Veggies

oven fajitas

Easy Oven Fajitas + Fajita Bowls

Stepping off of the freezer meals this week, and bringing you one of our favorite slash easiest slash cheapest weeknight dinners turned workday lunches ever. I’m talking about oven fajitas. With tons of veggies and lean protein, what we have here is one weeknight dinner of fajitas with all the fixins and two days of fajita bowl lunches ready to go with minimal work.

oven fajitas

You’ve seen oven fajitas on Pinterest for a while now, and I can’t really claim these to be very far off except maybe the addition of mushrooms? And taking them a step further by throwing in the whole meal prep thing?

oven fajitas

I first need to discuss the ease of the whole oven fajita sitch. I generally plan to have these on a Monday night, so we get dinner Monday and lunches on Tuesday and Wednesday out of the way, and I generally prep it on Sunday. While I’m already in a veggie chopping groove after making our weekly veggie bags, I just finish up with the veggies for these oven fajitas. If you really don’t like veggie prep, you can buy most of these pre-chopped. I’m just so used to chopping things that it doesn’t take me more than 5-10 minutes, but if you need to save a little time then the prepared veggies are the way to go. Once I have everything ready, I just leave them covered in the baking dish for the next day. When I’m ready to cook the oven fajitas, I add the chicken, olive oil and seasoning. (Also – helpful hint – have the meat guy at your grocery store cut the chicken breast for you to save extra time and mess.)

oven fajitas

While we generally just do standard fajitas for night one – chicken, veggies, tortillas, cheese, sour cream, salsa, avocado – I prepare other ingredients for the fajita bowls that we’ll have for lunch. While the oven fajitas are cooking, I make white rice (any rice works, but my rice cooker is a one-trick pony) and beans and corn for the fajita bowls. The beans and corn are just cooked with a little of the same taco seasoning as the oven fajitas, and really just need to be heated up to cook out the powderiness (word?) of the seasoning.

oven fajitas

As written this recipe makes a ton, but that is because I want to get those three meals out of it. The fajita bowls look like a lot of food – and they are – but it’s mostly veggies and protein, so the calorie count is still in the 400-500 range (including a serving of shredded cheddar and sour cream). You can change up the amount of veggies and chicken used to cut down on the number of servings, but when you can get so many easy meals out of it, why in the world would you?

Oven Fajitas

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts – cut into strips (get your meat counter guy to do this)
3-4 bell peppers – cut into strips (I use 2 green and 1-2 red depending on what I have on hand)
1 large or 2 small yellow onions – sliced
1 lb white mushrooms – sliced
1 tbsp olive oil (plus more to drizzle over chicken)
1 tbsp taco seasoning (plus more to drizzle over chicken)
For fajitas: tortillas, optional toppings (avocado, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream)
For fajita bowls:
Cooked rice
One can EACH beans and corn
A little taco seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice all veggies and combine in a baking dish. Add the olive oil and taco seasoning, and mix well.
  3. Place the chicken strips on top of the veggies. Drizzle with another 1-2 tsp oil and taco seasoning, and rub over to make sure each piece is covered.
  4. Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes, or until chicken is done.
  5. To make fajitas: serve chicken and veggies with tortillas and toppings of choice.
  6. To make fajita bowls:
    • While oven fajitas are cooking, prepare the rice.
    • Rinse and drain the black beans and corn, then cook in a skillet over medium heat with about 2 tsp taco seasoning. I just cook them long enough to let the water from rinsing cook off.
    • Assemble the bowls – place rice in the bottom, top with bean/corn mixture and then the oven fajitas mixture. Add any additional toppings as preferred.
  7. Enjoy!
sweet potato black bean enchiladas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Oh hai, sweet potato black bean enchiladas. You’re super simple + super flavorful + super cheesy and help us keep our sometimes-vegetarian card…this might be love. Y’all, Andy – the meatatarian – scarfs these down and takes no issue with “meatless Monday” if these are on the menu.

sweet potato black bean enchiladas

Vegetarian dishes don’t generally do as well on the blog as other, more meaty dishes do, but it would be selfish of me not to share this recipe. This dish comes together quickly, and the filling can be made in advance if you really need a quickie meal on a weeknight. (I wouldn’t recommend totally assembling that far in advance because the sauce will make the tortillas too soggy.)

While some of you may be less than enthused about a vegetarian dish, let me just assure you this meal doesn’t leave you wanting more. The bulkiness of the potatoes and beans combined with the heat from the chilies and spices (and let us not forget that ooey gooey cheese situation on top) gives this dish a stick-to-your-ribs-comfort-food rating of 100.

sweet potato black bean enchiladas

So far we haven’t given Anna Ruth these sweet potato black bean enchiladas because they do have a definite kick, and I’m just not ready to experience the wrath of a threenager that just ate something too spicy. That just plays to our favor. We get dinner and two lunches out of this recipe with the following break-down:

Dinner – one for me, two for Andy
Lunch 1 – one for me, one and a half for Andy
Lunch 2 – one for me, one and a half for Andy

sweet potato black bean enchiladas

You can serve these as a stand-alone meal, or serve with roasted broccoli or some other green veggie that can roast at the same time. No matter what you choose you can’t go wrong!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Ingredients:

3 sweet potatoes – peeled and small cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can black beans – rinsed and drained
1 shallot – small dice
1 (4oz) can mild diced green chilies
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
¼ tsp EACH – salt and pepper
8 flour tortillas
1 (14 oz) can red enchilada sauce
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
Optional toppings: avocado, sour cream, cilantro

Directions:

  1. Prepare the sweet potatoes: preheat oven to 375 degrees while you’re cubing your sweet potatoes. (You can peel them, but I like to leave the skin on.) Spread the sweet potatoes into a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt/pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, while you prepare the remaining filling ingredients.
  2. Prepare the filling: in a large bowl, combine the cooked sweet potato cubes, black beans, shallot, chilies and all spices (through S/P). Stir until everything is mixed well.
  3. Prepare the enchiladas: change oven heat to 350 degrees. Grease a rectangular dish and pour about 1/3-1/4 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom. Fill each tortilla with the mixture, roll and place seam side down in the baking dish. Add any remaining mixture to the open spaces in the dish after you’ve stuffed all of the tortillas.
  4. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas, making sure everyone is covered. Top with the shredded cheese, loosely tent and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until hot.
  5. Enjoy!
madras lentil naanwiches

Madras Lentil Naanwiches

If Winter Vegan Goddess Bowls weren’t enough to get your crock pot out for my exceptionally easy/vegan madras lentils, then hopefully you’ll be convinced with either of the recipes I’m giving you this week. That’s right, I’ll be coming back in a few days with another recipe, so you don’t have to wait an entire week for the goods! Meet our new faves: madras lentil naanwiches and madras lentil enchiladas.

madras lentil naanwiches

Both of these recipes are perfect for using either lentils fresh out of the crock pot, or that you’ve frozen for later use. While still vegetarian, we’re dropping the vegan label because cheese.

I honestly can’t decide which of these dishes is my favorite, so let’s start with the madras lentil naanwiches.

madras lentil naanwich

First off, isn’t it so fun to say “naanwich”? So clever, but I unfortunately cannot take credit for the play on words. However, I can take credit for filling it with yummy lentils, peppery arugula and creamy avocado. <– that’s it. Naan, lentils, arugula, avocado. Your naanwich is done in less than five minutes.

madras lentil naanwich

As I mentioned last week, I’m trying to cut back on the cheese after having way way too much of it over the holidays, but it would be wrong of me to not comment that heating the naan with provolone before filling it takes these naanwiches to a new level. #justsaying

These madras lentil naanwiches are perfect for meatless Monday (is anyone still doing that?), or a work from home day. I plan on having the ingredients on hand while I’m on maternity leave because they’re just so quick to make that it can even be done while taking care of a newborn.

Madras Lentil Naanwiches

Ingredients:

Naan bread
Olive oil/salt
Madras Lentils (recipe here)
Arugula
Avocado slices
Provolone cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil onto one side of the naan bread, and heat in a skillet over medium heat. Top the un-olive oiled side with provolone if using.
  2. Once the bread is heated through, salt the olive oil side and put the un-olive oiled side up. On the un-olive oiled side, add about ½ cup warm lentils*, arugula and avocado slices.
  3. Enjoy!

*If you are using lentils you made and froze, simply thaw and reheat with a little bit of broth or water.

winter vegan goddess bowl

Madras Lentils with Winter Vegan Goddess Bowls

It’s January, and we’ve all resolved to set off on a healthy 2017, right? We’re veggie prepping, cutting back on the cheese and sweets, and upping our plant and protein intake. That all sounds great, but we’re also in the coldest months and can’t a girl just have some comfort food? Enter these copycat madras lentils and one of my all-time favorites: the Winter Vegan Goddess Bowl. <– I know how obnoxious that sounds, but try it and tell me you don’t feel like a vegan goddess (or god because I can’t leave the guys out).

lentils

It wasn’t until we were about half way through the first Winter Vegan Goddess bowl that I realized I was eating vegan. This meal is so unassumingly vegan, that you literally do not miss the meat. How awesome is that? In a world where too many things are veggified (looking at you cauliflower “crust”), this is just great ingredients put together in a way that is so humble, yet so satisfying, and you just feel great after eating it.

madras lentils

You may be wondering about the “copycat madras lentils” part. Let me paint a picture for you. You’re walking through Costco, having had some delicious samples and getting towards the end and they’re dwindling. You see a sample for some sort of granola mix, and assume that’s the last of it. Then – oh hai – here’s one last hot station. It’s madras lentils and they are Y-U-M-M-Y. The microwave packs are perfect to have on hand for nights when there is no time to cook. 90 seconds for the lentils + 90 seconds for a bag of precooked rice, and dinner is done in less than five minutes. You really can’t beat it in a pinch.

madras lentils

Well, I decided to make a copycat version. It took several attempts to get just the right blend that we were going for, but I’m really happy with the outcome. There are several reasons I love these lentils:

  1. Everything dumps in the crockpot and you’re done.
  2. The leftovers freeze really really well.
  3. You can use them for Winter Vegan Goddess Bowls (as shown here), enchiladas, quesadillas, naanwiches or just over plain ol’ white rice.
  4. They’re accidentally vegan.
  5. I generally have all of the ingredients on hand.

madras lentils

As you can assume, the madras lentils are the star of my Winter Vegan Goddess Bowl. The flavor is so warm and comforting, and the bulkiness of lentils really leaves you satisfied without feeling overly stuffed. The beauty of this type of bowl is that there are really no rules…rather guidelines.

  1. Start with a base – this can be rice, quinoa, salad greens – you name it (we prefer using a bag of the precooked rice because (duh) less time and clean-up)
  2. Add the lentils
  3. Add veggies you’ve roasted before. Suggestions include, but are not limited to: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli. (Pictured here with sweet potatoes.)
  4. Add sautéed greens. We use spinach, but kale has made many an appearance.
  5. For my meatatarian frands: chicken, pork or shrimp would make great additions.

winter vegan goddess bowl

I see all of you thinking about all of these components, and imagining a major clean-up fest after dinner. I see you and I am you. This is not the case. Here’s the game plan – cook the lentils with a crockpot liner, have your veggies pre-roasted from the day(s) before, use a bag of pre-cooked rice. All that’s left is the pan to sauté the greens. That makes these Winter Vegan Goddess Bowls a one-dish dinner. You’re welcome.

Madras Lentils

Ingredients:

1 lb dry lentils
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 shallot – small dice
4 cloves garlic – minced
4 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth also works, but then you’d lose the vegan label)
1.5 tbsp EACH – cumin, chili powder
2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Spray the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray (or for easier clean-up, line your crockpot with a cooking liner).
  2. Add all ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Cook on low heat for 5-6 hours.
  4. Enjoy!

If you’re making a Winter Vegan Goddess Bowl, start with a grain base, then add the lentils, any roasted veggies you have and sautéed greens. A squirt of sriracha doesn’t hurt either!

frittata

Bacon Sweet Potato Kale Frittata

Frittata: a dish that sounds fancy and complicated, but really comes together in minutes and makes you feel like a domestic goddess because you just made a frittata. This frittata is even better because two of the three main ingredients are make ahead, and the third just needs to be washed and chopped.

frittata

Seriously, guys, if you’ve never made a frittata before, please let me enlighten you. A frittata basically consists of eggs, optional meat, optional veggies and optional cheese. Think of it as a “clean out the fridge” dish resembling a crustless quiche. If you have 15 minutes, you can make a frittata. Any veggies you have that need to be used up are fair game. I have yet to find a combination that doesn’t work.

frittata

This frittata, however, came about from leftovers I already had in my fridge. Last week I talked about how roasted sweet potatoes have joined my list of veggies I like to prep ahead on the weekend, so there’s that. We also had some leftover bacon – Andy decided he should just finish cooking the rest of the package one Saturday morning, and HELLO we do not need to eat 12 pieces of bacon for breakfast, so I made sure we saved half.

frittata

Parents, listen up. A major bonus here is that I can get Anna Ruth to eat a ton of veggies she wouldn’t normally eat were they not baked into eggs. She loves frittatas, and clears her plate every time. Girlfriend will not touch kale otherwise. Have a picky eater? Try this and see if they take the bait.

kale

The number one thing you need here is a skillet that can go from the stove top to the oven (I use my cast iron skillet). You start with the veggies/meat in the pan, add the eggs, let set and then finish in the oven – easy peasy!

frittata

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato – cubed and roasted (see last week’s post)
6 slices bacon – cooked and chopped
6 stalks kale – torn into small pieces
2 tbsp bacon grease or olive oil
8 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat bacon grease (or olive oil) over medium heat. Add kale and sauté until slightly wilted.
  3. Add bacon and sweet potato, and make sure everything is evenly dispersed.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and season with a little salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over the bacon/sweet potato/kale mixture, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the eggs start to set.
  6. Top with the mozzarella and put into the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are completely set and the cheese is melted.
summer squash casserole

Summer Squash Casserole

If I could have it my way, we would live in a constant state of summer vegetables at their peak with our gardens overflowing with Mother Nature’s bounty (minus the thick, hot air you can practically cut with a knife). Our – errr, my grandfather’s – garden is at the peak of production right about now, and I’m seriously loving it. Tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, squash…oh the squash.

Laura + yellow summa squash 4eva (hearts)

summer squash casserole

Remember my grandfather? I’m pretty sure there’s nothing he can’t do…long career in business, carpenter and expert farmer. He has a huge garden every summer and we get the direct benefits of it. AKA, we get to pick a peck pretty much whenever we want, and it sometimes makes its way to my little blog.

We love summer squash all kinds of ways, but TBH I’ve never been much of a squash casserole girl. What do you think of when you think of squash casserole? If you said “mush,” then you’re right. Gross, bleh and meh are also acceptable answers. You know why that is? Because nearly all squash casserole recipes call for you to cook the squash before it goes into the casserole. This makes it super runny and generally unpleasant.

summer squash casserole

Enter my method: let the squash sit in a little salt to pull out some of the liquid, then put it straight into the casserole dish and bake. The result is a squash casserole that has actual, fresh vegetable, “I’m doing myself a healthy favor” bite with real texture that is the total opposite of the baby food version you’ve been eating all these years.

summer squash casserole

I took the “casserole” part of this dish in two different directions, so (bonus!) you’re actually getting two different squash casserole recipes today. The squash prep is the same, but one involves an egg/milk mixture and the other involves a butter/flour/milk mixture. Think about the two main ways you would go about making macaroni and cheese, and that’s similar to what we have here.

Let’s talk through when you might make one over the other…

When to make it the eggy way:

  • When you need to be getting other work done while the squash is sitting in salt
  • If you prefer the mac and cheese version that has the eggy consistency with cheese on top
  • If you’re serving right away

When to make it the milk way:

  • When you have time to make the sauce while the squash is sitting in salt
  • If you prefer the cheesy sauce version of mac and cheese
  • If you’re going to a pot-luck where the dish can cool a little and firm up a bit before serving

We’re up to our eyeballs in summer squash, so we’ve made this casserole multiple times. We really like both ways, hence why I feel compelled to give you both recipes. Enjoy!

summer squash casserole

Method 1 (Pictures are of this method)

Ingredients:

8 c yellow squash – diced (about 3 large or 5 small)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs – beaten
2 c milk
1.5 c shredded grueyere cheese (or Swiss)
½ tsp pepper
½ c panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Dice the squash, mix with the salt and allow to sit in a colander for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 or so minutes, juj the colander around to let the liquid drain out. Place into a casserole dish prepared with cooking spray.
  4. Combine the eggs, milk and pepper. Pour the mixture over the squash.
  5. Spread the cheese over the squash, and top with the panko.
  6. Bake for one hour, or until the liquid is set. Broil for the last few minutes so the panko turns a deep golden brown.

Method 2

Ingredients:

8 c yellow squash – diced (about 3 large or 5 small)
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1.5 cups milk
½ tsp pepper
1.5 cups shredded grueyere cheese (or Swiss)
½ c panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Dice the squash, mix with the salt and allow it to sit in a colander for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 or so minutes, juj the colander around to let the liquid drain out. Place into a casserole dish prepared with cooking spray.
  4. Melt the butter in a sauce pot over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk continually until a smooth mixture forms. Bring to a low simmer and whisk in the milk.
  5. Bring the mixture just to bubbling and whisk continuously for another minute to let it thicken. Once thickened, stir in the cheese and peper.
  6. Pour the cheese sauce over the squash in the casserole dish and top with the panko.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes and broil for the last few minutes to finish off the breadcrumbs.
  8. Allow to sit for a few minutes for the sauce to firm up.
banh mi

Pork Banh Mi

We’re going Vietnamese today! Please don’t let that scare you. I’ve forged the way, now just take my hand as we dive into this bready, meaty, crunchy, spicy, herby situation that is now my lyfe. Banh mi, you guys. Sorry in advance, this post is a little long, but it’s just because I have so much to say on the subject, and I’m determined to bring you all with me into the obsession of pork banh mi sandwiches.

banh mi

Have you guys heard of Banh Mi? I’m sure you have, and I’m just late to the game #asusual. I first heard about what is now my favorite sandwich obsession while watching a show on Food Network, and immediately knew I would like it. Fast forward a million years (okay, like, 2 years) and Andy and I stumble upon a place in our city that specializes in them.

Face in palm, y’all. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE? In our defense it’s in an area of town that we rarely go through, and it’s got a textbook hole-in-the-wall status. No matter what the situation – we found it, and my life changed for the better. It was everything I thought it would be and more. After having that sandwich I couldn’t stop thinking about it and knew I wanted to make it at home, so I did some research.

banh mi

The first thing I realized is that there’s no rule book for banh mi, but I did find some common themes in that they generally include some sort of marinated meat (or tofu), pickled veggies, sauce and fresh herbs. They also often involve pate, which is that brown spread you see really well in the picture above. See the notes section after the recipe. While it’s a traditional ingredient to use, we found that it’s really not necessary. The taste is fine (unless you don’t like pate – hiiiiii, dad!), but it just doesn’t really add much to the sandwich.

pickled veggies

Before I get into discussing my recipe we need to have a little chat – lean in and listen to me closely. There are three parts that have to be made for this recipe, and I don’t want anyone thinking that means it takes a long time. Two of the three parts can/should be prepared a few days in advance, and literally take 5-10 minutes each. Then the day of you’re just cooking the pork and assembling the sandwiches. Do not let the number of steps fool you – this is an EASY recipe.

First step here is a spicy sauce. I knew right away that I would make my sriracha mayo for this. I’ve been making this sauce for years because – surprise! – it tastes exactly like the spicy mayo you get with sushi, and I love it with seafood. A little goes a long way, so that’s how I rationalize eating mayo with seafood…or maybe it makes me feel like I’m sort of eating sushi when I use it? Either way, it’s good, and we generally have some on the ready in our fridge. The good thing about this sauce is that you can make it several days before you have the sandwiches because it lasts in the fridge just like regular mayo (you can also make it the day of, but I find it tastes better when the flavors have had at least several hours to cozy-up).

banh mi

The second thing I realized was that I would need pickled veggies, so I did some research and found that pickled veggies generally include vinegar, salt and sugar. So I made my own 🙂 My mom seemed impressed, and I was like, “What? Like it’s hard?” These veggies are so good, friends. They provide the perfect crunch and pop of vinegary zing that goes perfectly with the soft bread, spicy mayo and pork. I used my spiralizer to cut the daikon radish, and then just quickly julienned the carrots. Don’t have a sprializer? No problem. I’ve also just julienned the daikon, and it took no time at all. These need to be made at least two days in advance, but can be made up to a week early. (I found the daikon radish at Whole Foods, but if you don’t want to make multiple grocery store runs and can’t find it then just double the amount of carrots to pickle.)

pickled veggies

The third part of my banh mi is the pork. This is the star of the sandwich. Even if you don’t make the sandwiches, make this pork with this marinade. It is SO good that it could be served as a main in its own right. I got it into the marinade during naptime at the beach, but it would be fine going a little longer, so get it into the marinade before work on the morning you’re going to make it. Then you’ll just roast it in the oven for 20-25 minutes and dinner is ready!

banh mibanh mi

Okay, I hope I’ve given you the motivation needed to make your own banh mi sandwiches. All you need are three super simple parts made at your convenience, and you have a casual friends over for dinner meal, or weeknight supper with leftovers for days. Either way you’re totally winning.

banh mi

Ingredients:

2 pork loins (about 2-2.5 lbs total)
Pork marinade:
–        ¼ c soy sauce
–        2 tbsp fish sauce
–        4 cloves minced garlic
–        2 tbsp lemongrass paste*
–        2 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
Sriracha mayo:
–        1 c mayonnaise
–        ¼ c sriracha
–        1 tsp sesame oil
Pickled veggies:
–        ½ daikon radish
–        4 carrots
–        ¼ c sugar
–        1 tbsp salt
–        ½ c rice vinegar (white works, as well)
Soft French bread rolls
Toppings: cilantro, jalapeno, pate (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pickled veggies (2-5 days in advance): julienne cut the daikon and carrots, and place into a container with a tight fitting lid. Combine the sugar, salt and vinegar and pour over the veggies. Fill the container with water so that the veggies are submerged. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Prepare the sriracha mayo (can be made in advance): combine the mayonnaise, sriracha and sesame oil. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
  3. Prepare the pork (day of): place the pork loins in a zipper plastic bag. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over the pork, and marinade 4-8 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove pork from the marinade and place in a baking dish. Cook the pork for 20-25 minutes.** Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  5. While the pork is cooking cut the French rolls and prepare the toppings.
  6. Slice the pork loin in about ¼ inch slices.
  7. Assemble: spread the sriracha mayo on the bread, add preferred amount of pork slices, top with the pickled veggies, cilantro and jalapeno***
  8. Enjoy!

*You can find lemongrass paste in the same section of the produce department where you find the tubes of basil and other fresh herbs.

**We like our pork loin to still have plenty of pink when it’s done – not still bleeding, but pink. If you prefer your pork to be well-done, up the cooking time by five minutes.

***If using pate as a topping, just spread on one side of the bread before topping with the pork.

Notes: the pictures include pate, but we’ve found that it’s really not necessary. In my research, pate always came up as a topping, so we at least tried it. It’s not bad, but for us it just didn’t add anything, and we could barely tell it was there.

More notes: this feeds about 8 people, but if you’re making it for a small group of 2-4, the leftovers are just as good as the fresh meal, so definitely don’t worry about cutting the recipe in half. If you’re like me then you’ll be fine eating them every day for a week!

roasted garlic hummus

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Happy third day of Summmmmer, y’all!! Today I’m taking you to the core of our summer eating habits that get us through 2/3 of our meals: fresh, simple, no cook, ready to throw on a plate and call it lunch/dinner.

No – we don’t eat roasted garlic hummus per-se for 2/3 of our meals in the summer, but you get the gist of what I’m saying, right? This is just an example of how a summer meal might go.

  1. Grill chicken breasts while playing in the back yard.
  2. Buy and chop the entire produce section.
  3. Put grilled chicken on plates with fresh hummus and crudité (crudité is fancy for chopped veggies <–someone please tell me you get that reference).
  4. Done.

roasted garlic hummus

Let’s get a few things out of the way…

This recipe is adapted from a recipe given to me by one of Andy’s great uncles (hiiii, Jack!). His late wife was Syrian, and the base recipe was from her, so I feel pretty good about this being truly authentic. I just tweaked it by roasting the garlic, rather than using raw.

roasted garlic hummus

I know I said “no cook.” That’s mostly true, but – yes – to make this you do have to roast garlic first. If you’re feeling particularly lazy you can just substitute with 3-4 cloves of raw garlic. The flavor won’t be as sweet and caramelized-y as with roasted, but it is also very delicious.

roasted garlic hummus

Yes, you can buy a popular brand of hummus with roasted garlic, but then you’re not getting it evenly distributed like you are here, and this recipe makes about double what you would buy at the store (for about a third of what you would spend buying two tubs). Also, this fresh, homemade version skips all of the added toxic chemicals in store-bought roasted garlic hummus (<– J/K – I am SOOOOO not that mom – I am NOT seriously saying the added ingredients are toxic). We aren’t above store-bought hummus, but I generally have all of the ingredients on hand to make my own, and you know I love any excuse to use my food processor. 😉

roasted garlic hummus

As mentioned, we’re roasting our own garlic here. Don’t be afraid – it’s really easy! Cut the top off, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, roast in oven. Easy peasy! A whole head of garlic sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t that pungent once it’s roasted and soft and golden. We love roasted garlic so much that I don’t think I would mind even doubling the amount in the recipe.

roasted garlic hummus

I generally keep things easy and just serve the hummus with pita wedges and crudité, but it’s also great on a Greek salad, or as a sandwich spread. Let me know other ways you enjoy using hummus!

Ingredients:

1 head garlic
1/2 tsp olive oil
2 (15.5 oz) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
4 tbsp tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top off of the garlic and drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until soft and golden. (Start checking around 40 minutes. The longer you roast the deeper golden it will become.)
  2. Once the garlic cools, remove the cloves from the skin.
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for one minute, then scrape down the sides of the food processor to ensure all ingredients are well mixed. Run the food processor for another five minutes until very smooth and well blended.
  4. Enjoy with crudité and pita wedges!

Notes: as written this hummus is thick. You can thin out to a looser consistency by adding 1-2 tbsp of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.

fiesta summer salad

Fiesta Summer Salad

Fiesta Summer Salad: AKA tomato, black bean, corn, onion, cilantro, avocado, lime salad. Whew. That mouthful in itself is enough for me to give this an obnoxious name like Fiesta Summer Salad. We’re going there, guys, hand in hand.

The truth is, you guys, I really don’t know what this is exactly. It’s a side “salad,” a dip, a topper of anything Mexican-inspired – tacos, nachos, burritos, etc. The one thing I am 100% certain of, though, is that this is the freshest salad/dip/topper ev-er.

fiesta summer salad

Remember those fish tacos from a couple of weeks ago? This is what we make with those. It doesn’t stop there, though. This fiesta summer salad is the perfect side for anytime you grill meat and other veggies because 1) it’s a side and 2) it can also be a salsa-like topping for the meat.

fiesta summer salad

It’s best to make everything minus the avocado ahead of time to let all of the flavors get cozy, then just dice up the avocado just before you’re ready to serve. Easy peasy!

My favorite part about this fiesta summer salad is that, while it’s not only vegan, it has no oil or salt. You heard me. No oil or salt. We’re working with all plant-based ingredients today. While you can salt this just before eating, I honestly don’t think it needs it…neither does Andy, who notoriously likes to salt his food. If you’re going to do it, though, just wait until you’re ready to serve – otherwise the salt will bring out the juices and make this much runnier than it should be.

fiesta summer salad

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz) can black beans – drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can yellow corn – drained and rinsed
4-5 vine ripe tomatoes
1 red onion
1 large handful cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice
1 avocado

Directions:

  1. Dice the tomatoes and onion, and mince the cilantro.
  2. Combine beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and lime juice in a bowl. Cover and store in the fridge for at least an hour, if not longer.
  3. When ready to serve, peel and dice the avocado then stir into the salad.
  4. Enjoy!
ranch kale chips

Ranch Kale Chips

Today, friends, I’m showing you my crunchy side: my name is Laura and I love granola and kale chips.

baked ranch kale chips

I had a friend ask last week if I had any ideas for kale chip seasonings other than the standard salt/pepper combo <– can I just say it is so flattering when people ask me if I have a recipe for something? It really gives me a boost and makes me feel like maybe I really do have a place in this big, food blogging world. I’d never made kale chips before, so of course this request turned me into the “I have to make kale chips immediately because OH MY GOSH I CANNOT BELIEVE I’VE NEVER MADE KALE CHIPS, LIKE REALLY WHY HAVE I NEVER MADE MY OWN KALE CHIPS, HOW CAN I EVEN CALL MYSELF A FOOOOOOOD BLOGGER???” freak that Andy loves so much.

kale chips

I don’t even know why I’ve gone this long without making my own. I guess maybe it just seemed daunting, or like something that seems like a good idea but in reality just comes out meh? But, you guys, I was entirely wrong. Kale chips are super duper easy and really delicious made right in your very own home. And the possibilities are endless. I have so many more flavor combos in mind that I can’t wait to try. I’m not sure why my mind initially went to ranch seasoning, but it did and I’m so glad because that tang on that crunch is everything.

baked kale chips

I know some of you may be skeptical of this kale chip trend going on, but you know two people that aren’t skeptical at all? Anna Ruth and her cousin twin Jack. These kids literally ate an entire pan just between the two of them and wanted more. Anything that can get my picky vegetable eater to eat straight up greens is a winner for me. I see a lot of kale chips in our future. I couldn’t get to my camera fast enough to get a picture of them devouring the chips, but here’s a feel good picture from just a few hours prior that I just wanted to share because it’s so cute…strolling through the farmer’s market hand in hand.

cousin twins

As with anytime I make something completely new to me I did some research and did several test rounds. Here are the basics I found for flawless kale chips regardless of the seasonings used:

  1. Low heat works best. Most recipes I saw had the kale cooking at 300, but I actually found that 275 was best to get the ultimate crunch without any browning. Crunch = good. Brown = bad.
  2. Make sure the kale is as dry as possible before cooking so that it doesn’t steam.
  3. The bigger the torn pieces, the better. Kale really realllllly shrinks up in the oven, so start with pieces that you think are too large.
  4. Don’t overdo the oil. I only use 1.5 teaspoons for about four loosely packed cups of kale (one baking sheet worth). Drizzle it over the fresh kale, then massage it into every piece one by one to make sure every piece is covered.
  5. There really is no need to flip the kale half way through. I rotate the pan half way through just because I want to, but that really might not even be necessary.
  6. For ranch seasoning specifically, I prefer to sprinkle it on once the chips are out of the oven. I can’t really describe it, but something funky happened when it cooked for 20 minutes, but that could also be partly the dairy powder in the mix. I’ve since found a vegan ranch mix that I am going to try in the coming weeks when I have more time. For now, though, the standard mix that you find in the dressing aisle of the grocery store works fine.

ranch kale chips

I’m a big fan of the ranch seasoning, but I would love to hear other combos you either have used or think might be good!

Ingredients:

4 cups kale leaves – stems removed and torn into large pieces
1.5 tsp olive oil
½ tsp ranch seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Prepare the kale by washing, removing the stems and tearing into large pieces. Dry as thoroughly as possible.
  3. Arrange kale on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the olive oil and massage into each piece so that all of the kale is evenly coated.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the cooking time.
  5. Once out of the oven, sprinkle with the ranch seasoning and enjoy!
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