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Posts tagged ‘Vegetables’

Grits with a Twist:  Roasted Veggies & Cheesy Grits

I know what you are thinking.  It is okay.  There are days I can’t believe it either & I wanna know what the hell am I doing putting vegetables in a dish that should contain a protein that runs and jumps.  

Lately, I have been eating less meat.  Truth be told, I feel a whole lot better now that I have consistently eat more vegetables.  I don’t feel sluggish.  I have more energy than I had when I was in college.  I’m kinda liking what I see in the mirror.  My stomach isn’t so flabby.  My legs are shaping pretty good. 

In order to NOT miss meat, I am remixing my own recipes.  My key to eating more vegetables is seasoning.  You can go from Cajun cauliflower to lemon pepper cauliflower by simply changing spices.

This flavor remix is to my Shrimp & Cheesy Grits recipe.  Instead of shrimp, I turned the flavor on an array of roasted vegetables 🙂 and black beans.

Roasted Vegetables

1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Head of Cauliflower
1 Small Green Zucchini
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Pepper
1 teaspoon Onion & Herb Seasoning

ONEPreheat oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
TWOClean veggies & cut into small pieces.
THREEPlace veggies in a bowl.
FOURAdd EVOO & seasonings.
FIVEToss until all veggies are well covered.
SIXPlace veggies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
SEVENRoast veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes or until veggies are browned.

Roasted Veggies

Roasted Veggies

Black Beans

1/2 cup canned vegan black beans rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

ONEAdd oil to a skillet on medium heat.
TWOSauté garlic & shallots until translucent. Be careful to not burn the garlic.
THREEAdd beans to skillet & sauté for about 5 minutes.

Cheesy Grits

1 1/2 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
1 ounce cream cheese
2 cups water (plus a 1/4 cup of water set to the side)
1/2 cup grits

ONEAdd water & grits to medium saucepan.
TWOCook mixture on medium heat.
THREEWhisk mixture to prevent from sticking.
FOURAs mixture thicken, turn heat to low.
FIVEAdd cheese to mixture & continue to stir until all cheese is melted.
NOTEAdd a little extra water if necessary prior to adding the cheese. If grits look dry, add a little bit of water.

Assemble Roasted Veggie & Cheesy Grits with Black Beans

ONEAdd grits to a bowl.
TWOAdd beans.
THREETop with roasted veggies.

Roasted Veggies & Cheesy Grits with Black Beans

Roasted Veggies & Cheesy Grits with Black Beans

Roasted Garlic & Tomato Chunky Salsa: Small Appliance Review

Chips & salsa was my go to snack when I was in undergrad. And if I had a bag of Cool Ranch flavored Doritos and a jar of any medium salsa, life was grand 🙂 Since I had the opportunity to check out Hamilton Beach’s Wave Action Blender, I decided to take it back to the undergrad days and make a delicious tummy pleasing salsa.

Chips & Salsa

Roasted Garlic & Tomato Salsa

I had the opportunity to make a number of recipes. The Wave Action Blender performed above and beyond my expectations when I made smoothies and most dips. In less than 2 minutes, creamy smoothies were ready for me to devour. The 48 ounce glass jar allowed me to blend a week’s worth of smoothies to store in the fridge.

Hamilton Beach Blender

Hamilton Beach Wave Action Blender

My hummus recipe didn’t turn out too well in the Wave Action. I transferred the contents of the unblended chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, smoked ancho chili peppers, and tahini to the food processor to make a smooth hummus without having to add additional oil to the mixture.

The Wave Action Blender is worth sitting on your counter. The beautiful stainless steel base is one reason for you to jazz up your kitchen.

Roasted Garlic & Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
1 pint red cherry tomatoes
5 garlic cloves
pinch of salt
dash of black pepper
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

ONEPreheat oven 250 degrees.
TWOIn a medium bowl, toss all ingredients until tomatoes are well covered with the extra virgin olive oil.
THREESpread the tomatoes out on a lined cookie sheet.
FOURBake for 20 minutes.
FIVEAllow to cool before putting them in a food processor or blender.

Roasted Garlic & Tomato Chunky Salsa

3 cups roasted garlic & tomatoes (recipe above)
1 diced sautéd shallot
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño pepper (optional)
1 pinch salt (optional)
5 to 8 leaves fresh cilantro finely chopped

ONEAdd all ingredients to the blender.
TWOPulse ingredients for about 1 minute. NOTE: The longer you blend the mixture, the smoother the mixture will be.
FOURRefrigerate any leftover, if you have any leftovers.

Chips & Salsa

Savor the Moment

Stay tuned to Facebook or Instagram for your chance to win your own Hamilton Beach Wave Action Blender.

Celebrate the Big Game: Bean & Corn Empanadas

Anyone who knows me, know that I love me some football. In my world, football is the 5th season that occurs between fall and winter. All I can say is that this girl has it honest. I grew up with food & football & family. Sundays were extra special when we sat around the television cheering & chewing.

The Super Bowl is in two weeks. Parties and get to togethers will be held in celebration of the big dance. Chicken wings, chips, cheese dishes, dips, burgers, and ribs re just a few items on the menu. Many of these items are the beginning of the downward spiral to falling off of the New Year’s Resolution healthy eating journey. Also, many of the dishes are not vegetarian friendly.

Eating what’s good for you does not have to be tasteless and boring. These bean & corn empanadas are sure to please vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Bean & Corn Empanadas

2 9-inch pies crusts
1 15-ounce can black or red kidney beans (take your pick) rinsed & drained
1/4 cup frozen broccoli, thawed
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 to 12 fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1 green onion stalk, chopped fine
1 teaspoon oil
small bowl with a little bit of water

ONEPreheat oven on 375 degrees.
TWO oil in skillet on medium heat.
THREEAdd chopped green onion, brocoli, garlic, and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
FOURAllow mixture to cool.
FIVEAdd seasoned broccoli mixture to food processor. Add cilantro and beans.
SIXChop for about 5 to 7 minutes or until thoroughly combined.
SEVENStir in corn.
EIGHTLine cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray if parchment paper isn’t non-stick.
Roll out/flatten pie crust.
NINEUsing a 4-inch circle cookie cutter, cut out circles and place on lined cookie sheets. TIP: If you have scraps, combine them & roll them into a ball. Flattened them with your hand.
TENSpoon mixture onto circles. Be sure to leave room along the edges.
ELEVENFold one side over and press edges.
TWELVEDip fork into bowl of water. Crimp edges of empanadas closed.
THIRTEEN Bake empanadas for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
FOURTEENServe with your favorite dipping sauce or salsa. I served the empanadas with my favorite hoisin sauce.

Bean & Corn Empanadas

Bean & Corn Empanadas

Happy Holidays: Christmas Bruschetta with Garlic Crustinis

I love this time of year. I get to hang out with friends and family. Everyone is full of smiles and holiday happiness. Not to mention, the food is amazing. I want to leave you with this appetizer that is sure to be a hit with meat lovers and vegans alike.

Have your fruit and vegetable tray if you like. But this Chrstmas Bruschetta will impress even the pickiest of eaters. To accompany the bruschetta, you can serve your favorite bread. In order to make this a low carb appetizer and to make this dish vegan friendly, have fresh tomato slices on the side.

Bruschetta & Garlic Crustinis

Christmas Bruschetta w/Garlic Crustinis

Christmas Bruschetta

7 Roma tomatoes
2 green tomatoes
6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

ONEWash and remove seeds & drain juice from tomatoes.
TWODice tomatoes in small pieces.
THREEAdd tomatoes to a bowl alon with remaining ingredients.
FOURToss lightly being careful to not smash the tomatoes.

Garlic Crustinis

1 loaf of French bread
about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
approximate 2 to 4 garlic clove pieces

ONEPreheat oven to 350 degrees.
TWOSlice French bread, making the pieces 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness. NOTE: It is best to cut the bread with a bread knife. Also, cut the pieces about the same size. This will allow for consistent toasting.
THREEBrush or drizzle bread pieces with olive oil on both sides. TIP: If you don’t have a brush, use a plastic bottle dispenser used for ketchup or mustard. This way you have better control over the amount of oil used.
FOURPlace on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
FIVEBake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
SIXAllow to cool for 5 minutes.
SEVENRub crustinis with garlic cloves until well covered.

I Learned Something New: Kachumbari

A few weeks ago, one of my awesome sister friends celebrated her birthday with great people and great food. One of those awesome dishes was an African dish, named kachumbari. If made with the freshest ingredients, this dish will sure to be a hit. We diced onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers. Cilantro was diced and limes were juiced. As you have read, the ingredients put you in the mind of pico de gallo. This African dish is packed with veggies when cucumbers and green peppers are added. Cucumbers gives this dish a refreshing taste.



I cheated and added an extra vegetable. I added green zucchini to my kachumbari. This delectable dish is awesome with your favorite tortilla chips or rice.


3 large red tomatoes NOTE: I used large plum tomatoes.
1 cucumber
1 green pepper
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 green zucchini (optional)
2 scotch bonnet peppers (optional, if you like spicy food)
Juice from 1 lime

ONEDice tomatoes. Set aside in a strainer to strain the juice.
TWODice the remainder of the vegetables.
THREECombine all vegetables in a large bowl.
FOURAdd cilantro & scotch bonnet peppers.
FIVEAdd lime juice.
SIXStir mixture being careful to not smash vegetables.
SEVENCover & refrigerate until ready to serve.

This nutritious raw vegetable dish can be served as a side dish for a casual meal at home or as an appetizer at your next party.

Smoothie Me Crazy: Tips for a Great Smoothie

Detoxing for a week was hard. I set out to detox for seven days but my mind broke down. I must say that I detoxed for 5 1/2 days which isn’t bad at all :-). During my detox, I ate a combination of raw or cooked fruit and vegetable dishes when I wanted pizza, burgers, and wings.

During my detox days, I decided to drink smoothies rather than drinking juices. I drank smoothies to ensure I received the maximum benefits of eating raw fruits and vegetables without having to eat each fruit and vegetable individually.

I learned a lot about making smoothies during my detox. Let me share some tips with you.

ONEBuy the freshest produce possible. When you use fresh ingredients, fresh is the difference between a good smoothie versus a great smoothie.

TWOMix fruits and vegetables. Adding green leafy vegetables increases the amount of essential vitamins and minerals in a glass.

THREEDo not shy away from fresh or dried seasonings. Fresh mint, fresh or ground ginger, and ground cayenne pepper are great additions to any smoothie for you to add extra flavor.

FOURIce is not essential to smoothie making. I didn’t use ice for not one smoothie. Instead of ice, juice, or water, I used coconut water.

FIVEThoroughly clean your produce. The worst thing that could ever happen while sipping on your smoothie is for you to crunch into a dirt ball of any size. YUCK!!

SIXIf you choose one tip to adhere to, pay close attention to this tip. An awesome blender is essential to making a great smoothie. My counter top blender failed to deliver a smooth drink that didn’t consist of rough bits of fruits and veggies. I had to pull out my immersion blender to get my smoothies to the texture I desired.

I used the following ingredients in various combinations to create a different smoothie each day:

Ground Cayenne Pepper
Ground Ginger
Fresh Ginger
Flax Seed

Smoothie Me Crazy

Smoothie Me Crazy

Day 1 Detox: Chili Blanco & Roasted Butternut Squash

I have been on an eating frenzy. To clean my machine, I decided to detox for 7 days. Seven days may seem like a long time; bit it isn’t that bad. Yes, I could eat a large cheese pizza, but that won’t help my digestive tract.

I believe I should not have to punish myself in order to detox. I am eating a combination of cooked and raw flavorful foods. If you want to ‘detox’, be sure to educate yourself and be sure to be honest with yourself. Be honest about know what you can and cannot do. For instance, I cannot drink smoothies and juices for seven days. If I opted for a liquid detox, I know I would fail after day 1.

If you are responsible for your cooking your meals, be sure to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. My Saturday grocery shopping trip to the grocery store resembled a trip to the farmer’s market.

Grocery Cart @ Mariano's Market

Grocery Cart @ Mariano’s Market

For dinner on Day 1, I made Chili Blanco & Roasted Butternut Squash.

Chili Blanco

1 Medium White Potato (peeled)
1/2 cup filtered Water
1 cup filtered Water
1 can Small White Beans (reduced sodium)
1 can Northern Beans (reduced sodium)
1 Green Onion stalk (chopped)
1 teaspoon Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
3 tablespoons Green Chile Powder
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 pinch Pink Himalayan Salt (optional)

ONESteam or boil potato until fork tender.
TWOAdd 1/2 cup of filtered water & potato to a blender. Blend until smooth (replaces tomato paste in traditional chili). NOTE: I preferred using my hand blender versus my standard blender.
THREETransfer the potato purée to a saucepan.
FOURStir in last six ingredients listed.
FIVECook on low heat for 5 minutes.
SIXStir in remaining ingredients.
SEVENCook for 30 minutes on medium heat. Stir occasionally, ensuring chili does not stick.

Chili Blanco

Chili Blanco

Roasted Butternut Squash

12 ounces Butternut Squash (peeled & cut in cubes) NOTE: The grocery store I went to, Mariano’s, sell Butternut squash raw and cubed in bags.
1 tablespoon ground Dried Ancho Chili Pepper

ONEPreheat oven at 400 degrees.
TWOAdd butternut squash to a bowl.
THREEAdd ground dried ancho chili pepper.
FOURToss butternut squash to coat with chili pepper evenly.
FIVELine cookie sheet with parchment paper.
SIXAdd seasoned butternut squash to lined cookie sheet.
SEVENCook for about 10 minutes or until butternut squash is fork tender and a charred crusting begins to form on top.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash

Veggie Porn II: Cranberry Almond Brussels Sprouts

Growing up, my mother said that if I ate my vegetables, I would grow up tall and strong. Well Mom, I am neither tall or strong; but at least I am healthy. As an adult, I have embraced almost every vegetable from asparagus to zucchini.

There was one vegetable that I just could not seem to embrace, Brussels sprouts. This green veggie that resembles cabbage, was absolutely too bitter for my taste buds.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Last year, I had dined at restaurant that added Brussels sprouts to a dish with sea scallops, pecans, and other vegetables. The Brussels sprouts were cooked just right. I could not replicate the complexity of the flavors in that dish so I made a simpler and yummy Brussels sprout dish.

To make Brussels sprouts pleasing to my palette, I add nuts (preferably almonds or pecans) and dried cranberries. For this recipe, I used almonds.

Almonds & Craisins

Almonds & Dried Cranberries

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, cleaned & cut in half
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup almonds, sliced or slivers
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 teaspoon maple syrup
pinch of salt

ONEAdd water to pot large enough to hold the Brussels sprouts. Add pot to medium heat.
TWOAdd salt and shallots.
THREECover pot & boil for about 2 minutes.
FOURAdd Brussels sprouts to pot. Return cover to pot. NOTE: Additional water will be created from the steam because the pot is covered & cooking over low to medium heat.
FIVECook Brussels sprouts for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Be careful to not overcook.
SIXWhile Brussels sprouts are cooking, add remaining ingredients to a nonstick skillet.
SEVENCook on low to medium heat for about five minutes.
EIGHTDrain water from Brussels sprouts.
NINEAdd almond and dried cranberry mixture to Brussels sprouts.

Almond Cranberry  Brussels Sprouts

Cranberry Almond Brussels Sprouts

Honey Lemon Shrimp with Veggies Made with My New Toy

I was surfing the web last week looking for a pasta cutter and maker when I ran across this 12 piece garnishing tool set. I already had a few of these tools but I needed to replace the old ones and add some new ones to the kitchen collection.

12 Piece Garnishing Tool Set

12 Piece Garnishing Tool Set

Like a little kid, I couldn’t wait to try a few of them out. I tried my hand at the spiral slicer on a piece of zucchini. I was an epic failure because I was terrified that I would cut myself. I switched out the spiral slicer for the y-peeler. I created zucchini ribbons with ease.

To my pile of zucchini ribbons, I added carrots to create my Honey Lemon Shrimp with Veggies:

2 cups of fresh Spinach
1/2 pound Large Shrimp (peeled & deveined)
1 carrot (washed & cut, ribbon)
1 zucchini (washed & cut, ribbon)
1 cup Red & Yellow Bell Peppers (washed & cut, julienne)
Juice from 2 Lemons
1/4 cup Honey
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon Crushed Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper
Pinch of Salt
Cooked Rice (Optional)

ONECoat skillet with oil or cooking spray.
TWOHeat skillet over medium heat.
THREESauté vegetables excluding spinach for about 1 minute.
FOURAdd lemon juice, honey, red pepper, garlic, and salt. Bring to a simmer.
FIVEStir in cornstarch. Bring to a simmer. NOTE: Cornstarch is used to thicken the mixture.
SIXAdd shrimp. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until shrimp turns pink.
SEVENTurn off skillet.
EIGHTAdd spinach and cover with a top.
NINEServe over rice if you wish.

NOTE: I add the fresh spinach last to ensure that the spinach isn’t over cooked. Fresh spinach, if over cooked, reduces down to 10% of its original volume.

Honey Lemon Shrimp with Veggies

Honey Lemon Shrimp with Veggies

When You Don’t Need a Whole Cheesecake: Individual No-Bake Cheesecakes

I am amazed by and in awe of people who love to bake.  Baking is an exacting science that I have not mastered.  With that said, I choose to stay in my lane and bake on occasion only when I have a recipe.  I will buy cookies, cakes, and pies.  If I assemble any dessert on a reguIar basis, it is banana pudding, yogurt parfaits, no bake cheesecakes, or some type of doctored up fruit.

One Saturday, while watching a movie that didn’t hold my interest, my mind drifted to how was I going to satisfy my sweet tooth.  It didn’t help that an orange juice commercial came on showing different uses for mason jars.  Before the commercial break was over, I looked in the refrigerator to see one package of cream cheese, whole strawberries, and sweet potatoes. The wheels began to spin.   I sliced the strawberries up, added a tad bit of key lime juice, and some agave nectar.


The next day I turned on package of cream cheese into two different no bake cheesecakes.


The one thing I would change is the simulated graham cracker crust layer in the bottom of the jars.  I would either use mini vanilla wafers, crumbled graham cracker pieces, or simply not add the layer to the bottom of the jar.


Cheesecake Mixture:
1  8oz container Cream Cheese
2 Vanilla Beans (or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract)—I prefer Vanilla Beans
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar (or Pure Cane Sugar)—I prefer Agave Nectar
1 pint Heavy Cream (or 1 cup)

ONEAdd Cream Cheese to bowl.

TWOSlice each bean in half & scrape its contents into the bowl (discard outer pod unless you want to use it to infuse your favorite oil or liquor).

THREEAdd Agave Nectar. 

FOURMix well.

FIVEAdd Heavy Cream and mix until smooth.

Sweet Potato:
2 medium Sweet Potatoes
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Stars of Anise

ONEBake sweet potatoes for 30 minutes or until done (Wrap each sweet potato in aluminum and poke holes in each potato with a fork).

TWORoast the Star of Anise in a sauce pan on low heat for 5 minutes.

THREEAdd butter to sauce pan.
FOURRemove star of anise from butter.

FIVEWhen sweet potatoes are fully cooked, allow to cool (I removed the foil and ran under cold water for a quick second.

SIXMash sweet potatoes in a bowl.

SEVENAdd nutmeg, cinnamon, agave nectar, and seasoned butter.

EIGHTMix well.

NOTEIf you would like a smoother texture to the sweet potato mixture, add a ¼ cup of milk of choice.  Add mixture to food processor.  Mix until smooth.

1 pound of fresh Strawberries
1 teaspoons of Key Lime juice (lemon or regular Lemon Juice will work.  I ran out of both.)
1 teaspoon Agave Nectar

ONEClean and slice strawberries (Remember to discard the green tops).

TWOAdd Key Lime juice and Agave Nectar.

THREECover strawberries and place in refrigerator until chill (I prefer to let the juicy goodness of all fruits to sit overnight.)

Graham Cracker Layer:
2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 tablespoon Butter
¼ Sugar

ONEMelt Butter in microwavable bowl.

TWOAdd Graham Cracker crumbs and sugar.

NOTEClean 4 pint size mason jars.  Ensure the mason jars have tops.

Assemble Cheesecakes:
ONELayer the bottom of each jar with Graham Cracker mixture.

TWOPress until firm (mixture will still be somewhat loose).

THREEAdd Cream Cheese mixture and then add Strawberries to 2 of the jars.

FOURContinue to layer Cream Cheese and Strawberries.

FIVEComplete the layer process with the Cream Cheese mixture and Sweet Potato mixture to the remaining 2 jars.

SIXPlace jars in refrigerator and allow to chill of at least 3 hours.