Vegan Creamy Artichoke Dip

VegenSpinachDip3Today I had the pleasure of cooking with the wonderful Stephanie Hoban from Ripe Cuisine. We had such an awesome time sharing stories and bonding over cooking together. She shared her super delicious vegan & gluten free dip with me which is perfect for any party. Since the holidays are so close, it’s a perfect starter or even meal (I pretty much ate the whole thing when she left). There’s hardly any fat so it’s completely guilt-free.

During this time of year, it’s hard to find a healthy crowd pleasing dish. My friends, this is it. Move over queso and hello healthy dip! My husband, who is such a meat and potatoes kind of guy admitted that it’s great! Trust me, it’s creamy, decadent and filling, what’s not to like?

Those of you who don’t know Stephanie, she’s so impressive! She took my dream path. (If only I had known at a younger age nutrition and food was my thing.) She’s a Houston native who studied nutrition at NYU then went off to culinary school. After, she moved back to Houston, had a few jobs then opened her own vegan food truck, Ripe Cuisine. Everything on her truck is homemade, even the ketchup! If you’re in the Houston area, trying her food is a must!

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Print Recipe
Vegan Creamy Artichoke Dip
Creamy Artichoke Dip with Spinach, Basil and Pinenuts by Stephanie Hoban, Ripe Cuisine
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F
  2. Peel zucchini and dice. Add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade along with drained and rinsed white beans, Vegenaise, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, salt, red chili flake, and black pepper. Process until very smooth.
  3. In a large sauté pan heat oil and sauté onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in spinach and sauté on low until wilted. Strain spinach, pressing out as much water as possible, and set aside. In the same pan, sauté roughly chopped artichokes with lemon juice in the pan juices until soft and edges brown. Add back spinach and sauté 1 minute longer.
  4. With the motor of the food processor running, add in potato flour 1 teaspoon at a time. {The mixture should thicken considerably]. Add the pureed zucchini and beans to the pan with artichokes and spinach. Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil.
  5. Transfer dip to an oven safe casserole pan, drizzle with garlic oil, if using, and sprinkle on pinenuts. Bake for 20 minutes, and broil for 1 – 2 minutes to achieve a golden top. Allow to sit and firm up for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Ripe Tip: By substituting the canned beans and zucchini in place of cheese you save a load of calories, fat and cholesterol in favor of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Serve with your favorite crackers, corn chips, or pita.

 

The Best Latkes

TheFoodieChefLatke3

I always look forward to this time of year. The weather is cold (sometimes in Houston) and we get to eat yummy fried potato cakes, latkes. My whole family gets together and we throw a Hanukkah party with presents, gelt (chocolate coins), dreidels and best of all, latkes!

I have a confession: I’ve never made them before yesterday. My mom was always the chef and man does she make good latkes. This year, per my job, it’s my turn to make them. I had a minor freak out in trying a recipe but I was able to add a few things to make it better. Combining recipes in the thick of things usually works for me. Thankfully, it all worked out and I came up with the best recipe. They’re crunchy on the outside and hashbrown like in the middle. All they need are some applesauce and sour cream!

It is important to follow the recipe step by step because they really are a labor of love. If you miss a step, they aren’t going to turn out right.

TheFoodieChefLatke1

I have 2 major tips that will make a world of a difference:

  1. Squeeze out the shredded potato onion mixture 2 times in a towel.
  2. After scooping the mixture and dropping it into the oil, gently flatten with a spatula.

TheFoodieChefLatke4

 

Print Recipe
The Best Latkes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, blend the garlic, shallots and onion.
  2. Change the blade attachment to the shredder. Peel, wash and shred the potatoes. After, empty the mixture into a kitchen towel and squeeze out all of the liquid. Open the towel, fluff the mixture and squeeze 1 more time. You may have to do this in 2 segments, as there will be a lot of the potato mixture.
  3. Empty the drained potato mixture into a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, flour, eggs, and baking powder and mix by hand.
  4. In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil ¼” from the bottom. Heat to medium and test with a small piece of potato- the mixture should sizzle.
  5. Using a 1 ½ Tablespoon scoop, scoop and drop the mixture into the oil. Flatten them out with a spatula to ensure an even distribution. Cook on each side about 4 minutes depending on the heat level. The bottom should be a nice golden brown color.
  6. Once the latke is done cooking, transfer to a cookie sheet lined with foil and 2 paper towels on top. Sprinkle a little salt on top while it’s still hot. Serve immediately.
  7. You can keep them warm in a 300 degree oven until you serve them.
  8. Freezer friendly: put the latkes in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Place them on a cookie sheet and into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes to re-crisp.
Recipe Notes

I have 2 major tips that will make a world of a difference:

  1. Squeeze out the shredded potato onion mixture 2 times in a towel.
  2. After scooping the mixture and dropping it into the oil, gently flatten with a spatula.

Sriracha Caramel Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts Fish Caramel 5

There’s a restaurant in Houston and Austin (Texas) called Uchi and they make the best brussel sprouts I have ever had. Back when these babies were all the rage, yes, I’m a little late, many restaurants tried to duplicate this recipe. Some were successful and some put a slight spin on them. Those of you who haven’t tried this dish, now is your chance. The best way I can describe it is crunchy, soft, salty, sweet and spicy. There’s really a lot going on.

I found a few recipes but then adapted it to suite my taste buds. Most of the recipes used a deep fryer, which makes the outside nice and crispy but the inside tender. The best way to achieve this is baking at a high temperate and making sure the sprouts are even in size. My recipe is NOT fried and healthier than their version! Though there is sugar, 3 tablespoons to be exact. But a little sugar doesn’t hurt anyone. 🙂

This Sriracha Caramel Fish Sauce Brussel Sprout recipe is the perfect addition to your holiday table. Your friends and family will love you, I promise. You can find the recipe here on Monica’s blog, Classy & Fabulous.

Brussel Sprouts Fish Caramel 4
Print Recipe
Sriracha Caramel Brussel Sprouts
Sriracha Caramel Brussel Sprouts also found on www.classandfab.com.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425. While the oven is heating, wash and trim brussel sprout ends. If the sprouts are really large, cut them in half.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet lined with foil. Spray generously with non-stick cooking spray. Toss sprouts with oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy.
  3. While the sprouts are cooking, place the sugar in a saucepan. Cook stirring with a high heat spatula until amber. Slowly pour in lemon juice, fish sauce, sriracha, garlic, and ½ c hot water. The sugar syrup may clump but keep cooking it until it melts and reduces. Add black pepper, remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Put sprouts in a serving dish and generously pour the sauce over them. Serve immediately.

Mozzarella Chicken with Blistered Tomatoes

I really enjoy a good food challenge. I was asked to create a dish for a family of 4 for under $10. The only way I could do this was by shopping at ALDI. They have very affordable produce that allowed me to conquer this challenge. They also don’t provide shopping bags which is perfect because phew I always bring my own when I shop 🙂
This recipe is my take on caprese chicken though if the challenge allowed for a few more dollars, I would have added a basil balsamic drizzle. I like making chicken thighs every once in a while since it has a higher fat content compared to chicken breast. The fat content allows for juicy meat though you can still achieve this with chicken breast when marinating or brining.
The combo of juicy meat, salty smooth mozzarella and tangy sweet tomatoes is the perfect mix. The spinach is the best green addition. I always try to add a green veggie to all of my meals for my customers and myself. I hope your family loves this dish as much as mine does!
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Print Recipe
Mozzarella Chicken with Blistered Tomatoes with Garlic Spinach
The combo of juicy meat, salty smooth mozzarella and tangy sweet tomatoes is the perfect mix.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
4 people
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
4 people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Empty washed cherry tomatoes onto a foil lined sheet pan.
  2. Toss with 2T oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until blistered.
  3. Place chicken thighs onto foil lined baking sheet, toss with oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake 15-20 or until instant thermometer reads 165.
  4. Thaw spinach according to packaging. Squeeze out remaining water and transfer to a skillet with 1T oil. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Squeeze half of a lemon on top, set aside.
  5. Slice thin pieces of mozzarella. Place 1 piece on each chicken thigh. Bake for 4 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  6. Arrange a bed of spinach on a platter then add the chicken cascading onto the next piece. Then sprinkle the blistered tomatoes on top. Viola! You have dinner for 4 under $10!

Black Bean & Chickpea Chili

Bean chili 1

When I’m making menu’s for my customers I like to think outside of the box. What can my customers only get from me and not take out? This is the challenge that I struggle with weekly when I make my menu’s. Not to mention following all of their likes and dislikes. On an occasion, I like to throw in a vegetarian dish. Well, almost vegetarian since I love my good ol’ chicken stock. A friend of mine who is a dietician helps me out on occasion when I’m suffering from menu block. She’s obsessed with vegetarian recipes so she’s the inspiration for this one 🙂

When I first tasted this recipe after making it, I ate it for lunch and dinner 3 days straight. Seriously. It has the perfect amount of spice and the beans are so filling. It’s really a healthy comfort food and highly recommend making it. My customers loved it too!

Bean chili 3
Print Recipe
Black Bean & Chickpea Chili
Recipe adapted from Love and Lemons
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
Ingredients
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, salt & pepper and stir. Cook until the onion is slightly translucent then add the garlic and peppers. Stir and cook until soft.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes and the chicken stock. Then add the black beans, chickpeas, adobo sauce, corn and seasonings. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 25 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings adding more salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with toppings of your choice. Chill the leftovers and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Recipe Notes

*To make vegetarian: swap the chicken stock for water or vegetable stock

Spinach & Butternut Squash Lasagna

Lasagna Sometimes I like to partake in Meat-less Monday’s and that’s where the idea for this recipe came from. I’m over the typical bell peppers, onions and mushrooms as the main vegetarian option and I wanted to think of something extra yummy and slightly sweet.  Spinach and roasted butternut squash was the perfect substitute.

I frequent a certain area of town and pass a place called Fabio’s multiple times a week. I had never been in but before making this recipe, I made a quick stop to check it out. I knew they made fresh pasta and needed to see what exactly they offered. The owner was so warm and accommodating. He even cut lasagna pasta sheets to the size of my pans. I will never turn back to the hard dried lasagna sheets again! I’m sticking with fresh all the way 🙂

Below is my best marinara recipe. I was a little hesitant to share but I’ve come to grips that the world needs this recipe. While in culinary school, I interned at a local restaurant, Mockingbird Bistro. The cooks and chef put a lot of love into their marinara sauce and I could taste the complexity of flavors. Taking the time to brown the (mirepoix) celery, carrot and onions makes such a difference in flavor. Each step adds another dimension to the flavor, that’s why I’m in love with this recipe. Also, I took a cooking class in Italy and a lot of the methods were similar and solidified my feelings about it.

Once the lasagna was baked, all of the flavors combined into the best veggie lasagna I have ever made. The corners got a little crispy but I was able to cut around it. The inside was cheesy, sweet and slightly salty- all of my favorite flavors.

Lasagna

 

Print Recipe
Spinach & Butternut Squash Lasagna
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 82 minutes
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Ingredients
Best Marinara Sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 82 minutes
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Ingredients
Best Marinara Sauce
Instructions
Spinach & Butternut Squash Lasagna
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and roast butternut squash for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. Mix ricotta, ¾ c mozzarella, ¼ c parmesan, salt, pepper and oregano in bowl and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to 350 and coat 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  4. Spread 1/2 c tomato sauce (recipe below) on bottom and top with 3 noodles to cover (or 1 if using fresh). Top the noodles with half butternut squash and half spinach. Dollop half ricotta mixture on top then add 1 cup tomato sauce on top. Repeat this layer one more time, pressing down on the filling as you add the layer. Put the remaining sheet(s) on top. Spread the remaining sauce on top then add ¾ c mozzarella and ¼ c parmesan. Cover with foil with cooking spray on the inside.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake 7 more minutes so the cheese browns. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Best Marinara Sauce
  1. Sauté onion, garlic and shallot in olive oil until fragrant. Add celery and carrots. Cook until veggies are brown and soft. A few pinches of salt and pepper along the way to help relieve moisture. Deglaze pan with red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Once the liquid has evaporated, add the bay leaf, thyme, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. Stir then cover and simmer for 20 or so minutes. Taste and add salt or pepper. Now, add heavy cream or milk. This will make the sauce less acidic and extra delicious. Stir and cook on low for 5 minutes.
  2. Adaptation: put onion garlic, shallot, carrot, and celery in food processor and grind until there are no visible pieces. Brown this in olive oil for less chunky sauce. Add water if you like it less thick.

Cantaloupe Gazpacho

Cantaloupe Gazpacho

In honor of summer and our new look 🙂 I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes and memories that I’ve held onto for a few years.  I learned to make this soup at my very first internship in a kitchen. When I tasted it, I never forgot the delicious sweet yet complex taste it had. Summer always deserves a delicious cold soup, especially when it’s 100+ degrees out.

Thinking back, I was helping the Chef de Cuisine prepare this soup for his appearance on the Deborah Duncan Show. We went back stage, he got a little make up and hair action and I waited patiently as his assistant. Once he was on, I anxiously waited backstage, watching on the small tv to see the hosts reaction. She loved it! I felt honored to be invited to be his assistant as I was just the novice intern in his tiny kitchen.

Anyone can make it, it’s really simple. This soup is indeed raw so watch out all of you special dieters. This is an extremely healthy soup chalk full of veggies!  If you want to add a protein, shredded chicken is the perfect match. You can see how I made it below!

Print Recipe
Cantaloupe Gazpacho
Inspired by Chef Jose Vela
Instructions
  1. Cut up all ingredients into small pieces, a rough chop
  2. Pulse all fruit and veggies in a food processor. I suppose a vitamix would work well too.
  3. While blending, slowly pour the olive oil and sherry until blended well.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once finished, taste to double check the flavor. It may need a bit more sherry vinegar.
  6. Bon Appetit!
Recipe Notes

*Feel free to take out a veggie if you're sensitive to it. I tend to go light on the red pepper.

Polenta Al Forno

 

Polenta 1

Polenta, oh, polenta. I have never been a fan of polenta aka grits or cornmeal. My mother, having been raised in the deep south, absolutely loves grits. She gets sheer enjoyment when grits are on the menu. So, this dish is slightly inspired by her. I came across this recipe in New York Times. It was unlike anything i’ve ever made so I thought i’d give it a shot. It was an experiment with success, though, I will do a few things differently next time.

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Polenta 4

Polenta 2

This is a great vegetarian dish that’s low fat. I used low fat ricotta to reduce the fat but i’m sure the full fat version is wonderful too. The next time I make this, I won’t cook the polenta quite as long and I would make thicker layers. It really makes a difference when holding the middle spinach mix together. It would also be delicious with the acidic taste of marinara sauce spread on top. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  This is a great side dish for #meatlessmondays.

Print Recipe
Polenta Al Forno
Gluten Free, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
6-8
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
6-8
Instructions
  1. Blanch spinach briefly in large pot of boiling water. 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Squeeze all excess moisture from spinach and roughly chop.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chopped spinach and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper, then add cayenne, lemon zest, half the Parmesan and all but 2 T of the fontina and stir well.
  3. Butter a 9x12 casserole dish. Ladle in half the warm, soft polenta and spread with a spatula to make a thin layer. Spoon spinach mixture evenly over it. Top with remaining soft polenta and spread to smooth surface. (may be made ahead up to this point, then covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperate before baking.)
  4. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and fontina. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from over and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from the NY Times recipe