Cheesy Roasted Vegetable Skillet Baked Pasta

2 Feb

I am totally obsessing over this high-protein pasta lately. Seems like if it’s not homemade, I gravitate toward the red lentil or black bean varieties. They’re just SO versatile and delicious! And no, I’m not getting paid to run on and on about these pastas.

Cheesy Roasted Vegetable Skillet Baked Pasta | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This dish is loaded with flavor. Roasted vegetables, smoked gouda, tomato sauce, and the lightly-flavored red lentil pasta all come together to produce a hearty, savory dinner the whole family will enjoy.

What’s even better: the combination of red lentils and the cast iron skillet, in addition to the other vegetables, make this a wonderfully iron-rich dish. This is a total win-win-win (the third win is because it’s so darn cheesy!).

Cheesy Roasted Vegetable Skillet Baked Pasta

Serves 4

  • 12 oz red lentil rotini (or 8 oz of whole wheat pasta)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/4 C tomato pasta sauce
  • ¼ C vegetable stock
  • 5 oz smoked gouda, shredded
  • 1 oz fresh Parmesan, to serve

Place a cast iron skillet or other oven-safe skillet in the oven and preheat to 400.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the water boils to cook the pasta, dice the onion, bell peppers and celery. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and grease it with a bit of olive oil. Toss the veggies together into the skillet and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Transfer the drained pasta back to its cooking pot. Stir in the roasted vegetables, tomato sauce, vegetable stock and shredded gouda.

Grease your skillet with some more olive oil and pour the pasta mixture back into it, smoothing the top. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

Remove and let cool 5 minutes before serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Wild Blueberry Avocado Protein Smoothie

30 Jan

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I dunno about where you live, but Milwaukee has been nothing but dreary and grey for at least a week now. Such a downer! Aside from working up a sweat, I know few better ways to combat the lousy weather than with a berry-packed smoothie.

Wild Blueberry Avocado Protein Smoothie | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Sure, I could simply turn up the heat at home and lounge around with a cup of tea, but a nice, sweaty workout, followed by a healthy protein smoothie is soooo much better, and more rewarding!

This creamy dreamy smoothie is made with frozen wild blueberries, which are way more flavorful than and twice as rich in antioxidants as regular blueberries. Better yet, they’re frozen at harvest, ensuring the best quality berry every single time.

Wild Blueberry Avocado Protein Smoothie | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Wild blueberries are called “Wild” because they are. Wild blueberries are not planted but occur naturally in barrens and fields in Maine and Eastern Canada that have been here for 10,000 years. They’re just waiting to be plucked and enjoyed!

And don’t freak out, they’re super easy to find – no trips to Maine or Canada necessary 🙂 Check the frozen foods section of your grocery store, and they should be near the other frozen fruits.

To learn more about wild blueberries, visit and follow these accounts: FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter.

I paired these sweet and tart wild blueberries with creamy avocado and my favorite vegan vanilla protein powder for a smoothie that packs a punch in all the best ways.

Wild Blueberry Avocado Protein Smoothie | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Wild Blueberry Avocado Protein Smoothie

Makes 1 smoothie

  • 1/4 C nondairy milk
  • 1 C cold water
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 C frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder
  • Additional wild blueberries and hemp seeds, to garnish

Pour the liquids into your blender and add the avocado, wild blueberries and protein powder. Blend until absolutely smooth. Pour into your favorite glass and garnish with additional wild blueberries and hemp seeds.

 

Mini Caprese Cornbread Muffins

25 Jan

In the midst of January, when the days are gray and the nights are cold, I frequently catch my mind wandering to warmer climates, or even just a warmer time of the year! And yet, those sunny days, the abundance of fresh fruit and veggies, and the outdoor festivals are still months away.

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Luckily, winter meals can be comforting, hearty and delicious. Chris made a batch of his best ever vegan chili for the football game this past weekend, which inspired me to create something to dip into it! Lusting for summer, I combined a simple yet tasty cornbread muffin with flavors of my favorite summertime salad: Caprese! These little bites are packed with shredded Mozzarella and basil, and topped off with a halved cherry tomato. You could even drizzle on a bit of Balsamic glaze if you’re feeling it!

These muffins are great on their own or paired with your favorite chili (try Chris’s recipe, and I guarantee you’ll fool everyone into thinking it has meat!). They’re also made with whole wheat flour and coconut sugar, which is just a touch healthier than their overly-processed cousins.

Mini Caprese Cornbread Muffins, adapted from Food.com

Makes 30 mini muffins

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 C cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ C coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried basil (or you could use fresh!)
  • 1 C milk (nondairy or otherwise)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/4 C freshly grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 15 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Preheat oven to 425. Grease mini muffin tins and set aside. No need to use muffin liners!

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Set aside to cool a bit.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon.

Into the cooled melted butter, mix the milk and beat in the egg. Pour this over the dry mixture and stir until just combined.

Fold in all of the shredded cheese, being careful not to overmix.

Use a cookie scoop to portion the batter into prepared muffin tins. Press a tomato half, cut side up, into each muffin.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.

Remove and let cool 10 minutes before transferring the muffins to a bowl lined with a clean towel for serving. If you have leftovers, let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge, up to a week.

Mini Caprese Cornbread Muffins | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Quick Herbed Goat Cheese Alfredo with Red Lentil Pasta

22 Jan

Have you ever added up how much you spend on food? The daily coffees, lunches out with co-workers, dinner dates, picked-up meals and weekly groceries all add up to a LOT of money. Whether you’re working on a New Year’s goal related to spending habits, or just want to be able to cook more frugally, the Recipe Redux has you covered this month!

We’ve been tasked with creating a recipe that costs less than $3 per serving. Now, as a vegetarian, this is much easier for me than my meat-eating friends. I noticed the drop in spending immediately after I gave up meat – both at the grocery store and at restaurants. But the bill can still add up and sometimes in a less than healthy way.

Quick Herbed Goat Cheese Alfredo with Red Lentil Pasta | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

So I wanted to develop a meal that was not only low cost, but high in flavor, protein and fiber. Have you seen those legume-based pastas that are available? Black bean spaghetti, red lentil rotini, even chickpea penne! Yes, they sound a little crazy, and the first time you make black bean spaghetti, I guarantee you will be weirded out by the color of the cooking water. But these are such an incredible alternative to traditional pastas. (Which I totally have nothing against, especially since I began making my own!) Sometimes, you just need a high protein meal that comes together quickly and can be easily dressed up.

This Alfredo delivers on all of the above. Red lentil pasta, which clocks in at a hefty 21 grams of protein per serving, is tossed with a simple yet flavorful goat cheese sauce. Dress up the finished product with a bit of balsamic glaze and voila: a healthy, quick, delicious meal that only costs $2.22 per serving.

Quick Herbed Goat Cheese Alfredo with Red Lentil Pasta

Serves 2

  • 6 oz red lentil gluten free pasta (can substitute for black bean pasta, or another favorite) – ($1.50)
  • 2 tbsp butter ($0.15)
  • 1/2 C soy milk (or other preferred milk) ($0.12)
  • 4 oz garlic & herb goat cheese or chevre ($1.99)
  • 1 oz parmesan, freshly shredded ($0.36)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic glaze, to garnish ($0.32)

Grand total: $4.44. Per serving: $2.22!

Cook pasta according to package directions. These legume-based pastas have pretty specific directions, so it’s best to follow them!

While the pasta boils, heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Once melted, stir in the milk and then the cheeses. Keep stirring to melt all the cheese into the milk. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Drain the cooked pasta and immediately transfer into the skillet with the hot Alfredo sauce. Toss to coat completely. Serve and drizzle with balsamic glaze (this is optional, but the sweet tang of the glaze makes the creamy sauce pop!)

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Creamy Carrot Ginger Beer Soup

20 Jan

Houses Lannister, Baelish, Mormont, Bolton, Stark, Sand, Asshai, Tyrell and Tarth came together last weekend to discover who killed Daenerys Targaryen. Ok, don’t freak out: this is a spoiler-free post! My friends and I put on a murder mystery Game of Thrones dinner party and it was a BLAST. The murder mystery we used is clearly not in line with the actual story progression of Game of Thrones, which made for an interesting twist as we navigated through our given personae and clues.

Creamy Carrot Ginger Beer Soup | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

We ate tons of delicious food: ALL the chickens (for the meat-eaters), roasted maple squash, jalapeno poppers, flayed potato skins and mashed potatoes, carrot ginger soup, Sansa’s lemon cakes, and even House Sigil cookies! The drinks flowed freely as well, including White Walkers, Dornish Mulled Wine, and a homebrew Chris and I made called “Valar Mozugon,” which means “All men must drink” in High Valyrian. And in true Game of Thrones fashion, we pointed blame at the would-be “murderers,” dealt with Jon Snow’s descriptions of The Wall, and even prevented Sansa and Ramsay from killing each other!

Game of Thrones House Sigil Cookies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

My character was Brienne of Tarth. If you’re not familiar with murder mystery parties, each attendee is assigned to be a character within the story, along with information about where you were before, during and after the “murder” in question. With that, you interview each other and try to probe for details that could lead to the “killer.” After four rounds of food, drink and accusations, we figured it out!

Game of Thrones Murder Mystery Dinner | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Featuring flayed potato skins, jalapeno poppers, Sansa’s lemon cakes and ALL the chicken!

The result was a fun party with a great group of people, some of whom even came costumed as their character! Chris, Ashley and I simply bought t-shirts with our assigned characters’ House crests on them.

Game of Thrones Murder Mystery Dinner | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Jaime Lannister, Margery Tyrell, Sansa Stark, Jon Snow

So onto the recipe – I made a large batch soup, which I knew would feed the crowd of “suspects.” It’s creamy, flavorful and the bright orange color is to die for! In a truly Game of Thrones spin, I used a bottle of beer as part of the cooking liquid for added depth. Whip up a batch for your next get together, nerdy or otherwise.

Creamy Carrot Ginger Beer Soup

Serves 8-10 (this can easily be halved to suit your needs. Simply use half a bottle of beer!)

  • 4 tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 5 C vegetable stock
  • 1 bottle wheat beer
  • 1.5 C water
  • 3 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2” fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat butter over medium. Cook onions until they begin to saute and become fragrant.

Add the liquids, carrots and grated ginger. Stir and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to let simmer about 45 minutes.

Once the carrots are fork-tender, remove the pot from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree until completely smooth. Be careful not to splash carrot everywhere!

Return the pureed soup to medium heat and stir in the cream. Allow the soup to heat the cream; taste and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Leftovers can be kept in the fridge up to a week, or stored in an airtight container in the freezer for a future meal.

Creamy Carrot Ginger Beer Soup | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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