You may have noticed that I absolutelylove veggie burgers of any kind. Many times, if I’m trying a new restaurant and see a veggie burger on the menu, I’ll order it as a test. I think veggie burgers are one of the true indicators of a good restaurant. A good veggie burger shows that the chef really understands and appreciates the vegetables and grains they use and know how to bring together all their best qualities—not in a way that mimics meat, but showcases what incredible flavor you can achieve without meat.
Even though I love veggie burgers, they tend to require a lot of ingredients that you have to prep and subsequently mash together. But what if the patty was just one ingredient? So easy, right?! Over the long weekend, I spent some lazy hours watching Bobby Deen’s show on Cooking Channel, Not My Mama’s Meals. Having spent five years in Savannah, Georgia, where Paula Deen is an omnipresent force (love her or hate her), I find Bobby’s recipes super refreshing. He makes lighter versions of some of Paula’s famous—and notoriously butter-laden—dishes. A super simple portobello mushroom burger was featured in one episode, and I was immediately sold. No chopping, mashing, or food processor required.
The star of this show is the portobello mushroom cap. Brushed with a simple balsamic marinade and grilled, this is just about the easiest vegetarian burger you’ll find. The toppings are what really makes it shine: roasted red peppers, peppery arugula, juicy tomato, red onion, and a tangy yogurt spread made with rosemary, garlic, and lime. Incredibly easy to make, with impressive flavor and looks. Served with sweet potato chips (baked using this method, with thinly sliced medallions instead of fries), this is a gorgeous vegetarian meal.
Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Rosemary, Garlic & Lime Spread
The top three reasons I love fall so much are sweaters, scarves, and soup. And only one of those is edible, so you can guess which one is my favorite. Since the first signs of fall appeared a few weeks ago, I’ve been eating soup for lunch almost every day. A bowl of hearty soup and some bread for dunking is one of the most satisfying lunches—and one of the only lunches that can keep me full until dinner, which is no easy task. .
Lentil soup is a particularly satisfying soup, which is super great because it’s so healthy. Definitely not the prettiest soup, but certainly one of the tastiest and heartiest. And it’s so incredibly simple, and so, so good. You wouldn’t think that a soup that looks like…that…and has so little to it would be so tasty, would you? .
Lentils are just a simple legume, but in this soup, they are highlighted and elevated to their most delicious state. I used chicken broth here, but you can use vegetable broth to make it vegan. This is a great base recipe that’s very versatile; add in some fresh spinach or kale at the end of cooking, use your favorite spices, add peppers or potatoes to the mirepoix, on and on. But really, you need just a few ingredients and spices to bring this soup to life.
It’s been a long, busy few weeks. We’ve been living on a steady diet of quick-fix meals and delivery around here, but thankfully, it’s back to normal now—and back to the kitchen for me. I first made this meal a few weeks ago when I was looking for a break from turkey sandwiches and GrubHub, but still didn’t have much time to spend on dinner. The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, America’s Test Kitchen’s Healthy Family Cookbook, so of course it’s totally delicious, fast, easy, and healthy. .
But what I love most about it is that it’s filling. In this cookbook, they’re super realistic about portions, and this recipe is no exception. This “pie” fills a 12-inch skillet absolutely to the brim, and a serving is an entire quarter of it. It’s crazy filling, not only because of the serving size, but because of a lot of great protein and fiber from good stuff like chicken, beans, and corn chips. And a heckload of cheese. Yes.
One pot. Throw everything in it. Stir it up. Broil it. Done. Adjust the spice to your taste (I upped it a little from the original kid-friendly amounts, but you can definitely crank it up more), use the beans of your choice, throw in extra veggies if you like—any way you slice it, dinner’s done in less than 30 minutes. Everyone’s happy.
I hope everyone had a happy Independence Day! (That is, if you live in the U.S.—otherwise, I hope you had a happy Wednesday.) We just moved this past weekend and are hardly settled, so our celebration had to be pretty low-key. Even though 75% of my kitchen equipment is still in boxes, I wanted to make something summery to celebrate the holiday—but it had to be easy and require next to no equipment. We grilled burgers and I whipped up this fantastic corn salad, which we ate outside on our new deck while watching the fireworks all around us. Perfection. .
This salad couldn’t be easier. It’s just corn, black beans, bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, lemon juice, queso fresco, smoked paprika, and salt. All you have to do is chop and mix together. It’s super light, fresh, crisp, and refreshing, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to eat this every day for the rest of the summer.
Whew! I’m feeling super relieved to have nothing to do for the first time in several weeks. This past weekend, I hosted my sister’s bachelorette weekend, which I’d been planning for months. Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch and everyone had agreat time. I also got the chance to cook for more than two people, which is a rare occurrence, so you guys can look forward to some fun recipe posts from that soon! .
But today, to reflect my relaxed state of mind, I want to share this super simple recipe for orange sesame noodles. This is an easy, healthy dinner that can be thrown together in as little time as it takes to cook your pasta. The sauce is light, slightly sweet, slightly spicy, toasty, and tangy. All you have to do is cook the pasta, whisk together the sauce and reduce, and prep any vegetables you want to add.
The tasty orange sesame sauce recipe can be used for more than noodles, too: it makes a fantastic stir-fry base. You can even make the sauce up to one day ahead and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it—and you can even make the whole dish ahead oftime and serve cold. It couldn’t be easier.
This is another recipe from the “kid-friendly” section of this cookbook. Yes, I am 23 years old. I make no apologies. Adults can like sloppy Joes too! These healthier Joes are made with ground turkey and a heap o’ mushrooms to bulk it up with less meat. As a mushroom-hater, I can attest that you will not notice or care about the mushrooms. If you have kids, this is a great way to trick them into eating vegetables without knowing it. It also works for grown-up veggie-haters. Another plus is that this recipe is super fast to throw together, and so easy. .
The best kinds of “healthified” dishes are comfort foods that still taste like you remember, and this is definitely one of those dishes. Despite the fact that it’s made with turkey and mushrooms instead of beef, the flavors of this recipe are still that of a classic sloppy Joe: tomato-y, slightly sweet, a little smoky, and a little tangy. The texture is just as I like it: big chunks of ground meat with a thick, gooey sauce. Certainly sloppy.
This week has been a heck of a disappointment on the food front. I made a meal plan last weekend, as I do, and was all set for a week of healthy, homemade meals. I generally make three to four meals and use leftovers for lunches and multiple dinners, etc. I had planned three meals for this week: two of them relied on ground turkey, and one other on tofu. .
Of course, the store was out of both turkey and tofu. Then, the next store was out of turkey. And tofu. Finally, a third store had ground turkey but since I’d never been there before, I couldn’t find the tofu if they did have it.* Did a ground-turkey-and-tofu farm explode somewhere and now there’s no turkey and no tofu?! (And certainly no tofurky.) .
Anyway, I’m excited to make my first real meal of the week tomorrow…on Thursday. Pathetic. Thankfully, last week was much more successful. I found this recipe on Skinnytaste and my boyfriend actually made it (many thanks!) while I was at work and it simmered away in the slow cooker until I came home and we devoured it. We loved this soup and will definitely be making it again. It’s a great “throw it in the Crock Pot and forget it” recipe, with a lot of flavor for very little effort and calories. You don’t even have to cook the chicken first! So easy. . *Okay, yes, I could’ve asked someone for assistance. Don’t judge me.
Show of hands: who ate Spaghetti-Os as a kid? Who ate them like, yesterday? I wouldn’t blame you. I was obsessed with Spaghetti-Os until an embarrassingly late age. It was one of the few things I’d always eat when I was a tiny pain-in-the-neck picky eater. And, I’ll be honest, I’d probably eat them right this second if they were put in front of me and I had no self-awareness. .
When I was a poor college kid with the palette of a six-year-old and no knowledge of nutrition, I still ate Spaghetti-Os. When I started eating healthier, I promised myself I wouldn’t go near them anymore. Not because they’re that terrible for you, but because I thought, “I’m an adult. I know better,” and it would be a slippery slope back into my old habits. I haven’t touched them in several years. .
However, a homemade, healthy imitation of Spaghetti-Os? I’m on board. For those of you unfamiliar with the soft little O noodles swimming in a thick tomato soup base (with or without slightly questionable meatballs), this dish is basically a smooth, tangy tomato soup with noodles and meatballs. Super kid-friendly, and super fun for all of us kids-at-heart (and at-tastebuds). I just got the America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook, which is just awesome—highly recommended. So many recipes on my to-make list. This one was an immediate must-make because of my storied history with Spaghetti-Os, despite the fact that it’s in the kid-friendly section of the book and I neither have children, nor am one myself. Who cares? This was delicious.
Did you guys make resolutions? I generally don’t make any but I made a whole slew of them this year. The big one, which is proving to be the most problematic already on day 3 of 2012, is to cut way back on sugar and hopefully whip my sweet tooth into shape. Today was my first day of really giving it the old college try since it was my first day back in my regular routine, and I’ve got to say it was harder than I thought. Sugar is my kryptonite, and I have some seriously wicked cravings to overcome! .
In the spirit of starting the year off right, here’s a recipe that’ll make it a little easier to get off on the right foot. Chicken tetrazzini (not just of “Maury” fame) is a creamy pasta dish that is generally made with a base of condensed cream of mushroom soup, or copious amounts of heavy cream. Not exactly resolution-worthy, am I right? This version, from Clean Eating Magazine, uses a pureed vegetable base plus a bit of light sour cream for the sauce. It’s light and lemony and delicious at just 250 calories per serving. Impressive!
Have any of you been to Athens, Georgia? There’s a restaurant there called The Grit, and it’s renowned far and wide as the best vegetarian/vegan eatery in the area. I’ve only been there once, but when we lived in Savannah, my meat-loving boyfriend would go yearly during an annual trip to Athens and loved it. I would often hear tell of the legendary “Golden Bowl,” a vegan stir fry smorgasbord of crispy tofu, veggies, rice, and gravy. .
I recently came across The Grit’s cookbook on Amazon and thought that I’d try my hand at the Golden Bowl since Pranas wouldn’t be able to enjoy the real deal now that we live in Chicago—way too far away from Athens for a yearly visit. I downloaded the Kindle version and found that it’s a wealth of awesome recipes for tasty, unintimidating vegan food. But first things first: the Golden Bowl. Obviously an at-home version will never exactly replicate the Grit’s, but Pranas says it’s very, very close. Good enough for me—it’s delicious!