Tag Archives: dinner

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans

21 Mar

We finally took another trip, and this time, it was centered around bourbon! Yep – Chris and I drove down to Kentucky with our friends, Matt and Ashley, and met up with another couple, Barry and Stacey. We spent four glorious days visiting distilleries, learning about the history and creation of bourbon, and of course: sampling a wide variety of delicious bourbons! We ate good food, drove around Kentucky, and laughed way too much.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Lunch stop on the way to Kentucky at Milktooth in Indianapolis. Mango Michelada, strawberry-kumquat poptart, and a savory Dutch baby pancake with roasted broccoli, hazelnuts, aged cheddar, micro greens, and fennel.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Bourbon flights!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The crew at Buffalo Trace – definitely the best tour and experience!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Kissing a barrel of what will someday turn into Eagle Rare – my favorite bourbon, aged 10 years!

After four distillery tours and several bourbon bars, I have expanded my palate for bourbon: something I have only been interested in for a year or so now (thanks to Chris!).

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Maker’s Mark has beautiful rolling hills!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Makers Mark also has fantastic artwork and bourbon!

Unfortunately, the trip had to end and we were on our way back home on Sunday in no time. The 6.5 hour drive wasn’t too bad, and we stopped for lunch in Lafayette, IN (nothing to write home about). But that meant that we’d be home for dinner…after four days away and a rather barren fridge.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Bulleit Experience @ Stitzel-Weller Distillery

Luckily, the monthly Recipe Redux challenge asked us to develop a recipe made with at least three ingredients that we had on hand, with the intent to do a little “spring cleaning” of the kitchen. How perfect, given our current situation after several days away!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

As a Wisconsinite, I always have cheese on hand; usually several types of cheeses at any given point have residence in our fridge. Upon returning home, there were full blocks of herbed Havarti and aged cheddar, a half bag of shredded cheddar, and a half tub of whipped cream cheese (Chris’s favorite). What’s more, there were a few fresh vegetables leftover from the week prior, begging to be cooked into a tasty dish.

Finally, I always keep a variety of grains stocked in the pantry. It had been a while since I cooked couscous, so it seemed the best choice in the effort to spring clean the pantry. Add in a high-protein beefless ground, and I have a dinner that’s healthy, vegetarian, and uses up quite a few ingredients!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 4

  • 1 C frozen green peas
  • 1 C frozen corn
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, diced
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • olive oil and black pepper, to roast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 C vegetable stock
  • 1 C medium-grain couscous
  • 2 C beefless ground or other ground meat-free product
  • 4 oz herbed Havarti cheese, diced

Preheat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with PAM. In a single layer, place all the veggies on the sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper. Roast for 23 minutes at 400.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil and vegetable stock in a pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in the couscous. Cover and set aside for six minutes.

Heat the beefless ground in a microwave-safe bowl for two minutes.

Once the couscous is done, stir in the diced cheese and heated beefless ground. Cover with the lid and let sit until the vegetables are done roasting.
Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com
To serve, spoon the couscous mixture onto plates or bowls, and top with the roasted vegetables. Enjoy hot!
Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers

20 Feb

How was your weekend? Ours was packed – Chris and I had date night on Friday at Odd Duck, one of our favorite restaurants in Milwaukee. The food was amazing, and the dessert was even better! We checked out two new breweries afterward for some tasty beer to cap off the night. Saturday was full of fitness and more beer – it’s unseasonably gorgeous outside (61 degrees in February in Wisconsin is unheard of), so I went for a run, followed by yoga at another local brewery, and a walk around the neighborhood with Chris. At night, we poured beer at Food & Froth, a beer festival/fundraiser for the Milwaukee Public Museum. So, all the housework and my long run was left for Sunday.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Left: Date night with Chris, including an amazing flourless chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse. Right: pouring beer at Food & Froth at the public museum – got to hang out with the Eskimos!

I’ve finally jumped on the Sunday food prep bandwagon. I’m not sure what’s taken me so long, as the routine of cooking and baking a bunch of food on the weekend is actually quite relaxing. It’s also satisfying to know that most of the week’s meals are ready to go.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

But you can’t forget a delicious Sunday dinner! Craving something naughty, but wanting something nutritious, I combined the best of both worlds. The flavors of a cheeseburger are packed into these stuffed bell peppers. Traditional stuffed peppers are made with rice, but to reduce the carbs and increase the veggie intake, I replaced rice with shredded zucchini and carrot. You can’t tell the difference and it is SO much better for you! You can’t forget the cheese, and these peppers use two kinds for a delicious meal you can feel good about. It’s high protein, low carb, vegetarian and gluten free; make this vegan with dairy-free cheese!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers, adapted from Skinny Kitchen

Serves 4

  • 4 bell peppers, washed, tops sliced off and ribs removed – I used a variety of colors, but use whatever you prefer!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 10 oz Beefless Ground – tempeh would work if you crumble it up
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup – such as True Made Foods, whose condiments are made with all veggies!
  • 1 tbsp mustard – any kind works – I used beer mustard
  • 1/3 C Bloody Mary mix or tomato juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 C shredded mozzarella
  • 3 oz shredded aged cheddar – I prefer 5-year aged

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the bell peppers and slice off the tops. Clean out the seeds and ribs. You may need to also slice just a bit off the bottom of the peppers, if they don’t stand up on their own. Place them in an 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish; set aside.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and saute the onion with the shredded zucchini and carrot. Cook until everything is nicely browned and the water has cooked out from the veggies. Add the Beefless Ground and cook another 5 minutes, to brown.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard and Bloody Mary mix. Then, mix in the mozzarella.

Use a spoon to pack the cheeseburger mixture into each pepper. Pat down the filling and top each pepper with shredded cheddar cheese.

Carefully pour a cup of water into the base of the baking dish. Sounds weird, but this will help steam the peppers so they’re nice and tender! Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

Gently remove the baking dish from the oven and use tongs to serve. These taste amazing with beer-soaked oven fries, which can conveniently bake at the exact same time!

Confessions of a Mother Runner

I’m linking up with Confessions of a Mother Runner and A Whisk and Two Wands for #MeatlessMonday!

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

Pizza Cornbread

2 Jan

Happy new year! My New Year’s Eve was filled with friends, food, fizzy drinks and a Simpson’s marathon. We sure know how to party 😀  So what do you make for a low-key night in? A massive cheese plate, light sweets and… cornbread. Yep, my friend requested cornbread, which was the perfect opportunity to develop a new recipe! Because friends = guinea pigs, obviously.

I wanted a savory cornbread, but one that wouldn’t compete with the pulled pork everyone else was eating for dinner. And pizza is, as we all know, one of the best foods that exists. So I smashed the two together to form pizza cornbread!

Pizza Cornbread | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The batter is based off my recipe for avocado cornbread. It’s whole wheat, packed with corn, and flavored with Italian seasoning and roasted garlic. Then I filled it with a layer of pizza sauce and freshly shredded cheese. This tasted amazing hot out of the oven, but also tastes great refrigerated the next day. Make it as a side dish for soup, or as a snack to enjoy all on its own. Dress it up with sautéed veggies or even salami (vegan or otherwise).

Pizza Cornbread | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Pizza Cornbread, adapted from my Avocado Cornbread

Makes one 9″ cornbread, serves 8-10

  • 1 C skim or non-dairy milk + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 C course ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp granulated roasted garlic (roasted is preferred, but regular garlic powder works too)
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.25 C corn kernels (if using frozen, allow to thaw first)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 C prepared pizza sauce (I love Trader Joe’s jarred pizza sauce)
  • 3 oz freshly shredded Parmesan or aged mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Place 9″ oven-safe skillet or cake pan in the oven while it preheats.

In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice; set aside and let curdle.

In a small bowl, melt together the butter and honey.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, including the corn.

Whisk the egg into the now-curdled milk and pour into the dry mixture. Add the melted butter-honey mixture and stir to combine.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and spray liberally with PAM. Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer.

Spoon on the pizza sauce, and spread, as you would on pizza crust, leaving the outer edges without sauce.

Pizza Cornbread | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Cover the sauce with your freshly shredded cheese. Spoon the remaining batter on top and spread into a thin layer, to cover the cheese and sauce as best you can. It’s ok if some cheese and sauce peek through the top.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Make sure leftovers are completely cooled before wrapping in foil and storing in the fridge, up to 5 days.

Pizza Cornbread | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Enjoy this recipe and other meatless deliciousness! Check out the Meatless Monday linkup on Confessions of a Mother Runner.

Confessions of a Mother Runner
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