This eggplant lasagna is a great alternative to traditional lasagna. Not that I'm saying there is anything wrong with traditional lasagna, but my goal is to get more vegetables into everyday meals. If that isn't ambitious enough, I also want to diversify the types of vegetables I'm eating. I have my favorites that show up in a majority of meals, but I want to learn about and find ways to use others. Eggplant is one I don't eat often. It doesn't really have a lot of flavor to me and I don't have great ideas of how to use it in meals... but that will change! 
 
 
I originally got this cauliflower pizza recipe idea from a friend, who got it from a friend, who got it from a website that is geared towards gluten-free eating. Mostly I loved the idea of sneaking cauliflower into a pizza meal. I have nothing against cauliflower. However, it tends to be a rather bland tasting vegetable so I rarely eat it. The recipe does have a good bit of cheese in it (we are talking pizza after all), but the cheese really is necessary to keep the crust somewhat together. So if you're cutting, try not to cut too much. The downside of this pizza is that although the flavor is really good, the crust is a bit crumbly. When I make it again I will try to 1) add more cheese to see if that keeps the crust together better, and if that doesn't work then 2) add a little flour and yeast to make it a half-cauliflower crust and a half-normal dough crust. I also changed up some of the spices in the crust based on my personal tastes, feel free to do the same for your taste buds. Overall, very tasty alternative to regular pizza.
 
 
Don't judge me but... bell peppers really aren't my favorite. I like the idea of them, and I like them on pizza or hidden in recipes with multiple ingredients, but I've never been keen on straight bell peppers. However, I had a bunch sitting around and hated to waste them so I figured what could I do to make them more to my liking? Of course, sweeten them up! This is really a pretty simple recipe, just your peppers plus sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and a couple spices. My guess is other cheeses and spice combinations would be equally delicious. Yay, now I can claim to be a pepper lover!
 
 
I like carrots, but to be honest I can only eat so many raw carrots before I’m tired of them. In the winter I seem to like all my foods warm (my way of heating up I guess), so I decided cooked carrots would be a nice way to change it up. I was originally thinking BBQ sauce, but since I didn’t have any at the time and was not up for a drive to the store, I made my own. This one turned out pretty well. I wouldn't put it on my pulled pork necessarily, but it's great with the carrots. It’s a little spicy, because I like my foods spicy. If you're thinking "great, another spicy dish I don't like" then never fear - It's easy to change out the hot spices for something milder/sweeter. Enjoy the BBQ Carrots!
 
 
Not much in the produce section is really looking good this time of year, but broccoli is thriving. I do love broccoli, but after a while there is only so much of it I want to eat steamed as a side dish. This broccoli cheddar soup is a good way to mix it up. It's ready in under an hour and really hits the spot on a cold winter day.
 
 
I found the idea for this spinach soup a while back when I was looking for interesting ways to use spinach more often. This is also a good recipe for those who like to use (or drink) wine while cooking. Or, if you're in the mood for wine one night but can't decide if you should open a bottle or not, give this recipe a try. You'll need a bit of wine in the soup, and then since it's already open might as well pour yourself a glass!
 
 
With Thanksgiving around the corner it's the perfect time to think about pumpkin pie. I have lots of pumpkin puree in my freezer and it's been screaming at me to use it somehow. In my mind the key to a delicious pumpkin pie is as follows:
1. Use good pumpkin puree. If the pumpkin itself is flavorless, then your pie will be flavorless.
2. Use honey instead of sugar. Mostly because I love the flavor honey adds and it's (in my opinion) better for you than regular sugar.
3. Sample the batter. I know that's a "no no" in most houses, but I'm a huge fan of tasting along the way. How else will you know if it's good enough to eat or not? In this case, the amount of sugar, cream, and spices completely depends on the flavor of your pumpkin. So it's a gamble if you don't sample the batter.
4. Use heavy cream, not skim milk. The heavy cream adds a little fat, but a ton of flavor. It's not going to taste as good with just milk. Plus, if you eliminate all the fat then you can't count it as a dessert anymore because it will be too healthy so just go for it.
 
 
It's freezing outside! For those not living on the Eastern coast of the United States, we're having a massive cold front and storm. Nasty weather outside makes me want to make something warm and cozy feeling. In general, cooler fall weather gets me excited for typical fall flavors and smells. One of the most iconic is the pumpkin. This is the perfect time of year to make a pumpkin pie or soup from scratch. I love pumpkin so I bought one small and three large pumpkins (woah!) and froze the extra puree to use in receipes throughout the rest of the winter.

Around here (NC) pumpkins can be found on every street corner in September and October. I bought mine at the Farmer's Market and they were delicious... well mostly. I bought four, so let me explain. The first two I bought in late September at the same time. I had been eyeing the pumpkins and wanting to get one but it had been so warm in the previous days I wasn't in the mood. Finally it turned cooler and I decided to go for it. I chose two medium-large pumpkins that looked good and took them home to cook. Turns out they were delicious! Nothing "special" about them.

The next time I went to the Farmer's Market I was a little over confident in my ability to choose a good pumpkin. I grabbed one that looked similiar to the previous ones and headed home. I excitedly cooked it, only to discover it was stringy and tasteless. I could have made pie with it but it would have required a ton of spices and sugar to achieve a mediocre pie.

The final time I bought my pumpkin I decided to ask. They recommended one that was a medium size. I took it home, cooked it, and it turned out to be as good as the first two.

I still have no idea how to choose a tasty pumpkin, but I do know that some will make delicious soups and pies with little else needed, while others will be stringy and flavorless. My only advice is to ask, and if your first one turns out to be a dud, don't give up hope.

I did google something to the effect of "Can I eat all pumpkins?" to make sure I didn't buy one that was inedible. The results were very conflicting. Some sites saying you can ONLY eat pie pumpkins and other sites saying a pumpkin is a pumpkin. I decided to ask the closest thing I know to a pumpkin expert - the lady selling the pumpkins at the Farmer's Market. She said that all pumpkins are edible and can be used in recipes, some just might be sweeter and less stringy than others.

Use this pumpkin puree recipe to get your pumpkin ready for delicious pumpkin recipes. The pictures are actually from the one "dud" pumpkin that was less flavorful, so you might notice the pumpkin is a little less colorful. However, the process is the same so just hope yours turns out better than this one. Happy pumpkin hunting!
 
 
Cheese is my weakness. When I went vegan for a month people would ask, "Doesn't your body crave meat?' No, honestly I can do without meat. I enjoy it when it's prepared well but if I don't get it at a meal I don't feel I've missed anything. Cheese is another story. I really missed the extra flavor cheese adds to dishes. Give me a nice strong cheese any day and I'm a happy girl. 

Once vegan month was over my first thought was, which cheese? I had a hard time deciding which dish to make with which cheese, so I decided to go with a dish using two cheeses. :-)  This tomato zucchini wrap has a slightly deceptive title because although it does have tomatoes and zucchini, along with other vegetables, it also contains feta on the inside of the wrap and a cheddar cheese sauce on top. Yummy.
 
 
I love Mexican food. The mounds of cheese. The refried beans that seem to have been soaked in butter. The unlimited sauce. All delicious, but it can be a bit much on the stomach if I overindulge (which of course happens most times I eat Mexican). 

So... during vegan month I decided to explore a little bit and found I really like these bean quesadillas. Enough that I plan to make these vegan or not. I think the guacamole and salsa are an essential part of the quesadillas. They replace the cheese and keep the quesadillas from being a bit "blah". I also put some cayenne pepper in there that you can increase or decrease based on your spice tolerance. Enjoy!