Eggplant Parmesan


Eggplant Parmesan is hands down my favorite meal of all time. I love everything about it. I’m always hesitant to order it at a restaurant because it takes a lot of time and effort and you can definitely tell when people take shortcuts. For me it’s all about consistency. This recipe is a lot of work, about two hours in the kitchen, but the result is mouthwatering and totally worth it. I’ve seen recipes where people just bake it and skip the frying part, but I promise you it’s worth it to take the extra time to make this dish the right way. Eggplant is a very watery vegetable so it’s essential to get some of the water out, otherwise you end up with a yucky texture. I cut the eggplant and then dust it with ground sea salt, as you’ll see in the picture below the salt sucks the water out of the eggplant. imageAnother way to make your life easier while making this recipe is to set up a nice prep station. Get all of your ingredients out and ready to go and make sure you clean up after yourself as you go, otherwise it can be overwhelming. You will be multitasking, so establishing a clean functional prep space is clutch. I was thoroughly ecstatic about the way that this eggplant parm turned out and if you’re in the mood to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty (with breadcrumbs) I promise you it will be so worth it!

Ingredients:

Steps:

1.) Start by cutting the eggplant, lay the pieces out on and dust with sea salt- let them sit for at least 30 minutes or until you see the water come out.image2.) If you’re going to make homemade marinara follow this step, if not please skip to step 3. Drizzle some olive oil on a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the halved onion, celery, bay leaves and garlic, fresh basil and parsley, dried Italian herbs and let cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and simmer for at least an hour and half. When pouring the sauce on the eggplant just use the red sauce, avoid the onion, garlic, celery and bay leaves.image3.) Once the eggplant has been sitting for at least 30 minutes pat eggplant with paper towels to absorb the water. Set yourself up with a nice work area, take 5-6 eggs and whisk in a bowl. Take the Italian breadcrumbs, Italian panko breadcrumbs and flour all equal parts and mix together (you can use just breadcrumbs- I just find this mixture to result in the perfect consistency.) image4.) Dip the eggplant in the eggs and then coat in breadcrumbs (*Tip- after a while the breadcrumbs can get clumpy- I dump them out and make a new mixture about halfway through to ensure a nice even coat. It’s also helpful to do this right near the sink so you can rinse your hands off when you need to.) Spray the breaded eggplant with a light coat of olive oil spray on both sides.

5.) Get two skillets out and coat with vegetable over medium to high heat. Once the oil is warm add the eggplant. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the eggplant is golden brown and then flip and cook on the other side. Set the fried eggplant off to the side and repeat this step until all the eggplant has been fried. (*Tip- you will have to reuse the skillets since there will be a lot of eggplant. Run some water in on the skillet in between rounds and add new oil to keep the oil fresh.)imageimage6.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take your favorite pan and spray with olive oil, take the fried eggplant and put on the bottom of the pan. Add sauce (just enough on each layer to cover the eggplant,)  cheese (desired amount,) fresh basil and repeat until you get to the top of the pan! I had about 4-5 extra fried eggplants that I just set aside. imageimage7.) Cover the eggplant with aluminum foil and place in the lower rack and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover let rest for about 5 minutes and ENJOY the fruits of your labor.image image

Angel Hair Pesto Pasta with Sauteed Vegetables


I was craving a yummy pesto and started flipping through some of my favorite cookbooks. I was inspired by Vitamix kale and basil pesto recipe and the Oh She Glow’s avocado creamy pasta. I handed a bowl of this to my husband while he was on work phonecall and he blurted out “oh my god this is outstanding,” haha so I think it’s safe to say this dish was a home run! If you wanted to simplify this dish you could leave out the sauteed onions, squash and tomatoes, but I just love the color they add. Either way it will be delicious!

Ingredients:image

  • For the pesto: 1 avocado, 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1 lemon squeezed, 1 tsp. sea salt, 3 cloves of fresh garlic, 3/4 cup of organic extra virgin olive oil, 2 cups of fresh basil, 3 tablespoons of pine nuts.
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 cup of organic grape tomatoes diced (sun-dried tomatoes would be a great alternative)
  • 1 organic medium yellow squash
  • 1 box of your favorite angel hair pasta (I tried this kind for the first time and absolutely LOVED it!)

Steps:

1.) Start by adding all of the ingredients for the pesto into a Vitamix or food processor. Blend for 30 seconds or until you’ve achieved desired consistency.

2.) Cook the pasta according to the package directions. It’s best to cook it al dente since you will be mixing it back into warm ingredients.

3.) Add a little bit of olive oil to a medium pan and turn on medium to high heat-add the diced onions and let caramelize for 5 minutes or so. Add the squash and tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

image

4.) Add the pasta (do not rinse with cold water, just strain) to the pan with the sauteed veggies. Add the pesto…you will not need all of it just pour and mix until achieve desired amount and save the rest for leftovers!imageimage

Breakfast Smoothie- Trader Joe’s Fan


So if you haven’t already noticed by now I am a BIG FAN of Trader Joe’s. All of the ingredients (except the protein powder) in this smoothie are from Trader Joe’s.  I have been making this for a little over a week now and I am seriously obsessed!! I have never been a big eater in the morning, but I know how important it is to eat a nourishing breakfast so that’s why I love this smoothie.  After playing around with some different ingredients I came up with this recipe, it taste delicious and it’s really good for your digestive system. It’s jam packed with fiber and nutrients and keeps you full well into lunch time! Sometimes I struggle drinking it all and have to take breaks. I have a Vitamix blender- you’ll need a strong blender for the oats and the apple to avoid getting a gritty taste.

Serving Size: This could easily be 2 smaller easily, I just make a large amount and sip on it to keep full for a late lunch.21

Ingredients:

**Place it all in a blender and turn on, pour into your favorite cup and enjoy!!

Veggie Garden Salad


On Saturday I went to a local farmer’s market to get my weekly produce. Farmer’s markets are just starting to come back  after taking a break during the hot summer months in Florida. I absolutely love starting my Saturday with a coffee in my hand and the sun shining while looking at beautiful food.  There are so many beneficial reasons to go to your local farmers markets; support your local farmers, know where your food comes from, connect with your community, save $$ (my total bill was $29 for A LOT of fresh fruit and veggies) and to protect the environment (just to name a few.) If you live in a colder climate most states have indoor farmer’s markets, you just have to do your research! Stocking up on local produce help make weeknight dinners easier. I never really plan my meals out ahead of time, but I always have certain ingredients in my kitchen so that I can whip together a yummy recipe. Besides having fresh produce in my home at all times I always make sure to have organic brown rice, organic quinoa, protein plus pasta and tons of beans and lentils.  I also love fresh herbs, but they go bad so easily so I keep these pastes in my fridge. This salad was refreshing and yummy, and remember to really scrub your fruits and veggies before eating!5 4 6 7 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium cucumbers diced- I like to keep the skin on
  • 2 red peppers diced
  • 5 radishes diced
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (about 15 small tomatoes)
  • 1 can of rinsed organic great northern beans
  • 1/2 white diced onion
  • 2 heaping tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 heaping tablespoons white balsamic vinaigrette (I like to use both but you could do 1/4 cup of either)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4  cup Parmesan cheese (if you aren’t going to eat in one sitting then sprinkle cheese on each individual bowl)
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon squeezed
  • 3 celery stalks

Steps:

  1. Dice all the vegetables up and place into a large bowl.
  2. Take the balsamic vinaigrette, cheese, salt and pepper, garlic powder, lemon and olive oil and whisk in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour over the vegetables and mix well. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes or so. 23

Easy Sweet Potato Dinner


After a gorgeous run on the beach and a quick dip in the water I was  famished. During the week I typically  don’t like my dinner to take more than 20-25 minutes to prepare. This meal has become a go to for my hubby and I. It’s so filling and nutritious, but you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself…which I am big on (otherwise I’ve been known to go off the deep end  and eat a large pizza to my face, but that’s another story.) The avocados are so delicious right now in Florida so I have been taking advantage of that! I took some shortcuts as you will notice below, in the interest of saving time. I also think this meal looks kind of festive for Halloween!0520

  • Four small ripe avocados
  • Four small sweet potatoes or two large (I made more for leftovers)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt-and-pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro paste (you can use fresh if you’d like)
  • 1 small lime
  • About a cup of light Mexican blend cheese
  • One can of organic black beans (rinsed)
  • One and a half cup fresh pico de gallo (fresh store bought or you can make your own)

Step one: Place the sweet potatoes in the microwave for 7 to 9 minutes depending on size (you can also cook them in the oven at 425 degrees until fork tender.)

Step two : Cut the avocado in half (dicing it makes it easier if it’s not completely ripe…see picture below), spoon into a bowl and mash, add the olive oil, cilantro paste, garlic powder, pepper  salt and lime juice. Mix well!

lime

avocado

Step three: Take the rinsed black beans and pico de gallo and place in a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Step four: Turn your oven on broil. Take the sweet potatoes out of the microwave and cut them in half (see picture below) drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle cheese and place in the oven on broil until the cheese has melted.

sweet potatoStep five: Take the potatoes out of the oven and mash a little with spoon. Add beans and guacamole and enjoy!

mash sweet

final food

 🍴

xo,

               Taylor

P.S. -pictures from my run tonight!

unnamed unnamed1 unnamed2

I’m back! Sun-dried Tortellini with Fresh Vegetables


After a whirlwind of a year, moving down to Florida and renovating a condo I am finally feeling settled in my new environment and have decided to start sharing my recipes again since it brings me a lot of joy! I made this sun-dried tortellini dish on Friday night and it’s what inspired me to start blogging again. Hope you enjoy 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of your favorite tortellini (I used this and it was AMAZING)
  • 8 small assorted sweet peppers diced
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red chili flakes to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian Herbs Paste (I LOVE this ingredient- you can buy it at almost any grocery store)

FullSizeRender

Steps:

  1. Start by cooking the tortellini according to package directions.
  2. While the tortellini is cooking take a large skillet and add the olive oil and onions over medium to low heat. Let cook for about 3-5 minutes or until onions start to carmelize. Add the garlic and peppers, stir frequently and let cook for another 5-7 minutes or until it becomes tender.
  3. Add the lemon, salt and pepper, chili flakes and Italian herb paste into the pan.
  4. Once the tortellini is done, strain and add it to the other pan. Stir in the spinach until it wilts..sprinkle some fresh Parmesan cheese on if you desire-Bon Appétit!!

FullSizeRender-1

Pumpkin Ginger Carrot Soup


Yesterday I went to Niagara Produce and stocked up on vegetables. I realized as I was leaving that I may have been a tad overzealous when it came to the amount of carrots I bought, so I was on a mission to make an entree out of them.  I received a Vitamix for our wedding and thought what a perfect time of year to make a carrot pureed soup in that.  I added the pumpkin since it’s Fall and this soup was delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger- peeled and minced (you can add more if you like a bite) 
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. chunks
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • pinch of curry powder
  • pinch of cumin
  • 2 bay leafs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sugar in the raw (sprinkle on top to serve)
  • nutmeg (grate on top to serve)

Steps:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot  over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; saute for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, water, carrots, cumin, curry powder, bay leafs and pumpkin to the pot and heat until boiling.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  5. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor (I had to do mine in two batches)
  6. Season  salt and pepper, nutmeg and sugar  to taste.   SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Creamy Vegetable Curry


I made this recipe last week on a brisk fall day. I was craving something spicy and paired it with a fruitier red wine.  I took this recipe from the Oh She Glows cookbook, I have tried about 5 of her recipes now and I love how easy and delicious they are. I cannot believe that I have never made cashew cream before! The dish didn’t have dairy in it yet it was so creamy and rich. This will be a go to meal in our household from now on.ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 green chile or jalapeño, seeded, if desired, and diced (optional) #I used less than 1/2 tsp. of my chile because it was so hot
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded ad chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mild yellow curry powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Basmati rice, for serving *I used organic frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s instead
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Toasted cashews, for serving

Steps:

  1. In a blender, combine the cashews with 3/4 cup water and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir int he green chile (if using), potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, tomato, curry powder and salt. Sauté for 5 minutes more.
  3. Stir in the cashew cream and corn. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet with a lid. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Stir every 5 minutes throughout the cooking process. If the mixture starts to dry out, reduce the heat and add a splash of water or oil and stir to combine.
  4. Serve the curry over a bed of basmati rice and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and toasted cashews.

curry

 

 

 

Fall Inspired Dish


Fall is such a beautiful time of year in Western New York. On Monday I drove to Ellicottville and was in awe of all the beautiful foliage. I decided to make a dish that had all the colors I’ve been seeing outside. I picked lentils for brown, spaghetti squash for yellow, heirloom tomatoes for my red (and all of the colors), green mixture of kale, mustard, collard, spinach and turnips. Click here to read more about the health benefits of incorporating leafy greens into your daily diet! What I ended up with was a protein packed beautiful dinner that tasted delicious. I will be eating the leftovers again for dinner tonight, how do you think I did with matching the dish to the leaves?

Taken on Monday in Ellicottville, NY
Taken on Monday in Ellicottville, NY

final

Ingredients:

  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • Avocado oil or oil of your choice (lightly spread on squash)
  • 1 medium sized red onion -diced
  • 3 cups of organic vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 16 oz bag of green mixture (mine had collard, spinach, mustard, kale and turnips)
  • Packet of 1lb mini heirloom tomatoes -halved
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle
  • Red chili flakes to taste
  • 1lb of cooked lentils
  • Everyday seasoning spice to taste
  • Salt and pepper to tastepotstomatoes

Steps:

  1. Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees, cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and lightly coat in olive oil, place in oven for 35 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. In a medium sized skillet add the vegetable broth, greens and everyday spice, cook over medium to low heat for roughly 10 minutes or until greens have wilted a bit. Stir occasionally and cover. *Side note- I always like to make sure my greens STAY green and it’s important to watch out for overcooking them because you will lose some of the nutrients.
  3. In another skillet add 1 tsp of avocado oil (or your favorite oil) and add the onion over medium to high heat, stir frequently for about 5 minutes, lower heat and add garlic for 1-2 minutes and add the tomatoes.
  4. Let the onion, garlic, tomato mixture cook 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally and add them to the green mixture, stir together saute over low heat.
  5. Take the squash out of the oven and fork the squash to get the spaghetti like consistency, add the squash to the green mixture. Add salt, pepper, chili flakes and cheese and serve immediately!bowl

Zucchini Bites


I have always shied away from picking the larger zucchini out of my dad’s garden. I prefer the smaller to medium sized ones. However my dad convinced me that the large ones were just as good as long as you prepare it correctly. So he cut them into large slices and seasoned them and put them on the grill. He was right they were totally awesome. Last night after a weekend of eating lots of carbs and dairy my husband and I were in need of a lighter meal. These could be served as an appetizer or as a main dish. We had about 3 each and we were stuffed! The dish was bursting with delicious flavors and only took about 25 minutes to make! veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red onion (large dices)
  • 1 box of 13.4 oz cannellini beans (I highly recommend these!)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic (I love garlic- you can use less if you prefer)
  • 1 large zucchini (cut into ½ inch pieces)
  • Italian seasonings (as needed)
  • Garlic powder (as needed)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar (as needed)
  • Olive oil (as needed)
  • 1 large tomato thinly sliced
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
  • 8 cups loosely packed spinach
  • Red chili pepper flakes (to taste)
  • ¼ cup of filtered waterspinach

Steps:

  • Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In the meantime- take 3 teaspoons of olive oil and heat in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to caramelize, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Set aside.
  • Take a deeper pan and put ¼ cups of water in it add the spinach and cover over low heat until spinach has wilted and immediately remove from heat.
  • Add the beans, onion and garlic to the spinach and mix- add salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasonings to taste. Cover to keep warm.
  • When the oven has heated up to 400 take the sliced zucchini and lightly baste in olive oil (Wegman’s basting oil would be really good!), drizzle balsamic vinegar, sprinkle garlic powder, and Italian seasonings. Do this to both sides of the zucchini.
  • Place in oven for 10 minutes or until it’s fork tender, take out and add the tomatoes. Turn oven on a low broil and put back in for 5-7 minutes or until zucchini has started to brown and the tomatoes have started to roast.
  • Take the spinach bean mixture and add to the to top of the zucchini, sprinkle parmesan cheese and red chili flakes!final image