Olives & Dipping Oil

Herb Infused Olive Oil with Olives
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free)

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An unlikely breakfast probably for many but a couple days ago I had the taste for olives! So, I woke up made some coffee and served up some olives along with some good olive oil that I infused with herbs. I must say there is truly a difference in taste when you savor a good quality olive oil. I don’t really have a recipe to offer I used Bellucci Extra Virgin Olive Oil in it I added: Italian seasoning, Red pepper flakes, Salt, Pepper and Fresh minced Garlic. Let the oil stand for about 15-20 minutes before dipping. Dip with Italian bread or a baguette. We enjoyed with Kalamata Olives, Garlic stuffed Green Olives and spicy Hot Pepper stuffed Olives. I felt like a Grecian Goddess, delicious. Enjoy!

Dipping Oil
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Yummy Olives!
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Gnocchi, Leftovers and a Two-Minute Dessert!

Gnocchi & Leftovers
Yesterday’s Dinner with a Two-Minute Dessert
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I just wanted to share a quick re-make I made yesterday. There is no throwing away and we still had leftovers! My son wanted Gnocchi for dinner, it is one of his favorites. I was originally going to just keep it simple with Earth Balance/Olive Oil, fresh Garlic and herbs but instead I incorporated leftovers. The Spicy Sweet Potato Wedge & Kale Salad with Asian Tahini Dressing that I shared the other day with the Gnocchi was amazing, great flavors! Now back in February I shared my very similar Gnocchi with Sweet Potato and Kale recipe, check out! However, this leftover re-make was so delicious the dressing really pops!

Ingredients:
2 Pkgs (17.5 oz) Gnocchi – Prepare according to package add Sweet Potato/Kale and remaining Asian Tahini Dressing recipe. Toss together to combine.

I love bananas! It’s funny because I have a co-worker that will only eat pretty unblemished yellow bananas. I often let mine go and flash her my beautiful spotted bananas, lol. And when opened they are beautiful, sweeter and yummy. Sometimes I’ll forget or won’t get a chance to eat them at work and will bring them back home. They usually get darker even still… I’m guessing from all the transport, lol. When they get like this I tend to peel them up, place them in a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer for later. Did you know you can make ice cream with frozen bananas?…of course you knew this, it is one of my favorites. I want to share a funny banana story from the other day. I came home from work and placed my very overripe banana on the counter. I left the room and later that afternoon I went back in the kitchen and to my surprise – my banana was gone?? Oh no! I don’t know what made me look in the trash… but there it was, in the trash. Someone (who shall remain nameless) threw away my banana!! Noooo, I quickly rescued it. Yes it did, pulled it right out the trash. It was on top of the trash, it was good. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, picture the time that George ate the éclair from the garbage, lol! You know the episode, it was on top! So I rescued it, peeled it and froze it. Then I made my favorite ice cream the next day, just for me. 🙂

Salted Banana Peanut Butter ice cream
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Two-Minute Salted Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream:

2 Very Ripe Bananas, Peeled/Frozen overnight
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
Sprinkle of Course Sea Salt

-Combine frozen bananas and peanut butter in food processor until smooth. Sprinkle with Sea Salt, Serve & Enjoy!
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(Sometimes I’ll add vegan chocolate chips – if I have an open pack)

Artichoke and Asparagus Antipasto Salad with Apricot Almond Butter Vinaigrette

Artichoke and Asparagus Antipasto Salad
(Serves 8-10) Vegan, Almost-Raw, Gluten-Free
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Blogging from A to Z beginning with the letter “A” today. So I decided to bring my “A” game. Art to Choke Hearts was the inspiration today; discussing Artichokes and the blog with my husband he mentioned Henry Rollins’ book over dinner, respect.
Italian on the menu tonight, so I was further inspired to make an Antipasto salad. The salad has Asparagus, Artichoke hearts, Almonds, Arugula and an amazing dressing of Almond Butter, Apricot and Agave. The dressing alone is killer! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 bunch Asparagus Spears, ends trimmed (Abt 50 spears)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Cup Carrots Chips
3 (14oz) Cans Quartered Artichoke Hearts
¼ Cup Water
1 Cup Roasted Red Peppers, sliced
6 oz Stuffed Green Olives
4 oz Capers
5 oz Sun-dried Tomatoes, sliced
½ Cup Sliced Almonds
1-2 Cups baby Arugula 

Directions:
-Trim Asparagus ends and then slice remaining in half. Heat 2 Tbsp Olive Oil in sauté pan and sauté Asparagus for 5 minutes. During that last minute add Garlic. Remove from pan and set aside.
-Add Carrots and heat through for 2 minutes back to same pan. After 2 minutes add water and heat for another 2 minutes to steam. Remove from pan and set aside.
-Back to same pan add Artichokes and heat through, warm for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
-In dry pan toss sliced almonds until lightly toasted.
-Toss together all ingredients: Asparagus, Carrots, Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers, Olives/Capers, Sundried Tomatoes, Almonds and Arugula.
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Apricot Almond Butter Vinaigrette
(Makes 1 ½ Cup Dressing)
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Ingredients:
1/3 Cup Almond Butter (or 3 – 1.15oz Packs Justin’s) – pictured below
2 Tbsp Apricot Preserves
2 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp blue Agave Nectar
3 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions:

-Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate any remaining.
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Orecchiette and Broccoli Rabe

Orecchiette and Broccoli Rabe
(Serves 6-8) –Vegan, Soy-Free and can be made Gluten-Free

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Easy breezy orecchiette and rapini. Rapini aka Broccoli Rabe is bitter, bold and tasty. The first time I sampled Broccoli Rabe was at a vegan restaurant in NYC, oh boy were we all thrown by the bitterness. These leafy greens may be an acquired taste for some. Blanching/shocking coupled with the heat of the crushed red pepper flakes should help cut the bitterness. We enjoyed this preparation much better than our NYC experience. I absolutely love simple pasta dishes.

When you’re eating out, choices can be simplified. An effortless ‘go to’ dish for me, other than the obvious salad, would be pasta tossed with fresh garlic, olive oil and veggies-typically broccoli or whatever veggies are on hand. –Be sure to confirm the pasta is eggless. Eating out doesn’t have to be over complicated, I always get the same question from non-vegans, “what are you going to eat, I don’t see anything ‘vegan’ on the menu.” My response is typically, “Food” hehe. Keep it Simple. This pasta dish is flexible try it with Broccoli Rabe, Swiss chard, Kale, Peas or Broccoli. You can add in vegan Tofurky sausage if you’d like to make it a traditional Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe and Sausage dish. Enjoy!
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Ingredients:
1 bunch Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)
2 (12oz) boxes Orecchiette pasta
5 cloves Garlic, chopped, divided
7 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
¼ Tsp crushed Red Pepper flakes
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Fresh ground Pepper
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Directions:
-Prepare ice bath – fill a large bowl with cold water and ice.
-Bring pot of water to boil.
-Trim ends of Broccoli Rabe about 1 ½ inch. Chop remaining in thirds.
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-Rinse in colander under cool water.
-Blanch & Shock: Place Broccoli Rabe in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from water then immediately transfer to ice bath for 3-5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
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-Prepare pasta according to package. –I boil the pasta in the same water that I blanched the broccoli rabe in. I cook for exactly 12 minutes. Drain then set aside.
-Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in pan over medium add crushed red pepper flakes and heat for about a minute. Add half of the garlic and continue heat thru for another minute.
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-Add Broccoli Rabe to olive oil, garlic mixture and toss to coat and heat through.
-Add Pasta to pan and toss to coat. Then add remaining Garlic, Nutritional Yeast, Salt/Pepper and remaining olive oil. Serve and Enjoy!
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Gnocchi with Sweet Potato and Kale

Gnocchi with Kale and Sweet Potato  (Serves 4)

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My son is extremely fond of Gnocchi. If I asked my children what they’d like for dinner I can always count on Josh to select Gnocchi or Ravioli, they are tied in his book. This recipe utilizes dry packaged Gnocchi but is so versatile you can make it with fresh gnocchi or add/change some veggies. For example, I make this with Swiss chard instead of Kale sometimes. This is definitely a simple recipe that should take 30 minutes or less. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love being in the kitchen, but there are times when you need to put together a quick meal and this is certainly one of my ‘go-to’ meals.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Sweet Potato, diced

¼ Cup Water

1 Turnip, diced

3 Tbsp Earth Balance Butter, divided

1 Shallot, diced

2 Pkgs (17.5 oz) Gnocchi

3 stalks Kale, stems removed, chopped

¼ Tsp Ground Pepper

½ Tsp Salt

¼ Tsp Chili Powder

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Directions:

-Sauté Sweet Potatoes in Olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add Water and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.

-Add Turnips and sauté for another 5 minutes.

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-Dice up Shallots while turnips and carrots are cooking. To pan add 2 Tbsp Earth Balance and Shallots, continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

-Add Gnocchi to boiling water, cook for about 2-3 mins. Once gnocchi floats to the top they are ready to come out.

-Add Kale, Salt/Pepper and Chili powder and heat through for another 2 minutes.

-Drain Gnocchi then add to sauté pan with veggies plus remaining Earth Balance. Heat through until incorporated and golden.

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Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto (Serves 8)

Risotto is a creamy Italian rice dish. I love the feeling I get when I make, eat and serve Risotto; it’s a sexy dish. It feels fancy and upscale the idea of turning plain old rice into something creamy and luxurious is so inviting. You have to monitor this dish and spend time with it all while adding Love.

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Ingredients:

2 Quarts (32oz) Vegetable Broth

2 ½ Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

1 large white Onion, chopped

3 Garlic Cloves, chopped

1 Tsp Salt, divided

1 Tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper, divided

1 8oz Pkg Button Mushrooms, (½ Chopped, ½ Sliced)

2 Portabella Mushrooms, sliced

3 Tbsp Earth Balance Butter, divided

2 ½ Cups Arborio Rice (1-16oz pkg)

½ Cup White Wine

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Directions:

-Heat Broth over medium-low in saucepan to keep warm.

-Heat 2 Tbsp Olive Oil over medium and sauté Onions, after about 5 mins. add Garlic, ½ Tsp Salt and ½ Tsp Pepper and sauté for another minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

-To the same pan add ½ of the Button Mushrooms (Sliced), sauté for about 5 mins. until golden. Remove from pan and set aside.

-Add the remaining ½ of Button Mushrooms (Chopped) plus ½ Tbsp Olive oil and sauté for about 3 mins. Remove from pan and set aside.

-Back to pan add Portabella mushrooms and sauté for about 2 mins. – The pan will essentially be dry at this point. Add ½ Tbsp Earth Balance and sauté for another 2 mins. Remove from pan and set aside.

-Back to pan add ½ of the Onion/Garlic mixture plus ½ Tbsp Earth Balance over medium. Add Rice and stir until coated and onion/garlic/earth balance have been incorporated and rice toasts up a bit.

-Add White Wine and cook until liquid has been absorbed/evaporated about a minute.

-To rice mixture add 1 cup of Broth at a time: Stir in 1 cup of broth into rice mixture for about 3 mins. until liquid has absorbed, stirring occasionally. – I do this about 3 times over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and continue adding broth 1 cup at a time stirring occasionally for about 4-6 mins. each time until liquid has absorbed. I continue adding 1 cup at a time for about 5 cycles before add remaining broth in the end.

-Once all broth has been incorporated into rice, rice should be creamy. Add remaining onion and mushroom mixture plus ½ Tsp Salt and ½ Tsp Pepper before serving. Enjoy!

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Hearty Minestrone Soup

Hearty Minestrone Soup (Serves 8 – Large bowls)

When I think of soup I immediately think of my dad. Papi would always make soup in the winter. There was a time that he lived alone and would make large batches of soup, which he’d have for dinner throughout the week and would sometimes take a thermos to work for lunch. I imagine there are thousands of variations of this soup. True to its vegetarian origins this version is truly a hearty Vegan classic. I use organic/non-gmo ingredients in this recipe. This soup will warm your tummy and fill you with a good source of protein and fiber among others nutrients.

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Ingredients:

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large White or Sweet Onion, chopped
3 Celery Ribs, chopped
4 Small Carrots or 2 Large, scrubbed and sliced
1 Large Zucchini, cleaned and chopped
5 Garlic cloves, minced
3 Quarts Vegetable Broth
1 (15.5 oz can) Dark Red Kidney Beans
1 (15.5 oz can) Light Red Kidney Beans
1 (15.5 oz can) Garbanzo Beans
1 (28 oz can) Diced Tomatoes
1 (16 oz pkg) Frozen Cut Green Beans
1 (10 oz pkg) Frozen Spinach
2 Tsp + 2 Tbsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper, fresh cracked/ground
½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper (reduce the amount for less kick)
1 Tsp Italian Seasoning
½ Tsp Ground Sage
½ Tsp Oregano
½ Tsp Dry Basil
2 Cups Pasta (I used med. shells this time)

Directions:

In a large stockpot (at least 12 quart) heat olive oil and sauté onions let them sweat a few minutes until translucent. Add celery and carrots then sauté about 2-3 minutes. Add 2 Tsp salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic and zucchini and sauté for another minute.

Add vegetable broth, tomatoes, kidney/garbanzo beans and bring to slow boil about 10 mins. Finally, add green beans, spinach, pasta and seasonings (remaining salt, Italian, sage, oregano and basil) continue on a low boil/simmer until pasta is cooked through and green beans are done about 8 minutes. Enjoy!

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Note: This post utilizes canned beans and frozen spinach/green beans, but I have made this also utilizing dried/soaked/cooked beans and fresh spinach/green beans. Substitute canned beans for 1 ½ – 2 cups of cooked beans. For the spinach and green beans I have just thrown in two big handfuls or fresh baby spinach and a bunch of fresh green beans (trimmed and cut in half) in the last few minutes of cooking.