Green bean fries: a little story and a super quick and easy veggie recipe.

I want this blog to get back to being a little bit more about food. Not like it was when I started blogging, but more along the lines of sharing what we eat and incorporating the huge part of our lives that food is. Josh and I are major foodies who plan trips around what and where we’re going to eat, remember past homes by our favorite restaurants  and compliment each other in the kitchen by being 1/2 scientist (Josh) and 1/2 experimentalist (me). Because of this, New York City is both the best and the worst place for us live – we’ve both gained around 15 pounds since moving from Texas (I’m working on getting it under control). Even though we have every type of delicious pizza, pasta and pastry available at our disposal, we still try to keep it pretty healthy when we eat at home and try to make as much as possible from scratch.

Josh and I both love to try and recreate our favorite restaurant meals in our own kitchen, especially since a lot of our favorite restaurant meals are from places in Ohio, California, South Jersey and Texas. One of Theo’s favorite places to eat when we lived in Texas was a burger place (running theme of this blog apparently) called Smashburger. It’s just a chain restaurant and we actually found one here in Jersey but the one in Texas was THE best. One of the most incredible things on their menu were the veggie fries and I liked them so much that I actually asked the manager how they made them. It was just raw green beans and carrot sticks flash fried for about 30 seconds. No breading, no nothing.

Last week I realized that I had some green beans in the refrigerator that needed to be used and I immediately thought of the veggie fries. I heated some coconut oil, which we use for everything, and dropped the green beans in for about a minute. After frying them, I finished them off on a baking sheet, with a little salt, in the oven at 450 for about 5 minutes. OMG. They were incredible. The oil gave them a very slightly sweet taste combined with the saltiness and the roasty-ness (that’s definitely a word) from the high heated oven and made for the perfect flavor.

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They’re a great side dish.  Or even a great snack…

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Homemade ricotta chive gnocchi.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce this. In Ohio, you just say “Nock-y” but in New York you say “Ne-O-key” with a bit of an accent at the beginning. I prefer to just not say it at all and since I can’t order it without saying it, I have to make it myself.

There are a couple of awesome things about this recipe. 1. It’s vegetarian. 2. It’s cheap. 3. It’s super easy to make. All you need is

  • 16 oz of ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • chives
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • about 2 – 2.5 cups of flour
  • whatever spices you want to add (I use salt, pepper and garlic powder)

First thing’s first, put a big pot of salted water on to boil. While your water heats up, mix all of the ingredients together, except the flour.

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Once everything is mixed until just combined, start adding the flour about a half a cup at a time and knead with your fingers.

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Add around 2 cups of flour, still just a half a cup at a time, and continue to knead until the mixture becomes sort of doughy. Once you think you’ve added enough flour, drop a small ball of the dough into the boiling water. If it falls apart you need to add more flour. If it sinks and then floats, it’s good to go.

Divide your dough into 4 or 5 parts and roll out each section.

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Cut the rolled out dough into inch pieces and use a fork to indent each inch.

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Lastly, just drop each piece into the boiling water and wait for it to float to the top. Each piece should take about two minutes. Use a slatted spoon and place the pasta in a bowl with a little marinara sauce until ready to serve.

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Another great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can basically substitute whatever you want or have on hand. Serve with a side salad and you’ve got a meal!

 

 

Make your kids (and husband) eat a salad for breakfast smoothie.

That’s quite a mouthful for the name of a smoothie but it fits. What if I told you that all three of my kids eat chard, kale and spinach for breakfast every morning. That’s kind of hard to believe right? Well it’s true except they don’t “eat” it – they drink it. Five days a week everyone in my family starts their day with this nutrient packed smoothie that basically has an entire salad hidden within the taste of fruit. Of course I can’t really call this a recipe because I don’t have exact measurements for anything (typical) but here’s what I do.

Take 1/5 of a bag of mixed greens (I use Trader Joe’s power greens which is a combination of baby chard, baby kale and baby spinach), 2 – 3 tablespoons of ground flax, one to two bananas depending on their size, half of a bag of frozen mixed berries (we use a combo of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries), about a cup of frozen mango or pineapple and put it all in your blender.  Add orange juice over all of it until your blender is about 1/3 full and blend. This makes enough to fill a sippy cup, two kids’ cups and two small adult glasses. photo picstitch-3_zps86848e54.jpgI’ve read before that the reason vegetarians typically live longer, healthier lives isn’t because they’re meat free but because they generally eat more vegetables than omnivores. With that in mind, I try to make sure that we get veggies with every meal so this smoothie is a really easy way sneak some in with breakfast. Enjoy!

Our top 10 favorite veggie meals.

After writing our “skip it” list, a reader suggested I write a post about some of the meatless meals we eat. I thought it was a great idea and talked with Josh to come up with a list of our favorite go to vegetarian meals.  Each meal is linked back to the recipe (if applicable) so you can try them out for yourself. Enjoy!

1. Veggie Shepherd’s Pie photo IMG_6424_zps7ffe4300.jpg

I actually stray quite a bit from Rachael Ray’s recipe and skip out on the parsnips, horseradish, eggs, and mushrooms, and add cauliflower, corn and whatever other veggies I feel like throwing in. This is such a comfort food and is a staple loved by all of us.

2. Hummus burgers

3. Mexican pizza:

This I make by layering two flour tortillas with refried beans and cheese on each layer. Fill in and cover with whatever you want – corn, salsa, diced tomatoes, diced onions, extra beans, more cheese, etc. Bake until everything is warm and the cheese is gooey and serve with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc. Yum!

4.Rice and Bean bowls

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5. Becky’s black bean burgers

6. A nice cheese pizza just for me:

Josh makes the best homemade pizza dough. Actually, he is the king of all things baked. They say you’re either a cook or a baker and I am most definitely NOT a baker but Josh makes up for my downfalls in the kitchen. Anyway, his recipe begins with putting half a tablespoon of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar in 3/4 cup of warm water. After the yeast is activated, he combines the yeast/water mixture with two cups of flour in the Kitchenaid mixer and combines it slowly using the dough hook attachment. After it’s mixed a little he adds in a pinch of salt, two more cups of flour and another cup of water. He then continues to mix everything together until it forms into a soft non sticky ball (add more flour or more water accordingly). Next, he covers the bowl with the dough still in it, with a kitchen towel and allows it to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. Then he rolls the dough out onto a baking sheet and covers it in tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and whatever veggies we may want to top it with. He bakes it at 500 degrees for no specified time (he just watches it).

7. Veggie chili

8. Caulibroc mac n cheese: photo IMG_6541_zps990a4154.jpgI don’t have a recipe for this because like most of my dishes, I just eye ball everything but here’s what I do.

Start by cooking your choice pasta and steaming a head of broccoli and a head of cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 425. Next, make a béchamel sauce by melting a couple tablespoons of butter, browning some minced garlic in the butter and then sprinkling a little flour over it and whisking it all together until it thickens. Add in a cup or so (sorry for the very unspecific amounts!) of whole milk  (or veggie broth) and continue whisking until everything is nice and smooth. Finally, whisk in a cup or two of shredded cheddar and a cup or two of shredded gruyere. Continue to whisk and cook until the cheese is fully melted and you’re left with your nice creamy béchamel. Lastly, mix the pasta, broccoli, cauliflower and sauce all into a baking dish and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes.

9. Spinach and cheese quinoa casserole

10. Eggplant parmesan:

Cut one eggplant into “steaks”. Bread each steak by first coating each steak in flour, then dipping in beaten egg, then covering in a breading mixture of your choice (I use panko, garlic salt, salt, oregano, basil and a little ground flax). Fry in safflower oil until just lightly browned and crispy and then place on a baking sheet. Cover each eggplant steak in marinara and mozzarella cheese and then bake on 450 or place under the broiler until the cheese melts. Serve over pasta and marinara with a salad on the side.

Spice a rita copycat.

One of my favorite blogs is Kath Eats Real Food and I’ve been a loyal reader for almost four years now. She lives in Charlottesville and has talked about this Mexican restaurant, Mono Loco for years, specifically their spice a rita – a jalapeño margarita. She loves it so much that she actually had them invent a virgin spice a rita for while she was pregnant last year. After hearing all of the hype I had to try one for myself so on the last day we were in Virginia, Josh and I (and the kids of course) made a beeline for lunch at Mono Loco. Unfortunately we didn’t know that the restaurant is only open for dinner and since we had to begin the trek back to NY that afternoon we didn’t have time to wait around until 5pm for a margarita. I was seriously bummed but since Josh plans to live there one day, I knew I’d get a second chance at getting my hands on the famous drink. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait long because Kath figured out the secret recipe and shared it on her blog this week! So Josh and I gathered the ingredients and made it tonight after a Mexican pizza dinner (recipe coming soon!). Obviously if you want all of the details you can check out Kath’s original recipe and blog post but here’s a quick breakdown of what we did. *We altered her recipe a bit because we’re not manly enough to handle quite as many jalapeños with our tequila. 

First I cut three jalapeños in half and threw them on a hot cast iron grill pan. While those blackened, I brought two cups of water and one cup of sugar to boil until the sugar dissolved. I removed the simple syrup from the heat and added two cups of lime juice straight into the hot pan and set it aside. I then took the grilled peppers and diced them up (seeds and all) and plopped them all into a pitcher. To the pitcher I added half of the lime mixture (about two cups) because I wanted to cover my ass in case these margs turned out to be too spicy. Even if we dumped the jalapeño cocktails, at least we could still have a few regular lime margaritas. I let the peppers meld into the lime mixture for about five minutes and then filled two pint glasses exactly how Kath recommended. Ice all the way to the top, tequila 2/3 of the glass, triple sec to the 80% area on the glass and jalapeño lime mixture topping it off.Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 7.38.48 PM

First drink was interesting. Second drink was STRONG. Third drink and I knew I couldn’t drink this ratio so I grabbed another glass and poured about 3/4 of my drink in, topping it off with more of the lime mixture. Then it was perfect. This is definitely one of those recipes that is so strange it works. As I type this and sip, my lips are burning but the drink is delicious. It’s just kind of indescribable. So go salt your rims and chop up some peppers. It’s definitely worth a try!

A quick little recipe idea.

A while ago, I read about another blogger making cheesy rice balls for her babies. Not the delicious cheese filled Italian ones but a healthier version to allow the babies the ability to actually eat rice on their own before they begin using utensils. While I was grocery shopping last week, I noticed a rice blend at Trader Joe’s (brown rice, black barley and daikon seeds) and it reminded me of the easy little idea so I grabbed a bag, came home and threw half of it in the rice cooker. 25 minutes later the rice was done and I was on to the next step.

Straight out of the rice cooker, so it was still super hot, I mixed in shredded carrots and a about a cup of cheddar cheese. The cheese melted and I formed the mixture into little balls about the size of Ruby’s little palm. Perfect baby size! I placed them all on a plate and allowed them to chill overnight in the refrigerator. The next day she tried a couple for lunch and loved it! I had one too – they were delicious. The next time I make them, the only thing I will do differently is use a green veggie like chopped kale or spinach rather than carrots (I used carrots this time because I had some shredded on hand that needed to be used). As usual, I just eyeballed everything which is why I’m calling this a “recipe idea.” Enjoy!

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Breakfast ice cream!

Well. Since I’ll never live up to my posts from earlier this week I’m just going to ahead and share a simple recipe 🙂

We are huge smoothie drinkers here. So huge that I actually killed my blender a few weeks ago while making one. I still haven’t bought a new blender yet so we’ve had tons of frozen fruit in our freezer with nothing to use it for. For some reason, this week I went way overboard with the amount of fruit I bought while grocery shopping (berries and melons and stone fruits, oh my!) and I started to notice little, teeny, fruit flies invading our basket. Rather than throw away the browning bananas that the people in my family are terrified of, I peeled them and threw them in the freezer. And then this morning, I asked the boys if they wanted ice cream for breakfast.

IMG_4806I threw one whole frozen banana into my food processor, along with some frozen mixed berries and a little orange juice. I eyeballed everything but just make sure you don’t use too much juice because then you’ll just have a thick smoothie rather than sorbet. Puree it for as long as it takes to reach the consistency that you’re going for and add more fruit or more juice to help the process.

IMG_4808And then voila! You’ve got breakfast ice cream.

IMG_4810Best enjoyed outside in your pj’s. Even if it’s raining.

IMG_4809Just beware of brain freeze!

IMG_4814Don’t forget there’s only a few days left to enter the Woolzies giveaway! Just post a comment over here, letting me know what your family does to be a little bit greener.