Recipes

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Finding meatless dishes continues to be a challenge as the weeks go on, but it has also really opened my eyed & my mind to new ideas. I found this recipe when reading through a Buzzfeed article about meatless lunches and thought it would make a great meatless dinner. It seemed simple enough to throw together on a busy day, which I always love.

Any dish that resembles pizza in the slightest is something I can get behind. Calzones are no exception to that. This version is stuffed with spinach & cheese giving it a creaminess you always crave with calzones, but the spinach makes the calzones a little lighter, and I don’t know about you, but that always makes me feel a little better about what I’m eating. Not to mention the crust is whole grain so this dish is basically “healthy”… right?

Serve these up with a simple green salad, or Cesar if you’re feeling a little fancy on a Monday night, & some warmed marinara sauce for a complete meal.

I hope you love these!

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, oil & egg yolk.

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Place the pizza dough on a well-floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough until it is between 1/8″ & 1/4″ thick. For this recipe I used a whole wheat dough because its heartier & better for you, but you can use whatever dough you like.

 

Cut out 4 large circles to make larger calzones, or cut out 6 smaller circles for smaller calzones. (For this recipe I made 6 calzones, but the amount of filling will work for either.)

 

Once the dough is cut it is time to fill the calzones. Divide the filling into either 4 or 6 portions, depending on the size of the calzones. Lay the filling on one half of the dough, making sure to leave a border.

 

After you have filled each calzone, fold the half that doesn’t have the filling over the top of the half with the filling. Pinch the edges together (like a pie crust) to seal the calzone, then go over it with a fork to ensure a tight seal so the filing doesn’t escape in the oven. Then cut 3 or 4 slits into the top of the calzones to let any steam escape. Brush them with the egg wash and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the calzones from the oven, brush with remaining egg wash & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake an additional 8 minutes.

Serve with a side of marinara & simple green salad.

 

Recipe adapted from Kitschen Cat-Ricotta and Spinach Calzones with a few small changes noted above.

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 calzones

Ingredients:
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed & with all liquid removed
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
8 ounces ricotta
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg yolk
1 pound whole wheat pizza dough

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, oil & egg yolk.
  3. Place the pizza dough on a well-floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough until it is between 1/8″ & 1/4″ thick.
  4. Cut out 4 large circles to make larger calzones, or cut out 6 smaller circles for smaller calzones. (For this recipe I made 6 calzones, but the amount of filling will work for either.)
  5. Once the dough is cut it is time to fill the calzones. Divide the filling into either 4 or 6 portions, depending on the size of the calzones. Lay the filling on one half of the dough, making sure to leave a border.
  6. After you have filled each calzone, fold the half that doesn’t have the filling over the top of the half with the filling. Pinch the edges together (like a pie crust) to seal the calzone, then go over it with a fork to ensure a tight seal so the filing doesn’t escape in the oven. Then cut 3 or 4 slits into the top of the calzones to let any steam escape. Brush them with the egg wash and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the calzones from the oven, brush with remaining egg wash & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake an additional 8 minutes.
  7. Serve with a side of marinara & simple green salad.
Recipes

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza

When it comes to meatless Monday meals, I sometimes struggle with finding recipes that are filling enough to be called a dinner, but are also exciting. The inspiration for this recipe came from a Tasty video I watched about 5 different ways to make meatless tacos. One of the taco ideas was a buffalo cauliflower taco.

I am not a huge fan of cauliflower so I was skeptical at first, but I love anything buffalo, so I figured “cauliflower can’t be that bad when drenched in buffalo sauce…right?” Watching the video I thought to myself, I can easily make this buffalo cauliflower, but I wanted to do something different than tacos. Then it hit me. PIZZA.

The cauliflower part of the recipe was inspired by Tasty, and the taco version can be found here: Meatless Tacos 5 Ways

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup milk of choice
  • ½ cup buffalo sauce
  • pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 4 stalks celery
  • ¼ cup Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, add flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and milk, and stir to combine.
  3. Add cauliflower florets into the bowl with the flour and milk mixture. Stir to coat the cauliflower.
  4. Transfer cauliflower to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.
  5. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and brush it with buffalo sauce and place back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. While the cauliflower bakes, roll out pizza dough to desired shape and size and place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil (or a pizza stone if you have one).
  7. When the cauliflower is done baking, bake the crust at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until firm and starting to brown on the edges.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven and top with mozzarella cheese and cauliflower. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling.
  9. While the pizza finishes baking, run a vegetable peeler down the celery stalks to create ribbons.
  10. When the pizza is finished baking drizzle it with the rest of the buffalo sauce and top with celery ribbons. Finish the pizza with a drizzle of Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing and serve.

 

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Recipes

Black Bean Chimichangas

When trying to come up with my own recipes they often change throughout the process. Somewhere between coming up with the initial idea to actual execution, there are some bumps in the road which lead my original idea to sometimes shift. That was no exception with these chimichangas.

This recipe originated as an idea for black bean flautas. Flautas are similar to taquitos but use flour tortillas instead of corn. This idea changed when I began filling them and realized they were too big to call them flautas, but definitely too small to be full burritos.

Flautas are rolled like taquitos, which leaves the ends open and I was afraid all the filling would escape when they were being fried, so I tucked in the edges, making them look more like little burritos. Enter the chimichanga. Chimichangas are traditionally larger since they are just deep fried burritos, but I figured if I was going to fry them, it was best to make them smaller. They ended up being delicious which is all I could really ask for right?

 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 12 chimichangas

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 medium flour tortillas
  • 1-1 ½ cups shredded jack cheese
  • ¼- ½ cup canola oil*

For serving:

  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup sour cream

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and cook until soft and beginning to brown.
  3. Add cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add drained beans to vegetables and cook until beans begin to soften.
  5. Once beans are soft, transfer beans and vegetables to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  6. Spread about 3-4 tablespoons of pureed beans on the center of each tortilla and top with 1-1 ½ tablespoons of cheese then fold the tortilla ‘burrito style’.
  7. In a large sauté pan, heat canola oil on medium high heat and cook chimichangas in batches, until browned on both sides.
  8. Top browned chimichangas with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted.
  9. To serve, top chimichangas with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and a drizzle of sour cream

*Add enough canola oil to the pan to go about halfway up the chimichangas.

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Recipes

Smashed Chickpea & Broccoli Tacos w/ Lemon Tahini Spread

When the new year started I knew I wanted to enact a new tradition in the kitchen. I was also trying to eat less meat so Meatless Monday’s seemed like the perfect choice. At first it was very daunting, the thought of having to come up with a new meatless recipe every single week, but I was excited for the challenge.

These tacos were my first ever Meatless Monday recipe and I was so happy they turned out as incredible as they did. It was scary after all, trying something new. The delicious taste and full feeling in my tummy after eating these tacos was telling me I’d be okay.

When trying to come up with this recipe I first focused on the main ingredient. What was going to be my ‘meat substitute’ for this dish? I also knew I wanted to do tacos because they’re an easy way to try out new ingredients and combinations.

I have always loved chickpeas and I find them really filling so I decided to make them the base of the taco. I knew I wanted to add a fresh component to add contrast so I thought riced broccoli and avocado would be really yummy. Then I just had to figure out how to season the chickpeas and some kind of saucy or creamy element and I was done! My first Meatless Monday recipe, done! This was very exciting for me. The best part? This wasn’t just a meatless dish, but it was also vegan! What an exciting way to start a new tradition!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: about 8 tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 6-8 tortilla (depending on size)
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Directions:

  1. Put broccoli florets into a food processor & pulse until broccoli becomes finely chopped up, set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine drained chickpeas with 1 tablespoon of oil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Toss to coat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine tahini & lemon juice and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a medium sauté pan heat remaining oil on medium heat. Add onions and sauté until onions are soft & starting to brown. Add the smashed garlic clove and stir around until fragrant.
  5. Add seasoned chickpeas to the pan and cook until heated through and slightly browned.
  6. When chickpeas become soft take a potato masher (or fork) and smash about half of the chickpeas.
  7. Add shredded carrots to the pan with the chickpeas & cook until they become soft.
  8. Heat your tortillas and spread some of the tahini onto the bottom of the tortilla.
  9. Next, lay on the chickpea & carrot mixture.
  10. Top each taco with broccoli, sliced avocado & more of the tahini mixture.
  11. Enjoy!

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Recipes

Creamy Ranch Dressing

I’m a woman who believes in many things. But one thing I will always stand behind?BOTTLED SALAD DRESSINGS ARE GARBAGE.

That may seem a little aggressive, but I feel very strongly about the topic…

Bottled dressings are bad for a number of reasons. There is nothing fresh inside of that bottle so the taste will never be what it should be. There are a lot of yucky things on that label that you’ve probably never heard of, and definitely should not be putting into your body. And lastly, they are packed with things that cause them to have high levels of sodium, cholesterol, and fat.

Making dressings at home saves you money and is a much healthier option. Not to mention it will taste a million times better than anything that comes out of a bottle. Now, I will admit there are a very select few (less than 4) bottled dressings that are excluded from my hatred and Trader Joe’s Romano Cesar Dressing is one of them, but that’s besides the point here guys!

Weather you make a big batch at the beginning of the week, or quickly assemble something before putting together your salad, take my advice and try making your dressings at home.

Yes I realize the irony here involving me talking about making healthy choices on a blog post about ranch dressing but even homemade ranch is a healthier option than a bottled one! And don’t worry, there are more (healthier) dressing recipes coming your way soon!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: about 1 1/2 cups of dressing

Ingredients:

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.  IMG_0085

Recipes

Weeknight Fish Tacos

Fish tacos have always been a special treat for me because the best fish tacos always come from the seafood stands near the beach. They were never something I really thought to make for myself. That is until I stumbled upon battered halibut in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s.

I quickly grabbed a box and tossed it in my cart. I couldn’t wait to taste them to see if they tasted anything like fried fish from one of the previously mentioned seafood stands.

Boy were they good! Fresh out of the oven they had an unmistakable crispiness that rivaled any ‘freshly fried’ piece of fish I’d had before. I knew they would be perfect for fish tacos, paired with a creamy white sauce and topped with a fresh slaw. I hope you guys enjoy these tacos as much as I did!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2

1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon milk (if needed)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 box battered Halibut (Trader Joe’s)
4 flour or corn tortillas*
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/3 cup grated carrot

 

Preheat the oven according to package directions.

Combine sour cream, 3 tablespoons of lime juice, cilantro, salt & pepper in a bowl. Mix until smooth & check the consistency. If you like your sauce thinner, add the milk. Then store in the fridge until ready to use.

In a medium bowl, combine the shredded cabbage and grated carrot. Cover with remaining lime juice & toss to coat. Set aside.

Cook the fish according to package directions.

When the fish comes out of the oven toss in the tortillas (carefully) & warm them until they are pliable.

Once the tortillas are ready, spoon some of the sauce on them and top with a few pieces of fish, some cabbage & carrots, then dollop more sauce on top if you please (trust me, you please).

I served my tacos with a rosemary & olive oil quinoa blend made by Near East.

*Corn tortillas are more traditional for this dish but I usually have flour tortillas on hand so thats what I generally use.

Recipes

Creamy Chicken & Rice

One pot meals are truly a wonderful thing. Especially when that pot is filled with vegetables, rice, chicken, and wine. That one pot gets even better when finished with parmesan cheese, but I digress.

This is probably one of my most made recipes, because of how quickly and easily it comes together. A little bit of prep time to chop a few vegetables is about as hard as this recipe gets.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, which I will link below. I cut the recipe in half because the original recipe serves 8-10 but I still use the original amount of chicken (1.5lbs) because I felt like that was enough chicken for 4 to 5 people. The measurements I use for the 4-5 servings are listed below.

The original recipe as well as the direction for cooking can be found here: Natasha’s Kitchen, Creamy Chicken and Rice

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-5

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped onion*
1 cup shredded carrots*
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 bay leaves, optional
1/2 cup dry white wine such as Chardonnay
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup medium grain rice such as Jasmine rice (un-rinsed)
1 head garlic
⅓ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

* I buy pre cut and pre shredded onions and carrots from Trader Joe’s which cuts down on the prep time by about 10 minutes.

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Recipes

Ethereally Smooth Hummus

There are a lot of people out there who inspire me, especially when it comes to cooking. One of the people who makes the top of my inspiration list is Deb Perelman, also known as the Smitten Kitchen.

She inspires me for many reasons. She’s hilariously unapologetic in the best way possible. Every recipe of hers that I have made has been delicious, so I always know I can count on her to create wonderful dishes. And last but definitely not least, I met her at a book signing a few months back when she released ‘Smitten Kitchen: Everyday’ (its an amazing book, I’ll link it below) and she was incredible. Talking to her felt like talking to family. She was so warm and inviting even through she had talked to about 200 people before it was my turn, it was truly an amazing experience.

When Deb posted this hummus recipe I was very intrigued to know what made it ‘ethereally’ smooth. You want to know the secret? You peel the chickpeas. It sounds like a lot of work but it really only takes less than 10 minutes and is so worth it. It was actually a little relaxing for me and I even convinced my boyfriend to help so the time went by even faster. if you’re going to make your own hummus, why not make the best hummus possible right?

For directions on how this hummus comes together check out: Deb’s Ethereally Smooth Hummus

Also don’t forget to check out her latest (amazing) book: Smitten Kitchen Everyday

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: about 1 3/4 cups hummus
1 3/4 cups cooked, drained chickpeas (from a 15-ounce can)
1/2 cup tahini paste*
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste**
2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon table salt, or more to taste
Approximately 1/4 cup water or reserved chickpea cooking water

*If you prefer your hummus to be less nutty than most, the way I do, start with 1/4 cup of tahini paste and add more from there until you reach your desired flavor.

**I also prefer my hummus very lemony so I added closer to 1/3 cup lemon juice.

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Recipes

Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Shells

Any recipe that can be made in advance, and thrown into the oven when I get home from work is a recipe I can get behind. Stuffed shells can be a process to put together but if you take the time when you have it, maybe on a weekend or day off, you’ll be a happy camper on one of those notorious busy days.

This dish is also a great way to get your kiddos in the kitchen with you. You can put together all the ingredients and they can help you assemble the shells. It’s fun for the kids but also helps you finish dinner even quicker. In the words of Ina Garten “how bad could that be?”

Once the dish is assembled, all you have to do is throw it in the fridge or freezer (it freezes very well) and it’s ready for you to pop in the oven at the end of a busy day.

This dish is warm, comforting, cheesy and filling. It’s perfect to enjoy on a cold winter night, but the ground turkey and spinach filling make it light enough to enjoy even on a warm summer night!

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 6

1 package jumbo pasta shells
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/3 pound mild or hot Italian sausage
5 ounces fresh spinach
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
32 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. When water boils, cook shells according to package directions. Drain pasta and gently toss with olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

In a medium skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and cook until fragrant. Add the ground turkey and sausage, then cook until browned. Add the spinach and cover until spinach has wilted.  Toss the meat mixture into a large bowl and set aside to cool.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the onions until they become soft and just begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and cook until fragrant. Turn down the heat and add the tomato sauce and water. Stir to combine and simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until ready to use.

Add the ricotta and eggs to the bowl with the cooled meat mixture, stir until combined. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture.

Pour the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and layer the shells into the dish. Cover the shells with parmesan cheese and top with shredded mozzarella.

If eating at a later time, cover the dish with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to eat. Remove the dish from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes) before baking.

Bake at 350°F uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until top is browned and sides are bubbling.