Orange Seitan with Green Beans and Peppers ~

My friend Erica came over to dinner a few weeks ago and I cooked up this meal. It was SUPER easy and she liked it so much that she made it for dinner later that week too!

That was also the day I made the fluffy pb frosted brownies, which she got to sample. Lucky girl ;)

She brought one home to her bf and he apparently gave it a thumbs up!

Orange Seitan with Green Beans and Peppers ~

Since Nate doesn’t like the taste of beef, and I hate touching raw chicken, I’m always experimenting with new protein forms. We both love seitan so I picked some up at Whole Foods assuming we’d find a use for it. I went to use it, thinking it was sliced in pieces, but it was actually ground.

I had never had ground seitan before but it was actually a really perfect substitute for ground beef! I love the texture it added to this dish and I’ll definitely be making it again. Be sure to serve it over a big bowl of white (my fave) or brown rice. Mmmm mmm!

Orange Seitan with Green Beans and Peppers ~

Also, I finished another pet portrait! This one was a present for my parents of their long-haired mini dachsund, Sparky. I think it’s my best one yet!

Mini Dachsund Pet Portrait ~

Orange Seitan with Peppers and String Beans
Serves 4
A healthy, vegetarian version of chinese take-out!
Write a review
  1. zest from one orange
  2. 1/2 cup orange juice (juice the orange you zested and add water to get to 1/2 cup)
  3. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  5. 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  6. 2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  7. 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  8. 2 tsp cornstarch
  9. 2 tsp vegetable oil
  10. 3/4 lb fresh green beans, ends cut and trimmed into 2-inch pieces
  11. 2 red peppers, sliced thin and cut into 2-inch strips
  12. 1 lb ground seitan
  13. 2 scallions, chopped
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the orange zest, juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger and cornstarch.
  2. In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over med-hi heat. Add green beans and peppers and cook for about 3 min. Add seitan and cook til beans are crisp tender.
  3. With a slotted spoon, transfer everything to a large bowl.
  4. Give the orange juice mixture a stir and add it to the pan. Cook, scraping up any brown bits until thickened, about 2 min.
  5. Add veggies and seitan back to pan, along with any juices. Warm through.
  6. Serve over white or brown rice to soak up all that yummy sauce!
Adapted from Very Culinary
Adapted from Very Culinary

Cheesy  Herb Breadsticks

Sorry I’m late in sharing recipes for Thanksgiving. Since you’ve probably already got your main meal covered (if you’re anything like my family, the menu is NOT ALLOWED to change from year to year. We like our traditions!), I thought I’d bring you some ideas for appetizers and drinks.

Cheddar Herb Twists

Several weeks ago, we made plans to celebrate after the NY Marathon. Nate’s mom was going to be in the city and so we invited a few friends to join us later in the day after the marathon for some drinks and appetizers before we all headed to dinner.

Polenta with Tomato Tapenade

Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy came and went and destroyed many things in it’s wake, including any prospect of Nate getting to run a marathon this year.

But, on a positivie note, my mother-in-law (I think that’s the first time I’ve gotten to say that!) and our friends still came over. We just decided to celebrate good friends instead of marathon-finishing.

Polenta with Tomato Tapenade

I wasn’t feeling well and I just wanted a couple easy appetizers to make. I did some searching and came across what I thought were two simple recipes.

The polenta triangles were totally delicious and TOTALLY simple. The polenta is pre-made and you can buy it in a tube at the market. I suppose you could make your own if you wanted to, but that would make it way harder. The accompanying tapenade can get quickly whipped up in a mini food precessor.

Polenta with Tomato Tapenade

*as a side note, the plate I served the polenta on was the plate I made at my bachelorette party! We went to one of those pottery painting places, then to a nice dinner and then came back to my apt for a chick flick! A perfect day :) I painted a leaf and wrote the date of the wedding on the plate. 

Cheddar Herb Twist

The breadsticks were more labor intensive, but according to my guests were totally worth it. Easy for them to say, right? It was quite a pain to twist every stick, but in the end I think I could have halved the recipe because it made A LOT.

Cheddar Herb Twists

I’m just linking to the recipes below since I didn’t change them at all:

Polenta wedges with tomato tapenade

Cheddar Herb Twists

I also made the Cider Sangria from HowSweetEats, but I made a couple changes. I subbed ginger ale for the club soda and regular brandy for ginger brandy. It was delicious!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow (if you celebrate it)!!!! We’re headed to my parents house in Florida. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!

*Warning- photo overload in this post!

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

Well, our honeymoon was a blast! Due to hurricane Sandy, we actually got an extra day since our original flight was cancelled. I don’t think I actually told you guys where we were headed, but we spent 10 days in the Pacific Northwest. My first time, but not Nate’s.

We spent our first 2 days in Seattle, staying downtown at the Edgewater. It was a really cute room.

Seattle Edgewater

We managed to eat as much as we walked…stopping for some donuts in Pike’s Market plus a cookie later in the day. We had an amazing meal at The Pink Door for dinner one night, which I highly recommend for anyone visiting the area. We also took a tour of Theo Chocolate factory and ate a ton of samples- including a freshly roasted coffee bean.

Theo chocolates

But the highlight of the tour was the fact that Nate had to wear a facial hair net. There actually was another bearded guy on the tour so he wasn’t the only one.

beard net

We then headed NE of Seattle to a small town called Woodinville that’s known for its wineries. My parents’ friend’s sister owns a Winery there called Columbia Winery, and she VERY generously pulled a few strings and we got a free upgrade to the biggest, nicest suite we’d both every seen at Willows Lodge…complete with fireplace, 4 poster bed, huge bathtub…and some chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us!

She also sent over a bottle of champage and wine from her winery plus a coupon for a free tasting. We took her up on it the next morning. Unfortunately the well-known restaurant at Willows Lodge, the Barking Frog, was all booked due to restaurant week, so we headed into town to a place they recommended called Purple. They also had restaurant week so we lucked out and had huge portions of delicious food for a reasonable price!

There are some big leaves way over in Washington…

dino leaf

Unfortunately we only spent one night at Willows Lodge. Before we left though, we did happen to stumble upon the home of their truffle sniffing pig…what a cutie!

truffle sniffing pig

The next day we headed to a little resort NE of Mt Rainier called Suncadia. We thought we’d be close enough to Mt Rainier to hike there, but unfortunately the closest entrance was closed for the season, so instead we enjoyed the hikes near the resort.

Cooper River Trailhead

When we got to our room there, there was a bottle of champagne and chocolates waiting for us…and by mistake they brought us another bottle and more chocolates a few minutes after we got into our room!

Suncadia lodge

Then they gave us more special treatment with MORE champagne and chocolate covered strawberries when we got to dinner- we ate at one of their in-house restaurants since the town nearby was extremely small. On the last eve there, the chef prepared a special 5 course tasting menu. To say we left stuffed is an understatement.

outdoor fire pit Suncadia

Next it was on to Hood River. We stayed in an awesome little cabin at a place called Carson Ridge B&B on the Washington side of the river. We had our own porch :)

Carson Ridge Cabins

They had a tasty homemade breakfast daily. Aside from the rain every day until 5pm-ish, it was really nice. We hiked to a couple waterfalls- the very hidden Panther Creek Falls and the larger Tamanawa Falls- both were breathtaking. The hike to Tamanawa was very rainy and unfortunately my raincoat was sub-par, completely absorbing all the water that hit it. I wasn’t a happy camper.

Tamanawa Falls

We also managed to walk over a mile in the wrong direction due to poor signage. We arrived at the falls cold and wet (at least I was), but it was definitely worth it!

 Tamanawa Falls2

Finally, we headed over to Portland by way of Cannon Beach.

Cannon beach

Portland was the cutest little city. Our first stop was to Patagonia to buy me a new raincoat :) A very smart purchase given the weather for the rest of the trip. The fall foliage in Portland was gorgeous, and despite the rain we enjoyed ourselves. Again, we found some amazing little restaurants: Tasty ‘N Sons and The Original Diner. I highly recommend both. We made stops at Pittock mansion, The Rose Test Gardens, Voodoo Donuts…

(I have way more photos but wasn’t sure how many I could get away with posting since I haven’t given you a recipe in weeks!)

By the time we made it back to NY, I think I probably gained back the weight I lost in that last frantic week before the wedding…which is totally fine by me. But Nate and I were both sick of carbs and rich food and were craving a healthy, veggie-ful meal.

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

This one hit the spot. It was warm and comforting, perfect for these chilly days we’ve been having in NY. And I changed the original recipe to include even more vegetables! A perfect end to a perfect couple of weeks!

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

P.S. Check out my beautiful new everyday dishes in the photos!

Chickpea, Squash and Veggie Stew with Raisins and Couscous

Adapted from Serious Eats

Print this recipe!

Serves 4-6

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into fine half rings
1- 14oz can chopped tomatoes
1- 15.5 oz can chickpeas,  rinsed and drained
1 red or orange pepper, in 1 inch pieces
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 heaped cups peeled, seeded pumpkin or butternut squash cut into 1-inch dice
3 tablespoons raisins
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp salt
5 oz. bagged kale (or kale with stems removed and torn in pieces)
2 cups couscous
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Combine the spices in a small cup and set aside.

Put the oil in a large saucepan and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in the cinnamon stick. Stir for a few seconds and then add the onion. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is medium brown and soft (about 10 min).

Stir in the cup of mixed spices; almost right away, add the tomatoes. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened.

Add the chickpeas, pumpkin or squash, peppers, mushrooms, raisins, stock, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is just tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Add the kale and stir in, simmering until wilted.

While the vegetables simmer, make the couscous. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. When it is about to boil, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium flame and toast the couscous in it for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the boiling water into the pot of couscous, add a teaspoon of salt, and stir once. Immediately cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and cook very gently for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit somewhere warm, still covered, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro. Fluff the couscous thoroughly with a fork. Put a mound of couscous on each plate. Make a well in the center and use a slotted spoon to fill it with solids from the stew. Dampen the couscous generously with the liquids.

Tex mex pasta salad

Here’s another no-cook recipe coming your way! Ok, well I guess you technically have to boil the pasta, but you don’t have to turn on your oven.

This is a nice twist on the traditional pasta salad. The vinegar-based one, I mean.

I don’t really understand the mayo-based pasta salad. Maybe because I didn’t grow up eating it? I always take a bite thinking I’m going to like it and then I don’t. I guess maybe I think it’s going to be like an alfredo sauce or something but it’s actually kind of tangy. I think maybe I don’t mind the taste so much but I just get thrown off because it’s not what I’m expecting.

Tex mex pasta salad

Anyway, non-mayo pasta salads are much healthier…AND they’re good for picnics! I don’t want you to go making something and getting people sick because the mayo sat in the sun too long. And I especially don’t want you to blame it on me.

I suppose I’m a bit late for you to make this for 4th of July, but I’m sure you have plenty of upcoming summer bbq’s that you could bring this to….or you may eat a little too much while doing “quality control” taste-testing and not have any left to bring so you just have to keep it for yourself.

Oh well, these things happen.

Tex mex pasta salad

On another note, Saturday is my birthday!!! My parents are coming into the city and we’re going to see a concert by the singer/songwriter who will be playing at our wedding, David Berkeley, so I’m pretty excited.

Also, Nate ordered me a birthday cake from this little bakery near us called Two Little Red Hens. I got to choose exactly what I wanted and so I decided to go with an orange cake with chocolate pudding filling and orange buttercream frosting. Um, yeah, I know. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I’ll be sure to take pics and tell you how it was since there won’t be enough to go around ;)

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Pasta Salad

adapted from Cooking Light

Print this recipe!

Serves 10-12

1 pound uncooked pasta- i like wagon wheels :)
1 1/2-2 cups preshredded Mexican blend cheese
2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp water
1 (1.25-ounce) package 40%-less-sodium taco seasoning (such as Old El Paso)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime

for next day:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain; set aside.

Combine pasta, cheese, and next 7 ingredients (through corn) in a large bowl.

Combine water, taco seasoning, vinegar, oil and lime juice. Whisk well. Pour over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. 

If you make a day ahead, stir in 2 Tbsp oil, 2 Tbsp vinegar and salt to taste.

*This is best made a day ahead of time.

Confession: I totally used making this recipe for dinner as an excuse to skip going to the gym after work.

Fact: this recipe took me all of about 15 min total to make ( if you don’t count the 20 minutes I spent going to 3 different markets to find whole wheat buns for my picky boyfriend who refuses to eat white bread of any sort)

Conclusion: Apparently I don’t need much convincing to skip a workout (I wish that wasn’t the case).

The good news is that I promised myself, with Nate as my witness, that I will wake up early enough tomorrow to work out before work instead. I even went so far as to tell him that if I don’t wake up when I’m supposed to, he can pull the sheets off me and splash water on my face. Cold water. Now if that’s not a genuine promise, I don’t know what is.

The real point of this whole little story is that this recipe is quick.

And easy.

And requires few ingredients.

And is delicious.

So delicious that your carniverous husband/bf/self won’t notice that it’s missing meat. Plus, its way cheaper and healthier than making meat burgers.

I also want to say that most black bean type burgers fall apart when I try to flip them, but these were unusually sturdy!

Make these: your wallet, waistline and palatte will thank me ;)

Quick Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from Cooking Light (11/09)

Print this recipe!

Makes 4 patties

1 cup bread crumbs/quick oats or a combination (I used half/half)
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 (15.25-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Combine oil, garlic, and beans in processor; pulse 8 times or until beans make a thick paste. Scrape bean mixture into bowl.

Stir in breadcrumbs, rind and remaining ingredients. With moistened hands, divide bean mixture into 4 equal portions (about 1/3 cup mixture per portion), shaping each into a 3-inch patty.

Spray a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan; reduce heat to medium, and cook 4 minutes or until bottom edges are browned. Carefully turn patties over; cook 3 minutes or until bottom edges are done.