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Travel, Wine, and Dine has definitely been focusing more on the travel and wine lately, with a departure from the recipes and cooking that used to be a bigger part of my blog and my life. Life happens, people change, and there are times when being in the kitchen is a little less appealing that being out and about, working really hard on growing my career, and seeing as much of the world as possible.

twice baked sweet potato mash

I do still cook, in between nights out and takeout and those nights where cereal is the only thing that is possible. I’ve been trying to make lots of entree salads as well as shrimp, veggies, some sort of sauce, and pasta.

This twice baked sweet potato dish was inspired by one of the many articles that I have been reading, trying to find quick, healthy recipes for weeknight meals. While it’s getting warmer out, nights are still chilly, so this sweet potato mash is perfect either on its own or with main dish. Greek yogurt adds in protein, and the sweet potato and kale are chock full of nutrients.

How to make it:

I simply baked two large sweet potatoes until they were soft, scooped out the filling and mixed it with the following:

2 cups chopped kale and 1 cup chopped yellow onion, sautéed in oil until soft

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

dash garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper, all to taste

I pureed the ingredients together until soft and silky, then topped with a generous sprinkling of crumbled feta. I put back in the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes and this easy Meatless Monday meal was ready to serve.

I’m excited for gardening and farmers markets and all of the beautiful seasonal produce they will bring!

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Tags: easy recipes, Food, recipe, Vegetarian

It’s only a few weeks in, but I feel like we have made some big changes in the New Year, including cutting out weekday wine and cooking at home more often. It’s hard. We love food and wine and to go out around Boston and we have well-stocked wine fridge. It’s a constant temptation to stay in line, but I want to be back in shape and feeling more vibrant, so it’s a worthy cause.

We all know that healthier eating can be absolutely delicious. Case in point, this “Mac” and cheese I made last week with Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains, peas. a yummy cheese sauce, and a Ritz Chips topping. No butter involved.


shredded cheddar

The success of this healthier mac and cheese like dish comes from sharp cheddar, which comes with lots of flavor. As a result I only used a cup of the shredded cheese. A mix of Kerrygold cheeses would have been great as well.

frozen sweet peas

A veggie component also helped to add to the nutritional value of this dinner. I love sweet peas, and frozen peas are both delicious and a great value.

Harvest Grains Blend   Third, I replaced traditional macaroni with a Harvest Grains Blend, which includes Israeli couscous (one of my favorites), along with lentils and quinoa.

harvest grains blend

Since I wanted a true baked macaroni and cheese feel, I used toasted Ritz Chips, which are lighter than the crackers but super crunchy and yummy and browned up without the addition of butter. But oh how I wanted to melt some butter over the top. . .

Ritz Chips mac and cheese topping

healthy "mac" and cheese healthy mac and cheese

I am pretty much the worst when it comes to actual recipes, but I can tell you I cooked the Harvest Grains according to package directions, in chicken stock. I made about two cups of the grains.

Separately, I mixed in two cups of skim milk with a cup of shredded cheddar and some garlic and truffle oil and simmered until it thickened a little. I mixed the grains and the cheese sauce, added the peas and topped with cracker crumbs and baked at 350 for about 10 minutes. This dish was super easy and SO delicious. We had leftovers for lunch the next day and wished we had more.

It can be a fun challenge to make yummy, healthy dishes for every day, and we are getting back in the swing of things as we go along.

Have you been making an effort to be more healthy in 2015?

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Tags: comfort food, cooking at home, Food, macaroni and cheese, recipes, Vegetarian, vegetarian recipes, winter recipes

The calendar definitely says it’s fall, but the forecast feels a little bit summery here, doesn’t it? I am loving the warm days, being able to have the windows open, and like last night eating dinner outside. We even spent Saturday night, into the wee hours, hanging out around an outdoor fire. It’s a great time to be outside!

When we do have a cold spell, I am all about the comfort food, and since I have gained more weight than I would like in the last few months, I am trying to find some balance in health and comfort. I am also joining a gym tomorrow. Hold me to it.

This dish kind of randomly came together. It’s a whole wheat penne bake with a béchamel sauce, hearty mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, and a little bit of cheese to make it just that little bit decadent. I love pasta dishes that involve white sauces (like this must-try butternut squash white bean lasagna), and this one is made flavorful with a zesty Dijon mustard.

pasta ingredients

As always, this recipe was something that I eyeballed. It ended up making enough for dinner and a few lunches, the perfect Sunday supper, in my eyes. I started by bringing water to a boil for the whole wheat penne and adding plenty of salt. I think that it would be really good if the pasta was cooked in chicken stock just for a little added flavor.

While the pasta was cooking, I started my white sauce. I always start with a roux of Kerrygold butter and whole wheat flour and then slowly add in whole milk once the flour is browned and smelling nutty. I stir the sauce until it’s thick and then add some freshly ground nutmeg. Nutmeg always brings out a great flavor in a white sauce. This sauce is made extra flavorful with a big scoop of Dijon mustard.

While the pasta boiled and that white sauce thickened, I was caramelizing shallots and mixing in shredded Brussels sprouts and chopped mushrooms. The veggies alone would have been a delicious side; a little bit of butter and the combination of flavors was amazing. Rather than doing that, waited until the vegetables were slightly softened, and then I got started building my pasta dish.

caramelized shallots

I drained the pasta and layered pasta and vegetables into a casserole dish, pouring over the white sauce and then finally topping it with dollops of ricotta cheese and a fine sprinkling of mozzarella.

pasta bake

Since everything was already hot, I just cooked this for about 10 minutes and then hit it with a medium broiler until the cheese on top started to brown. Digging in was a treat, the dish hot and bubbly with a nice hint of creamy and tangy and vegetables in every bite. You could add meat to this, but we didn’t need to. It was definitely delicious and filling all on its own! I love red sauce with pasta, but my stomach is not always a fan, so dishes like this will be making repeat appearances this winter!

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Tags: comfort food, dinner, fall recipes, pasta, pasta recipe, recipe, vegetables, Vegetarian

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