Vegan Teriyaki Tofu Bowls

Recipes

Tofu is not something we eat very often in our house, but when I do make it, I want it to be as flavorful and least tofu-like as possible. This teriyaki bowl recipe is a great vegan substitute for a typical chicken teriyaki bowl with vegetables and rice. If you prefer to not include tofu, you could also just increase your serving of vegetables since edamame and broccoli are decent sources of protein. Ordinarily, I would probably also make this with brown rice, but was in a rush so decided to go with white rice instead.

Tofu is best when as much liquid is squeezed out as possible and replaced with a marinade or sauce. Whatever sauce you use will soak into the tofu lending it that particular flavor. This teriyaki sauce recipe is adapted from Mayim Bialik’s cookbook Mayim’s Vegan Table. It is a good sauce for when you’re in a little bit of a hurry, since it puts out strong flavoring without too much marinating time needed. I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Teriyaki Tofu Bowls

White or brown rice, prepared according to package instructions

2 red bell peppers, chopped

2 small broccoli crowns, chopped

1 cup of edamame

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup mirin

2 Tbsp 100% natural maple syrup

1 package of extra firm tofu

1. Wrap tofu in paper towels and press to release fluids. While tofu is pressing create sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, mirin and maple syrup.

2. When fluid is sufficiently removed from tofu, cut into 1/4 inch slices down the short side of the block of tofu. Place slices into sauce, making sure every piece is covered in sauce as much as possible.

3. While tofu soaks, prepare your vegetables. Tofu should soak for a minimum of 10-15 minutes for best flavor. Once the rest of the ingredients are prepared, place the vegetables and a few tablespoons of water into a large skillet over medium heat. Place lid on pan and let vegetables steam, stirring occasionally.

4. Cook the tofu in a separate nonstick pan while vegetables cook. Place pieces of tofu into heated nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook 4-5 minutes per side. Repeat until all pieces are cooked. You can use remaining sauce to flavor vegetables if desired. Pour sauce over steaming vegetables.

5. Serve bowls with a scoop of rice, a large scoop of vegetables and 5-6 slices of tofu.

Vegan Pumpkin Alfredo

Recipes

It’s finally fall and that means all the pumpkin flavors you can handle. This recipe may seem surprising, but having used pumpkin purée with pasta before I hoped it would turn out as delicious as it did. The pumpkin gives this pasta dish an undeniable creaminess that won’t have you thinking twice about it being dairy-free.

This recipes does use almond milk, but you could substitute that for any type of dairy substitute you like. I typically have almond milk on hand so I went with that out of convenience. Since this recipe only calls for 1/2 a cup of pumpkin purée, keep in mind that you can save the leftover purée for future recipes like vegan pumpkin bread or muffins.

I love combining pumpkin with garlic. It creates such a surprising flavor combination that will leave even pumpkin-haters in awe. Savory with a tid bit of sweet really makes this pasta dish pop, and I can’t wait to make it again this season. I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Alfredo

4-6 servings of fettuccine cooked and drained (I used gluten free fettuccine for this, but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand)

1/2 cup pumpkin purée (I used canned)

1/2 cup almond milk (or other milk substitute)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/8 tsp nutmeg

2-4 fresh sage leaves (2 for cooking, 2 for garnish if desired)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cornstarch to thicken if needed

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat.

2. Once heated add the garlic and 2 sage leaves. Cook until fragrant about 2 minutes.

3. Add pumpkin purée and stir to combine.

4. Slowly pour in almond milk and mix. Mix in spices.

5. Let simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken sauce. If sauce does not thicken add cornstarch, about 1 tsp at a time to desired consistency.

6. Once the sauce is finished, mix in the cooked pasta. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict

Recipes

I’m calling this recipe a benedict, but really I think it might just be a fancy toast. The main reason for this being that I royally screwed up my hollandaise sauce. But does a benedict have to have sauce? Does a benedict have to have meat? If so, then this is totally not an eggs benedict, although it still feels like one when you’re eating it. I’d like to think that the main components of a proper eggs benedict are the english muffin and the poached egg. I’d like to believe that as long as you have these two components you can mix in whatever other ingredients you like and still have some version of an eggs benedict. And so, with that notion, I give you, Vegetarian Eggs Benedict.

The most difficult part of this recipe is the timing and the cooking of the poached egg. I just started poaching eggs myself as I’ve always been terrified by the process, but it turns out it’s actually quite simple. To begin, I fill a pot of water and place it on the stove to boil. Once it reaches it’s boiling point, I turn down the heat and it’s ready to use. I use a spoon to stir and stir and stir until a small whirlpool-like element is created in the middle of my pot. I then take my egg, which I’ve already cracked into a bowl, and pour it gently into the middle of the whirlpool. This creates the spherical shape of the poached egg. The egg sits for about 3-4 minutes and then gets pulled out with a slotted spoon and rests on a plate to release excess water before adorning my meal. It’s a simple process, but it can take a while to make multiples. I’ve got some plans in the works on how to rectify that, but for now I just make one poached egg at a time.

I like eggs on bread. Something about it just screams breakfast, and this recipe is no different. What makes eggs and bread even better? Avocado. I mean, let’s face it, avocado makes everything better. This recipe also calls for spinach. In other versions of this dish I’ve seen people sautee their spinach. You are more than welcome to do this, however I did not care for the somewhat soggy consistency it created once topped upon my english muffin. I prefer my vegetables to be fresh and crispy. I’d imagine you could use a variety of different greens on this. Spinach is a good option for me because it tastes good and provides an extra nutritional boost to my breakfast/brunch. So without further adieu, let’s give you this recipe.

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict (for two!)

2 english muffins, halved and toasted

4 poached eggs

2 handfuls of spinach

1 tomato, sliced

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all of your ingredients first (ie. slicing, pitting etc.), then start your eggs. Once the eggs are going add your muffins to the toaster. Once they are complete, place the muffin first, then the spinach, tomato, avocado and lastly the egg. Top with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Easy Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos

Recipes

Sometimes I get home from the gym knowing exactly what I want for dinner. This event is rare, but it does happen every so often. The night I made these nachos was one of those times. It was hot, I was tired and lazy and was craving something salty. I started to think about what I had at home to work with and the only thing I could think of was Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef. What could I make with crumbles that would be satisfying and easy? Immediately into my head popped NACHOS. I hadn’t made them at home in a while and that made me wonder why. They can be incredibly filling, easy to make and ready in less than 10 minutes. And so, I headed to the grocery store to buy a few inexpensive ingredients that I knew would combine into a giant plate of nachos that would satisfy my cravings.

One of the best ways to keep a dinner easy is to make the clean up easy. Meals that only require one pan to create are the perfect solution. This nacho recipe only uses one sheet pan, and you can cover it in foil to make clean up even easier. What makes this recipe even better is that you can use any combination of ingredients that you like. My recipe is simply a guideline. I enjoy refried beans with the crumbles since the beans help the crumbles stick to a chip. However, you could totally use whole beans (or both!) if you prefer. I also added corn for a sweet crunchy element and tomatoes with chiles for a spicy kick. You could also make this recipe vegan by using a vegan cheese option. Make sure you purchase one that has a nice melting consistency as that is the best part of eating nachos.

Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos

1 package of meatless crumbles – any brand you desire. If using something that comes frozen, make sure you thaw before cooking in the oven

1 can refried black beans

1 can corn, drained

1 can Rotel, drained

2 cups Mexican style cheese blend

1 bag tortilla chips

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Layer items on foiled sheet pan in this order – chips, beans, crumbles, corn, rotel, cheese.
  3. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted

Seriously, it’s that easy! Enjoy!

Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta

Recipes

During the summer months it can be difficult to know what to make for dinner. The heat can make the thought of any warm meal sound horrible even if it’s delicious. And let’s be honest, we can only eat so many salads for dinner. This is where this Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta comes in. It’s served either at room temperature or cold to avoid raising body temperatures while also giving you a bomb of flavor.

This recipe was super fun for me because the star ingredients were actually harvested from my garden. I love being able to use what I’ve grown to create yummy dinners and love even more that it doesn’t go to waste. For this recipe I harvested fresh basil and a big batch of cherry tomatoes. My basil plant was going crazy and flowering so it was great timing. I also couldn’t believe the size of my cherry tomatoes, they seem huge this year (although I’m not complaining in the least). It’s always a joy to head to the backyard instead of the grocery store for ingredients. I really need to get myself a producing lemon tree as that was one of the only items I had to purchase from the store for this recipe. That and avocados, but avocado trees take SO long to produce and I’m not sure how well it would do in our hot climate. I keep bugging the hubs to build me a greenhouse, but that probably won’t happen until at least the fall when it starts getting a little cooler.

I had some whole grain spaghetti on hand which I thought would be a great addition to this recipe. What’s great about it is that you basically throw everything in a blender or food processor while the pasta cooks and voila! Dinner is served. Simply mix whatever pasta you have on hand with your creamy pesto sauce, top with your favorite fresh veggies and your done. Seriously, it’s so fresh, so delicious and so easy it’s perfect for a summer evening meal. You could also use this with zoodles or other vegetable noodles for a low carb option, or mix it with some cooked quinoa for a protein punch.

I was fortunate enough yesterday to have time to make fresh bread for dinner to go with this pasta. I used my Easy French Bread recipe. It was perfect because I came home from work, started the dough, let it rise while I was at the gym and then was able to come back and finish it up. This pesto sauce is also delicious spread on bread and would be great for sandwiches or toast. I can’t wait for the weekend to have toast with a poached egg on top with this sauce, oh and of course some more tomatoes! I imagine this pesto would also do well on pizza, although I haven’t tried this avocado version like that yet (note to self, must try later). It should be mentioned that if you wanted to leave the avocado out for a lower fat option you totally could. However, keep in mind that the creaminess of this recipe does come from the avocado. If you were to leave it out it would still pack an intense pesto flavor it just would not have the same consistency. Overall, I really love this recipe and can’t wait for my basil plant to grow back so I can harvest more! I hope you enjoy it!

Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta

1 big bunch of basil leaves, washed and packed, about 2 cups

2 avocados

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Cherry tomatoes, quartered – I used about 20, you could also use large tomatoes for this or omit entirely if you don’t like tomatoes

Whole grain spaghetti – or whatever pasta you have on hand

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking add all ingredients except cherry tomatoes and pasta to a blender or a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Once pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse with cold water until you can handle the noodles without burning your hands.
  4. Add pasta to a large bowl and mix in pesto sauce gradually until you reach your desired consistency. Place remaining pesto sauce in a sealed container and place in the fridge for future use.
  5. At this point you can either add the tomatoes and stir them in like I did, or wait to top each individual serving with tomatoes.
  6. Serve with bread and vegan butter.

And there you have it! It’s literally one of the easiest dishes of the summer and tastes so fresh and delicious you’ll be craving it all year. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Vegan Kebabs

Recipes

Spring is finally here! I love the change in the weather because it means that I get to spend more time outside. Not only that, Daylight Savings makes the days longer giving me even more time to enjoy the sun. One of my favorite things about the changing of the seasons is being able to cook outside. Last year my husband and I moved into a new house with a good sized backyard. One of our first new home purchases for spring was a new barbecue. We opted for a gas style to make it faster and easier to use the barbecue whenever we had a craving for cooking outdoors. You can make almost anything on the barbecue, and as a vegetarian it’s great that almost every vegetable tastes better coming from the grill. A simple way to incorporate several of your favorite vegetables at once is the kebab. There are so many different combinations to choose from. Throw on a little bit of vegan sausage and you’ve got yourself a filling and delicious meal that might be more fun to assemble than to eat (who am I kidding, both parts are the best!).

Grilling kebabs is a quick and easy way to have a healthy and delicious meal. You throw all of your ingredients on a skewer and let cook on the grill for only a few minutes. Luckily, my mom bought me a brand new metal skewer set for Christmas. It even came with a rack to place all the skewers on which made them so easy to turn and take off the grill once they were finished. You don’t need metal skewers to make kabobs, but if you buy the wooden skewers there’s a couple things to keep in mind. First, is you need to soak wooden skewers in water. Soak them in water for 10-30 minutes before assembling, otherwise you may end up with a bunch of firey skewers in your barbecue. Trust me, I’ve done this, it’s not as fun as it might sound. The water soaks into the skewers which keeps them from burning on the grill during cooking. Metal skewers are great because they can be used over and over again (hello, sustainability). Remember not to touch them with your bare hands when they are on the grill (yes, I’ve done this too). We use pot holders to turn them or you can use tongs or something else to pick them up to avoid burning your hands.

Kebabs can be made with any combination you like. For this particular recipe, I used the Tofurky Beer Brats, red onion, and a combination of colorful bell peppers. I also put baby bella mushrooms on mine which I thought were extra delicious. Simply cut each item into pieces and layer onto the skewer. The order of the ingredients really doesn’t matter, but it is fun to play with different patterns and hey, it makes for a good photo-op. Other ingredients that would be tasty are pineapple, cherry tomatoes, squash/zucchini, white onions, corn, tofu and shrimp (if you’re pescatarian like me). Kebabs are great as a vegan offering as well because they’re so simple and can use only vegetables if you or your guests prefer. I suppose you could also marinate these if you wanted to. I prefer to let the flavor of the vegetables stand on their own. But to marinate simply soak your cut ingredients in the sauce or marinade of your choice at least 30 minutes before grilling.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I hope it inspires you to have a colorful dinner outdoors! It really is one of my favorite things about this time of year. What are you favorite items on kebabs? And do you have any other yummy recipes for cooking outside?

Vegan Kebabs

1 pack of Tofurky Beer Brats, sliced into about 1.5″ chunks

1/2 red onion, sliced into chunks

1 green bell pepper, sliced into chunks

1 red bell pepper, sliced into chunks

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into chunks

1 orange bell pepper, sliced into chunks

Baby bella mushrooms, I used 10

Olive oil, for drizzling on skewers

Salt and Pepper

  1. Take your chunks of ingredients and layer onto skewers. You can do this in whatever order you like. I did all vegetables, then a piece of sausage or mushroom and then repeated until the skewer was full.
  2. Place finished skewers on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them as well.
  3. Heat up the grill.
  4. Place skewers on the grill and close the grill.
  5. Let them cook for 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables start to blister and brown.
  6. When they are cooked to desired texture, remove from the grill and place back on the baking sheet.
  7. To serve, use a fork to push all ingredients off the skewer.
  8. Serve with a baked potato and a side salad for a filling meal that’s sure to please!
  9. Enjoy!

Until next time!

MelissaRose

Vegetarian Honey Lime Sweet Potato Tacos

Recipes

These honey lime sweet potato tacos are a serious staple in my house. Whenever we have people over and I want to make a vegetarian recipe that will shock and awe my meat-eating friends, these tacos are my go-to. They have the perfect amount of spicy and sweet while also being filling and providing a good source of protein. Need something completely vegan? Easy peasy – substitute the honey for agave and leave out the feta cheese (or use a vegan feta sub). The other great part about this recipe is how easy it is to make as well as clean up. All you need is one large skillet on the stove and a baking sheet which you can line with foil for even easier clean-up.

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This recipe is adapted from Cooking Classy with a few differences. As with some of my other recipes, I often substitute onion powder for the real thing (hubby is not a fan of onions, and let’s be real, dicing them sucks). I also leave the skins on the sweet potatoes for some extra health benefits including extra fiber and potassium (and because I’m lazy). I also don’t take the extra step to heat my corn tortillas in oil on the stove. Usually I just use the microwave, or turn on my gas burner and heat them up directly on the stove. Both options work fine for me and are much easier and less messy than the alternative. I make white rice as a side with salt, cilantro and lime – this is a little Chipotle copycat trick I use fairly often. If you have leftovers from dinner, the sweet potatoes go amazingly on top of the rice as lunch for the next day (heck, I’ve even made that solely for meal prepped lunches). Top it all off with a little cheese. I’ve used cotija and feta interchangeably as they are fairly similar in texture and flavor. I do find the feta cheese to a bit more snappy so I do prefer that one myself, but I know alot of people don’t care for feta so definitely use cotija if you don’t. I’d imagine you could also just use monterey jack if you’re not a fan of smellier cheeses. You can also top these with avocado which is a nice addition. These can be harder to find this time of year even in California. I mean, you can find them, but you bring them home and BAM the next day you’ve got rotten avocados, which to me is the absolute worst.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe. I would definitely recommend using it to impress your meat eating friends. Anyone I’ve ever made these for was super skeptical at first (“sweet potato tacos? say wha?”) but each of them ended up loving the flavor in the end. I think it’s a surprising combination for a fairly standard meal. Don’t forget your favorite Mexican beer and you’ll be on your way to a delicious Taco Tuesday!

Honey Lime Sweet Potato Tacos

2 large sweet potatoes (sometimes called yams), cut into smallish cubes – about 1/2in

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

3 limes, 1 for garnish 2 for juicing

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Olive oil – for drizzling over sweet potatoes, and cooking your garlic, I’d say a few Tbsp at least

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and place diced sweet potatoes on the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil (a couple Tbsp) over the top and season with cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. Toss with hands to coat evenly.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  4. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil to a large skillet and cook minced garlic and onion powder for about a minute.
  5. Once garlic is slightly browned, add the beans, corn, honey and about 2 Tbsp of lime juice (plus salt and pepper to taste). The other lime you can save to slice and squeeze on top of your tacos. Let sit at low while potatoes finish cooking, stirring occasionally.
  6. When the sweet potatoes are finished roasting, remove them from the oven and add to your skillet. Stir to combine.
  7. Add cilantro when you’re ready to serve and stir to combine.
  8. Heat your tortillas however you wish and fill with the sweet potato-bean mixture. Top with your choice of cheese and toppings. Squeeze lime slice over the top to finish.
  9. Crack a beer and sit back and relax with a tasty taco treat!
  10. Enjoy!

Homemade Plain Bagels

Recipes

I am a breakfast fanatic. It is hands down my favorite meal of the day and one of my favorite meals to cook. It’s even more satisfying to make breakfast with breads that I’ve made myself. I’ve used my french bread recipe for french toast, regular toast and avocado toast – all of which were made so much better by having homemade bread. But what’s the next best bread you can get for breakfast? Bagels. You can make bagel sandwiches, toast them and add cream cheese, top them with avocado and tomato and pretty much anything else you can think of! Heck – you can even use bagels for lunch! So when I found this bagel recipe from 2009 on a blog called Sophisticated Gourmet, I knew I had to try it. It ended up being much easier than I expected and the results were delicious. Bonus – not only do they taste great they look so impressive! The first time I made them I was dorkishly proud of myself for having accomplished what I thought might be a total disaster.

Making bagels for the first time was a little terrifying – not gonna lie. Not only is the shaping part a bit daunting, but did you know you have to boil bagels before you bake them? But don’t worry! These are actually super easy to make. I think the hardest part is getting the shape right, but I was able to do it easily on only my second batch. These are also fun because of the combinations of fillings and toppings you can add. So far I’ve used sesame seeds and chia seeds on top and have really loved both. I left out the egg wash mentioned in the original recipe in order to keep these vegan, but if that’s not an issue for you you could always do an egg wash to make a sticky seal for your toppings. I found that adding the toppings after boiling made it sticky enough even if some of the seeds do fall off (doesn’t that happen to all bagels?). The next time I make these I want to try either blueberries or raisins and cinnamon. The original recipe doesn’t say how to do this exactly, but I think I’ll play with it a little bit and post an update if it ends up working.

Like I said before, the most difficult part of this recipe for me was the shaping part, so I wanted to talk a little bit about that. Once you have your dough separated and ready for shaping, you want to make sure you do it on an unfloured surface. I used flour my first batch when trying to roll “perfect dough balls” and quickly realized I made a mistake. The extra flour actually made it more difficult to remove the creases and folds. Roll the dough balls on a clean, unfloured surface to make sure you can get good smooth textures on your dough balls. I found that creating little round loaves first made it easier. Do this by slightly flattening out each peach of dough and then folding and pinching the edges underneath. This will give you a rounded top with all the seams on the bottom. Then you can roll the seamed bottom on the counter top lightly with your hand to smooth it out as much as possible. I went to Youtube and looked up “how to roll out dough balls” and that helped me, but maybe it’s not as difficult for other people. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the recipe.

First ever batch of bagels

Plain Bagels

1 packet of active yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)

1 1/2 Tbsp of sugar

1 1/4 cups of warm water, split into 3 parts – 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup

3 1/2 cup bread flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

Toppings – you can really put whatever you want on top, I used sesame seeds and chia seeds

  1. Add the yeast and the sugar to 1/2 cup of warm water and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. At the end of 5 minutes, stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. While the yeast mixture sits, combine your bread flour and salt in a large bowl and create a well in the middle.
  3. Once yeast mixture is foamy, pour into the well in the flour along with an additional 1/3 cup of warm water.
  4. Using a stand mixer and a bread hook, mix ingredients together slowly adding remaining 1/4 cup of warm water until a firm but somewhat sticky ball of dough forms in the bowl.
  5. Once dough is form, use the stand mixer to knead for about 5-7 minutes. You want a firm dough at the end.
  6. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with damp paper towels. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. After 1 hour, punch dough down and let rise another 10 minutes.
  8. Once dough has risen, separate into 8 equal parts. You can use a scale for this, but I just estimate it by sight.
  9. Roll each section into dough balls. You want these as smooth as possible on top. Once you have all your dough balls set out, cover a finger in flour and press through the center of each ball to create a hole. You want the holes to be fairly large as they will shrink quite a bit in the next rise and when they back in the oven.
  10. Once all of your dough balls look like little raw bagels, let rise for another 10 minutes on a baking sheet (covered in another damp paper towel, or I use the same one from earlier).
  11. While the bagels are rising, bring a large pot of water to boil and preheat your oven to 425°F.
  12. Once the bagels are done rising, turn down the heat on your boiling water and gently place each one into the water using a slotted spoon. You can do these one at a time or do as many as you feel comfortable at one time. I do batches of 4. Boil each side for 1-2 minutes. The longer you boil, the chewier the texture of your bagels will be.
  13. After you’ve boiled each side, place them back onto you baking sheet and add desired toppings. Make sure they are still a bit soggy when you do this so that the toppings will stick.
  14. Place bagels in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  15. Once completely baked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
  16. Pat yourself on the back because you just made your own bagels. Take that Noah!
  17. Enjoy!

Easy Salmon Foil Packets with Wild Rice

Recipes

I decided about 3 years ago now to stop eating poultry, beef and pork. Much of my decision was based on how the meat industry works as whole, but another huge factor is my love for animals. I grew up having chickens, pigs, cows, goats and other farm type animals. I knew that each one had personalities of their own not unlike our beloved house pets. And if I’m really being honest with myself, I never really enjoyed eating meat anyway. I didn’t go full vegetarian however, I decided that I would still allow myself to eat fish. This makes it a bit easier when making food at home, since my husband does still eat meat when we go out. Seafood also doesn’t make me feel like garbage after I eat it and I always try to purchase fish that is sustainable. This salmon foil packet recipe is one of my go-tos because it’s easy to make, tastes great and presents as a meal that takes way more effort than it actually does.

Foil packet meals are a great way to make an impressive meal with little effort and very little clean up. You simple put your ingredients into foil then place on a baking sheet also lined with foil. This means that when dinner is over, you’re able to toss the foil into recycling and all you’re left with is the dishes you ate on (and the pot you cook the rice in if you decide to do so). When purchasing your salmon, be sure to look for the sustainable sticker and try and get the kind that does not have color added whenever possible. I find that these packets of fish taste fresher and are of course cleaner since no chemicals are added to enhance the color. Asparagus is a great option in the winter months as it is in season, but you can always substitute your other favorite vegetables later in the year. The winter months are also a great time to make this dish since fresh lemons are usually readily available.

The seasoning I use on this fish was purchased from my local farmers market from a company called The Herban Wild. This particular recipe uses their Herban Provence which contains organic non-GMO ingredients directly from the owners’ home garden. The most surprising and delicious ingredient to this mix in my opinion is the lavender. I had never cooked with lavender before using this spice blend, but I love the way it goes with the fish and provides a fresh but aromatic flavor to the salmon. You can check them and all their products out on their website linked above. I’d also recommend taking a look at their loose leaf teas and lotion bars. If you don’t have this spice mix, I’d recommend using a mixture of thyme, oregano, lavender and marjoram and of course salt and pepper. You could also always forgo this mixture altogether and just use the trusty salt and pepper shakers. Unfortunately, when I made this recipe last night, my lemons (that I got from a neighbor) actually ended up being unripe grapefruits, so I left them out this time which you can also do if you don’t have them available. But I do recommend using them if you can get your hands on them. Other vegetable options I’ve tried are broccoli, green beans and various squashes. Simply adjust your cooking time for whatever you’re substituting. You can always pull the packets out of the oven and give them a quick peek for done-ness.

The wild rice side in this recipe has become one of my new favorite pairings as of late. It’s a tasty and simple side that doesn’t compete too much with the flavors of the salmon or the asparagus. It’s also fairly easy to make (as rice usually is) and gives an even more impressive look when compared to the white or brown rice alternatives. If you don’t have wild rice, you can always use white or brown with a little bit of butter, or you can substitute this side altogether with your favorite side dish. Some others we like in our house are mashed red potatoes, roasted red potatoes (which you can cook on the same baking sheet as the foil packets) or pasta noodles with garlic and butter. Each is a delicious and fairly easy option for this meal. Also, I apologize for the sub-par photos. I only realized the next morning that I had only taken video for my instagram and didn’t really get any appetizing photos (sad face). I’ll include the videos to hopefully shed a better light on this dish. Let’s get into the recipe. (This recipe serves two people.)

Easy Salmon Foil Packets with Wild Rice

2 8oz salmon filets, thawed (skin and bones removed, if applicable)

1-2 lemons, sliced thinly

20 stalks of asparagus, washed and trimmed

Herban Provence spice blend form The Herban Wild

1 cup of wild rice

1 3/4 cup water

2 Tbsp butter

Olive oil, to drizzle on salmon and asparagus before cooking

  1. Make wild rice according to package directions. Mine requires 1 cup of rice, 1 3/4 cup of water and 1 Tbsp of butter. While rice is cooking, prepare the foil packets. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and pull two more pieces of foil for packets. I usually pull about an 8″ square piece to make sure they are large enough to fold over the ingredients.
  3. Lay the prepared asparagus in the foil squares, 10 each, and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay prepared salmon filets over the asparagus and drizzle with olive oil. Season with spice blend and salt and pepper. Lay sliced lemons on top, I usually use about 3 slices per packet.
  5. Fold packets up so that you can pinch the tops of the foil over the top of your ingredients. Seal all edges so the juices won’t leak out and lay on top of your foil lined baking sheet.
  6. Once oven is preheated, bake salmon for 15-20 minutes, checking for done-ness. You want the fish to be opaque and flaky. If you check the salmon, simply open the packets and check with a fork. If they’re not done, reseal the packets and place in the oven for another 5 minutes or so.
  7. Once everything is cooked, place a spoonful of rice on a plate and top with 1/2 Tbsp of butter, season with salt and pepper. Lay the asparagus and salmon filets on top of the rice. Sit back and relish in your beautiful masterpiece before eating. This pairs lovely with a crisp, chilled chardonnay.
  8. Enjoy!

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Recipes

I love to cook. I find it relaxing, methodic in a way and of course, I love to eat. About a year ago, I had fallen into a slump. I felt like I was cooking the same recipes again and again, and felt like I needed to mix things up a bit. I tried looking on Pinterest and saving anything that piqued my interest, but felt like even then I was pinning all the same things. In other words, I was very uninspired. So, I tried one of those meal service kits – Blue Apron (not sponsored). The first few weeks were great because as a new customer I was able to get a screaming deal to sign up. The meal boxes were new and fun. I’d come home after work to find a large box full of goodies on my doorstep just waiting to be cooked into something delicious. Having my meals planned and ingredients at the ready was a great way to become re-inspired and to cook things I may have never considered before. It also gave me the ability to think outside the box (no pun intended) when it comes to my ingredients and the endless combinations you can create. This grilled cheese recipe is from one of those first boxes.

Now of course, making this now on my own, I don’t follow the recipe card exactly. I purchase the most expensive cheeses I can find, and have even substituted some ingredients when these particular ones aren’t readily available. However, this recipe is fully inspired if not copied by that Blue Apron meal kit, so I thought it necessary to include that information.

This grilled cheese is like nothing you’ve ever eaten before. Well, maybe you have, I can’t say for sure, but I know it was a combination of ingredients I had never considered before. Sweet peppers and fig spread? Say wha? But let me tell you, this sandwich is SO incredibly satisfying. It pairs well with a good tomato bisque (which I will post about the next time I make it), or is great with a green salad. The richness of the cheese is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the spread and the balsamic vinegar lends an interesting kick to the overall flavor. I recommend using the sweet peppers as stated in the recipe, but you could also substitute for bell peppers if you don’t have sweet peppers available to you. I can’t wait to try other cheeses and ingredients as well. I think my next grown up grilled cheese will have bri and apples on sourdough – YUM – but that’s for another day. For now, let’s get into this delightful take on a grown up grilled cheese.

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

(Ingredients listed are for two sandwiches)

4 pieces of sourdough bread (I like the big pieces that come in the rounds from San Luis Sourdough)

8 mini sweet peppers

Fontina cheese (you want about 4 slices per sandwich, my grocery store sells this by the pound, so I usually get a small wedge and eat whatever is leftover as a snack)

Gouda cheese (see note above about cheese, you also want about 4 slices of this per sandwich)

2 Tbsp fig spread

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

Olive oil, for cooking the peppers and sandwiches (you could also use margarine or butter for this)

  1. Begin by slicing your peppers and cheese into thin pieces.
  2. In a small pan, heat about 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once warm, add the peppers. Cook until slightly softened, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Once the peppers are finished cooking, add the balsamic vinegar and turn off the heat. Stir to coat the peppers and be careful as the liquid you just added may splatter. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Pull the peppers out of the pan and put aside. Wipe the pan out with a damp paper towel (careful because it’s hot) and return to the stove.
  5. Assemble your sandwiches in this order – bread, spread, peppers cheese, salt and pepper, bread.
  6. Return to your pan and heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat (you could also cook these the old fashioned way with some butter or margarine placed directly on the bread, I find that the olive oil lends a good flavor to the sandwich).
  7. Once the oil is heated, place your sandwich in the pan. Cook until the bread is a golden brown (or however you like your grilled cheese cooked) and flip to repeat on the other side.
  8. Once sandwich is cooked to your liking, remove the pan and serve immediately.
  9. Enjoy!