Friday, February 28, 2014

Caprese Casserole

I love easy recipes, especially casserole recipes because they allow me to do a lot of prep work early in the week for dinner and then I can enjoy the leftovers for lunch. I had almost all of the ingredients for this recipe at my house already (tomatoes were all I needed to buy) and that made this even better.

Recipe from Closet Cooking.

-12 ounces pasta, cooked (I used gemelli)
-2 cups marinara sauce or your favorite tomato sauce
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-1/2 cup parmesan grated
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-1/4 cup pesto
-2 cups cherry tomatoes
-4 ounces mozzarella, diced

In a large dish mix together the pasta, sauce, cream, balsamic vingear, pesto, tomatoes and cheese.
I added a little additional cheese on top.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. 

The flavors of this went really well together. You can taste the traditional caprese flavors in this -- the tomato, mozzarella and pesto. This made a lot of pasta though, I don't think the photos of the 8x8 pan do this justice. Four of us had this for dinner and then I had leftovers for four days after.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Champagne with Rock Candy

This is one I've been waiting to make for a long time. I was excited when I found rock candy. This turned out pretty good, it was really colorful, and I could taste the flavor from the candy in the champagne. It also fizzed up a bit, that was pretty cool.

This idea comes from The Daily Sugar.

-rock candy
-champagne (any kind will work)

The longer I let the rock candy sit in the champagne, the more of the flavor I could taste in the drink and more of the color the champagne turned.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Whopper Cake

Today we're celebrating the two year blog-iversarry of Vegetarian & Cooking!

What started out as an occasional pastime in my college kitchen has turned into something much larger than I could have ever hoped. I work really hard to keep Vegetarian & Cooking! going, but this blog wouldn't be possible without the love and support I received during this year from my friends, namely my co-blogger Becky and our guest photographer Kayla.

As the blog continues to grow we continue to grow too! And although we don't share too much of our personal lives with you, you should know some things. I have finally made it half way through graduate school and Becky is doing fantastic at work. When we're not working on things for Vegetarian & Cooking! we are having a great time and doing really well. As we continue to grow, we hope for the possibility of more exciting ideas here at Vegetarian & Cooking!

Lastly, none of this would be possible without our readers. Thank you so much for all of your views and comments throughout the past year. This really would not be possible without all of you.

See our One Year Anniversary post, check out other important blogs in the Milestone Tab above.

-1 box of chocolate cake mix
-1 container of chocolate frosting
-2 containers of Whoppers

This recipe was inspired by Pinterest. I couldn't find any direct origin for this recipe, but if you know where this idea originated from, please comment and let me know.

We really wanted to keep this recipe fun and simple, that is why we used boxed cake mix. This was served at the end of a four course meal....we spent plenty of time in the kitchen.
Mix cake mix according to package directions.
Bake in two 9-inch cake pans.
Allow to cool.
Frost, stack, frost again. 

You'll need two containers about this size in order to cover the cake.
Once the cake is totally frosted, start decorating. 

Try to keep the Whoppers in even rows, it won't be completely possible because as you can see they are all different sizes.
Cover the top also.

All decorated. 
Happy blog-iversarry to Vegetarian & Cooking!

Serve and enjoy.

This cake was delicious, the Whoppers added a nice crunch to the cake. Some of them will fall off as you cut the cake, I just scooped the extras onto people's plates as I served the cake.

Thank you for all of the support over the past two years. I promise only bigger and better things from here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Apricot & Craisin Risotto

When Becky and I discussed starting to do the revamp recipes, I thought this would be a good one.  All of the ingredients were good, it just lacked overall flavor. The post I worked from was our first post ever so I think that it is fitting to redo the recipe right before our two year blog-iversary.

To remake the pilaf recipe, I turned this into a risotto which helped to bring all of the ingredients together. The vegetable broth also added additional flavor to the risotto, the pilaf recipe had been pretty bland.

-2 Tablespoons of Butter
-1 medium shallot, diced
-1.5 cups arborio rice
-4 cups of vegetable broth
-1/2 cup + a splash of white wine
-6 oz of dried apricots
-2 tablespoons craisins
-Handful of shredded parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
-2 ounces slivered almonds
-Salt & pepper, to taste
-Cayenne, to taste

Heat the butter in a large skillet.
Saute the shallots until golden.

Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter.
Add in the 1/2 cup of white wine.
Stir until the wine is almost absorbed.
Ladle in about 3/4 of a cup of vegetable broth, stir until almost absorbed.
Continue to do this until all of the broth is used.
I add the craisins and apricots the second time I ladled in broth.
This will give the fruits a chance to get warm throughout.

When you add in the last ladle of vegetable broth, add your seasoning, and stir in about a handful of parmesan cheese. 

Stir in the almonds before serving.

Top with additional parmesan before serving.

I was really happy with this revamp recipe overall. Turning this into a risotto added great flavor to the rice overall, the craisins and apricots added sweetness, but it wasn't overwhelming. The cayenne didn't add too much to this, if you'd like some heat add a little more, but I don't think that the risotto was missing anything.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Coral Rigatoni

We made a lot of things during the blog, and a few bad ones, so it is great to be able to try to do them better the second time. I always hope that each time I make something I learn something and am able to make better recipes in the future. The original of this I wouldn't say was terrible, it still tasted good, but it was a failure because it didn't turn out how I thought it would. We couldn't get the rigatoni to stand up and stuff the way we wanted, so we just ate it as a bake. I used spinach this time instead of kale, I didn't cook the rigatoni as long, so they would stand up, and I put the spinach on top of the pasta rather than try to put it right in the filling.

-1/2 box rigatoni
-8 oz ricotta
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-garlic clove
-1 cup spinach
-1 cup bechemel sauce (Check out this post to see how to make bechemel)

 I cooked the rigatoni about halfway, then stood it up in a small pan.

I mixed the bechemel with the ricotta, and put it in a ziploc bag to pipe it into the rigatoni, and stood them back up.

I heated some olive oil in a pan, cooked the garlic,
and wilted the spinach.
I topped with some provolone, and baked for about 10 minutes.

This turned out more like I was expecting than it did the first time. The biggest difference was that I didn't try to pipe in the greens as well, which I don't think can work. The rigatoni was cooked as much as I usually would like it, but it was ok. This didn't turn out bad, but I think it was more work than it was worth for the taste and presentation.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Strawberry Salsa

One of our first blogs was Strawberry Salsa and whenever someone asks me what my least favorite recipe has been -- strawberry salsa is always the first thing I think of. It was a blend of strawberries, onion, lime and cilantro and it was appalling. This revamp recipe used different ingredients for a light, spicy, creamy, citrus salsa.

This is the 600th post. For other milestone blogs, check out our Milestones tab above.

-1 box of strawberries, diced
-1 avocado, diced
-1 tomato, diced
-1 jalapeno, diced
-1/2 tablespoon of lime juice
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Multi-grain chips for serving 

I really enjoyed this revamp recipe. The strawberries added a nice acidity to the salsa, but with the lime juice it was not overwhelming. The jalapenos added a good amount of heat, if you like things spicier, then you should add more because although I liked the amount of heat, I typically love spicy things and this wasn't spicy. I would make this again. It was nice and light. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Apple Cheddar Quesadillas

This is a twist on one of my favorite simple recipes Apple and Cheddar Grilled Cheese. The grilled cheese is so good and so simple to make, I always already have the ingredients in my house when I feel like I'm in the mood to make one. This was just as good with a quesadilla instead  of bread.

The idea comes from Whole Foods Market.

-soft taco tortillas
-shredded cheddar cheese

Top tortilla with cheese. Slice the apple thinly and top. I didn't think this needed any oil or butter, I just put it in a pan for about 4 minutes per size.

This was the perfect combination of crispy and cheesy, it is hard to mess up the proportions. Apple and cheese go together so well, and this is a good way to make something different out of a quesadilla.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tortellini Bake

Tortellini Bake is by far the most popular recipe on our blog, so I thought it would be perfect for a revamp recipe. I also wanted to keep the ingredients at five, because the ease of putting this together is a large part of the appeal. You can easily add vegetables to make this a little more substantial or veggie meatballs.

Find our original post here: Tortellini Bake.


-1 bag of frozen spinach & cheese filled tortellini (19 or 20 oz)
-1 jar of garlic alfredo sauce (15 oz)
-1/2 jar of spicy marinara sauce 
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the tortellini according to package directions.
Mix the tortellini, garlic alfredo sauce and spicy marinara together.
In an 8x8 pan.
Top with the parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Broil for 5 minutes. 

Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Cheese like this is the best.

You won't be able to have just one serving!

I liked this version of tortellini bake, but I think that I enjoyed the other version better. The garlic alfredo and spicy marinara didn't add as much additional flavor as I thought it would. When I make this again, I will try adding some roasted red peppers and mushrooms in with the sauce

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Black Bean Tacos

This is a twist of an earlier time we made these Black Bean Tacos. Originally we made these with crunchy tacos and baked them. I had to make these again because they were so good. The black bean burgers are so good on their own, and they work really well in tacos. This time we made them with soft tacos, and fried them on the stove.

- 2 black bean burgers
- 1/2 cup corn
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 soft tacos
-1/2 adobe pepper
- sour cream
- pepper jack cheese

Thaw the burgers and mix them with the corn and pepper.
Heat oil in a pan, and fry the taco with the black bean mix.
Top with pepper jack. Flip the other half on top and cook
so it sticks together.
Top with avocado and sour cream.

I like this a lot. It was pretty easy to get a nice crisp on the taco, it was the perfect mix of crunch and softness. The black bean burgers were great as always.