Tag Archives: Avocado

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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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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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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Comfort food salad: Pasta, tomato, corn, and avocado salad with vegan creamy garlic dressing

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Some signs you are not woman enough for the TV series you are currently watching:

  1. Counting down episodes in the same manner one counts down miles in a marathon (“16 down, 10 more to go – you can do this!”)
  2. “Ok, let’s get this over with”, said with a hearty neck roll and shoulder shrug, translates to: time to watch the next episode.
  3. Pausing the show regularly to take deep breaths with your head in your hands, and let your heart rate fall out of the heart-attack zone.
  4. Monitoring the time elapsed on the DVD player and breathing a sigh of relief when you realize there are only a few minutes left. What could possibly happen in 5 minutes?
  5. Any neighbor looking in your windows would assume you actually had a good reason to celebrate given the number of high fives exchanged in celebration of reaching the end of an episode without a brain aneurysm.

In case you are wondering, it’s Breaking Bad. And I have a problem in which I internalize the plight of characters.

***Speaking of getting out of your comfort zone, I need to give a huge shout out to my friend and hero Maureen, who recently quit her day job to pursue her passion full-time. Maureen is an amazing Pilates instructor and wellness coach, which all of Chicago now knows since she was on NBC 5 news!!! Check out her segment, and hit a girl up if you are looking to make a change to your health and wellness. Trust me, peeps: girl knows her fitness, and she’s not the kind of person who is going to send you off with a prescription for protein powder and egg whites at every meal. She’s all about holistic health and wellness. Plus, I just love Maureen more than margaritas.****

We’re talking a lot about comfort here, so let me introduce my comfort food salad. Kind of an oxymoron, I know, but I’ll explain. When I worked overseas, on my first day of work a coworker took me to a salad shop where I learned my first Swedish word: pastasallad. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a green salad with pasta on it. Naturally, I ordered this for lunch for the next 4 weeks since it was one of 3 words I knew. Picture me strolling the city streets exclaiming “Hej” (hi), “Tak!” (thank you), and “pastasallad!”. I was popular.

Comfort food salad: Pasta, corn, & tomato salad with vegan creamy garlic dressing, serves 2
-1 head romaine
-1 cup dry pasta (I used shells, but any kind will work)
-1 ear corn
-1 cucumber
-1/2 avocado
-1 cup cherry tomatoes
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Let’s do this:

Start by making your pasta according to the package directions. Once it’s done, let it cool down a bit.

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While pasta is cooking, cut up your other salad toppings. I stand my raw corn on one of the long ends in a bowl and use a knife to remove the kernels (you can also cook the corn if you prefer, but I like the crunch of raw). Cut up your tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and cut the romaine into bite-size pieces.
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When pasta is cooled, add the romaine, then pasta, and remaining ingredients. Top with your favorite dressing – I like a creamy garlic (4th Swedish word learned: vitlok) with this salad.
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Vegan Creamy Garlic Dressing, Adapted from the Chicago Diner recipe found here, makes about 1 1/2 cups
-4 garlic cloves
-1 t olive oil
-salt & pepper to taste
-2 t lemon juice
-1 cup dairy-free milk (I used flax milk, but any unsweetened milk, like soy or almond, will work)
-2/3 cup Vegenaise (any mayo will work, but may not be vegan, if you care)
-2 T fresh parsley
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Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover your garlic cloves in a 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until cloves are golden brown.
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Combine the milk and lemon juice and stir. Let sit for about 2 minutes. Milk will get a little lumpy, but that is ok – this makes a vegan “buttermilk”. If you prefer, substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the lemon/milk combination.

When the garlic is done, transfer the milk/lemon juice mixture and the garlic into a blender and process until garlic is smooth. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the Vegenaise, parsley, and more salt & pepper to taste.

Off to bite the last of my nails off – finishing season 4 of Breaking Bad!!!

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Late summer lunch: Avocado and Tomato Toast

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I know, I know, this hardly qualifies as a recipe. But there’s no shame at DR; everything here is bit of a stretch. So think of this as more of a PSA: avocados and tomatoes are amazing right now. Go make this sandwich. Even if you don’t really feel like it right now, do it for all the times you pick up a tomato in November and get disappointed. And the rest of the year, for that matter.

Avocado and Tomato Toast, serves 1

1 tomato
1/2 avocado
1 english muffin or 2 pieces of bread (Current obsession: these english muffins. So chewy and amazing!)
salt & pepper

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Toast your english muffin.
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Smash a quarter of your avocado onto each side of your english muffin.
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Sprinkle salt and pepper.
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Top with a tomato.
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Inhale.
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Wilted kale, avocado, tomato, and cashew late summer salad

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Yesterday I picked up a copy of The Onion and almost shot coffee out of my nose when I saw this article:

Ruby eats every meal like she’s a close second in a pie-eating contest. A re-occurring joke in our house involves Ruby sitting in a circle at a Weight Watchers meeting, admitting “I was eating food so fast, I couldn’t even taste it!”

The look she’s giving me right now says she’d like to tell all of you how she’s seen me eat food.

On another note, the Air and Water show scared the sh*t out of Ruby on Friday. Like, literally. Not fun.

Enough crazy dog lady stuff.  Speaking of stuffing faces, I can’t stop making the Vegan Creamy Cilantro dressing I posted a few weeks ago. This is the latest salad pairing for my new fave dressing.

Wilted kale, avocado, tomato, and cashew late summer salad, serves 2
-about 6 cups mixed baby kales (baby kales are key – this just won’t be the same with regular kale – too tough)
-1 cup cherry tomatoes
-1/2 avocado
-1/4 cup raw cashews
-2 T hemp seeds (any seeds will work – sunflower would also be good)
-Dressing of choice (I made Vegan Creamy Cilantro)

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Start with your baby kales. I got mine from Costco, but I’ve seen them in a lot of stores.

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Get a big bowl, grab a handful and twist them to wilt. Like this:

Then grab another handful, and keep going until kale is soft. Top each salad with 1/4 avocado, 1/2 cup tomatoes, 1/8 cup cashews, and a tablespoon of hemp seeds.

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Add dressing and enjoy:

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Curried sweet potato and quinoa wraps

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First things first: A very big birthday shout out to my bestie! True to form, it’s a gazillion degrees out today. In the 25+ years we have been friends, I’m not sure we have a picture from her birthday where my hair isn’t freaking the hell out and my eye makeup isn’t rolling down my cheeks. Que sera, sera.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every year starting on January 1st the temperature increases a tiny bit each day, reaching a dramatic crescendo on July 7th, when every restaurant/bar’s air conditioning breaks. If I wasn’t so grateful for her friendship, I’d probably hate this day. Love you, Jo!

Curried Sweet Potato & Quinoa Wraps, serves about 4, inspired by Healthy Happy Life
-2 sweet potatoes
-1 T oil (I used coconut, but any oil will work)
-1 c quinoa
-2 t curry powder
-1/2 c frozen peas
-1/2 c raw cashews
-2 T maple syrup
-1 T rice vinegar
-1 avocado
wraps (I’ve used both spinach and plain wraps with success)
salt & pepper to taste

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Measure out your cup of frozen peas and leave them on the counter to thaw.

Cut your sweet potato into cubes. Toss with the oil and spread evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.
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While the sweet potatoes are baking, add your quinoa to a saucepan and top with 2 cups water. Stir in the curry powder. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the quinoa is cooked (you can tell it is cooked when it’s little tail pops out). Usually takes about 15 minutes.

When the quinoa is done, stir in the peas, cashews, maple syrup, rice vinegar and salt & pepper.
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Now assemble your wraps! First up, add a layer of sweet potato cubes:
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Now add the quinoa mixture:
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Top with avocado:
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Ready to eat!
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Shrimp Tex-Mex Salad with Vegan Creamy Cilantro Dressing

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I’m at it again with the Mexican/Spanish/Latin food. Must be Cinco de Mayo – I just can’t help myself! I think I’m trying to convince myself that it is warm enough here in Chicago to eat this outdoors.

I had this dressing on one of my Pinterest boards for ever, and now that I’ve finally made it, I don’t know what I ever did before! I have seriously been putting it on everything. If you don’t usually make your own salad dressing, give this one a try – sooo much better than bottled, and it only takes a few minutes!

This salad is pretty versatile, so try your own variation. If you don’t like tomatoes, you can be friends with Ruby. Girl ate a receipt yesterday on our walk, but wouldn’t touch a tomato that fell on the ground while I was making this.

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That’s her “It wasn’t organic, ma!” face.

Shrimp Tex-Mex Salad, serves 2, inspired by this recipe
-1 T. olive oil
-1/2 lb. shrimp (I bought cooked shrimp because the little guys were on sale, and it makes preparation a little faster, but raw shrimp will work too!)
-1 T taco seasoning
-1 head romaine
-1/2 avocado
-1 ear corn
-2 cups cherry tomatoes
-2 green onions
-1/4 cup sunflower seeds

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Creamy Cilantro-Lime-Avocado Dressing (inspired by this post, makes about a 1 1/2 cups):
-1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
-1/4 c. lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
-2 cloves garlic
-1/2 c. canola oil
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
-1/2 avocado
-1/2 t. sea salt

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1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the shrimp. Sprinkle some taco seasoning on the shrimp and stir for about a minute, until coated in seasoning. Remove from heat.
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2. Chop your romaine, tomatoes, avocado, and remove corn kernels from cob.
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3. Make dressing: add all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend for about 30 seconds to a minute.

4. Add all salad ingredients to a bowl and serve with dressing!
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Black rice salad with avocado and grapefruit

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Here’s the some advice, friends, and don’t say I never gave you anything. Don’t drop black rice. Don’t drop it anywhere, but definitely don’t drop it all over your kitchen. Because you know what it looks like scattered all over the kitchen floor? Yeah, mouse poop. And cleaning it up is like a real-life, super-frustrating game of Operation. And I guarantee you’ll never find every last kernel, but some random guest will, and do you think they’ll believe you when you tell them its black rice? Of course not, because who in the hell buys black rice? People who are so bored with white rice that they are willing to pay twice the price?!

Well, I bought black rice because I wanted to make a salad I saw on Pinterest. What I got was a lifetime of picking black rice out from in between floorboards.

Black Rice Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit, adapted from The Kitchn, serves about 4

-1 c black rice
-1 avocado
-1 grapefruit
-3 green onions
-1 T olive oil
-1/4 cup orange champagne vinaigrette (if you don’t have a trader joe’s near you, you can follow the original recipe and use orange juice + rice wine vinegar)
-salt & pepper

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Rinse the black rice in a mesh colander under cold water until the water runs clear. Bring 2 cups water plus a dash of salt to a boil, then add the rice. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and the water is absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, chop your green onion, segment your grapefruit, and dice the avocado.

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When the rice is done cooking, transfer back to the mesh colander and run the rice under cool water to bring the temperature down. Add the rice to a large bowl, and mix in the olive oil and vinaigrette.
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Add in the onion, grapefruit and avocado. Stir and add salt & pepper to taste.

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Don’t serve in your kitchen – all of your guests think you have mice.

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Easy black bean and salsa burritos

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By the amount of Mexican food on this blog, you might think I have some Latin roots. That is, unless you have ever seen me. And especially if you have ever seen me in a Zumba class, which I just happened to be in last week. I’ll just say this: unless we were doing jumping jacks (this happened twice), I was flailing around like I was being chased by a swarm of bees or trying to walk over hot coals. Maybe both. Note to self: find Zumba class with no mirrors. And no windows.

Don’t worry though, I memorized all the “moves”. And I plan to bust them out unceremoniously after 1.5 cocktails at Ling‘s wedding. (Ling: I hereby request a Zumba song).

For now, I’ll stick to my Latin food and save the dance moves for when everyone is blindfolded. Behold: easy weeknight black bean burritos!

Easy Black Bean & Salsa Burritos, serves 2, plus leftovers for lunch
-1 can black beans
-3/4 c salsa (any kind will work)
-1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (I tried vegan cheese this time, but its not as good as the real stuff!)
-1/2 avocado
-about 5 tortillas
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Heat oven to 325. Drain and rinse your black beans. Add them to a bowl with your salsa.
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Mash the beans with a fork, combining the salsa and beans into this lovely mixture (hey, it ain’t pretty, but it’s good).
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Scoop about 1/2 cup of the bean/salsa mixture into each tortilla, top with a little cheese and avocado, and roll up.
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Repeat for each tortilla.
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Bake for about 15 minutes, and enjoy on the porch with some Mexican beer!
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