, minced (or leave whole for blender)
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

directions
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain, and rinse under cool water. Set aside.

In a blender or a mason jar, add the ingredients for the vinaigrette: the oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend (or shake vigorously) until completely emulsified.

In a large bowl, add the cooled pasta, the drained sliced olives, sliced cucumber, halved tomatoes and cubed feta. Add 3/4s of the dressing and toss gently until well combined. Taste, and add salt, pepper or more dressing if desired (I used all the dressing). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Serves 8-10. *Please use all organic ingredients*