Summer Veggie Mac and Cheese

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I know it’s not quite the season yet but I couldn’t pass up the zucchini and corn in the grocery store this week. Zucchini is probably my all time favorite vegetable, actually they might tie with tomatoes I’m not sure I can pick one over the other. Anyway, I had this idea of roasting all these vegetables together and adding them to a mac and cheese. You know me, I love a good mac and cheese so why not add some vegetables to it??

After roasting the vegetables they looked and smelled so good I was tempted to skip the rest and just eat them right out of the dish. I continued with the plan though and I’m glad I did. I debated over which cheese to use and ended up deciding on a cheddar and gruyere mix. The sweetness of the corn really makes this dish.  Now I have a feeling I’ll be making similar mac and cheese dishes for every season.

And of course I’m bringing this dish to Fiesta Friday! I had a great time co-hosting last week’s Fiesta Friday with Angie, Jhuls and Selma. I can’t wait to see what everyone else brings today!

Summer Veggie Mac and Cheese
2 ears of corn
2 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 box medium shells pasta
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups of milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Carefully cut the sides of the corn to remove the kernels and place them in a bowl. Cut the zucchini, pepper and onion into bite sized pieces and add them to the bowl with the corn. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, salt, paprika and pepper. Pour the vegetable mixture into a large baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

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2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta into a strainer.

3. Add the butter to the pot on low heat. Once the butter has melted add the flour and whisk until combined. Next add the milk. When the milk begins to warm up, turn up the heat slightly, to about medium. Then add the cheeses and stir constantly until the cheese melts and you have a thick sauce.

4. When the vegetables are done take them out and add the cooked pasta to baking dish. Then add the cheese sauce on top. Combine the sauce with the pasta and vegetables until everything is combined. Add the breadcrumbs on top.

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5. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake the mac n cheese for about 25 minutes, until the top has browned. Enjoy!

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Fiesta Friday #17 and Quinoa Burgers

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Happy Friday everyone! I’m super excited to be co-hosting Fiesta Friday today along with Selma and Jhuls and of course the lovely Angie! I hope many of you have a long weekend coming up and can kick it off with today’s Fiesta! For anyone who doesn’t know or who hasn’t joined yet Fiesta Friday is a weekly blog party. Please join us, it’s tons of fun to see what everyone is making and bringing to the party! You can check out all the details here. I hope you join us!

Today I’m bringing quinoa burgers to the party. Yes, I’ll be that person that’s bringing the healthy dish, but I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it! I really like these burgers because you can change them up however you like. Add different vegetables or spices to either use up what you have in the fridge or put your own spin on them!

You can of course eat these with a bun like a regular burger, but I prefer them with just lettuce, tomato and a little chipotle ketchup. Add a side of sweet potato fries and you’ll feel like you’re eating at your favorite burger joint!

Quinoa Burgers
Yield: 10 Burgers
3 cups water
1 1/2 quinoa
3 carrots
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1. Preheat oven to 350. Add the water and the quinoa to a pot and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil lower to a simmer and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the cooked quinoa to a bowl and let it cool off a bit.

2. Chop the carrots and parsley in a food process, or by hand if you don’t have one. Add the carrots, parsley and chopped green onions to the bowl with the quinoa.

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3. Add the eggs and spices to the bowl with the quinoa and combine them all together.

4. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the mixture into 10 good sized burgers and place them on the baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Enjoy!

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Cumin Roasted Carrots

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Oh carrots. They certainly are not one of my favorite vegetables. While I don’t exactly dislike carrots, I never find myself getting excited for them. Yet, somehow, they always manage to make their way into my shopping cart and my kitchen. When I’m wandering through the produce aisle I always think something like “oh I should probably pick up a bag of carrots in case I want to make some soup” but the poor bag usually ends up unused.

This week I had a bag of carrots from my grocery shopping, and also received more in my farm basket and I was determined to use them. I juiced some, threw some in a potato salad, but still had more carrots left so this is what I did with them. I wanted to give them lots of flavor that I knew I’d enjoy so I added cumin for a very distinct taste. If any of you have a favorite carrot preparation I’d love to hear it, I could definitely use the ideas!

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6-8 carrots washed and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the carrots into even bite sized pieces. I like to cut them in half lengthwise then cut them into smaller pieces.

2. Combine the carrots with the rest of the ingredients in a baking dish and toss to combine.

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3. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until they’re soft when you stick a fork in them. Enjoy!

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Roasted Red Peppers

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Sometimes I’m really amazed at how the simplest of ingredients can make the best tasting dishes. These peppers are a true example of that. This past Christmas, my mom gave me Stanley Tucci’s cookbook. His recipe for roasted red peppers immediately caught my eye. They looked so soft and delicious, I knew I had to make them. I’m actually surprised it took me this long to try them.

Once these peppers got cooking, I was immediately disappointed that I only had five peppers to roast and kicking myself for not buying more. These peppers will fill your kitchen up with the most wonderful smell, I can’t even explain it you just have to try them! These are great on their own, with some bread and cheese or as an accompaniment to many other dishes.

Roasted Red Peppers Recipe adapted from The Tucci Cookbook
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1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place the whole peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast them for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning them slightly every 15 minutes to make sure they roast evenly.

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2. Remove the peppers and let them cool for about 30 minutes. Once they’ve cooled, carefully peel off the skins. Tear the peppers into strips, removing any seeds and place them in a bowl, trying not to get any excess liquid in the bowl.

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3. Toss the peppers with the olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley. Enjoy!

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Sweet and Spicy Beets

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I feel like beets are a vegetable that don’t get the attention they deserve. I only recently started cooking with whole beets and they are delicious! Not only do they taste great, but their color is so beautiful, they can make a really pretty side dish.  Also, besides their great looks and taste, they’re very good for you.

Beets can be prepared very simply. This recipe highlights their sweetness while adding just a little kick from the chili herb vinegar. The vinegar I used here was one I received in my oh so great farm basket a few weeks ago. If you don’t happen to have chili herb vinegar in your kitchen (which I’m assuming most people don’t) you can get a similar effect by adding just a little bit of siracha or any hot sauce to apple cider vinegar – basically you just want some tang and some spice. These are great on their own as a side dish, or as a topping for a salad or flat bread.

Note: This recipe only makes enough for 2 people (or 1 very hungry person!) so you’ll want to double or triple if you’ve got a crowd.

Sweet and Spicy Beets
3-4 whole beets
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili herb vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wash your beets and peel them using a potato peeler. Then cut each one into 1 inch sized chunks – I find it’s easiest to cut the beet in half, then cut each half into small pieces.

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3. In a small bowl add your olive oil, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

4. Toss your beets in the mixture and pour the entire bowl evenly over a baking sheet.

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5. Bake at 400 for about 40-45 minutes, until you can easily stick a fork in the beets, enjoy!

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Tabbouleh

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I love making dishes that I can make a big batch of and bring to lunch every day for a week. This helps prevent me from going out and buying lunch. It also gives me a lunch I can look forward to – not just some sad sandwich that I don’t really want to eat. Tabbouleh is an excellent example of this, this recipe makes enough for nearly a week’s worth of lunches and paired with a nice warm pita it’s a lunch you’re sure to look forward to!

If you haven’t used bulgur before it’s a type of wheat that’s common in Middle Eastern cooking. You can find it in most grocery stores near the rice or the international aisle. Unlike other grains, you cook it by pouring boiling water over the wheat and letting it sit and absorb.photo(33)

This recipe is very light and fresh while still being filling. I definitely suggest making some pitas to go with it. This King Arthur recipe works every time! You can also substitute some of the flour for whole wheat if you like.

Tabbouleh
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, each cut into quarters
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup dried mint
6 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Place your bulgur in a heatproof bowl, boil your water and add the boiling water to the bowl with the bulgur. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and let it sit for about 30 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the bulgur is softened. Fluff the bulgur lightly with a fork.

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2. While waiting for your bulgur, chop your tomatoes, parsley, cucumber and onions and add them to a separate bowl. Next add the mint. Once the bulgur has cooled, add the chopped vegetables and mint to it and stir to combine.

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3. Finally, make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the bulgur mixture and stir it thoroughly to combine.

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4. Chill for at least an hour before serving, enjoy!

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes

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These roasted tomatoes are a very quick and easy appetizer or snack. They’re the perfect combination of the soft roasted tomato, slightly crunchy baked breadcrumbs and melted mozzarella – you pretty much can’t go wrong!

These were also a great way for me to incorporate an awesome lemon bergamot balsamic vinegar I bought and can not get enough of. My mom and I discovered an olive oil and balsamic tasting room in Alexandria, VA that any foodie in the DC area should check out! Olio has tons of different oils and vinegars for you to try out – flavors I never would have even thought of. I ended up purchasing the lemon bergamot because it has a nice citrus note to it. I’ve been looking for more and more ways to incorporate this balsamic into my dishes (so let me know if you have any suggestions)!

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Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes
6 Roma tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small red onion finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise and scoop out the center. Place the hallowed out halves on a paper towel to draw out some of their moisture.

2. While the tomatoes are drying prepare the filling by combining the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

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3. Place your tomato halves on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Carefully spoon the filling into each tomato.

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4. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the filling starts to look crisp and golden, enjoy!

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Simple Sautéed Kale

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I know I know, its cliche now to say you recently discovered kale is an awesome superfood, but I never tried it until a few months ago and now I’m obsessed – where have you been all my life kale!? Kale is good in so many preparations and this is one of my favorites. A super simple way to get all of the healthy benefits of this great ingredient.

This could be a great Thanksgiving side if you’re looking for ways to lighten up traditional holiday sides. To all my other kale fans out there, let me know how you like to cook it!

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion sliced into thin strips
1 glove garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

1. Add the oil and garlic to a pan on medium heat.

2. Let the garlic cook for 30-60 seconds and then add the onion and season with salt and pepper.

3. Let the onion cook for about 4 minutes and then add the kale, if the entire bunch won’t fit in the pan you can add some, let it cook down a little and then add the rest.

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4. Add the lemon juice and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about 8 minutes, enjoy!

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