Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad

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While in London, I ate french fries and gelato every single day.  I also indulged in a pint (or two) of craft beer.  Every single day.  For a month straight.  In short, my destructive, unhealthy diet was a sober vegan’s worst goddamn nightmare.

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was prepping myself for an intense detox consisting of straight juiced kale and other horrible concoctions nutrition bloggers insist are good for the body and the soul.

While I didn’t *exactly* end up subjecting myself to some kind of horrible, liquid diet (I mean, last weekend was my birthday, so of course I was going to eat steak and cake!), I was able to come up with some yummy, clean recipes.

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One recipe from the mix is this roasted vegetable orzo salad.  It’s light and summery which made me extra excited to eat it for lunch all week.

Although I’m longing for sweater weather season with soup-based dinners and a nice mug of warm tea before bed every night, I’m still trying to push as much summer recipes into my life as I can before it’s too late!

This recipe is especially great served over spinach with a little extra dressing and a grilled chicken breast.

On a side note: My heartburn has gone away since I started incorporating more veggies and less french fries into my life.  Weird right?!

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad:

1 1/2 c. orzo pasta (whole wheat if you can find it)

2 zucchinis, cubed

2 yellow squashes, cubed

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

1 can chick peas, drained

1/2 c. walnuts, toasted

Crumbled feta, for topping (optional)

Dressing:

1/4 c. olive oil

2-3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

Onion powder, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch of sugar, agave, or honey

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Toss zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers in olive oil and a few pinches of salt.  Spread onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and let cool to room temperature.

While pasta is boiling, whisk dressing ingredients together until incorporated.

To make the salad, mix cooled roasted veggies with the orzo, chickpeas, and walnuts.  Pour dressing over the top and mix to coat the orzo.  Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Serve with crumbled feta over the top.

Makes 4 entree servings or 8 side servings.

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Although I miss the nights of drinking pale ale at the Craft Beer Company in London, eating deep fried foods, and laughing with my friends, I’m also happy to be on a normal eating schedule again!

It’s also nice to not have to take an antacid before bed every single night.

Can’t say I wouldn’t do it all again!

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Song of the Day: Smother–Daughter

Chicken Fajitas

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It’s happened, guys.  I finished my first summer class, and now my brain = alskbxlzkjcgqergldknblddzweksdjclxdssalskdj.

As in, I cannot find the motivation to do anything more than lay in bed watching Gossip Girl and drinking insane amounts of green tea.  For the whole entire week.  (Also, don’t judge the GG.  It’s officially my guilty pleasure).

It is also this resignation of my cranium that has put me in a dark, uncharacteristic succession of intense procrastination that I cannot seem to shake off no matter how acute my anxiety becomes.

Side effects of my procrastination have resulted in me putting off shopping and packing for London until yesterday afternoon (I leave tomorrow) as well as clicking multiple “Read More” links on posts concerning Zodiac signs and guitar tuning (I don’t play guitar).  (Yet).

Luckily, I was able to force myself into packing and getting my shit together yesterday/today, and I’m (almost) ready to leave for London tomorrow!  Yay!

My new goal is to motivate myself for the two more summer classes I start in London on Monday.

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If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a sort of Mexican food kick lately.  First it was Chinese food, and now it’s cilantro lime shredded chicken and burrito bowls.

As it turns out, I need to get as much Mexican food into my body as I can in the next day, because Europe has no authentic Mexican food.

There are many European people that have never even had real Mexican (or Tex-Mex for that matter).

It’s the sad truth, and I’m not quite sure what to do with my life except console myself with Indian food and conversations with cute British boys.

(Life is so hard, right?)

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Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

2 bell peppers, cut into thin strips

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. olive oil

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2-1 tsp. onion powder (to taste)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. oregano

Tabasco, to taste

1 lime, juiced

 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place chicken strips, peppers, and onions in a zipper plastic bag or plastic bowl with a lid.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour marinade over chicken, peppers, and onions.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.

When ready to cook, heat 2 Tbs. cooking oil in a large saute pan on medium heat.  Remove chicken, peppers, and onions, and add to saute pan.  Discard marinade.

Cook until chicken is cooked through and peppers and onions are soft, about 8 minutes.

Serve with tortillas, and other taco toppings.

Serves 4.

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I <3 u Mexican food.

I’ll see you in a month.

Make sure to check in for my London posts in the coming weeks!

And while I’m gone, make sure to indulge in some tacos and cheeseburgers for me.

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Song of the Day: Bear–The Antlers

Balsamic Marinated Steak with Roasted Vegetables

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Midterms are over.  I actually think I can hear angels singing right now…

It’s nice having a life after major tests are over.

To celebrate Halloween (and Nevada Day!) and the end of midterms, some of my family and I went to Disneyland.  Which was super fun and amazing and Disneylandish.

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Me and my mom’s Halloween costumes in Disneyland!  Can you guess who I am?

Lately, my roommates and I have gotten into the bad habit where about once every week or two, we stay up too late drinking craft beer (or cranberry vodkas in my case) and doing ridiculous things.  Last night we ended up getting nerf guns at Wal Mart at midnight so we can ignore our priorities and hide behind corners to shoot each other with little styrofoam darts.

College, right?

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Luckily, I still do things that most college kids don’t do.  Like voting, caring about important issues, making nice meals…

I haven’t given up yet guys.

However, let me tell you now: It gets dark around Reno at about 5 starting in October, so the prep pictures are pretty dark, and this meal is not the prettiest.

However, it does look very comfy and winter-y and I promise you, it’s so good.  And it only takes about 30 minutes of actual work.  The rest is marinating/cooking time.  It’s worth it.  I swear.

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Serves 2

Marinade:

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1-2 tsp. Dijon, to taste

2 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. lemon pepper

Salt, to taste

Ingredients:

2 thinly cut sirloin steaks (or whatever steak you prefer)

1 zucchini, cut in larger chunks

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 red potatoes, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Garlic powder and Onion powder, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients.

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Add 4 Tablespoons to steaks.  I put my thin steaks in ziplocs with 2 Tbs. of marinade each, and let them marinate for 2 hours.  You can do overnight if you like, but definitely do at least a couple hours!

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Cut zucchini into larger chunks.  I cut them into four spheres and then cut those into fourths.  If that makes sense?

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Slice red bell pepper.  Remove seeds!

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Mix veggies in a bowl with remaining marinade.  Let marinate for a couple hours also.

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When you’re ready to prepare dinner, dice potatoes into thin chunks.

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Preheat oven to 400* F.  Place potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  *The reason I did not marinate the potatoes with the rest of the vegetables is because they did not get crispy when I marinated them.  You could try to mix them with marinade to make it easier.  Totally up to you!*

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Remove veggies from marinade and place on baking sheet.  Discard remaining marinade.  Bake veggies for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

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About 8 minutes before veggies are done, pan fry your steaks to desired doneness.  This is for thinly cut sirloin steaks.  If you use regular steaks, allow yourself more time to make steaks.  Alternatively, you can grill them.  Which I would have done if it wasn’t 45* outside.

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Serve steaks over roasted vegetables.  You can cut the steak into strips if you want pretty steak, or you can just leave it whole to make it easy.

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Balsamic + Steak + Roasted Vegetables = So good and so healthy.  I was a happy Sara.

Until next time, my friends.

XO Sara

*Song of the Day*: Low Light Assembly–The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

Healthy Dirty Rice

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I know, it’s been like, a month.

But on the bright side, I got great grades from all of the finals I was studying for.  When I say that, I mean that somehow I got a full 100 on my calculus exam.  If you’re sitting here stunned, just know that I have been feeling that way since I found out two weeks ago.

I seriously don’t know how that happened.

Another plus is that I’m doing great in my three week mini class.

Three weeks, three credits.  No biggie.

(Kind of a biggie).

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On the bright side, I have definitely not forgotten all about the blog.  I actually have a bunch of great stuff coming up for you guys.  And in approximately a week and a half, I will be completely off of school and lots of great stuff will be coming your way!

But first, let’s start off with dirty rice.  I can recall a few times when I was little where my mom made the boxed Zattaran’s stuff on super busy nights, but we realized pretty soon after that we were not huge fans of the boxed dinners.

Luckily, dirty rice is super easy to make at home and tastes 10x better than Zattaran’s.  This is easily a 30 minute meal (excluding the rice prep but still…).  And, if you didn’t already expect this, the recipe is healthy.  Shocker right?

*Disclaimer:  This is NOT traditional dirty rice.  Traditional stuff uses chicken gizzards and livers and other leftover chicken parts.  Now, I know that they’re just some chicken parts, but they are just chicken parts I can not wrap my head around eating.  So therefore, I went the Zattaran’s route and used ground beef.  Also, this recipe was created completely according to taste/whatever I had in my kitchen so the spices may or may not be traditional.  End of disclaimer.*

Ingredients:

2 c. cooked long grain brown rice

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp. ceyenne pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/4 tsp. dried marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1/4 c. hot water

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Cook rice according to package directions.  Set aside when finished.

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Chop up veggies!  Yes, those are dried onions.  Yes, I forgot to buy a real onion.

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Saute the veggies until soft.

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Brown the beef.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  (Blurry picture alert.  Whoops!)

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Oh yeah, and dissolve that little guy.

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Add rice and spices to the mixture.

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Mix it all together and add beef bouillon mixture.  Let simmer until the liquid is absorbed!

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Serve to a group of very happy peeps.

Also, please note that you should adjust spices as needed for your tastes.  I decided to not use much salt since I used a beef bouillon cube.  Just taste and adjust accordingly.

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Serve this with a nice little side salad and you have a delicious dinner that will make the whole family happy!

*Vegetarian/Vegan: Replace ground beef with zucchini, tofu, eggplant, and other veggies.  Replace beef broth with veggie broth.

*Gluten Free: This recipe is gluten free

*Paleo: Replace rice with cauliflower “rice”.

XOXO Sara

 

 

 

Healthy Pasta Salad

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Hello friends 🙂

About a week ago, I made this pasta salad recipe and it was super delicious.  Plus, it’s healthy so it’s perfect for a weekday lunch.  In fact, I had it every day last week!

School has been absolutely crazy lately with prom, Grad Nite, and college all coming up!  Luckily, I’ll have a long summer and nice week in Hawaii for my birthday before college life begins.

However, among all the craziness in my life my wonderful boyfriend came  over and surprised me by taking me to lunch yesterday.  That’s a way to have a week made!

Plus we’ve been dating for 2 1/2 years, since yesterday, so that was awesome as well.  2 1/2 years goes quick!

So among your crazy, busy life make this pasta salad for lunches or a dinner side and then you won’t have to worry about  grabbing a fast food bag instead!

Ingredients:

1/2 box of whole wheat penne (or pasta of choice), boiled according to package directions

1 orange pepper, diced

1 cucumber, sliced

1/4 c. Parmesan, shredded

1/4 c. part skim Cheddar cheese, cubed

1/4 c. part skim Colby Jack cheese, cubed

1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

1/4 c. low fat salami, sliced

Dressing:

1/2 c. olive oil

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. dried parsley

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. spicy mustard

1/4 tsp. sugar

While the pasta is boiling, mix together the ingredients for the salad dressing.  When the pasta is drained and slightly cooled, mix the rest of the salad ingredients together and toss with dressing.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Serve.

*More vegetables could always be added to this salad!  Olives, onion, tomato, etc.

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Stay Serendipitous!

XOXO Sara