As some of you may know, I spent a few months living in Sevilla, Spain. I loved my time there, and while I’m not a very adventurous eater, there were a few things that caught my attention and that I still can’t get enough of to this day. Of course, the one I loved the most is the most confusingly named and really close to our own omelet, only more fluffy an delicious.

Basically, “tortillas” as we know them in the western world aren’t really a thing in Spain. If you order a tortilla, you’ll get this:

tortilla espanola

What You Need and Do:

This is not what I normally do, BUT I stumbled upon a cooking site that not only tells you how to make things, but offers coupons for any of the ingredients. So, for the sake of saving money, I recommend you check this out HERE.

I will add that I’ve tried several recipes and ways to make this, and this recipe is also the most conservative in terms of how much olive oil to use.

Messiness:

Eh… It’s not too messy. Sure, potato peels can go everywhere, and working with oil means you need to wear clothes you don’t care about, just in case some splatters on you. But at the end of the day, it’s not too bad.

Budget:

Pretty cheap as far as meals like this go. Olive oil will be the most expensive part.

Simplicity:

Okay, this is my main piece of advice: cook the potatoes slowly and don’t rush them. If you rush them, they turn into french fries. That being said, accident fries in an omelet don’t really suck. Also, the part with the plate takes a lot of confidence. But don’t worry, I believe in you!

Deliciousness:

I mean, it’s a delicious potato-y omelet. What more do you want?

There are few things that make me happier than good food, especially when it’s a vegetarian replacement for something that I spent my entire meat-eating life loving. Which is why I was so so SO happy that this recipe came out the way that it did.

It all started when I was sitting, thinking, “Okay, Natalie, you can’t live off of only carbs. But you also have virtually nothing in the cupboard.” Having nothing at-hand is usually a recipe for healthy-ish eating disaster. But, I put on my creative hat and figured it out.

I started with a base. Pasta was the base for a pan sauce dish earlier this week, so, pasta was out. But with noodles out of the question, I was left with lentils… I really like lentils, but sometimes it’s hard for me to think of lentils as not-soup. And it’s too warm for midday soup. So, I continued to get creative and BINGO: sloppy joes. I used this recipe for inspiration, but then I realized, I was way too lazy to make that work, and I improvised. If you want an extra fresh, veggie-filled recipe, then I recommend you use this recipe. But if you’re lazy like me, and have some spices on-hand, then this double decker vege joes recipe is for you.

sloppy joe vegetarian lentils

What You Need:

2 cups cooked lentils

1 can tomato paste (these cans are usually half the size of standard cans)

2 TBSP dried, chopped onions (in the spices section)

1 TBSP garlic powder

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

What You Do:

Cook your lentils according to the package directions and wash them thoroughly

Mix everything together, lightly mushing the lentils

Put onto a bun, top with your choice of cheese (if desired) and enjoy!

 

Messiness: This was surprisingly wayyyy less messy than i thought it was going to be. With these proportions, the paste holds the lentils together really well, causing it to be less messy than your normal joes.

Budget: Since I had everything at home, it cost nothing! In general though, lentils are fairly cheap, as are the rest of these ingredients

Simplicity: If you’re okay boiling water and stirring things, then you can make these. I also really like this recipe because the ingredients hold together so well you can easily make it into meatballs, faux taco meat, or whatever else your mind can come up with.

Deliciousness: While the taste of a lentil is a far cry from the taste of ground beef, texture-wise, they’re fairly similar. That said, you can easily swap spices in or out of this to make it a meatball sub-type sandwich (which I love equally as much as sloppy joes).

I don’t profess to be a chef, or a person who like fancy foods. I mean, sure, I LOVE a good aged, sharp cheese, but I’ll eat just about anything. That said, I have no idea what to call these. When I explained what I was making, I called it a “type of calzone,” but then someone chimed in, “It’s basically a pizza.” So, I clarified, “It’s a pizza hot pocket calzone thing, but it’ll be good, so chill.” Luckily, the recipe stood up to my bravado.

This is one of those recipes that is super easy, and can trick people into thinking you know how to cook (Men, I’m looking at you). And as usual with most of the recipes I like, you can totally make it your own!

But here’s what I did, and it’s the recipe in it’s most basic form:

hot pockets calzone

What You Need:

1 package puff pastries (I used Trader Joe’s because they come in rectangles, not rounded)

Marinara sauce (or whatever your fave spaghetti sauce is)

Mozzarella cheese

What You Do:

Preheat the over to 400 degrees (or whatever your package suggests)

Choose the size of pockets you want, keeping in mind you’ll be folding them, and cut them

In the center of one half, add sauce, cheese, and any other toppings you want

Fold, and close the edges using the tines of a fork (like when you make peanut butter cookies)

Put in the over for 20-30 minutes (will vary depending on the crust, so just keep an eye on it)

Flip them at some point towards the end (I flipped around 20 minutes and cooked for 30 total)

Take out of the oven, and enjoy!

hot pockets calzone

Messiness: This isn’t really messy, but if you’ve been following this blog, in addition to deserving an award, you know that dough it not my best friend (unless it’s un my belly). So, that part got a little messy, but by “messy” what I mean is “I had to wash my hands.” So it really wasn’t a big deal.

Budget: This is pretty cheap. The dough is going to be the most expensive part unless you’re adding fancy meats and cheeses. In which case, please invite me over. Thx.

Simplicity: So simple, I recommended it as the college guy’s go-to “Hi, look at me, I can cook delicious things!” recipe.

Deliciousness: SO good! Where your traditional hot pockets and calzones are doughy, this one is just enough dough with lots of flake.

A few weekends ago, my dad and I went wine tasting at a winery where they served mostly Argentinian wines (Malbec!!!) and one of them was served with some chimichurri. It was so good that we liked it as much as the wine! Served like bruschetta (but tastes a bit more like tabbouleh), I had to google a recipe and get all of the ingredients on the way home, because we needed it to go with the bottle of Malbec we had waiting.

After looking over about six recipes, I found one that combined what sounded like the best elements of them all, and after a few minutes in the food processor, we had fresh chimichurri. Still working on the food photography (clearly), but I can assure you it tastes 10x better than it looks.

chimichurri

What You Need:

1 bunch parsley

1/2 C cilantro (optional)

4-6 garlic cloves

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 C red wine vinegar

1/4 C lemon juice

1/3 C red onions

1/3 C sundried tomatoes

1 tsp Oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

What You Do:

Get all of the ingredients in a food processor

Pulse until it’s the consistency you want for an appetizer with bread, or to put on your steak. If it’s too thick, add more olive oil.

 

Messiness: This is the messy level of salad, so, if making a salad irks you, it might be smart to steer away from this. But if you’re down with salad making, this will be status quo.

Budget: It’s not super cheap, but for about $5-6, you can have a fresh, yummy appetizer that you would have paid the same if not more to be already made.

Simplicity: I love any recipe that only involves a food processor and comes out tasting like you are a genius.

Deliciousness: Even the meat eaters were happy nibbling on this. I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

Over the last few years I’ve fallen in love… with chickpeas. Whether they’re roasted, or a welcome addition to my salads, or I’m dipping things in hummus, I love them.

I previously made thick chickpea fries, or panelle, but since then, I’ve tried out some new chickpea flatbread recipes, and as usual, I’ve come out believing that chickpeas, or garbanzo beans reign supreme.

This socca recipe is simple, and there are about a million ways to make this flatbread, depending on who you ask. The method I’m sharing is the one I found to be the simplest and among the healthier since it cuts out the gobs of olive oil needed. Also, because I’m lazy and impatient which isn’t usually the best combo.

socca -- chickpea flour flatbread

What You Need:

2 cups besan/chickpea/gram flour*

2 cups water*

1 TBSP olive oil + 1 TBSP more

rosemary (optional, to taste)

salt and pepper (optional, to taste)

*basically, you just need equal parts water and flour

What You Do:

Mix the water and besan, water, and olive oil together and let sit for anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours (the idea is to make sure the flour and water are fully absorbed)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

In a shallow pan, use the extra olive oil and grease the pan

Pour the batter into the pan

Sprinkle on rosemary, salt, pepper, and any other spices you want

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the top browns (this time will change if you batter is thicker or thinner)

Messiness: if you’ve made pancakes, or just regular boxed cake, then expect the same amount of messiness from this. Minimal, but flour is always a bit tricky.

Budget: The besan flour is pretty cheap at Indian markets and lasts for-ev-ver. So, in all, this is a pretty cheap recipe since you likely already have the other ingredients. Definitely cheaper than making your normal flatbread.

Simplicity: Super simple! In fact, I basically just let the batter sit while the oven preheated, then greased the pan.

Deliciousness: REALLY good! Especially if you’re trying to eat healthier and are looking for a bread substitute. I eat it with my salad, soup, basically everything. It’s also got about 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research to get better at food photography (which is so much harder than I ever thought it could be), and trying out new apps. Well, after I made this salad, I attempted to take some pics, and as soon as I got back to my computer, it turned out I had no idea how to use my chosen app, and all of those pics I thought I took didn’t even save.

Luckily, this recipe is really simple, and I only feel like I should share it because 1) there’s a mega heatwave and no-bake foods are so necessary 2) it’s sorta unusual.

So, here’s your sad pic that saved.

And here’s your recipe for a summer harvest fruit salad:

Summer Harvest Fruit Salad

What You Need:

1 ripe watermelon (cut in bite sized cubes or us a melon baller)

1 carton yellow tomatoes

1 carton blueberries

3 handfuls of spinach (optional)

What You Do:

Wash and mix toss together

If using spinach, I also added some salt and black pepper because why not?

 

Now, there aren’t any confusing or tricky parts to this except for choosing a ripe watermelon. If you were fortunate, like I was this time around, then save the excess juice from your watermelon. I had some cinnamon basil on hand so I muddled the juice with the herb, then added two parts vodka, one part juice/herbs, and one part water (or soda water). And voila! A fresh, nameless summer drink to go with your salad.

Messiness: Cutting fruit can get messy, which is why I opted to just use a melon baller. Also, it helped keep the watermelon juice nicely in the hollowed half so I could pour it into my drink.

Budget: As usual, I got all of these ingredients (minus the vodka) at the 99 Cent store, but in general these shouldn’t cost too much since everything is in season.

Simplicity: Are you ready to do the easiest thing you’ll do all day? Cool, then make this. :)

Deliciousness: I know what you’re thinking: Tomato? Really? Yes, really. These yellow ones are so sweet and juicy, they complement the fruity flavors well.

 

Sorry about the horrible, one picture. I’ll keep trying to improve… and any tips are welcome!

The other day I got a very disturbing email. It was a Christmas decor email, describing gifts that I can start making now… in July. Well, that made me realize even though I failed at getting in super good shape for summer, I now have a chance to get in excellent shape for Halloween!

So, I’m doing my best to eat healthy at all costs, no matter what.

This past Saturday, I’ll admit, I was struggling. And trying to get more protein in my diet (I’m a vegetarian) has shown me how little veggies I’m able to sneak in now. It’s a balancing act for sure. And when I was faced with a simple pasta or a tomato basil salad, I chose the tomatoes.

For this, it’s as easy as it gets. If you have 5 minutes (to wash the tomatoes) then you’re done

WHAT YOU NEED

1 package grape, cherry, or whatever tomatoes you have on hand (halved if you want)

A few basil leaves

Salt (I used pink Himalayan because it’s what was around)

Balsamic vinegar

Feta, parmesan, mozzerella, or string cheese (that’s what I used)

 

WHAT YOU DO

Put the washed tomatoes in a bowl

Tear or cut the basil leaves

Add salt to taste

Top with Balsamic vinegar and whatever cheese you want to use

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