Monday, July 8, 2013

Pasta Salad Series: Vegan Couscous Salad

Summer!  It is hot as all get out in Houston; summer started for us back in April.  The searing temperatures make me alter my ways of cooking.  Pasta salads are the way I like to roll (and eat) half of the time.  Just make a huge batch and eat it through the week.  Like many savory dishes, like chili, it gets better with time.  I added garbanzo beans to mine to make it a more complete dish, but can be eaten solo.  Here is one that I just threw together with the ingredients that I had.

Serving size: 6-8 people


- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Israeli or regular couscous
- Vegetable broth (follow directions on the box)
- 3-4 raw vegetables of your choice, chopped (I used an orange bell pepper, asparagus and red onion)
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup of garbanzo beans (optional)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (lemon juice would be a great substitute)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


- In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add couscous and stir to toast until they achieve a light brown color.
- Add appropriate amount of vegetable broth (per the directions on box) and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook according to the directions.  DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM YOUR COUSCOUS.  STIR FREQUENTLY OR IT WILL STICK LIKE A MOTHER.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool off slightly.
- In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oregano and honey.  Whisk to blend.  
- Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil while whisking vigorously.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add veggies, parsley and cooled couscous to the dressing.  Toss to combine.  Salt and pepper, if needed.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pasta Salad Series

Summer has arrived.  For some, the temps are just soaring; others have been shvitzing since April (no joke).  Summer means no school, going to the pool, BBQ's/cookouts and parties.  

I have decided to do a series on pasta salads because more than likely, y'all will be attending one or all of the above.  Not that it's ever necessary, but a good guest will bring food; great guests will bring food and alcohol!  In the next coming weeks (like a good blogger would do), I will post a few recipes that you can conquer and confidently bring to a party.  They make great sides and will satisfy most diets (low carb people are missin' out!).  The ones that are on a "diet" will thank you because it's light and refreshing; hosts will thank you for alleviating the pressure of making "one more thing."

Cheers to summer, y'all!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

MUST-TRY Recipe: Whole Spaghetti with Broccoli, Chickpeas and Garlic


Pasta is one of the most versatile and inexpensive foods out there.  Dry or fresh, shaped or not, it's a great go-to food.  For those that don't know, my love for fashion is equivalent for my passion for food.  Pasta is like the perfect black dress.  You can dress it up or just strip it down.   One of my favorite ways to eat pasta is with a few cloves of garlic, freshly shaved parm reg, lemon juice and some really fabulous, sexy extra virgin olive oil (yes, sexy).  Like most "foodies," I like my pasta al dente.  Using little ingredients really help elevate the simplicity of such a modest food.  It can be a side dish or the main star.

I was in search of a new spaghetti recipe that didn't involve a red or white sauce.  When I was cruising Epicurious, I found this recipe for Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Broccoli, Chickpeas and Garlic.  While reading it, my mind raced with alternative ingredients that would suite my palette.  I still followed the directions, but made some minor changes along the way.  I used...

-  Regular pasta (if you're like me, you have boxes upon boxes of dried pasta in your pantry.  Why buy when you can use what you have?).
-  Red pepper flakes to infused my olive oil.
-  Cannelini beans.
-  Fresh broccoli - I cooked the broccoli with the pasta in the last 1.5 minutes of cooking time. 
-  Baby spinach (I had half a carton of it in the fridge, so I wanted to use it up)
-  Sun-dried tomatoes.
-  Fresh squeezed lemon juice for garnish.

I truly enjoyed this dish and my husband was pleasantly surprised.  The beans and extra veggies make it a hearty dish; omnivores will not miss the meat.  Many of the reviews suggested lemon juice, which gave it a nice and fresh tart flavor.  I made this dish again last night, and doubled the amount of baby spinach and used cauliflower instead of broccoli.  It was fantastic! 

I highly encourage you to try this recipe out and to try adding your favorite veggies to it. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Green Naan Pizzas

My name is Lily and I'm obsessed with making naan pizzas.  Plain, whole wheat or roasted garlic - I love it all. 

When my husband decided to cut down his intake of cheese/dairy products, I immediately panicked.  No more pizza?  That ooey-gooey food that makes me salivate and loved by many?  Oh, dear.  That moment motivated me to create a recipe, have pizza, but in a healthier way.  Packing the pizzas with "super greens" with a touch of salty, creamy goat cheese was the ticket to flavor town (I stole that from Guy Fieri)!

I used roasted garlic naan bread (available at many grocery stores) because I love the flavor that it offers to the overall dish.  However, opt for the whole wheat version if you are trying to increase your fiber/whole grain intake.  This dish would also make great appetizers - just cut them smaller.  :)

Serving size (one package usually has two pieces):  2 people or 4 less hungry people.  However, the leftovers are amazing, so you may want to double this if you're enterntaining.

Serving size: one naan per person


-  Olive oil  
-  1-2 packages of naan bread, plain or roasted garlic (number per package differs with each brand)
-  Half an onion, sliced into half moons
-  Any assortment of green veggies.  I used asparagus, zucchini and baby spinach (other yummy alternatives: roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms).
-  One small package of goat cheese
-  Kosher salt
-  Freshly ground black pepper
-  Extra virgin olive oil 


Preheat oven to 450º.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and then add the onions.  Caramelize onions until they are a golden brown.  Transfer onions to a plate.

Repeat the process with the zucchini...

... and the spinach.  After the spinach wilts, season with salt and pepper and then remove the pan from the heat.

For easy clean-up, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the naan.  I typically have to use two cookie sheets (two per pan).  Drizzle olive oil evenly onto the naan.

Arrange the cooked veggies...

... then with the caramelized onions and raw asparagus.  Personally, I enjoy my asparagus "al dente" so that's why I didn't cook them beforehand.

 Crumble the goat cheese sporadically onto the pizzas.  Don't go too crazy - less IS more.  

Bake the pizzas for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown.  Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Leftover "Omelet"

Eggs.  They are a divisive, controversial food that you either love 'em or hate 'em.  They can truly transform into something soft and silky, like Hollandaise sauce.  The whites can be beaten into a frenzy and made into a beautiful meringue.  Vegans may loathe eggs, but I happen to adore them.

Omelets are a great vehicle to use leftovers.  I made a spectacular asparagus, potato and goat cheese naan pizzas the other night and ended up with more toppings than needed.  I got really excited because I knew that those ingredients would make a hearty and satisfying omelet, guaranteed to energize me throughout my busy morning.

Like a broken record, use what you have.  My only advise would be to limit it to four ingredients or less.  Otherwise, you risk making an Denny's size portion (unless that's what you're going for).  

Lastly, if your omelet doesn't come out right, make it into a scramble.  If the thought of making omelets causes you anxiety or makes you want to break out into hives, layer the ingredients atop the eggs and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes, or until it's gold brown.  Ta da!  You have made a frittata!  

Serves 2 people or 1 really hungry/hung over individual (ha ha!)


-  2 whole eggs/one whole egg, two egg whites/three egg whites
-  Choice of "fillings" - I used asparagus, new and purple potatoes, green onions(other yummy alternatives: sharp cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, caramelized onions, bell peppers)
-  Choice of cheese - I used goat and cheddar.
-  Kosher salt
-  Freshly ground black pepper
-  3 tsps olive oil


Heat the olive oil in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add all veggies to the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for five minutes or until they achieve a nice gold brown (my potatoes were already cooked from the night before, so it didn't take much time to heat them through).  Transfer them to a plate and set aside.  Return the pan to the stove and lower the heat to medium-low.

In a bowl, scramble the eggs until they are nice and frothy.  Season with a small pinch of kosher salt and add to the pan.  I like to agitate them in the beginning, but then stop all together so the eggs form a nice crust on the other side.  Add a tablespoon of shredded cheese you wish.

Add your cooked veggies in a single layer on top of the eggs.  Top off with goat cheese.

Grab the handle of the pan, palm up/pinky finger closest to the pan (this grip will allow you to "flip" the eggs over on themselves, thus creating a beautiful omelet).  Now slowly slide your omelet onto the plate and about half-way on, use the pan to gently fold the omelet over.   Garnish with some fresh parsley or green onions.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

MUST-TRY Recipe: Vegan BBQ Eggplant Tacos

My initial intention for this blog was to display my own original recipes.  However, I have discovered a recipe that was so delicious, that I had to share it!  If y'all like this, I can make this a reoccurring event.  :)

In my household, I am the cook.  "What would you like to eat?"  is a question that I throw at my husband more often than not.  I do this because I like to prepare ahead of time (Personally, I prefer to grocery shop throughout the week, only buying the items that I need for that evening's meal.  This way, I feel that I don't waste and food and the ingredients are "fresh."  When I was eating meat, sometimes I would forget about the meat that we had purchased and it would go bad before I could use it: $6-8 down the drain). 

Anyways, my husband proposed tacos for dinner one night.  Now, I would've just made them with a variety of mushrooms, but he happens to detest them (as much as I dislike lima beans.  Eck).  My Google search lead me to BBQ Eggplant Tacos by Veggie with a Cause.  The pictures looked amazing, the reviews were encouraging so I gave it a whirl.  OH. MY. GRACIOUS.  This dish encompasses everything that I love: hot and cold (termperature-wise), soft and crispy, savory and sweet.  I could feel my taste buds dance all about whenever I took a bite of these mouth-watering tacos.

I did make a few adjustments.  In lieu of fennel, I used a pre-made coleslaw mix and used the dressing in the recipe (not a fan of the licorice/anise flavor of fennel).  I also used thinly sliced fresh pineapple and avocado instead of the peach chutney (peaches aren't in season here).  Pair this meal with a beer or a glass of your favorite wine and you'll be as happy as a clam. 

Check our her site.  She has so many inspirational and delicious recipes to share.  Please remember to share your thoughts with her if you do decide to try it out.

Happy Eating, y'all!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Grilled Vegetables and Bean Quesadillas

Tex-Mex.  Mexican.  Taco Bell.  Whatever you may call it, Mexican or Mexican-inspired food is quite the rage.  In Houston, you can't swing a dead cat by its tail without hitting a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant.  What I find infuriating about most of them is that their quesadillas are less than desirable.  They're flavorless and doused in grease.  BLEH!!!!!  I know that I can build a better quesadillas than that!

If you haven't read my other blogs, this recipe will be easy.  Too easy.  In the words of Sandra Lee from the FoodNetwork, "it's semi-homemade."  If you're feeling overly ambitious, you can make your own re-fried beans and tortillas (hats off to the latter half!).  Though I would love to partake in those activities, I just settle on the ones I can get from the grocery store.  Don't judge me - I'm a busy lady!

I don't like my quesadillas spicy, but I'm sure they would be tasty with some fresh jalapeños.  :)

Serves 2 or 4 less hungry people


-  Two flour tortillas
-  2-3 large spoonfuls of refried beans
-  Your choice of cheese.  I like the "Authentic Mexican" Kroger brand
-  2 small zucchinis, julienned
-  Half a red onion, sliced
-  1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
-  Olive oil
-  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-  Salsa of your choice


Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with olive oil.

Add the julienned zucchini and sliced onions to the pan and season with a little salt and pepper.  Sauté until golden brown.  Remove from heat and transfer to a clean vessel.  Wipe the pan clean.

Spread a spoonful or two of refried beans onto one side of a tortilla.  Top some of the zucchini and onion mixture, cheese and fresh cilantro.  Repeat with the remaining tortilla.  Note:  Do not over fill your quesadilla or it won't fold nicely.  Less is more.

Fold the tortilla in half and place it a dry pan over medium heat.  The tortillas will remain folded once the cheese melts, so you may have to babysit them a little.  Flip them over once the other side is toasty and golden brown.  Remove from the heat, slice in half and serve with your favorite salsa (store-bought or homemade).