Creamy Pumpkin Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series

3 Oct

It’s time once again to post a recipe made by my loving boyfriend! He has entered into October #Unprocessed along with me, so this recipe is not only easy, delicious and vegetarian, but it’s void of any “junk” ingredients. Everything is real, wholesome and unprocessed!

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta: Boyfriend Cooks Series | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

And it tastes like autumn in a pot. This was warm, comforting, and felt like it was super unhealthy, but fear not! It’s packed with fiber, potassium and tons of flavor. And you probably have all the ingredients on hand already, making it that much better for a quick weeknight meal. Get cooking!

Cooking note: you’ll see that the pasta is never drained. Cooking the other ingredients with the pasta ensures that the starches released will be absorbed by everything, making for a creamier finished product. Don’t be scared by this! It’s delicious, trust me.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta, adapted from Kitchen Treaty

Serves 4

  • 8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
  • 4 C vegetable broth (I stocked up on an organic, unprocessed variety)
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (make sure you’re buying oil that is pressed and bottled in the same area!)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (gives it a little bite)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) log fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

In a large, heavy pot, combine all ingredients except the cheese and parsley. Cover with the lid and set over high heat on the stove.

Bring the contents to a rolling boil, then let it cook for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will begin to thicken about halfway through. Test pasta to make sure it’s cooked to your liking, then remove from the heat.

Crumble the goat cheese and stir into the hot pasta until it’s melted in. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Stir and taste, adding salt and pepper as desired. Serve into bowls (easiest to do with tongs) and sprinkle on some dried parsley. Enjoy!

Vegan Taco Casserole

1 Oct

Happy October! With the new month comes a challenge: October #Unprocessed. I’ve mentioned it before, but this will be my third year participating in the challenge, and I couldn’t be more excited! The spirit of the challenge is to avoid any food item that is “processed,” which is defined by any ingredient you could not reasonably make by yourself (think chemicals, food dyes, and additives with names longer than Supercalifragilisticexpiolidocious)! Andrew over at EatingRules.com spells out the rules, if you’re interested.

In the previous two years, I learned about ingredients I had never even heard of, cooked up some crazy delicious dishes, tried new fruits and vegetables, and influenced loved ones to embrace “unprocessed” as well.

It’s not terribly difficult to give up processed foods for a month, but it is easy to fall back into old habits, buy that tasty bag of processed snacks, and carry on. This month, I look forward to foregoing all processed foods and drinks. As a result, my shopping trip last night took twice as long, given I was looking at all the labels. But it’s so worth it! My body has always felt significantly better because of the challenge. It’s amazing what your body can do with REAL foods! And while I may slip back into processed things after October ends, it’s always fewer and fewer foods that get me. More often than not, I incorporate those new grains, gourds and sweeteners into my everyday life. It IS a lifestyle change, after all!

Are you willing to give up processed foods for a month? A week? Even a day? Give it a shot :)

Vegan Taco Casserole | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Anyway, whether you take the challenge or not, this taco casserole is something you should make for dinner tonight. It’s quick, easy, versatile, healthy, and #unprocessed (and vegan, too!). It’s the perfect make-ahead that you can just pop in the oven when dinner time arrives. And it’s great for using up whatever veggies you have around – frozen corn? Throw it in. Cilantro lover? Add some on top. 3 jars of salsa in the fridge? Put them to use in this!

Vegan Taco Casserole | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan Taco Casserole, adapted from MyFitnessPal

Serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one red and one green)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 1.5 C cooked brown rice (or other cooked grain of choice)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 C salsa of choice (I used a combination of spicy and mild)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • fresh black pepper
  • pinch of salt (there’s enough in the salsa, so you won’t need much)
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 oz queso fresco (dairy-free variety if vegan)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8″ dish and set aside.

In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic, shallot and peppers until soft and fragrant.

In a large bowl, mix together rice, beans, salsa and spices. Once veggies are cooked, stir them into the rice & bean mixture until well-incorporated.

Transfer mixture to prepared dish. Cover with chopped tomatoes.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. If using cheese, sprinkle on top and put back into the oven for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes, and serve up!

You could top this with Greek yogurt, avocado, more salsa, or eat in tortilla shells, scoop up with tortilla chips, or scoop it onto a bed of lettuce. The possibilities are endless!

I entered the recipe into MyFitnessPal, and it says that one serving is only 230 calories and 6g fat! It also boats 9g protein and 8g fiber. A perfect meal :)

Tomato Soup Biscuits

30 Sep

Tomorrow begins October #Unprocessed, but today…today we make biscuits with canned soup. Because I like to be a little weird sometimes.

The classic pairing of tomato soup and grilled cheese is one that takes me right back to childhood. These days, I opt for fresh tomatoes to make soup, and whole grain breads with melty artisanal cheeses for the sandwich. But my childhood was filled with Campbell’s tomato soup accompanied by American cheese oozing out of toasty white bread.

Tomato Soup Biscuits | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Enjoying some fresh biscuits out in the sun!

But why can’t the soup and bread be one? Why can’t they be joined in perfect tomato-y bliss? Well, in these biscuits, they are! Hearty wheat flour, dried spices, and canned tomato soup come together to make one tasty biscuit. I always loved sprinkling black pepper into my tomato soup, so I do the same here – freshly cracked black pepper adorns the top of the biscuits before baking, just to give them that extra punch.

Red food coloring, although not necessary, spruces up the color of these biscuits. I did make these for my friends to enjoy during this past weekend’s Arsenal game (London is Red!) so how fitting to make something in the same color scheme. And they’re mini because…well, mini is cuter and allows you to eat more of them! Duh.

Anyway, make these biscuits the next time you need a fun little snack. Or make them to go with a hot bowl of soup (perhaps something other than tomato!). Sandwich them together with some smoked cheese in between. Whatever you do, get baking!

Tomato Soup Biscuits

Makes 24 mini biscuits

  • 1/2 C oat flour (grind old-fashioned oats in food processor, then measure)
  • 1.5 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C non-dairy milk
  • 8 drops red food coloring
  • fresh black pepper, to top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with PAM or olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk together. Mix in soup, olive oil, milk and dye, being careful not to over mix! The dough should come together, but still be slightly sticky.

Use a standard-sized cookie scoop to create mini biscuits, placing an inch apart on prepared sheet. These won’t expand too much. Crack some fresh black pepper on top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy on their own, with cheese in between like a sandwich, or paired with your favorite soup! Leftovers? Store in an air-tight container for a few days.

Chia Raspberry Overnight Oatmeal

26 Sep

My Oma and Opa never let me leave their house empty-handed. It IS their job to spoil me, after all, and they do a wonderful job of it! Combining Opa’s gardening skills, with Oma’s baking, I also never leave there hungry :) A recent visit to them left me with two large containers of freshly-picked raspberries and some tasty streusel cake.

Well, the cake didn’t survive long, but the raspberries, oh I’m savoring those! I’ve been playing with this oatmeal recipe all week, and finally settled on the right combination. The first version used PB2, but that was too much with the raspberries. The second version used almond extract and had no sweetener in it, which made it bland and not all that great. But this version. Oh this version is perfect.

Chia Raspberry Overnight Oatmeal | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The chia seeds add a wonderful gelatinous texture, along with a high fiber and protein count. The less-than-one-serving of oats gives you just the right amount of carbs. The coconut and maple syrup provide the sweetness with a tropical punch to it. And the raspberries, in their tart, flavorful gloriousness, make this breakfast perfect. They break apart when you stir them in and still manage to pop in your mouth when you take a spoonful. If you’re lucky enough to procure such amazing berries, or even if you have a frozen bag of them, you need to make this right now. You’ll have a scrumptious, health-packed breakfast ready for tomorrow – it only takes two minutes to mix this up!

Chia Raspberry Overnight Oatmeal

Serves 1

  • 1/3 C old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 C unsweetened soymilk
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup (Grade B)
  • 12-15 fresh raspberries (frozen would be ok too)

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl with a lid. Stir in milk, water and maple syrup. Top with berries.

Cover with lid and let sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, stir the berries into the oatmeal and enjoy! You could heat this up in the microwave, but it’s pretty good cold.

Oregano-Basil Lemon Pesto

25 Sep

Fresh herb season is coming to an end, which is sad. Put your flowering oregano and basil plants to use with this fragrant, flavorful pesto.

Oregano-Basil Lemon Pesto | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The combination of oregano and basil, with lemon juice, makes for an amazing pairing, that is bright and vibrant on the tongue. The fresh garlic and chili flakes add a bit of kick, and the walnuts add a nice deep nutty flavor.

I tossed this with some whole wheat gnocchi, and topped that with pan-fried leftover “meat”balls. But do with it what you will! And if you have a large abundance of oregano and basil, make extra batches of this, store in the freezer, and pull it out for a hint of summer on those cold late-winter days.

Oregano-Basil Lemon Pesto | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Oregano-Basil Lemon Pesto, adapted from This is How I Cook

Makes about 1 cup of pesto (8 servings)

  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 C walnut halves or pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 c grated parmesan just cut 4 1″ chunks off your block of parmesan
  • 1 C lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 C lightly packed fresh oregano leaves
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes

Rinse the basil and oregano and remove the leaves from their stems.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. You’ll need to scrape down the sides with a spatula once or twice in the process.

Taste to see if you need to add anything, perhaps olive oil or some more salt and/or pepper. Blend until it’s to your liking.

Store in a glass container in the fridge, or use right away. This will stay fresh in your fridge, in an air-tight container, for up to a week.

Need ideas? Toss it with fresh whole wheat gnocchi, smear some on a grilled cheese sandwich, toss it into potatoes and roast in the oven, or mix with plain Greek yogurt for a herby veggie dip!

Oregano-Basil Lemon Pesto | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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