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….simple, healthy, and with lots of love.

Archive for March, 2009

Angel Hair Basil Pesto with Sun-dried Tomatoes – Happy St. Patty’s Day!

March 16, 2009 By: kristi Category: Main Dish, Pasta


If you want to be festive but not slave for hours in the kitchen for St. Patty’s Day, a fresh basil pesto is in order.  It’s green, it’s lean, and it’s… awesome.  Sorry, I ruined the rhyme.  ;o)

Any meal based around basil can’t help but be incredible.  Pesto is simple.  Take a few fresh ingredients, zap them in the food processor, toss it in cooked pasta, and you’re DONE!   I threw in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes for extra flavor and some red pepper flakes for some heat.  So good.

I hope you enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day as much as we do!!

Angel Hair Basil Pesto with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Serves 6-8


1 lb. organic angel hair pasta
1 Tbs. pasta water
6 oz. organic baby spinach, washed
2 cups fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, extra for garnish
Sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions.  Save 1 Tbs. pasta water.

In your food processor add the spinach, basil, garlic, pine nuts, tomatoes, and a dash of oil.  Zap it in the processor for a few seconds.  Keep adding olive oil and pulsing the pesto until its a liquid consistency.

Add the cheese and pulse for a few more seconds.

Mix pasta, pasta water, pesto, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Top with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Jasmine Green Tea Rice with Orange Zest

March 15, 2009 By: kristi Category: Side Dish


Typically I am a coffee drinker.  Almost nothing can keep me from my Gevalia Coffee straight out of the french press.  Since I am the lone coffee drinker in the house, I make it myself.  When my sister spends the night, however, I get the pleasure of waking up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  Amazing.


Mind you, I said ALMOST nothing can keep me from my coffee….

Jasmine Green tea is my all-time favorite tea.  Its floral scented leaves make it a unique blend to have in your cup.  Add an orange slice to it, and you’re in business!  After water, green tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world.  Green tea leaves have many uses in the kitchen besides tea.  They can be used for rubs, marinades, or added directly into a dish.  Sounds good to me.

I tend to eat brown rice at home, or red or purple…. just about any color but white.  But I do have a bag of Jasmine Rice in my cabinet just waiting for a special occasion.  And tonight was it!  The special occasion was that Jay and both got home from work early (by 6pm) – ha.  We like to make special occasions out of the most normal of days.

Since we were home a little earlier, I had time to make a more time-consuming dinner. My rice tends to take all of 5 minutes to make, but I was ready for rice that took 30 minutes to make.  Bad girl.

Jasmine rice has a mild floral scent to it that I wanted to be heightened.  That’s why I added Jasmine Green Tea to it!  I found a recipe in Vegetarian Times magazine that was the inspiration to my side dish.  It called for mixed vegetables, but I already had a veggie side dish so I omitted that part.

The taste is suttle but distinct.  And it doesn’t hurt to throw some antioxidants into your meals.  :o )

Jasmine Green Tea Rice with Orange Zest

Serves 8


4 jasmine green tea bags
1 c jasmine or basmati rice
1 bunch green onions (which I didn’t have at the time but wish that I did – I only had cilantro)
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbs. butter (or more depending on your liking)
1 tsp. fresh orange zest
sea salt and pepper to taste


Place tea bags in 3 cups of water and steep for 7-10 minutes.  Discard tea bags.

Combine rice and tea in a medium sace pan and bring to a boil.  Cover pan and reduce heat to low simmering for 15-20 minutes or until all tea has been absorbed.

Stir in almost all of the green onions, all of the sesame seeds, butter and zest.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the remaining green onions on top for garnish.

Black Bean Lasagna Rolls

March 14, 2009 By: kristi Category: Main Dish, Vegetarian


It’s Friday around 6:30pm, and I just get home from work.  I’m STARVING.  I want something substantial like lasagna but I do not want to wait over an hour to eat it.  Eating after 8 is not something we like to do often.  What do I do????

I’ve had the recipe for black bean lasagna rolls for quite a while now, and it’s the perfect opportunity to make them!

They turned out pretty well.  Very quick, very tasty for the family!  Although it’s one of those recipes that I will need to tweak before I make them for guests.  The edges of the noodles got a little too crispy, and I have to make sure not to spread the cheese mixture too close to the edges of the noodles because it all oozed out and didn’t look as pretty as they could have.  But that’s okay because Jay said that these were a keeper!

Despite the crunchy ooziness, I would definitely make these again when I’m hungry for lasagna but don’t feel like waiting a long time to eat.  :o )

Black Bean Lasagna Rolls

Source: Health.com

Serves 8


8 uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups drained canned no-salt-added black beans
Cooking spray
1 (15 1/2-ounce) jar no-salt-added salsa
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

Combine cheeses and next 3 ingredients, stirring well. Spread cheese mixture over 1 side of each noodle. Spoon black beans evenly over cheese mixture. Roll up noodles, jelly-roll fashion, beginning at narrow ends.

Place lasagna rolls, seam sides down, in an 11- x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

To serve, spoon salsa evenly over rolls, and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Salsa

March 13, 2009 By: kristi Category: Main Dish, Vegetarian


Let me preface this post by saying that the pictures do not do them justice.  Black beans when cooked in liquid are not aesthetically pleasing.  That’s why we top them with bright and colorful avocado salsa!


These vegetarian tacos were simply to die for.  I know I make it sound like EVERYTHING tastes really good (because I love food and everything about it), but this recipe deserves a round of applause all on its own.  Whenever I pour black beans and its sauce into a skillet to simmer with vegetables and spices, I am astounded by the results.  Simply astounded.


The recipe calls for wheat gluten or seitan, which I could not find so I substituted it with extra firm tofu.  The results were quite tasty.  High five for black beans and avocados!

Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Salsa

Source: Cooking Light, June 2002
6 servings (serving size: 2 tacos)


2 tsp. olive oil
3/4  cup  chopped onion
1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
2  garlic cloves, minced
1  jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1  tablespoon  dry sherry
1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
1  (15-ounce) can black beans, undrained
1  (8-ounce) package extra firm tofu (or wheat gluten)
1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
12  taco shells
2  cups  shredded romaine lettuce

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, oregano, garlic, and jalapeño; cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sherry, soy sauce, beans, and tofu; bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Prepare taco shells according to package directions.

Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into each shell; top each taco with about 2 1/2 tablespoons lettuce and about 2 1/2 tablespoons Avocado Salsa.

Avocado Salsa

March 12, 2009 By: kristi Category: Spreads/Dips, Vegetables


Mmmmmmmm… my all-time FAVORITE fruit in the whole wide world is the avocado.  Appropriately, “avocado” means buttery pear, and I can eat one after another until I am full and the happiest girl in town.  It’s buttery, velvety, and just melts in your mouth.  YUMMMM!

I made this awesomely delicious avocado salsa that I placed on top of my black bean tacos, and let me tell you – HEAVEN!!!  I used fresh key limes to cover the avocados so they didn’t brown.  It took a little work, but it was very good.  This salsa took minutes to make, and I will most certainly be using this recipe again.

Avocado Salsa

Source: Cooking Light, June 2002

Yields 2 cups (1/4 per serving)


1  cup  finely chopped tomato
1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
1/2  cup  chopped peeled avocado
2  tablespoons  finely chopped red onion
3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
1/4  teaspoon  sea salt
1  garlic clove, minced
1  jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently.


Veggie Fajitas

March 11, 2009 By: kristi Category: Main Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian


Okay it’s another one of those recipes that is a no-brainer… Again I almost feel incredibly silly posting this because fajitas are so common and so easy.  But I decided to post it anyway to remind YOU how easy, filling, and delicious veggie fajitas are!  Plus, you can use just about any veggie that you like, which also makes this meal incredibly versatile.

Whenever I make these, I am reminded of a long weekend I spent up in the Poconos with the Hanes.  Each meal that Cindy made was incredibly healthy, super easy to make, and soooooo yummy.  We all ate like royalty and yet it was all natural.  Awesome.

If you have some veggies that you would like to use up before they spoil, this is yet another recipe that is perfect for that.  :o )

Veggie Fajitas

Source: The Vegetarian Cookbook, p. 85

Serves 6


2 tsp of corn oil (I used olive oil)
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 bell peppers of any color, seeded and sliced
4 fresh green chilies, seeded and diced
2 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
12 whole wheat tortillas
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom skillet on low. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until fragrant.

Stir in peppers, chilies, and cilantro, and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat a separate, dry skillet over medium-high heat and heat tortillas for 30 seconds on each side.  Or just heat them in the microwave according to the package.  Cover them with foil or place in warmer drawer of oven until ready to serve.

Add the mushrooms to the veggie mixture and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

Divide veggies among the tortillas, roll them up and serve!

Baked Zucchini “BTM”

March 10, 2009 By: kristi Category: Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian


Basil, Tomato, and Mozzarella are a classic powerhouse of flavor.  By adding these three ingredients to pasta, pizza, or veggies you are guaranteeing yourself a winning dish.

I found this recipe in The Vegetarian Cookbook, which I recommend to everyone!  I needed something quick, simple, and FRESH – this side dish was all three.  Once again, this dish was used with “clean” ingredients making it light, healthy, and DELICIOUS.

This is a must-try, folks.  Very easy to whip up, and it will most definitely be a crowd pleaser!

Baked Zucchini “BTM”

Source: The Vegetarian Cookbook, p. 94

Serves 4


4 zucchini
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped, plus extra leaves for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 4 strips each.  Brush with oil and put in ovenproof baking dish or cookie sheet lined with foil.

Bake zucchini for 10 minutes or until softened but still holding their shape.

Remove from oven.  Arrange cheese slices on top, sprinkle with tomatoes and basil.  Return to oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Carefully place zucchini on a serving platter and garnish with basil leaves.

Clean Pad Thai

March 09, 2009 By: kristi Category: Food for Thought, Main Dish, Pasta, Vegetarian


Clean?  What is clean food?

Eating clean simply means eating fresh, whole foods in their natural state.   The food is minimally processed and does not contain any additives or preservatives.   Fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains and legumes are all a part of eating clean.


I purchased an incredible cookbook: The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Dr. Lisa Hark, PhD, RD.  It is FILLED with wonderful clean versions of our favorite dishes.  If you’re looking for a way to eat without feeling deprived or famished, I suggest you look at this cookbook.  All of the meals are beautifully presented, flavorful, natural and filling.  Nothing frustrates me more than feeling starved after a meal.  This isn’t the case here!

Jay and I have a thing for ethnic food – African, Thai, Middle Eastern, you name it!  The only problem is that going out all the time gets expensive, and I would much rather make my own meals so I know what is in them.

Dr. Hark included a Pad Thai recipe that looked very light and figure-friendly.  We LOVE pad thai so I wanted to give this a try.  After making the sauce, I was initially put-off because it didn’t taste super delicious.  I felt the sauce had too much concentrated tomato flavor that overpowered it.   But I was determined to make it work since I had done all the legwork for it already.  And you know what?  It turned out pretty good!  I used about a 1/3 of the sauce that the recipe calls for, which I think was a smart move.  Personally, I have never tasted pad thai like this before, but I know what I have eaten in the past was very bad for me.

I enjoyed this meal.  I wouldn’t give myself a high-five or anything… I would give it a 3 out of 5, but next time I will use less tomato paste and I think that will do the trick!

Clean Pad Thai

Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook, p. 266

Serves 8


8 oz. rice noodles, flat
1 Tbs. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, passed through garlic press
2 cups shredded savoy cabbage
2 thick carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
5 egg whites, lightly beaten
3 cups bean sprouts
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish


3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2-3 Tbs. tomato paste (original recipe calls for 1/4 cup)
2 Tbs. reserved noodle water
2 Tbs. unsulfured molasses
2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce


Cover rice noodles with boiling water in a ceramic bowl.  Read directions on container to determine length of time.

Drain, reserving 2 Tbs. of noodle water

In a small bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Stir in garlic, cabbage, and carrot.  Stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Make a well in the middle of the pan and scramble the egg whites.

Add noodles and sauce and cook for 5 minutes.

Add bean sprouts, zucchini and green onions and cook to heat through.

Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Grilled Pineapple with Agave Nectar and Coconut Flakes

March 03, 2009 By: kristi Category: Dessert, Fruit, Side Dish


Okay, I have mentioned in the past that when I make something particularly delicious my husband gives me a huge smile and a high five after his first bite.  Well, today I was ready to give myself a high five.

I tell you why…

…I typically get home from work around 7pm and even though it’s late, I want to have a nice meal with the hubby.  My problem is that I am usually SOOOOO hungry that I gnosh my way through my cabinets before dinner is ready.  To alleviate this problem I need to make something quick and easy.

On my way to work I stopped and picked up a pineapple.  Basically because it was on sale for $1.99.  So after work, I poured myself a glass of red wine (or two) and decided that I wanted to grill my pineapple.  I took a moment to reflect on my Maple Ginger Salmon and how deliciously caramelized it turned out because of the maple syrup that was put on top.  Well why can’t I do that with pineapple!?  I didn’t have any maple syrup or honey left (gasp!) but I definitely have some agave nectar on hand, which is a similar consistency to honey so I was happy.  Time for some grilled fruit!!


Agave nectar resembles honey in its consistency but is more water soluble.  It is actually derived from the tequila plant and is a natural sweetener that many use for their baking, hot beverages, and so on as a substitute for processed sugar.  I recently bought it from Trader Joe’s and will never look back.  (Thanks, Nikki!)

If you happen to find Agave Nectar (otherwise known as Agave Syrup) in the organic section of your local grocery store or at your local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  It’s not super sweet in flavor but has a distinct presence in dishes and drinks.

If you can’t find Agave Nectar, honey works just as well in this recipe.  :o )

My grilled pineapple took all of 10 minutes and was so unbelievably juicy and sweet that I wish I had bought TWO!

Grilled Pineapple with Agave Nectar and Coconut Flakes

(Serves 4-6)


1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pineapple, trimmed, cored, and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
4 Tbs. agave nectar or honey
1 tsp. lime or lemon juice
freshly cracked pepper
Coconut flakes, to garnish


Add oil to indoor grill pan and place on high heat.

Mix nectar or honey, lemon/lime juice, and pepper in a small bowl.  Brush on both sides of sliced pineapple.

Grill for 3-5 minutes or until grill marks appear.  Flip pineapple and repeat.  Make sure not to overcook otherwise pineapple will fall apart.

Garnish with coconut flakes.

Vegetable and Coconut Curry

March 03, 2009 By: kristi Category: Main Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian


Since I’ve started this blog, I have completely neglected my cookbooks.   They have remained in the cabinet above my oven for weeks – if not months – without a single disturbance.  It’s been so long that there are cookbooks in there that I swear I have never seen before.  I’m sorry, cookbooks!  How could I neglect you for so long?!

Even though my non-meat eating ways are quite new, I have always taken interest in vegetarian cuisine.  Mind you, I’m not a vegetarian.  I still have it in me to eat fish.  I can’t give up my salmon or shrimp… that’s just NOT going to happen.  I also consume dairy and eggs so I think the proper term is “pescatarian”.  My friend Becca introduced me to that term.   I feel a little strange using “pescatarian”.  I don’t know… am I really going to give up meat forever?   We shall see :o )

So anyway, I climbed up to my cookbook cabinet (I’m slightly over 5 feet tall and the cabinet is about as high as you can get in my kitchen) and went through my vegetarian cookbooks.  My fruit and veggie drawers were becoming quite bare so I had to find a recipe that was flexible in terms of what foods went into it.  Yep – it’s time to throw what I have in a meal again!

That’s when I came across Vegetable and Coconut Curry in  The Vegetarian Cookbook.  I have vegetables, I have spices, and I randomly have coconut milk in my kitchen.  Awesome!

This recipe pretty much tells you to unleash your veggie drawer into the dish.  It’s a great way to get rid of the nearly sprouting potatoes and frozen green beans that have been in the freezer for too long.  It also calls for tumeric, coriander, and cumin, which make curry.  If you have curry already in your spice cabinet, then by all means go for it.  I had it, but I didn’t want to use it all up so I stuck with the recipe on this one.

As I was preparing it I was reminded of a Moroccan Platter I made so I threw in chickpeas for amusement.  I need protein, right?

I served the vegetables on top of brown rice but cous cous would be great, too!

Vegetable and Coconut Curry

(Serves 4)


1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, thinly sliced
2 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. ground tumeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 lb mixed vegetables (such as broccoli, potatoes, green beans, cauliflour, carrots, zucchini), cut into bite sized chinks
1 c. coconut milk or cream
sea salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
1 Tbs. shredded coconut, for garnish (optional)
freshly cooked rice or cous cous, to serve


(If you have frozen vegetables that will be thawed and cooked already, please take note that your meals will take a lot less cooking time.)

Put the onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies in a food processor and process until almost smooth.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan over medium-low heat, add the onion mixture, and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.

Add the tumeric, coriander, and cumin (or just curry powder), stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.

Add vegetables and stir to coat.

Add the coconut milk or cream to the vegetables, cover, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.   If your vegetables are already cooked then it will only take about 10 minutes.

Season to taste wtih salt and pepper, garnish wtih cilantro and coconut.  Serve with rice.