Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

As I waxed on about on Wednesday, How Sweet It Is has been a favorite blog of mine for a while and I was pumped when I heard it’s creator, Jessica Merchant, was gracing the bookshelves with a cook book, Seriously Delish.

seriously delish

Upon receiving the book, it was really everything a fan of the website could want, and hopefully, the every day consumer would enjoy as well. The book has tons and tons of personality and stories from Jessica, which is what I think makes her blog so successful. She’s just her. And her cookbook is her. And it works!

And the recipes are fun! Roasted cherry, coconut and quinoa breakfast bowl? How delicious does that sound?? Prosecco-Cider Spiced Punch? Can it be fall now? Pumpkin Banilla Bread? Yeap, Banilla. She made up her own word in here. You will not be bored with this book.

Every recipe starts off with a little blurb from Jessica and almost every recipe has a picture, which is excellent! This is how I like my cookbooks.  My nerd side may be on display by admitting this but I like to sit down and read cook books and look at all the pretty pictures before I start tackling the recipes. I may also really like putting colored tabs on all the recipes I want to try buuuut that may just be an excuse to hit up Target during the back to school sale.

For this book, I made notes of the recipes I wanted to try and what I needed to do to make it vegan, if it wasn’t already. Surprisingly, for a cook book whose focus is NOT on vegetarian/vegan cooking, I did not feel like I lacked options.  This book is filled with recipes that are easily adaptable to a vegetarian and vegan life style. Some recipes that are already vegan- Coconut Almond Milk, Grilled Fruit Salsa and 3-bean crispy quinoa skillet are literally  begging for me to make them this weekend. Other recipes like thai chicken lettuce wraps (sub out chicken for tofu or tempeh), jalapeno-pineapple pizza with bourbon BBQ drizzle (leave off cheese or sub in vegan cheese. Also, this sounds amazing!) and White Cheddar Apple Crisp (Earth Balance for butter and leave out cheese) are easily changeable. Of course, you have your meat recipes which there is just nothing that can be done to make it vegan (I’m looking at you Cinnamon Sugar Bacon and Slow Cooker Short Rib Breakfast Hash) but I know a lot of my readers do eat meat so you guys will enjoy it! And, even though those were in the book, I in no way felt limited.


NOW. Let me share my favorite recipe that I have made so far.

Zucchini Tacos with Grilled Corn Salsa
from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

serves 2 to 4

Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cubed zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Corn Salsa

  • 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • 1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and diced (I used 1/2 pepper because the one I bought was huged!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Chipotle Crema

  • 1 tablespoons plin full-fat or low-fat Greek Yogurt (I used 3 tablespoons silken tofu)
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

For Serving

  • 8 (4-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and, stirring, cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cubed zucchini, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini becomes slightly tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

2. For the corn salsa, combine the corn, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss it together.

3. For the crema, whisk together the yogurt (or silken tofu), adobo sauce, lime juice, salt, and pepper. (I put it in a blender. It was a little runny that evening put it thickened over night)

4. To assemble the tacos, add some of the zucchini mixture to each warm tortilla and cover it with corn salsa. Drizzle the crema on top.

I loved these. They were fresh and tasted oh-so-summery. You could easily add more veggies or beans if you wanted to bulk it up, swap corn tortillas for the flours if you want to make them gluten-free or make the corn salsa separately if you wanted to use it as an appetizer with chips. So good!



Now, let’s talk contest deets. It has come to my attention that a few people wanted to wait to submit their contest entry because they wanted to hear more about the book. Fair enough. I think I was just SUPER excited to give you guys something. So, the contest will end this Sunday, Sept 7 (this Sunday) at 11:59 pm. I will announce the winner Monday morning. Cool? Cool. Now go Tell All Your Friends (Taking Back Sunday- style) about this book and leave your comments about wanting to win over at this post .


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This week has been rough. On Tuesday, our dog Ace, died really unexpectantly. The vet thinks it was cancer in his chest. He was still pretty young at 8 and it hit us all really hard. He was a super good dog, even though he was mildly neurotic. He didn’t like red rugs. He had a nightly routine which involved giving his blanky a tour of the house before settling down. And overall, he really didn’t like change. But, don’t we all have quirks? I can’t eat m&ms or skittles without sorting them into groups by color. Is that any less weird then avoiding red rugs? Needless to say, he fit into our family pretty well and it’s been hard losing him.

So, I’ve been trying to stay busy all week. Tuesday night, despite the news, I went to ballet class, swollen red poofy eyes and all. Last night, I went on a bit of a shopping spree with my friend, Rachel. Container store, Lush, Barnes and Noble, fro-yo with soy yogurt AND Whole Foods. It was kind of epic. And perfectly fun and distracting.


Thankfully and completely by coincidence,  I managed to get my act together on Sunday evening and make food for the whole week. So, despite my running around and blurred vision, I have still been eating well.

This salad seems like it may be boatloads of work, but you can make everything in advance and it makes several servings so you can have it for lunch or dinner throughout the week. Check out some substitutions all the way at the bottom if you want to save some time.



To roast the zucchini, summer squash and asparagus, I used the new baking sheet my Grandma gave me. Look how much bigger it is compared to my old ones!

Roasted Veggie Salad with Herb Quinoa Oat Bread

Roasted Veggie Salad:

  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small summer squash
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus (skinny stalks are the best! But that may be personal preference…)
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • baby spinach or arugala (Whichever you prefer. I have had both and both were delicious. I tend to have baby spinach on hand more frequently though because I also use it in smoothies)
  • coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • pepita seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Dice your butternut squash into cubes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with coconut oil (I didnt measure but I would estimate 1 TBSP) and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste if you are using.

Dice your zucchini and summer squash. Remove the tough ends from the asparagus and cut into thirds. Put the zucchini, summer squash and asparagus on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with coconut oil (again, around 1TBSP) and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the butternut squash in the oven for 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, put the other tray of veggies in.

When the 30 minute are up, remove the veggies from the oven. Veggies can be hot or cold when served, both are delicious so it’s a matter of preference. To serve, place a slice of toasted Herb Quinoa Oat Bread down (recipe below), top with a bed of spinach or arugala, then your roasted veggies, drizzle with apple cider vinaigrette (recipe below) and sprinkle with pepita seeds. Dig in!!

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
from Food Network

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put in a jar, shake it up and serve.

Herb Quinoa Oat Bread
recipe from Edible Perspective
-3 servings (I cut mine into 6 servings to get me through the week)

  • 1/2c GF oat flour*
  • 3/4c quinoa flour
  • 1/4c almond flour
  • 1c water
  • 1.5T ground chia seeds or ground flax seeds
  • 1.5T coconut oil
  • 1T unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/4t garlic powder
  • 1t parsley
  • 1t oregano
  • 1t thyme
  • 5-8 grinds of black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 375.

  2. Add 1/2T coconut oil to a 9” round/square pan and place in the oven.  A cast iron pan works really well.  Or line a 9” round/square pan with parchment paper.

  3. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

  4. Pour in the water, applesauce, and 1T of melted coconut oil.

  5. Stir until just combined and let sit for 5min.  Batter should be thick, but pourable after sitting.

  6. While the batter is sitting, place the pan in the oven with 1/2T coconut oil for 5min.  Remove from the oven and spread the oil around the sides + bottom of the pan.  *If using parchment paper, skip this step.

  7. Pour the batter into the pan, spread to the edges, then shake lightly to even out.

  8. Bake for 38-42min, until the bread is cracked on top, pulled away from the sides, and edges are golden brown.  I always bake mine for 40min.

  9. Let cool to fully firm up, then remove from the pan + slice.

  10. Store in a sealed container for 3-4 days.

* notes from Wicked Vegan: Don’t be intimidated by the list of unusual flours. I currently have at least 5 different flours in my pantry, none of which are the ones listed above and I was determined not to buy another. So I made these flours with the oats, quinoa and almonds that I already had. Just put the oats, quinoa and almonds in a food processor or magic bullet, separately, and blend until they have broken down into a flour consistency.  The oat flour and quinoa flour were very easy to turn to flour. I had a bit of trouble with the almonds, which resulted in a corn-bread texture to my bread. It was still delicious, it just didn’t look like the pictures from Edible Perspective but I was ok with that.

notes from Edible Perspective: I have found coconut oil to be the best to prevent sticking.  Feel free to sub another high-heat safe oil.  This recipe would be great as a base for pizza.  Remove the bread from the pan, pile on toppings, then bake for 5-10min.  Feel free to sub buckwheat, millet, amaranth, or corn flour for the oat or quinoa flour but not the almond meal.  You can easily make these gluten free flours at home in your blender or food processor.  For GF oat flour, use rolled oats, oat groats, or steel cut oats.  Process until turned into a fine flour.  You can make almond meal by processing almonds until turned into a soft meal with no almond pieces.
You can roast any veggies that you want for this salad. California Pizza Kitchen has a salad similar to this and they use eggplant. You could also throw in mushrooms, green beans, bell peppers or onions. I really think whatever you like would work in here.
Store bought Naan can be subbed in for the quinoa bread. I had originally bought roasted garlic naan for this recipe but holy crap was that stuff delicious! I ended up eating the four pieces before I even began to make this recipe so I decided that maybe I didn’t need more of that deliciousness in the house! After all, oatmeal with a side of roasted garlic naan for breakfast, soup with roasted garlic naan for lunch and just warm roasted garlic naan dipped in hummus for dinner doesn’t exactly make a well rounded day of food.
Balsamic vinaigrette, bottled or homemade, can be subbed for the apple cider vinaigrette dress.
ok, I promise no more sad stuff tomorrow on WV. I’ll try and bring you some fun Friday Favorites complete with some upbeat music.

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So, things are going to be getting a bit healthy up in this joint, I suspect. Last week, my co-worker, friend and fellow blogger, Rachel, joined our company’s fitness challenge, Team Lean Challenge. Neither of us were too interested in joining but we both made New Years Resolutions to hit the gym harder and we thought this would be a great way to stay on track.

Team Lean Challenge is a 12 week competition where teams of 2 compete to lose the most BMI/weight. They tweaked the rules a little this year so I’m not 100% sure how everything factors in but it’s been fun! You really stop and think about what you eat and how you exercise knowing someone else is going to be effected. Yesterday, instead of just running on the treadmill, I added some weights and attempted to jump rope. Hey, know what’s really difficult? Jump roping when you’re 27! That shit was easier when you were close to the ground.

Anyway, so I will be competing in this challenge so I can’t binge on cookie dough truffles, Avocado Chocolate Cupcakes or Deep Dish Cookie pies (all which would go be great for Valentines, btw). Nope! Things are going to get way healthier up in here!

Um…right after I provide you with the 2-4 Valentine’s desserts I have tentatively planned…THEN, things will get serious.

Today  I do have a relatively easy and healthy recipe for you- Roasted Veggies. I know this is sort of a cop out recipe but I have to tell you, this is one of my favorite cooking tricks lately. You just roast a ton of veggies one night and then you have yummy vegetables to be served with your meals for a week! It cuts down on prep time if prepared ahead and it gives you a healthy cornerstone for several meals.


Roasted Vegetables, Taralynn-style:
from Undressed Skeleton

  • 5 Mini Purple Potatoes
  • 4 Mini Honey Gold Potatoes
  • 2 Large Yellow Bell Peppers
  • 1/2 Box Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 3 Large Zucchini
  • 3 Large Summer Squash
  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes

Cook in oven for 1 hour on 350 degrees. Stir every 15 minutes.

This first recipe is a great blank canvas. You can have the veggies as is or you can prep it different for each meal. For instance, because the veggies were just cooked with veggy broth, if you are having taco night, you could toss a serving or two with a little taco season or fajita seasoning, reheat them at 350 for a few minutes, and serve them along side or even in your taco. But, if the next night, you are having spaghetti, you can toss a couple servings with italian seasoning and serve it along side a different meal. Then, on Saturday morning, you can sautee them in a skillet with an organic, cruelty-free egg or tofu and make a breakfast hash (this was my favorite way to eat them). It’s flexible and keeps you from getting bored.

It’s also super customizable with veggies. I found that the above recipe was good but a bit too starchy with the food I was making. Plus, it was meant to serve two for a week so I had a hard time finishing all of them. So I made this recipe:


Roasted Veggies, Erin-style:
seasoning from Healthfulpursuit.com

half a butternut squash*, cubed

1 punch of asparagus

1 red pepper

2 summer squash

2 zucchini

2 carrots

2 TBSP of coconut oil

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

2 pinches of cayenne pepper

*Apparently, at Whole Foods, if you only want half a butternut squash, you just have to ask the cute hipster boys and they take it in the back and cut it up for you. Seriously, why did I ever shop at Stop and Shop?

Preheat oven to 350.

Keep the butternut squash separate from the other veggies. They take longer to cook so you want them on their own. Toss the veggies with about 1 TBSP each of coconut butter, 1/4 cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne (1 TBSP of coconut oil, 1/4 cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne for the butternut squash, same for the other veggies). Place the butternut squash in the oven first, let cook for about 15 minutes and then put the other veggies in for 20 minutes. If you are feeling lazy, you can roast everything together but your veggies will be soggy by the time your butternut squash is done.

I ate this plain with just the maple dressing from Healthful pursuit, with quinoa and again, as a breakfast hash. Slightly less versatile with the spices but no less delicious.


Alright, I’ve worked out some frustrations on the elliptical AND plie-ed my ass off in ballet today so I’m hitting the hay. Let me know if you try this and with what veggies!

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And the New England weather strikes again!

Dun dun duuunnn

Ok, for all of you who aren’t blessed with Boston weather, this summer has been weird! hot, cold, humid, rainy, dry- it’s ridiculous. It makes planning a menu for the coming week difficult!

Last week was pretty humid so I decided that I would definitely be able to fit some grilling in during the week. Well, Tuesday, when I went to light up the grill, it was drizzling, cool and super windy. Lighting my mini charcoal grill with matches was um, a bit challenging! My roommate, Allie, came to my rescue though and schooled me on grill lighting. After he helped, I had the grill blazing within 5 minutes! Of course, with the wind, I was 92% sure I was going to burn my apartment down. I caught myself staring at the dancing flames with huge eyes, shoulders tense, knuckles white while gripping some fancy tong thingies, just waiting for something to catch fire.  BUT we all survived and I had a wicked yummy dinner to show for it.

Not that these pictures do my yummy veggy tacos justice. The fact is, I failed you in the picture area again my friends. My achilles heel in food photography seems to be mexican food. Remember my chimichangas? yeah…I still blame the refried beans…

Grilled Veggie Tacos

Black Beans:
from Crockpot 356

  • 1 pound black beans, soaked overnight, then drained*
  • 6 cups veggy broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Soak your beans overnight and drain.
Put the drained beans into your slow cooker, then add the chopped garlic, broth, tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder. Stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
*The original person who posted this recipe suggested using the Quick-soak method, which is bring your dried beans to a boil for 10 minutes, cover and let sit for 1 hour. This did NOT work for me. My beans ended up being crunchy after 8+ hours and I had to put them on high for an additional 3 hours. Save yourself the trouble and soak them over night!
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
Mix all the ingredients together. If you have left overs, store them with the avocado pit. It slows the browning process a bit.
Grilled Veggies:
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and cleaned
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime Seasoning (find it in the spices section of any grocery store)
  • salt
  • skewers (optional)
Dice up the summer squash and the zucchini. Toss them with 2 TBSPs of olive oil and 1-2 tsps of Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime Seasoning (depending on how Fiesta-y you want your vegetables). You can either skewer the vegetables after you are through tossing them or you can wrap them in foil, whichever you prefer. Both ways will give the veggies the smoky taste of grilling but the foil wrapper will take a bit longer.
Brush the mushroom caps with the remaining TBSP of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Place the vegetables on your grill (I have a charcoal grill so I have no settings. I would imagine its about medium heat though). Cook until tender about 15- 20 minutes on the skewer, 20-25 in the foil pouch.
Place the mushroom caps on last. They will only take about 5-10 minutes.
Additionally you may need:
  •  small taco shells (I used corn this time but I prefer flour. They hold together a little better)
  • salsa (fresh salsa would taste great with this or I used Stir It Up Cuisine’s Pepper Jelly with Lime. I bought it at the Farmer’s market on Sunday and it is seriously delicious! I believe Stonewall Kitchen has something similar)
  • vegan cheese
  • fresh tomatoes
  • lettuce

Slather your freshly cooked beans, grilled veggies, guacamole and other toppings onto your taco shell and enjoy dinner!!

Seriously? Why does that mushroom at the top of the picture look so weird??

This recipe seems long and complicated but the great thing is, it really comes together pretty fast. The beans cook over night and while your at work and the veggies cook up pretty quickly on the grill. While they are cooking you can make the guacamole. And it doesn’t require you to heat your oven up!

Plus, you can substitute  in almost any veggies you find at your local farmers market- peppers, onion, different mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. Yeah for summer food!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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I’m such an old lady.

tofu ricotta

Monday night I had a laundry list of things to do, including post this uber yummy lasagna recipe. What did I end up doing? Having dinner, crawling into my bed (because it was so frickin’ cold in my house that night!) to watch back episodes of New Girl and Once Upon a Time and falling asleep at 9.

…I’m so exciting…

Spinach mixture

I did manage to call Rent-a-center to see about renting a big screen TV. $500!! FOR ONE DAY! I laughed out loud when they told me that because my brother rented a TV from there in December and it was about $25 for two weeks. Talk about inflation. Is that even legal?? So despite practically having already planned out my menu for the Super Bowl, we kind of hit a snag with what we are doing. Ideas are welcome because our TV is really bad.


On a different note, I realized while looking over old posts that I’ve been giving you a lot of desserts and a lot of soups/stews. I thought I’d spice things up and throw in a comfort food recipe. After all, what is the winter for but to hibernate…which is clearly what my body is trying to do.

Vegetable Lasagna
adapted from my Mom’s veggie lasagna recipe

Marinara Sauce – homemade or jar (1-2 jars, depending on how saucy you like it)

12 lasagna noodles

2 medium zucchini, cut into ¼ inch thick slices

2 TBLS olive oil

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

2 TBLS all purpose flour

2/3 cup non-dairy milk, warmed (I used unsweetened, unflavored almond milk)

2 pkg (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2 TBLS plus ¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 bowl of vegan ricotta cheese (see below)

1-2 cups of vegan mozzarella cheese

Vegan ricotta cheese
from Healthydiaries.com 

14 oz. box medium firm or firm tofu
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or 1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
dash of black pepper

Mash tofu with a fork. Add all other ingredients. Continue mashing until it has a ricotta-like texture. Set aside. (If you want it super smooth, you could put the tofu in a blender or food processor before adding the other ingredients. I just mashed it with a fork and it came out great.)

Prepare Marinara sauce, if making homemade.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepot, cook lasagna noodles as label directs.  Drain and rinse with cold running water.  Return noodles to saucepot with enough cold water to cover.

Preheat over to 450.  In large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 TBLS oil, ¼ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp black pepper.  Arrange zucchini slices on large cookie sheet and bake, turning once, until tender, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat remaining 1 TBLS oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook until garlic is golden.  Stir in flour until blended.  With wire whisk, gradually whisk in warm non-dairy milk with wooden spoon.  Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened and boils, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in spinach, 2 TBLS nutritional yeast and ¼ tsp salt.

Turn oven to 350.  Drain lasagna.

In 13 x 9 baking dish, spread about 1 cup marinara sauce.  Arrange 4 lasagna noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit.  Spread tofu ricotta mixture on top of noodles.  Arrange 4 more noodles over “ricotta” and top with all of zucchini, overlapping slices to fit.  Spread with 1 cup sauce and sprinkle with half of mozzarella; top with all of spinach mixture.  Arrange remaining 4 noodles on top and spread with remaining marinara sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until cheese is lightly golden, about 10 minutes longer.  Let stand 15 minutes for easier serving.

Fresh Outta the Oven

I was super excited to try the tofu ricotta. It was actually really good. Though, seeing as regular ricotta gives me the heebie jeebies, I was clearly going to favor the tofu version!

Overall though, this lasagna has a ton of flavor. I’m not a marinara sauce kinda gal. I was the type growing up who had her spaghetti with butter and salt…cause I didn’t like the shake from a can parm either.  So, I only used one jar of sauce. It didn’t go very far, though, so if you want your lasagna saucy, definitely pick up two jars.


I’m off to go act my age. No more 9 o’clock bed times for me! Er, what do 20 somethings do? Drink copious amounts of alcohol on the beach? Have sex with strangers? Let my vajayjay hang out while I dance on bar tops? I mean, that’s what those Jersey Shore kids do right? That’s totally appropriate behavior for a work night, right???

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