Broccoli & Grape Pasta Salad

Broccoli and grapes. First time I heard of this combination was this past weekend. A friend of mine made some for a cookout we were both going to. I was pretty skeptical. I was thinking to myself, there is no way that this could possibly be good. I tried and it was pretty dang good. I was surprised. So, of course, I had to make my own version.

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Cook pasta according to package directions. Al dente. I usually do about a minute less than what the package says for ‘al dente’ because I’m a rebel.

While waiting on water to boil, cook your bacon. I like to slice it up before I cook it, instead of trying to crumble it up later and getting my hands greasy.

You can also completely skip the bacon if you’re a vegetarian or cook the bacon, but serve it on the side if you are feeding a crowd. Give people the option to bacon their pasta salad!

Once you’ve got your bacon going, start chopping up the broccoli, celery, & onion. I used 1 small head of broccoli, 1 celery stalk, and a few thin slices of red onion.

Chop up the broccoli real small. Finely dice the onion & celery. 

Now would also be a good time to rinse your grapes.

Drain pasta and allow to cool. Set aside bacon on a paper towel.

Whisk together mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, & ground black pepper.

Once the pasta has cooled, mix everything together in a large bowl. Throw in remaining sunflower seeds, if using. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold ingredients until well combined.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill for a few hours before serving

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This makes a great side dish for a picnic or potluck, or you can eat it straight up by itself. I won’t judge you.

This recipe can be easily doubled if you are feeding a large crowd. I always tend to make smaller recipes since I am only feeding two people and only one of us will eat leftovers.

Broccoli Grape Pasta Salad
Serves 4
Broccoli & Red Grapes combined in a pasta salad
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup red grapes; washed
  2. 1/2 pound broccoli; chopped
  3. 4 oz bowtie pasta; cooked according to package
  4. 1 stalk celery; finely diced
  5. 1/4 cup red onion; finely diced
  6. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  7. 1 TBS sugar
  8. 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  9. 1/2 tsp salt; more or less to taste
  10. fresh ground black pepper; to taste
  11. 1/2 cup sunflower seeds; optional
  12. 4 slices bacon; optional
Instructions
  1. Cook bowtie pasta according to package. Drain & set aside until cooled.
  2. Slice bacon and cook until crispy. Drained on paper towels and set aside. (If using)
  3. Chop Broccoli into small pieces.
  4. Finely dice celery & red onion.
  5. Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, salt, & pepper.
  6. Gently combine all ingredients in a large bowl, including the remaining sunflower seeds if using.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap & chill for 3-4 hours before serving.
Notes
  1. Recipe can be doubled if feeding a large crowd.
http://overtherange.org/

Strawberry Spinach Wraps

I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but I have an obsession with strawberries. I promise that not all of my recipes will include those cute, little red berries.. Just most of them. These wraps are inspired by a recipe by the Pioneer Woman that I stumbled upon last year and over time, I’ve kinda made it my own.

Its not really a recipe, its just putting things together and wrapping them up in a tortilla. Sometimes I skip the tortilla and eat this as a salad.

I use cashews for this, but you could use pecan or even walnuts. I just happen to always have cashews, so that’s what I use. I think toasted pecans or candied walnuts would be better in this if I were being honest.

I use goat cheese and you can use whatever cheese your little heart desires.

Its kinda whatever you feel like.

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Slice up a bit of a red onion real thin. Thin as you can slice it. Don’t really need much. You can save the rest of the onion in the fridge in a baggy for up to a week for other things.

Slice and quarter 4 – 5 strawberries. Don’t forget to clean those bad boys. Nobody likes dirt in their food.

Boil your eggs. One egg half per wrap is a good.

Crumble your goat cheese. As much as you want.

Cook your chicken however you want to cook it. Leftover chicken breasts would be perfect for this. I used fake chicken, so I just followed the instructions on the package.

The dressing for this, really brightens up the whole thing. A citrus balsamic vinaigrette. Its real easy to make and you can make it ahead of time and it will last for a couple of days in the fridge, too. Just put all the ingredients in a jar and shake the heck out of it, but if you want to get fancy you can put it in a food processor… But really though, I ain’t got time for that.

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Heat up your tortillas. I used cheddar jalapeno flavored tortillas because I like flavor in my life, but please feel free to use whatever flavor or not flavor you want to use.

Lay down that baby spinach and evenly distribute the rest of the ingredients amongst the tortillas. Don’t drizzle on the dressing until the very end. I used about 2 tablespoons per wrap. Wrap ’em up!

I’m not very good at wrapping wraps or burritos. So, don’t come here for that sort of instruction. No matter how many videos I watch on wrapping burritos, I just can’t get it. Chipotle will never hire me at this rate.

Strawberry Spinach Wraps
Yields 2
Strawberry Spinach Wrap that can be made into a tortilla or eaten as a salad.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 6oz chicken; cubed (or faux chicken)
  2. 4 - 5 strawberries; hulled and quartered
  3. 1 bag baby spinach leaves
  4. 1/8 cup cashews, pecans, or candied walnuts
  5. 1 oz goat cheese; crumbled
  6. A few thin slices of red onion - more or less to taste
  7. 1 hard boiled eggs; roughly chopped
  8. 2 burrito-sized tortillas
For the dressing
  1. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1/4 cup orange juice
  3. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 1 tsp orange zest
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp dijon mustard
Instructions
  1. Cook your chicken as desired - baked, fried, grilled, etc. Cut into bite sized pieces.
  2. Hull strawberries and cut into quarters.
  3. Thinly slice red onion.
Make dressing
  1. Whisk together olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, dijon, salt & zest. Use a food processor if desired or place into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously until ingredients are blended together. Place into refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Heat tortillas according to package directions.
  3. Fill tortillas with remaining ingredients and drizzle on dressing. Do not over fill. Wrap it all up.
  4. If not using tortillas, mix ingredients in a large bowl, but do not add in dressing until ready to serve.
Notes
  1. Citrus balsamic dressing can be made ahead of time.
  2. Leftover onion can be placed in an airtight container for up to a week.
  3. You can make as many or as little wraps as you want, just increase or decrease the ingredients to meet your hunger needs.
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
http://overtherange.org/

Vegan Lasagna

I don’t claim to be vegan (anymore), but I still love eating this lasagna. I don’t make this all the time because it can be a bit of work, but I am always glad I did make it once I’m eating it. My recipe is inspired by the Vegan Zombie’s lasagna roll recipe(s). I modified mine a bit adding more veggies and whatnot.

Don’t let the word vegan fool you on this being a healthy dish because it is definitely not. It is oh-so-rich and a little slice goes a long way, so pair this with a small salad. 

Note: This recipe makes two loaf pans of lasagna. So, make both now, but only cook one. Put the other in the freezer for another day.

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Get your lasagna noodles going. Cook them according to package instructions. I used about 6 noodles per pan.

Once your noodles are boiling away, start chopping your veggies. I’m using onions, mushrooms, zucchini, & carrots.

After they are chopped, sauté the onions, carrots, and zucchini with some olive oil over medium heat. After about 3-5 minutes add in the mushrooms with a couple of splashes of white wine. Cook for about 3-5 minutes longer, add more olive oil if you need.

It may seem like a lot of veggies, but they kinda shrink once you cook them.

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Add in faux ground crumbles. Mix it in real good, breaking up the crumbles so its not just big chunks. You can leave these out, if you want to.

Now would be the time to add in all the herbs and spices. SALT.

Once everything is well mixed, add in the vegan cream cheese. The whole container. Turn the heat down to low. Mix everything up. Then add in a couple of handfuls of daiya or your favorite vegan cheese. Or if you want, use real cheese. If you wanted to use ricotta cheese in place of the vegan cream cheese, you could do that, too. I’m all about options.

Turn the heat off.

Here comes the fun part, where we layer everything up in a loaf pan, but preheat your oven to 350 first.

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Layer 1: Thin layer of red sauce.
Layer 2: 2 Lasagna noodles side by side (you may have to cut off the ends to fit in the pan)
Layer 3: The filling
Layer 4: Baby Spinach Leaves
Layer 5: Red sauce

Repeat noodles, filling, spinach, sauce until you get to the top. Top layer of noodles should be sauce and cheese.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and pop into the oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to get the cheese all melty.

Once out of the oven, let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting in to help keep everything intact. Or don’t. Its up to you. 

Each pan will serve 4-6 people. 

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You can’t really get a pretty picture of this, but I’m not going to apologize for it.

For the other pan, cover in saran wrap and foil and place in your freezer. It should hold up for awhile in there.

To cook frozen lasagna, preheat oven to 375 and cook for 60 minutes covered (be sure to take off the saran wrap) with foil. Remove cover and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Vegan Lasagna
Serves 4
A rich, meatless, dairy-free lasagna.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 package lasagna noodles
  2. 1 8oz container vegan cream cheese (garlic & chive flavor)
  3. 1 12oz package faux ground crumbles
  4. 2 jars spaghetti sauce of your choice
  5. 1 med zucchini; cut into small pieces
  6. 1 carrot or 10-12 baby carrots; cut into small pieces
  7. 1 onion; diced
  8. 1 8oz package white mushrooms; roughly chopped
  9. 1 package daiya mozzarella (or other vegan cheese)
  10. baby spinach
  11. 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  12. fresh ground black pepper to taste
  13. 1 tsp garlic powder
  14. 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
  15. 1 tsp oregano
  16. 1 tsp dried basil
  17. 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  18. 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
  19. 2-3 TBS olive oil
Instructions
  1. Bring noodles to a boil and cook to al dente.
  2. Chop onion, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots into small pieces.
  3. Saute onions, zucchini, and carrots with 1-2 TBS olive oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add in mushrooms along with 1/4 cup white wine (can use vegetable stock in place of wine). Cook, stirring occasionally for another 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add in faux ground crumbles. Stir until everything is evenly mixed.
  6. Add in spices and seasoning.
  7. Stir in entire container of vegan cream cheese. Reduce heat to low. Add in 1/2 cup daiya mozzarella. Mix until everything is well blended together.
  8. Turn off heat.
  9. Preheat oven to 350.
In loaf pans
  1. Put a thin layer of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of each pan.
  2. Layer two noodles side by side on top of the sauce.
  3. Evenly spread the vegetable filling onto of the noodles.
  4. Layer baby spinach.
  5. On top of the spinach, add a thin layer of spaghetti sauce.
  6. Repeat. Ending with a layer of noodles topped with spaghetti sauce and cheese.
  7. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes (until cheese is bubbly).
Notes
  1. This recipe makes two loaf pans. Cover extra pan with saran wrap and foil and place in the freezer.
  2. To cook from frozen, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 60 minutes covered and 5-10 minutes uncovered or until completely heated through.
Adapted from The Vegan Zombie
Adapted from The Vegan Zombie
http://overtherange.org/

My Favorite Brownies

I’ve tried a good number of brownie recipes over the years, and eventually I stumbled upon one that worked out so good I never looked back. If I could only remember where I found said recipe, I would totally give that person all the credit they deserve.. because these brownies are effin’ delicious. They’re sweet, but not terribly sweet because of the cocoa powder. If you like a sweet brownie add a bit more sugar.

 
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Here is everything that goes into the brownies: Butter, Cocoa Powder, Vanilla Extract, Sugar, Flour, Eggs, & Salt (not pictured).

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. I used to be skeptical about lining pans with parchment paper until I tried it. Its a game changer, y’all.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Take a small pot and put about two inches of water in. Bring the water to a simmer. On top of that pot put a glass bowl or a stainless steel bowl. You just made a makeshift double boiler.

Melt the butter and cocoa powder together. Stirring. Don’t stop. Then eventually add in the sugar a little at time. Stirring until mostly smooth. Stir in the salt.

You could probably do this in the microwave at 30 second intervals, if you felt like doing it that way.

Take the chocolate and sit it aside for 3-5 minutes. Now is a good time to gather up the rest of your ingredients.

Whisk in one egg one at time. Then add in the vanilla. Mix in your flour a little at time.

Pour into the pan. Bake ’em for 20 – 25 minutes.

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Serve with ice cream or just eat them alone, but they’re best with some ice cream. I hope you agree.

My Favorite Brownies
dense, not-as-sweet brownies
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 10 TBS Unsalted Butter
  2. 1 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 3/4 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 1/2 Cup Flour
Instructions
  1. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter & cocoa powder together over a double boiler. Constantly stirring until smooth.
  3. Stir in sugar a little at a time until mixture is smooth.
  4. Stir in salt.
  5. Set chocolate mixture aside for about 5 minutes. Take this time to prep the rest of your ingredients.
  6. Whisk in 1 egg at a time until completely mixed in.
  7. Whisk in vanilla extract.
  8. Add flour a little at a time.
  9. Pour batter into the pan. Use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute the batter amongst the pan.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Use a toothpick to determine doneness - if it comes out clean, then it is done.
  11. Cool and then cut up into squares.
Notes
  1. These brownies are not as sweet as regular every day brownies. So, if you would like them a bit sweeter, add in a bit more sugar.
http://overtherange.org/

Strawberry Moscow Mule

I am more of a beer drinker, but sometimes I fancy a cocktail. The strawberry moscow mule is one of my favorite summer drinks. Its refreshing and fruity.

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You need: fresh strawberries, a lime, ginger beer, and your favorite vodka (I used strawberry shortcake vodka because that’s all I had, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy).

Muddle up couple of strawberries in the shaker with the vodka and lime juice. Add in some ice. Shake. Strain into a Tom Collins glass (I used a low ball glass because that’s how I roll) with ice. Top off with ginger beer. Garnish with fresh strawberry slices.

Its that simple folks.

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Strawberry Moscow Mule
Yields 2
delicious, fizzy, fruity cocktail
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Ingredients
  1. 2 - 4 strawberries
  2. 1 TBS lime juice
  3. 4 oz vodka
  4. ginger beer
  5. ice
Instructions
  1. Muddle 2 strawberries in the bottom of a shaker with the lime juice and vodka.
  2. Add ice to the shaker and give a rough shake.
  3. Strain and divide evenly into two glasses filled with ice.
  4. Top off each glass with ginger beer.
  5. Garnish with fresh strawberry slices.
Notes
  1. You can easily cut this in half to make just one cocktail.. but its more fun to drink with a friend!
http://overtherange.org/

Herbed Potato Salad

Nothing says summer picnic food like potato salad. A couple of months ago while I was at Pimlico, I had the best potato salad on the planet and I went on a mission to recreate that party in my mouth.

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Start out with some potatoes. Cleaned, cut, & quarted. I used Yukon Gold potatoes and leave the peel on because I’m lazy. You can use regular potatoes, but you will want to peel those. Boil ’em for about 20 minutes.

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Chop up everything else while your potatoes are boiling. Celery, green onions, parsley, dill, garlic. You will also need the zest of one lemon (You can juice it and save the juice for something else).

This is optional, but if you wanted to add in two hardboiled eggs (You totally do), go ahead and also get that started while the potatoes are boiling.

After the potatoes have cooked, drain them into a colander and then place them into a large bowl. Toss in some white vinegar, a lot of salt, yellow mustard, black pepper, & mayonnaise. Also, go ahead and throw in everything else from earlier. Now give it a good mix until everything is well blended.

Cover the bowl with saran wrap and place it in the fridge for a few hours and up to overnight. It tastes better the longer it chills. But that’s it!

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Herbed Potato Salad
Serves 4
Creamy, herbed potato salad
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Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 pounds potatoes
  2. 1 celery stalk; diced
  3. 2 green onions; thinly sliced
  4. 2 tbs fresh parsley; chopped
  5. 1 tbs fresh dill; chopped
  6. 1 - 2 cloves garlic; minced
  7. Zest of 1 lemon
  8. 1 tsp yellow mustard
  9. salt & pepper (lots of salt, please!)
  10. 1.5 tbs White Vinegar
  11. 1/2 cup mayonnaise (or more)
  12. 2 hardboiled eggs (optional)
Instructions
  1. Clean, Cut, & Quarter Potatoes. Bring to boil in a large pot of water. Boil for 20 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
  2. If you are going to add in the hardboiled eggs, get that started now.
  3. Dice celery stalk.
  4. Thinly slice scallions.
  5. Peel garlic and finely chop.
  6. Roughly chop the parsley & dill.
  7. Zest the lemon with a microplane grater.
  8. Drain potatoes in a colander.
  9. Transfer to a large bowl.
  10. Combine all ingredients.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Notes
  1. The longer this sits in the fridge the better it tastes. Also, this recipe can be easily doubled for a larger group.
http://overtherange.org/

Red Beans & Rice

Here is comfort in a bowl. I’ve never been to New Orleans and had proper red beans & rice, but I would hope what I make tastes pretty similar. This can be made with either real sausage or vegan sausage – both results in deliciousness.

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Start your rice, since that will take the longest, and then get to chopping your veggies: Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Garlic, & Celery.

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Slice & Dice your sausage however you want. I personally like smaller bites of sausage, but that’s just me. I used one of those long links of sausage you find in the grocery store because that’s what the dude picked out. Use about 4 regular sized links of andouille or faux sausage if you don’t use one of the big links. The best vegan sausage I’ve tried is made by the folks over at Field Roast.

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Once everything is chopped up, get out a big pot, and put it over medium heat. Use about 1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil and then add in the veggies. Stir occasionally until the onions start to become translucent and the other veggies start to soften (3-5 minutes). Add in the sausage (if you are using faux sausage you may need to add in another drizzle of olive oil). Let it cook a bit longer, stirring (3-5 minutes).

Now, you can take out the vegetables & sausage with a slotted spoon and drain off the fat, but I don’t really recommend it. The fat is what makes it taste good!

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Take two cans of kidney beans. Rinse and drain those suckers. You can probably do this in between cooking the vegetables & sausage, if you are that pro at doing two things at once.

After the beans are rinsed, take about half of the beans along with 4 cups (or one carton of vegetable stock) and put them into a blender. Blend it up into oblivion!

Put your bean juice in the pot with the remaining beans and then add in all the spices (chili powder, ground thyme, salt & pepper).

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 10 – 20 minutes. The longer the better.

Serve over rice! You can top with sliced green onions or even bacon crumbles if you want to, but I like it just the way it is.

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Red Beans & Rice
Serves 4
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Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 dried cups of Basmati Rice.
  2. 2 cans kidney beans; drained & rinsed.
  3. 4 cups veggie broth
  4. 4 sausage links (can be vegan)
  5. 1-2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion; diced (white, yellow, or red)
  6. 6 celery stalks; diced.
  7. 4 cloves garlic; minced.
  8. 1 red bell pepper; diced
  9. 1 tsp chili powder
  10. 1 tsp thyme
  11. salt to taste
  12. fresh ground black pepper to taste
  13. Cooked bacon crumbles (optional)
  14. 2 green onions sliced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to instructions.
  2. While rice is cooking, dice up celery, bell pepper, onion, & garlic.
  3. Slice up sausage links into bite sized pieces.
  4. In a large pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Let it oil heat up before adding in the vegetables, including the garlic. Stir occasionally. (3-5 minutes)
  5. Once the vegetables start to soften, add in sausage. If using vegan sausage, you may need to add a little more olive oil to the pot. Keep stirring occasionally. (3-5) minutes.
  6. While the vegetables are cooking, drain & rinse to cans of kidney beans into a colander. Take half of the beans along with the 4 cups of broth and put into the blender. Blend until it is a smooth liquid.
  7. Add bean liquid and remaining beans to the vegetables & sausage.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.
  8. Add in chili powder, thyme, salt, & pepper.
  9. Simmer 10 - 20 minutes.
  10. Serve over rice.
  11. Top with optional green onions and/or bacon crumbles
Notes
  1. If you do not have a blender, just add in both cans of beans and broth to the pot.
http://overtherange.org/