spinach mango smoothie

Spinach Mango Smoothie

Need a quick smoothie? Want a really quick recipe? Got some spinach, a mango, a banana, and some milk chillin’ in your kitchen? Want one of those green smoothies that doesn’t taste like a bunch of pulverized plants but contains all of that Vitamin K and whatever other cool vitamins and minerals reside within those spinach leaves?

spinach mango smoothie

BOOM.

spinach mango smoothie

Nothing too sleek, nothing too fancy. This is just a good ol’ smoothie to sip on. Who doesn’t love a simple recipe?

Spinach Mango Smoothie
(Serves 1)

Ingredients:

– 1 banana, peeled and frozen
– 1 mango, diced
– Handful (approximately 1 & 1/2 cups) baby spinach, washed
– 1/2 milk (dairy or non-dairy)

Directions:

1.) Add all ingredients to blender; blend until smooth. Pout into a large glass. Sip on that sweet stuff.

vegan avocado cilantro sauce

Vegan Avocado Cilantro Sauce

As of late, I have turned to the magical Florida Avocado over its Haas counterpart. What’s my main reasoning? Well, honestly, my local C-Town supermarket has dozens upon dozens of Haas avocados in stock, all of them constantly hard as rocks. When I go grocery shopping after work, I want a ripe avocado, not an avocado that, if thrown at someone’s head, is hard enough to give them a nice concussion.

When it comes to being always perfectly ripe, a Florida avocado has never let me down. They are easily three to four times the size of your average Haas, and they are great when making an avocado-based recipe en masse.

Behold, my Vegan Avocado Cilantro Sauce!

vegan avocado cilantro sauce

One Florida Avocado is enough to help yield about two cups of this wonderful sauce. It’s so creamy, you’ll think there is yogurt or dairy in it. Nope! It’s absolutely plant-based!

What is great about this sauce is its versatility, no matter what your diet prefrences are. I have tossed zoodles in it. I have topped Triscuits with it.  I’ve put it on pan-fried chicken breasts. I have drizzled it on my soft-boiled eggs. It’s always a nice condiment to keep in your fridge, and I find its shelf life can be up to three days! Just think of all of the ways you can use it between now and then…

Honestly, the next few photos are just an excuse for me to inject some #yolkporn into your day. Ha! Though, I must admit, this sauce is great with soft-boiled eggs and cilantro. If that’s up your alley, I suggest you give it a try.

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Vegan Avocado Cilantro Sauce
(Yields roughly 2 cups)

Ingredients:

– 1 Florida Avocado, peeled, pit removed, and roughly chopped
– 1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
– Small handful of cilantro, washed and de-stemmed
– 1/4 cold water
– Juice of 1/2 lemon

Before We Get Started…

– Honestly, I have never made this recipe with anything other than a Florida avocado. I would guess that, in lieu, two ripe Haas avocados would be an appropriate substitute if you can not find a Florida avocado.

– Add more water if necessary if sauce is too thick, one tablespoon at a time.

– Though this is a recipe about avocados, I feel that I’ve used the word “avocado” too much in this post. For that, I apologize. Ha!

Directions:

1.) Add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender. Combine until smooth. The sauce should hold some thickness, but be easily pourable. If not using immediately, refrigerate. This will keep up to three days in the fridge.

curried vegetable ramen

Curried Vegetable Ramen with Soft-Boiled Egg

Have you ever been extremely well prepared when going to the grocery store, list of ingredients and recipes in hand, and then you get to the store and have a total panic attack over what to get?

Oh, god, it’s just me, isn’t it?

That was me last night. I spent my lunch break yesterday thinking of ideas for dinner and lunches for the rest of my work week. Maybe I could cook up some chicken with coconut milk and curry with a side of brown rice and vegetables. Maybe I could roast chicken thighs in the oven with carrots and saute some zucchini. As I walked around the store, I found myself looking at chicken and getting frustrated. I couldn’t find any pieces that looked good. I walked around the vegetable section. Every single container of washed baby spinach was gone. GONE. I went to the fresh spinach section, and the amount of slime on it made me cringe. I went to the Goya section, and all of the coconut milk was gone except the industrial-sized barrels (read: family-sized cans) of it. I started to get frustrated: it was hot. I was tired. I just had to endure a horrible commute home because traffic on 57th Street was tied up due to some moron trying to scale Trump Tower. I JUST WANTED MY DINNER TO COME TOGETHER.

Out of the corner of my eye, on my third return to the vegetable aisle, I spotted some radishes. I don’t know why they clicked, but it did. “That might be good with some ramen noodles,” I thought.

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Well…

I got home with my radishes and 19¢ package of ramen noodles, found some chicken broth and frozen spinach, and ended up being complete placated about 30 minutes later as I ate my impromptu creation.

curried vegetable ramen

P.S.: How great are these blue eggs I found? I used minimal photo editing to enhance the color of the yolks, too. They really were that brilliant.

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curried vegetable ramen

Curried Vegetable Ramen with Soft-Boiled Egg
(Serves 1)

Ingredients:

– 1 package ramen noodles, flavor packet discarded
– 2 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegan version)
– 1 tablespoon curry powder (I use Jamaican style)
– 1/4 cup frozen spinach or 1/2 cup spinach, washed and finely chopped
– 1 – 2 radishes, rinsed and sliced (I used just one for these photos)
– 1 soft-boiled egg (omit for vegan version)

Before We Get Started…

This meal, as stated in the ingredient notes, can be made vegan. Substitute vegetable broth or water for chicken broth and omit the egg. See Step #3 under Directions for egg substitutes.

Directions:

1.) In a medium sauce pan, bring broth to a slow boil; add curry powder and stir. Add ramen noodles and cook for 3 minutes or until separated and softened. Add spinach and stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

2.) To make soft-boiled egg, fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add egg and time for 6 – 7 minutes; do not cook longer than 7 minutes! Keep an eye on that clock!

3.) Transfer noodles and broth to large bowl. Top with sliced radish and egg; substitute additional vegetables / mushrooms of your choice in lieu of egg if making a vegan version.

curried vegetable ramen

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Ravioli with Peas & Garlic

Is it odd that, because I cook so much for myself, that I feel an odd pang of guilt whenever I take a shortcut? I have bypassed store-bought gnocchi so many times; though homemade is supreme, the time it takes to create it is longer than what it takes one to cut open a package of Bertolli and plop into boiling water for three minutes. That being said…I’ve made my own gnocchi more time than I’ve bought it. It’s always a fun project, but not applicable to when you want a heartier and quick pasta dish at the end of a long work day.

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Okay, I’m learning to get over it. Haaa.

I used to hate tortellini and ravioli as a kid; it had more to do with the preparation of it than the pasta itself. I still shudder at the thought of overcooked tortellini swimming in a pond of watery Ragù topped with clumpy Kraft Parmesan cheese. I’ve always been turned off by odd textures, and that combination ranked high on my list of most hated. Well, I find that I enjoy ravioli best when dressed simply with a light coating of butter or oil, and the more vegetables (and cheese!), the better. Any vegetable you want will do. That being said: all hail frozen peas! They’ve bulked up many meals of mine, and here, the tradition continues. I love keeping them in my fridge when I just need a little extra something.

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If you’re vegan, substitute oil for butter, ditch the Parmesan, and use vegan-friendly ravioli. Amp up the garlic to keep that good flavor burst!

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Ravioli with Peas & Garlic
(Serves 3)

Ingredients:

– 12 ounce package ravioli, fresh or frozen
– 8 ounces frozen peas, dethawed
– 4 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted or 2 tablespoons olive oil (I prefer using butter in this recipe)
– Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) In a small pan, heat butter or olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add garlic and cook for approximately 1 minute or until soft and fragrant; do not let garlic brown. Remove pan from heat and set aside; do not discard butter or oil! This will be used when tossing the pasta.

2.) In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add ravioli and boil for two minutes or according to package’s directions. Drain and return to large pot. Immediately toss with garlic butter mixture, peas, and Parmesan. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately, topping with more Parmesan, if desired.

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ricotta stuffed squash blossoms

Herbed Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Trust me. It’s not strange to eat a flower. I mean, we eat plants. We eat leaves. We eat nasty fungus that grows out of the ground. (Well, some of us do. I’m no mushroom lover. I stand by my statement.) Why not eat a flower? I grew up eating grape leaves and vines that grew in my neighbor’s side yard. When I was little, my father played on a volleyball team at his friend’s house; all of us kids used to run through the woods and eat the wild honeysuckle flowers we found while are parents practiced, and here I am to tell the tale: I survived!

Goodness knows I eat my share of zucchini. Why not eat all parts of it?

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Admittedly, I did not know the glory of the squash blossom until two years ago. After completing my Master’s degree, one of my aunts took me out for a celebratory dinner at Felidia. Indeed, said blossoms were filled with a decadent ricotta mix and fried up, tempura style. It was such a simple appetizer, yet, it absolutely blew my mind that at time. Since that point, I’ve became that hip Millennial that feels the urge to look for squash blossoms at every farmers’ market I go to. (Along with kohlrabi and watermelon radishes, of course…) Nine out of ten times…I won’t find any. However, I’ll hit that right farmers’ market on the right day in the end of July or beginning of August, and I’ll hit the mother load.

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As with most things in the culinary world, stuffing something with cheese then frying it in copious amounts of oil makes it better.

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Flowers, clearly, do not escape this proclamation.

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Herbed Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
(Based on the Bon Appetit recipe for Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms)
(Makes 8 blossoms)

Ingredients:

– 8 oz. ricotta
– 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
– 2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice, finely minced (for this recipe’s photos, I used 1 tablespoon fresh dill and 1 tablespoon fresh basil)
– 8 squash blossoms, stamens removed (See Before We Get Started…)
– 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
– 2 large eggs
– 1/4 cup olive oil, for frying
– Salt & Pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– The stamens must be removed from the blossoms prior to cooking. If we can mentally go back to our respective 4th grade sciences classes, the stamen, in laymen’s terms, is the part that sticks out in the center of the flower. To remove the stamens from your blossoms, take great care to spread the blossoms’ pedals apart, reach in with your thumb and forefinger, and gently pinch them out. Gently rinse them with cold water for a moment, making sure to remove excess dirt or pollen. (Though, certainly, a little of each likely won’t kill ya.) Place them on a paper towel to rest until it’s time to stuff them.

– If you don’t have a piping bag, use a plain ol’ resealable plastic bag. After filling the bag with the ricotta mixture, craft a piping tip by cutting off a small corner of the bag. To fill blossoms, gently apply pressure to the bag while slowing squeezing mixture out.

Directions:

1.) In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, Parmesan, and herbs; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2.) Transfer the ricotta cheese mixture to a piping bag or resealable plastic bag. (See Before We Get Started...) Pipe mixture into cleaned squash blossoms.

3.) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While oil is heating, place breadcrumbs in a baking dish or bowl. Lightly beat eggs in another bowl. Dip blossoms in egg, then breadcrumbs.

4.) Gently place blossoms into oil and fry for two minutes, gently flip blossoms, then cook on the other side for an additional two minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels; season with salt.