A Cozy Gnocchi Soup for Rainy Days

Hey fam.

It’s a windy, rainy day today and I have the weekend off, so I was feeling the cooking fire under my butt this morning and I made brunch (bacon, eggs, and cheese bites) and lunch/dinner – a gnocchi soup that’s so good, my friend Betsy has even made it. And the only reason I mention that is because we’re both stubborn people at times and it’s difficult to convince each other to do simple things like HEY WATCH THIS MOVIE. But HEY, she tried this soup and has added it to her cooking lineup, so that’s awesome, right?

Anyway, the original recipe is a vegan version – that I’ve made until Christmas and Easter lent. However, today I made it with reduced fat milk and it turned out just as well.

Here’s the link to the original recipe. And here’s the recipe breakdown if you don’t wanna move your eyes from the gorgeous photos I took of my soup.

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic diced
1/2 yellow onion diced
4-5 stalks celery diced
5 whole carrots diced
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tsp. Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
4 cups + 3 tbsp. water separated
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 package gnocchi
pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots and sauté until veggies are softened (approx. 10 minutes).
  2. Dissolve cornstarch in 3 tbsp. water in a small bowl.
  3. Dissolve bouillon in 4 cups water to create “chicken” broth.
  4. Add cornstarch mixture, “chicken” broth and almond milk to veggies. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add gnocchi and spices and simmer on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve with fresh parsley.

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Romanian Style Crepes

I am so excited to share this recipe with you all.

I was visiting my aunt a couple weeks ago and happened to stop by while she was preparing to make Romanian crepes – or as we call them, Clatite. So I asked her to explain her process as to how she makes them, and surprisingly, it’s pretty easy. The thing is, it’s not a set recipe, so I’m going to try to translate it into one as best as I can.

Her style of making crepes is delicious and I personally view it as one of her specialties, so I was geeked to try it out on my own. Below, I have a recipe that should yield roughly 16 crepes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2-3 eggs
a good pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
milk
mineral water
rum extract/essence of rum
a small bowl with oil and a silicon brush
filling of choice (we like prune or rosehip jam)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine flour, eggs, salt, sugar, rum extract, and milk until blended together well. Add the milk slowly so you can build a batter.
  2. Once you’ve got a mixture that’s a little on the thicker side, slowly add mineral water to the mixture until the consistency becomes almost soupy. You don’t want it too thin, but you don’t want it so thick that you can’t swivel the mixture around in the pan to coat it.
  3. Add rum extract to taste. My aunt dumped like a good 2 or 3 TABLESPOONS in there, but probably a solid 1 to 1.5 teaspoons should be good.
  4. Heat up a large skillet on high heat. Before putting in your batter, brush the skillet using a silicon brush with some oil to ensure your crepe doesn’t stick.
  5. Pour a large ladle-full of batter in the center of your skillet and take the skillet off the stove while you swivel it to ensure the batter coats the whole bottom of the skillet.
  6. Using a long knife, (you can use a spatula, but a knife works better – and if you have a particularly flexible knife, use that) flip your crepe after roughly 30 seconds or  until the batter is no longer wet and cook for another ~30 seconds or so.

Tips:

  • If you’re having trouble swiveling the batter, your batter may be too thick. Add more mineral water or milk.
  • If you’re having trouble with your crepes breaking after the first couple (flipping them with a knife does take some practice) your batter may be too runny and you should add a little more flour to thicken it up.
  • In our family, and even traditionally in Romania, we like to roll up our crepes with prune jam or rosehip jam, but you can eat them however you please.

Sauted Mushrooms

I was avoiding posting this for a while because I couldn’t remember what I found the recipe, but I finally recalled that I watched a video for it – so thank God for Youtube history searcher!

I used a lot of mushrooms in my dishes during lent, and I had a lot of button mushrooms the day I made this side dish. It’s a relatively simple recipe and, even better, is you can visually follow along with the video. Enjoy!

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram for more photography! @vivianapodinaphotography

Buddha Bowls: The Easiest Meal Ever

I don’t recall how I came across Buddha Bowls in the first place, but it was probably while browsing Pinterest a few months ago. I was immediately drawn to the rich colors of all the vegetables together and, since it was Lent season, the easiness of making them.

As for why they’re called Buddha Bowls, the best thing I could find was this article, where writer Rachel Tepper Paley delves into the composition of the bowls and interviews an Instagrammer. This part stuck out to me as the most “informative”, as far as informative goes for the title of the article.

At their core, Lein said, Buddha bowls are about “balancing the different types of food that you eat,” and not eating too much of any one thing.

Essentially, Buddha Bowls consist of one type of grain (quinoa, rice, bulgar, etc), greens (kale, spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc), healthy carbs (chickpeas, beans, etc) and veggies (carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, literally whatever). As you can imagine, the possibilities are basically endless.

I made a relatively simple version using Qrunch quinoa burgers and roasting chickpeas in turmeric. I will say that in these photos, I used broccoli, but I’ve also used thinly sliced red cabbage drizzled with EVOO and vinegar and it’s soooo good. I also made tzatziki sauce from scratch Recipe below!

Ingredients

1 Qrunch quinoa burger
1 fat carrot
1 handful broccoli
1 can chickpeas
turmeric powder
spray oil
salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a pan, fry your quinoa burger until cooked through. Make sure to spray the pan beforehand to avoid sticking. Crush with a utensil once done and set in your bowl.
  2. In another pan, cook your chickpeas with turmeric powder, salt and pepper. Spray your chickpeas with spray oil so they don’t stick to your pan while they’re cooking.
  3. Steam your broccoli by boiling water in a pot, place your broccoli in a strainer, and cover with a pot lid. Let sit until your desired firmness. I like mine on the crunchier side. Plus, I like to not kill off all of the vitamins and minerals in my food.
  4. For the carrot, in the photos you can see I’ve chopped it, but grating your carrot will create a better texture contrast and be easy to eat. Grating your carrot will also allow its juice to come through and give the dish a little moisture.
  5. Assemble, eat!

Bonus: Tzatziki Recipe

4 tbsp Chobani plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
handful fresh dill
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
3 cloves garlic, finely diced or grated
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients, refrigerate, serve.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram for more photography! @vivianapodinaphotography

Vegetarian Tomato Mushroom Soup

During Lent season, I found a bunch of recipes on Foodgawker for a multitude of vegetarian and vegan foods that fit my family’s lifestyle. This is one that I really enjoyed making and it was also quite easy.

I think everyone should know how to make at least one soup from scratch – cause then you know how make about a thousand different soups from scratch.

This particular recipe uses tomato concentrate; I don’t want to call it advanced, but it might require you going out of your way to get an extra ingredient or two.

Here’s the link to the recipe itself, or, if you’re lazy, check out my altered recipe below.

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Ingredients

1 medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced (I always add like 2-3)
16 oz. (about 4 c.) sliced fresh mushrooms
1-2 leek stalks, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 (14.5 oz.) can veggie broth – OR – mix 1 tbsp Vegeta seasoning with 14 oz water
1 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar ( I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Directions

1. Chop up your onion, leek and carrots, mince the garlic. In a 2-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.
2. Add onion, leek, carrots, and garlic; saute for about 5 minutes until tender.
3. Add mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in veggie broth, water, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
6. Sprinkle each serving with parsley.

Carrot Cake Snowballs

Like just about all of my great recipes, I found this one on Foodgawker and it looked so delicious and so easy, I said LET’S DO IT!

I’m not a huge fan of carrot cake – but to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the vast majority of American desserts. I find that most of them taste like sugar on steroids rather than actual flavor. However, this one has that middle eastern twist and I can deal with that.

They involve pitted dates, but given that I live within 5 minutes of a middle eastern grocery store, I have something better – DATE PASTE. No need to get your blender sticky with dates.

This recipe also contains cashews – my new favorite nut, by the way. I only had salted cashews, so I rinsed them before I pulverized them in my Ninja blender. I also gave the oats a spin in there. If you’re using a package of date paste, I suggest doubling up on the other ingredients.

My altered recipe is below:

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 13 oz date paste (1 package)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • zest from 1/2 orange and freshly squeeze juice from said orange
  • desiccated coconut for rolling

Directions

  1. Peel and wash your carrots. Grate your carrots.
  2. Rinse your cashews if they’re salted. Pop them in a blender 1/4 cup at a time and burst blend them until they’re between coarse and fine.
  3. Blend your oatmeal as well. You don’t want a fine powder, but you do want everything to be about the same size.
  4. In a large bowl, combine carrots, date paste, oats, spices, salt, zest of an orange, and the juice if your orange together. You can of course opt to do this in a blender, but why clean more than you need to? Use your hands to mix together well.
  5. In a separate bowl, add coconut. Form your snowballs into balls and roll around in coconut.
  6. Pop the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving, to firm up.

Vegetarian Fettucine Alfredo

It’s still Lent season, but this was not a Lent-friendly dish. However, it was a dish I made twice and one that had absolutely no leftovers, twice.

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Who knew fettucine alfredo was so easy to make? I mostly followed a video from Tasty on 4 ways to make fettucine and went with the second version in. But of course, I altered it.

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Here’s my version, a Vegetarian Fettucine Alfredo

Ingredients

  • 1 package fettucine pasta
  • 2 packages of baby bella mushrooms; or 1 pack of 4 portobellos, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • garlic cloves, minced (no number because I like a lot but some ppl only like a little)
  • half a bunch of spinach
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive or grapeseed oil

Directions

  1. Fill a large pot about 3/4 of the way up, add about 1 tbsp salt and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until you’re satisfied with how cooked it is. A lot of people like their pasta “al dente” aka firm to the bite. I don’t because I think that’s stupid and undercooked, so I like mine to cook a little longer but not so long that it starts disintegrating.
  2. Drain your pasta and set aside.
  3. With medium-high heat on, in the pot you used to boil your pasta, add about 2-3 tbsp of oil, chopped onions and garlic. Cook until they JUST start to get translucent, then add your tomatoes and sliced mushrooms. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Once the mushrooms start to shrink, about 3-4 minutes, add in your spinach. After your spinach is no longer crisp, add in your heavy whipping cream, simmer for about 2-3 minutes then add in parsley and stir.
  5. Turn off the heat and add in your pasta, mix together well. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve!

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Tasty video for those who like cooking visuals like me: