Author Archives: Molly

New parent vegetable lasagna and my favorite app

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I love cooking meals for friends that have just had a baby because it means 1) I get to cuddle a newborn, and 2) hopefully bring a little sanity to some under-slept pals. However, you can’t just bring anything – there are a few qualifications that these meals must pass:

  • Little to no work for the new parents to prepare
  • Chock full of veggies to keep new parents going strong
  • Makes enough servings to have a few days of leftovers
  • Delicious
  • Pairs well with the glass of wine that mom desperately deserves

This lasagna fits the bill – I’ve made it several times now.  After a couple requests for the recipe, I decided to post it.

New Parent Veggie Lasagna, adapted from KathEats

-1 package lasagna noodles
-25 oz jar of pasta sauce (I like any kind from Trader Joe’s)
-1 small jar of pesto
-1 bag baby spinach
-2 to 3 zucchini
-4 roma tomatoes
-2 to 3 medium carrots
-5 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
-8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
-16 oz. low fat cottage cheese

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Let’s do this:

Slice your zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots thinly. I like to use my mandolin for this task.
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Prepare all your ingredients and get ready to layer!
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I go in the following order: noodles, sauce, pesto, veggies, cheeses, spinach. Then start over with a new layer of noodles, so you have 3 layers by the end. Top the last layer of spinach with a little extra cheese.

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Done!

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Cover with tin foil. I tucked in some italian bread, red wine, and two pieces of this cake that I happened to have made the day before for a birthday.
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Plus a note with baking instructions (400 degrees covered for an hour).
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As a final note, NONE of my recipes would be possible without the new app I have been using – ziplist! I was looking for a way to quickly add ingredients from recipes I found on the internet (mostly pinned on pinterest) to a running grocery list. Here’s how ziplist works for me:
(Note: This post is in no way sponsored by Ziplist – I can assure you they have no idea who I am. I just like it!)

1. Go to ziplist and create an account.

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2. Drag the ziplist toolbar icon onto your bookmark bar.

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3. Find any recipe you like on the internet and click your new bookmark bar.

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4. The ingredients get added to your “recipe box”.

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5. Click “add to list” and choose the ingredients you want added to your grocery list.

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6. Download the app from your app store. Take your app to the store and shop!

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Do you guys use an app for grocery lists? I’d love to know!!

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Sugar-free, gluten-free zucchini muffins

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There’s a bakery in my neighborhood that has truly perfected the muffin. Perfectly cooked crust, soft and fluffy inside, and perfection when paired with a latte. 

With muffins this good nearby, I rarely venture into the world of muffins myself. I guess you could say I’m a buy (vs. build) kinda girl when it comes to muffins. But when I stumbled upon a sugar-free, gluten-free recipe for zucchini muffins, I knew I had to try it out. These muffins are totally different than your typical bakery muffin – they are savory, and have a remarkably buttery taste even though they have no butter. Plus the recipe couldn’t be easier; the hardest part is grating the zucchini. The Huz eats about 6 of these in one sitting, so I usually make 2 batches at a time.

Zucchini muffins, makes 12 muffins, adapted from the Clean Program Blog

-2 1/4 c almond flour
-2 chia seed “eggs” (2 T chia seeds soaked in 6 T water), you can also use 2 eggs
-1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
-3/4 t sea salt
-1 t baking soda
-1 t cinnamon
-1/3 cup coconut oil, plus a little extra for greasing the muffin tin
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Let’s do this: 

Preheat your oven to 425. If your coconut oil is solid, you can liquify it by putting it in a ramekin and sticking it in the oven while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Make your chia “eggs” by combining 2 T of chia seeds with 6 T of water and let it sit to absorb the water. Get to work grating the zucchini.
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Toss all the ingredients in a bowl.
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Stir.
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Grease your muffin tin with some of the coconut oil. Portion the dough into the muffin tin. I fill the cups about half way.
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Bake for about 14 minutes.
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Enjoy with a latte on the comfort of your couch!

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Minestrone verde

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Since I think we’re all so sick of this winter that we’re even sick of complaining about it, I’ll list 3 things that are actually good about this weather (in the whole glass-half-full spirit):

1. I bought some snowshoes this year and have definitely gotten my money’s worth. I take Ruby snowshoeing in the park near our house. She loves it and never seems to get cold. Watching her race around while grabbing mouthfuls of snow melts my almost-frozen heart. Here she is in action:

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2. Stuck inside => manicures. My nails have never looked so good. The latest is Essie Lilacism:

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3. Cold winter weather means one thing in our house: Soup! I have tried a bunch of new recipes this winter and this one is definitely my favorite! It’s warm and also a little spicy thanks to the salsa verde topping. It’s sure to warm even the coldest fingers and toes.

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Minestrone Verde, serves 3-4, adapted from The Healthy Chef

-1 large leek
-3 celery stalks
-2 T olive oil
-4 cups vegetable broth
-2 cups water
-2 small zucchini
-1 bunch tuscan kale
-1/2 t salt
-1 cup frozen peas
-1 cup frozen broccoli florets
-1 cup frozen asparagus tips
-Optional topping: Avocado and Salsa verde (recipe below)

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Let’s do this: 
First, slice up the white and light green portion of the leek and slice the celery.

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Heat up the olive oil in a large pot. Add the leek and celery and saute for about 4 minutes or until the leek and celery are soft.

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Chop up your zucchini.

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Cut out the inner vein from the kale and discard. Roughly chop the leaves.

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Add the broth, water, zucchini, kale, and salt to the pot and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the frozen peas, broccoli, and asparagus. Simmer for about 5 more minutes.

Top your soup with avocado and salsa verde and try not to complain about the 6 inches of snow accumulating outside…

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Salsa Verde:

-1/2 bunch fresh basil
-1/2 bunch fresh parsley
-2 cloves garlic
-1/2 t salt
-3 T lemon juice
-6 T olive oil

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Combine all ingredients in a blender and process for about a minute. Before:
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After:
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Happy Thanksgiving!

The more you thank life, the more you have to be thankful for.

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Vegan pumpkin pie smoothie

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Guess who’s not cooking all week because she has to cook on Thursday!?!? This girl. So, it’s smoothies and egg sandwiches for dinner until Thursday. Also, I spent like a bazillion hours at the grocery store yesterday just getting things for Thursday, so there’s no way I’m going back. Ain’t nobody got time for that, as they say.

I do have my Thanksgiving menu all planned out. I’m following this New York Times article, just to make sure I don’t forget anything:

Until then, let’s make something that doesn’t involve a dozen burn marks up my arms from the oven racks. 

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, serves 1, adapted from Dr. Lipman’s newsletter

-1 1/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened coconut)
-1/2 cup canned pumpkin
-about 1/4 of an avocado
-1 T protein powder of choice (I used Sunwarrior vanilla)
-2 medjool dates
-1 T flax seeds (use 1 T ground flax seeds if you don’t have a high speed blender)
-1 t molasses
-dash cinnamon
-dash nutmeg

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Place all ingredients in a high speed blender for about 1-2 minutes or until flax seeds and dates are liquified.
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Pour into a glass and top with a little extra cinnamon and nutmeg for garnish.

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Enjoy with your feet up in preparation for Thursday!
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Wild rice “stuffing” with caramelized onions, apples, and mushrooms

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We have a lot to talk about, readers!

1. I’m making Thanksgiving dinner this year; cue the insanity. And the groans about eating “bird food”.

2. I’m published! Over 40 of my photos are in this book. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

3. I tried 3 different “stuffing” recipes before settling on this one, which I plan to cook  for turkey day. It really does taste like stuffing, minus the bread and turkey guts, which y’all know I’m not woman enough to handle.

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Wild rice stuffing with caramelized onions, apples, and mushrooms, serves 8-10, adapted from this recipe

-1 stick vegan butter
-4 medium sweet onions
-16 oz. crimini mushrooms
-3 T fresh thyme
-1/2 t salt
-1/2 t pepper
-2 T fresh sage
-5 cups vegetable broth
-2 1/2 cups wild rice blend (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
-1 1/2 cups dried apples, coarsely chopped
-3/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley

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It’s like 8 days until Thanksgiving, so let’s get started. First thing: Preheat the oven to 350.

Slice your onions thinly.
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Chop up your herbs (thyme, sage, parsley – we’re one short of a Simon & Garfunkel song; who’s with me?)
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Melt 4 T of butter in a large saucepan.
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Add the onions and let them cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are slightly browned and very soft, you can remove them from the heat and place them in a bowl.
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Now we’ll use the same saucepan to cook the mushrooms. Melt the remaining butter in the saucepan and add the mushrooms along with 1 T of the fresh thyme.
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Cook the mushrooms for about 10 minutes or until they are browned and soft.
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Add the mushrooms to the bowl with the onions. Add salt & pepper.
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Back to our saucepan: Add the vegetable broth, 1 T thyme, and 1 T sage. Cook over medium heat until boiling.
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Add the wild rice and simmer until almost all of the liquid is gone, about 25 minutes.
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And add the onion/mushroom mixture, apples, and  remaining 1 T thyme and 1 T sage to the rice. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is gone. Stir in the parsley.
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Transfer the mixture to a 9×12 baking dish.
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Cover with tin foil and cook for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the top is browned.
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Now stress out about the other things you committed to making.
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Vegan peanut butter and jelly smoothie

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If you read this blog regularly, you know that I tend to get into lunch ruts. See this post. Or this one. Or this. I’ll stop there because this just got sad. Also, now I’m hungry.

My newest lunch obsession is this banana-free smoothie (unbelievably hard to find if you have a sensitivity) from Protein Bar.

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Peanut butter and jelly smoothie, inspired by Protein Bar’s Pier-Nut-Butter-and-Jelly Smoothie, serves one.

-1 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk, but almond or soy will work too)
-3/4 cup frozen strawberries
-1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (you can also use 2 T of natural peanut butter, if you are strong enough to keep such things in the house – I’m not)
-1/4 cup frozen blueberries
-1 scoop protein powder (I used Sunwarrior vanilla)
-2 medjool dates

This is hardly a recipe. But who wants to cook in the summer anyway?

Gather all your ingredients:

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Add to a blender:

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Blend on high for about 30 seconds to a minute, until your peanuts are blended. Enjoy!

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Now onto my next lunch rut! Any suggestions?

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Native Foods Yo Amigo taco salad copycat

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Springtime is just a great time for those of us that hate pants. Seriously, who came up with the idea to wear straightjackets on our legs?! It’s torture. Unfortunately, for about 8 months out of the year the city of Chicago tries to make me a more flexible person by essentially requiring I wear pants everywhere. This makes me crabby. Kind of like when a social situation calls for drinking beer (I’m not a fan). Worst thing ever: drinking a beer in pants. Kill me now.

Luckily, it’s getting warmer here in Chicago, which means I wear skirts exclusively, AND during lunch I can walk the 3/4 mile to my favorite lunch place, Native Foods. I almost always get the Yo Amigo Taco Salad, which is amazing. If the worst thing ever is drinking a beer in jeans, then this salad is drinking a margarita in a skirt.

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Yo Amigo Taco Salad Copycat, serves 2

Salad:
-1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-2 cloves garlic
-1/2 cup cashews
-1 T taco seasoning
-1 T olive oil
-1 head romaine, roughly chopped
-1/2 c salsa (I love Pioneer Woman salsa!)
-1 avocado
-1 scallion, chopped
-1/2 cup corn tortilla chips, crushed

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Chipotle dressing:
-3/4 cup vegan mayo (I used Nasoya since they sent me some to try!)
-3 chipotle chilis in adobe sauce
-2 cloves garlic
-1/4 c loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
-1/2 t salt
-1/4 t pepper

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First the dressing: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

For the salad, first we need to make the taco “meat”. Add your chickpeas, cashews, taco seasoning, and garlic cloves to a food processor and process about 15-20 seconds. Drizzle oil through the top spout to keep everything moving.

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It will look like this when you are done.

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Now add your chopped romaine to a salad bowl and top with half of the taco “meat”.
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Add about 1/4 cup of salsa.
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Slice about half of the avocado and add it on top, with a sprinkle of scallion.
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Top with your dressing and the crushed corn chips.
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If you don’t like this salad, you must be one of those “jeans and t-shirt” people. And we’ll just have to agree to disagree on both fronts.
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Blueberry Coconut Larabars

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The blueberry muffin Larabars are my favorite. Therefore, they can’t be found at any grocery store within a 5 mile radius. We saw some in LA last time we were there and I contemplated buying another suitcase to get them home. But then I bought a pair of shoes and a cake stand. So, I have priorities.

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So I set out to make my own Larabars. And I have to say, with a few tweaks to the ingredient list, they are not bad at all. I’m calling them Mollybars since they are just different enough from the original. Now, if I could just find dried blueberries on the cheap, I’d be all set… Better stick my favorite deal-finder Erica on the case.

Blueberry Larabars Mollybars, makes 10 bars

-2 cups raw cashews
-1 cup dried blueberries
-1 1/4 cup medjool dates
-1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
-zest of one lemon
-1 vanilla bean (pretty sure the extract won’t work in this case)
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Start removing the pit from your dates, zesting your lemon and taking the vanilla seeds out of your vanilla bean.
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Next add the cashews to a food processor and give them a whirl.
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You want a few chunks in there.
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Add the cashews to a bowl and put the blueberries into the food processor. Process for about 30 seconds. They won’t really do much, but I was telling myself they got softer. Who knows.
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Add the dates to the blueberries and proces for about 20-30 seconds, until a large ball forms.
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Add the date/blueberry mixture to the bowl with the cashews.
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Add the coconut, vanilla, and lemon zest. Mash with your hands for a while. Really use the old elbow grease.

At some point, you will be thinking that there are too many cashews and they are not going to mix in. Have patience little grasshopper; it will work. Tah-dah!
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Line a baking dish (I used 8×8) with parchment paper and press the mixture into the dish. Cut into bars or squares.
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Enjoy!
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Lentil meatballs

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When I want to feel super broke, I head on over to goop and check out the things Gwyneth thinks none of us plebs should live without, like $300 nesting dishes and stuff. Girl musta lost. her. mind. if she thinks I’m spending $200 on a t-shirt, but she has a few decent recipes, I must say.

All the snow in Chicago has me in the mood for some comfort food. My girl Stacy gave me this idea: lentil meatballs and spaghetti squash. Gwyneth beat me to it, so I used a variation of her recipe. But beware – these taste nasty if served in regular dish ware. You need these. Obvs.

Lentil Meatballs, adapted from goop, makes about 24 “meatballs”

-1 spaghetti squash
-2 T + 1/4 cup olive oil
-1 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1/2 t dried rosemary
-1/2 t dried thyme
-3-4 basil leaves, roughly chopped
-2 cup cooked lentils (you can buy the refrigerated ones at the grocery store)
-3 T tomato paste
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup fresh ricotta
-1/4 cup shredded parmesan + more for topping
-1 cup panko (I used gluten free because I had it on hand)
-1 cup marinara sauce
-salt & pepper

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Let’s do this:

Preheat oven to 375. Slice spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
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Cook the spaghetti squash cut-side down for about 30-35 minutes, depending on how big it is. Mine took about 30 mins. It’s ready when you can easily pierce the skin with a fork.
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Chop up your onion and garlic.
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Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. I make sure the oil is nice and hot before adding my onion, so it sizzles when I add it. Ruby hates this. Onion sizzles make her tail go between her legs.Ruby1
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Saute until the onion is translucent. Add the herbs and stir for about a minute. Remove from heat.
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Add the lentils to a food processor with the tomato paste and add the remaining olive oil (about 1/4 cup) to get everything moving. You’ll have to stop and scrape the sides a few times. Annoying.
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Crack your two eggs in a big bowl and beat lightly with a whisk.
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Add the ricotta and stir.
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Add the lentil mixture and stir to combine.
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Add the onion/garlic/herbs, parmesan, and panko. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir.
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Form “meatballs”: I used my cookie scoop, which is about 2 tablespoons, to scoop the mixture, then rolled them into balls.
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At this point, my spaghetti squash was done. I removed it and let it cool for a bit, the scraped the flesh out with a fork.
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Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined (or greased) cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes.
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Warm up your marinara sauce in a saucepan. Once the 12 minutes is up, turn the oven to broil and cook for about 2-3 mins longer, just to brown the meatballs a bit.

Top your spaghetti squash with the meatballs and marinara and a bit of parmesan.
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Check this out – I crumbled the leftover meatballs and topped a pizza the next night. Winning!
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Enjoy your lentil meatballs curled up under your $900 ivory cashmere throw. Ah, the simple things.
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Ruby2

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