Smoky Carrot Dogs with Nacho Sauce

I have heard of carrot dogs before, and was a little curious about them, but when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and saw it was marked as a “staff fave”, I knew I had to try them. I thought the actual “dog” was really good! I wouldn’t eat it plain (I mean, I would, because I like carrots), but with toppings, it was really good! I thought the texture was great! My problem was with the nacho sauce. I used my food processor instead of a blender, and my sauce never got creamy. It was really chunky, but it tasted okay. I just couldn’t drizzle the sauce over the dog. Everyone thought they were pretty good! I had some carrots left over, so I ate them in a salad the next day, and they were excellent.

rating: 8.5

Smoky Carrot Dogs with Nacho Sauce
(Cooking Light, June 2017)

serves 8


3/4 cup raw cashews
8 large carrots, rinsed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup jarred salsa
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon water
8 whole-wheat hot dog buns, lightly toasted
2 small jalapeños, thinly sliced
1/4 cup diced red onion




Place cashews in a bowl with water to cover by 1 inch. Let stand 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Trim ends from carrots to fit hot dog buns. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots, and round edges to create a hot dog shape.
Place oil, tamari, liquid smoke (if desired), paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk. Place carrots in a single layer in prepared baking dish. Pour oil mixture over carrots; rub to coat on all sides. Bake at 450°F for 35 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.
Drain cashews. Place cashews, jarred salsa, almond milk, yeast, cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, and salt in a high-powered blender. Process until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in up to 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
Place 1 roasted carrot in each bun. Top each with 2 tablespoons nacho sauce; top evenly with jalapeño slices and diced red onion.

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Minestrone Verde

This soup was okay. None of us really loved it, and I didn’t save the leftovers. It sure is healthy, though! 🙂

rating: 6

Minestrone Verde
(Cooking Light, June 2017)

serves 4
time needed: 30 min.


1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil (from about 3 bunches)
2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups thinly sliced leeks
2 small zucchini, sliced into half-moons
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
8 ounces refrigerated tortellini
3 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach (about 3 oz.)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Process basil, cheese, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil; process until very finely chopped and fully combined, stopping to scrape sides of bowl as necessary. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium. Add leeks; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in zucchini; cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is just tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add chicken stock, and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook tortellini in a stockpot of boiling water 3 minutes less than package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
Add tortellini, spinach, and peas to soup. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Ladle soup evenly into 4 bowls. Top each serving with pesto, and sprinkle evenly with pepper.


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Kicky Black Bean Burgers

I’ve eaten my share of black bean burgers, but I have to say, this one is one of the best ones I’ve ever had! Not sure what makes it so special! My 10 year old loved it as well. I used white hamburger buns instead of the wheat, because that’s what I had on hand. Easy and delicious!

rating: 9.5

Kicky Black Bean Burgers
(Cooking Light, June 2017)

serves 4
time needed: 30 min.


1 (15-oz.) can unsalted black beans, drained
5 (1 1/4-oz.) whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted and divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ounces sliced pepper-Jack or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup fresh refrigerated pico de gallo
4 lettuce leaves


Place beans in a large bowl; mash with a fork. Place 1 toasted bun, torn, in a food processor; pulse until fine crumbs form. Stir breadcrumbs, cumin, and next 5 ingredients (through egg white) into beans.
Divide and shape bean mixture into 4 (1-inch-thick) patties. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.
Divide cheese evenly among patties; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts. Top bottom halves of remaining 4 buns evenly with patties, pico de gallo, lettuce, and top halves of buns.

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BBQ “Chicken”-and-Black Bean Tacos

My 10 year old loved these tacos, and said he was going to ask me to make them again during his birthday week (when I make all his favorite food). I used Morningstar Farms vegetarian chicken strips for the chicken in this dish. I heated them up in a pan, then let them cool a bit and put them in a food processor to shred them. I also used flour tortillas in place of the corn. These were just REALLY good, although husband said he didn’t care for the yogurt sauce (I agreed).

rating: 9

BBQ “Chicken”-and-Black Bean Tacos
(Cooking Light, June 2017)

serves 5


2 teaspoons olive oil
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper (from 1 bell pepper)
3/4 cup frozen whole kernel sweet corn, thawed
3/4 cup canned unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
12 ounces skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded (I used Morningstar Farms Chick’n Strips)
1/3 cup organic barbecue sauce
10 (6-in.) corn tortillas (I used flour tortillas)
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in corn and black beans; cook until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Place shredded chicken and barbecue sauce in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix until thoroughly coated. Loosely cover, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until warmed through.
Warm tortillas according to package directions. Place 3 tablespoons chicken mixture in center of each tortilla. Top each tortilla with 3 tablespoons bell pepper mixture.
Place yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Dollop each taco with about 1 tablespoon yogurt mixture. Sprinkle tacos with cilantro.

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Jerk “Chicken” Bowl

I made this recipe up after looking through a bunch of meal prep bowl recipes. All of the amounts are up to you. I used 1 bag of Beyond Meat vegetarian chicken strips for the chicken. I just warmed them up in a pan and sprinkled a little bit of the jerk seasoning on them. My 10 year old said this was one of the best things I have ever made! I would do this again, but maybe leave out the pineapple. It didn’t add too much to the dish.

rating: 9

Jerk “Chicken” Bowl


vegetarian chicken (I used Beyond Meat)
Jerk seasoning
diced pineapple
black beans
lime juice
yellow rice



Pan fry the vegetarian chicken until lightly brown and sprinkle with jerk seasoning to taste.  Put can of beans into a pot with a splash of lime juice. Cook until hot. Cook rice according to directions. Assemble bowl.

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Yellow Squash Soup with Parm & Herbs

WOW. This soup was excellent! My yellow-squash-hating-husband LOVED this soup! I doubled this recipe and I am glad I did, or we wouldn’t have had enough! GREAT SOUP.

rating: 9.7

Yellow Squash Soup with Parm & Herbs
(Everyday with Rachael Ray, April 2017)

serves 4


2 lbs. yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock (I used vegetarian “chicken” broth)
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon zest
4 tbsp grated Parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or tarragon


in saucepan with a lid, cook first 5 ingredients, covered, over medium, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender, 15 minutes. Working in batches, puree in blender; season. Divinde among bowls; top with cheese and parsley.

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Tortellini, “Chicken”, and Arugula Salad

Need a fast recipe for dinner? This was really good (although my 10 year old hated it). My 6 year old ate just the pasta. Husband and I thought it was great, and even though I was a little hesitant to save the leftovers for the next day, they were great, too! If you don’t like arugula, you could use a different salad green.

rating: 9

Tortellini, “Chicken”, and Arugula Salad
(Cooking Light, April 2017)

serves 4
time needed: 20 min.

1 (9-oz.) pkg. refrigerated cheese tortellini, cooked according to pkg. directions
8 ounces skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded (about 2 cups) – I used Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallot
3/4 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)


Place tortellini and chicken in a large bowl.
Combine garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash with the side of a knife to form a paste. Place in a small bowl. Add oil, rind, juice, sugar, and pepper; stir with a whisk.
Add 2 tablespoons dressing to tortellini and chicken; toss to coat. Gently fold in arugula, shallot, and remaining dressing. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.

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