Recipes

Smoked Gouda & Sharp Cheddar Mac

What better thing is there to do on a night in than cook and drink wine? Nothing, I know. Cooking has the power to take my mind away from whatever’s going on and just let me focus on creating the perfect dish. That being said, I don’t do it often, cause I hate the clean up process. Last night I was inspired to make homemade macaroni and cheese, ’cause who the hell doesn’t love macaroni and cheese. I put this recipe together from a few others I found online. Check it out below!

What You Need:

  • 1 lb box of pasta (I used cavatappi)
  • 1 8 oz block of sharp white cheddar cheese (about two cups)
  • 1 8 oz block of smoked gouda cheese (about two cups)
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil

Prep:

Make the pasta according to box directions. In a large saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Whisk in the flour for two minutes, until smooth. Continue whisking for another two minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Lower the heat to low and add in the cheese (saving about a cup), salt, pepper, and mustard powder.

Pour the pasta in a lightly greased 9x12x2 oven safe tray. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and pour over the cheese sauce. Stir lightly to cover all the noodles. Top it with the paprika and breadcrumbs (however much you want).

Bake for 20 minutes (or until it starts to bubble) at 425º. Let it cool a little and prepare to have the most amazing cheesy goodness bless your tastebuds.

 

Recipes

Crispy Quesadilla

It’s lunch time, and I was craving a quesadilla. Obviously, I came home and made one. Follow these quick and easy steps to making this delicious, crispy quesadilla… and feel free to replace my stuffing choices for some of your own!

Ingredients

  • Large tortilla
  • Shredded cheese of choice (I used cheddar and mozzarella)
  • Mushrooms
  • Green peppers
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

Prep

In a large skillet or pan, warm up your tortilla on low heat. Move it around so the entire thing gets warmed. Simultaneously, begin sautéing your mushrooms and peppers (or whatever you decide to stuff your quesadilla with) on medium heat on another pan. Don’t forget to lightly grease the pan with olive oil and season your stuffing with salt and pepper. This should take about five to seven minutes to complete.

Once your mushrooms and peppers are about done cooking, add some cheese to half the tortilla. This pan should still be on low heat. Add your sautéed ingredients and a little more cheese. Flip over the other half of the tortilla so it begins to form.

Raise the heat just a little bit, and add about two teaspoons of water to the saucepan (pro-tip from @carbzandgarbz on Instagram!). Cover the pan and let your quesadilla warm up. After a few minutes, flip it over to allow the top to cook. Once your quesadilla is at your desired crispy-ness, you’re ready to munch out.

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This bomb quesadilla only takes about five minutes to prepare and 10-12 to cook. It’s easy, quick, and so tasty! Spice it up with different fillings and let me know how it comes out! You can also substitute the cheese for almond cheese if you don’t eat dairy.

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Happy eating,

Nicki G.

 

Food Spots

15th & Vine

This weekend’s brunch was at the lovely 15th & Vine at the W Hotel in Brickell. The modern restaurant has a delicious brunch menu with a “freeflow bubbles” option for bottomless mimosas (heck yeah). Its prime location makes it a great spot for anyone trying to enjoy an unforgettable brunching experience. Check out their menu here.

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Tuna Tartare & Avocado
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Blackened Mahi-Mahi Burger

 

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Lobster Mac & Cheese

I started with the tuna tartare which was extremely flavorful. It’s dressed with a ponzu sauce and comes with a crispy rice cracker. My main dish was the blackened mahi burger. You can’t go wrong with this option if you want something heavy enough to fill you up, but not as filling as a regular beef burger. It’s light, but filling- perfect if you ask me. The french fries were to die for, if we’re being honest. I tried my friend’s lobster mac and cheese, which didn’t disappoint. It’s topped with breadcrumbs & is definitely sharable.

If you’re looking for a new brunch spot and haven’t been to 15th & Vine, definitely make your way over there. Their rooftop is under construction, so if you want a gorgeous view of our city (#welivewhereyouvacay), wait until it’s open again. Let me know what you think of it!

Blog · Food Spots

MadLove

I had the pleasure of trying out Pinecrest’s newest restaurant addition: MadLove by Latin House. I’m a huge fan of Latin House Grill, so I knew this new spot wouldn’t disappoint.

This casual-dining restaurant has a great vibe & great food options to go with it. Pick from endless protein options (including fish & veggie options!) and style them any way- tacos, bowls, quesadilla, etc. Craving a burger? They have that too. Check out their menu below.

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Everyone was asking me on my SnapChat where the f*ck  my food was from, so I had to share with you guys. Did anyone respond to the selfie I posted? No. But tacos? Over 20 people. I love my friends.

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Loaded fries & tuna poke tacos
Although a little pricey, the food was great and I’ll definitely be back again. The manager was so nice and welcoming, which made my experience at Mad Love complete. Don’t expect a sit-down-and-take-your-order kind of place; place your order at the register and one of their lovely employees will shortly bring you your meal. I give this place a 10/10 (this rating is based on nothing- ten out of ten what?). The food was delicious, the service was great, the ambiance was comfortable, and it’s in a great location. I guess that makes it a 4/4, but that sounds horrendous so we’ll stick with 10/10.

Honestly, if those quesadillas aren’t turning you on, you have issues. I ordered the veggie protein as my filling and you seriously couldn’t tell it wasn’t chicken. I strongly recommend these to anyone trying to cut back on their meat intake- or to any of my fellow vegetarians! Don’t worry vegans- enjoy the veggie tacos sans crema Mexicana or avo-lime sauce and you’re good to go.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Love always,

Nicki G.

Blog

Up Your Lunch Game

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A lot of us have long work/school days and don’t have time to go home for lunch. This then leads to A) spending money and eating lunch out (and chances are, it won’t be  healthy), or B) taking our lunch with us to school/work. I try to take my lunch with me when I know I won’t have time to come home between classes, or when I have long clinical days at the hospital. Bringing my lunch from home saves money, and I get to decide what I eat and make sure it’s healthy.

Step up your lunch game with a cute lunchbox.

It’s that simple! Invest in a trendy lunch bag, and you’ll be even more inspired to take your lunch to school/work. Kate Spade and Urban Outfitters have adorable lunch boxes, but they can be a little pricey. Amazon also has a really good selection, just make sure you search for “trendy lunchboxes” and not “cute lunchboxes”- the word cute brings in weird dog and cat printed bags. Ew.

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My kick ass lunch bag is from Fluf, an organic textile brand. This Girl Power classic lunch bag supports Plan InternationalBecause I am a Girl, organizations that empower and support young girls with quality education and the tools needed to succeed, by donating $1 from the purchase of each bag to these organizations. Read more about this project here.  These bags are also made from 100% organic cotton!

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Lined interior

Ditch the paper bags and get yourself a lunchbox! Take it back to your elementary school days, minus the Lunchables. Having a reusable lunch bag is eco-friendly and a cute one adds an extra bit of oomph to your day!

Have a nice lunch,

Nicki G.

 

Blog

Vegainz: Update

I’m going to start this off by saying that being vegan isn’t for everyone. I’m surprised I even lasted as long as I did given that I am addicted to cheese. After three weeks of absolutely no cheese, eggs, meat, or fish, I decided to go back to my pescatarian ways. I wish I could be vegan #forlife, but it was a little too much, even for me.

Life is about balance.

Although many documentaries claim that “everything in moderation” isn’t good enough, I think it’s ok. And why does my opinion matter? It doesn’t. But I’m sure a lot of you would agree with me. I don’t eat red meat, chicken, and will continue cutting back on my fish intake (although I’m pretty sure it’s only the farm raised stuff that’s bad for you?). I don’t eat dairy other than cheese, and I will make a conscious effort to cut back on my cheese intake as well. Pro tip: switch from soy milk to almond or cashew milk. Studies show the latter are better for you!

Veganz: update
Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT a Silk Almond Milk official ad

I’ve learned to enjoy so many vegetables.

Which is something I’m really happy about. I would have never been caught dead eating so many green things, and here I am. Almond milk is my new best friend, and I’ve found so many protein sources from mushrooms and beans. While my veganism (is that a word?) lasted only a short while, it was a fun challenge I’m glad I took part in. I commend those who have a fully vegan lifestyle and encourage others to give it a try. Even if it only lasts a few weeks, you can discover a lot about your body & how to keep it healthy.

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Seitan: newly discovered wheat protein source I’m currently obsessing over

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This week’s meal prep, featuring seitan, brown rice, asparagus, assorted peppers, zucchini, & mushrooms

So there’s my update.

I lasted three weeks (that’s longer than most of you can do anything so shut up) and it was… interesting. I’m interested in any feedback regarding being vegan- share your journey/experience with me!

For those of you interested, I do most of my grocery shopping at Publix, but I love Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I’d solely shop there, but Publix is more convenient for weekly shopping- especially with my busy schedule.

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Love always,

Nicki G.

Recipes

Meatless Beef Burrito

meatless beef burrito

Having a major burrito craving, but aren’t down to eat meat?

Been there.

And trust me, there are delicious substitutes. Keep reading for my meatless beef burrito- it won’t disappoint.

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Lightlife Smart Ground
  • Large burrito tortillas
  • Choice of peppers, onions, and/or mushrooms, diced
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic (pre-minced, or two cloves, minced)
  • Diced onions (separate from above)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Pico de gallo
  • 3-5 teaspoons of meat or marinara sauce
  • Cooking wine

Optional Ingredients

  • Shredded cheese
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Choice of seasoning for rice
    • Recommended: salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, 1/4 lime juice

Prep

You can kind of do this in whatever order you’d like. I started by heating up my cauliflower rice for 4 minutes with some water and the seasonings mentioned above. I simultaneously heated a medium skillet with olive oil on medium heat and added my diced onions. After three minutes, I mixed in the minced garlic and eyeballed the paprika. After about another 3 minutes, I added the drained and rinsed pinto beans. I let them heat up (5-6 minutes) and began smashing them with a fork. You can add chicken broth to keep them a little moist, but I just added some cooking wine and olive oil to avoid using chicken broth. Empty into a bowl once they’re done. Keep the beans and rice aside.

Now it’s time to prepare the crumbles. Lightly coat a larger pan with olive oil and heat it up on medium heat. Add the crumbles and break them apart so they start to look like actual ground beef. Add your peppers and ‘shrooms and whatever else you decided to mix in.

If the ground crumbles looks dry, add some cooking wine, olive oil, and a few teaspoons of marinara or meat sauce to moisten them up a little. Stir it all up until it starts looking fire. It should take about 6-8 minutes to fully cook, but use your judgement.

Pour the ground crumbles into a bowl so they don’t overcook in the pan. Warm up a tortilla between two wet paper towels on a microwave-safe plate for 30-45 seconds.

Now we’re ready to stuff that burrito, bitches.

Lay the warm tortilla flat on your plate and load the cauliflower rice first. Next, pile on as much beef as you want, and top it with the refried pinto beans. If you’re adding cheese, now’s the time to cheese it up with your choice of shredded cheese. Finish your stuffing with some lettuce and pico de gallo, and BAM, you’re almost done. I say almost, ’cause you still have to roll up the burrito, which is not as easy as Chipotle employees make it seem. Seriously, kudos to them. You’d think the cooking is the hardest part, but the burrito wrapping takes the cake.

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Once you master your wrapping, it’s time to munch down on your fat burrito. This meatless beef burrito is a great alternative to your usual beef burrito, and could be a great vegan meal if you skip out on the cheese or substitute it with almond cheese. Try out the recipe and let me know how you like it! This serving of meatless crumbles serves about 4 people, so be nice and cook for the family for once. Or eat burritos for your next four meals. Whatever you prefer. Tag #justnickithings and #eatwithme on Instagram if you try this out! I’d love to check out your versions.

Love, your burrito baby,

Nicki G.

Recipes

Mushroom Chicken Pita

I’m on week three of my vegan diet and I’ve come across some recipes that I really like. I’ll be posting an update on my veganism soon, so stay tuned. For now, here’s my recipe from today’s lunch. My mushroom chicken pita was stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, Gardein chick’n strips, hummus, and almond cheese.

Ingredients

  • Gardein chick’n strips
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • Vegan butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Bread seasoning
  • Hummus of choice (I used roasted garlic)
  • One pita, halved
  • Favorite vegan cheese
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Prep

Start by preheating your oven (or toaster oven, that’s what I used) to 425. Once preheated, place two pieces of the chick’n strips on a lightly greased tray. Set the timer for 18-20 minutes and flip the tenders over half way through.

Get one half of your pita and warm it up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften it up. Keep the other half aside. After its softened, spread a knife-full of hummus over the inside of the pita pocket.

When there’s about ten minutes left for the tenders to be ready, melt some butter to cover the bottom of your saucepan on low-medium heat. Once it’s warm, add your washed mushrooms. Season them with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. They should take five to seven minutes to fully cook.

After everything is done, cut the tenders into bitesize pieces and stuff the pita with the mushrooms and tenders. Tear up the other half of the pita and put it on the same tray you used to cook the chick’n strips. Drizzle some olive oil and bread seasoning over the pieces and toast to your preference. Finish your pita by sprinkling some of your favorite vegan cheese on top!

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Quick, easy, and delicious vegan lunch packed with flavor and protein.

Try it out and let me know how you like it in the comments!

Happy eating,

Nicki G.