What’s a girl to do when the boyfriend is out of town, and she has the entire house to herself??? Eat. Drink. & Chick-flicks.
So while my man was gone for the week, I indulged. After dropping him off at the airport, I immediately stopped at the nearest farmers market and loaded up on veggies. Men probably load up on meat from the butcher when us ladies are gone… but as for me, BRING ON THE VEGGIES! I absolutely love the fresh produce from farmers markets straight from the hands of the farmers themselves. There is something so, pardon the cliché, organic about it. Cut out the middleman and go straight to the source. It may be a dreamt up notion, but it just seems to taste better.
I mean what could be more beautiful than gorgeous rainbow chard!!!
My first solo meal was lunch after the airport and farmers market. I love spaghetti with pesto sauce, or as it is known in my family, “green spaghetti”. Since I picked up some fresh broccoli at the market, I decided to make Extra Green Spaghetti.
Extra Green Spaghetti
-1/2lb spaghetti (or whatever noodle you have on hand, I actually used buccatini)
-1 head of broccoli cut into florets
-1 cup of pesto (I have tried so many different ones, from packages to jars. I always go back to the Knorr packets. Just add water and olive oil!)
-Parmesan cheese to taste
Boil spaghetti to package directions. About 2 minutes before pasta is ready, add in your broccoli. Drain after 2 minutes are up and broccoli and pasta are al dente.
Meanwhile warm or prepare your pesto sauce.
Combine pasta, broccoli, and pesto.
Sprinkle with Parmesan and enjoy!!
The next day I was craving pizza. My all time favorite pizza is margarita pizza… fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil with a chewy crust… YUM!! Now, I have attempted making pizza from scratch, but its never quite right. So I went to the freezer section at HEB. Decided to go with the Central Market Margarita pizza, and what a great decision it was! Frozen pizza is never as good as fresh from the pizza oven, but this was about as close as it’s going to get. Chewy crust, check. Cherry tomatoes, check. Mozzarella, check. Pesto packet, check. I actually enjoyed the pesto rather than cooked basil that would loose its flavor.
I added my own twist with extra cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of fresh olive oil when it came out of the oven. It was beautiful and delicious… almost ashamed to say that I ate the whole thing, but I am NOT! It was amazing. I can’t believe it was a frozen pizza!
For lunch the next day, I joined my parents at The Cheesecake Factory. Usually, lunch at this restaurant is a daunting task because the portions are so big, but they have added a lighter side menu that offers multiple small plate options, still packed with flavor. I went for the chicken pot stickers, which are one of my favorite things. I was not disappointed. Beautiful presentation continued right into the power packed flavor that hit my tongue.
For dinner, I dove back into my farmer’s market bag and made Cauliflower steaks with tomatoes and olives.
Cauliflower Steaks with Tomato & Olive
-1 cauliflower head
-1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes halved
-2 tablespoons of chopped black olives
-2 garlic cloves minced
-1/2 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
-1/2 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
-Salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 375.
Cut a 1 1/2-inch slice or “steak” from the center of the cauliflower head.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat.
Sprinkle salt & pepper on both sides of the cauliflower steak, then sear in the olive oil skillet for 4 minutes on each side to get golden color.
Transfer cauliflower to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, olives, and garlic in the remaining oil in skillet and heat through for 5 minutes.
Combine parsley and basil.
When cauliflower is done, top with warm tomato & olive mix and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Enjoy!
Since I had some cauliflower and broccoli left over, for lunch the next day I decided to do a simple veggie roast. Roasted broccoli and cauliflower are two of my favorite vegetables, and definitely my favorite method of cooking them. Who doesn’t love mixing something up throwing it in the oven and then 20 minutes later… it’s eating time!
Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower Caprese Salad
-1 cup broccoli florets
-1 cup cauliflower florets
-1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
-1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
-2 tablespoons of fresh basil
-1/4 cup chopped fresh mozzarella
-Salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 400.
Toss broccoli and cauliflower florets in a glass-baking dish with ¼ cup tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and some salt & pepper. Allow flavors to marinate until veggies are done.
When veggies are ready, combine with caprese mixture (tomato, olive, mozz.). Enjoy!
Before heading to the airport to pick up my love, I met my parents for dinner at Thai Lao in Leon Springs. Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines. I love the spice that I find tends to be missing from other Asian cuisines. The calm, harmonious culture of the Thai people envelops the building at Thai Lao and begins the meal off in such a luxurious way.
Beginning with the crispy egg rolls served with a sweet peanut dipping sauce, we knew we were off to a great start. Although I found the sauce to be a little sweet, the egg roll packed enough flavor to stand-alone. Our waiter also brought over a trio of hot spice sauces to mix into our dishes as we dared. Chili paste, red pepper flakes, and chili oil dared us to get to the “Thai spicy”… I fell dramatically short! The Thai can really handle the heat!
For my meal I decided to try the Pho. Pho is one of my weaknesses; I tend to order it if its on the menu. I just love the thin rice noodles swimming in a huge bowl of flavor packed broth. I also enjoy the slight “some assembly required” feeling that really gets you involved in the eating process. Bean sprouts, fresh cilantro & Thai basil, plum & siracha sauces, and lime wedges are all available to specialize your Pho to your own liking. For myself, I like a few bean sprouts for crunch, all the fresh herbs I can get, a small amount of plum and siracha, and a big squeeze of lime juice. At Thai Lao, the Pho is exactly as it should be. The broth takes you beyond a basic stock with hidden flavors of mushroom and onion that compliments the rest of the ingredients perfectly. Yum.
So, although I missed my boyfriend while he was gone, I had a great time on my “girl” food adventure that was accented by a heavy dose of veggies!