Spicy Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series

19 Aug

My boyfriend loves spicy food, and luckily I do too! He recently infused vodka with jalapeños, serranos and garlic. And wow is it hot! Makes a heck of a Bloody Mary. But he ingeniously dashed a bit of it into this spicy pasta dish, which he made us for dinner. This simple pasta dish combines big swirly noodles, sweet tomatoes, and spicy ingredients, topped with cool cheese.

Spicy Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

If you really like to feel the heat, simply add more hot sauce, more peppers, or more spicy vodka! I liked the warm, building heat of this dish, and it paired well with a mixed greens salad, topped with a red wine vinaigrette I happened to make over the weekend.

Spicy Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Scary, spicy, green vodka. Puts hair on yer chest!

I’m always grateful when Chris cooks dinner, especially on a night I teach Zumba! Thanks to my honey :)

Spicy Pasta, adapted from All Recipes

Serves 8

  • 1 lb spiral pasta – Chris used vegetable trottole pasta
  • 1 tbsp oilve oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 3 red Fresno peppers, diced (keep some seeds for spice!)
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, juices drained
  • 4 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp extra hot sauce
  • 1 oz jalapeño vodka (optional – he happened to have made some a few weeks earlier!)
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, diced

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain, and return to the pot.

While that boils, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the garlic with the basil and Italian seasoning for 5 minutes. Add the diced onion and pepper – cook until tender. Stir in tomatoes, hot sauce and vodka (if using). Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Spicy Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Pour the tomato mixture over the pasta and toss. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve and top with mozzarella – one ounce per serving. Enjoy!

Spicy Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Freekeh, Chickpea and Crunchy Veggie Stew

13 Aug

Freekeh – what a freaky word! Haha, ok, that’s not very funny. But it IS an interesting foodstuff. Freekeh is a Middle Eastern grain that’s made from green wheat, which gets roasted in production. In its dry state, it looks like regular brown rice. Once cooked, it has a nice chewy texture that absorbs flavors wonderfully! It’s naturally low in fat, high in protein, and exorbitantly high in fiber – woohoo! It’s also full of complex carbs, which will leave you full and satisfied for a long time. I found the Ziyad brand of freekeh in a grocery store that has tons of international products – it was fairly inexpensive (one box has 16 servings), which just adds to the benefits!

Freekeh, Chickpea and Crunchy Veggie Stew | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

You can use it like rice (though I have yet to try making it in a rice cooker), but you can think of it like quino and farro – cook it up with flavorful liquids and spices, add a bunch of veggies, and voila! A healthy, filling and summer-friendly stew that’s a comfort to any tummy.

Also: thank you to my Oma and Opa for sharing their organic garden-fresh cucumbers with me! One of them went into this stew :)

Freekeh, Chickpea and Crunchy Veggie Stew

Serves 4

  • 1 C freekeh
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 C water
  • 1 C red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 strips roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 sun-dried tomato slices, diced
  • 20 oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 4 oz feta crumbles (use faux feta if vegan)

Cover freekeh in water – scoop out and discard anything left floating in the water. Drain and dump into a medium-sized pot. Add 3 cups water, 1 cup red wine, diced onion and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook, covered, for about 50-60 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.

While that cooks, get chopping! Dice cucumber, celery, pepper and sun-dried tomatoes. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Set aside until the freekeh is done.

Stir all the veggies into the freekeh, then turn off the heat. Scoop into bowls, top with feta crumbles and freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

Freekeh, Chickpea and Crunchy Veggie Stew | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Savory Oat-Crusted Cheesecake with Marinated Tomatoes

8 Aug

Disclosure: By posting this recipe, I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Dairy Council and the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Recently, all of my TV watching has been split between Star Trek (currently on Season 6 of Deep Space 9 – no spoilers, please!), Futurama, and cooking shows. I watch A LOT of food-related TV. Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped, Triple D, Cupcake Wars, and MasterChef are my current faves. Not only do they provide good entertainment, but also offer a lot of inspiration in the kitchen. And that’s where this savory take on a classic dessert came from. On a recent episode of MasterChef, the youngest contestant, Ahran Cho, created a dinner version of Tiramisu. And it was heralded as her best effort yet!

Savory Oat-Crusted Cheesecake with Marinated Tomatoes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

So, combining that inspiration with the challenge from the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and the National Dairy Council, I crafted this savory cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. Why a savory cheesecake? Well, it takes out the sugar completely, making it much healthier. Using nonfat Greek yogurt and low fat cream cheese also lightens the load while packing a protein-filled punch (13g per serving!). And oats make the crust full of complex carbs (22g per serving) while adding a unique texture at the same time. Besides, this is a great reason to eat “cake” for breakfast, without any of the guilt, and still get a dose of vegetables!

Prepare this cheesecake the night before you want to impress guests for an at-home weekend brunch, or just if you’re feeling fancy with your family. Garden tomatoes lend a brightness that screams summer, while the creamy center makes it seem like comfort food.

Savory Oat-Crusted Cheesecake with Marinated Tomatoes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Savory Oat-Crusted Cheesecake with Marinated Tomatoes, inspired by Food Network

Serves 8

Crust:

  • 2 C old-fashioned oats
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Filling:

  • 2 C plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried basil

Topping:

  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat to 325 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with a large piece of foil. Pulse oats in a food processor until fine. Add the salt, pepper, basil and butter and process until moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, cream cheese, eggs, flour, salt and basil in the food processor and process until well blended and smooth. Pour over the prepared oat crust and bake until the center is just set, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

While that’s baking, chop tomatoes and scoop out the seeds. Marinate with balsamic vinegar and salt in a bowl. Mix and let sit in the fridge overnight.

Savory Oat-Crusted Cheesecake with Marinated Tomatoes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

After chilling the cheesecake, remove the springform ring. Slice and serve, topped with the tomatoes. Enjoy!

Savory Oat-Crusted Cheesecake with Marinated Tomatoes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy! (Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux Contest Entries by Members only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

Blueberry Oat and Greek Yogurt Scones

4 Aug

Disclosure: By posting this recipe, I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Dairy Council and the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Scones are something saved for lazy Sunday mornings, when you can sit around and sip coffee, catch up on your Netflix watching, and just enjoy the general happiness of a weekend. And that’s exactly how these blueberry scones came to be. Blueberry Oat and Greek Yogurt Scones | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com Well, that and a challenge by the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and the National Dairy Council. The two associations partnered up and posed a challenge to all Recipe Redux participants to develop a recipe that incorporates a healthy serving of oats, paired with a healthy serving of low fat dairy. Blueberry Oat and Greek Yogurt Scones | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com Did you know: 99% of Americans don’t get the daily recommended serving of whole grains, and 85% don’t get their daily dairy recommendations? That’s so awful! I eat oats and low fat dairy ALL the time. So I’m glad to create a recipe that might inspire others to do the same. Oats, contrary to popular opinion, are DELICIOUS! Seriously. They’re so versatile and healthy that it’s almost absurd. And then there’s dairy. I’m a Wisconsin girl, so maybe it just comes naturally to me – I basically live for cheese! But there’s also Greek yogurt, which I go through as if it’s going out of style. Sweet, savory, or just in place of sour cream, it’s really your best bet. Blueberry Oat and Greek Yogurt Scones | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com Anyway, let’s get on with the scones. These taste like pie, and I’m not kidding. The naturally sweet blueberries burst in your mouth, surrounded by a wholesome, slightly sweetened oaty scone that pairs perfectly with a fresh cup of coffee. There is NO better way to spend your Sunday morning than with these scones, on the back porch, bathing in the summer sun. (Which is exactly what I was doing while writing this post!) Leftovers would be perfect for an afternoon snack, paired with a cup of iced tea. Blueberry Oat and Greek Yogurt Scones | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com Each serving gives you 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 50 grams of complex carbs. A perfect way to fuel up in the morning. Oh, and these come together so quickly – mix everything together, form into balls, and bake! Super easy, super tasty, and super healthy! Enjoy :)

Blueberry Oat and Greek Yogurt Scones, adapted from Love. Eat. Sleep Food Serves 6 (2 scones each)

  • 1 C oat flour (grind old-fashioned oats in food processor, then measure)
  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1/3 C skim milk
  • 1/3 C real maple syrup
  • 3/4 C (6 oz) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 C fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease with PAM or olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk together. Mix in extract, olive oil, milk, maple syrup and nonfat Greek yogurt, but be careful not to over mix! Fold in fresh blueberries.

Use a large spoon and your hands to form dough into 2″ balls and place onto prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between scones to allow for expansion in the oven. The dough will be sticky, so don’t worry about making these perfectly round. Just call them “rustic.” :)

Bake for 15 minutes, or until scones are golden brown on top and the blueberries are a little wrinkly. Remove from oven, and transfer scones to a cooling rack – let sit a couple minutes before serving. These are amazing when still warm, but will also taste good after they’ve cooled! Leftovers? Store in a covered glass container up to a day, and microwave 60 seconds to reheat. Blueberry Oat and Greek Yogurt Scones | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy! (Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux Contest Entries by Members only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

Baked Black Bean Croquettes: Boyfriend Cooks Series

24 Jul

What happens when I go to yoga and my boyfriend has the day off? He cooks dinner! That’s right, here’s another entry into the Boyfriend Cooks series, where the loving Chris makes a healthy, vegetarian dinner for us, and makes me proud!

Baked Black Bean Croquettes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

He again found this recipe all on his own, picked up the ingredients, and adjusted a few things to make it a perfect meal for us to enjoy post-yoga. I’ve imparted enough knowledge to him by now that he knows I love black beans and pretty much any recipe that uses them, and he does too. I wanted to title this post “Boyfriend’s black bean balls,” (giggle, giggle) but thought that slightly less appropriate than the real name.

This is a great recipe to make when your fridge is light on ingredients, but your pantry is well-stocked, and also for those cooler days – winter or summer. Mash together, form into balls, bake, and you’ve got yourself a filling, healthy dish!

Baked Black Bean Croquettes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

I still think Black Bean Balls is accurate….

Baked Black Bean Croquettes, from EatingWell 

Serves 4

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 C frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/4 C + 1/3 C Panko breadcrumbs, divided
  • 2 C chopped tomatoes
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chili powder, divided
  • Salsa and nonfat plain Greek yogurt, to serve

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mash black beans and cumin together in a large bowl until no whole beans remain. Stir in corn and 1/4 C breadcrumbs. Combine tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, and 1/2 tbsp chili powder in a medium bowl. Stir this mixture into the black beans.

Mix the remaining 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, oil and the remaining 1/2 tbsp chili powder in a small bowl until the breadcrumbs are coated with oil. Divide the bean mixture into 8 1/2-cup balls. Lightly press each bean ball into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the croquettes until heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve with your favorite salsa on top, and a dollop of nonfat plain Greek (or nondairy) yogurt.

What’s your favorite use of black beans?

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