Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

I was never really a fan of cabbage rolls. Boiled cabbage stuffed with a ground meat and rice mixture covered in a sweet tomato sauce…this was just never really my thing. The cabbage was too soft (and a little bit too smelly!), the sauce was always too sweet, and the filling a little too greasy and heavy for my liking. If you like these traditional cabbage rolls, then my apologies. But I do love making and eating stuffed vegetables so I figured there must be a way that I could transform these green meat pockets into something oh so appealing. I found my inspiration on a rainy afternoon, watching Giada make stuffed swiss chard rolls…I like goat cheese, I like lentils, I like swiss chard…and my updated take on the traditional cabbage roll was born.

To make these more of a “hearty” meal for Adam and I, I added some vegetarian ground round to the filling…my substitute for the usual ground beef mixture. I also may have added just a tad more cheese…I figured anything stuffed with goat cheese and covered in parmesan couldn’t be a bad thing. And right I was! If you think you don’t like your grandmothers cabbage rolls, give these a try! Side note: some times the most delicious food is the least eye appealing…these swiss chard rolls may not photograph well, but do not be turned off! Have I ever steered you wrong??

Lentil, Goat Cheese, and Soy Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls (Adapted from this recipe)

1 head swiss chard (you want about 10-12 leaves)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 package veggie ground round (I used Yves)

1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature (it should be soft)

1 cup cooked brown lentils

1/2 cup chopped mint

1 cup baby arugula leaves, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce or homemade sauce

3/4 cup grated parmesan

Remove the thick stems from the swiss chard and cut in half lengthwise if very large. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add chard leaves and boil for about 10 seconds (you just want to soften them so they are easy to roll). Rinse under cold water and pat dry. They are a little delicate so just be very gentle with this step.

Mix together the brown rice, ground round, lentils, goat cheese, mint, arugula, garlic, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/3 cup of filling in each swiss chard leaf and roll up like you would a burrito. Spoon about 1 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and layer the swiss chard bundles on top. I had extra filling leftover so I just baked it along the side but you could eat it just as is (it is very very good!)

Topped with the extra filling…quite good actually!

Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until bubbly and hot.

Served with a green salad


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So it may not be tomato season just yet, but I could not resist using them when I saw a recipe in The New Brooklyn Cookbook Adam gifted me as a souvenir of our time there. This book is fantastic…it highlights all the restaurants that helped put Brooklyn on the foodie map. So many of our favorites are featured with recipes of some of their house specialties….from the rabbit at Al Di La to the fried goat cheese salad at Rosewater…the memories of delicious dishes brings tears to my eyes!

And after using Ici’s dish as an inspiration, I will now have to visit this Fort Greene restaurant on my next visit to Brooklyn. The next time you are in a tizzy wondering what on earth you are going to make for your vegetarian dinner guests, try this recipe and prepare to wow even the biggest carnivores in your group. It’s the perfect way to showcase all of spring and summers fantastic vegetables!

Pan Fried Tomatoes topped with Goat Cheese and Lima Bean Succotash (Adapted from The New Brooklyn Cookbook)

3 eggs

1/4 cup skim milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups panko bread crumbs

3 large tomatoes, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

1/4 cup fresh basil plus 1 tbsp chopped basil

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

kernels from 3 ears of fresh corn

1 cup frozen lima beans, microwaved according to package instructions

1/2 large red onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1/4 cup goat cheese mixed with 1 – 2 tbsp buttermilk until spreadable

salt and pepper

Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl and place the flour and panko in two separate bowls. Dip each tomato slice in the flour, then egg, and then panko and set aside until ready to cook

In a food processor or small blender, mix 1/4 cup basil leaves with the 1 tbsp olive oil and puree. Set aside

Heat two tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and pan-fry the tomatoes in batches until golden brown on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm in an oven at about 250 degrees.

Heat the butter in the pan over medium-high heat until bubbly. Add the corn, lima beans, onion, and bell pepper and saute until the corn is cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped basil and salt and pepper.

Spread the goat cheese mixture on the tomato slices. Spread a spoonful of the basil puree onto each plate (serves about 4 people) and spoon the succotash on top. Then lay three slices of fried tomatoes on each plate.

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I’m so excited to get back to sharing some recipes with you all, and just in time for summer. Craving pasta, I wanted something light, but flavorful to avoid overheating in the scorchers we’ve been having. When I saw a fellow blogger tweet about making a caprese pasta, I knew a bowl filled with bright tomatoes, fragrant basil, and fresh mozzarella would hit the spot.

The ingredients

This bright and fresh take on a Giada recipe came together so quickly. And you can really change-up or leave out any of the vegetables I used.

Caprese Linguine with Asparagus and Zucchini

1 box whole wheat linguine

1 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch asparagus

2 zucchini

2 pints grape tomatoes, halved

1 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into pieces

3/4-1 cup fresh basil, torn

salt and pepper

Boil pasta according to box directions and reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water. In the last 2 minutes of boiling the pasta, add the asparagus and place in a bowl of ice water. Dry and cut into bite size pieces.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Sautee the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and sautee until they start to get tender. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook and smush them with a fork to release their juice (this is what makes your sauce). Continue cooking until the tomatoes are totally soft and you have a nice sauce in the pan.

Add the asparagus, basil, pasta, and cheese and toss to combine. If the pasta isn’t “saucy” enough, add some of the reserved pasta water (I didn’t need to add any). Season with salt and pepper and ENJOY!

I hope you like this fast, healthy, and simple pasta dish as much as I did. A new summer family favorite!

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So here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! My thoughts on who has the best pizza, pasta, Mexican food and more in all of New York! Some things to note: I had many amazing meals and dishes that are not mentioned here. These are just some that really stood out to me…not to say I didn’t enjoy many many more! I also didn’t cover “the best of” every possible food category because that would just take way too long…both to write and read! And of course, I was not able to get to even half of the restaurants on my very VERY long list. This may shock some of you with the plethora of restaurant related posts on this blog. But trust me, there are just so many good restaurants here…it’s kind of overwhelming (and very stressful!) But I did what I could, and without further adieu and in no particular order…

The Best Appetizer: Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with truffle honey butter and burnt orange toast from Locanda Verde (review)

The Best Brunch: Cookshop (review #1 #2 #3)

So I think the fact that I went back to this place three times speaks to how good it is. From the ideal location right next to The Highline, to the wonderful and homey atmosphere, to the absolutely delicious food! Let’s look back at some of my favorites, shall we?

Scrambled eggs with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, caramelized onion, served on homemade biscuit and watercress salad

Pastry board: chocolate chip scone, sweet potato bread, apple muffin, pecan sticky bun, blueberry jam and butter

Poached egg popover: poached egg, popover, leek and cheddar fondue

The Best Mexican: Barrio Chino (review #1 #2)

I originally fell in love with their strong margaritas and fish tacos. A return visit showed me that their enchiladas were truly top notch.

achiote and citrus rubbed tilapia served with avocado salsa and pickled onions

Enchiladas Verdes: green enchiladas stuffed with zucchini and mushrooms and melted oaxacan cheese served with black beans topped with queso fresco

The Best Vegetarian: Pure Food and Wine (review)

This is definitely a special occasion vegetarian restaurant but truly delicious! Even for the non-vegetarians among you!

Chocolate mint sundae with thin mint cookies, chocolate ice cream, mint ice cream, and whipped cream and chocolate sauce…never knew a vegan raw sundae could taste so good!

Zucchini and local heirloom tomato lasagna with basil pistachio pesto, sun-dried tomato marinara, and macadamia pumpkin seed ricotta

The Best Dessert: The salted caramel sundae from ABC Kitchen (review)

I know what you’re all thinking…yes, I do love me some Big Gay and Ample Hill, but those are in a category all to themselves. This is the best plated restaurant dessert…come on, totally different!

Sundae: salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts, popcorn, whipped cream, chocolate sauce

The Best Sandwich: The scuttlebuck from Saltie (review)

Homemade foccacia bread with pickled veg, hard boiled egg, greens, feta, house-made aioli, olives, and capers

The Best Salad: The kale salad from Northern Spy (review)

Kale salad with cheddar, delica squash, almonds and pecorino (the potato gnocchi on the right were excellent too!)

The Best Meatball: Piccolo Angelo (review)

Meatballs the size of my head! In a marinara sauce

Honorable Mention: Chicken meatballs from The Meatball Shop (review #1, #2)

Chicken meatballs in tomato sauce topped with grated parm and foccacia bead

The Best Pasta: House made linguine with spring fava beans, garlic, tomato, and toasted breadcrumbs from Frankies Spuntino (review)

House-made linguine with spring fava beans, garlic, tomato, and toasted breadcrumbs

The Best Pizza: The stracciatella and spinach pizza from Co (review), the margarita from Keste (review), the overall experience and uniqueness from Pauli Gee’s, (review #1, #2) and the bee sting from Roberta’s (review)

So I know it may not be proper to name FOUR places as “the best pizza,” but I think pizza is a very complex dish and there are many different kinds. When craving the traditional margarita, none is better than Keste. For your white pizza, head to Co. For the ultimate pizza parlor experience and very unique pies, travel to Greenpoint to see and meet Paulie Gee himself. And for fantastic sweet sauce mixed with spicy sausage and sweet honey, Roberta’s is truly top notch. All the crusts were fantastic, the sauces well seasoned, and the pies perfectly charred.

Stracciatella: crushed tomato, stracciatella, arugula, black pepper from Co

Regina Margherita: tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, grape tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil from Keste

Grapeful dead: Baby spinach, olive oil, mild gouda, shaved parmigiano reggiano, and pickled red grape halves from Paulie Gee’s

Three pies from Roberta’s: From right to left: the margarita, the bee sting (spicy salami, hot honey) and seasonal (kale, parm, fontina, lemon garlic oil)

The Best Asian Food: Talde (review)

Yes, I realize this is quite a broad category. But, Talde really wins for me for it’s perfectly cooked and flavored whole fish and it’s wacky over the top cereal bowl dessert.

Whole market fish: banana leaf roasted topped with tumeric-tomato chutney

The Best Burger: The lamb burger from The Breslin (review)

Chargrilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo, and thrice cooked chips

Best Ice Cream: Anything from Ample Hills (review)

Seriously…any of their hand crafted, small batch ice cream is absolutely delicious. And they make EVERYTHING in house…from the butter cake in the ooey gooey to the oatmeal cookie dough in Nona D’s oatmeal cookie. I have yet to find a place EVER to match these cups and cones.

Nona D’s Oatmeal cookie on the left and pumpkin with graham crackers and marshmallow on the right

Honorable Mention: The salty pimp from Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (review #….too many to count!)

This sweet and salty cone should really be in a category of its own. In fact, the whole shop should be! From it’s eclectic decor, to boisterous servers, to a menu filled with names like Bea Arthur (which is also delicious btw) and Affo-“gay”-to, how can you  not fall in love with it?

The Salty Pimp: I think you’ve seen this maybe one or two times here before! Caramel line ice cream cone with sea salt and chocolate

The Best Overall Dining Experience: ABC Kitchen (review)

This award  is based not only on the food, but the whole package…service, atmosphere, and the all-round feel of the place really makes a difference to me. ABC kitchen was a stunning restaurant with fantastic service, beautiful food, and obviously, so delicious!

Line caught tuna sashimi marinated with ginger and mint

Roasted beets with homemade yogurt and balsamic

Honorable Mentions: Traif (review) and Degustation (review) and Allswell (review)

Traif’s unique combinations and flavors really blew me away. The 5 course tasting menu at Degustation was so impressive…if they only had better service, I think this could have been a winner! The fact that I am STILL thinking about the pork from Allswell is definitely worth noting. Also worth noting is I visited all three honorable mention-worthy restaurants with the same friend…I think she may be just as food obsessed as myself!

Crispy pork belly, caulilflower, peperoncini, romesco, parsley-garlic from Traif

Third course: seared trout with chard leaves on a bed of corn, farro, and pea succatash with chorizo oil from Degustation

Roasted pork with aioli, anchovies, capers, and homemade olive bread from Allswell

I think that I could have really gone on and on…I will never forget the arepas from Caracas or the tofu from Gwynett St. or the octopus from Kefi…but I had to cut it off somewhere! I hope I have helped you sort out where to eat in a place where you will never EVER run out of restaurant options. I have already had some fantastic Toronto restaurant experiences and have many home-cooked meals to share with you. So please, STAY TUNED!

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Well, we are winding down on my NYC restaurant posts…only a few more to go before “The Best Of” can be revealed. I know, you all must be on the edge of your seats!

Remember when I talk about not being the only “lady who lunches” in New York? Well, to prove my point even further, let me share my experience when meeting Katherine for lunch on a random Friday at Cafe Gitane in Nolita. I had heard rumors about how busy this small Moroccan/French cafe gets on the weekends. So, being a lady of leisure, I figured a week day lunch would be the perfect opportunity to finally cross this spot off my list. How wrong I was! Katherine and I arrived there to a 20 minute wait with no chance of grabbing an outdoor table. Once seated, we were elbow to elbow with our neighbors and the place was so loud, I think we were practically screaming at each other while we caught up on our latest running and restaurant adventures. Can someone please explain to me how the citizens of New York City have the time and money to take extra long, mid-week lunches?? I appreciate your responses.

The menu at Cafe Gitane was quite appealing…there were many a dish that sounded extremely tasty and all of the food looked so fresh and delicious. I already had my heart set on their famous avocado toasts and luckily, Katherine is always up for sharing!

Avocado toast with lemon and chili

Smoked trout salad with arugula, lentils, goat cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, avocado, and cherry tomatoes

Avocado on toast–sounds so simple, right? The addition of lemon juice and red pepper flakes on delicious toasted multigrain bread really elevated this dish to the next level. But be warned, the toasts do pack quite a bite! The salad was actually my definition of a perfect salad with so many different flavors and textures: salty and smoky trout, creamy goat cheese, sweet cranberries, rich avocado, crunchy walnuts, and filling lentils…I am already crafting my recipe re-creation, so stay tuned!

My other weekday lunch took me to the very popular Madison Square Eats. If I thought Cafe Gitane was crowded…Wow! Literally PACKED with people escaping their offices to try out a very large selection of eats. From Momofuku Milk Bar to Eataly to Mile End, this place had it all. But I had my heart set on Roberta’s, a Bushwick spot famous for their pizza that I had not been able to get to as of yet.

Roberta’s built a wood burning oven right in the middle of Madison Square

Three pies from Roberta’s: From right to left: the margarita, the bee sting (spicy salami, hot honey) and seasonal (kale, parm, fontina, lemon garlic oil)

The bee sting definitely echoed Paulie Gee’s flavor combination, but I think Roberta’s crust and sauce may be just a smidgen better (don’t worry…I still love me some Paulie!) The seasonal pizza was also delicious, but there’s something about the sweet, salty, and spicy combo of the bee sting that won me over. I highly recommend you brave the crowds and the heat and give MSE a chance. I wish I could return to try some Arancini Bros…so go try them for me please!

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In an effort to continue to stay away from my touting everything as “the best____ I ever ate,” I am here to tell you not of “the best” black and white cookie, but what I think is “the ultimate” black and white cookie. And it is found only mere blocks from our small apartment at Joyce Bake Shop in Prospect Heights. I am by no means a black and white cookie connoisseur. I’ve tried a couple of versions, but am definitely not an expert. However, this cookie, you really couldn’t help but fall in love.

What really set this cookie apart from all the others was not the super tender crust, but the black and white frosting. That’s right, FROSTING! Not the usual gloppy glaze that sits on top of your average black and white cookie. This is true cupcake frosting, laid on nice and thick on the buttery cookie base. Just trust me and try it!

But before you indulge in this delicious cupcake-like cookie, I encourage you, no, I implore you to try this super easy and super tasty recipe staring avocado. Who doesn’t like this buttery and rich green fruit (yes, I do believe avocado is in fact a fruit). Normally found in guacamole, salsas, and as a salad topper, I have turned this fruit into the perfect taco accompaniment or Mexican themed dinner appetizer.

Panko Crusted Avocado Fries

1 Avocado, sliced into fry like sticks

1/2-1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 lime, juiced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine panko with spices. Squeeze lime juice over avocado slices and toss gently in panko so you don’t break the avocado. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until panko is brown.

I served them with a dipping sauce made of Greek yogurt mixed with a little lime juice and some adobo sauce from a leftover can of chipotle peppers kicking around in our fridge. A delicious start to an Mexican fiesta!

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The end of April means two things:

1. I have less than a month left in this glorious city and really need to start organizing my “where I NEED to eat” list

2. Foodie Penpals reveal day! So just in case you forget what this foodie penpals is all about…it was started by Lindsay @the lean green bean and here’s a little summary of this fantastic foodie program:

Every month you receive your penpal pairing via email. You then contact them to find out all their likes/dislikes/allergies and put together a box filled with scrumptious food products that costs no more than $15. Include something written and send your box off and await to receive your own delightful box of goodies. Then you blog about it at the end of the month. If you don’t have a blog…don’t fret. You can still participate in this wonderful foodie program.

I’ve participated for two months now and both times I was quite pleased with the box I found on my doorstep. And this month’s box of goodies, yet again, did not disappoint.

I couldn’t even wait until the picture was taken to rip into that bag of snap pea crisps. Crispy and crunchy with a very interesting flavor, I think they would be perfect for adding texture to a nice green salad in place of the usual croutons. My favorite thing in this box was the peanut butter granola.

The first day I had it mixed into yogurt, the second just eaten straight from the bag. This sweet and peanutty cereal is now a house favorite! Thank you Caroline for the delicious box of goodies! Check out Jennifers blog to see the food gifts I sent to her!

Inspired by foodie penpals, I reached for the bag of pistachios I was gifted last month, combined them with goat cheese, and stuffed them into some button mushrooms, a perfect vessel for this creamy filling. These delicious, cheesy, and rich mushroom bites would make the perfect party appetizer or really the perfect snack anytime. I mean, anything stuffed with goat cheese and pistachios is bound to taste good right?

Goat Cheese and Pistachio Stuffed Mushrooms

6 button mushrooms, stems removed

1/4-1/3 cup of goat cheese, softened

2 tbsp chopped pistachios

zest of half a lemon

1/2-1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

splash of milk

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Arrange mushrooms on a sheet pan.

Mix together remaining ingredients, adding enough milk until it reaches a stuffable consistency (you don’t want to it too thick you can’t stir it but not too thin it wouldn’t stuff and stay in the mushrooms…I probably used about 2 tbsp milk)

Stuff mushrooms and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until top begins to brown and mushrooms are soft and tender.

Surprisingly so delicious, considering how simple the ingredients were and how quickly they came together. I think they would also be nice over a bed of spinach with a drizzle of balsamic and oil as a salad. The perfect spring appetizer!

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