Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Ok, so my first week of “freedom” from school has been much less productive than I had anticipated.  I am coming to the conclusion that the internet is an evil dementor (Harry Potter reference, sorry) and is sucking my life away.  I love having information and ideas right at my fingertips, but sometimes accessibility cheapens things.  Does that make sense?  My brain has been retrained to flit from one webpage to another, not to quietly enjoy a morning coffee or spend an hour wrapped up in a book.  I’ve only recently come to this realization and have not yet decided what to do (or even if anything must be done).

Do any of you have the same problem?  Have you done anything about it?

Ok, enough with randomness.  On to food!

I made these sloppy joes for my vegetarian boyfriend and we both loved them.  The chipotle peppers and barbecue sauce added a lovely, smoky flavor and the combination of black beans and edamame kept the filling from being too heavy.  I promised Jeremy that I would start repeating some of his favorite recipes (I’m guilty of never doing the same thing twice…possibly a manifestation of internet-induced attention deficit?) and this one is going in the regular rotation.  Enjoy it with seasonal veggies or oven-fries.

Find the recipe here at Vegetarian Times online.  The only change I made was not to bother with low-fat barbecue sauce or cheese.

While I’m at it, I might as well link to another comfort food recipe I’ve been loving this week.  The BEST rice pudding from Gilt Taste.  Don’t do like I did and decide that the 1/4 cup rice to 3 cups milk ratio is wrong.  It’s right.  Next time, I will trust them completely.  :)

* I added this post to this week’s Fresh Bites Friday.

Welcoming Fall with Sweet Potatoes

I spend a lot of time in the summer dreading the fall.  Warm, sunny weather in the Pacific Northwest is a rarity and I truly do hate to see it go.  But now that cooler days have set in, I’ve remembered that I actually like wearing scarves and sweaters, using the fireplace, and making crock-pot dinners.  I also love sweet potatoes.

Even for breakfast.

These are perfect alongside some local grass-fed goat sausages.  I made enough for a few days and then breakfast was just a few microwave buttons away.

Cumin Roasted Sweet Potatoes
serves 3-4
adapted from September 2012′s Vegetarian Times 

Ingredients
- 3 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 425F.  Toss all ingredient in a large baking dish until vegetables are well coated.  Roast for about 45 minutes, until fork-tender, stirring halfway through.

I added this post to this week’s Full Plate ThursdayThriving on ThursdaysWhole Foods Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy Free WednesdayFat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Cast Party Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Traditional Tuesday, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Summer Squash Sauté with Goat Cheese

Hello!  I feel like I should apologize for my long absence.  In the last several weeks, real life has trumped cyber life and I decided it would be best to wait until things settled down before getting back into the kitchen and on dishesanddishes.  There was the wrap-up of my final term in nursing school, graduation(!), a visit from my parents, and a trip up to beautiful Orcas Island off the coast of Washington.

The view from outside our hotel.

The San Juan islands are amazing.

On the ferry to Orcas.

Even Dan got to enjoy his favorite activity.

I’ve been catching up on sleep, reinstating some self-care (hello exercise and yoga!), and working through the process of getting my nursing license and looking for jobs.  I tend to shy away from instability and uncertainty and so I’m sure these next few months of battling it out in a tough job market and seeing what turns up will be a real learning process for me.  The up-side of unemployment?  I have time to cook.  :)

Yay cast-iron!

My mom gave me a cast-iron skillet as a graduation gift and a used it for the first time with this simple sauté of crookneck squash, red onions, spinach, and goat cheese.  It was a delicious side dish and the perfect answer to the end-of-summer’s glut of squash.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

How do you deal with change?  Do you welcome it or dread it? 

Summer Squash Sauté with Goat Cheese
makes 6 servings
inspired by Happyolks taco version

Ingredients
– 1 tsp olive oil
– 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
– 3 crookneck squash, cubed
– 1 tsp red wine vinegar
– 1 tsp dijon mustard
– a few handfuls of spinach
– 2 oz goat cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add squash, increase heat to medium-high, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Stir in red wine vinegar and mustard until well incorporated.  Add spinach and stir for another minute, just until wilting.  Remove pan from heat and crumble goat cheese over vegetables.  Toss a few times and serve warm.

* I shared this post with this week’s Superfood Sunday and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

Summer Vegetable Salad with Quinoa and Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

My oh my, I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I put up my last recipe.  Between wrapping things up for graduation (I finish in 2 weeks!) and lying in pools my own sweat (ew) in my hot apartment, I’ve been seriously lacking in energy lately.  I tend to believe that there are few problems a good helping of nutrition can’t solve…does anyone have any good tips for breaking out of a low-energy slump?  If so, I’d love to hear them.

Because of the recent temperatures and my unfortunate lack of air-conditioning, I’ve been focusing on creating meals that require little, if any, cooking, baking, or boiling.  While this one does not completely fit that mold, it comes pretty close and the leftovers kept me happy for days.  I even ate a few servings for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

This recipe was inspired by a similar one from Whipped.  I changed the ingredients based on what I had in my kitchen and I omitted the mozzarella because…well, I was dealing with the discovery that I now have cellulite on my thighs.  I really recommend taking an extra few minutes to make the pickled cherry tomatoes.  They provide amazing little bursts of flavor and are easy to make.

Summer Vegetable Salad with Quinoa and Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
makes 8 servings
adapted from Whipped

Ingredients
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup diced zucchini (about 1/2 large)
- 1 ear corn, kernel removed
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
- 2 handfuls spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup pickled tomatoes (see recipe below)
- 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- salt, to taste

Start by pickling the cherry tomatoes.  They will need at least an hour for the flavors to come together.

In a large bowl, toss vegetables together.  Drizzle with oil and vinegar and toss again.  Finish with a sprinkle of salt.

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
adapted from Plate to Plate

Ingredients
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 garlic cloves, gently crushed
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix vinegar, water, salt, and sugar together until salt and sugar are dissolved. Mix the halved tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Pack gently into a glass jar and pour vinegar mixture over until covered.  Replace the lid, give it a few good shakes, and leave it at room temperature for 1-3 hours.

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

* I shared this link with this week’s Fat Tuesday and Traditional Tuesday.

Smart Cookies (with protein!)

I go back and forth on the whole concept of protein powder.  Sure, it’s an easy add-in for the morning smoothie and it can help keep me satiated until lunch.  BUT, protein powders are expensive, often contain unnatural ingredients, and can taste like, well, butt.  So lately I’ve been choosing to avoid them and to rely on eggs, nuts, meats, and raw milk for my protein.  In the meantime, a very expensive bag of protein powder has been wasting away in my cupboard.

This is the Vanilla SunWarrior Warrior Blend protein.  I bought it after trying a free sample and I thought I was in love.  When my whole 2 pound bag came in the mail, though, I found that my tastebuds had done a complete switch.  I found it to be just tolerable and, a few weeks later, not even that.  By the time I was halfway through the bag, I hated the stuff.  And so we’ve been at an impasse, with me unable to either consume it or throw it away (I figure there’s a good $20 worth of product still in that bag!).  BTW, I’m not trying to point out SunWarrior as having a worse-than-average product.  Based on the online reviews, it seems that most people love it…just a matter of taste.

This long story is to tell you that  these cookies finally vindicated my purchase.  When baked into these hearty cookies, I find the Warrior Blend to be absolutely amazing.  It lends a nice, sweet vanilla flavor and plenty of healthy staying power.  Next time I make these, I may even increase the amount of protein and decrease the whole wheat flour, just to see what I end up with.  Use your favorite (or maybe least favorite) brand and whip these up for quick breakfasts or snacks.

Have you ever found a way to repurpose something that was languishing in your cupboards?

Smart Cookies
makes 12-15 large cookies
adapted from Blissful Bites

Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used Warrior Blend)
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat oil, milk, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla and almond extracts until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and protein.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in oats, cherries, and hazelnuts.

Form cookies with large scoops of dough and place them on a nonstick baking sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Tuna Nicoise Sandwiches

What do you get when you put classic nicoise salad ingredients between 2 slices of bread?  You get the perfect picnic takealong.

I was inspired by this sandwich over at Tartelette.  It was just the thing to bring for an afternoon cooling off by the river last weekend.  It was Jeremy’s birthday and we needed a way to beat the heat and get out of our ordinary routine.  We ended up with happy tastebuds and a very happy dog.

Chasing sticks never gets old for him.

I used some lovely homemade focaccia bread and quick-pickled onions in this recipe.  Use whatever bread you prefer, but I really recommend you give the onions a try.  They only take about 5 minutes to put together and they add a zesty tang and crunch.

I hope everyone is staying cool out there.  I’ve stationed myself in front of the fan for the afternoon.

Tuna Nicoise Sandwiches
makes 2
adapted from Tartelette

Ingredients
- 2 hard-boiled farm eggs, peeled and chopped
- 1 can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 6 olives, halved (I’m obsessed with castelvetrano olives)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- several large basil leaves, torn into pieces
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tomato, sliced
- several slices quick-pickled onions
-
 bread of choice

In a large bowl, mix eggs, tuna, olives, garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Spread thickly between slices of bread, topped with tomato and onions.

I added this post to this week’s Melt in Your Mouth Monday.

Quick Pickled Onions

I was so excited when, at the grocery store last week, I noticed the first of this season’s walla walla onions.  For those who’ve never have them, walla walla onions are an incredibly sweet, ridiculously huge variety of onion grown in and around Walla Walla, Washington (yes, real place).  They have a short shelf life and are only available this time of year and so they are quite a treat.

I bought one without having any plans for it and proceeded to let it sit on my counter for a few days.  My favorite way to enjoy walla wallas is to grill them and put them on a burger.  But it has been way to HOT to grill, if you can believe it, and I began to worry that this precious onion would go to waste.  That’s when I got the idea to pickle it.  While red onions are usually the ones I see turned into pickles (so good on sandwiches, salad, and tacos!), I decided that the walla walla would be a perfect variation.  And I was right.

Quick Pickled Onions
adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients
- 1 onion, thinly sliced (walla walla or red would work well)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt

In a large jar, mix vinegar, water, sugar, and salt until dissolved.  Add onion to the jar, place the lid on top and shake until the onion has been coated.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

* I added this post to this week’s Fresh Bites Friday and Thriving on Thursday.