Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Grilled Rainbow Kabobs

What’s the best part of summer? Grilling, of course! Once the weather warms up, I try to make it a habit to grill as many meals as possible. To me, grilling is synonymous with summer. I am not one of those people who sends her husband outside during winter in a full snow suit to grill up some steaks. Although, the thought has crossed my mind, I am not going to lie.

One of my favorite things to grill is skewers, also known as kabobs. I think kabobs are so versatile because you can make them solely with meat, with fruits/veggies, or a mix of both. I posted this picture on Instagram and Twitter over Memorial Day weekend and it got a ton of buzz, which surprised me because I hadn’t planned on blogging this recipe. It was just something I threw together at the last minute, but it will probably be a staple at many BBQ’s to come.

Grilled Rainbow Vegetable Skewers or Kabobs

I’ve seen something similar to these floating around Pinterest using fruit, but there is no reason you can’t do the same with veggies. To make these, I tossed everything in a large bowl with olive oil and, after skewering them, I seasoned them with equal parts garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt. 

Foods That Are Good For Grilling

Want to make your own rainbow kabobs? You can use the same fruits and veggies I did or mix and match based on what is in season or available. Wouldn’t it be fun to do coordinate team colors at an end of the year BBQ or school colors for a graduation party? Below are some foods you can use to make your own kabobs sorted by color.
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Watermelon Rhubarb Gazpacho

Cool off this summery with a crisp watermelon and rhubarb gazpacho. This would be fantastic garnished with some crumbled feta. You could also add vodka for a spin on the classic Bloody Mary mix. Trust me!

Rhubarb watermelon gazpacho

Every year around this time gazpacho recipes start flooding my Pinterest feed. Gazpacho is a soup made with raw vegetables and served cold or at room temperature. Not only did the idea of cold soup never appeal to me, but I also never really understood the gazpacho craze. I mean, how is a raw, cold soup different from a smoothie? I didn’t get it.

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Green Beans with Toasted Almonds &
Blood Orange Vinaigrette

This recipe for green beans gets a zesty punch from the blood orange vinaigrette. It’s a perfect side dish for a summer BBQ! The blood orange vinaigrette would also make a great dressing for a brunch salad.

green beans with blood orange vinaigrette

While most of the kiddos in Chicago are heading back to school today, I am sitting in my house enjoying a hot cup of coffee with the windows open. Getting Easter Monday off is one of the perks of working at a Catholic school. I mentioned that the windows were open, right?! OPEN. Begone, winter! See you next year! spring is finally on the horizon!

You know what is awesome about spring? The seasonal fruits and veggies that start to pop up at the grocery store and farmer’s markets. You start to see things like asparagus, ramps, peas, and fennel. The sheer RETURN of the farmer’s market is an exciting thing about spring. 

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Summertime Mango Salsa

This recipe for mango salsa has me dreaming of summer! It’s great on it’s own or as a topping for fish!

Mango and Avocado Salsa is a great topping for fish | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

We are experiencing the 4th snowiest and 3rd coldest winter in Chicago ever. Ever! It’s likely that this is the worst we’ll see for a long time, but if next winter rolls around and tries to compete for any slot in the top 10 “worst winters,” I’m moving. My husband can come with me if he wants to, but if he opts to stay here, I’ll book a visiting flight for June. I simply cannot take anymore winters like this one! When I woke up this morning and looked out the window to see that it was snowing, this was my EXACT reaction.

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8 Great Egg-free, Meat-free Paleo Breakfasts

I’m delighted to share a guest post I wrote for my blogger (and real life) friend, Jenny B, over at Honey & Birch. Every week she rounds-up 8 recipes or crafts that she finds around the web. I was really excited when she asked me to write a post for her and even more excited when we came up with the topic, egg-free Paleo breakfasts.

I happen to love eggs, but the two most common things people say when I tell them I’m Paleo are:

  1. I could never be Paleo, I don’t eat a lot of meat and
  2. You can’t eat cereal or bread?! What do you eat for breakfast? I don’t like eggs!

Well, I rounded up some of my favorite egg-free Paleo breakfast options and, by happy accident, they also happened to be meat-free! 
egg-free and meat-free Paleo breakfasts
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Food Blogger Cookbook Swap!

Food Blogger Cookbook Swap

At the beginning of the month, I signed up for a Food Blogger Cookbook Swap, hosted by Alyssa of http://www.EverydayMaven.com and Faith of http://www.anediblemosaic.com. For the swap, I sent a gently used cookbook from my collection to a food blogger and received a cookbook from their collection in return. 

Which Cookbook Did I Get?

Vegetables: The Most Authoritative Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking, with More Than 300 Recipes by James Peterson.

Food Blogger Cookbook Swap

Vegetables by James Peterson

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How To Shop For And Trim Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts. People love ‘em or hate ‘em. I, myself, am a sprout lover. I eat brussels sprouts two to three times a week. Sometimes I have them alongside eggs for breakfast and other times I have them as a side dish with dinner.

If you are a sprout hater, I beg you to try one of the recipes at the bottom of this post and surely you’ll change your mind! One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is browned in ghee and bacon fat, seasoned with salt and pepper, and tossed with dried cranberries and toasted almonds. Simple, colorful, and delicious.

How to Shop for Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are usually sold individually; however, during the fall when they are in season, sometimes they are sold on the stalk. How cool do they look on the stalk? I have unsuccessfully tried to grow brussels sprouts in my garden for the past two years. Perhaps this is the year! :-)

If your local grocery store or farmer’s market is selling the sprouts on the stalk, do not be intimidated! They are easy to remove and you do not need any fancy or special equipment to do so. 

Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk

To choose a “good” sprouts, pick them up and give them a little squeeze. The leaves should feel tightly packed especially around the base. You will be trimming off the bottom and if the leaves are loose around the stem, you’ll lose some of the good leaves along with the dirty ones.

Trimming brussels sprouts

How to Trim Brussels Sprouts

If you buy brussels sprouts on the stalk, you can snap them off by hand before you begin to trim them. I never wash brussels sprouts before I cook them. Is that gross? I don’t feel much of a need to wash them first because you end up removing all of the dirty outer leaves as you prep them for cooking. After you have removed the outer leaves, if you’d like to wash them, you can give them a quick rinse under cold water.

Trimming brussels sprouts

Trim a small portion off the bottom of the sprout. Some of the leaves may fall off on their own, that is ok. 

Trimming brussels sprouts

Pull the outer leaves off until you see lighter green, shiny leaves. You’ll also want to remove any yellow, bruised, or dirty leaves. 

Trimming brussels sprouts

Now, you are ready to cook them. You can roast them, grill them, sauté them, steam them, or pickle them. They are such a versatile veggie and so tasty when prepared correctly! In the picture below, I halved them, because I was about to toss them in olive oil, season them with this spice blend and roast them for 25 minutes at 375˚. 

Trimming brussels sprouts

Ready to tackle the sprout on your own? Check out these awesome brussels sprouts recipes:

How To Shop For And Store Fresh Ginger Root

Happy New Year! Can you believe it is 2014 already?! I remember Y2K like it was yesterday. Yikes. Let’s not talk about that!

Are you getting plummeled with snow? We are. Truth be told, I don’t mind snow and cold too much. The part about winter that I despise is the darkness. It is dark when I wake up, grey and gloomy all day, and dark before 5 p.m. nearly everyday for 5 months. Yuck! Who thought of that?!

Every year, I suffer from big time winter blues, but one thing that helps boost my mood is ginger. Ginger is an extremely aromatic root that adds a punch of flavor to both sweet and savory recipes. It pairs nicely with citrus and is used frequently in Asian cooking.

What Does Fresh Ginger Look Like?

Fresh ginger is a knobby root and is typically found next to other root veggies (example: beets, turnips, rutabagas, fennel, etc.) in the grocery store.

Fresh Ginger Root in the grocery store | cucinakristina.com

Fresh ginger root

Fresh ginger can be upwards of $4 a pound. In this photo, it was on sale for $1.99 a pound so I stocked up. 

Shopping for Fresh Ginger

Let’s say you are making a dish that calls for a 1-inch piece of grated fresh ginger. As you can see in the photo above, none of those pieces of ginger are an inch long. You’ll want to look for a piece that looks like this for two reasons:

How to pick ginger root at the grocery store

Look for smooth edges.

  1. You can easily break this larger piece into a smaller piece.
  2. The smooth edges are going to make it easier to peel. 

I always look for pieces of ginger with smooth edges because I use a vegetable peeler to peel fresh ginger. If you have a piece that is super knobby with a lot of nooks and crannies, you can scrape the skin off with a spoon

Fresh Ginger Root

These smaller pieces were broken from larger pieces.

You want the ginger root to feel firm and be free of any noticeable imperfections. When you break the pieces off, the scent of ginger should be strong. Sometimes, I break the pieces to test the freshness even if I intend on buying the entire larger piece.

Storing Fresh Ginger

When you get home, peel the entire ginger root. Put it in a freezer safe bag, squeeze all of the air out, and pop it in your freezer. It will keep in your freezer for up to six months.

Using Frozen Ginger

When you are ready to use your ginger, remove it from the freezer and grate it using a microplane or cheese grater. You do not need to thaw the ginger first. In fact, frozen ginger is easier to grate than fresh ginger. 

Now that you are a ginger expert, check out some of these recipes.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Coffee (Inspired by Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte)

Confession: I’ve never had a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. 

It’s true! In general, I’ve never been a big fan of Starbucks coffee, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that I have managed to miss the PSL craze year after year. However, people seem to go absolutely bananas over this thing. Why? I don’t get it.

I decided to investigate, and was shocked as to what I found out. Granted, most people are not freaks about reading ingredients and most folks don’t pay attention to things like sugar content, but I am, and I do, and my reaction was something like this:

First, the pumpkin spice latte contains no actual pumpkin. It’s basically a mix of espresso and high fructose corn syrup. The average size PSL has 49g of sugar and 51g of carbs! Holy. Moly. That is more sugar than a regular can of Coke (39g), more sugar than a bag of Skittles (47g), more sugar than a can of Red Bull (27g), and more carbs than a Big Mac (46g). Y-I-K-E-S! And, don’t think those numbers drastically improve by using non-fat milk or ordering it sans whipped cream because they don’t.

Sorry, I’ll stop being a total buzz kill and get to the recipe!

I discovered this recipe when I was trying to make Pumpkin Pie Popsicles for a dinner party. I had some leftover popsicle mix, stored it in a mason jar, added it to my coffee the following morning. WOW! Yum, yum, yum!

Homemade Paleo Pumpkin Pie Coffee

Note: This recipe will fill a pint-sized mason jar. I was adding this to a 16 ounce travel mug and it easily lasted a full work week and then some!

Pumpkin Pie Coffee - Cucina Kristina |cucinakristina.com

Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-Free… we’re taking care of all dietary restrictions in one fell swoop!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut milk – (I use Silk brand, not full fat coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon raw coconut oil (optional)
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of high quality sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a week.
  3. Use in place of creamer in your favorite coffee.

Note: The pumpkin puree will settle in the bottom of your mug if you do not drink this quickly. Have a spoon on hand to give it a stir if you are savoring the flavor.

Also, apparently vegans are up in arms because the current Starbucks PSL cannot be made vegan. Guess what? The above recipe is vegan! Pass it on :-)

Za’atar Scented Carrot Fries

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have undoubtedly heard me rave about the Foodie Penpals program I participate in each month. Well, I found a Paleo version hosted by Tarah over at What I Gather and Brittanie over at Three Diets One Dinner. How perfect! Paleo Penpals is very similar to Foodie Penpals. Each month you are paired with another participant and you exchange Paleo-friendly items with them. Then, you create a recipe using the items you received from your pen pal. Tarah and Brittanie will put together a roundup post with all of the recipes that were submitted and post it on their blogs at the end of each month. I thought this would be a really great way to expand my Paleo pantry and get some inspiration for new recipes.

This month I was paired with Amanda from Kentucky. She sent me two different spice mixes; one was her own “super secret” pork rub and the other was a spice mix called za’atar. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix that is a mixture of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac and it used on pretty much everything in the Middle East. It can be used to season root veggies or you can add it to olive oil to make a dip for bread. Some people eat it straight from the jar.

Sumac has a slight citrus taste so my original thought was to make za’atar spiked marinara sauce; however, after adding nearly three tablespoons of it to the pot and finding it didn’t have the punch I was looking for, I gave up that idea. I’ve seen pictures of carrot “fries” floating around various Paleo blogs and decided to give that a try. Success!

Carrot fries are awesome! They have a consistency that is similar to sweet potato fries. The sweetness of the carrots and coconut oil pairs nicely with the tartness of the sumac. You can purchase za’atar online or you can make your own from scratch. If you can’t get your hands on any, you can substitute the za’atar in the recipe below for your favorite all-purpose spice blend or season with plain old salt and pepper.

By the way, have I showed you my method for melting coconut oil?

How to Melt Coconut Oil | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

We don’t own a microwave so I had to get creative!

Yup. That’s my bathroom. That’s my hairdryer. Laugh all you want, but it works like a charm! :)

Za'atar Scented Carrot "Fries" | Via Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Served alongside homemade mayo

*NOTE: This recipe makes a single serving of carrot “fries.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon za’atar

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425˚.
  2. Peel and chop carrots into quarters. You want them to be roughly the same size and thickness.
  3. In a bowl, toss carrots in melted coconut oil for a few minutes to make sure they are well coated.
  4. Add za’atar to the bowl and toss the carrots for another few minutes making sure to distribute the spice evenly.
  5. Spread the carrots onto a baking sheet lined with foil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes. Watch these as they have a tendency to burn quickly! It may take a few more minutes or a few less depending on how thick you cut your “fries.”
  6. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before serving.

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