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Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant

As discussed in my last post, I was recently asked if I’d like to review two of Urban Outfitters’ cookbooks,?Power Snacks and the one from which today’s recipes came,?The Clean-Eating Kitchen.

Stuffed Eggplant

Even more so than?Power Snacks, this particular cookbook takes an easy-to-make, weekday-kind-of-meals approach. Most of its recipes, like the Squash, Kale and Farro Stew or the Roasted Beet and Barley Salad or this recipe, the Stuffed Eggplant, are conscious of both time and ingredient list length.

Use fresh, quality ingredients, and you don’t need a recipe that spans across three pages. This cookbook gets that.

Stuffed Eggplant

From breakfast (think Raw Buckwheat & Almond Porridge) all the way to dessert (Mango Fruity Crush Ice Pops),?The Clean-Eating Kitchen offers pages of healthy eats to fill all meals of the day.

The recipes are considerably light and wholesome, and rather fitting for the summer season we’ve just begun. (Happy first day of summer!)

I decided to kick things off with a lunch/dinner option that would utilize fresh mint from my garden and two creamy roasted eggplants.

While stuffed eggplant can sound a tad daunting, this one was super quick to make. And tasty, too.

Stuffed Eggplant

Topped with toasted almonds for some crunch and a salty touch of feta, the eggplant here gets filled with a hearty quinoa and classic onion-garlic saute. Mint freshens it all up and adds a punch of flavor that completes the entire dish.

Feel free to add a spoonful of chickpeas to this Mediterranean-inspired meal for a little extra protein, and definitely consider serving it alongside a side salad. While this will get you’re oven going, I consider the light and freshness of this meal perfect for a hot summer’s day and a great compliment to some sweet, sliced tomatoes picked straight from the garden or snagged at your local farmer’s market.

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Harvest Stuffed Squash with Cilantro Tahini Sauce

Swiss Chard

I’m about to give a bit of a confession here – I have yet to buy one single Christmas gift.

That holiday, which I celebrate, is just a handful of days away. Yikes.

In my defense, I have constructively made five cutting boards in the past month. (Hello new, awesome, expensive-but-oh-so-worth-it hobby.) While I may shed a tear as I part with each of them, I’m fairly certain they’ll make for good gifts. For the whole family.

I mean, my five-year-old niece will love a nice, smooth piece of wood, right? Yeah, maybe not.

Harvest Stuffed Squash

While I’ve been neglecting a Christmas shopping trip, I have not been neglecting the season’s signature colors. Rather, I’ve been embracing those reds and greens quite frequently in my kitchen lately, this dish included.

If you squint, or dim the lights, swiss chard will shed a nice holiday crimson onto your counters. Keep that in mind if you were about to call me out. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Hey, swiss chard is pink. You should probably go get your eyes checked.”

Kabocha Squash

Bringing green to your plate is one of the best gifts you could give to yourself this winter. Add some nutty winter squash and creamy tahini, and your tastebuds will be more than pleased, too.

With food-filled gatherings, often left and right, now more than ever do I appreciate a meal like this. It’s hearty so it’ll leave you satisfied, but not feeling weighed down like a typical heavy holiday dish.

Swiss Chard

If you do want to richen it up a bit, double the tahini sauce. You can really rarely go wrong with an extra spoonful of tahini on top of cooked winter squash.

Also, feel free to ditch the whole “stuffed” idea, and simply serve this as a pilaf. You can use any squash variety that you like for this dish. So, if you’re using something like butternut, likely it’s not going to have a round enough bowl to really stuff, and that’s okay. Mash the extra and serve it underneath.

I will say though, there is something that feels magical about turning a squash into a bowl. I used a kabocha, which I’d highly recommend if it’s available to you.

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Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Chocolate cookies stuffed with caramel—that’s a sight and sound that will inevitably lead to a taste. Or at least a longing for a taste. You can’t tell me that looking at these cookies doesn’t make you want to try one. And if you can, I’d rather not be friends. (Just kidding.)

But seriously, chocolate and caramel is a match made in candy heaven. This recipe from The Comfort of Cooking doubles the pleasure of this pairing by stuffing an already delicious classic into even more chocolate. Behold, a cookie that looks and sounds every bit as decadent as it tastes.

Given all of that, these are surprisingly simple to make. It was probably more difficult trying to convey how awesome these are through the viewfinder of my camera than it was to actually bake them. The dough comes together quickly and after just a short rest period in the refrigerator, they bake up even quicker. Make sure to include the salt, which makes these cookies the addictive delights that they are. I actually amended the original recipe to add a 1/2 tsp. to the dough. I would suggest sticking with this, as outlined in the recipe below, because salt really does wonders to enhance the richness of both caramel and chocolate. Besides, we all know these were never meant to be healthy. Delicious and crowd-pleasing, on the other hand, are these cookies’ destiny. In my kitchen, sometimes that’s all a good dessert recipe needs.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies
Click here for recipe…

Vegan Eggplant Stuffed Peppers

Looking back over my last few meals (and posts), I’ve realized roasted has trounced the classic steam in my kitchen, and has become my new go-to for veggies.  The oven becomes a miraculous tool in terms of drawing flavor from veggies.  It’s not only the mastermind behind metamorphosing batter into sweet confections of sugar and flour.  The oven is also the ultimate sugar-engineer of vegetables.

Take a bite of raw garlic, and your taste-buds might scream from its pungency.  But give the bulb a roast, and each creamy, sweet clove will graciously go down with ease.

Olive oil, heat, and a little salt.  It’s that simple.  And this trick holds true for eggplant, onions, peppers, and a slew of other veggies, including beets, which when even when raw one wonders how they could become any sweeter.

So here we go again, another roasted vegetable inspired meal.  I’ve gone back at it with roasted eggplant and garlic, sealing them all up with a few other ingredients inside a pepper.  Then, I put the oven to use once more, and baked the whole dish.  Topped with Daiya, this was yet another satisfying, vegan roasted meal.

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Vegan Stuffed Mushroom Poppers

Here’s another great party app., this time one without dairy.  Although, it is not without “cheese.”

Ever since I was introduced to the stuff, I’ve been on an unending Daiya kick. I swear, when melted, the dairy-free cheese, is so velvety and smooth, it’s almost better than real cheese. Sure, it can’t compare to the Roqueforts and the double cream Bries of the cheese kingdom. It has a relatively bland taste, but one that can certainly stand up to your standard melted mozzarella, if not surpass it in texture and flavor.

While Daiya’s website will make it seem otherwise, I originally heard that the creator of Daiya was not a vegan with a significant longing for cheese, but rather an inventor who wanted to tackle on the problem of yucky-tasting soy cheeses. Maybe that’s why Daiya’s so good. If you’re a professional inventor, you’ve probably got some special science tricks up your sleeve, along with the dedication to continously experiment until you’ve created an end product that’s just right. Daiya claims,”The story began with a love of pizza and a family kitchen,” probably for promotional purposes. They dodge the fact of whether inventor Andre Kroecher is vegan or not, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t when he set out to create Daiya. But he did an exceptional job at creating a dairy-free cheese product. I won’t ever test out another soy cheese product after tasting Daiya. Which is good, because the majority of those soy cheese products usually ended up in the garbage rather than my mouth.

Anyways, with an open bag of Daiya in the fridge and a package of mushrooms, I was inspired to create vegan mushroom poppers, a delicious bite-sized snack/appetizer/party food. These were so easy, but turned out so well that my boyfriend actually remarked it was one of his favorite recipes of mine. Figures he would pick one that took less than 10 minutes to prepare. Vary the chili-garlic sauce depending on how much heat you prefer, tasting the sauce before you stuff the mini mushrooms. Two tablespoons will give you pretty spicy poppers, which are great for a kick.

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