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!

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Pumpkin Bean Dip-licious

Happy Friday!! So first up on the list of awesome appetizers from last night was this random concoction that I dreamed up:

Pumpkin Bean Dip!

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This was a huge success! I was thinking of making hummus (which I am still going to do later just for myself), but decided that was too boring for the party and I wanted to make something more interesting. I wasn’t sure how it would come out and was basically just throwing half my fridge into the food processor 😉

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Here’s what I ended up with, and it tasted SO GOOD!! Def making this for parties in the future. (and/or at all times to eat with a spoon)

Ingredients:

  • 1 C (overflowing) canned pumpkin
  • 1 C black beans (rinsed)
  • 1/2 C cannellini beans (rinsed)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (this totally made the dip!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions:

Toss it all into a food processor and go for it! Easy peasy 🙂

I just bought my food processor/blender combo on Overstock.com earlier this summer and it was the best purchase ever. Cheap, too, since it was refurbished! It’s a Cuisinart BFP-703CHFR Food Processor/Blender and I got it for $70 in case you’re curious 🙂

Here’s before…

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And after!

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Tasted it immediately, obviously. Ended up adding a more black beans (I first started with only 1/2 C)… it’s all about experimenting, friends!

YUMMY!!!

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Keep refrigerated until ready to par-tay, then serve with blue corn tortilla chips, pita chips, crackers, veggies, or whatever you like!

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Up next on the menu? Another pumpkin-related goodie, of course! And one non-pumpkin treat (gasp!!). Stay tuned 🙂

Funny story from last night: so there were about 15 of us, and we destroyed all the appetizers as well as 6+ bottles of wine. So at one point I had like 10 girls in my room all trying on a zillion jeans, and my friend Sarah was like “Oooo I love these ones!” I look over and I’m like… “Wait… those are MY jeans that I was wearing tonight!!!” Lol! Mayhem 🙂 Everyone is already asking me to have another one of these parties… I’m thinking late January/early February 🙂 So fun!

Off to run a bunch of errands and then gear up for a Halloween party tonight! Have a good one 🙂

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!

North Carolina or Bust!

Good afternoon!

So if you know me in real life, you’ll know that “_____- or bust” is pretty much my favorite phrase. Get prepared to see this on the blog a lot 😉

Anyway, this evening after class I’m driving down to UNC-Chapel Hill! They have an open house tomorrow for their MPH program, which is what their Nutrition stuff comes under. I hope it’s worth the drive! I’ll be staying with my friend Amy from high school and her husband. We were on varsity tennis together, although she was way better than me 😉

Lunch today was awesome and veggie-tastic. Veggies or bust?? 😉

One of my favorite combos is hummus and cracked pepper, spread on a wrap or pita (this was the Trader Joes brown rice wraps again)…

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… with some fresh sliced tomatoes…

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… and then topped off with some Massaged Kale Salad. I learned this tasty recipe awhile ago from Meghann’s blog and have been loving it ever since! Basically, you take some kale (washed and trimmed… or bought in a bag where they’ve already done that for you), drizzle some olive oil on it, add some fresh lemon juice (I used juice from 1/2 a lemon for this portion), add some fresh cracked pepper, and “massage” it all together with your hands! Delish. And makes your hands soft 🙂

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Nom, nom nom! The word nom makes me giggle.

Had it with another lovely Goat Cheese and Beet Salad, except that this was actually feta this time, so I’m kind of lying. 🙂

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Annnnnnd with some homemade iced tea mixed with a little bit of POM Wonderful (3 parts tea, 1 part POM) Yummy!!!

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And an unpictured pear a little bit later 🙂

Off I go! Time to run some errands, head to class, come back, frantically over-pack (duh), eat a quick early din din (leftover Sweet Potato Lentil Chili (topped with marinara sauce and cilantro – so good) and toast?), and then hit the road! I’m packing a billion snacks for the drives and for the info session tomorrow, obviously. No one likes to be around a hungry Anne 😉

I’ll be back either late Friday night or Saturday morning, so stay tuned for a UNC recap! Have a lovely day 🙂

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! 🙂