Roasted Broccoli Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Roasted broccoli crostini with sun-dried tomato hummus - cookieandkate.com

Raise your hand if you need a vacation (me-me-me-me-me!). You, too, huh? I’m working extra hard this week so I can kick back as much as possible next week. My dad is fulfilling his life-long dream of visiting some national parks in the northwest and I’m meeting him at Yosemite! I don’t know what to expect, exactly, but I cannot wait to immerse myself in otherworldly beauty.

broccoli crostini hummus ingredients

My original concept for this crostini was to make whipped sun-dried tomato feta, but it was crazy salty. Goat cheese didn’t do, either, so I finally landed on hummus, which was just right. Bonus? It’s vegan, which is especially great if you’re serving a diverse crowd, and you might end up with extra hummus for snacking or spreading on sandwiches.

I’ll be the first to point out that crostini is typically made with smaller pieces of toast (like, baguette-sized), but the best bread I could find was a big loaf, so you’re looking at some pretty hefty crostini that would make an easy dinner with a side green salad.

Do whatever you’d like with this recipe—maybe you just want the hummus, maybe you want to turn it into a sandwich, maybe you’re in a hurry and want to substitute store-bought roasted garlic hummus instead. It’s all good!

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Spring Pea and Asparagus Risotto

Simple springtime risotto, minimal stirring required! - cookieandkate.com

Good morning! I’m feeling a little blinky after the three-day weekend, how about you? Like, today feels like Monday but it’s really Tuesday. Blink. Why is my to-do list so long? Blink. Blink. Need more coffee.

English peas

Blink. This risotto has been on my list since I figured out how to make baked brown rice risotto last fall. Risotto made with brown rice takes almost twice as long to cook (fact), but my method of baking it in a Dutch oven and stirring it for just a few minutes at the end seriously cuts down on effort.

For this springtime take on risotto, I kept it simple and steamed the peas in the pot during the last ten minutes of baking. I opted to roast the asparagus while the pot is in the oven, since roasted asparagus tastes best.

It all comes together painlessly and leaves plenty of time to clean up and sip some leftover white wine while the risotto bakes in the oven. Let me know how you like it!

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Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

This simple basil pesto vinaigrette pairs marvelously with green salads and bright summer flavors! cookieandkate.com

Summer is close. Can you feel it? I think it’s hiding just beyond the gray clouds that have been dampening my spirits for days. Go away, clouds! I’m ready for sunshine and long days by the pool. Margaritas and late walks with Cookie. Potlucks full of fresh salads.

Since I often pull up my own salad archives to find a simple recipe and then kick myself for making my salads so involved, I thought I’d share a simple, summery vinaigrette today. It’s inspired by classic basil pesto (basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and lemon) and comes together in just a few minutes in your food processor. I typed up a list of mix-and-match ingredients that should go well with it, too. It’s a build-your-own summer salad extravaganza!

basil pesto vinaigrette ingredients

I’m inevitably in a hurry when I make salads for potlucks and girls’ nights, so I’m pretty excited about a new-to-me option offered by DeLallo Foods. They are my favorite source of sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes and olives, not to mention whole wheat pasta. DeLallo packages up salad-sized portions of themed complementary flavors called SaladSavors, so you can just combine them with fresh greens and a dressing of your choice. Boom! Salad’s ready.

I threw together the salad you see here in about five minutes flat, thanks to DeLallo’s SaladSavors in Sharp Asiago. I say thumbs-up to making salads easy and eating more greens!

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Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas

Hearty spinach artichoke enchiladas with a simple homemade red sauce! - cookieandkate.com

I’m on a spinach and artichoke kick. I blame the new bar in town that offers an exceptionally tasty spinach-artichoke dip. Tessa and I order it almost every time we meet for happy hour and I daydream about it in between our weekly sessions. It’s more spinach-y than cheesy (how do they pack so much spinach in there?) and has passed for dinner more than once. I can’t get enough of the combination and Tessa can’t either, apparently!

spinach-artichoke enchiladas ingredients

I caught a mention of spinach-artichoke enchiladas on a menu in Austin and didn’t get a chance to try them, so here we are with my homemade version. I based them off memories of the enchiladas my mom makes at home. She is not one to change it up, so her enchiladas consistently feature green chilis, sour cream, flour tortillas and store-bought red sauce. Oh and cheese on top, of course.

I made sure to incorporate all of the above into these lightened-up vegetarian enchiladas, but took it upon myself to create a healthier from-scratch red sauce. I tried spice-based sauce first, followed by tomato-based sauce and finally settled somewhere in between. My recipe is made with common dried spices, tomato paste for some umami-rich tomato flavor, vegetable broth as base and flour to thicken it up.

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Frozen Blueberry Margaritas

Frozen blueberry margaritas made with all natural ingredients! - cookieandkate.com

Spring weather comes on with a vengeance in central Oklahoma, where I grew up. I miss it. I miss the way the energy crackles in the air as the warm, southern winds crash into the cooler winds from the north. I miss the eerily still, humid mornings that prickle the back of my neck and tell me something isn’t quite right. Inevitably, on those days, the wind will pick up and my hair will turn into a million little whips again, all flailing in different directions.

Sometimes the clouds turn black, the air goes green and the tornado sirens start wailing. Spring in Oklahoma is rarely boring, oftentimes terrifying and mostly exhilarating.

blueberry margaritas preparation

Kansas City has been covered up by gray clouds for days. Days upon days upon days, with a few hours of sunshine and some rain here and there. I can’t recall a more dreary, boring spring. I want to poke the clouds and shout, “Do something!” We caught some much-needed sunshine yesterday afternoon and we’re supposed to get more this afternoon, before the sky goes gray again. Gray for days, I tell you.

I took advantage of the sunshine yesterday to bring you some refreshing blueberry margaritas, which would be just perfect for storm sipping. They’re modeled after the blueberry margaritas at The Mont in Norman, Oklahoma, which is an institution. My grandmother went there in college and I did, too!

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12 Affordable Meatless Meals

Find a collection of affordable vegetarian recipes at cookieandkate.com!

Good morning! I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the more affordable recipes on my blog today. The reality is that vegetarian cooking is generally inexpensive, since we’re typically using beans and eggs for protein. Plus, cooking from scratch is a great way to save on groceries and minimize your exposure to the preservatives found in processed foods.

I went through the archives and marked the least expensive meals with my new “budget-friendly” category. Access it here or at any time by hovering over ALL RECIPES, then mousing down to “EVERYDAY” and clicking “Budget friendly”.

While we’re at it, I thought I’d share a few tips on saving money without sacrificing quality, starting with fresh produce! In-season fruits and vegetables are generally your best bets since they require less resources to grow under optimal conditions. Check my monthly seasonal produce guides to find out what’s in season now.

Organic produce is typically more expensive, unfortunately. You can spend wisely by choosing organic produce for the items on the dirty dozen list and often opt for conventional if they’re on the clean fifteen list.

You can often buy local produce at a discount if you shop farmers’ markets near closing time. Those hard-working farmers don’t want their vegetables to go to waste. If you’re ever wondering what to do with a lone eggplant or zucchini in your fridge, check my ingredient index for ideas (you can always access it by hovering over ALL RECIPES, then mousing down to INGREDIENT).

Cooking well-balanced meals with whole grains is a great way to save money and keep your belly full until the next meal. Whole grains offer more nutritional bang for your buck than processed grains, since they offer more fiber, nutrients and healthy fats. Some of my favorites include whole grain pasta, brown rice and farro. Gluten-free, grain-like options include quinoa, millet (millet is downright cheap, by the way) and sorghum.

Pulses like black beans, chickpeas and lentils are great additions as well, and they’re especially affordable if you cook them from scratch (although canned beans are undeniably convenient and still inexpensive). I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but one half-cup serving of cooked lentils has twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and costs a fraction of the price. Pretty amazing.

Growing an herb garden is a great way to save on fresh herbs. You can buy a whole plant for the cost of one on those three-dollar-per-packet specialty herbs! I grab cheap bunches of cilantro and parsley at the store, but prefer to grow basil, mint, rosemary and thyme at home. Those are all pretty hardy plants that don’t require too much fuss. Another option is to use dried herbs, substituting one-third the amount of dried herbs for the specified amount of fresh, but that trick works best in simmered recipes like soups and pasta sauces.

When you’re cooking, feel free to play around with herbs, spices and other flavorings. If the recipe calls for multiple spices and you’re missing one of them, you can probably skip it altogether without sacrificing a lot of flavor.

Extra-virgin olive oil costs more than processed vegetable oils, but I use it liberally for its incredible health benefits. It’s my go-to cooking oil (quality extra-virgin olive oil can actually be heated up to around 425 degrees Fahrenheit before it starts breaking down). Big bottles of California Olive Ranch Everyday, Trader Joe’s 100% Greek Kalamata and organic olive oil purchased on sale are my top picks.

Maple syrup and local honey are pricy and there’s not much to be done about it, although I do buy the biggest jars available to save per ounce. (Let’s get real, though—treats are treats and are therefore nonessential.) You can also save on vegetable broth by making it from scratch or just replace it with water, albeit for less flavor.

Alright, I think that just about covers my tips. What are yours?!

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