Espresso & Cocoa Steak Rub

Espresso & Cocoa Rubbed Strip Steaks – My Valentine’s Day 

IMG_2288Steak almost always makes an appearance on Valentine’s Day. It’s nostalgic in a classic steak house kind of way. It makes me think of my grandparents, Frank Sinatra, and white linen table cloths. In my opinion a nice juicy cut of steak lends the perfect touch of masculinity to an otherwise overtly feminine day i.e pink hearts and red roses.

IMG_2282Last year Seth and I enjoyed Valentine’s Day in the comfort of our own house with a home cooked meal. This year Seth was working and therefore left me to battle the partially hydrogenated filled chocolates by my lonesome (a battle that I *mostly* won). In attempt to remain festive, I offered to cook a meal for my parents- involving steak of course.

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This recipe seemed like a perfect homage to Valentine’s Day. After sampling a similar spice rub at Central Market I knew I had to recreate it at home. The complexly bitter, spicy, and semi-sweet flavor compliments red meat perfectly. I used two half pound grass fed strip steaks but really any cut works; these just happened to be what was available in the grass fed department. After cooking, I sliced them against the grain and served on top of a salad consisting of argula, buffalo mozzarella, and xL grapevine tomatoes. We enjoyed the lightness of the salad paired against the bold beef flavor but the serving possibilities are truly endless.

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Espresso & Cocoa Steak Rub

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons Instant Espresso Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 2 Half Pound Strip Steak (Use Grass-fed/Organic if possible)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Whisk together
  3. Liberally rub spice mixture onto both sides of steaks
  4. Let marinate in fridge overnight or at least an hour
  5. In a cast iron skillet, heat over med. high heat
  6. Coat pan with oil
  7. When pan is warmed through, place steaks on pan and cook on one side for about 4 minutes (you should hear a nice sizzle allowing the steak to form a nice a crust)
  8. After 4 minutes, flip steaks and cook for another 4 minutes
  9. Remove from pan and let rest on plate for 10 minutes before serving
  10. Enjoy!
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Orange Glazed Pineapple with Mascarpone & Mint

Orange Glazed Pineapple with Mascarpone & Mint 

IMG_2270I’ve been wanting to create a recipe with pineapple headlining as the main star for a while now. Everyone loves pineapple. Pineapple is fun and carefree. It’s tropical and makes you feel like you’re on vacation. It literally represents hospitality and friendliness. Spongebob Squarepants even lives in one. Pineapple = Hostess with the Mostest.

IMG_2258After acquiring a whole pineapple, I contemplated making a pineapple salsa or a pineapple slaw. I even thought about making a pineapple-fried rice. All of these ideas were serious contenders. A pineapple dessert felt too typical and ordinary (yeah, yeah pineapple upside down cake…whatever). Plus I’m not really into having fruit as a dessert. I wish I was that person. While I absolutely adore fruit it’s not something I’m really looking forward to savor at the end of an indulgent meal. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I eat fruit everyday. It’s not everyday that I eat a chocolate brownie.

IMG_2271-001When I came across this recipe on Bon Appetit it completely altered my perception of using fruit as dessert. The picture combined beautiful caramelized pineapple with pistachios and crème fraiche.  My take on that recipe combines a mixture of mascarpone cheese and Greek yogurt, making a tangy and creamy garnish. Additionally I cooked the orange juice and sugar into a syrup like consistency to strengthen the citrus flavor even more. I found that incorporating cinnamon delivers a slight warmness to the overall flavor. It adds an unexpected yet completely necessary dimension. Overall this recipe is light, practical in its simplicity, and totally delicious. It’s the perfect recipe for embracing a little southern hospitality. ;)

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Orange Glazed Pineapple with Mascarpone & Mint

Ingredients

  • 1 Pineapple
  • 1 cup Mascarpone Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Non-fat Greek Yogurt
  • Fresh Mint
  • 3 cups Orange Juice
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Toasted Pistachios
  • Honey

Instructions

  1. Cut up pineapple into rounded slices, carefully remove the core from each slice.
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk orange juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon together; bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until mixture is thickened.
  3. Place pineapple rounds in a baking dish, pour orange juice mixture on top of pineapple; toss to coat.
  4. Let marinate in mixture for a few hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 450. Place pineapple on baking sheet. Brush the tops with leftover glaze mixture in the baking dish. Bake pineapple for 15 minutes.
  6. After 15 minutes, flip over and brush the opposite side with glaze. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. Once pineapple is caramelized, place on a serving dish and let cool a little.
  8. While cooling, combine mascarpone cheese with greek yogurt.
  9. Dollop mascarpone mixture in the center of each pineapple ring.
  10. Drizzle with honey.
  11. Top with fresh chopped mint
  12. Liberally top with toasted pistachios.
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Blueberry Cobbler Ice Cream

Blueberry Cobbler Ice Cream – A Taste of Summer in January

IMG_2208It has been uncharacteristically cold this winter. At least in San Antonio. I’m certainly not complaining as I actually wore the cozy array of winter attire I often lust over this time of year. Boots and puffy vests aside, the “snowpocalypse” we’ve experienced (aka I had a few icicles on my back patio) has been nothing short of entertaining – a welcomed change to the normal pace if you will. Minus my canceled flight to Dallas last week. :(

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But, as it always goes, we always want what we don’t have. Right?  It was only a matter of time before my pinterest boards began filling up with bronzed skin tutorials, summer squash and heirloom tomato recipes, and fruity cocktails. Lucky for us South Texans all of these things are totally appropriate come mid March/ early April. Well, maybe not the seasonal produce…

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With warmer months on my mind, ice cream only seemed fitting. One of our favorite Christmas presents this year was a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I’ve already made a batch of fresh mint and sea salted dark chocolate ice cream and thus discovered the amazing-ness that ensues with homemade ice cream. Not only is the process fun but the flavor of REAL ice cream can’t be beat. This is big coming from me; I never scream for ice cream.

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This recipe for Blueberry Muffin Ice Cream looked irresistible. With a few modifications, the jury ultimately decided that my version  is more cobbler than muffin. I’d have to agree. It’s downright delicious.

* In honor of my soon-to-be husband, I dedicate this ice cream to the Denver Broncos. Blueberry – Blue and Orange for Broncos. Ok, I’m really pushing it but it’s the thought that counts! ;)

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Blueberry Cobbler Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups organic half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups organic 2 % milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 jar store bought blueberry jam, I used one that did not contain added sugars, any standard size will do
  • 1/2 package fresh blueberries
  • One whole recipe of cinnamon streusel
  • RECIPE I USED FOR CINNAMON STREUSEL FROM KITCHY KITCHEN:
  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 oz butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Using your fingers or a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon and then mix in the butter until crumbly. Place on a baking sheet with a silicone mat and bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Break apart and mix the streusel up, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Crumble and cool.

Instructions

  1. Melt butter until browned. Cool to room temp.
  2. Bring the milk and half and half up until it's just about to boil (this happens all at once so keep an eye on it!) over medium high heat- be careful not to scorch the milk.
  3. Whisk yolks, sugars and salt in separate bowl.
  4. Temper egg mixture so the eggs do not cook by whisking in 1 cup of the hot liquid into egg mixture. Then whisk egg mixture into the milk mixture in pot.
  5. Return to heat, and cook up to 170 degrees F (210 is boiling), constantly stir.
  6. Remove from heat and add in the vanilla and brown butter.
  7. Strain through a wire mesh strainer. Allow to cool to about room temperature in an ice bath and pop in the fridge.
  8. Once the mixture is room temp (maybe an hour), put it in an ice cream maker. Mine took about 20 minutes.
  9. At 20 minutes, add in blueberry jam and cinnamon streusel until combined.
  10. Pour the ice cream into a large container and fold in fresh blueberries.
  11. Freeze container until firm enough for your liking.
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Emeril Lagasse’s Split Pea Soup

Emeril’s Crock-Pot Split Pea Soup 

IMG_2164There have been numerous occasions throughout my life that seem to eerily mimic those found in movies or television shows. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought to myself while watching a movie “yes, I GET that”. However, I can’t say I’ve  been in a situation where I’ve thought “this totally reminds me of that book I used to read when I was 8″. Call me crazy but I’ve just never had a circumstance that felt oddly on par to an event depicted in a  children’s book. I don’t know. Maybe things are different for you. Maybe you were raised in a French orphanage or you regularly say goodnight to the moon and other things. All I’m saying is that I have not found myself in a situation that was undeniably similar to that of a work of children’s literature. That is until last week…

IMG_2163If you don’t already know the story of George and Martha, allow me to enlighten you. There once was a pair of hippopotamuses (hippopotami?…JUST KIDDING…let’s go with hippos) REDO: There once was a pair of hippos named George and Martha. Martha loved Split Pea Soup. She made it all the time. I don’t blame Martha at all for her love of Split Pea Soup. It’s dirt cheap and a nutritional POWERHOUSE. Talk about bang for your buck. Fiber, protein, potassium, the B’s, K… sorry back to the story. Anyways, Martha liked to make Split Pea Soup a lot, a lot as in every day. However, her hubby hippo, George, was not a fan of the complex flavor imparted by the split pea. He hated Martha’s soup. Now, unlike most males, George was very compassionate. Maybe it’s a hippo thing. He kept that hidden from Martha. You know, dare he hurt his beautiful hippo wife’s feelings. So instead, he pounded every god awful bowl she placed in front of his face. Poor guy. That is until one day when he just could no longer stand another bite. Unfortunately, George was not as sly as he thought he was (sly is not really an adjective I’d use to describe a hippo anyways) and his sweet naive wife caught him dumping a bowl of her soup. He of course had the intention of “playing it off” like he ate it. Long story short, this opens up the lines of communication between the two hippos. Martha confronts George, George finally confesses that he hates her soup…it ends well. Remember they are hippos and not humans. This situation would never ever play out as smoothly if they were humans. Regardless, it’s a cute little fable. You’re probably ready to know what this has to do with Emeril Lagasse’s Split Pea Soup.

IMG_2171With the holiday season quickly approaching, I’ve found myself craving soups and stews. This Split Pea Soup recipe, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, definitely fit the bill. It’s healthy, delicious, nostalgic…it also makes ~ 6 qts. Yes you read that correctly. This bad boy makes roughly 6 qts of Split Pea Soup. You’re seeing the correlation with George and Martha now aren’t you? Heed my warning: make friends with your freezer or save this AMAZING recipe when you’re feeding a crowd. Don’t subject your family and spouse to bowl after bowl of Split Pea Soup. I should know. I did this.

TIP: While this soup is wonderful as is, I found it to be exceptional with just a drizzle of truffle oil on top. I served it alongside some toasted sourdough bread. It was divine. It was divine every time I ate it for the past week. :)

Recipe found HERE

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I’m Back!

IMG_1981{ Beautiful Chandeliers at One of My Best Friend’s Wedding }

Hi. How are you? How have you been? Anything new? It has kind of been a while right? Like a while as in a month or so (I’m grossly underestimating).

Turns out it’s a lot harder to blog consistently when you work a full time job, are in a zillion weddings, planning a wedding of your own, and are also living daily life. The sad part is that there are people who do all this and are also raising children. These hypothetical people are probably pregnant too.

Basically I suck and have no excuse.

IMG_2033                { Sparkler Exit }

BUT I started this blog as a fun thing to do for myself. I was in between jobs and this helped me to stay focused. I still intend to post each and every chance I get, don’t get me wrong. But I never wanted to stress myself with it. Some things DO come before the blog.  The goal was never to have the blog run the show.  My goal, believe it or not, was to have fun. I do this because I like it. I don’t do this because I have to. Kapeesh? :)

You’ve also probably noticed that I stopped linking up to What I Ate Wednesday. The truth is I stopped enjoying it. It started to feel like a chore. It started to feel forced and inauthentic. I found myself dissatisfied with the material I was putting out. So I’ve made the executive decision to nix it. We’re moving on to bigger and better things folks. Ok, probably not bigger. But definitely better, for me that is.

IMG_1911               {The Bridesmaids Sans One Maid of Honor}

Lately I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on my all time favorite blogs in an attempt to re-inspire myself. I tried to decipher exactly what it was that I loved about them all so much. I realized it wasn’t necessarily anything concrete or methodical. It was more of a common theme that these blogs all shared in a sense. Simplicity. The quality content. The photos. A point. All of these factors contribute greatly to the overall feel and tone of a blog. Those are the things I find so inspirational. My blog should be no different. Quality vs. quantity.  Let’s run with that.

Ready? GO!

But don’t worry. There will still be plenty of this…

IMG_1785-004{Chaos in the Kitchen}

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Labor Day Yellow Cake Cocktail

Yellow Cake Cocktail

IMG_1854-001Happy Labor Day! I hope everyone is enjoying (or enjoyed) their day off! Unfortunately I still had to go into work today, but lucky for me I got to skip out 2 hours early! Sometimes I actually enjoy working holidays. I know that sounds like it should end with “said no one ever”, but I really don’t mind it all that much. People seem to be more laid back, you get paid more, & sometimes co-workers will even bring in holiday themed treats to share (you should know that I happen to be one of those co-workers).

IMG_1834-001Don’t be alarmed, I certainly didn’t bring Smirnoff’s Iced Cake Vodka into work today. But I definitely intend to end my evening with a Yellow Cake Cocktail. You see, I’m not a big vodka drinker myself. I tend to prefer beer or wine to liquor. However, as soon as I saw the commercials for Smirnoff’s new line of dessert flavored vodkas I was intrigued. Their line of tasty confection flavors include iced cake, caramel, whipped cream, & even marshmallow. I opted for the iced cake flavor. I’m usually a fan of birthday cake flavored things.

Recently Updated20After sampling many different mixers to go with the iced cake vodka, my favorite concoction ended up being one that tasted strikingly similar to a slice of yellow cake. You know, the kind from the little red box. The beauty (in my opinion) of this cocktail is that it doesn’t quite fit into any category. It’s bubbly, it’s sweet, it’s girly, & a little goes a long way. Therefore the serving possibilities are endless! Birthday party? Use champagne flutes. Using it as an after dinner cordial? Use a snifterr. Girls night? Martini glass. It kind of adapts to your situation. My favorite way to serve them is in vintage champagne flutes. It gives it a dainty/retro feel. My kind of cocktail. ;)

IMG_1847I may have had to go into work today, but at least I get to enjoy a big fat slice of yellow cake tonight…in liquid form that is. *Cheers*

TIP: Remember that while these taste incredibly smooth & sweet, they DO contain alcohol! With that being said, they can definitely sneak up on you.

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Labor Day Yellow Cake Cocktail

Ingredients

  • Makes 2 Drinks
  • 4 oz Diet Cream Soda ( I like the Zevia Brand as it doesn't contain those pesky artificial sweeteners)
  • 1 oz Diet Ginger Ale (Again, Zevia Brand)
  • 4 oz Smirinoff Iced Cake Vodka
  • 1 oz Disarrono
  • Squeeze of Lemon Juice
  • Sprinkles for Garnish

Instructions

  1. Dip outer edge of glass in water, rotate in plate of sprinkles.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, & pour into sprinkle garnished glass.
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Strawberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal

Strawberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal

IMG_1811Nothing says relaxation & comfort like a weekend morning. Going to bed on your own terms the night before & being allowed to wake up naturally (no buzzing iPhone) can set a positive tone for the entire day. I love waking up to the sunlight streaming through the blinds & feeling my doggies’ warm little bodies snuggled up next to me. Sometimes the scent of fresh brewed coffee will permeate the air & for a brief moment, I’ll feel like I’m living a Folger’s Coffee commercial. When I finally decide I’m ready to roll out of bed, I enjoy the easy transition from rest to wake. There’s no pressure to change out of my pajamas, no pressure to brush my hair, no pressure to apply makeup, no traffic reports being updated on the news…just a slightly disheveled sense of tranquility.

IMG_1824The simple luxuries in these peaceful moments really & truly make me happy. Unfortunately, I don’t get to appreciate them as often as I’d like to. Busy schedules & late nights (or the one extra glass of wine I probably didn’t need) tend to prevent these morning indulgences. The key to the perfect weekend morning you see requires certain factors. You have to have the time, the mindset, a well-rested state of being, & a yummy breakfast to wrap it all together.

IMG_1828Normally when these perfect weekend mornings happen, I’m feeling pretty darn good. Therefore, the perfect breakfast to compliment this has to keep up with the flow. Keep the momentum going if you will. Why ruin it with a heavy, greasy, overly sweetened, carb-fest?? Sure, donuts & crispy bacon have their place…but it’s definitely not on these rare occasions. Not on my watch folks! Enter the baked oatmeal. It’s easy (but still takes time), smells delicious, is customizable, & is 100% completely nourishing. It feels special & somewhat indulgent but doesn’t have you crawling back to bed 30 minutes after eating.

IMG_1831-001While I’ve made many baked oatmeals in my day, this one was created with the summer months in mind. Normally my baked oatmeals are made in the fall & usually involve pumpkin or sweet potatoes. This time I decided to switch things up by adding some juicy strawberries that had been sitting in my fridge for a couple of days. Cottage cheese bakes with the oatmeal to ensure a creamy moist center. In addition, it also ups the protein content. Now does this baked oatmeal REALLY taste like strawberry cheesecake? Let’s put it this way, if you can imagine a hearty textured version of an unsweetened strawberry cheesecake…then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this is like. Personally, I found it delicious & so did my family. It’s tangy, chock full of strawberries, & looks adorably rustic when served in the morning. Bottom line? Give it a shot & decide for yourself. Your mind & body (& figure!) will thank you ;)

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Strawberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Oatmeal
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 TBL Chia Seeds
  • 3/4 Cups Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 TBL Vanilla
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 16 oz Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • 16 oz Fresh Strawberries- Chopped into pieces, with a few whole strawberries for garnish
  • Reduced Fat Cream Cheese - room temperature
  • 1 Full Graham Cracker

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. In a bowl, mix milk, cinnamon, & vanilla together.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix dry oats, baking powder, & salt.
  4. Incorporate the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the cottage cheese & chopped strawberries.
  6. In a greased baking dish, pour the oat mixture in & smooth out the top with the back of a rubber spatula.
  7. In a plastic baggy, crush graham cracker into crumbles. Sprinkle graham cracker pieces all over the top (this is more for texture than flavor). Bake in oven for about 30 minutes. The oatmeal should have formed, slightly browned edges & will be firm in the center when it's done. If it still needs more time, bake for an extra 10 minutes. Mine took about 40 minutes to cook thoroughly. Let cool for 30 minutes (& for the filling to really set).
  8. In another plastic baggy, spoon a few spoonfuls of cream cheese in a bag & cut the end. Pipe the cream cheese over the top in a zig-zag motion to give an "iced" appearance. Garnish with strawberries on the top. Cut slices & serve. I liked to serve this with a little strawberry jelly on the side.
  9. NOTE: If you really can't get over how unsweet this breakfast is (because it's not sweet) then feel free to add sugar to the wet ingredients.
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Detox Salad

Detox Salad

IMG_1775The inspiration behind this salad was simply clean & light! You see, the past 3 weeks have really been one giant party. One of my best friend’s had a bridal shower, I had an engagement party, my mom had a birthday & we went out of town for my finance’s grandparent’s 65th anniversary. It was literally one celebration after the next. I mean, what more can a person ask for!? I’ve definitely set a new personal record for number of dresses worn in a 2-3 week period!

IMG_1776As much fun as I’ve had traveling, visiting with family from out of town, & being with my close friends; it has left me feeling in a little bit of a funk…physically. Let’s put it this way, the wine has been a-flowing and the food has been plentiful! I certainly don’t feel guilty for my minor “indulgences” here & there but you know it’s time to give your body some extra TLC  when you start having trouble getting rings on your finger (hello sodium). :(

IMG_1782-002 I added earthy beets into my salad to provide some extra oomph. It was the perfect unexpected twist my salad needed to keep it from feeling too ordinary. I’ll be honest, beets aren’t high on my “to-consume” list. In addition to the novelty, beets are chock full of vitamins, minerals & are even linked to liver promotion. Nutty Parmesan, crunchy “celery like” swiss chard pieces, & a light lemony vinegarette tied everything together perfectly. I paired my light salad with some apple slices & a small scoop of peanut butter. I finished eating feeling refreshed & satisfied. Mission accomplished. :)

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Detox Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 Sliced Thin Baby Beets
  • 2 Green Onion Stalks, chopped
  • Swiss Chard, chopped
  • Red Cabbage
  • Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Shaved Parmesan
  • Salad Dressing of Choice or Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette Recipe Below

Instructions

  1. Place swiss chard in bowl as salad bed, top with red cabbage.
  2. Sprinkle green onion and carrot.
  3. Top salad with tomatoes and beets.
  4. Sprinkle dried rosemary and shaved Parmesan before serving.
  5. Serve dressing on side.
  6. For Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette:
  7. Add 1 TBL of Dijon Mustard, 1 TBL of apple cider vinegar, 2 diced Garlic Cloves, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, and Juice of 1/2 Lemon into a bowl. Whisk in about 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil until fully emulsified.
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What I Ate Wednesday #22 & A WINNER!

What I Ate Wednesday #22 &… A Winner!!!!

Happy Wednesday everyone! This week we finally got to try the Boardwalk on Bulverde! We’ve been trying to visit this “park” of food trucks for a while now, but every time we tried to go it was closed. Luckily, we did some research ahead of time & checked out their facebook page to ensure a successful visit!

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IMG_0140We did a couple laps to see what we were working with & then sat down to formulate our game plan. We decided to try a little bit from each of the trucks that looked interesting, or interesting enough. In all honesty we were a little disappointed with the options. We were hoping for some more creativity. We had to constantly remind ourselves that this is San Antonio & not an episode of “Unique Eats” on the Cooking Channel (love that show).

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IMG_0144Pictured are two selections we made that we found to be the best in terms of creativity & taste. The first picture is of fried avocado balls from a food truck called “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”. The second picture is of an order of cheeseburger eggrolls from the “Hippie Chicks” truck. I won’t go into explicit detail but the majority of the foods we tasted were fried & heavy. We took bites of what we needed, enjoyed it, & tossed the rest. Even though we made it a point not to gorge we still left feeling a little sluggish & icky.

IMG_0161One of my favorite salads this week was a giant “mexi-cobb” knock off from Chuy’s. It contained baby spinach & swiss chard as the base.  Layered on top was red cabbage, avocado, carrots, feta, pico, chickpeas & green chiles. We also baked some chicken thighs & shredded some of the meat on the side. We used Trader Joe’s Cilantro Dressing. It was so yummy!

IMG_0166On Sunday I was feeling inspired so I decided to try my hand at making “pie pops”. I made a filling out of raspberry, strawberry, orange zest & chia seeds. For the crust I used half butter & half Earth Balance. They didn’t turn out exactly the way I was hoping. The sticks definitely weren’t stable enough for these baby pies to be eaten as pops. However, everything else was wonderful! I couldn’t get over how flaky, tender, & flavorful the pie crust was! Normally I don’t receive such great results using whole wheat pastry flour in pastry crusts. I’m thinking the combo of fats was the key! Once perfected, I’ll be sharing the recipe for sure!

Now on to the good stuff.

Being that everyone who participated in the giveaway had some awesome tips, I couldn’t decide on a winner. Therefore, I drew a number & came to the selection that way. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment!

The winner of the Johnny Carino’s Italian Grill Giveaway is:

Elle@thewaybyelle.blogspot.com says:

I know this may sound odd, but if I know I’m going to eat someplace that has few healthy choices, I like to eat fruit or veggies or a salad before I go out!

Congratulations! I will email you sometime within the day/afternoon to get your mailing address. You will receive your $25 gift card to Johnny Carino’s shortly! :)

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Cheezy Vegan Meatball Subs

Cheezy Vegan Meatball Subs

IMG_1725-001Even though I don’t practice a vegan lifestyle, I can fully appreciate those that do. Scientifically, we’ve seen evidence that replacing some animal proteins with complete plant proteins every now & then can be great for the human body. Plus, there’s always the argument that being vegan is a safer choice with our food production system being the way it is (read: awful). Now is it something we should be doing all the time? That isn’t something I can answer definitively. For many it’s a personal choice based on animal welfare issues etc. Even though there are many health benefits associated with it, it’s a lifestyle that takes a lot of education & diligence to make sure you’re getting everything you need. In addition, I can’t say that someone who enjoys an ethically raised, lean, properly portioned cut of beef in appropriate moderation is any less healthy.

IMG_1736SO, what I AM saying is I like to go “vegan” every now & then. Now, it’s not often that I get to whip up a vegan entree at my home. It takes a certain crowd to “get” it. I’ll sneak them in when I can, but really they’re best saved for weeks when Seth is gone, girl’s nights (like this vegan enchilada dip) or on day’s when I’m dining alone. Due to our “sporadic relationship”, it really satisfies me when a 100% vegan meal is pulled off with GREAT success. I won’t lie to you, they aren’t always great successes, but when it happens it’s like finding a Kate Spade purse on sale next to a sign that says “take an extra 40% off reduced sale items”. Yes, it’s as good as that to me.

IMG_1741These “meatball” subs were incredibly easy & absolutely delicious. I really couldn’t tell a difference. I even got the seal of approval from my father & Seth. That’s saying something believe me. While I can’t take credit for the actual meatballs (I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Vegan Meatballs), the cheeze sauce (made of cashews) was a fun addition I zipped up to bring in an extra level of “decadence”. Don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you? No big deal. There are other meatless varieties that you may be able to locate at your grocery store; just be aware that they may not be 100% vegan. Another option is to get busy in your kitchen & make your own. I’ve made meatless meatballs out of lentils before that were delicious and texturally on par with the real deal. Simply perform a quick google/pinterest search to find a recipe (yes, now you have an excuse to go pinterest!). Being that I can’t resist an opportunity to add in more veggies, I sauteed some peppers, onions, & mushrooms and added them into the sauce too. I encourage you to try your hand at these bad boys & see the look of surprise on everyone’s faces when they find out they’re…*gasp* VEGAN! ;)

P.S. – I am extending the Johnny Carino’s Giveaway until Wednesday, July 17th. I will announce the winner on this week’s WIAW.

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Cheezy Vegan Meatball Subs

Ingredients

  • For Meatballs:
  • Package of Frozen "Meatballs" (or homemade) * I used Trader Joe's
  • 1 Jar of Marinara Sauce * I like to chose low sodium varieties
  • 1 Bell Pepper, julienned
  • 1 Onion, julienned
  • 1 Cup Sliced Button Mushrooms
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tsp Red Pepper Flake
  • Crusty French Bread
  • For "Cheeze" Sauce
  • 1 Cup Raw Cashews
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • Water

Instructions

  1. In a large sauce pan, saute onions & peppers until slightly browned. Add garlic & mushrooms. Saute until fragrant.
  2. Add in "meatballs" & let cook until the outsides do not look frozen any more.
  3. Add in jar of pasta sauce. Bring to a low simmer, cover & cook for about 7-8 minutes until meatballs are completely dethawed & hot.
  4. Add in red pepper flakes.
  5. Rub french bread with olive oil & toast until slightly browned. I like to toast mine "halfway" so the bread is still relatively soft.
  6. Spoon meatballs & sauce onto bread.
  7. Top with jarred banana peppers & drizzle on cheeze sauce.
  8. *FOR CHEEZE SAUCE
  9. Soak 1 cup of raw cashews for about 10 minutes in water, drain.
  10. In a vitamix or food processor (I used vitamix) add in cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, & garlic powder. Pulse or blend until finely chopped as best as you can get it. Slowly add in water in batches (maybe a 1/4 c at a time) until the mixture becomes completely smoothed out & is at your desired consistency.
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