Thanksgiving can be a really difficult time for people who don’t eat meat. Most thanksgiving dishes appear to be vegetarian but in fact are not. Stuffing is a great example of that. Most stuffing recipes call for sausage or bacon, and almost every stuffing recipe calls for chicken broth. This Hearty Mushroom Stuffing replaces sausage with mushrooms and calls for vegetable broth instead of chicken. Stuffing is arguably the most delicious dish on the Thanksgiving table so I wanted to create a recipe that allows diners of every diet to enjoy! A vegan alternative to this recipe is coming soon as well! This stuffing is savory, filling, and even meaty! This is the perfect dish to bring to thanksgiving whether you’re dining with vegetarians or meat eaters!
There are a few key components to making a great stuffing. The first is the bread. You want to use a really delicious bread because this makes up a good portion of the dish. I like using French bread or ciabatta! The bread also needs to be fairly dried out so it absorbs the liquid. without getting mushy. Lastly, you need a very large bowl to mix all the stuffing ingredients well. Once you have all of these covered, you’re ready to make stuffing.
Hearty Mushroom Stuffing
Yield: 8-10 servings
1lb French bread, cut into small cubes
1lb Crimini mushrooms
½ stick unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
6-8 celery stalks, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh sage, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
2-2 ½c vegetable broth, divided
1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X13 baking dish.
Begin by drying out the bread. This can either be done by leaving the bread cubes uncovered overnight or they can be toasted in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes until they have dried out. Once the bread cubes have been dried out, set them aside in a large bowl.
Clean the mushrooms by wiping the caps down with a wet paper towel or dish rag until all the dirt is removed. Remove the stems and roughly chop the mushrooms.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the mushrooms, dry (no fat in the pan) until they have released all of their moisture, about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to stir every few minutes so nothing sticks to the pan.
Remove the mushrooms once they have completely released all of their moisture and set aside in the bowl with the bread cubes.
Return the pan to medium heat and melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook the veggies on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they become soft and slightly browned.
Once the veggies have become soft, raise the heat to high and add the wine. It will sizzle and start to bubble. Use your spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan, removing and browned bits that have formed.
Let the wine reduce slightly for 2 minutes then add the herbs. Stir to combine then set aside in the pan to cool slightly.
In a medium sized bowl or measuring cup, scramble the eggs and add 1 ½ cups of broth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the veggies to the bowl with bread and mushroom and stir to combine.
Slowly add the egg broth mixture to the bowl of bread and veggies, stirring gently to make sure everything is incorporating evenly. Keep adding the egg broth mixture until the bread has completely absorbed it. The amount of liquid you will need will depend on how dry your bread is and how much liquid it is absorbing. You want the bread to be completely moist to the touch without too much excess liquid in the bowl. Once all the egg mixture has been added, you can continue adding broth until the bread has reached the proper consistency. It will be anywhere from ½ cup to 1 cup of extra broth. I only used an extra ½ cup of broth once the egg mixture was added.
Pour the whole bread and veggie mixture into your prepared baking dish, cover it with foil and bake it in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
After the first 30-35 minutes, raise the heat to 425 degrees and remove the foil. Bake the stuffing for another 20-25 minutes until the top is crispy and browned.
I’m hitting you guys with one last grilling recipe before Fall officially hits! Living in California, the transition from Fall to Summer is always an interesting one because it’s usually still hot & sunny well into October. Since the rest of the world has actual seasons, I promise Fall recipes are on their way! But in the meantime, let’s grill up some Lamb Dogs while we still can!
This recipe can be altered to use beef or regular store bought hotdogs if lamb isn’t something you enjoy or are able to get your hands on. Whatever meat you decide to use, its about a pound for 4 dogs. The hardest part about this recipe is forming the dogs, so once that part is done this dish comes together very quickly!
These dogs are a really nice balance between savory, hot, meat (LOL) & a cool, crunchy slaw topping. To prep the slaw, small dice the cucumber & tomatoes (seeds removed). Top with olive oil, Vinegar, salt & pepper. Stir to combine & leave in the fridge until serving time! The longer the slaw sits, the more the flavors will develop so definitely prep the slaw before anything else!
Next, prep the dogs. If you can find lamb sausages that would be a fantastic substitute but I couldn’t find any at my local grocery stores so I used ground lamb & formed my own. Divide the ground lamb into 4 equal portions & form into long round sausage shapes. They will shrink on the grill so make sure to form them a little larger than you want the finished dogs to be. Season generously with salt & pepper & let them sit at room temperature while the grill heats up.
Preheat your grill to medium high heat with one side of the grill set to a lower heat. These can also be cooked in a skillet indoors if you don’t have access to a grill or grilling weather. When the grill is ready, spray it with nonstick spray & lay down the dogs on the hotter side. Cook on each side for about 5-7 minutes, until a nice crust forms on the surface. Once the dogs are seared on both sides, transfer to the cooler side & cook with the grill closed until they reach an internal temp of 160 degrees. About 10 more minutes.
Once the dogs are cooked through, remove them from the grill & set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes while you prep the buns. Grill the buns for a few minutes until they are nice & toasted. Spread each bun with 1 tablespoon of red pepper spread & top with a dog.
Next, pile on the tomato & cucumber slaw & finish with feta cheese. Voila! Dogs are ready!
Lamb Dogs with Tomato Cucumber Slaw
Makes: 4 dogs
Half a large hot house cucumber, small diced
2 Roma tomatoes, deseeded & small diced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
1lb ground lamb
4 bakery style hot dog buns (I used brioche buns found at Whole Foods)
Summer is in full swing which means I’m outside grilling as many meals as possible! Burgers are a super easy lunch or dinner to throw together while everyone’s hanging out by the pool, drinking & working on their tans! Us millennials don’t always want to spend all day in the kitchen but we want good food & we want it fast! I know when my friends are over & we’re hanging by the pool, I don’t like being in the kitchen for too long trying to whip up a yummy lunch or dinner. That’s why I rely on pre-formed burger patties. They’re super simple to just throw on the grill when you’re hungry & they can be found at just about any grocery store, in just about any quantity!
Starting with a good quality patty & soft burger bun, the possibilities are endless. Your friends & family can customize their burgers with whatever toppings they like & everyone’s happy! Sounds like a recipe for a great afternoon if you ask me!
I bought my ingredients for these burgers from Trader Joes but everything in this recipe can be found at any local grocery store. This recipe is also a great starting point & can be altered to fit your needs & desired flavor profile!
These burgers have just three simple toppings & one delicious spread, all of which can be prepped ahead of time & kept in the fridge so when the hunger hits, you & your guests can be eating in no time!
You are more than welcome to roast your own red peppers, they’re delicious when made at home, but in my opinion they are just as delicious when pulled out of a jar. Summertime meals are all about convienience in my house (especially on pool days) so I used jarred roasted red peppers for this recipe. To prep the peppers, drain them of excess liquid & slice into thin ribbons. Next are the cucumbers, which are sliced very thinly on a mandolin but can easily be done using a sharp knife. Lastly the cheese, which is clearly the most important ingredient on any burger. This recipe calls for feta which is a very dry, salty cheese that’s generally sold in a big block & for this recipe, I just crumbled it. If you’re not a feta fan, goat cheese or even Monterey Jack cheese would be delicious.
To grill the burgers, preheat your grill to medium high heat & spray with cooking spray to ensure nothing sticks. You want your grill to be hot enough to create a good sear on the burger, but not too hot that it chars the burger completely before cooking it through. Before the burgers go on the grill, season with salt & pepper on both sides. Everyone likes their burgers cooked to different doneness so this part will depend on whether you like your burgers on the rare side or the more well done side. I prefer my burgers to be medium (a little pink in the middle) so I cooked them for about 4-5 minutes on each side. This part will also depend on the thickness of your burger, but if you’re unsure, an instant read thermometer is a great tool!
When the burgers have just a few minutes left, it’s a great time to throw the buns on the grill to toast so everything finishes around the same time.
Assembly time! Once the buns are off the grill, spread on your red pepper spread (or other spread). Top with the burger patty & immediately top with cheese so it begins to soften from the heat of the patty. Next, dress up your burger with red peppers & cucumbers. Top with the other bun & voila! Burgers are ready! Can you believe how easy this was?? Perfect summer dish if you ask me!
Thanksgiving (& Christmas) are right around the corner so I wanted to share with you my ultimate Cheese Board Guide so you can rock the holidays with a cheese board of your very own!
This guide is strictly a Trader Joe’s shopping guide but in the future I’ll be sharing guides that can be used at other grocery stores. However, this guide is also designed to allow you to take these principles & apply them to any other grocery store!
The purpose of this guide is to give you an idea of what you can buy from Trader Joe’s, in order to make your very own cheese boards. It will help with planning, shopping & most importantly, budgeting. Cheesed boards can get expensive but having this guide as a resource can help you understand how to manage the cost, depending on what you’re wanting on your board. My intention is for you to use this guide as a “build your own cheese board” tool to help you navigate a possibly confusing arena. Ideally you’ll want to choose between 2-5 items from each category, but this is dependent on number of people, size & budget!
While I didn’t catalog every single item at Trader Joe’s that could possibly make its way onto a cheese board, there is a good variety of items ranging in price.
*I have not personally tried every single item on this list, but I wanted to show you what is available to you & I will add notes to the items I have tried! I have also highlighted my personal favorites that I use frequently on my boards for inspiration! At the end of the guide you can find pictures of some of the boards I have made in the past!
I hope this is helpful to your cheese loving soul!
Unexpected Cheddar – $3.99 / 7oz
Double Cream Brie – $5.99 / lb*
Cherve Goat Cheese – $2.99 / 5oz
Goat Milk Brie – $2.99 / 4.4oz
Goat’s Milk Creamy Cheese – $3.29 /4.5oz
Boursin – $3.79 /5.2oz
Double Cream Gouda – $7.99/ lb*
Cracker Cut Cheddar Cheese – $4.49 / 10oz
Dorothy’s Comeback Cow – $6.99 / 7oz
Cave Aged Blue Cheese – $6.99 / 7oz
Manchego – $9.99 / lb*
Chevoo (Marinated Goat Cheese) – $4.99 / 4oz
Le Gruyére – $14.99 / lb*
*Cheeses sold using ‘per pound’ prices are usually sold in portions ranging from 5-10oz so pricing will vary depending on location & availability.
My Favorites – Unexpected Cheddar: it’s my favorite cheese sold at Trader Joe’s & it’s great for cheese boards because its familiar enough being a cheddar, but it’s a little elevated in look & flavor! This cheese always makes it onto my boards! Double Cream Brie: it’s simple. People. Love. Brie. & this one is fabulous, great flavor & creamy texture. Cherve Goat Cheese: this goat cheese is mild in flavor but just tangy enough to add interest to your boards! You can also dress it up nicely with garnish since it’s basically a blank canvas. Boursin: it’s a very familiar cheese which makes it great for a crowd that’s new to fancy cheese! It also spreads wonderfully. Cracker Cut Cheddar: when you want something familiar & simple, this is the way to go. Bonus, it’s already cut for you! Cave Aged Blue Cheese: this is a mild blue cheese, it’s similar to gorgonzola which a lot of people love & has amazing flavor & creaminess!
Prosciutto – $4.99 / 5.29oz
Peppered Salame $5.99 / 10oz
Chianti Salami – $4.99 / 8oz
Turkey Summer Sausage – $3.99 / 8oz
Sopressata Salame – $4.99 / 8oz
Calabrese Salame – $2.99 / 5oz
Italian Dry Salame (Sliced) – $4.49 / 8oz
Italian Dry Salame – $4.49/ 8oz
Pepperoni – $2.99 / 5oz
Salame de Parma – $4.99 / 4oz
Salame Secchi – $7.49 / 9oz
My Favorites – Prosciutto: it tears nicely into small pieces great for cheesed board snacking & it’s not too highly flavored so it goes well with stronger cheeses. Chianti Salami: this is a red wine salami with a really deep flavor & good chewy texture. Calabrese Salame: this salame you’ll notice has a more red color because its heavily spiced which is really nice when you want to add a spicy kick to your boards! Italian Dry Salame: it’s a classic! Everyone knows it & loves it. Always a safe choice. Salame de Parma: this salame is thinner & longer in shape which I love using to add interest to the boards. It’s always nice to add ingredients of different sizes & shapes! Salame Secchi: this salame comes with a white casing (totally edible) which gives it a great contrast to the colorful red interior. It slices into nice rounds & has a wonderful meaty flavor with a harder texture.
Savory Thins – $1.69 / 3.4oz
Pita Bite Crackers – $2.49 / 6oz
Water Crackers – $1.39 / 4.4oz
Bite Size Everything Crackers – $2.49 / 10oz
Brioche Toasts – $1.99 / 5.26oz
Golden Rounds – $1.99 / 12oz
Organic Salty Squares – $1.99 / 5.5oz
Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers – $2.29 / 10oz
Fig & Olive Crisps – $3.99 / 5.3oz
My Favorites – Savory Thins: these crackers have a mild sesame flavor that pairs really nicely with Brie & Goat cheeses! The crunch is also amazing! These are usually my go-to for boards. Pita Bite Crackers: these crackers are great because they have a nice pita like flavor & they have layers giving them a good crunch. These pair nicely with Cheddar & Gouda! Fig & Olive Crisps: these crackers always make an appearance on my boards because they’re so different than regular crackers. They have a deep dark brown color with specks of fig & olive which are two things that go amazingly with cheese! These crackers pair nicely with strong cheeses like Goat or Blue!
Fig Butter – $2.49 / 16oz
Multi-Floral & Clover Honey – $3.49 / 12oz
Mostly Mesquite Honey – $6.49 / 24oz
Pink Grapefruit Marmalade – $3.99 / 13oz
Honey with Honeycomb – $6.49 / 16oz
Pepper Jelly $2.49 / 11oz
My Favorites – Fig Butter: this stuff is amazing I could just eat it with a spoon, but it’s even better on cheese! This fig butter almost always makes it onto my boards! I bought a jar & it lasted through 4-5 cheese boards! Honey: honey pairs incredibly well with cheese so I always recommend adding any kind of honey to a cheese board!
Pistachios – $6.99 / 16oz
WalnutHalves – $5.99 / 16oz
Pecan Halves – $4.99 / 8oz
Almonds, Roasted & Salted – $5.99 /16oz
Mixed Nuts, Dry Roasted & Salted – $7.99 /12oz
Truffle Marcona Almonds – $5.99 / 6oz
My Favorites – Pistachios: they’re so salty & so crunchy, they add a nice contrast to the really creamy cheeses! Walnuts: they’re my favorite nut so they’re usually on my boards & they pair well with Brie! Truffle Marcona Almonds: they have a great truffle flavor that goes well with the stinkier cheeses & they really elevate any board.
Dried Persimmons – $3.49 / 5oz
Dried Apricots – $3.99 / 16oz
Black Mission Figs – $4.99 / 12oz
My Favorites – Dried Apricots: they’re pretty familiar to people so they’ll naturally gravitate towards them & they always add a really pretty colorful contrast to boards! Plus, they’re delicious!
Rosemary – $1.79 / .75oz
Mint – $1.79 / .75oz
Basil (Potted) – $1.99
Arugula – $1.99 / 7oz
Blackberries – $3.99 / 12oz
Raspberries – $2.99 / 6oz
PomegranateSeeds – $4.49 /5.3oz
Blueberries – $2.99 / 11oz
GrannySmithApples – $0.69 / each
Green Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz
Red Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz
My Favorites – Rosemary: it’s pretty much my go to garnish because its so beautiful & fragrant. It’s not consumed so I pretty much only use it for the look & smell, plus its always available! Blackberries: they look really great as a garnish on top of Brie because the color contrast really makes them both stand out, plus they’re delicious & go pretty well with most cheeses! Pomegranate Seeds: these look really beautiful scattered across a finished board to add a pop of color & they’re especially great on a fall or winter board! Granny Smith Apples: apples are usually my go to because they’re pretty much always in season & always taste great. Its another familiar item you can use on your boards & you can’t beat Brie on an apple slice drizzled with honey!
I’ve added some pictures of completed boards I’ve made in the past to show you how all of these ingredients come together! I hope all of this inspires you to make your very own cheese boards! Feel free to tag me (on instagram) so I can see all of your hard work! @millennial_kitchen_
This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend Bottlerock Music Festival, which is held every May in Napa Valley. The festival features a plethora of amazing musical artists, a bounty of incredible wines (it is Napa after all!) and most importantly, an abundance of overwhelmingly delicious food, served up by some of Napa’s most talented. There were over 80 restaurants, food trucks, & vendors in attendance, serving up delicious festival eats, elevated to match the Napa Valley crowd. With so many options you were really able to acquire whatever you were craving whether that be a classic burger, some delicious tacos, or even Paella. There was something to please every palate.
I started the weekend like any good foodie & did my research. I looked into the food that was to be at the festival & mapped out all the spots I wanted to hit over the course of the weekend. Some of the places I was most excited for: Bling Bling Dumpling (my go to at any festival is Bling Bling), Gerard’s Paella, Ad Hoc (I can’t pass up a chance to eat Thomas Keller’s famous fried chicken), Johnny Doughnuts, Izzy’s Cheesesteaks & Itani Ramen.
Turns out I wasn’t able to eat ALL the food at the festival so I had to make some tough decisions over the course of three days. Luckily I did pretty well & ate some incredible food. Here are my favorites of the weekend!
This corn dog was unlike any other corn dog I’ve ever had. It was a classic corn dog with the volume turned way up with the use of Kobe Beef in the hot dog. The beef had such a deep, rich, meaty flavor. The breading had just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect crunch. Paired with crispy, salty French fries, Celadon produced the perfect festival meal!
This tuna melt was my first meal of the festival & it really set the standard for the level of quality I was going to expect. It was the perfect tuna melt. The tuna was so moist but not soggy & had great flavor & crunch from red onion & celery. The bread was a really great locally made sourdough that was toasted perfectly which resulted in a great crunch when biting into it, & it also had great stability for such a hefty sandwich. The Farmer’s Wife really knows how to make a solid sandwich!
This burrito kept it simple. Rice, beans, cheese & perfectly tender steak. It was served with fresh made chips, a bright tomato salsa & everyone’s favorite, guac. This burrito may have been simple but it was done just right, made with great ingredients & it was just what I needed to munch on while watching my idol, Iron Chef Morimoto, at the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage!
I’m a total sucker for shawarma & gyros. Whenever I see them on a menu I can’t help myself so I was really excited to hear a place called ‘Shawarma Point’ was making an appearance at the festival. I ordered the beef & lamb gyro which came loaded on pita bread & topped with lettuce & tomato. Off to the side were a few DIY sauces you could add to your gyro. I opted for the classic white sauce of course. After my first bite, I knew I made the right choice stopping by Shawarma Point. The pita was warm & fluffy with the perfect amount of chew. The meat was seasoned perfectly & was so juicy. The veggies were crisp & fresh which was the perfect balance to offset all the warm, meaty goodness inside the pita. And the white sauce was refreshing & creamy, the perfect topping for such a great gyro. This was one of the meals I had this weekend that I couldn’t stop thinking about!
The smell of these doughnuts alone was enough to drive customers into the line. These doughnuts were being served out of an adorable & updated van, alone side some fresh, made to order coffee! I tried the vanilla old fashion & the maple old fashion. These doughnuts were huge! Almost the size of two regular doughnuts, but you won’t see me complaining about that. These doughnuts were unbelievably fresh, they had such great flavor & the glaze was to die for. Doughnuts can be so simple but when they’re made well, with good quality ingredients, by people who love what they do, you get something really special.
This taco was just what I needed to end my day on a great note. It was two small corn tortillas overflowing with tender beef birria, that was so juicy I needed several napkins, topped with pickled red onion, arugula & queso fresco. The meat was so tender & flavorful it tasted like it had been cooking for DAYS. The pickled onion & arugula gave the taco a great fresh bite to cut through all the richness of the meat & the queso gave the taco the perfect salty bite. It was a simple taco executed perfectly! What else could you want out of a taco?
All weekend I was seeing people walking around with big plates of some kind of sandwich accompanied by a mound of garlic fries. I knew I had to get to the bottom of this. I finally figured out these plates were coming from Ristorante Allegria & the sandwich was a chicken parm. My fiancé is a sucker for chicken parm sandwiches so naturally we had to get ourselves one & see what the hype was about. It was delicious! The bread was soft, the chicken was juicy & there was just the right amount of marinara & pesto to flavor the sandwich, without drowning it & making a mess on the plate. It was executed very well for a grab & go meal. The fries though, the fries were the real kicker. It was a mound of perfectly crispy French fries loaded with fresh garlic, parsley & parmesan. Do I even need to go on?
I’ll start by saying I will try to not get carried away here. I grew up eating paella & I’ve had some really amazing paella in my life both locally, and when I was fortunate enough to visit Spain a few years back. I know, I’m very blessed to have eaten this much Paella. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish filled with seafood, chicken, meat & veggies. It is a pretty complex dish that even calling it a ‘rice dish’ seems unfair. It’s truly an art, making Paella. Traditionally, it’s made using a very specific process of cooking & arranging the ingredients & it’s made in a large Paella Pan (accurately named) that’s similar to a very large cast iron. The Paella pan is designed to give the food great color & flavor, but its size is because Paella is usually served as quite a show because of the way its arranged. This version, which was served in a take away container, was not short on authenticity or flavor. I’ll admit this now, I had this Paella twice over the course of three days because it was so unbelievable. Behind the pickup window of Gerard’s was a sea of large Paella pans cooking away this delicious chow. That was the first moment I knew this was going to be good. I also had seen people walking around the entire first day of the festival holding these containers overflowing with beautifully colored rice, chicken, seafood & veggies. When my Paella was handed to me it was still steaming from being served fresh off the Paella pan, but that didn’t stop me from digging in immediately. At first glance I noticed the color of the rice. It was a beautifully deep orange color, most likely a result of saffron (classic Paella spice). I also noticed several large pieces of chicken & shrimp. I was excited about this one. I took my first bite & was overwhelmed. The flavor was so deep & so intense. This really was festival food, elevated. This was some of the best Paella I had ever eaten. The rice was cooked perfectly, there were parts of the rice with really crispy browned bits from where the rice sat on the pan, the shrimp was tender & the chicken was juicy. The second I finished the bowl I wanted more. It was so good I passed up trying something new the following day just so I could have this Paella one more time.
On the third day it was raining for a majority of the morning so when I arrived at the festival, dressed in my windbreaker & boots, a hot bowl of ramen sounded incredible. The noodles were so chewy & the broth had so much depth of flavor it was borderline creamy. I don’t know how they make their broth but they’re doing something RIGHT over there! It was such a great bowl of ramen I forgot for a second that I was at a music festival in the pouring rain.
I normally wouldn’t order two items from the same restaurant because my goal is to try as many spots as possible. But, when there is a spicy chicken Katsu sandwich on the menu, I literally cannot say no. I’m glad I broke my rule because this sandwich was WORTH IT! I don’t even know where to begin. The bread was so tender & soft, making it very easy to bite into. Some sandwiches come on rolls or buns that are too hard you feel like you’re destroying the roof of your mouth (you allllll know what I’m talking about). This bread was perfectly soft but held up well to all the amazingness inside. The slaw was super crunchy which paired well with the creamy, spicy sauce & soft bread. The best part? The chicken obviously. The chicken was so tender on the inside but perfectly crispy on the outside, it had great balance. There were parts of the chicken that were extra crispy & other parts that were meatier. It was truly a perfect sandwich. One of the best things I ate the entire weekend, I contemplated going back.
You really can’t beat fresh watermelon juice served to you inside of a watermelon. This juice was the best refreshment & palate cleanser after a day full of eating. It was really enjoyable to have something so light & refreshing to cut through all the fatty foods I had been eating all weekend!
I am a sucker for cheesesteaks. They’re probably my favorite food & I haven’t even been to Philly yet to have a REAL one. Meat & cheese inside of bread is just the pinnacle of deliciousness & a well-made cheesesteak is one of the best meals out there. When doing my research, I found there were going to be two cheesesteak spots at the festival so I wanted to make my choice wisely. The first day I decided to try a different cheesesteak because their description said they used Amoroso Rolls which is a classic cheesesteak roll. I couldn’t pass up authenticity, right? What I failed to notice was that they were making their cheesesteaks with shaved roast beef rather than a more classic ribeye steak. The sandwich was definitely lacking in flavor. The meat didn’t taste like it had been seasoned well & the cheese sauce was a little flat. There weren’t any veggies to give a nice crunch to the sandwich either. The bread was okay, it wasn’t warmed enough so when I went to eat it, it started to crumble & fall apart. Overall I felt disappointed & knew I chose the wrong cheesesteak spot. The next day I knew I had to fill my cheesesteak craving so I headed to Izzy’s after doing a deep dive into their Instagram & seeing how delicious their sandwiches looked. Let me tell you, this was a good cheesesteak. Izzy’s really knows what they’re doing! The bread was so soft & help up beautifully to all the yummy meaty cheesiness inside. The meat was so flavorful, so tender with just the right amount of crispy bits from direct contact with the flattop. The cheese was sooooo gooey & melty it became one with the sandwich. This baby was also loaded with delicious onions as well as sweet & spicy peppers that gave it a nice kick and bite of acidity to cut through the fattiness of the meat & cheese. Basically, this cheesesteak was the bomb.
Here are some other non-food pictures to really show you why this festival should be your new favorite summer party
One of my absolute favorite things to eat is a falafel pita. Crunchy balls of crispy falafel, topped with cool, crisp veggies, all dressed up with fresh & creamy tzatziki. There are a lot of really great places to get one, but I love trying to make my favorite foods at home. I’ve bought the frozen falafel from Trader Joe’s before & I love them, but I wanted to try making them from scratch! There are two types of falafel, the traditional style which are fried, or a healthier option, which are baked.
Initially I wanted to fry my falafel because nothing beats that crunch you get when frying them. At first, I made my falafel into patty shapes to shallow fry them because I am not a fan of deep frying, it’s just way to much of a mess. but after the first attempt, I realized this was not going to work. Maybe I had the oil at the wrong temp, or didn’t cook them long enough. Either way, they did not come out as planned!
That’s the fun part of cooking at home, you get to try new things & adapt to what works best for you & yields the best result. So I quickly realized frying the falafel was not working & decided to bake them instead. Spoiler alert, they were still delicious!
The first step to delicious homemade falafel? Make tzatziki from scratch. It’s really easy to throw together using very common ingredients (many of which you probably already have) & really elevates this dish. Tzatziki is a yogurt based sauce that goes great with falafel, chicken, gyros & basically anything else. You won’t have any trouble getting through the leftovers & it keeps great in the fridge. Start by scooping the yogurt into a bowl. Then add in the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir to combine & let it rest in the fridge. The longer it sets, the more delicious it will be! I let mine sit for the amount of time it took to get dinner on the table & it was great. If you have the time to assemble it earlier in the day, by all means, go for it!
Falafel time! This mix comes together insanely easily using a food processor. Start by combining the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro & mint. Pulse until it begins to come together.
Next comes the flavor! To the chickpeas, add paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic & baking soda. Mix on high until all ingredients are combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Spoon mixture into a bowl & let it rest for 20-30 minutes before forming. While the mix is resting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for your pitas. I like to top mine with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion & cucumber. I chopped up all my veggies & set them aside so they’re ready to use when the falafel come out of the oven.
To bake the falafel, form them into small balls & place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bruch the tops with olive oil & bake the falafel in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the outside becomes crisp & the inside is still tender.
When the falafel come out of the oven let them rest for a few minutes while you heat your pitas & gather your toppings.
Dress up your pitas to your liking & boom! Not too difficult right?
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 85 minutes
Servings: 20-23 falafel (depending on the size)
1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
1 cup grated cucumber, drained of all liquid
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
5 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon baking soda
salt & pepper, to taste
oil, for brushing onto falafel
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Start by scooping the yogurt into a bowl. Then add in the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir to combine & let it rest in the fridge.
In a food processor, start by combining the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro & mint. Pulse until it begins to come together.
To the chickpeas, add paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic & baking soda. Mix on high until all ingredients are combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Spoon mixture into a bowl & let it rest for 20-30 minutes before forming. While the mix is resting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for your pitas.
To bake the falafel, form them into small balls & place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bruch the tops with olive oil & bake the falafel for about 30 minutes, until the outside becomes crisp & the inside is still tender.
When the falafel come out of the oven let them rest for a few minutes while you heat your pitas & gather your toppings.
In my efforts to put a meatless dinner on the table every week, I have been researching & trying out new forms of protein. I work with beans a lot because there are so many different varieties that they can be used in almost any cuisine. I also use mushrooms a lot because they give a dish a real meatiness that can be lacking in vegetarian foods. Another ingredient I have been really excited to work with lately is lentils. They are also very versatile and work with a lot of different cuisines. I’ve used the cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s in salads & wraps but I was curious about using lentils that have not been pre-cooked.
Enter, lentil soup. It’s something I grew up eating out of a can & ordered frequently when I saw it on restaurant menus. I was excited to try making lentil soup from scratch. When researching recipes to figure out exactly how to put the soup together I realized quickly this was going to be an easy dish. You basically sauté some veggies, throw in lentils, diced tomatoes & a few spices, then let the stove do all the work. Sounds good to me!
Start by gathering all of your ingredients & heating a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
Next you want to prep the lentils. Just rinse them under cold water & let them dry slightly while the oil heats up.
Once the oil it hot, cook onions, celery & carrots until they start to soften & onions become translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
Once veggies have cooked, throw in the lentils, diced tomatoes & spices. Stir to combine.
Next, add the broth & bring the whole mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer & cook, covered, for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.
I served my lentil soup with cheese toasts. To prepare the toasts, slice the baguette on a diagonal into a few pieces then spread them with softened butter. Divide the cheese among the toasts & broil until cheese is melted & bubbling.
Once the toasts are ready, let them sit for a few minutes before serving up.
While the toasts are resting, finish the soup. You can serve it up as is, if you like the texture, but I like my soups to be a little thicker so I used my immersion blender & blended about 1/3 of the soup so it had a thicker consistency, but still had a good number of whole lentils.
Serve up with the toasts & a sprinkling of parmesan cheese & enjoy!
I heard about Jackfruit for the first time about a year ago when I saw a Tasty video for Vegan Pulled Pork. Since then, I was so enthralled by this ingredients & wanted to know more. I watched so many cooking videos of people working with Jackfruit. I wasn’t really sure where to get Jackfruit & working with the entire fruit seemed a little daunting. They’re also very large so I would feel wasteful buying a whole one. Fast forward to just a few weeks ago & I was at a party where someone had brought a whole Jackfruit (I’m still not sure why but I got to go home with some so I never questioned it again).
I was so excited to be going home with this Jackfruit because I finally got to try cooking with it, without having to deal with the whole fruit. All of the videos & recipes I looked at said the same thing, to treat the Jackfruit like any other pulled meat. So I shredded it up, tossed it in a pan & covered it in barbecue sauce. It was delicious.
I knew I wanted to cook with it again but still had no intention of buying a whole Jackfruit. And thats when it happened. I was strolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s, as I usually do on a Monday morning, when I saw something magical in the canned foods section. Canned Jackfruit. It was already broken down & preserved in a brine so all I had to do was take it out of the can & boom, it was ready to use. That is, the detailed version, of how these enchiladas came to be.
Start by gathering all of your ingredients. Drain the Jackfruit & rinse lightly with water to remove any excess brine. Break up the Jackfruit as you would a chicken breast, so it becomes smaller shreds.
To dry the Jackfruit, line a quarter sheet pan (or a large plate) with paper towels. Cover the paper towels with shredded Jackfruit & lay another paper towel on top. Press down lightly to remove any excess moisture. The dryer the Jackfruit is, the better it will brown when sautéed.
Cook the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, in a medium skillet set over medium high heat. Cook until the onions begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Next add the garlic & spices & stir to combine. Cook for another minute until the spices become fragrant. Next add in the dried Jackfruit & stir it all up. Cover the mixture with 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce & stir. Cook for another 5 minutes, then set aside on a plate.
While the Jackfruit is cooking, grate the cheese & pour another tablespoon of enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce in the pan that cooked the Jackfruit & heat it on medium low.
To assemble the enchiladas, start by dipping the tortilla into the heated enchilada sauce until it’s coated. Lay on about 2 tablespoons of the Jackfruit & top with about a tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the enchilada and place it, rolled side down, in your baking dish. Keep doing this unit you are out of Jackfruit & cheese. Depending on how big the enchiladas are you should get between 7-9.
Once all the enchiladas are rolled, cover them with any remaining sauce & the remainder of the grated cheese. I like to dot the top of my enchiladas with sliced black olives but that part is optional!
When you’re ready to eat the enchiladas, bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes until the cheese is melted & the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let the enchiladas cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving them up. Serve up with any desired toppings (I love to top my enchiladas with fresh guac, which you can find on this post) & enjoy!
Total Time: 1 hour (includes baking time)
Servings: 7-9 Enchiladas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced (about half an onion)
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic (2 medium cloves)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can Jackfruit in brine*
1 bottle red enchilada sauce
7-9 medium corn tortillas
3 cups grated monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)
Drain the Jackfruit & rinse lightly with water to remove any excess brine. Break up the Jackfruit as you would a chicken breast, so it becomes smaller shreds.
To dry the Jackfruit, line a quarter sheet pan (or a large plate) with paper towels. Cover the paper towels with shredded Jackfruit & lay another paper towel on top. Press down lightly to remove any excess moisture
Cook the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, in a medium skillet set over medium high heat. Cook until the onions begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes.
Next add the garlic & spices & stir to combine. Cook for another minute until the spices become fragrant.
Then add in the dried Jackfruit & stir it all up. Cover the mixture with 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce & stir. Cook for another 5 minutes, then set aside on a plate.
While the Jackfruit is cooking, grate the cheese & pour another tablespoon of enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish.
Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce in the pan that cooked the Jackfruit & heat it on medium low.
To assemble the enchiladas, start by dipping the tortilla into the heated enchilada sauce until it’s coated. Lay on about 2 tablespoons of the Jackfruit & top with about a tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the enchilada and place it, rolled side down, in your baking dish. Keep doing this unit you are out of Jackfruit & cheese.
Once all the enchiladas are rolled cover them with any remaining sauce & the remainder of the grated cheese.
When you’re ready to eat the enchiladas**, bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes until cheese is melted & sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let the enchiladas cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving them up.
*If you are using fresh Jackfruit it would be about 3 cups, shredded.
**These enchiladas are a fantastic make-ahead dish. When you have the time, cook & assemble the enchiladas, then cover them with plastic wrap & store in the fridge until ready to bake. Remove enchiladas from the fridge about 20 minutes before baking to allow them to come to room temperature for more even cooking.