Everything about Fall is lovely. Warm sweaters, over the knee boots, sipping hot cider, apple picking, pumpkin pie (!!!!), soups, winter squash, lasgana…. I could go on forever. And yes, I understand that it may still be August but I’m already pulling out the fall recipes to share with you.
Out of all winter squash varieties, I’d have to say that acorn squash is probably my favorite. It’s creamy, slightly sweet, and incredibly good for you. Often times on Sundays I’ll roast a couple of squashes in my oven, and then enjoy them throughout the week for my meals. I especially LOVE eating it for breakfast with a little bit of honey and cinnamon and greek yogurt; you’d be surprised by how filling and delicious it can be. Sometimes I’ll even mash the squash and throw it in quesadillas with goat cheese.
Of course, stuffing them with southwest flavors is pretty incredible too.
These are probably one of my favorite dinners I’ve made in a while. The creaminess of the squash combined with the southwest black bean and corn filling and the tangy melted goat cheese is out of this world. And of course it’s healthy, easily vegan (take out the cheese) and gluten-free.
How was your weekend? Mine was full of cooking! My roommate and I made arugula salads with fresh fruit vinaigrette, chicken stir fry, and spent hours making chile verde and the best apple crisp in the world. Our bellies were happy.
After all of that cooking, I wanted to bring you something simple: a green chile sauce that goes on top of nearly everything! I’m also a huge fan of how easy this recipe is. All you have to do is roast chiles (or you can used canned), put a couple of ingredients in a pot, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
This green chile sauce is slightly spicy, but it reminds me of all things Summer. You can put it on anything, and is now a staple in my diet. I put it in on eggs, chicken, over enchiladas, in tacos, basically anything… oh and it’s incredible over squash. See?
Doesn’t that look good? I can’t wait to share a million other things that make Fall the best season everrrrr.
Until then, I’ll savor ice cream cones, shorts, the bright blue ocean, fresh fruit, iced coffee, and everything else that makes Summer oh so good. Here’s a look at some photos that I’ve snapped over the past month. (The recipe for the sauce is at the end of this post.)
Won’t you savor the rest of Summer with me? Preferably with this roasted green chile sauce; I’m telling you it’s soooo worth it!
Now, if you don’t know how to roast green chiles, here’s a great tutorial (with photos!) from the Pioneer Woman. Basically all you have to do is place green chiles under the broiler for 10-15 minutes. Cool, huh?
You’re gonna need this recipe for another recipe I have coming soon!
I promised myself that this Summer I would try to set out some time for myself each day. Lately it’s enjoying a perfectly sweet cocktail while watching tangerine painted sunsets; those moments make me want to savor summer forever.
I’ve also discovered that one of my favorite things to do is to get a little crazy cooking in the kitchen. It’s like a competition with myself; how many dishes can I create in one day?
Last Sunday, I pulled five recipes out of my head and made it my mission to finish them all before the night was over. It’s quite possible that I looked like I was on some sort of drug; every inch of kitchen counter space was filled and my pants had about nine different stains on them. Dough flew, marinades were made, and I probably chopped about 23 vegetables; it was so much fun! And no, I’m not being sarcastic.
Sometimes I believe that good things come from chaos. Just take a look at this buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth salmon.
Mmmm I lovvveeeeeee me some fish and the man behind the butcher counter at my local grocery store knows this for a fact. I have been stalking him for weeks asking when he was going to have walleye in (the Minnesota state fish). Apparently the waters have been too warm in Canada so they haven’t been able to net them. Don’t you worry though, I’ll continue to ask. I mean I’m practically there daily anyway.
Instead of walleye, he suggested I bake salmon for a sensational summer meal. Okay… he didn’t actually use the word sensational, but I felt like that’s what he was voicing to me. Anyway in an effort to make the salmon CRAZY GOOD, I marinated the life out of it with an asian inspired sweet teriyaki sauce.
HOLY. WHAT THE… it’s SO, SO GOOD. Even better than…
Well, you know I’m not sure what it’s better than. It’s just really, freaking good. The marinade is simple enough to make yourself and baking salmon is like baking chicken. No really, it is! Don’t be nervous about overcooking it, just at least give it a try for me. Pretty please?! I’ll bake you cookies if you do.
Oh, you’re convinced now? Well that was easy.
For ease, I purchased teriyaki sauce from the grocery store (soy sauce would also work), then whisked in olive oil, garlic, ginger and a little honey and brown sugar for sweetness. I poured it all over the salmon and marinated it until I got hypoglycemic hungry… like to the point of passing out. I wanted to eat my arm. What? Food is so much better when you’re ready to eat everything in sight.
Oh, and don’t you worry about that quinoa, because we’ve already discussed the ease of making it fluffy and delicious in 15 minutes or less. This time it’s cooked in a little bit of garlic salt for that bit of pizzaz. All you really need to do is stir-fry veggies and drink a little sangria… or guzzle it, I mean, whatever works best for you. I choose guzzle.
See? It’s not complicated or time consuming. And now you’ll have extra time to spend time with your honey. Or just in case your single, catch up on reality TV and pin things on Pinterest. For me? Grocery shopping and butcher stalking… totally normal!
Alright time for you to get a little crazy in the kitchen. Sensational salmon is calling your name.
Sesame Ginger Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir-fry
Delicious, healthy salmon has never tasted SO good.
For the Salmon & marinade:
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound salmon
For Quinoa Stir-fry:
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if desired
extra soy or teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients: teriyaki sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and honey. Place salmon in large ziploc bag and add marinade. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. (I marinated my salmon in a baking pan because I ran out of ziploc bags.)
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Remove salmon from ziploc bag and place skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork. I found that 18 minutes was absolutely perfect. **See notes for additional information on cooking times.
While salmon is cooking, prepare quinoa stir-fry. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water with garlic salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add quinoa and cover; simmering until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and sliced bell peppers; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes more. Add quinoa to vegetables, then add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes if desired.
Spoon quinoa stir-fry evenly into 4 bowls or plates. Immediately place salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Glaze with extra teriyaki sauce. DIG IN!
Inspired by How Sweet Eat's Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon Salmon is very sensitive and can dry out easily if overcooked, so make sure you watch your fish! For every inch of thickness of the salmon, generally it takes about 10 minutes to cook. Usually salmon fillets are about 1 1/2 inches thick. Preparing quinoa ahead of time makes this dish even easier; simply reheat quinoa and add to stir fried veggies.
I want to declare my love for this banana bread in some sort of outrageous way.
Hmmm maybe I should call Oprah and ask her if I can come jump on her couch like Tom Cruise did when he proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes?
Probably not a good idea. After all this bread is Scientology free and I don’t want people to think I’m nuts. Plus there’s absolutely no way to fall out of love with this bread.
We’ll just have to think of another way to tell the world about the best banana bread I’ve ever made.
In the case of banana breads, the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is completely true. I hadn’t baked banana bread in over a month and was dreaming of a unique recipe for you. Luckily the lovely people at Driscoll’s sent me some coupons for raspberries. I knew right away what had to happen. Raspberries and dark chocolate are a combination I can’t resist, but putting them into a banana bread was like an epiphany.
Since I’ve been trying to eat less wheat lately, I decided that I would use oat flour in my recipe (yes, it’s gluten-free). Can I just say WOW?! The oat flour brought a hearty, incredible flavor to the banana bread! Thankfully oatmeal is naturally high in fiber and protein, which means it’s not only good for you but also super filling. I surprised myself when I didn’t inhale the entire loaf right when it came out of the oven.
Oh and by the way, did you know that making your own oat flour is really easy? Simply throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Done!
I don’t know if it’s biting into the sweet tartness from the raspberries and the creamy bittersweet notes of dark chocolate, or if it’s simply this whole oat flour thing going on, but this banana bread just tastes like heaven. I plan on falling in love with it all over again this weekend.
So here’s what I’d really like to happen: You make this bread and inhale it. Or share it. Just tell everyone you know about it!
Here’s why: Raspberries are good for your health. And a little bit of dark chocolate won’t hurt you; it’s an antioxidant! There is also zero butter or oil in this recipe, minimal sugar, and the only dairy is from the two egg whites (if you want to make it vegan, try it without them)!
I freaking love everything about it. From the way it smells to the way it tastes. Completely devour-able.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
Make oat flour: Place oatmeal into blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour. You may need to stop blender and stir oats a couple of times to ensure that all oats have been blended.
Measure out just 2 cups of the oat flour and place in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a separate large bowl, beat mashed bananas, dark brown sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Gently fold in raspberries and dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack to finish cooling.
It typically takes 2 1/2-3 cups of oatmeal to make 2 cups of oat flour, so you may have some leftover. This recipe only calls for 2 cups.
To ensure recipe is gluten-free, use gluten-free oatmeal when making your oat flour
Live deliciously. Fight for the things you want the most. Take risks. Dream big. Wear red lipstick and heels every chance you get. Go on lots of first dates, but few second ones. Be weird. Drink too many margaritas every once in a while. Laugh until you get a 6-pack. Be yourself. Be unforgettable. Live in a big city. Exercise. Learn how to roast a chicken. Get to know your grandparents. Don’t be a slave to the ordinary. Bungee jump. Go on a vacation. Kiss a stranger.
How do we accomplish it all? Start with a healthy breakfast full of whole grains.
I thought it would be better for my waistline if I stopped rolling out pie crust and started eating things like rainbow salads, better-for-you muffins, and loads of things made with quinoa. I don’t know if it’s the cuteness of this little nutty grain, or my general obsession for the taste, but quinoa is now featured in 72% of my weekly meals (not like I actually calculated or anything). It’s like when I was 18 and had this crazy obsession with Panera Bread’s veggie sandwich; I had it nearly every day for a month. That was weird.
However, I’m confident my love for quinoa isn’t just a phase I’m going through. It’s kind of like a real marriage. True dedication. I mean, blueberry quinoa pancakes and enchilada quinoa stuffed bell peppers… and now this breakfast quinoa? It’s time to step outside of the boxed mac & (neon) cheese or those Lean Cuisines that never fill you up.
Let’s make our lives a little more delicious.
Now my eating isn’t perfect, but I’ve realized that whole, clean foods in my diet make me happier and healthier. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and packed with protein which means it keeps me full for hours. But that isn’t the only reason I love it for breakfast: it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for reheating throughout the week. Sometimes I throw it in individual portioned containers with different add-ins or flavor combinations and zap in the microwave when I’m in a rush. It’s incredibly convenient and easy!
Intimidated by quinoa? Don’t be afraid to try out new foods just because they’re unfamiliar. I came across some great tips on making your quinoa fluffy from Kathy that I’ve consistently followed; I always end up with a bowl of perfect fluffy quinoa to fill my belly.
So how do you cook quinoa?
First start with a 1:2 ratio–one part quinoa, two parts water. It’s important to rinse your quinoa to prevent a bitter taste. Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. (At this point I usually add in my spices or vanilla). Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, add in fruit, nuts, milk, whatever your heart desires and serve!
I wanted to make my breakfast quinoa vegan so once I was done cooking it, I poured in a cup of coconut milk, added sliced bananas (which I actually grilled a bit), strawberries, toasted almonds and pecans, and sprinkled a bit unsweetened toasted coconut on top.
Of course, there are endless combinations to try with your breakfast quinoa including different berries, milks, nut butters, honey, and nuts. It’s just a feel good breakfast.
Strawberries, bananas, toasted nuts and are adding to a delicious gluten free and vegan breakfast quinoa.
1 cup of water
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk of your choice (to make vegan use coconut or almond milk), divided
1 small banana, sliced
1/2 cup strawberries, diced
2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
2 tablespoons unsweetened toasted coconut
Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. Add cinnamon and vanilla and reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Divide into two bowls, adding 3/4 cup of milk. Top each bowl with bananas, strawberries, toasted nuts, and unsweetened coconut. Serve immediately.
Optional add-ins: honey, agave nectar, peanut or almond butter, berry variety, mango, pineapple, apples, applesauce or toasted nuts If you'd like you can double the recipe and store the extra quinoa (without milk and toppings) in a container and place in fridge. Take out portions during the week, reheat, and add toppings.
There’s something about pizza that’s irresistible.
Who can just stop at one slice? Especially kids! Seriously, put a large pizza in front of two kids and it will be gone in approximately 5 minutes… then they’ll want cupcakes immediately after. How do they do it?! Bottomless stomachs.
I’d love to go back to that carefree world and eat a whole pizza for breakfast.
I’m being serious here.
I ate bagel bites alllll the time when I was a kid. Cute, delicious little pizza bagels is what they were. And let’s not forget about stuffed crust pizza! Too good. But please NEVER eat a pizza crust stuffed with hot dogs… that’s just disturbing.
As perfect as pizza can be, in any shape or form, I’ve never been a huge fan pepperoni; however, I made a spicy pepperoni tomato sauce, spooned it on top of skillet chicken, and topped it with mozzarella cheese. MIND BLOWING is what it is.
WHAT? The sauce is DAMN good. Quite possibly now the love of my life. No big deal though, I’ll walk you through the deliciousness so you can experience it for yourself in less than 30 minutes!
First we start with the best ingredients for the best sauce: roasted garlic pasta sauce (any type of tomato sauce would work such as marinara), fresh minced garlic, pepperoni, oregano, and fresh basil.
Saute pepperoni and fresh garlic for a few minutes. Savor the smells.
Note: I used turkey pepperoni; it tastes the same but has half the fat and calories of regular pepperoni. You can usually find it at your local grocery store.
Next, add your pasta sauce to the pan and add oregano.
Look at that steam rising!
Add red pepper flakes if you desire to make the sauce spicy, otherwise you can leave them out.
But please do add them. My motto: Spice up your food, spice up your life!
Now we add in the million dollar basil. Stir, and get a little obsessed.
Set the sauce aside. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper and cook in a skillet until golden brown and juices run clear.
Once chicken is cooked, spoon the pepperoni sauce on top. Resist the urge to just eat the sauce by the spoonful. I have no willpower sometimes.
Add cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for two minutes.
Remove and garnish fresh basil leaves, extra cheese, and/or extra red pepper flakes!
Even though I’m not a parent, I know that it can be difficult to find healthy meals that kids will enjoy. Just trust me on this: put something in front of them that tastes like pizza, and you’re golden. Using reduced-fat cheese and turkey pepperoni makes it even better for them and you!
Of course there are endless possibilities with this: Throw it on top of pasta or stuff it in a whole wheat pita (pita pizza)!
It’s a truly simple, healthy weeknight dinner that can be whipped together in a flash. I’m all about that.
Something else I’m all about? That Magic Mike movie. Drool.
Skillet Chicken with Spicy Pepperoni-Tomato Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
20 slices pepperoni (I used turkey), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups healthy tomato pasta sauce*
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat broiler to high.
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes and cook until chicken juices run clear. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
*Use any pasta sauce you like, I recommend healthy low-sodium marinara sauce or a roasted garlic
I’ve neglected one of my favorite things: writing and cooking for you!
It’s been so beautiful that hot summer days and beach sunsets are getting my grocery shopping obsession a little bit off track. I just can’t help but soak up the sun and ocean every chance I get.
I’m also the girl who can never turn down breakfast, which is why I’ve been brunching around LA quite a bit. Brunching for hours is good for the soul. And quite tasty too! Fresh squeezed orange juice, dirty chai tea lattes (a must-try!), gorgeous fried egg-avocado sandwiches, acai bowls, blueberry buttermilk muffins; these things make me overjoyed.
I mean, you just know it’s been a good weekend when you can go to brunch and chow down on chocolate chip pancakes bigger than your face. Double points if you’re eating to cure a headache. Come on and laugh… you know it’s true.
It’s unfair that we can’t eat french fries and pancakes all the time, but with incredibly delicious vegan soups like this I don’t even miss them. That’s just a lie; I actually LOVE french fries all the time (especially with these homemade dipping sauces)!
Nevertheless this soup still is exceptionally good. The ingredients make the perfect combination of sweet and savory. It just reminds me of all things summer. Garlic! Onion! Carrots! Chickpeas! Tomatoes! Sweet Potatoes! Cumin! Fresh Basil!
I felt extremely satisfied after finishing off a bowl. In fact, I even told myself that it canceled out all that weekend eating and margarita downing. I only wish that were true.
This soup was inspired by a recipe for tomato-chickpea soup from one of my favorite new vegetarian cookbooks, Herbivoracious. A few weeks ago, I attended a book signing and cooking demonstration by Michael Natkin, author of the cookbook and blog Herbivoracious. The book if FULL of gorgeous vegetarian photos. I can’t wait to try out more recipes; some are even vegan and/or gluten-free too!
Michael sampled delicious stuffed polenta (a recipe in his book) at the event, signed my cookbook, and even told me he LOVED my blog name! Awwww.
One last thing. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving away this cookbook to one of my readers!
All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me your favorite brunch spot (and what you eat there, obviously)! Also, be sure to like my Facebook page; where I’ll announce the winner a week from today!
Don’t forget to make this soup! You might love it as much as french fries.
Vegan Tomato, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Soup -- healthy, easy to make and delicious!
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small white onion, chopped
1 orange pepper, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1-(16 oz. can) chickpeas
1-(16 oz can) diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted)
2 cups vegetarian broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
salt and pepper for seasoning
fresh chopped basil, for garnish
1 sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and salt; saute for 2 minute. Add the diced orange pepper and carrots to the pot and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the entire can of tomatoes to the pot. Next add the chickpeas, vegetarian broth, cumin, basil, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium, add diced sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve, garnished with additional basil and/or avocado slices if desired. Serves 4.
Adding things like quinoa, chicken, pork, or turkey would make this dish higher in protein
Feel free to add parsley or cilantro instead of basil
Today I competed in a Chinese take-out cook-off. It was amazing to see the turn out and all of the creative dishes.
We were required to make 250 samples. I know… that’s a lot of freakin’ samples! I spent my Saturday night chopping, dicing, and listening to Bon Iver. I was totally in the zone. There is something about the combination of music and food that leaves me feeling completely content. I mean, I LOVE creating dishes more than anything in the world. Music tunes out everything else. I end up being happiest in my brain thinking about flavor combinations.
I have some very important information to share with you.
I’m on a no pie diet. The importance of that statement can’t be questioned.
Does this mean you won’t see sweet recipes? Nope, it just means I’m going to bake and eat brownies, cookies, and homemade pop-tarts instead. Pie baking is saved for special occasions only (otherwise my thighs would hate me). Wait, my half-birthday is coming up! That’s a special occasion… right? More pie please!
Focus Monique. Obviously we’re not taking about anything sweet here. What we are talking about is a Sweet Potato & Chicken Mexican Stir-Fry that you’ll want every day for the rest of your life. Facts only.
I’m the girl who gets up early Saturday mornings to bake and cook. I could spend an entire day doing it. There is no doubt that waking up every day to do something with food would make me happy. It’s becoming evident that it’s so much more than a hobby.
Which is why I am choosing to leave my current job.