Spinach Basil Pesto, anyone?

Hey friends!

So last night I decided it was time for a show down with my basil plant.

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It was just begging to be eaten. Not in the “a leaf here, a leaf there” sort of way I’d been eating it, though.

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No, it told me it was ready to be plucked clean. So that’s what I did. Enter your basic pesto… with a twist!

Spinach Basil Pesto

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Ingredients:

  • 1 C fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 C spinach

The spinach was a last minute addition. I was feeling creative 🙂

Instructions:

Toss it all into a food processor and give it a whirl!

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Ahhhh, I love food processors. 🙂

Enjoy! I sautéed some veggies in it…

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..and had them with cannellini beans over spaghetti squash, which I cooked in the microwave.

I just cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, placed half of it inside facing down on the plate, and microwaved on high for 8 minutes. Done and done!

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Voila!

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The pesto was really yummy. However, I decided spaghetti squash is just not my favorite, at least when it’s substituted for pasta.

I just like pasta better! I think I’d like spaghetti squash much better as a side dish as opposed to the main course 🙂 I’ll do some experimenting with the leftovers!

What do you think of spaghetti squash? If you like it, what’s your favorite way to eat it?

Stay tuned… I made something else very creative in the kitchen last night that I think ya’ll will LOVE!

GET IN MY BELLY!!!

Oh man, so when I got home from Chem lab last night around 8 all I could think about was that I needed food and I needed it immediately. My PB sandwich at 4:30 in between class and lab had long since been digested and I was SO HUNGRY!

Unfortunately I also remembered that I have almost no food in the fridge and desperately need to go to the grocery store (going today, I swear!!). Enter this easy creation originating mostly from random things in my pantry (except for the star sweet potato)! Things of this variation were a favorite when I was living in Prague (cheap = good!)!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Mess

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Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • ~1/3 can of black beans
  • diced tomatoes (also canned, no salt added… told you i have no food!)
  • marinara sauce
  • cumin
  • cinnamon

Start with the sweet potato. I had zero patience due to my imminent starvation and microwaved it! Poke a few holes in it with a fork, and microwave on high about 5 minutes.

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Once it’s out, cut it in half.

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Top first with the black beans…

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Then with the tomatoes (however much you like)…

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And finally with the marinara sauce (I used a ton… mmm) and a few sprinkles each of cumin and cinnamon!

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Proceed to dive in headfirst. From pantry to plate in 8 minutes flat! Not bad for something so nutritious and tasty! 🙂

I had it along with some microwaved frozen peas for a little green. I heart frozen peas. Not only can I eat them, but when running, I can ice my knees with them 😉

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What’s your usual quick and easy “I might starve if I don’t eat in the next 10 minutes” meal?

Another busy day today – Bio class (a quiz, eek) and lab, and then I’m going to a fun new kickboxing class at a boxing place tonight with some friends! I LOVE kickboxing (the hardcore version where you use actual gloves and bags… not the lame gym version) and used to go to a karate place a couple years ago for it. I miss it! Awesome workout, too.

Have a good one, friends! 🙂 I’m off to the grocery store for provisions – I’m having 15 of my girlfriends over tomorrow night for a wine and designer jeans party (awesome, right?? it’s like a tupperware party but with discount designer jeans!!!), and I will be making a bunch of fun appetizers 🙂 Recipes and pictures to come!

BRINNER!!

I made the most awesome brinner (breakfast for dinner!) last night before the haunted forest!

Shrimp and Spinach Omelet

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DROOL!!!!!!!!

Ingredients:

(serves 1)

  • 2 eggs
  • 8 frozen shrimp (already peeled, deveined, tail-off)
  • olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, diced
  • huge handful spinach
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C diced tomatoes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

You’ll need two pans – a smaller one for the omelet, and one for the shrimp/spinach/etc.

PAN #1: Add your diced garlic and a drizzle of olive oil into the larger pan and set it to medium heat. Once it’s hot, toss in the frozen shrimp.

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After a couple minutes, toss in a HUGE handful of fresh spinach.

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Mix it around until the spinach and shrimp are both cooked.

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Add in the parmesan cheese and some diced tomatoes, and leave the pan on low heat to keep it warm while you cook the eggs.

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PAN #2: First, whisk two eggs and salt and pepper to taste, and pour them into a nonstick (or PAM sprayed) pan on medium high heat.

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To make an awesome omelet, once the bottom layer is mostly cooked, start lightly lifting up the edges of the egg, tilting the pan so that the uncooked liquid on top will end up traveling underneath the part you lifted up. Do this around the whole circle until all the egg is cooked.

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Now all you need to do is put the open omelet on a plate, plop the shrimp/spinach/tomato mixture on top, and fold over the egg!

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Look how pretty it is 🙂 I always won the “best omelet maker” award in the family, hehe. It’s usually my job on Christmas morning after we open presents!

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I had another busy day today! I spent the morning catching up on Chemistry homework (ugh it’s getting harder!!) and finishing up some editing work. I took a lovely walk in the sunshine late morning which was nice. 🙂 Then it was off to class and then to the office for the rest of the afternoon! I’m glad to not have any plans tonight so I can try to keep catching up on homework and life!

In other news – the haunted forest last night was AWESOME! Ashley and I (everyone else bailed, but we were like whatever we’re still going!) went to Markoff’s Haunted Forest in Maryland and trust me, if you are in the DC area, it is SO worth the drive.

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It’s literally in the middle of NOWHERE. They have an awesome area with food, bonfires, haunted buses, a haunted hayride, and all sorts of other entertainment while you wait! So toasty 🙂

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They also had all sorts of fun Halloween colored lights up. I tried to get a picture but it came out crazy – check this out!

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Here we are before going in – eeeeeeek!

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We were basically shrieking the entire time, haha. Such girls! I love haunted forests because you aren’t all smushed up on a thousand other people like in a haunted house. For most of it we were alone on the trail! Sooooo creepy. They had some awesome costumes!

Anyway, back to work! Have a great evening friends 🙂

p.s. Do you like my new format?? I became a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher, so I shifted up my layout to fit the banner. Yay!

Just Beet It!

He he… come on. That pun was just too good to pass up!

So when I was little, I remember my grandmother feeding me freshly boiled beets (in addition to cookies, of course) from their garden when me, my parents, and my brother went to their house. They were so good. But after that, I forgot about my love for beets, and was too lazy to make them on my own. So one day this summer when I was at Whole Foods, and I came across this:

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for a mere buck or two, you know I had to give it a try. I’m generally a total “I don’t eat vegetables from a can” snob, but I had to make an exception for this.

I’m so glad I did! These things are amazing. If you don’t think you like beets but have never tried them, please buy this. I may or may not eat them straight out of the can sometimes. Whatever.

So, in honor of the warmer temperatures and sunshine today, today’s lunch featured said beets (and an awesome leftover sandwich), all lovely and cooked and sliced for me and all I had to do was open a can!

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Doesn’t that look yummy?? Goat cheese + beets = heaven.

Goat Cheese and Beet Salad

Ingredients:

  • Mixed greens
  • Baby spinach
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced beets
  • Goat cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • Cracked pepper
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Easy and awesome. Just throw it all on a plate, top with some balsamic vinaigrette, and enjoy!

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What’s your favorite beet recipe?

I had a busy day today full of Bio class and Bio lab. Did I tell you guys I got a 91.5 on my Bio midterm?? Woohooo!!! Especially awesome since the class average was 65?!?

My mom and I are off to have dinner so I must go. Have a lovely evening everyone! 🙂

Sweet Potato Attack!!!

Hello from cold and rainy Washington D.C.! Blech. Does anyone else feel kind of depressed with this weather??

Friday is my day off from school, so I usually dedicate it to getting a good amount of editing work done for my job. But obviously I also took a break to make some “fannetastic” food!

For lunch I had the last of my awesome Secret Ingredient Falafel and Homemade Cucumber Yogurt Sauce. SO GOOD!!! I heated it up and had it atop some spinach, kale (rubbed with some EVOO and lemon juice, salt and pepper – stole this idea from Meghann awhile ago and have been loving it!), cucumber, and tomato, with a side of some fruit and yogurt. Mmmm!!! You guys have to try this!

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So last night I went out for drinks with my friend Sara who I met while teaching in Prague. It was so fun to see her and reminisce 🙂 She still lives there and is back for a visit. I’m jealous! Anyway, it got me thinking about some of the food I used to make in Prague when it was cold and gray out. Specifically various chili creations! So I set out to make a variation of it today so I’d have something warm to eat for dinner before heading out on the town 🙂 Today’s creation was…

…Sweet Potato Lentil Chili!!

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I basically just threw half the fridge into a pot and called it a day, while keeping track and taking pictures for you all, of course 😉 I think Prague was when I learned that you shouldn’t be scared to be creative and experiment with ingredients while cooking. (It helped that I couldn’t read half the things in the supermarket since they were all in Czech…)

Ingredients

  • 1 32oz container veggie broth
  • 1.5 C water
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can sweet potato puree (optional… leftover from my muffins!)
  • 1 16oz package dried lentils, rinsed
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • Huge handful kale
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions

Feel free to leave out any of the veggies you don’t like or don’t have, with the exception of the sweet potatoes, which make this dish 🙂 You could also use less lentils and some other beans, like kidney beans.

First, add the veggie broth, water, diced tomatoes, optional sweet potato puree, and rinsed lentils to a large pot.

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Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes (to soften the lentils) while you’re chopping the garlic, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, and green pepper.

Orange-tastic!!

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Throw the garlic, kale, carrots, and sweet potato into the pot, followed a couple minutes later by the celery and green pepper. (Clearly this picture reveals that I forgot to put the tomato in until this point… he he!)

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Mix it all up, and then add the spices – cumin, cinnamon, and pepper. The room will now proceed to smell awesome.

Let the mixture continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until it reaches the level of cooked consistency you prefer! ENJOY!

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Now all I need is some cornbread 😉 And hot sauce!

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TGIF! Hope ya’ll have a nice weekend 🙂 Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my fitness post with my new favorite strength training exercise… I’m just trying to figure out a way to take it so it doesn’t look totally ghetto b/c I’m using self timer 😉

Has anyone tried any of my recipes yet? I’d love to hear how they came out!

Blogger Secret Ingredient Contest: Pancake Mix!

Good morning all!

So last night I had some free time and decided to do a little experimenting in the kitchen because the lovely Caitlin is hosting week 52 of the Blogger Secret Ingredient Contest. Basically, each week a new blogger hosts, and picks a special ingredient. Anyone can enter a recipe, but they have to use the ingredient in a creative way. So this week’s secret ingredient was… <drum roll>… pancake mix!

First things first:

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Cooking is way better with wine 🙂 And music. Which was also involved 😉

So… wanna know what I made??

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……………………………………… FALAFEL!!!

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Creative, right?!? I hope so, anyway 🙂

The star ingredient:

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Secret Ingredient Falafel

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 C whole grain pancake mix
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 C fresh parsley (lightly packed)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions:

First, preheat oven to 400.  Then toss all the ingredients into a food processor! It should look like this:

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Whirl it around in the food processor until it’s pretty much evenly mixed.

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Form patties into flattened balls (it should make about 5 to 6) and place on a cooking sheet. Pop in the oven for about 15 minutes.

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Once I put the falafel in the oven, I was still feeling creative, so on a whim I decided to whip up a yogurt/cucumber sauce similar to those I always love at falafel shops.

Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz container non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice from 1 whole lemon
  • 1/3 of a cucumber, sliced

Once again, I popped it all in the food processor….

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…gave it a whirl, and voila! Amazing sauce. Mmmm this came out SO good!!

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A tip for the lemons when you’re done with them – put them down the disposal… it makes it smell really nice 🙂

So by this point, my falafel was done!!!

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I enjoyed two of them for dinner on top of a brown rice wrap (from Trader Joes.. these would also be awesome in a pita if I hadn’t just had one for lunch!). I drizzled drowned them in cucumber sauce, added some fresh cucumber, tomatoes, and spinach, and I was ready to rock!

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….Except that once I added the spinach and actually tried to roll it up, my wrap was TOTALLY exploding and about to be a HUGE mess.

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Good thing I’m a genius 🙂 Tin foil saves the day!!

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So excited to have more falafel today for lunch… I’m thinking on top of a big salad with my cucumber sauce 🙂 I can’t wait to see what everyone else whipped up for the secret ingredient contest!

Hope you’re having a nice day so far! Mine has been productive… knocked out a couple hours of Organic chem homework, did some laundry, made some calls, etc. This afternoon I have do some editing work for my job, and we get our second exams back in chem class… eeek!

Now I’m heading off to my favorite class at the gym – PiYo – which is a pilates/yoga mix. I LOVE pilates and while I like yoga, I don’t like doing a full hour of it, so this is perfect for me 🙂 The instructor is great, too. Doesn’t that make all the difference?

Have a good one! 🙂

Mexican-Style Sweet Potato Fries

From boring:

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To awesome:

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Man sweet potato fries are the best. I kicked mine up with a little Mexican seasoning. Mmmm!

Mexican-Style Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • Cracked pepper
  • Ground cumin

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Slice sweet potato into fry shapes. Place on baking tray and sprinkle with cracked pepper and cumin.

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Bake 25-30 mins, and then enjoy with massive amounts of ketchup, because ketchup rules.

I also enjoyed this:

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I think some sort of Lentil Veggie Soup will be my next homemade soup conquest. So yummy! I really like this Trader Joe’s brand one – not too salty, but with a nice flavor.

Have a nice evening, friends! I have a Bio midterm on Wednesday – back to studying!