Archive for ‘Ashley’s Original Recipes’

December 11, 2015

Holiday Detox Series: Baked Avocado Egg Baskets

by ashley

  Trying to keep your diet in check during the holidays? Want to impress guests with a healthy, delicious and fun vegetarian breakfast alternative? This recipe is ridiculously easy, yet the results will amaze guests who’ve never had avocado egg baskets before.

Avocados are one of nature’s superfoods, full of vitamins and antioxidants it is a perfect detox food. My approach to detoxing is relatively simple, instead of worrying about juicing or expensive supplements, instead fill your detox diet with real foods that are low calorie and nutrient dense. Forgo anything processed or with refined sugars. Of course, the point of the Holiday detox is to work these foods in around your holiday celebrations. Plan your cheat meals wisely, keep the “cheating” to a minimum, but enjoy yourself. You only live once!

Baked Avocado Egg Baskets

Serves 2

One hass avocado

Two eggs

1 tbsp coconut oil

Optional: caramelized onions, chives, basil, fresh pico de gallo, etc. for topping once out of the oven

Preheat oven to 400F.

I like to use a muffin tin to bake the avocados as it keeps them in place better. Use the coconut oil to grease two openings in the muffin tin to prevent any egg white spillage from sticking to your pan.

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Use a spoon to create a slightly bigger hole in each avocado half to allow an egg to sit in the hole. (I like to eat the extra at this point! You can also reserve for another recipe later in the day, just remember to squeeze some lime or lemon on it to keep it from browning.)

Place the halves onto the muffin tin, skin side down, resting in one of the openings you greased with coconut oil. Carefully crack one egg into each avocado half, trying to avoid spilling the egg white.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the egg white is set but the yolk is still soft.

After removing from the oven, this is where I like to get creative. Work with your own tastes and whatever you have on hand at the time. Top with chopped fresh basil or chives. Add some caramelized onions. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with fresh tomatoes, pico de gallo or salsa. There are so many things that pair nicely with this!

***If you are allergic to latex, talk to your doctor before adding avocado to your diet. People with a serious latex allergy may experience symptoms after eating avocado.

 

November 16, 2015

Quick Weeknight Dinner: Spinach Tagliatelle with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

by ashley
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Photo by: Paolo Margari

Before we start cooking, let’s first imagine we are gliding down a canal in Bologna, Italy in spring with beautiful flowers gracing the balconies and friendly Italians waving as we pass. Somewhere off in the distance a man with a deep baritone voice is singing as he kneads dough to make delicious spinach tagliatelle pasta. We stop at a market to pick up the freshest, most vibrant cherry tomatoes, fire roasted red peppers, some robust balsamic vinegar and a basil pesto sauce made fresh that morning by the world’s most adorable grandmother. Of course we can dream up the best ingredients possible, but we all know that I’m stuck in a city apartment the size of a closet and cooking with the best I can find in my local market. I was able to find some amazing fresh spinach tagliatelle, you can substitute dried if you don’t have this luxury. And I purchased a jar of great basil pesto as well as a jar of fire roasted red peppers, both of which should be easy enough to find in most supermarkets. I already had a great Modena balsamic vinegar at home and some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used – and voila, the quickest gourmet weeknight dinner ever.

If you have 15 minutes, you have enough time to put this on your table tonight. The below recipe yields enough for a quick dinner for one or two, but can easily be adapted into dinner for a family of any size.

Spinach Tagliatelle with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

Serves two

Ingredients

  • 4 oz spinach tagliatelle pasta (fresh, if available)
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto (typically found in your grocer’s sauce aisle)
  • 1 whole fire roasted red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 pint grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar

Boil water in a medium sized pot and cook the spinach tagliatelle until al dente, time will vary depending on whether you purchase fresh or dried pasta. In a separate pan on medium-high heat, sauté the halved cherry tomatoes, the minced garlic, and roasted red pepper strips until heated through and slightly browning. Add the basil pesto and the balsamic vinegar to the pan and turn off the heat, stirring constantly until heated through and well incorporated. Serve the sauce over the cooked pasta.

  

 

May 11, 2015

Sweet Plantain, Maple and Brown Sugar Cake – Ashley’s back!

by ashley

Do you ever just get in a rut? You feel sad, overwhelmed, unable to concentrate on things that you once loved. Daily stresses combine with big stresses and everything that doesn’t involve laying on the couch becomes too much to handle. That’s how I’ve felt for the past six months. Many things happened in my life that just snowballed into this overwhelming feeling of just not wanting to do anything at all. I don’t cross promote, and still won’t, but I do write a couple of other blogs. All of them have had the same theme lately: either incredible sadness or absolutely nothing at all. When I fall into these bouts of depression I tend to write for myself more than anything else, and being a perfectionist, I cannot just throw something on a page and not be proud of it. I wrote a lot of poetry over the past few months, none of which will ever be shared with the public at large, but it helps if you’re suffering from the same feelings.

The point of telling you this is that I haven’t forgotten about you. I have thought a lot about this blog, and Jessica, over the past few months. I just couldn’t force myself to write. It’s foolish, I know, but it is the truth. But I’m here now. And I had a lot of extra plantains that were about to rot in my house – so I decided to make up a recipe for you J

The plantain is a staple in most Latin households. It can be eaten green or yellow, unripened or ripened. Green plantains are used mostly for frying – in my house either for cutting in slices, frying, mashing and then refrying into tostones or patacones (we are a mixed Caribbean/Central American household, so yes we do use both words). I also mash them up into a vegetarian mofongo (the most delicious thing on earth when paired with a robust tomato or vegetable broth – make sure to add some smoked paprika to imitate the flavor that meat imparts on the traditional mofongo). Sweet (also called yellow/ripened/black plantains) can also be sliced and fried into maduros or tajadas, or you can make a pastelon, or plantain “lasagna”, with strips of fried sweet plantains instead of noodles. There are also plantain empanadas (which I have already given you a recipe for here), plantain soup, simple boiled and mashed plantains instead of potatoes – the plantain is a very versatile vegetable.

Well, I could have done any of these things with my blackening plantains, which by the way is the best way to use sweet plantains – when they are almost completely black. But instead of the traditional, I decided I had a craving for banana bread. And of course I didn’t have bananas, only sweet plantains, so I made Sweet Plantain, Maple and Brown Sugar Cake. It’s very sweet, with a nutty flavor from the flaxseed, and completely vegan. It also can easily be made gluten free by using a gluten free flour instead of the whole wheat flour.

Sweet Plantain, Maple and Brown Sugar Cake

2 very ripe plantains, black almost to the point of rotting

1 cup cane sugar (I like to use Sugar in the Raw)

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ tsp kosher salt

2 tsp vanilla extract (I like to use Madagascar)

2 tsp maple syrup (use pure, real maple syrup, if you can)

¼ cup ground flaxseed

¾ cup water

½ cup almond milk

½ cup melted butter (I used Earth Balance Coconut)

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

2 cups whole wheat flour (or a gluten free flour of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350’F.

Start by combining the ground flaxseed with water until incorporated. Set aside. Cut up the plantains into small slices and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the cane sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, maple syrup, flaxseed mixture, almond milk and butter. Mash and mix together until a batter is formed. Add baking soda, baking powder and whole wheat flour. Continue mixing until fully incorporated.

Grease your baking pan (I used two small loaf pans) and pour in the batter. Bake until golden brown and set in the middle, about 30 minutes.

July 16, 2014

The Wonders of Ghee and Ladoo/Laddu

by ashley

Ghee and Ladoo/Laddu Ghee is traditionally used in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali and Sri Lankan cuisine, however versions of it are used throughout the world. It is very similar to clarified butter and made almost in the same way, just cooked a bit longer until the milk solids are browned. While not vegan, the process of making Ghee removes all of the milk solids, so it is a safe alternative to those with milk/lactose allergies. The flavor of your Ghee will depend greatly on the quality of the butter you start with. The best Ghee will come from grass fed cows, best if you can find fresh butter from a local farmer. If you are not near a farming community and live in the United States or Canada, Kerrygold butter is also a great alternative. Make sure you buy the full fat, traditional Kerrygold if you choose that route.

I am most familiar with the traditional uses of Ghee in Indian cooking, which they use to cook rice, dosas, curries and many other popular items. Ghee is also frequently served on the side for dipping in Indian cuisine. Naan, one of my favorite breads in the world, is usually brushed with Ghee while cooking to give it that sweet, buttery flavor.  

Ghee can be used to cook almost anything requiring the use of butter or oil, and when prepared with high quality butter it will contain no trans fats. So while Ghee is 100% fat, many doctors agree it is much healthier than many oils. Trans fats have been shown in laboratory testing to raise the risk of heart disease. Be careful if you choose to purchase pre-made Ghee instead of making your own, as there are many companies that market as “pure Ghee” when in fact they use vegetable oils containing trans fats. When made properly, Ghee is aromatic and nutty, with a hint of sweetness that lends itself to a variety of dishes and cuisines.

 

Making Ghee at Home

What you’ll need:

1lb high quality, full fat, unsalted butter

Large pot

Wooden spoon
Double mesh strainer

Cheesecloth

Large mixing bowl with lip for pouring

Jars for storage (I use mason jars)

 

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter foams and starts to boil. Lower heat to medium low and let simmer, do not stir in this phase. Allow the butter to continue to simmer until the foam disappears and the butter starts to clear. While waiting, place your double mesh strainer over the mixing bowl with the cheesecloth laid over the strainer. You will see the milk solids begin to form, stir gently a few times just to let the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pot.  Keep simmering, stirring occasionally so the milk solids don’t stick. Your Ghee will be finished cooking once the milk solids are a medium golden brown and the butter is finished foaming. Immediately pour the Ghee over the cheesecloth to strain out the milk solids. Some may choose to discard these, others can follow my short recipe below for a delicious treat to make with these. Pour into glass jars for storage. Your Ghee should be a lovely clear gold color, which will solidify as it cools. It is now ready for use!

 

Ladoo (Laddu) – Tasty treats made from leftover milk solids

Ladoo/Laddu

If you do not have a dairy allergy, there is no reason to discard the delicious milk solids that are left over from your homemade Ghee. They are very simple to make and are a great way to enjoy the fruits of your Ghee labor right away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’ll need:

Leftover milk solids from making Ghee (recipe above)

½ cup wheat flour

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp Ghee

3 tbsp halved raw, unsalted cashews (optional)

Parchment paper

 

Combine the milk solids, sugar and wheat flour in the same pan you just made Ghee, mix well to fully incorporate and heat over medium low until golden brown. In separate pan, lightly fry the cashews in two tablespoons of Ghee. Add cashews to the wheat mixture and incorporate by hand, adding the remaining tablespoon of Ghee if mixture is not wet enough. Begin hand forming small balls in your hands and set out on parchment. These can be eaten immediately or cooled and eaten at room temperature. Either way, they are delicious!

 

August 12, 2013

Vegan Thai-Inspired Shiitake Coconut Curry with Baby Bok Choy

by ashley

Vegan Thai-Inspired Shiitake Coconut Curry with Baby Bok Choy I was inspired by Campbell’s, of all things. Can you believe it? Campbell’s is making some amazing-sounding soups in their “Go” collection. There are a few veggie options that I will be reviewing soon. Unfortunately, their Thai Shiitake Coconut Curry soup also includes chicken, but that’s okay, because I was able to create a healthier version at home. I melded a few recipes that I found online, along with adding baby bok choy that I found at the farmer’s market this weekend. Yummy and healthy, great for this cold that I’m battling still.

Vegan Thai-Inspired Shiitake Coconut Curry with Baby Bok Choy

1 head baby bok choy, separated

Handful of shiitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 small onion, cut in slices

1 tablespoon coconut oil

3 springs lemon grass, tied

3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

1 can coconut milk

2 cups vegetable broth

1 lime, juiced

Cilantro for garnish

Sriracha, to taste

Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Once smoking, add the shiitake mushrooms and saute until browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the onion, baby bok choy and garlic to the pan. Saute until onions are tender. Add the red curry paste and stir until incorporated. Add the vegetable broth and tied lemon grass. Stir to incorporate and then allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and simmer another 5 minutes. Remove lemon grass and stir in lime juice. Pour over brown or jasmine rice and garnish with cilantro. I also add some sriracha for added heat and flavor, because everything is better with sriracha.

Serves 2-3 when served with rice.

Enjoy!

May 7, 2013

Healthy Authentic Vegetarian Palestinian/Israeli Breakfast: Shakshuka

by ashley

Healthy Authentic Vegetarian Palestinian/Israeli Breakfast: ShakshukaOriginally a Tunisian dish, Shakshuka is now served throughout the middle east and most popularly in Israel. There are many Israeli and Palestinian restaurants that serve Shakshuka, a rich egg and tomato dish which is traditionally a breakfast food (although I eat it just about any time of the day!).

The ingredients are surprisingly simple and despite its popularity through the middle east, it rarely strays from this simple recipe of eggs, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper. In order to make it as authentic as possible, you will need a nice cast iron pan to cook and serve it.

The way I like to make Shakshuka is actually quite a bit healthier, as I cut down on the oil by a lot. You can also cut calories and cholesterol by using only egg whites or taking half of the yolks out. Being that I don’t eat it very often, I usually keep a whole egg and just lower the olive oil. It still tastes delicious. I also love that it is traditionally vegetarian, so there are no substitutions necessary to experience the authentic meal. In order to make this vegan, all you would need to do is omit the eggs and substitute a tofu scramble.

Healthy Authentic Vegetarian Palestinian/Israeli Breakfast: Shakshuka

Serves 4

Cast Iron Pan

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup chopped sweet peppers

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon whole cumin

Pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste

4 eggs

Heat olive oil in cast iron pan over medium heat. Once the oil has coated the bottom of the pan, add the onions and garlic. Allow to sauté until translucent and starting to caramelize. Add the sweet peppers and mix until they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and sauté for another few minutes until they begin to break up. Add the tomato paste and spices, stir to incorporate. Allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring gently. Once the mixture is fragrant, gently drop the eggs onto the top of the mixture to poach in the juices. Remove from heat and serve in the cast iron pan.

This can be served as is, or more traditionally with white flat bread. Enjoy!

February 25, 2013

Romanesco Frittata with Kale and Rainbow Chard

by ashley

Romanesco BroccoliLast week my CSA box had a great surprise: romanesco broccoli! I love the beautiful shape and slightly sweeter taste it has than traditional broccoli or cauliflower. Since I also have ungodly amounts of eggs also from my CSA, I decided that I would make a frittata with the romanesco, kale, rainbow chard and onion. It turned out delicious – and healthy, with just a touch of cheese and pinch of salt for flavor. This would make a wonderful brunch idea, and could easily be made vegan with tofu and almond milk. I will have to post a recipe soon that omits the eggs and dairy, I just had so many to use up this week!

Romanesco Frittata with Kale and Rainbow Chard

1 head romanesco broccoli

½ cup chopped kale

½ cup chopped rainbow chard

½ medium white onion

8 large eggs

½ cup milk

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Optional: ½ cup shredded cheese

Romanesco Frittata: Sauteeing in PanFinely chop onion, kale and rainbow chard. Coarsely chop romanesco broccoli. In a large cast iron pan (or other oven safe pan), heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add rainbow chard and kale. Sautee until wilted. Add romanesco broccoli and sauté for about 2 minutes. Take off heat.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, milk and salt. Whisk vigorously until completely combined and mixture begins to bubble. Pour into cast iron pan and mix to ensure ingredients are evenly distributed. Allow to cook over medium heat until egg begins to set.

Transfer to the oven and allow to bake until golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes. Cool and serve either warm or cold. Can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Serves 4 as a meal, 6 as a side item.

Romanesco Frittata with Kale and Rainbow Chard

August 15, 2012

Vegetarian Hors D’oeuvres: Mini Quiches

by ashley

In planning for Jessica’s baby shower, I wanted to make sure that we had a good assortment of foods that would be tasty, easy to make and easy to eat. The first thing that popped into my head were mini quiches – something that I’ve made in my own home for years. They are incredibly adaptable and great to make with kids. You can come up with infinite possibilities for flavors and fillings.

 

I chose to keep mine simple for the baby shower: chives, dill, some onion and cheddar cheese. To make it more simple, I used frozen pastry sheets for the crust. If you are more versed in the kitchen, whipping up a fresh batch of pastry dough would be tastier. I had to make about 100, so I wanted easy 😉

 

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make one batch of 30 mini quiches or 8 larger quiches:

 

2 tbsp finely diced onions

2 tbsp chopped chives

1 tbsp dried dill leaves

1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

1 tsp kosher salt

3 eggs

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

1 sheet frozen pastry dough*

 

*Fully defrost pastry sheet overnight in refrigerator.

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Grease mini muffin pans (or regular muffin pans, depending on desired quiche size). On a hard, floured surface, roll out the defrosted pastry dough until doubled in size. Using a rolling cutter, or pizza cutter, cut the pastry dough into uniform squares. For mini quiches, the squares should be about 2 inches. For larger quiches, 5 inches. Lightly push the cut pastry squares into the muffin pans.

 

Beat eggs and heavy cream in a bowl, folding in the onions, chives, dill, salt and cheese once fully integrated. Spoon the egg mixture into the muffin tins, filling each pastry square about ¾ of the way. Bake until fluffy golden brown, about 10-15 minutes for mini-quiches or 15-25 minutes for larger quiches. Serve immediately.

 

August 9, 2012

Jessica’s Baby Shower – Cute Vegetarian Appetizer Ideas

by ashley

I can’t believe that Jessica is 33 weeks pregnant. So many things have changed since the beginning of Veg On The Run. We’ve ran a ½ marathon together, we’ve done a bodybuilding challenge, I lost 18 pounds, we’ve done parties, events…so many things, it’s hard to believe they all fit into such a short time span.

When Jessica took me out to dinner in February to tell me the good news, it was the first time in a long time that I cried tears of joy. I’m so happy for her and her husband, she has touched my heart the most of anyone I’ve met here in Miami. So, when it came time to plan her baby shower, I knew that I was going to do my best to make it a special occasion. One of Jessica’s best friends, Nermari, was my sidekick in putting all the festivities together. I love to cook, but I’m not the best decorator. Nermari is a decorating queen. Jessica has an entire board on the Veg On The Run Pinterest page dedicated to the new baby, so Nermari suggested we start there. We scoured the page for hours trying to best match what she likes. We ended up with a Tiffany blue themed party with a splash of orange for contrast. I knew Jessica wanted a pink cake with Tiffany blue frosting. After calling around to several Publix locations, I found that while they wouldn’t do a pink cake, they can do red velvet with blue frosting. They translated my weak request for “a pink cake with Tiffany Blue icing, no flowers and little dots on it”, into a work of art. And it was at least half the price an independent bakery would have charged.

I was in charge of the vegetarian appetizers, choosing to make mini cheddar herb quiches, phyllo mushroom tarts with feta cheese and a watermelon “cornucopia” fruit salad. All were very simple to make (recipes to follow next week), yet looked elegant at the party. We also had tons of candy, used as both edibles and decorations, chocolate cupcakes and several other treats that others brought with them. It was definitely a party to remember, and special thanks to Nermari for teaching me how to put a baby shower together. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!

Congratulations Jessica on your first baby, a wonderful little boy. May he be everything you always wished for and more.

January 6, 2012

Vegan Zucchini “Pasta” with Tomato and Spinach Cashew Cream Sauce

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan 

My number one goal for our vegan bodybuilding challenge is finding healthy, protein-filled recipes that are fun to eat. This is the only thing that will keep me out of the trans-fat laden cheese and potato chips. I’ve been wanting to make zucchini “pasta” for quite some time now, however just never had the energy to cut it up. If you buy a spiralizer, this process will be much easier. As it is, I used a mandolin to cut the zucchini in strips, and then julienned them into small noodle-like strips.

My fiance is trying to go vegan with me for a while. Although I know he isn’t planning on sticking to it 100%, it is wonderful that he’s learning that every meal does not have to revolve around un-healthy meats and dairy products. His favorite sauce just happens to be vodka sauce, so I decided to make a vegan version, sans the vodka. I originally didn’t have high hopes for this recipe and was debating making a dairy version for him separately, however when I took my first bite it was heavenly. I hope he likes it, it’s all he got in his lunch today =).

You’ll need to start the cashew cream before you can begin on anything else. While the cashews are soaking, cut up the zucchini.

Cashew Cream

1 lb raw cashews (imperative that they be raw, unsalted)

2-3 cups coconut water

Seasoning (optional)

Boil regular water in a medium saucepan, enough to cover the cashews. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat, add cashews and cover. Set aside for 30 minutes. (Now is the time to start cutting your zucchini noodles.)

After 30 minutes, drain cashews in a colander and put into a food processor, blender or Vitamix. I used a food processor and it worked perfectly, however I’m not sure how well this would come out in a regular blender. Of course, the Vitamix is made for this sort of thing – but I haven’t found a huge need for one as of yet.

Add the first cup of coconut water and blend until all water is incorporated. It will probably be pretty thick still, but this is where your tastes come in. To thin out the cream, keep adding coconut water until you reach your desired texture. I like mine pretty creamy, like a sauce, so I added about 2 ½ cups or so.

Once you’ve reached your desired thickness, now is the time to season. If you’re making the zucchini pasta, you’ll want to add some garlic, a little salt, maybe some pepper. Get creative with it. It doesn’t have to hold full flavor by itself, just have a little kick of savory (or sweet if you’re making a dessert).

Makes about 6 cups cream, depending on amount of water added.

 

Zucchini “Pasta” with Tomato and Spinach Cashew Cream Sauce


2 large raw zucchini squash, washed and dried

4 cups fresh baby spinach

2 cans stewed tomatoes (I use the basil/garlic seasoned kind)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¼-1 cup cashew cream (recipe above)

While you were soaking the cashews for the cream, you should have been slicing up your zucchini noodles. This is how it should be done, either use a spiralizer (the easy way out) to make noodles from the fresh zucchini or julienne them into long strips. You can use a mandolin to make it easier, cutting the zucchini first into long, wide strips, and then cutting from there into noodles. Set the zucchini aside once cut. 

In a large sauteé pan, heat the cans of stewed tomatoes, minced garlic and spinach over medium heat until bubbly. The spinach should start to wilt. Make sure to stir frequently. Once the mixture boils for 1-2 minutes, add the first ¼ cup of cashew cream and stir generously to incorporate. Taste and keep adding until there is a nice balance, all according to your tastes. Let simmer for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly and making sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the pan.

Once it looks nice and thick, add the zucchini noodles. Stir for about 2 minutes and serve.

Makes about four servings.

 

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