Broccoli and Parsnip Risotto

I don’t really have a cute story to go with this recipe. I had orzo pasta, broccoli, and parsnips. I thought a creamy pasta dish with some crisp vegetables would be nice for lunch. Yeah…that’s about it.

One ladle at a time…

I love risotto, but hate that it’s usually loaded with a ton of cheese, cream, and butter. Too rich and heavy. I like creamy without all that junk. My recipe only has a bit of vegan cheese and some olive oil–just it’s still rich and creamy. Also, I don’t love that it takes an hour to make well. And you can’t rush it, just be patience.

“This is taking forever, I’m hungry!”

Jack didn’t like that either, he had to go up in a back carry to keep him happy. However, he was more than happy to eat it!

Broccoli and Parsnip Risotto 
6 cups vegetable broth (or you can do like I did, 5 cups water with 1 cup of pureed vegetable baby food)
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large parsnips, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 cup orzo
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, bring the vegetable to a simmer over medium-low heat.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent.

Add the parsnips and cook until tender.

Add the garlic and broccoli,  took until the broccoli is tender.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a another large skillet over medium heat.

Add the orzo and brown the pasta lightly. Stir continuously to prevent burning. It’s okay if some pieces are darker than others.

Once orzo is all lightly browned, reduce heat to medium-low. Then add one ladle of hot broth to the pot, stir continuously until it is all absorbed.

Repeat adding one ladle of broth at a time and stirring until it is all absorbed until the pasta is tender and the broth no longer absorbs easily. This will take around an hour to complete. Don’t rush it by turning up the heat or adding more than one ladleful.

Before you add your last ladle or so, add the broccoli and parsnips to the skillet.

Once the pasta is tender, remove from the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast.

Top with the mozzarella and enjoy!

Creamy, filling, and loaded with veggies. Your patience has been rewarded!

Taco Pasta

Yesterday evening while waiting for my son to wake up from his nap, I was browsing on Pinterest. I came across this pin for Taco Pasta. Noodles with a Mexican-style meat sauce. It looked so good and I hadn’t had an actual home cooked dinner since my mom left a week ago. So I decided to quickly make a vegan version of it before Jack woke up.

I did not use a taco seasoning packet like in the original recipe. I never buy spice packets like that, too high in sodium and you never know what else in there exactly. Just make your own spice blend with your own fresh spices.

Taco Pasta
5 oz Penne 
Olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped fine 
1 clove if garlic, minced 
1 package of vegan ground beef (I used Tofurky Ground Beef Style
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano 
1/2 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp chili powder 
1 cup salsa (I used pico de gallo) 
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese ( I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1/2 cup vegan sour cream 
Vegan cheddar cheese, optional 
Cook the pasta according to the direction on the package. 
While that cooks, add a little olive oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat. 
Add the onions and sauté until soft. 
Add the garlic and the ground “beef”. Cook until the “beef” is slightly browned. 
Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Cook until fragrant.
Turn the heat to low. Add the salsa, cream cheese, and sour cream. Mix well and cook until heated through. 
Once the pasta is ready, drain and return to the pot. 
Add the “meat” sauce to the pasta and stir together well. 
Serve it up and add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top if you wish.

Michael was really happy to have a home cooked meal and so was I. This was so filling and tasty after several says of frozen food and sandwiches. I love the tang from the sour cream.

Haluski: Polish Noodles And Cabbage

Today would have been my Grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She passed away in February (see my Polish Barley Soup post) and I miss her everyday.  I am sad that my baby will never get to know what beautiful and loving person his Great Grandma was, but I am happy her bloodline gets to live on through him. I promise to make him (healthier versions of) Pierogi and kapusta while telling him the stories about her life on the farm in upstate New York and how our family came over from Poland. That is the best way I can honor her memory. I will make sure he is proud little Polish boy, just like she taught me be a proud little Polish girl.

I decided to make a healthier version of a traditional Polish dish, Haluski. It is a simple pan-fried noodle and cabbage dish common in most Slavic countries. I do remember my grandma making this for me once, but she never mentioned it was Polish. The dish varies a bit between the Slavic countries, but most call for a lot of butter and a giant glob of sour cream. Not vegan or healthy. So I cut out the sour cream, and used far less vegan butter. Also, I used a cabbage/kale mix and added some carrots for extra nutrition.  To be very traditional, you should make your own noodles, called Kulski. I have tried a few times to make them, but have yet to master a vegan version yet, so look out for that recipe at a later date. If you aren’t making your own noodles, normally you use egg noodles, which are not vegan. So I used normal pasta (well actually broken up lasagna noodles because that is what I had on hand).

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Haluski
3 cups dry noodles or pasta (used a smaller, ribbon pasta)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cabbage/kale mix (I used Costco’s Sweet Kale Mix)
1/2 large carrots, shredded or peeled into ribbons with a peeler
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the noodles according the directions.  Drain and set aside

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Add the cabbage/kale mix and the carrots ribbons. Cook until slightly softened.

Reduce the heat to low.

Add the cooked noodles and caraway seeds.

Stir everything together well. Cook until it is all heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can enjoy this a light main dish, or pair it with some Tofurky Kielbasa to make it complete Polish meal.

I couldn’t help but smile as I ate this, makes me happy to honor my grandma.

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce

In last post, I mentioned that I also got a butternut squash at the pumpkin patch. I bought it randomly without a recipe in mind. Thursday morning I woke up and thought pasta with creamy butternut squash sauce would be amazing for dinner. Then my best friend (the maker of the amazing reception cake) and her boyfriend wanted to come over to carve pumpkins. So I decided to make a nice dinner for everyone.

This is recipe is similar to most other squash sauce recipes out there (except that it’s vegan), but it not based on any particular one. I just put in what I thought sounded good.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce
1 large butternut squash
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tps cinnamon
1/2 tps chili powder
1/2 tps smoked paprika
3 cups plain soy milk
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
6 servings of any kind of pasta (I used strozzapreti)
Basil, to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 400.

Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and membrane, and discard them,

Rub 1/2 tbs of the butter on the inside of both halves.

Roast in the oven until the squash is soft, like when a knife can be inserted without any resistance. This takes about 25-30 minutes.

Set the squash aside to cool.

Meanwhile, sautee the chopped onion in the remaining 1/2 tbs butter. Once soft and translucent, add the garlic. Cook for just a minute.

Now add the cinnamon, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Cook another minute.

Add the soy milk and veggie broth. Stir well.

Now, scoop out all the meat from the cooled squash. It should be soft, like mashed potatoes.

Mix and mash together the squash with the liquid. It’s okay if it is still a little lumpy.

Turn off the heat and let the flavors meld.

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.

Then add the pasta directly into the sauce.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with some fresh basil and serve.

We paired it with a nice salad and some bread, and it was a lovely meal indeed. Amanda said she could not believe how flavorful it was. Michael said the sauce tasted like Fall. I would just eat the sauce by itself honestly. With flavor like this—plus all fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A—there is no reason not to make this lovely Fall dish!

Vegas Wedding and Dinner at Scarpetta

So,  we got married in Las Vegas!

Source

I chose the Las Vegas Wedding because I liked their packages and options. I wanted something easy, quick, and simple. I wanted our love to be focus the ceremony. I honestly have no complaints with this chapel at all. I would like to warn this is quick, in-and-out, no frills place. If you want the long, elaborate, personalized ceremony then this place is not for you. Our ceremony was still beautiful and we got great customer service nonetheless.

Afterwards my dad took amazing photos of us on the strip.

It was SO much fun! Everyone was saying congrats and giving us high fives.

But seriously, look at  how great these photos are? My dad is very talented. Thank you so much Papa!

Then we had dinner at Scarpetta in the Cosmopolitan. We had a table with an amazing view of the Bellagio fountains.  The service and the food were AMAZING!

To start, I got the Heirloom Tomato Salad. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, olives, marinated eggplant and good olive oil. Michael just ate the cheese for me. Then I had the Spaghetti, which was seriously the best pasta I have ever had. Homemade pasta with simple red sauce with tons of fresh basil.

Then for dessert Michael and I shared Amedei Chocolate Cake (it was not vegan, but like I have said before, you have to be reasonable sometimes). Not only was it so delicious I cannot even think of a word to describe it, they wrote “Congratulations” on our plate!

I seriously recommend this place to everybody. We are going to come back  to Vegas for our anniversary next year, and I already know I want to eat here again. Check out the rest of the menu here.

Thank you Mom and Dad for making your princess feel like a real princess! And thank you Michael for being such an amazing man, I am so happy to spend the rest of my life with you.

One Pot Pasta

I kept seeing all the pins on Pintrest for One Pot Pasta. Pretty much throw everything into one pot, let it cook for awhile, and you have prefect pasta in a light tomato sauce. Sounded too good not to try! There are a ton of variations of the recipe, but it appears that the “original recipe” (the one that made it popular) is from Martha Stewart. I kept it simple and pretty true to the originally. But I wanted it creamier, so I added some arrow root powder (or starch) to thicken it up without adding a lot of calories.

Arrow root powder is a natural thickener that comes from South America. It’s is similar to corn starch and can substitute for it. I like it better because it is finer and blends better (plus you know, the whole Monsanto King of the Corn thing…) You may notice in the photos that I used spaghetti and fettuccine. I had a half box of each and wanted to use them up. I am big believer is using what you have on hand in order to save money.  I also used organic cherry tomatoes from the veggie box delivery (they are so good, I could eat them by themselves!).

This recipe makes 4 servings.

One Pot Pasta
1/2 small white onion, sliced fine
1 small carton of cherry tomatoes, rinsed and greens removed
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 sprigs of basil, leafs removed and roughly chopped
12 oz  (just shy of one box) of pasta
1 tps red chili flakes
5 cups of water
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbs Arrow Root Powder or Corn Starch

In a large, shallow pot, add all the ingredients except the olive oil, arrow root powder, salt, and pepper.

Cook for 5 minutes, just until the tomatoes bring to break. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Cook for another 5 minutes or so (it will vary based on the directions for the pasta), until  the pasta is cooked.
Remove from the heat. About about 1/4 cup of liquid will remain.

Add the arrow root powder and toss together well. The sauce will get slightly thicker and creamier.

Taste for seasoning, mine need a little more salt.

Now serve it up with some extra basil and enjoy!

A light sauce that is just a tad creamy without all the fat! Filling without being over the top. I am so going to make this again.

Creamy Spinach Pasta

I posted a recipe awhile ago for Cheesy Rice where you cook the rice/pasta in milk to make it creamier. That got me to thinking…if the noodles come out creamier, then you do not need all the (vegan) butter and cheese right? You still get a bowl of creamy goodness but cut out a lot of calories. Thus, I came up with this recipe. I added in spinach for some extra nutrition.  And before you start saying “But the butter gives it more flavor,” just relax. Yes, it is true this dish is not a rich as it could be, but it does not lack any flavor. And I ask you this: Is it that big of a deal to have a slightly less rich bowl of pasta? Will your life come to end because you did not indulge? Do you have to cut out butter and cheese for the rest of your life? No. Nothing will happen if you eat healthy food (that still tastes great) and you can always have the richer stuff on occasion too. I believe this is that magically thing called moderation 🙂

This recipes makes 4 servings.

Creamy Spinach Pasta
4 cups plain soy milk
2 cups water
2 and 1/3 cup of Gemelli pasta
1 tbs cornstrach (optional)
4 cups fresh spinach
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, bring the soy milk and water to a boil.

Add the pasta and cook according to the directions.

When the pasta has about 5 minutes left, add the spinach and garlic. Mix together well.

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, if there is still liquid in the pot you can add the cornstarch to thicken the sauce and cook for a bit longer. The first time I made it I needed it. The second time I did not. It just depends.

If you want a more “salty/meaty” flavor, you can add the soy sauce.

Season with salt and pepper.

I sprinkled on a little dried parsley as well.

Easy and delicious. This way can you enjoy a bowl of pasta with less guilt!

Peanut Butter Noodles

I cannot remember where I got this original recipe years ago. It seems like something from “healthy college living” magazine, but I know I made this while I was still in high school.  Oh well…

I make this often and it indeed came in handy in college. Cheap ingredients that are usually already in your pantry and very filling. However,  it can be high in calories so you need to keep your portions reasonable. But have no fear, it tastes even better the next day so no need to polish off the leftovers right away.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Peanut Butter Noodles
8 oz. of spaghetti
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy, does not matter)
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
5 tbs soy sauce
2 tps fresh ginger, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Siracha, to taste
Water
1 medium cucumber, pealed, cut in half, and sliced
Chives, minced
Cilantro

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Then cook the spaghetti according to the package.

While that cooks, in a small bowl combine the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and Siracha. Add a little bit of water as need to help it come together. It should be smooth (unless you used chunky peanut butter) and slightly runny. It wont coat the noodles properly if it is too dry and clumpy.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving a cup of the water.

In a large bowl, add the spaghetti and the peanut sauce. Mix together well, adding a little of reserved pasta water as need to help it coat evenly.

Next add cucumber slices and chives, mix well.

Top with the cilantro and little more Siracha is you desire.

You can eat this warm or cold, and like I said,  it is better the next day when all the flavors settle in.

"Cheesy" Pasta with sliced "Hot Dogs"

I do not believe that majority of children are natural picky eaters. I believe it is parents themselves setting the bad example of not eating their veggies. Why would they want to eat something that their parents do not want to eat? And, of course it will be hard to break them of bad eating habits later. If they are used to eating fatty, oily, high carb foods, they will resist wanting anything else. So it is important to teach kids from an early age the importance of whole foods like fruits and veggies—-and eat them yourself to set the good example.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with making healthy versions of the things all humans are love: carbs, protein, and fat. All animals crave carbs because they fill you up, protein because it sustains you, and fat because it has calories to keep you going. But, we are evolved animals with big brains that we can use to make smart choices about our cravings.

This recipe is healthy version of a kid friendly dish, mac and cheese with sliced hot dogs. It uses soy cheese, vegan butter, and soy hot dogs. I used star stelline, a star shaped pasta, to make it more fun for kids.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cheesy Pasta with Hot Dogs Slices
8 oz stelline pasta (I used Barilla)
4 vegan hot dogs (I used Smart Dogs)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup vegan cheddar cheese (I used Daiya)
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Add the pasta and cooking according to the directions on the package.

While pasta cooks, heat the hot dogs. You can either microwave or pan fry them according to the directions on the package.

Cut the hot dogs into desired sized slices. Make sure you cut them small enough so your child does not choke. Check out this link for advice.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot.

Add butter and cheese. Mix together well.

Add the hot dog slices and parsley. Mix together well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quick and easy lunch that kids (and you) will love!

Lasagna Rolls Up

I kept seeing several versions of lasagna rolls ups on Pintrest so I thought I would give them a try. I like the portion control and that they not as messy as traditional lasagna. I decided to make a very simple version with just vegan cheese, kale, and spinach. I made my own pasta sauce, but jarred is just fine.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Lasagna Roll Ups
1 box of lasagna noodles (oven-ready is fine)
4 cups pasta sauce  (Try my Mushroom Sauce)
1.5 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, divided into 1 cup and half a cup.  (I used Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds)
1 cup kale (I put it in fresh but sauté would be fine too)
1 cup fresh basil

If you noodles have cooking directions, follow them. If you have no-boil kinda, just bring a large pot of water to boil and cook until al dente. Drain and let cool slightly—but do not leave in the colander too long, they will stick together.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on a baking sheet or baking pan.

On a clean surface, separate the noodles and lie them down flat.

Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons on mozzarella evenly over the upside of each noodle.

Next lay a few kale leaves down in an even thing layer over the noodle.

Next lay a few basil leaves down in an even thing layer on top of the kale.

Starting at one end of the noodle, tightly roll the noodle up. It should hold its rolled shape, if not squish it a bit until it stays.

Repeat the previous 4 steps with all the noodles.

Place the roll ups on the baking sheet. Space a bit apart from each other.

Cover the rolls ups with the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining half cup of mozzarella over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.

Michael loved these—though I made his with dairy cheese. I think next time I will load them up more, maybe some crumbled tofu and roasted peppers.