Grilled Cauliflower and Queso Blanco Tacos

Happy Summer Solstice!  After a cold and damp spring, it is nice to finally have some warm temps.  Maybe even a little too warm for the start of summer, but I don’t want to complain.  In the blink of an eye, it will be winter again, and I’ll be wishing for beach days long gone.

Luckily these warmer temps bring an opportunity to turn off the oven and get out the grill.  Or in my case, the grill pan since my apartment doesn’t permit grilling *sigh*.  At least my Le Creuset Bistro Grill gives the flavor of an outdoor grill.  It’s also really easy to clean.  I’ve had other grill pans that weren’t worth using due to the cleanup involved after.

I was inspired to make these tacos after seeing a recipe that Half Baked Harvest shared.  First, I should start off by stating that I was very skeptical of cauliflower and it’s new found fame.  It seems to be following in the footsteps of kale (which I was also a skeptic of at first).  Up until this point, my only experience with cauliflower was cauliflower rice.  I was surprised by how good it was, but it was not enough to convince me that cauliflower could be the star of the show.  As in, cauliflower “steak”(what???!!!) or cauliflower “wings”.  How could cauliflower replace beef or the chicken in wings?!  Vegan cheese is one thing, but this is a whole other level of food trickery!

I finally tried buffalo style cauliflower a few months ago at the New York Botanical Garden Hudson Garden Grill, which is a delicious farm to table style restaurant.  I’m so glad I did.  The cauliflower was crispy and spicy and barely needed it’s blue cheese accompaniment. Now I don’t think I could go so far as to say that this would become a replacement for regular wings, but clearly I now understood all of the hype around this unassuming veggie, which brings me back to the tacos.

The original recipe has you roast the cauliflower and serve with fried halloumi cheese.  I decided to grill it, and since my local grocery stores don’t carry halloumi, I used queso blanco as a substitute.  It also has a high melting point so I was able to grill it before serving with the tacos.  I love halloumi and when I need another cheese fix, I think I’ll order some from Amazon Fresh.

It seems that cauliflower tends to take on whatever flavor you’re imparting on it.  So the cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder definitely gave it the right Mexican kick.  It also stays tender on the inside when you cook it.  Be sure to serve the tacos with lots of guacamole, a good salsa (I like Joe’s or Shoprite Kitchen’s) and fresh cilantro.  I will definitely make these again and plan to make buffalo style cauliflower in the upcoming weeks! Are you a cauliflower convert yet?

Ingredients 
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoons sesame
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper
8 ounces queso blanco (or halloumi cheese), sliced
8 tortillas (I like La Tortilla Factory’s Handmade Style Corn Tortillas or Chi-Chi’s Flour and Corn Tortillas)
Guacamole
Salsa
Fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, oils, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Grill cauliflower over medium high heat until each side has a nice sear.  Transfer to a baking tray and keep warm.  Grill or pan fry the queso blanco (use foil if using a grill) and cook 1-2 minutes per side until the cheese begins to melt.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Transfer slices to tray with cauliflower.  Heat the tortillas using your desired method.  I like to heat them on the grill pan. To assemble the tacos, layer the cauliflower and queso blanco in the tortillas and top with guacamole, salsa and fresh cilantro.

 

Roasted Carrot Soup w/ Apples, Turmeric & Ginger

I have been on a soup kick lately.  I wasn’t feeling well last week and was hoping soup would do the trick.  Plus most soups are easy to throw together, freeze well and are hearty enough to eat on their own.  Prior to not feeling well, I already had a batch of chicken tortilla soup cooking in the slow cooker.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the outcome.  Partly because I inadvertently bought no sodium chicken stock (I usually buy low sodium), and I neglected to add extra salt.  Once soup is finished cooking, I find it’s hard to doctor up.  I also felt something was missing from the recipe.  It needed more heat and flavor.  I have another chicken tortilla soup recipe that calls for poblanos so I think I’ll try that one out next time.

Luckily, the roasted carrot soup I made midweek did not disappoint.  It was just what I was looking for and was full of immune boosting ingredients.  The consistency was similar to a butternut squash bisque and pairs nicely with a good hearty bread.  You could also serve with grilled cheese or serve on its own.  I actually had a side of tater tots with it the one night, and it was the perfect comforting dish.  I had combined parts of two different recipes for this one, and I should note that you can leave out the coconut yogurt that gets added at the end.  I only added a little less than half a cup, but I think the soup tasted slightly better prior to adding.  And it’s definitely worth taking the time to roast the carrots first.  It brings out the sweetness of them and gives a better flavor overall.

My soup adventures continue as I have a batch of pork posole in the slow cooker as I’m typing this.  I’ve always wanted to make it, and I’m still congested so I’m hoping the heat/spice from the jalapeno and chiles help!  Please share some of your favorite soup recipes in the comments section below. 🙂

P.S. On a side note, you must check out www.sincerelyusblog.com .  A good friend from college and a few of her friends recently started this fantastic blog!  It’s full of fun, fashion and fitness.  Thanks!

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch rounds
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large or 2 medium tart apples (I used Pink Lady), peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups vegetable stock
A few sprigs of thyme
Olive oil
1/2 cup coconut yogurt (feel free to omit)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

img_7934Preheat oven to 425º F.  Place carrots on a rimmed baking tray and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast at 425º F for about 20-25 minutes or until they begin to caramelize.  While the carrots are roasting, heat a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, onions and apple.  Cook until they are soft.  Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the vegetable stock, carrots and thyme.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Discard the sprigs of thyme.  Using an immersion blender (I love my Cuisinart one), blend the soup until it is smooth and creamy.  (If you use a blender or food processor instead, be careful blending the soup and allow to cool longer before blending.)  If you decide to use the coconut yogurt, add to the soup and blend again.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Return to the stove and heat to a simmer.  Serve with additional freshly ground pepper.

Avocado Fritters with Cashew Hollandaise Sauce

img_7743If you love avocados, then you are going to LOVE these avocado fritters!  They taste like fried guacamole and are a meatless alternative to guacamole chicken burgers I’ve made before.   I am far from a vegetarian but felt like I had a lot of meat last week and needed a break.  In addition to the fritters, I also made a roasted root veggie pot pie, which I’ll share the recipe for in another post.

In an effort to eat healthy and stay on track, I try to incorporate veggies and good sources of protein in my dishes whenever I can.  In addition to the avocado, these fritters are packed with spinach, quinoa and fresh cilantro.  They’re great on their own or as a side.  I had some for lunch this week along with leftover sweet potato quesadillas I had frozen.

And as for the cashew hollandaise sauce, it’s so good!  I’ve been wanting to explore cashew “cheese”, and this sauce definitely has a spreadable cheese-like consistency.   I finally made a cashew based “parmesan” a few weeks ago, and it’s really good.  You just combine raw cashews, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder in a food processor et voila!  Now, if you’re expecting it to taste exactly like parmesan cheese, you’ll be disappointed.  But if you go into it with an open mind, it is a good substitute.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, cheese (especially the aged varieties) and I do not get along so well anymore, and I really need to avoid it when I can and indulge in it when I can’t avoid the craving any longer!

The fritters would also be good with a chipotle or honey jalapeno sauce if you didn’t want to make the cashew hollandaise.

What are some ways you incorporate more veggies into your diet?  And do you have any favorite cheese alternatives?

Ingredients
1/2 cup quinoa (dry)
4  medium avocados
Zest and juice of 1 medium lime
1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
1 medium jalapeno, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Panko breadcrumbs
Coconut oil

For the cashew hollandaise:
5 ounces raw cashews
3 tablespoons hot water, plus more for soaking the cashews
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
Juice of 1 medium lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt

Place cashews in a small bowl.  Boil about a cup of water and pour over the cashews.  Let soak.

In the meantime, prepare the quinoa according to package directions and cool once finished.  While the quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl coarsely mash the avocados.  Mix in the lime zest and juice, spinach, jalapeno, and cilantro.  Add the cooled quinoa to the mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Spread a layer of panko breadcrumbs on a large baking tray.  Form the avocado mixture into small to medium size patties and place on the breadcrumbs.  Top with more breadcrumbs being sure to lightly press the breadcrumbs into the mixture.  Refrigerate till firm.

While the fritters are chilling, drain the cashes and place in a food processor along with the 3 tablespoons of hot water, tumeric, lime juice, olive oil, and salt.  Blend until smooth.  You can adjust the consistency by adding more water or olive oil.

Once the fritters are set, heat a large pan over medium heat.  Add a few tablespoons of coconut oil.  Fry the patties until golden brown on both sides.  Serve the fritters warm with the cashew hollandaise.  Refrigerate any leftovers.
*Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

img_7194When I’m planning out my dinners for the week, I always consider whether or not they will be good leftover for lunch.  I get bored easily when it comes to lunch so leftovers can be an easy fix for that.  They add more variety than just your average sandwich or salad.  I knew these chicken tacos would fit the bill.  And they were the perfect opportunity for me to use extra pineapple I had leftover from my pineapple and spinach smoothies.

The flavor combo of the tacos and salsa tasted like summer and what a great reminder to have in the midst of winter (I love the change of seasons and can’t wait for snow, but ahhh summer . . . )  I originally wanted to serve these as tostadas, but my local grocery store seemed to be out of them.  I used my favorite La Tortilla Factory corn tortillas (see previous post for link) instead.  I warmed them in a little bit of coconut oil till they bubbled and were lightly browned on each side.

Since I can’t have a grill at my apartment, I used my Le Creuset grill pan instead.  I’m so glad I purchased it a few months ago.  It does a great job of grilling, is easy to clean up and doesn’t take up a lot of space.  I actually leave it out on my stove top for easy access.  If you don’t want to grill the chicken, you could pan fry the chicken instead or even do a shredded version in the crock pot.

I didn’t think the tacos needed anything other than the salsa, but you could serve with guacamole or other toppings of your choice.  No one likes a sad desk lunch so I hope you try these out!

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds organic chicken breast pounded to 1/2 inch thickness (you can slice them too but using a meat mallet is a great way to bang out any frustrations lol)
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 /4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon honey
Juice and zest of one lime + juice of half a lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped pineapple
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
Bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
8 corn tortillas

Heat grill pan over high heat.  In a small bowl, whisk together all of the spices, honey, juice and zest of one lime, and olive oil.  Place chicken breasts in a large plastic bag.  Add marinade to bag and coat the chicken evenly.  Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the salsa by combining the pineapple, red onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and juice of half a lime.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Add the chicken to the hot grill pan and grill until chicken is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink.  Flip once while grilling.  Remove from pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing on a diagonal.  Serve with warm tortillas and the pineapple salsa.

*Recipe adapted from jessicagavin.com

Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Radish Salsa

Happy Holidays!  It’s hard to believe we are at the tail end of 2016!  It feels like summer was not that long ago so how can January just be around ther corner?  I don’t know about you, but I need to work on my goals for 2017.  And my blog is at the top of my list.  I gained some momentum back in the fall with regular posts but have slacked off since November.  The past month has been a blur, and going forward I need to dedicate some time each week to share all of the dishes I make.  Setting aside more time for the things I enjoy also goes for painting and a few other things.

img_0386But back to Sunday Girl Eats.  I have a bunch of recipes I’ve wanted to share, but last night I made a batch of sweet potato quesadillas and just had to post about them.  I’m always looking for ways to eat more veggies and to eat healthier in general.  I find that if I’m really organized and prepared for the week when it comes to food, I have a much better chance at making this happen.  These quesadillas were easy to make and contained ingredients you most likely have on hand.  The radish salsa was uncomplicated too.  They were great leftover for lunch today, and I froze some extra for nights when I just don’t feel like cooking.

I hope you’ll continue to follow me in 2017 and can’t wait to share more great recipes!  Happy cooking and Happy New Year!

Ingredients
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups grated peeled sweet potato (about 2 large potatoes)
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
Pinch or 2 of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of half a lime + extra for salsa
1 cup grated cheese of your choice (I used Lisanatti Almond Cheddar)
Fresh cilantro
16 small corn tortillas (my favorite are La Tortilla Factory’s Hand Made Style Tortillas Yellow Corn)
Radishes, finely chopped
Red onion, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeño, minced

img_0388Preheat oven to 350º F.  In a large pan over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic till soft.  Add the sweet potatoes, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook until potatoes are tender and lightely browned.  Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

Line a large baking tray (or two) with 8 tortillas. Top each tortilla with the potato mixture, cheese, and some cilantro.  Cover with remaining tortillas.  Bake at 350º F for about 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

img_0387For the radish salsa, combine radishes, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and remaining lime juice.  I used about 5 or 6 radishes and half of a small red onion.

Serve the quesadillas with the radish salsa.  I also served with a small amount of Honey Jalapeño Sauce from a local restaurant, Alumni Grill.  It’s delicious!
*Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen

Montreal and Banana Smoothie Muffins

I recently traveled to Montreal for vacation.  If you haven’t been, I highly recommend paying a visit!  It’s a beautiful city rich with culture, history, and amazing food.  I would move there for the markets alone!  After a week of St-Viateur sesame bagels, croissants pâte d’amandes, fresh brie, and a host of other items at my fingertips, I need a serious food detox.  At least all of my food consumption was paired with sightseeing and shopping.

img_5948Between traveling and a couple of busy weeks at work, I haven’t been able to cook as much or share what I’ve been making.  I’m looking forward to getting back into my routine of Sunday cooking.  Today, I plan to make my favorite butternut squash soup, a quick wonton soup, wraps for lunch, energy balls, and possibly one other dish.

But first, I wanted to share a recipe for Banana Smoothie Muffins.  These are similar to the banana kale muffins I made before, but these have baby spinach in them instead of the kale and the addition of raspberries, which give them a sweet/tart taste.  I made some changes to a recipe from a 2-week clean eating challenge from POPSUGAR.  The original called for sugar and canola oil.  I used raw organic honey, a little maple syrup, and coconut oil instead.  A few notes: Since I didn’t have whole wheat flour on hand, I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, which is similar to Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix.  I forgot that Bob’s mix does not contain baking soda like Pamela’s so my muffins didn’t rise as much but still taste good!

img_6079Ingredients
3 ripe bananas
2 cups packed baby spinach
1 pint raspberries (reserve 5 to 6 raspberries and mash them with a fork)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or flour of your choice
1/2 cup raw organic honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

img_6085Preheat oven to 350º F.  Place bananas, spinach, raspberries (except for reserved ones), honey, maple syrup, and coconut oil in a blender.  Blend till smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in one egg.  Add dry ingredients and stir till combined.  Fold in mashed raspberries.  Transfer batter to a lined muffin tin (or one sprayed with cooking spray).  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy as a snack or for breakfast.

 

Chickpea Crust “Pizza”

IMG_2885I’ve wanted to use chickpea flour ever since I had the amazing chickpea flour and sweet potato waffles at Café Clover in NYC.  I thought pizza crust would be a great way to try it out.  I couldn’t find plain chickpea flour so I ended up buying Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo and Fava Flour, and it was a great choice!  The flour takes on the flavor of other ingredients so you can use it for sweet recipes as well.

Instead of doing a traditional pizza with sauce and cheese, I wanted to do something a little lighter and also use the arugula and  spicy cilantro and sriracha hummus I had on hand.  Between the hummus and the flour, this was clearly a chickpea themed dish!  I topped the hummus and arugula with some warm bacon and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  The crust was easy to make, similar to a pancake, and I will happily make it again the next time I’m craving homemade pizza!  Just one recipe note:  If you plan to make this recipe instead of using traditional pizza toppings, I would bake the crust in the oven for a few minutes prior to added the toppings to give it an extra crisp.

Ingredients
2/3 cup chickpea flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I like McCormick’s Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder)
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Spicy Cilantro and Sriracha Hummus (or your favorite flavor)
1 cup arugula
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and torn into bite sized pieces
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

IMG_2884In a medium bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt.  Add the water and whisk till combined.  In a medium skillet (7 1/2 to 8 inches), heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Pour the batter into the pan and cook until the edges start to brown, about 3 minutes.  Flip the crust over and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Transfer to a parchment lined baked sheet and let cool slightly.

Spread hummus on crust and top with the arugula and bacon.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

 

Cashew Cherry Quinoa Salad

IMG_2770Quinoa has quickly become one of my favorite grains.  It is a great source of protein, and very versatile.  I love that it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.  I’ve used it in muffins, as a pasta substitute, and also in lieu of oatmeal.  In keeping with my fruit themed dishes, I made this cashew cherry quinoa salad last week.  Cherries are another one of my favorite summer fruits and also a favorite beach snack.  The salad was nice and light and even better the next day.  I served it as a side with mini turkey and spinach (from my deck “garden”) meatloaves and also had it leftover for lunch.

Ingredients
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

IMG_2772

Mini Turkey & Spinach Meatloaves

Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly.  Add cherries, cashews and red onion. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients through the freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle in olive oil, whisking continuously until well combined.  Add half of the vinaigrette to the quinoa mixture and toss to combine.  Serve with additional vinaigrette.

 

Mini Chorizo Pork Burgers with Spicy Pineapple Slaw

IMG_2749 Lately, the dishes I’ve been making have incorporated lots of summer fruit.  Last week I made a watermelon and arugula salad, and tonight I’m sharing a recipe for spicy pineapple slaw in addition to another post for fresh blueberry bars.  I will also be sharing a yummy cashew, cherry and quinoa salad!  Fruit is a great way to keep dishes light and fresh and on the healthier side of things.  These chorizo pork burgers would be great on the grill, and the slaw would also make a great topping for fish or shrimp tacos.  You could even serve it as a side with grilled chicken.  I used broccoli slaw as my main base.  It’s a time saver since you can purchase it already made up, and it has a nice crunch to it.  I served the burgers in pita pockets with a little light mayo and lots of spicy slaw!

Ingredients
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chorizo
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

1 package broccoli slaw
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups pineapple, diced
1 1/2-2 jalapenos, finely chopped (adjust for desired heat)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from 4 small limes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli slaw through the freshly ground pepper.  Toss well to combine.  Chill for 30 minutes and toss again before serving.

IMG_2756For the burgers, combine the pork, chorizo and cilantro.  Mix well and form into 2 inch in diameter mini burgers.  Cook over medium heat, flipping once, until thoroughly cooked.  Serve with the pineapple slaw in pita pockets or on buns of your choice.  Try serving these at your next barbecue!

Watermelon & Arugula Chicken Salad with Yellow Grape Tomatoes and Blueberries

IMG_2663I LOVE to cook, but with summer temps on the rise, there are some nights when you just don’t feel like turning on the oven or stove (especially if you don’t have central A/C like me!).  For those no cook nights, this salad is the way to go.  Watermelon and blueberries are some of my favorite seasonal fruits, and the natural sweetness of both help balance out the pepperiness of the arugula.  You could also use baby spinach or baby kale, but I tend to favor arugula over both.  Another great thing about most salads, is they allow you to be really creative without having to stick to an exact recipe.  What are some of your favorite salad recipes?

Ingredients
2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
1 pint blueberries
1/2 pint yellow grape tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, chopped
1 package arugula
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Marzetti Simply Dressed Lemon Vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients through the sliced almonds in a large bowl.  Toss well to combine.  Finish with the vinaigrette.  Happy Summer!