fresh recipes

Fresh Recipes | Pesto Avocado Pasta

Happy Monday, everyone!

Fresh Recipes | Pesto Avocado Pasta

I ended up taking the week off of blogging last week to focus on the first week of the school year. It’s going to be quite a time management adjustment to manage balancing teaching college classes + taking classes myself, but I already feel like I have things much more under control than I did at the start of the week. It’s been awhile since I’ve been a student myself so getting back to sitting in a classroom again and all of the weekly reading will definitely take me awhile to fully adjust to. Still, I’m very excited for all of the new possibilities!

Fresh Recipes | Pesto Avocado Pasta

Since starting back, I’ve been making it a goal to meal plan again, and this pesto avocado pasta was definitely on the top of the list of new, easy recipes to try. I somehow am always a little skeptical about using avocado in new ways, which is strange since I love it so much. But just like (almost) always, it totally worked!

Fresh Recipes | Pesto Avocado Pasta

The avocado just added a nice creaminess to the pasta without taking away from the inherent flavor of the pesto–almost like a white sauce would. I used whole wheat spaghetti as my pasta here, but I also think it would be great with zucchini noodles!

Fresh Recipes | Pesto Avocado Pasta

Pesto Avocado Pasta

Serves 4

Print Recipe!

Ingredients:

12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti noodles

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1/5 cups chopped green beans

1/2 avocado

2 tablespoons pesto

1/2 small lemon, juiced

small pinch of salt

olive oil

Steps:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add garlic and red pepper and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add beans and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place avocado, pesto, lemon juice, and salt in a small food processor. Pulse until combined.

Add pasta to frying pan. Stir in the avocado pesto and coat noodles. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Time: 25 minutes

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Fresh Recipes | Date Energy Bars

These date energy bars were another recipe I put together when preparing for the upcoming school year. I wanted a healthy, filling snack option that could stay in the freezer for long term use and these were perfect!

Fresh Recipes | Date Energy Bars

The ingredients for these bars are pretty simple–dates, coconut oil, almonds, almond butter, shredded coconut, chocolate–but the result is so tasty. Plus, they require only about 15 minutes of hands-on time and then set up in the freezer until ready to cut.

I actually keep my cut, smaller bars in a baggy in the freezer too to help them hold their shape and to increase their longevity.

Fresh Recipes | Date Energy Bars

Date Energy Bars

Makes 12-15 small bars

Print Recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup dates, soaked for 1-2 hours

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup shredded coconut + more for sprinkling

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

1 dark chocolate bar (about 3 ounces), broken into pieces

Steps:

Drain dates and place them and the coconut oil in a small food processor. Pulse until combined into an almost applesauce like texture. Pour into a bowl.

Add the almond butter, shredded coconut, and chopped almonds into the bowl and mix to combine.

Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave until melted, about two minutes.

While the chocolate melts, line a square baking pan with wax paper. When the chocolate is melted, use a spatula to spread it into a thin, even layer on the wax paper.

Pour the almond, coconut, date mixture on top of the chocolate and spread evenly.

If desired, sprinkle a little extra shredded coconut on the top.

Place in freezer for about 8 hours or overnight.

When frozen, remove the wax paper from the pan and flip onto a cutting board. Remove paper and cut bars into squares.

Either eat immediately or place in a plastic baggie and return to freezer.

Enjoy!

Time: 15 minutes hands-on time, 8 hours in freezer

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Fresh Recipes | Easy Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Happy Monday, friends!

I hope that you’ve been enjoying the past few weeks of summer! I’ve been in California for the last few weeks and the blog kind of got lost somewhere in the traveling…I’m hoping to continue again regularly, however, as some of you know, I quit my job as a middle school English teacher at the end of the last school year to attend graduate school full time for the next two years; and since I’m still not quite in full form, I’ll need to do my best to limit the things that cause headaches + vertigo (i.e., computers).

Fresh Recipes | Easy Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Still, I am going to be doing my best to make it all work!

I guess the lure of living in a university town was just a little too much to resist, so in the middle of all of my concussion turmoil, I decided to apply to Virginia Tech to get my masters in communication. It’s an idea I’ve been toying with for awhile–as much as I enjoyed teaching, I just didn’t see a future for myself in K-12 education and when I was offered a chance to be paid to attend grad school, I jumped at the opportunity. It will definitely be a bit of an adjustment to being back on the student side of things, but I can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring.

Fresh Recipes | Easy Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Oh, and the best part? My two hours of driving each way to work has been reduced to zero–it’s a five minute bike ride/10 minute walk each way!

Fresh Recipes | Easy Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Of course, the beginning of any school year is always an adjustment, and Jeff and I will be looking for easy, healthy meals like these zucchini noodles to get us through the week. I am definitely a little late to the zucchini noodle game but after using my parents’ spiralizer while back in California, I just had to get my own to try it out at home. At $7, it was definitely a great tool to add to our kitchen arsenal!

Fresh Recipes | Easy Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Easy Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Serves 3-4

Print Recipe!

Ingredients:

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 small eggplant, chopped

2 zucchini (or squash), spiralized

2-3 tablespoons pesto

1 tomato, chopped

olive oil

Steps:

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Stir in the onions, garlic, and pepper and saute until the onions become soft and aromatic, about 5 minutes.

Add in the eggplant and zucchini/squash and toss to coat with olive oil.

Stir in pesto and continue to cook until all of the eggplant, zucchini, and squash are completely cooked, about 5-7 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the tomato.

Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Time: 20 minutes

Special Equipment: spiralizer

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Fresh Recipes | Blue Apron Review

Happy Monday, friends!

I’m off to Charlottesville today (for the first time in three weeks!) with family and then will be heading back to California for two whole weeks on Thursday–I can’t wait but I’m definitely going to miss my kitties(and husband, perhaps)!

Fresh Recipes | Blue Apron Review

We received a free three-meal trial of Blue Apron last week, so I wanted to share with you all the meals/ what we thought. We’ve been wanting to try it for a long time, but unfortunately, the cost is a little out of our budget. Free is definitely a price we can afford though!

Fresh Recipes | Blue Apron Review

We received the following three meals:

  • Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with a Tomato Cucumber Salad and Creamy Potatoes

Fresh Recipes | Blue Apron Review

  • Fusilli Con Buco Pasta with Summer Squash and Mint

Fresh Recipes | Blue Apron Review

  • Ras El Hanout Chicken Pitas with Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Tabbouleh

Fresh Recipes | Blue Apron Review

Pros:

  • Each meal was super flavorful and the portions were more than generous–definitely more than what we’d normally consume for dinner!
  • The step by step directions were very easy to follow and replicate.
  • Each ingredient (even mayo and vinegar) were included.
  • It all came in a refrigerated box and all ingredients were fresh and unspoiled from the shipping.
  • I didn’t have to think about what to make for dinner!

Fresh Recipes | Blue Apron Review

Cons:

  • Cost. This was the biggest for us. If we actually had real full time jobs, I could totally see us continuing in the future but as grad students, it was a bit out of our budget.
  • Lack of creativity/personal choice. As much as I enjoyed having someone else choose the menu, I kind of missed looking in my fridge and trying to figure out how to use what we had left. Plus, it’s CSA season right now and getting more squash +zucchini was not something we needed to do.
  • Calorie/Portion Size. According to the dinner handout/directions, each meal we received was 700 calories and that is more than I typically eat at dinner time. Plus, I’m apt to eat everything on my plate no matter how full I feel which did not lend itself well to these meals.

Overall, we may try Blue Apron or another service like it in the future, but for now, we’ll stick to our own cooking.

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Fresh Recipes | Coconut Berry Popsicles

Ever since the temperatures started to really heat up, I’ve been craving  something cold + sweet pretty much all the time. But each time I go to the grocery store, I can never find exactly what I’m looking for…so the time came to create my own!

Fresh Recipes | Coconut Berry Popsicles

I purchased these popsicle molds for, I think, $1 at IKEA a few years ago and even though they’re definitely cheaply made, they do the job when it comes to making homemade popsicles.

Fresh Recipes | Coconut Berry Popsicles

To make the popsicles even creamier, I added canned coconut milk and then combined it with a little agave syrup for added sweetness, vanilla, and frozen berries.

They are just what I needed!

Fresh Recipes | Coconut Berry Popsicles

Coconut Berry Popsicles

Makes 6-8 popsicles

Print Recipe!

Ingredients:

1 14.5 ounce can coconut milk

1 tablespoon agave syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup frozen mixed berries, chopped in blender

Special Equipment: popsicle molds, funnel

Steps:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.

Place the funnel in the popsicle mold and pour in the coconut milk mix. Repeat until all of the molds are full.

Place in the freezer and freeze at least three hours or until completely frozen.

Enjoy!

Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

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Fresh Recipes | Smoky Chickpeas with Chard & Zucchini

Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We celebrated our 5th (!) wedding anniversary on Friday with a little Blue Apron meal before heading out to share a little cheesecake. And then on Saturday, we spent most of the afternoon tubing down the New River–something we’ve always wanted to do and it was so much fun!

Fresh Recipes | Smoky Chickpeas with Chard & Zucchini

Fresh Recipes | Smoky Chickpeas with Chard & Zucchini

Before all of the festivities of the weekend, I set out to make a meal that highlighted and well, used, the rainbow chard we’d gotten in our CSA this past week. I don’t really cook with chard very often, so I was a bit stumped with what exactly to do with it, but this recipe ended up being exactly what I love so much about belonging to a CSA: it was creative, healthy, and totally not something I would have made without having the veggies on hand.

Fresh Recipes | Smoky Chickpeas with Chard & Zucchini

Smoked paprika and chickpeas just belong together. I’ve said it before, but I just love the smoky, almost meat-like flavor that the seasoning infuses in whatever its added to and then the farm fresh zucchini has an almost meaty texture when cooked. I definitely loved having this on hand for lunches at the end of the week!

Fresh Recipes | Smoky Chickpeas with Chard & Zucchini

Smoky Chickpeas with Chard & Zucchini

Serves 2-3

Print Recipe!

Ingredients:

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, sliced and quartered

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

5 stalks rainbow chard, stems and center ribs removed, and chopped

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

olive oil

Steps:

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and zucchini and sauté until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in garlic and sauté for another two minutes and then add in chickpeas. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the chickpeas are warm and a thin crust begins to form.

Once the chickpeas are almost done, stir in the rainbow chard. Top with the lemon juice and cook until just wilted.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Time: 15 minutes

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