Party Pasta

This recipe came to life after our housewarming party (all the way back in March… that’s how far behind I am in posting recent recipes).

For as much as I love to be in the kitchen, I am a lazy host. I almost never throw an elaborate dinner party. I prefer to host brunches, BBQs, or get togethers with nothing but finger food.

Things that are on the simpler side are my jam; like toasting bagels and throwing some berries in a bowl for a simple brunch, or grilling chicken and zucchini pairing with a crusty baguette and a good olive oil for dinner.

For our housewarming party, we went the heavy appetizer route and Trader Joe’s was our third host. I bought salsa, guac, hummus, and veggies; we did a simple cheese and salami plate; some focaccia and balsamic + olive oil; baked some taquitos and called it a day. (Aside from the homemade meatballs and tortillas chips that my arguably better-at-hosting husband made.)

After everyone came and ate, drank, and toured the house, we had a few leftovers. Namely a jar of corn salsa that I had never bought before… what to do, what to do with you? I thought as I crammed it into the fridge with our other leftovers.

Later that week I was eyeing a bag of spinach we had and thought, maybe… maybe some leafy greens, corn salsa, and black bean pasta will go well together?

And oh how well they do go together! The combo was such a hit I’ve picked up a few jars of that TJs corn salsa since and have made many more dinners of Party Pasta. This recipe is gluten free and can be vegan if you omit the parmesan cheese. It is the real MVP in our house and so simple that is just might make it into the lazy-host rotation for our next shabang.


Party Pasta

Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of black bean pasta
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s corn salsa
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach or 1/2 bag frozen
  • optional: parmesan cheese as garnish

Directions:

  • Cook black bean pasta according to the package and then drain cooking water
  • Add pasta back into the pot with spinach (the heat will wilt the spinach if fresh or defrost it if frozen) and corn salsa (we really like the flavor of the salsa so I am generous with the amount I use)
  • Dish and garnish with parm and freshly cracked black pepper

Better-than-you’ll-believe creamy squash pasta sauce

The new year. January first. So many aspirations and goals tied to one day.

It seems like people are generally moving away from setting up huge year-long goals of drastic change and personal renovation. Instead, we’re doing things like intention setting and focusing on more realistic, small self improvements.

In the era of Wellness Warriors – where self love, understanding, and forgiveness are the new ways of life; along with mediation and warm morning lemon water – we are still constantly striving to be better but also allowing for large doses of grace and acceptance when we inevitably slip up.

Gone are the days of swearing off sugar for 365 days and setting alarm clocks to sound before the sun for a workout. We want consistency and manageability now. At least I do.

Today is just like tomorrow will be. There isn’t the same novelty to the first day of the new year anymore. Each day is simply another chance at being better. Of course there will be some days when a second glass of wine will be poured or a savasana will be missed. More often than we’d like, living in the moment will fall under the shadow of impatience. Judgment and negativity will sneak into our lives when we are tired and feeling scattered.

There will be back-stepping but hopefully mostly forward moving. Hopefully, with strategic and achievable goals in mind, your progress will be better than you’ll believe. (…Literally like this pasta sauce recipe. I thought it would be too thick with little flavor but it turned out to be a dream!)


Better-than-you’ll-believe creamy squash pasta sauce

prep time: 30 minutes | cook time: 30 minutes | serves: 4

This sauce is vegan, diary and gluten free.  The coconut milk and roasted  delicate squash blended together make it creamy-dreamy. The roasted garlic adds a comforting savoriness. Serve over your pasta of choice with an added green for a complete meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium delicate squash
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water (or as needed for consistency)
  • 4 -5 garlic gloves (still in bulb to roast)
  • 2 – 3 Tbs of avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

  • Cut delicate squash into 1/2 inch pieces (not you don’t need to peel the skin off of delicate squash) and coat with avocado oil, salt + pepper, and nutmeg to taste
  • Spread squash out on a baking sheet and add your garlic bulb in tinfoil with a small amount to avocado oil drizzled on the top to the same sheet
  • Roast both at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
  • Once roasted, transfer into your blender with 3/4 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup water (adding more if needed)
  • Blend and scrape down the sides as needed until creamy (remember to vent your blender for the steam to escape)
  • Pour out over pasta

Coconut lentil soup

I have a feeling it won’t be cozy soup weather much longer in California. With this in mind, I took full advantage of some canned food I had in my cabinet and made a coconut lentil soup recently while my grandma, mom, and little brother were at my house. I love having family over and cooking for them!

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The lineup

This soup actually turned out better than I thought it would! The coconut milk made it creamy dreamy but, with the added (homemade) veggie broth, it wasn’t too heavy. I ended up using 2 cans of lentils for more volume and less liquid, which worked perfectly.

As always, my inspo for this came from Oh She Glows.

Note: I omitted onions because my grandma’s not a fan. If you’re in the mood, I suggest adding them. Although, since I also used jarred garlic, I have to say it was pretty sweet not having to chop anything for this recipe.

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Still sweater weather here!

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Love those greens


Coconut lentil soup

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes – Servings: 6 – 8 *freezes well*

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  • Add garlic into a pot and heat up for 1 minute (I didn’t put any extra oil in so this step was fast; plus I was using jarred garlic — if you use fresh, wait until the garlic turns translucent in some OO)
  • Add canned tomatoes, lentils, and coconut milk + veg broth
  • Stir in spices
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered
  • Take off heat and add spinach, stirring until wilted
  • Serve and enjoy (this would probably also be delicious over a scoop of brown rice)

 

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My attempt at staging my soup… ha.

Lemon tahini over lentils

What is vegan, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, added sugar free, and wheat free?

A California dinner party.

…get it? because Californias are such hippies?!

Ok, not the best joke but this dinner is. The best.

And yes, it’s vegan; nut, soy, dairy, sugar, and wheat free.

More importantly, it’s delicious.

Also important: it’s easy.

Most importance: Mike loves it. (Which makes me want to make it every week which means he might get tired of it soon…)

I hope you give this dinner a try soon! You won’t regret it. I’ve mentioned it’s delicious and easy but it’s also SUPER FILLING which is a real selling point for me. The lentils keep ya full (13g plant based protein per 1/4 cup ehyoo) but the tahini and lemon dressing make it feel like you’re indulging. Feel free to add any green veggie you have on hand; or serve the lentils and tahini on top of a giant salad for a summer night twist.

Tip: I’ve recently started soaking my lentils before cooking them (to get more protein and other added benefits!) because of this article.

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Soaking lentils


Lemon tahini over lentils

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup soaked green lentils
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 small lemon

Directions:

  • Cook lentils in 2 cups of water until soft, about 25 – 30 minutes
  • Strain lentils and put aside
  • Mix in lemon juice with tahini until combined
  • Incorporate with lentils
  • Serve with something green on the side
  • Bon appétit

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I add the lemon and tahini straight to the lentils to be sure they are all coated but alternatively you can drizzle it on top of them once plated

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Moroccan Stew

It’s winter in California which means rain, rain, and more rain. That’s good news for my drought prone home state but I find the winter blues creeping in. This dinner is perfect for warming both your body and soul; great for the nights we’ve been having!

The cumin and paprika in it gives it a nice kick that keeps you cozy. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients and, I don’t know about you, but I always feel better about myself when I’m filled with nourishing food.

This would be a perfect dish to bring to a neighbor or to enjoy with family because it makes a lot. And who doesn’t love a yummy stew (that someone else made!) on a cold night?! Consider making it for someone special in your life. (Bonus points if you pair it with a crusty baguette or a side of pre-cooked rice to really round out the meal for your loved ones.)

Side note, I don’t know how I came up with this name but this is what I called it years ago when I first made this dish and it’s sticking. 😉


Moroccan Stew

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 35 minutes – Servings: Enough to share 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 32 ounces of vegetable broth
  • 28 ounces of diced tomatoes
  • 1 box of chickpeas (~13oz)
  • 1 bag frozen kale (or spinach)
  • optional: brown rice or bread to serve with

Directions

  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent and fragrant
  • Add carrots and potatoes for 4 – 6 minutes
  • Add cumin and paprika
  • Add vegetable broth and bring to boil
  • Reduce heat and add tomatoes, simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add kale during the last 5 minutes so it doesn’t go brown
  • Scope and serve

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Cooking and catching up on Netflix!

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Love Whole Foods BPA free cans (Trader Joe’s get on it!)

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Like many of my recipes, my inspo for this came from Oh She Glows. That, and a pesky bag of Trader Joe’s roasted carrots I’ve been trying to get rid of…

In the new year, when I was doing a big TJ’s haul, I came across a bag of multicolored roasted carrots in the freezer aisle. FUN, I thought, picking up a bag and putting it in my cart. Apparently I was the only one who thought cooked carrots were fun delicious…

A week or two passed and I still had that bag of roasted carrots in my freezer when I found out my grandparents would be coming down to visit. One of my favorite things to do is cook for my family and friends so I knew I wanted to make them dinner the night they arrived. I had a plan to make chicken in our sous vide, garlic cheesy bread, peas, and those roasted carrots!

…Until my grandma told me my grandpa doesn’t like cooked carrots (what!?). I nixed the carrots and told Mike. That’s when he told me he actually doesn’t like cooked carrots either (double what!?).

Fast forward to a girl’s night at my next door neighbors’ house last week. We were doing wine and heavy apps. I brought cheese, salami, hummus, snap peas, spanakopita, and, as a last minute edition, I cooked up those roasted carrots. Badda bing, I was going to use them after all!

Or so I thought… Everything was a hit, except for the carrots.

Full of apps wine, and laughs, I walked home with my glass container still full of roasted carrots. Damn. I really hate wasting food so I plopped them in my refrigerator hoping I would get around to eating them (the whole bag, by myself) before they turned…

AND THEN I stumbled upon the genius idea to make hummus with them. Yes! Let’s go.

The great thing about this recipe is the carrots basically double your hummus volume. Plus, if you cheat and buy pre-roasted carrots like I did, it’s super simple. Also a win, Mike is going to eat those roasted carrots and have no idea 😉 mwahahaha

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 5 minutes – Servings: A LOT 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of roasted carrots* (if you can’t find the pre-roasted, I would follow the Oh She Glows recipe on how to roast them yourself)
  • 1 can or box (no BPA!) of chickpeas
  • Chickpea water, reserved
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Garlic clove and salt to taste
  • Cumin to taste (optional)

*note: the carrots I bought were roasted in thyme but I think you can change the herb here to whatever you have on hand

Directions: 

  • Add everything but the carrots to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Slowly add carrots and blend until smooth
  • Pour out and serve with veggies and crackers

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Look at all of that HUMMUS!

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Vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce

YOU GUYS. This recipe is a winner. With one of my closet friends as my inspo (read about her wedding we just went to here), I whipped up this vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce to serve over spaghetti squash tonight and it’s so creamy, you wouldn’t even know there isn’t cheese in it.

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I’ll admit, there’s a bit of prep work (more than I usually do on a Monday) with roasting the bell peppers. And I made my own cashew milk, which obviously added time. You can prep the cashew milk the night before to save a few minutes but I do highly recommend making your own nut milk for this one; since it’s a savory dish.

I know you can buy unsweetened nut milk but it just always has a hint of sweet in my opinion. Besides, if you can avoid added ingredients, why not? Making your own nut milk is actually super simple. The only pitfall is it doesn’t keep for too long (no preservatives!) but I’ll give you the exact amounts I used for this recipe below.

That means, this post is actually two recipes in one! Your lucky day, friends.

As mentioned, I put this sauce over spaghetti squash (that I did prep the day before) but you can dip bread and veggies in it or use it as a sub for a more creamy pizza sauce.


Vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce

Prep time:  45 minutes – Cook time: 5 minutes – Servings: 2 – 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 chopped shallots
  • 2 – 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 – 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup cashew milk*
  • 2 Tbs of nutritional yeast
  • A few dashes of red chili flakes (optional)
  • Basil for garnish

Directions:

  • Roast bell peppers in a 450 degree toaster oven for 30 minutes or until skin is charred
  • Tent bell peppers in tin foil to steam for 10 minutes and then remove skin and seeds
  • Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil
  • Add peppers, sautéd shallots and garlic, cashew milk, nutritional yeast, and red chili flakes to blender and blend until smooth
  • Garnish and serve 🙂

 

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Roast

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Peel

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Blend

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Pour

*For the cashew milk:

  • Simply soak 1/2 cup unsalted cashews in water for ~8 hours (I soaked mine while I was at work today)
  • Drain cashews and add to blender with 1/2 cup of water
  • Blend and strain in a nut milk bag

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Peanut Butter Asian Noodles

Hi y’all!

This blog is 2 years old this month! My first post was in February 2015 and I’ve been documenting vacations, travels, book reviews, general thoughts, and a few recipes here and there since. I want to make it a goal this year to include more recipes on here so, starting today and for the whole month of February, I’m going to post a WWA4D.

There’s a good chance you’re like, WWA4DW? What IS that?

Let me explain. If you don’t know WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) is a trendy thing to do in the blogging world. I personally read Life in Leggings all of the time. And while I love reading all about what other bloggers are eating through the day, I don’t have the capacity right now to document all of my hump day noshes.

Instead, I’m going to be documenting What We Ate 4 Dinner Wednesday – highlighting mine and Mike’s dinner with a post and the recipe. 🙂

Full disclosure: This Wednesday is coming after a few days down in San Diego (stay tuned for the post!) and I have a late meeting every other Wednesday soooo tonight we are actually keeping it really simple with quesadillas, pinto beans, and avocado. BUT I wanted to share a recipe I tried a few weeks ago that I didn’t have a chance to post.

I originally got this recipe from another favorite blogger of mine, The Diva Dish, but added a few alternations based on what we like/had.

I made this before without soba noodles and it wasn’t as good (the noodles just stuck together) so I do recommend using soba. Mike picked up some buckwheat soba noodles at Whole Foods and they were perfect.

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Peanut Butter Asian Noodles

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • Chopped veggies (I used broccoli, peppers, carrots, and snap peas)
  • 1 TBS oil to sauté veggies
  • 1/2 bag of soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • Noodle water to thin sauce (possibly)

Directions:

  • Sauté vegetables while soba noodles are cooking (according to package)
  • Use tongs to take transfer cooked noodles from pot to wok or pan that vegetables are in (I never strain my pasta because I like the texture better when a bit of the water is still on the noodles)
  • Mix peanut butter and soy sauce and add to hot vegetables and noodles
  • If need be, think out with more soy sauce (to taste) or noodle water
  • Serve and enjoy!

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Get-Better Broccoli Soup

I worked from home today because of a major toothache that caused a sore throat and ear pain.  I usually eat breakfast and lunch at work so I really didn’t have much food in the house, especially because it is nearing the end of the week!

I honestly wasn’t feeling breakfast at all (so much pain!) and stuck to tea after tea all morning. Around noon I was starting to get hungry though. I had canned soup that I could have easily heated up but I’ve been reading about how bad BPA is for us, especially for women and our fertility (call me crazy or paranoid except not really because it’s fact) so I decided to get creative in the kitchen!

I whipped up a broccoli soup that was so yummy, I’ll be making a bigger batch to freeze in the near future. I used ingredients I happened to have on hand and this recipe as my muse.

The cumin and lime give this soup such a nice flavor with just the right amount of kick. Plus, all of the vitamins and antioxidants in the broccoli really did have me feeling better; not to mention the garlic, carrots, and nutrient power-house lentils that were also in there.

I now present you with my Get-Better Broccoli Soup (which is both vegan and gluten free #hey)

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The random ingredients I had to work with… (frozen homemade veggie broth FTW)

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Sauteed garlic and carrots

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Added lentils and veg broth

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Add cumin, lime juice, and frozen broccoli; boil, simmer, blend!

 

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Ta-da 


Get Better Broccoli Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 20 minutes – Serves 4 *freezes well*

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1 c carrot – chopped
  • 1/2 c red lentils
  • 4 c veg broth
  • 1 c broccoli
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs lime juice

Directions

  • Sauté garlic until translucent
  • Add carrot and continue heating for ~1 minute
  • Add lentils, veg broth, and broccoli
  • Bring to a boil
  • Stir in cumin and lime juice
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Blend together (I used an immersion blender but a regular blender would work too)
  • Serve, sip, and get better!

 

Californians and their avocados…

It’s been gloomy in California lately and I decided to spend the afternoon at home “pampering” myself the other day. I think it’s important to realize you don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money to feel better about yourself. No matter how great I feel with fresh highlights and a new outfit, it would be a pricey habit to rely on spending all of that money to brighten my day.

Sometimes just spending a hour or so on yourself is good enough! I was feeling like a hot mess – with un-brushed hair and chipped nail polish – when I decided to go for a run/walk. (Side note: I don’t like running so “letting” myself walk for half of my workbook is a nice compromise. It also keeps me from dreading my workout which means I’m more likely to do it!).

Right when I laced up my shoes, it started raining. I could have done another workout instead but I decided just to go for it. Oddly, running in the rain makes it more pleasant for me.

  • After my workout, I had one of my favorite protein packed snacks – snap peas dipped in hummus with hot sauce and a string cheese.
  • Then I took off that chipped nail polish! Typically I think doing our nails is a way of pampering but, because of all the chemicals in nail polish, I feel better when my nails are bare. Scrubbing off my O.P.I. and cutting/filing my nails makes me feel best.
  • Next I took a hot shower and SHAVED even though it’s raining here and I won’t be wearing shorts anytime soon. Nothing gets you feeling like you brought your A game like smooth legs.
  • After I showered, I slathered myself with avocado oil – how California of me, I know.
  • I got dressed and, for once, avoided yoga pants or leggings, opting for jeans. (Full disclaimer: this was more for Mike than me;)
  • Next I dyed my  eyebrows. Some people feel best when they’re having a good hair day, for others it’s all about their outfit, but for me? when my eyebrows are – excuse my pop culture reference – #onfleek I feel best.
  • While my eyebrow dye sat and dyed, I brushed my hair (it is all too often that my hair defaults in a messy bun on top of my head) and fish tail braided it to get it out of my face. Braiding my hair is one of my favorite things to do – it’s so simple and really gives you bang for your buck because after you take it out, you’re left  with pretty waves. Two hairstyles out of one? Sold.

 

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Hair braided. Eyebrows dyed. …Chillin’ with no makeup on

 

After I felt like a human again, I hit the kitchen to try out a new recipe. I originally saw this recipe on the YouTube channel What’s Up Moms (which I am obsessed with, even though I’m not a mom yet!). In it, sliced almonds and spinach were used but I only had baby kale and didn’t feel like adding another fat to the sauce.


Creamy Avocado Pasta

Prep time: 15 minutes – Cook time: 15 minutes – Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c of your favorite pasta (I used brown rice and quinoa)
  • 1 bag baby kale
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c basil
  • 1/2 c cherry tomatoes

Directions 

  • Cook pasta according to package
  • While pasta is cooking, add kale, pealed avocado, olive oil, garlic and basil into blender and blend until smooth
  • Strain pasta but keep some of the water to thin out sauce (if need be)
  • Pour sauce (thinned out with pasta water, if needed) over hot pasta
  • Add sliced cherry tomatoes and mix together
  • Serve and enjoy!

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So green!

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So creamy!

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So good!

#VegOut