Monday, July 21, 2014

Recipe ReDux: Bourbon Baked Peaches

It's time for another Recipe ReDux!  It's also time for some celebration!  You see, this week marks The Inventive Vegetarian's third birthday!  I can't believe it's been so long, and I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who has stopped by to read, comment, and say hi.  This experience has gone above and beyond anything I could have imagined.

This month's Recipe ReDux theme is all about using spirits in the kitchen, which I think fits in nicely with our birthday festivities.  So for this month, I decided to make us all a little treat - something that is ridiculously easy to prepare, feels decadent, and is small enough that we can keep it all to ourselves.  I made bourbon baked peaches!

I always associate bourbon and peaches and have used them together many times over the years.  They just balance each other so nicely!  So when I wanted to make a "spirited" and celebratory dish, I immediately thought of bourbon and peaches.  But right now my refrigerator is full of leftovers, so I didn't want to make something big.  Instead, I made a single serving that is more satisfying than a pie or a cobbler could ever be. 

We start with one plain peach.  I'm so lazy, I don't even bother peeling it.  Next we mix together some brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and bourbon, and pour it over our peach.  Stick it under the broiler for 8-10 minutes until everything is starting to brown, and add a scoop of your favorite ice cream.  Voila!  Dessert is served!

How do you celebrate?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Roasted Pineapple Guacamole

Wow….it’s been a very long month for me. Let’s recap, shall we?

After all the graduation festivities from last month calmed down, and after I (sadly) said goodbye to some great friends I’ve made over the last two years, I started scrambling to find a new apartment. Apartment hunting is never fun, but luckily I found one and will be moving there in 2 weeks (yikes!).

Next came the Second Annual Guac Off! I had signed up for this amazing competition way before I realized that my friend’s wedding was actually the same day, at the same time, three hours away. Oops! So I had two friends represent at the competition (THANK YOU LADIES!), but only after throwing a party to determine what guacamole recipe to use. We decided on a roasted pineapple guacamole, following last year’s theme of sweet and savory. Also following last year’s theme, we came in second place for the People’s Choice Award (by only one vote!). At least it was all for an amazing cause.
Arches National Park at sunset right before a crazy thunderstorm

Next up was my road trip in which my friend and I drove nearly 2000 miles in 10 days by taking the most roundabout route from San Francisco to Denver. On the way, we saw multiple amazing sites and national parks, drove into an alarming number of monsoons and thunderstorms, and completely wore ourselves out. It was crazy, incredible, and something I would totally do again in a heart beat.

Then this past Monday (just a day after I got home) I was very excited to host a healthy cooking demonstration in my apartment in which we talked about how to make healthy, fresh meals on the go. Thank you so much to everyone who joined me for that! We made some great recipes, including overnight oats three ways, a number of salads, and a tasty quinoa chickpea stew. I promise to share some of these recipes and strategies on the site at a later date!

Now I’m back to a regular schedule, focusing on things like work and moving, and of course, picking up where I left off on the blog. I’ve been meaning to share my almost award winning guac recipe ever since the competition, but life kind of got in the way. Now I finally have the time!

What I love about this recipe is that the pineapples get even sweeter and juicier when you roast them, and provide a wonderful burst of flavor when mixed in with the more traditional guacamole flavors. This recipe makes 2 avocados worth of guac, though you can always make more or less (we had 40 avocados going into the Guac Off). If you’re already barbecuing outside, leave the oven off and thrown these pineapples on the grill instead. You could also sear them off in a pan or a toaster oven if turning on the broiler is too much heat for you this summer. Whichever way you do it, definitely get a nice caramelization on the pineapple pieces. It’s totally worth it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Big things are happening over here, so we're celebrating!  I graduated last week with a master's degree in nutrition.  The last two years of school have been some of the busiest, most stressful times I can remember, but the truth is, I loved every minute of it.  Nothing has ever convinced me more that going into this field was the right decision.  While the next 8 months are a little up in the air for me, I'm very excited to finally have some free time and not be super stressed out all the time.

To celebrate this accomplishment, we're turning to the season's best produce - strawberries and rhubarb! To be honest, this recipe was mostly inspired by seeing other people posting crisp recipes in their cast iron skillets, so I figured I should give that a try too, right?  I'm not sure if the skillet makes a difference in the taste, but it sure looks pretty!  I also decided to use chia seeds to thicken up the sauce, rather than using a starch, to up the nutrition profile a bit.  Feel free to substitute for corn or tapioca starch, or grind the chia seeds before hand to make them less noticeable in the crisp.

The combination of strawberries and rhubarb is a classic that never goes out of style.  I love combining the two in pies and crisps the few weeks each year that rhubarb is available.  This time, I dabbled with coconut oil in the crisp topping instead of my go-to butter substitute.  I was concerned because I'm not a huge fan of the coconut flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised with how subtle it was in this topping.  I will definitely be using coconut oil more often!

How do you celebrate?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recipe ReDux: Green Tea and Ginger Poached Pears

I need to confess something. I love tea. Like, it verges on addiction. On days that I actually manage to sit in my apartment to study, I brew myself a big pot of green tea and just make my way through it as the day goes on. My absolute favorite is green tea with jasmine. I don’t know what it is about that combination of flavors, but the earthy green tea is so nicely offset by the fragrant jasmine. It’s just the best, most calming thing ever.

Given my obsession with this green stuff, imagine my excitement when I found out that May’s RecipeReDux theme is cooking with tea! I immediately starting thinking about these green matcha cupcakes that have been on my “to make” list forever, or making a chai spiced anything. I started my search for ideas and almost immediately stumbled across this recipe from the Whole Foods website. It combines jasmine green tea and ginger – two of my favorite things! How could I not try it?

It turns out, this combo makes a delicious poaching liquid for the pears. I didn’t bother adding any sugar because pears are already deliciously sweet on their own. The result is a fragrant, slightly spiced, deliciously light dessert for any day of the week. The recipe comes together in a snap and stores nicely in the fridge, too. If you scooped a bit of ice cream on top of your pear, I would totally approve.

How do you take your tea?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Red Roasted Pepper Hummus

For one of my classes this week, we had to do a food demo.  Each group had to create a delicious, heart healthy dish, and be able to demonstrate at least part of it in class before handing out samples (and this is why I love learning about food all day!).  One of my friends in my group immediately suggested a roasted red pepper hummus and sent around a recipe.

Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first.  I should confess here that I've never made hummus before.  Why? Because I've seen too many lumpy versions and had too many delicious store bought or take out recipes to think it was really worth the time and effort of scraping down the bowl a million times.  That, and I have no desire to peel the chickpeas to get a smooth hummus.  I'm sure it does wonders, but I just don't have the time.  Since it was my job to price out the recipe and do the nutrient analysis on it, I decided to make a batch at home to try out the recipe myself.  Due to my lack of a scale for some of the measurements from the original recipe, my version of it differed slightly, as it usually does.  But that's ok because OMG this hummus is good.

With just one little added step of blending the tahini and lemon juice before adding anything else, you can get a smooth, flavor-packed hummus all on your own.  I also think the liquid from the red pepper itself help smooth everything out.  Whatever the reason, this recipe came out perfectly smooth and absolutely delicious. Personally, I plan of pairing this with veggies for a snack, or slathering it on my sandwiches. However you decide to eat it, you should definitely try it out!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Decadent Chocolate Cake

Oh hey.  I've been MIA for a little while.  There's been a lot going on over here.  For starters, I had to go through the most excruciatingly nerve wracking day called Dietetic Internship Match Day. The last 2+ years of my life and school had been leading up to that day. NBD. The good news is, I matched! I’m very happy to announce that I will doing my internship in NYC starting next February. Other than the fact that I have to pack up my life and move to a new city, I’m very excited!

Almost immediately after that came Passover. That always throws a huge wrench in my life. Then the usual stress of realizing that school is in full swing and I AM SO BEHIND OMG HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!

But now things are calmer, I’ve fully recovered, and I’m ready to celebrate. On that note, I bring you the bestest ever chocolate cake!

I will be the first person to admit that I am not a chocolate person. I just find chocolate tends to be a big crowd-pleaser, so that’s what I usually go with for dessert. Plus, if I make a dessert from chocolate, I’m much less likely to devour it all at once.

This chocolate cake came to me from a former coworker back when I was working in DC. I mentioned that I had to make dessert for a dinner the next night and I didn’t know what to make, and my coworker immediately sent me this recipe. It was ridiculously easy to make. You mix all the dry ingredients while the water boils, then mix in the wet ingredients, pop it in the oven, and the whole thing smells like hot chocolate. Amazing.

Granted, I have changed the recipe a bit over the years. I substitute bananas for eggs because I used to be less adventurous with replacing eggs and the banana really works here. I also cut back on the sugar, which helps bring out the chocolate more. One time I was getting ready to make this cake and realized I only had white whole wheat flour, so I used that, and you definitely can’t tell. One time I replaced most of the oil with applesauce, and that worked out well, too. I think this recipe is indestructible. It even freezes and defrosts really well.

This is a simple recipe. You can definitely change things out to make it more complicated, but I’m going to keep it simple here. It takes very little time and effort, and it produces a decadent, moist, chocolate cake to die for every time (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like chocolate!).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Recipe ReDux: Portobello Mushroom Burgers

This past week was finals week for me, and the week before was everything-is-due week, so needless to say, I’ve been a little short on time recently. I’ve learned that I need to meal plan like crazy to avoid spending massive amounts of money each week on what ends up being wholly unsatisfying food. As a result, I’ve been focusing on quick and easy recipes that can be thrown together in minutes (hello peanut butter sandwiches!) and massive casseroles that can feed me for several meals (I made a banging shepherd's pie for a pie-themed Pi Day dinner and ate the leftovers for 4 whole meals!).

The point is, I’ve been trying to keep things simple lately. Simple, wholesome, easy, and stress-free. So when I heard that the Recipe ReDux’s theme this month was “A Play on Patties" I knew that I would be cooking up my favorite burger substitute - portobello mushrooms!

These “burgers” require minimal prep. In the morning, I pour my marinade ingredients into a plastic bag, add the mushroom caps, swish everything around, and stick it in my fridge until I come home for dinner. Easy peasy, right?. The mushrooms need a quick trip to the grill, grill pan, or if you somehow find yourself with neither of these (like me), as cast iron skillet will do the trick.

A few minutes on each side, a few slices of red onion thrown in the pan, a bit of tomato, and a bun are all you need to put together a juicy, delicious, satisfying sandwich. I like to add avocado to mine because, um, it’s avocado. I also put in some arugula for a little bite. A little fresh mozzarella would also be a lovely addition. I assemble the rest of the sandwich while the mushrooms and onions are in the pan and suddenly I have a great dinner ready in just a few minutes.

What I love about using mushrooms here is that it keeps the ingredients whole and simple and really celebrates the vegetables you use. I’ve made veggie burgers in the past, and they’re great, but they require more time, more effort, more tweaking. This recipe is perfect for someone with minimal prep time available.

What’s your favorite patty?