Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Favorite Green Smoothie

Have you noticed how everyone on Pinterest just LOVES green smoothies? Right after mason jar crafts and high end fashion a normal human could never pull off, green smoothies are the IT thing, if we take Pinterest's word for it.

I la-la-love a good smoothie. When the weather gets warmer, smoothies are a great quick meal or snack.

Green smoothies are super popular because you are generally adding a protein packed veggie such as kale or spinach. I have tried smoothies with both and find spinach to be the better of the two. Spinach is much softer and more tender than kale and the flavor is gentler.

My Favorite Green Smoothie is sweet and fulfilling and packed with goodies. Like all smoothies, a frozen banana is a great place to start. I also add frozen mango chunks for their tangy sweetness, half of an avocado for a rich smoothness, a handful of fresh spinach and bind it all together with unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Whether you need to refuel after a workout, are looking for a breakfast to take on the go, or need a quick meal that is tasty and satisfying, this smoothie is for you!

Here's what you need for My Favorite Green Smoothie* (Print Recipe!)

1 medium frozen ripe banana
1/2 an avocado (use the other half for an avocado toast!)
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup fresh spinach, packed
1/2-1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Here's what you do

Combine all ingredients except for 1/2 cup of the almond milk in a blender. Blend until well combined. Add more almond milk if smoothie is too thick. I tend to blend green smoothies a little longer than regular smoothies to really get the spinach well distributed. Enjoy immediately.

*Gas Stove Girl Original Recipe
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Grilled Salmon with Coconut Lime Rice and Mango Pico

Spring has sprung so let's eat our fruits and veggies!

If this dish is not a tropical vacation on a plate, I don't know what is. If you've been craving sandy beaches and warm sunshine, this meal is for you.

Alright. Let me be honest for a minute. You guys SHOULD know that prior to enjoying this meal I had a major fire alarm incident in my apartment. Like...indoor grill pan + 3 room apartment = "WARNING! SMOKE IN MASTER BEDROOM!"

I am very grateful that my fire alarm works, but it is next to impossible to get it to stop even from cooking smoke. I had every window open plus the porch door and was using all of my upper body strength to wave a pillow in an attempt to get the horn to stop beeping. Thank God my landlord is also the best, because she came to my rescue. And then, it was time to eat.

So this Grilled Salmon with Coconut Lime Rice and Mango Pico was actually worth all the trouble. In fact, if you monitor your grill pan carefully, this meal is no trouble at all! Sweet and tangy mango pico is the perfect compliment to a soft coconut jasmine rice and a lightly marinated salmon fillet.

The salmon marinade is simple yet delicious. I combined agave nectar with lime juice and a splash of soy sauce and minced garlic. When the salmon goes on the grill, the agave caramelizes and the lime juice becomes bright and lovely. This is my new go-to salmon preparation (minus the fire alarm...). Dinner for one is served!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dr. Pepper Crock-Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This is my love language, this drippy beautiful baby of a sandwich right here.

Some ladies want to be taken out for ice cream, some maybe want a nice steak or lobster dinner. For me, however, the way right into my heart is through good old American BBQ.

Pulled pork sandwiches speak to me more than a romantic poem. When I know I'm on my way to a BBQ restaurant, my heart is light and my tummy is hungry. What is better than sweet and tangy barbeque sauce smothering tender, juicy pork all piled high on a soft bun? Don't think too hard, because there is nothing.

When you have a hankering for genuine BBQ at home, try these Dr. Pepper Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches. These are tasty, messy, and completely satisfying. A big ol' pork butt is rubbed with your favorite spice blend then slow-cooked in the Crock-pot with a whole can of Dr. Pepper. How fun is that? The Dr. Pepper flavor is not too overpowering, but it perfectly compliments the sweet notes of the pork. Once the roast has finished cooking, I drained out most of the cooking liquid, shredded the meat with two forks, then doused it all in my favorite BBQ sauce.

Once the pork is done, it is my favorite time--that is, SANDWICH TIME! I used fresh sesame seed buns as the sandwich vessel, then whipped up a quick coleslaw made with fresh cabbage and a homemade mayonnaise. The coleslaw adds a perfect crunch and freshness to these rich BBQ sandwiches. Don't forget to add an extra squirt of BBQ sauce before absolutely inhaling these!

Here's what you need for Dr. Pepper Crock-Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches* (Print Recipe!)

For the pork
1 boneless pork butt (shoulder), between 3 and 4 pounds
A few tablespoons of your favorite pork seasoning
1 12-ounce can Dr. Pepper (not diet)
1/2 bottle BBQ sauce, I used Sweet Baby Ray's

For the coleslaw
3 cups coleslaw mix (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 egg
2/3 cups olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

6 sesame seed buns
extra BBQ sauce for serving

Here's what you do

For the pork
Rub all sides of the pork generously with your pork rub of choice. Place the pork in a Crock-Pot or slow cooker. Pour in the entire can of Dr. Pepper. Cover and cook on the low setting for 9 hours.

Drain most of the cooking liquid then, using two forks, gently shred the pork. Add the BBQ sauce and stir to coat. Keep on the warm setting until ready to serve.

For the coleslaw
Place the cabbage and parsley in a large mixing bowl. In a tall glass or container, combine all the remaining ingredients. Place an immersion blender down to the bottom of the container. Turn it on then blend the mixture for 30 seconds. When the mixture starts to emulsify, you can gently move the blender up and down slightly to mix completely. Toss the veggies in the mayonnaise and chill until ready to serve.

When you're ready to build the sandwiches, lightly toast the buns so that the flat sides are crispy but the rest of the bun is still soft and chewy. Place the pork on the bottom bun, drizzle on your desired amount of extra BBQ sauce and top it all with coleslaw. Enjoy!

*Gas Stove Girl Original Recipe

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quick and Easy Taco Pasta Skillet

Any meal that starts off with the words "quick and easy" instantly has a place in my heart. When those dishes are also packed full of flavor and are super tasty, it's a match made in heaven.

I am a total taco junky, but sometimes I just don't have the patience to prepare all the toppings, and the meat, and the tortillas. There are times when I just want to be able to face-plant right into taco goodness without all the mess.

I think this Quick and Easy Taco Pasta Skillet is just the ticket. This is an absolute crowd pleaser. I tried lightening this dish up by using low fat cheddar cheese, ground chicken, a low-sodium taco seasoning, and Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta. This is a really easy way to sneak an extra 1/2 servingof vegetables into your dinners (by the way -- this post is NOT sponsored! I just enjoy this pasta...)

Pasta noodles are mixed into the browned ground chicken along with a can of petite diced tomatoes, sweet whole corn kernels, taco seasoning, and a few dashes of Frank's Red Hot. A hearty helping of grated cheese goes down on top before the whole skillet is popped into the oven to melt that cheese into a lovely cheese blanket. Has anyone made a cheese blanket yet? No? Well, then.

To finish this dish and add a little freshness, I chopped up a bit of cilantro to garnish the whole skillet. Individual servings can be trashed up with a dollop of sour cream, a few chunks of fresh avocado, or a bit of salsa over the top. If I were eating this skillet alone, I would have also added a can of drained and rinsed black beans. Yes, yes, yes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Falafel Pita Pockets

I really, truly, deeply wanted to call this post "Totally Amazing Homemade Falafels." I always back off from things like that though because I might be biased. But with this not-so-humble-brag, I guess the cat is out of the bag now.


Ahem. OK. Let us talk about one of my most beloved foods on this earth. That food is FALAFEL. I think I first discovered these vegetarian gems at Pick Pockets in Smithfield, RI while I was at Bryant University. Pick Pockets is a very modest counter within a gas station convenience store that made the most perfect falafel pita pockets. If for whatever random reason you find yourself in Rhode Island, do yourself a favor and go here! I. Was. Obsessed.

And from then on, I was HOOKED on all things falafel. Falafel is quite simply pulsed chickpeas mashed together with amazing flavors and spices and breadcrumbs, formed into balls or patties and fried to golden perfection. You can eat falafel in all sorts of ways--on salads, as an appetizer or snack, or--my personal favorite--wrapped up in a pita with all the fixin's.

These Falafel Pita Pockets are just that. Simple and delicious homemade falafel patties wrapped up in warm pitas with a cucumber yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and feta cheese. Feta makes everything betta!

Yes, yes. I know. I am a wizard with words.

For a while I reserved falafel for the professionals. Why I was doing this, I have no idea. Homemade falafels are so easy to pull together and the taste and texture is out of this world. These are a regular in our dinner rotation and will be for a long time.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Baked Parmesan Risotto with Bacon, Peas and Cauliflower

Guys, I've missed you.

I am sorry to have been MIA for the month of February and now most of March. Work and exams required my full attention, but that attention has paid off. And now, just like that, I am back and ready to test out some fun new recipes with you.

You can probably tell from the quality that I snapped these photos really quickly before Cory and I sat down for Valentine's Day dinner (I know, I know. I made this on FEBRUARY 14th and I'm only NOW sharing it with you--awful!) Anyway, trust me when I tell you that despite the boring pictures, this risotto dish is so yummy!

This Baked Parmesan Risotto with Bacon, Peas, and Cauliflower is creamy and dreamy and so flavorful. It has all the delicious qualities of a traditional risotto without the task of stirring it constantly for 40 minutes. I love the combination of peas and bacon -- it's like this risotto is a nod to Pasta Carbonara! Roasted cauliflower adds a depth of flavor, while fresh leeks and crisp white wine cut a bit of that parmesan richness.

If you've been dying to make a risotto at home but aren't ready to tackle the constant stirring process, give this recipe a try. It is totally simple and foolproof, yet it is still elegant enough to serve to your special someone or a bunch of friends for a dinner party. All you need is an oven-proof pot, such as a dutch oven, and you are ready to roll.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Avocado Breakfast Toasts

It seems silly calling this a recipe. Maybe I should call this "a glimpse into my weekend breakfast." No matter what we call it, just know that these cute little toasts are a perfectly simple and wonderfully tasty breakfast.

I totally love avocados--me and guacamole have a special love language. We get each other. Avocados are tasty whether you enjoy them with breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are smooth and creamy and, let's face it, soooo dreamy. Their soft texture make them the perfect replacement for butter, jelly, or whatever condiment you usually put on your morning toast.

This breakfast doesn't feel like "just toast" though. Oh no. We are upping the toast ante. It starts with a toasty piece of whole wheat or multi-grain bread. This is a no-fuss toasting process...I just popped the bread in my toaster. I happened to have a clove of garlic on hand, so I cut it in half and rubbed the warm toast with the garlic. This is something we should do always. Flavor Nation.

On to our garlicky toast goes a ripe and mashed avocado. Avocado begs for flavor, and we will answer these wishes with a bit of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. A little spice in the morning will awaken our taste buds and get our day started on the right foot. I love tomatoes with avocado...must be a guacamole I place a few slices right on top of our 'cado mash. To finish off the breakfast thing, a sliced hard boiled egg seemed all too appropriate. For step by step instructions for perfect hard-boiled eggs, see this post.

I may be dwelling on this silly easy breakfast treat, but there are so many great things happening here. This breakfast is fulfilling and packed with flavor, and perhaps even better than that it is healthy for you! Forget the pancakes and the waffles and the cheesy omelettes. These Avocado Breakfast Toasts are your new "not-so-guilty" breakfast pleasure.