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Tag Archives: Sauce

Grad School Gourmet: Bean-y Bruschetta (Vegan!)

1 Sep

So I had the privilege to meet dear, sweet blog reader Brenda before she moved away — but I got the most adorable text message from her yesterday saying she made the baked beans (one of my most popular recipes) and loved them, and when the heck am I going to post more recipes?! Well, she said it a lot cuter and nicer than that. <3 Sure, I’ve been super busy, but y’know, the time has come!

Truth is, the BFF Manfriend has been doing 90% of the cooking lately, while I’ve been scrambling. And I don’t mean eggs. In fact, this meal was inspired by the man himself. And his version actually might have been better. Also a true story. I know that you might think, Hey, this has two recipes, it can’t be fast or easy! But I promise – it’s simple, delicious, and can be thrown together in probably fifteen — tops twenty — minutes. I say this with confidence because yesterday I ran to the store down the street, and when I came back, the BFF Manfriend announced dinner was ready. Um. Yes? And you thought the mango heart was sweet.

This the perfect recipe if you (or a generous friend — thanks Ann!) have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden, getting way too ripe on your counter.

The tomatoes are strained of their seeds/juice, cooked down with a little olive oil, and seasoned as a tomato should be — with only salt, pepper, and oregano. The reserved juice and seeds aren’t wasted, though — they are added to lend some piquancy to the other layer of the meal — cooked black beans, which are seasoned with just some salt, pepper, cumin, and a touch of oregano.

Here’s what it looks like when those tomaters are all good and squeezed:

After mashing or blending the bean mixture (the Husband smashes; I blend [lazy]), you spread them on a slice of GF bread, and dollop on a spoonful of Succulent Tomato Topping. With salad on the side, this is an efficient (read: fast), high-protein, nutritious, vegan, and totally delicious meal. I like to think of it as “Grad School Gourmet” — cheap, but with a touch of class. I mean, I used “piquancy” to describe it. That’s not only a GRE word, it’s definitely made the rounds in fine cooking magazines…

NOTE: You do not have to include the strained tomato juices/seeds; feel free to omit the step of adding it to the beans and just dispose of it.

Simple, Succulent Tomato Topping

1.5 TB extra virgin olive oil
5 small to medium-sized tomatoes
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper
1 TB oregano

1) Quarter tomatoes and remove seed pulp/juice (you can just squeeze them or run your fingertip along the seed line to remove). Reserve juice in a separate container.
2) Coarsely chop tomatoes.
3) Warm olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high, and add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and oregano.
4) Stir occasionally to keep from sticking; allow tomatoes to cook down (5-10 minutes).
5) Turn off heat, and, using a spoon or spatula, drain liquid into the container with the other tomato seed pulp/juice. Taste, add more seasoning if necessary.

Makes about 1/2 cup, depending on the size of the tomatoes. It should be enough for about 4 large slices of bread.

Classed-Up Quick Bean Spread

Reserved tomato juice/seeds from recipe above
1 1/4 C prepared black beans (= 1 14.5 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 TB cumin
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper
1/2 t oregano

1) Combine all ingredients in a shallow bowl and mash until combined — OR — place all in a blender and process until desired texture — OR — combine in a bowl and use an immersion blender until desired texture. Taste and adjust spicing accordingly.
2) Spread or pour (depending on consistency) over toast, and cover with Simple Succulent Tomato Topping.

Makes about 1 – 1 1/4 cups — enough to top 4 large slices of bread.

Mmm… Bean-y Bruschetta.

Like I said in the note above, the beans will be thicker if you add less (or no) juice. Also, as always, play with the spicing to your preference! These recipes are so simple that the real gem here is just the method; it’s amazing how easy it can be to just put a little bit of a different spin on something traditional, and end up with deliciousness. This felt like comfort food gone… adult.

What surprise meal successes have you had lately?

Garden Green Goddess Dressing

5 Aug

I’ve never been a huge fan of Green Goddess Dressing. This shocks me, as well, seeing as I love green so much my blood is probably closer to an emerald tinge… (Random nerd question: Did you ever watch Star Trek: The Next Generation? Ok, please don’t stop reading my blog just because I’m weird like this. Anyway, Vulcans have green blood! I can relate. That is all.) For some reason, when I whipped this up, it worked for me, despite my not being keen on most GG varieties. It is tangy, herby, and reminds me a lot of ranch dressing, but without all the…gross stuff. Heh. Plus, it looks quite delicious atop all this colorful bounty our garden can’t stop generating!

If you are harvesting an abundance of herbs from your garden, you can easily substitute fresh basil and/or oregano. In fact, I think perhaps this dressing would really pop with an even more vibrant flavor if you did so! Just use the conversion of 1 tablespoon fresh herb for each teaspoon dried herb. Voila! You’re a fancy cook who uses fresh garden herbs. Don’t you feel classy?


1 small avocado (~1/2-3/4 C diced…these are hard to measure precisely!)
1/2-3/4 C water (start with 1/2 C, add more if thinner consistency desired)
1/4 C chopped fresh parsely
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt (warning: this might be a bit much for non-salt lovers like myself)

1) Add all ingredients except for herbs to a food processor.
2) Process briefly until things have combined, but aren’t perfectly smooth.
3) Add remaining ingredients (herbs). Process until smooth.

We store ours in a small glass mason jar, but it never lasts more than two days, the way we eat! : ) The citric acid from the lemon should keep things tasting nice and fresh for at least a couple days. If you prefer your GG dressing sweetener, simply add a few drops stevia.

P.S. – A trick for keeping your herbs fresh? Place them in a mason jar with just enough water to reach the tips. Keep in the fridge, towards the front (the back gets too cold and could freeze ‘em). Just make sure to trim off the leaves that would be submerged, or they’ll get goopy! If you’re worried it will get too chilly, just place a plastic bag over the top.

This is excellent tossed with a lettuce salad, or used as a healthier ranch dip! I served my first version of this with the Cucumber Lettuce Wraps at a party, and caught one rather reserved, professorly man uncharacteristically and quite enthusiastically maneuver himself across the table to grab the whole jar. He ate at least half of it by himself! Love those moments. I’ve since tweaked this recipe a bit, so hopefully it will send him running, not just awkwardly jogging and reaching, next time…

What kind of salad dressings are your favorite?

I grew up mostly on vinaigrettes, and we never had ranch, so it makes me yack when I even smell it! Never been a ranch fan. Our all-time favorite is the Honey Mustard Poppyseed, but here are more ideas: Apple Cider VinaigretteAsian Peanut Salad Dressing + SauceSummer Grilling Marinade (<– great on salads or as a marinade), and Zesty Italian Dressing.

Asian Peanut Salad Dressing + Dipping Sauce

8 Jul

When I used to go out for sushi on a semi-normal basis, my favorite part wasn’t necessarily the sushi… It was the complementary salad that some of the restaurants I frequented would offer. More specifically, it was the ridiculously delicious peanut dressing that was dolloped on the lettuce leaves. However… the whole “mayo” and “high fructose corny syrup” and “preservative” thang was sort of a turn-off.

Do you want to know something funny? I love lettuce — I will eat it like an apple right off the head, I will chomp on leaves like a rabbit, I will eat a salad without any dressing at all. And I’ll like it. I am not a dressing person… But I also know that I am a freak little different than most people. And since I want to serve healthy food to the people I love, I realize that I’m a lot more persuasive when I serve my veggies with a little somethin’ somethin’ to drench them in. I’m no fool, folks — I am fully cognizant that my friend Joshua comes over to our place to eat solely for the honey mustard poppyseed dressing. Hey, I’m just glad he’s eating a fresh vegetable… those bachelors like to get a little reliant on smoothies and breakfast burritos, from what I hear… (<3 you Joshua!)

When a lovely reader named Brenda asked if I could please post some more dressings (apparently she, too, is hooked on the honey mustard poppyseed), and preferably ones that don’t require a blender, I was more than delighted to oblige. So, here is the first in hopefully a string of successful vegetable-disguising-or-complementing-depending-on-your-perspective dressings! I served an unfortunately water-ed down version of this with the cucumber-wrapped salads (apparently I have sushi on the brain lately, eh?), along with another dressing yet to be published. I tweaked this by eliminating the added water altogether and voila! Perfection. It’s now gone after just one sitting between the Husband and myself. Yes, we like to eat.

The best part? You probably already have all the ingredients, and it takes about 2 minutes total to get everything together, poured, and whipped up. Win!

1/4 C peanut butter
2 Tb agave
1.5 Tb lemon or lime juice (fresh)
1 Tb apple cider vinegar
2 tsp gluten-free tamari (you can sub soy sauce if you eat gluten)

1) Mix all ingredients in a bowl or small glass mason jar. Cover and store in the fridge.

Wow. One step. That’s pretty easy, yes? Not to mention it is crazy healthy! This dressing has a protein punch thanks to the peanut butter, which I don’t think any other variety of salad dressing can boast. It’s also versatile; it would be delicious as a sauce to toss with stir-fry, or pour over whole grains like millet or brown rice (my BFF Manfriend will be coating his pasta with this from now on), or in a number of other delicious scenarios. (Personally, I’ll be eating the salad I just made for these photos. It’s 8am, but I don’t care. It’s awesome. So. Yeah.)

Go nuts with the possibilities! (No pun intended; peanuts are legumes, not nuts…hehe.)

In other news, this weekend, I will be staying up in the mountains with my mom’s side of the family. We get the chance to celebrate my grandma (I called her G-Funk, and yes, she was adorable and loved it) and her life, which ended early this spring. Even though I am saying my final goodbye to one of my best friends (I mean that sincerely), and it will feel strange to be savoring all the things she loved without her, I am so thankful that we get to be together in one of her favorite places, and enjoy nature just as she would have.

What are you doing this weekend?

Have you ever tried the awesomesauce that sushi places serve on salads?

Summer Grilling Marinade

5 Jun

First of all, before you tell me you hate mushrooms, let me tell you a story:

I didn’t used to like mushrooms

My husband didn’t used to like mushrooms.

Kids (in general) didn’t used to like mushrooms.

Guess who’s bringin’ mushrooms back? (Be honest, do you have Justin Timberlake stuck in your head now?)  I threw this dressing together on the fly the other day as we prepared a meal for my in-laws. There was some teasing at the generous amount of mushrooms I had bought, but after they had marinated in this dressing and were served up at the table, even my little one year old nephew was asking for “Mo!” I am taking that as a win. I know the kid loves food, but…hey. A mushroom is a mushroom.

That, and they tasted like pepperoni. In a very vegan way. Or something.

The zucchini we marinated and grilled was delicious as well. We didn’t bother adding the sauce to the onions, as they seem to not soak it up, and are plenty flavorful on their own. You can make these into shish kebabs, broil them, or grill the zucchini in long strips, as we did. (Just try not to engulf them in flames get too much char on them like we did.)

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb red wine vinegar
1 Tb white (regular) vinegar
2 t oregano
2 t basil
2 t garlic powder (I rarely use garlic powder, but it’s better than fresh garlic in this case, for texture and a smoother flavor)
2-3 t dried onions
salt and fresh ground pepper

1) In a bowl, mix the olive oil and vinegars together.
2) Whisk in dry spices, and taste.
3) Add salt, pepper, and more or less of any other ingredient to taste.
3) To use as a marinade, pour into a large bag (or a glass baking dish), and add vegetables. Shake to distribute.
4) Lay bag flat, and flip over after 20-30 minutes. Marinate for 40-60 minutes, if you can.
5) Grill or broil vegetables.

We served these alongside whole grain pasta tossed in homemade pesto (obviously, I didn’t partake of this). I remember one summer we had grilled vegetables for the majority of our dinners each week. It got a little out of control…. Even so, we aren’t sick of it, and grilled veggies are the sure sign that summer has arrived! It’s so easy, there’s just no reason to use that processed bottled stuff that’s filled with preservatives and fillers. This dressing is high-fructose corn syrup, metabulsulfite, and Red #40 free, and tasty to boot! It comes together in less than five minutes — just add veggies and walk away for an hour. Zing.

What’s your go-to summer meal?

Booyah BBQ Socca Pizza

22 May

So… About yesterday. Um. My bad. Things were much crazier than I expected, and it is now 1:30am on Sunday as I get ready to finally put my post up. Yeesh. Long day much? Good thing you’re a forgiving bunch ; )

When I prepared to make the BBQ sauce the other day, I was ruminating over what exactly I would use as a vehicle for carrying this deliciousness into my mouth. Sorry, but BBQ sauce is less of a “complement” to food than a food all on its own in my mind… What can I say? I guess that’s another reason my BFF Manfriend calls me The Sauce Queen. I just love condiments. It’s a weakness.

Anyway, obviously I made some portobello burgers and topped them with this smoky, sweet, tangy nectar of the heavens, but I knew this sauce had potential. It could be so much more than a ketchup-replacement. It just needed the chance to shine. So, what do you think my first stop on the Various Sauce Uses trolley was? My other weakness, of course…


BBQ Socca Pizza.

One ticket to Yum Town, please.

If you want to see some of my other socca friends (aka meals), check out this post, and definitely this post. To learn what socca is and see yet another recipe for it, click here.


1/2 C chickpea flour
1/4 C water (feel free to add more if you want a thinner crust, opposite for thicker. Mine was the consistency of pancake batter.)
Generous salt (salt is the main flavoring, so don’t skimp!)
1-3 Tb extra virgin olive oil for pan
Bring-The-Party-In-Your-B.B.(B.)Q.-sauce sauce
organic or vegan cheese
chopped onion (I prefer red, but only had white for this go)
chopped green pepper

1) Mix water, chickpea flour, and salt together.
2) Heat 1-3 Tb extra virgin olive oil on medium in a large, flat skillet/pan. (I used my beloved small cast iron.)
3) Pour batter into pan, spreading evenly with a fork if needed to achieve consistent height throughout.
4) Let the bottom crisp, and when it is sturdy flip.
5) Let the other side crisp as well, and when the texture is right for you, it’s done! (I like mine crisped nearly to a char in some places, as you might see in the photos… It reminds me of woodfired crusts!)
6) Add sauce and toppings, and place under broiler briefly for melting if needed (watch carefully!)

This is yet another wildly easy, throw-it-together-in-10-minutes-and-devour-in-two kind of meal. It puts traditional BBQ pizzas to shame; and to be frank, I think it might have something to do with the sauce. Why lie?

The best part? This is high-protein (from the garbanzo flour), high-fiber (= super satiating), grain-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and depending on what type of cheese you use, vegan. Unlike other BBQ pizzas, you can name and understand every ingredient in here! I know, right? Best idea ever. (Worst idea ever: take pictures of it in the rain. Photos will not be up to standards. Lo siento.) Just throw some salad on the side and bask in the wonder of your efficient and delectable meal-making. Preferably while watching a Harry Potter marathon with your family, half-heartedly working. (The half-heartedly part wasn’t intentional, but you know how these things go.)

And on that note… Go get your B.B.(B.)Q.-in’ on! Trust me. You will want to have this sauce on hand at all times. It can make anything magical…anything. (I am willing to put my money on the fact that it would even be scrumptious with ice cream. Fact.)

P.S. Props to the commenter who predicted I would slather this on pizza. Total win.

Part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free

Best part of your week/weekend?

Bring-The-Party-In-Your-BBQ-Sauce Sauce (GF + Vegan!)

20 May

One idea that several of you mentioned in the other day’s post confirmed what I had been thinking for the past week or two: barbecue sauce. It is vital for summer fun times. You really do need this tangy condiment for summer shindigs. And, you know…for every day deliciousness. Indeed, the key to our having real meals daily is largely just having appealing sauces and condiments on hand to anchor whatever we happen to throw together. I like to make a few dressings/dips at the beginning of the week so that we don’t “run dry,” either in our ideas, or our resources.We don’t buy condiments like these anymore, which is liberating, and tasty. Making your own food is awesome. This is especially true when one considers what most storebought barbecue sauces have in their ingredient lists — take a glance next time. You might get diabetes just from reading it. (I warned you.) And beyond the HFCS and preservative junkiness, there also tends to be an abundance of gluten. Really? Since when do we need wheat flour and Red 40 to make barbecue sauce? Oy. In the words of my paternal grandmother, “Ay mi! This is why we can’t have nice things!” True that. True. That.

I heart this homemade barbecue sauce because it is so delightfully versatile (as I hope to show you in the coming days). And even though my recipe is a bit longer than usual, seriously do not let that deter you. This sauce is rockin’, and totally simple. I see no reason why it couldn’t also all be dumped into a crockpot and left to do its will. Or my will, rather.

As you can see, I slathered some of this BBQ sauce on our portobello burgers last night. Add a little Daiya or organic cheese. Brace yourself for the win. It was Summer Lovin’ at first bite. <3

1 large can of tomato sauce (29 oz size)
1/2 small can of tomato paste (6 oz size)
1/4 C + 1 Tb apple cider vinegar
1/4 C agave (or honey)
1/4 C non-HFCS ketchup (I used agave-sweetened)
1 Tb onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp molasses
1 tsp paprika
1-2 tsp liquid smoke

1) In a large pot/saucepan, over low heat, add all wet ingredients, except for molasses. Whisk in dry ingredients.
2) Turn heat to medium-low, and stir to keep from making a mess on your ceiling. Increase heat to medium.
3) Keep stirring occasionally, to prevent bottom from scorching. This concentrates and thickens the sauce.
4) Once sauce has thickened to your liking (I made the rest of the meal during this time, ~30-45 min), add molasses.
5) Turn heat to low and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. (You can also turn the burner off, but keep the pan on it.) Use immediately OR:
6) Remove from heat and pour into a clean jar. Keeps in the refrigerator for at least 1 week, but I’d keep mine much longer, if it wouldn’t be eaten so quickly…

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What really “makes” this sauce is the liquid smoke and molasses, so even though I never have those two items on hand, I went ahead and got some (or, in the case of the molasses, used my mom’s still-half-full jar from the early ’90s) for the occasion. It is very much worth it.

The first time I made my own BBQ sauce, I stored it in a mason jar and put a label on that said, “BBBQ Sauce.” I think this illustrates why I like to call this the, “Bring-The-Party-In-Your-BBQ-Sauce Sauce.” Party on friends. Party on.

(If you don’t know that episode/find that funny, I’m sorry. Tell me something else that’s chortle-worthy, and imagine I placed it here instead. Deal. We can still be friends. xoxo)

How do you like your BBQ sauce?

Do you use it on/in anything weird?

Part of Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Best Bangin’ Marinara and Eggplant Faux “Parm”

6 May

Welp, I know this is verrry late, but we like to drag celebrations out in our family ; ) BFF Manfriend’s birthday, as you may know, already passed. And our rule is that you get to eat whatever you like for your big day. He bends the rule and asks for at least three meals, usually… But then again, I love to cook for him (and anyone!) because — as I’ve said countless times — it really is how I show love. His “treat” request? 1) A vegetarian burrito from Chipotle. (Yes, we never eat out — why do you ask?) 2) A big cheese pizza. 3) My Faux Eggplant “Parmesan”. The Faux and quotation mark parts are due to the fact that we don’t eat much cheese, and when we do, it’s always organic (and as ethically sourced as possible) pepper jack. As in…not parmesan. And you know what? It’s about 100,000,000 times better than parmesan. The spice. The not-overpowering-amount-of-cheese. The melt. The perfectly breaded eggplant. The marinara. <– The real bam factor.

This dish is indeed a special treat, because anytime we use eggs or dairy, we try to really appreciate them, and make sure that the animals were treated well. I have been mulling over how to best turn this into a veganized dish; if you have ideas on how to get the breading to stick without egg, do let me know! (Obviously the cheese can simply be subbed with Daiya.)

Best Bangin’ Marinara

3 Tb extra virgin olive oil (feel free to use less if you so desire)
1 onion, diced (I use red)
6 cloves garlic
2 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes and/or chunky tomato sauce
1 1/2 Tb oregano
1 Tb basil
1/2 Tb rosemary
1/2 Tb paprika
salt + coarse ground pepper to taste

1) Heat olive oil in a large pot to medium. Add diced onions, and sprinkle a little salt on them. (Helps to soften them/make ‘em sweat moisture out.) Stir occasionally.
2) Dice garlic cloves. When onions become soft, add garlic.
3) Add spices, stir, and pour in tomatoes.
4) After tomatoes are hot enough to bubble a bit, turn heat to medium low. Stir occasionally, but let it do it’s thang for about 30 minutes.
5) Remove pan from heat, and allow to sit uncovered and cool. (Or set aside to use immediately.)
6) Refrigerate.

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Eggplant Faux  “Parm” with Best Bangin’ Marinara

~2-3 C almond flour
1 t salt +
2 ethically sourced eggs
extra virgin olive oil
bangin’ marinara
organic pepper jack cheese

1) Slice eggplant into ~1/2″ thick rounds. Sprinkle with salt.
2) On a plate, add 1/2 C almond flour, and sprinkle with salt. Stir.
3) Whisk 1 egg in a wide bowl.
4) Heat a pan on medium, adding enough olive oil to cover the bottom.
5) Dip eggplant completely in egg, and transfer to almond flour, covering both sides.
6) Add to pan.
7) Repeat, flipping pieces when underside browns. Remove once both sides are browned.
NOTE: Add only about 1/4 C of almond flour at a time (and don’t forget to salt), as needed. This avoids wasting precious flour.
8 ) Use eggplant slices to cover the bottom of a baking/casserole dish (I used my pyrex; I think it measures 9 x 13).
9) Cover with warmed marinara.
10) Layer leftover slices on top. Cover with marinara again.
11) Shred cheese over top (lightly).
12) Broil carefully to melt cheese.

Also Note –> When I make this, I usually have to wipe out the burned crumbs (unavoidable) a couple times. Don’t worry about it, just carefully wipe the empty pan with a paper towel if it gets burn-y up in your kitch. Add olive oil again and keep truckin’. Totally worth it.

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I’m just going to let the pictures do some talking… (It looks like we used a ton of cheese. Not so.)

We have served this to guests many times, and each time, we hear, “I actually hate eggplant, but this…this is awesome.” And there are never leftovers. Granted, I associate with really nice people… But still. Does it count for anything that BFF Manfriend was fine with not having a cake, so long as he could have this meal?

Methinks perhaps.

What’s your favorite birthday meal?

Mine is usually tapas, so I can cram as many things as possible in, while still calling it “one” meal… Sneaky.

Part of the Pennywise Platter Carnival.

Perfect Pesto — Vegan and Easy

9 Apr

I left you hanging in suspense at the end of this post, didn’t I? Well, I believe it’s with good reason. I know this is perhaps not the most unique of my recipes, but it is simple, made with whole foods, and tastes better than any prepared pesto that has ever graced my tongue. (Does anyone else feel awkward about the word “tongue”? Just me?) Also, it goes from ingredients –> pesto in about 3 minutes. Soo…

I find that having a special condiment on hand that can center a dish helps me to put meals together quickly and effortlessly. That said, if you’re looking to up the gourmet ante on your meal tonight, or quickly throw this together during the weekend so you can have a ready sauce convenient throughout the week, this is your recipe.

Here are some of the numerous ways to use pesto:

- Tossed into pasta
- Spread on toast
- Coating roasted vegetables
- Mixed into salads
- As a marinade
- As a dip (for pita chips, crackers, crudites, or pizza bread)
- Drizzled into soup
- As a sandwich condiment
- Mixed with hummus (but not this kind, heh heh)
- Tossed into any type of grain (millet, rice, etc.)
- Added to lentils
- With white beans
- In broth
- On pizza

Obviously, pesto welcomes experimentation! While most pesto contains expensive pine nuts (last time I looked they were $19/lb, no joke), and parmesan, I have always preferred to make it cheap and vegan ; ) I think you could also make this raw; I believe olive oil is not considered an orthodox raw food, so perhaps just substitute a small amount of avocado or raw oil (coconut?).

1/2 C walnuts
3 cloves garlic
small bunch fresh basil
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

1) Coarsely chop garlic.
2) Add walnuts and garlic to food processor or blender. Process until crumbly.
3) Add basil and process until fairly smooth.
4) Add olive oil, process briefly (just until combined — too much will make the oil bitter), then salt and pepper to taste.

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I made this pesto to be one of three sauce topping for our socca pizzas when we watched the NCAA game this week with our friends. I can’t describe the wonder of this combination. The oil from the pesto gave a delicious crisp texture to the crust, and every bite was a balance of the juicy basil and hearty socca.

The other highlighted sauce was this tapenade – it was actually amazing on the crusts!

Action shots of both types of pizza being prepared, caught thanks to the BFF Manfriend:

What are you up to this weekend? Do you prepare food for the week ahead of time?

Simple + Savory Date Tapenade

5 Apr

My BFF Manfriend lovingly calls me The Sauce Queen. I attribute this to the fact that 1) he doesn’t realize how easy sauces can be, and 2) I make awesome sauces (joke, just wanted to catch you off guard). As you may have guessed already, I love making dips, dressings, sauces, marinades, frostings, condiments… If you can slather it, dunk it, or pour it, it’s my game. Since I posted the Herbed Chickpea CRACK-ers and the Socca Pizza Crust recently, I thought I would go ahead and give you a non-garbanzo bean based topping to use on these delicious vehicles for  sauce — because let’s be real, clearly that is what they are. Hummus was out; that would just be way too much chickpea up in hurr. (And I promised no more bean recipes for while. …Has it been “a while” yet?)

I was dreaming of something salty, with a hint of sweet… vivid but not brazen in flavor and bite. I wanted an element of smoothness. Behold, my dream-come-true: Savory Date Tapenade. I like that the title is an allusion to a really nice night out with a suitor (yep, totally just used the word suitor).

And this date tapenade and I…we really hit it off.

Sorry. Really, really sorry...

[I know you guys come here for my impressive photoediting skills. Also, I am well aware that I have a special strength for making creepy and romantic metaphors using food. It's a gift.]


Anyway. Tapenade is beautifully versatile; it’s delicious with crackers, pita bread/chips, socca, sandwiches, or even — as we ate it last night — on pizza. I was shocked when my BFF Manfriend devoured piece after piece of the tapenade-topped pizza, even matching his zeal for the pesto selection (and that is really saying something). Apparently, it’s good. Like pretty much everything I make, this is highly adaptable. Add more or less of anything for your own unique tastes! This is a tiny bit sweeter than most tapenade, but I love the dimension it adds. As a pizza, this would be exceptional with caramelized onions on top!

1 jar/can/heaping cup black olives (with no ferrous gluconate preservative or coloring)
1 jar/can/heaping cup pitted kalamata olives
1 large clove garlic
2 dates
drizzle of honey
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1) Add 1/2 of both types of olives, dates, and garlic to food processor (or blender).
2) Whir it up until everything is in very small chunks.
3) Add the rest of the ingredients, pulsing until combined (don’t whir it up for too long, or the oil will become bitter).

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That’s it. If you want, add a pinch of rosemary and salt, and swoon with delight.

Don’t worry, that pesto line above was indeed a teaser for a looming post. If you’re on the hunt for a healthy, raw, vegan pesto — I shan’t disappoint (um, hopefully, at least).

Also, I promise no bad drawing or photoshopping tomorrow. < 3


What is your forte in the kitchen? Sauces, cookies, breads, raw desserts, snacks, eating? : )

Raw Zucchini Pasta Salad + Zesty Italian Dressing

4 Apr

I suppose it looks like I subbed my bean obsession with a salad fetish, right? Perhaps I’m trying to balance out some of the treats on here ;  ) Don’t worry, tomorrow will be something different!

I grew up eating a salad every single night. It didn’t matter how many other vegetable dishes we were having; salad has a permanent place on our dinner table. Thus, Italian dressing and I go way back. This dressing need not be relegated only to lettuce, though; it is fantastic as a marinade for just about anything, but especially hearty veggies like portobello mushrooms. I think it is highly grill-worthy for kebabs and such. But, like I said yesterday, I have been craving raw foods lately, as I am getting quite excited about spring. (Oh yeah, and it is snowing as I type this… Colorado, I’m this | | close to facepalming you, and then kicking you in the groin. Love, Katie.) Here’s a quick, light salad to put you in a spring state of mind, whatever your weather conditions. It tastes so similar to the pasta salad my mom used to make during the summer — all it needs are a few olives. Obviously, being made with whole foods (and not bleached white flour noodles or packaged dressing additives), this is also healthier < 3 Win.

P.S. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can simply use a vegetable peeler; your noodles will be fatter (like egg noodles), but still totally delicious.

Zesty Italian Dressing
1 1/2 Tb garlic powder
1 Tb onion powder
1 Tb oregano
1/2 Tb basil
1 t coarse ground pepper (gives it zing, but you can use regular ground pepper, too)
1/2 C vinegar (I used equal amounts of white wine and red wine vinegars)
1/4 extra virgin olive oil

1) Mix dry ingredients.
2) Add vinegar(s), and thoroughly whisk together.
3) Add oil and combine. (Mix vinegar first, if whisked too much the oil will become bitter.)

This is highly adaptable — if it’s too sour, just add more oil or a touch of water, etc.
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Zucchini Noodle Pasta Salad
1 zucchini
1 Roma tomato
Zesty Italian Dressing

Recipe (ish):
1) Spiralize or peel zucchini into noodles/strips.
2) Diced tomato and add to zucchini.
3) Toss with salad dressing to taste.
4) Let sit for a few minutes so that zucchini can absorb flavors.
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Ok, so the pasta salad is more of a method than a recipe… Hence, the “ish”!  It was so good though, I had to share!

In other news, my dear friend Matt at The Athlete’s Plate kindly awarded me The Versatile Blogger Award. Holla holla! Thanks buddy : ) If you haven’t checked out his blog, do — especially if you are interested in learning more about blogging and networking tips; Matt is our (virtual) resident blog tech guru! I have learned so much from him. If you’re not interested in reading 7 random things about yours truly, feel free to peace out now…

The Versatile Blogger Award Rules

– Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them in your post.
- Tell 7 Random facts about yourself.- Pass the award on to new found bloggers.
- Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to and let them know you’ve done so,    and let the giver of your award know you accept it… or not.


Here are 7 random things about me:

1. I broke my tailbone trying to kick my leg over the handle of a shopping cart in middle school. I now have a crooked tailbone.

2. I am studying for a Master’s in Classics (ancient history, not Dickens)…so lots of Greek and Latin goin’ on up in hurr.

3. I have a “thing” for Vincent van Gogh.

4. I ran cross country for a year in college (for the scholarship money, not because I was talented), and nearly shat myself the first 5k I ran. To this day I don’t understand why I had to claw my way up and over 3 prison-height fences to get to a bathroom, but I feel like I should get a medal since it was pretty much an obstacle course.

5. I snort when I laugh really hard.

6. I had a brain tumor. (Benign, just in a dangerous place and growing. Don’t worry, it’s gone now!)

7. I feel the most “myself” now than I ever have.

So, in accordance with the “rules,” I hereby offer the Versatile Blogger award to the following bloggers…there’s no pressure to accept this award, bloggers. Just want to give you some props ;  )

Erin @ Big Girl Feats: Erin is, simply put, my bloggie soul mate. (We’re making plans to take this relationship to a whole new level, so…watch out world.) Not only is she hilarious, she also writes about finding balance amidst real things like moving, life transitions, grad school (congrats lady!!!), and cancer. You know, the usual.

Holly @ The Runny Egg: A sweet, fun lady, who I nominate because she really is versatile — you can read about her getting-out-of-debt tips, running, and more!

I wish I could include all the wonderful bloggies out there, but I suspect many of you have already received this award, and, honestly, it’s crazy late here…and I am working on sleeping more, remember?! : ) I would love if you nominated yourself in the comments < 3

Tell me some random facts about yourself!