November 11, 2015

Chicken-Udon Noodle Soup

It looks like fall is actually settling in here in New England. I can't stand fickle weather (maybe I shouldn't be living in NE then?) - I just don't like when it's cool for a few days then it swings back up thirty degrees! Besides, I definitely look my best in fall/winter clothes ;)

I'm writing this post on a chilly, drizzly day, which is just perfect for this warming chicken-udon noodle soup. Can I just say, I LOVE noodles but I'm very particular about them. There's a certain threshold for thickness and the udon is right at the edge. The kind I used were chewy and absolutely divine but any thicker and I think they'd be unmanageable in the soup.
Chicken Udon-Noodle Soup
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups soup, 2-oz. noodles | PointsPlus: 8
Ingredients:
  • 1 3-oz. package shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 scallion, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6-oz. fresh udon noodles
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp agave (or honey)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
Directions:
  1. Remove stems from the shiitake mushrooms and set them aside. Thinly slice the mushroom caps and set aside. Combine stems, chicken stock, crushed garlic cloves, and scallion pieces in a large saucepan (I used our amazing Cuisinart enameled dutch oven). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Strain stock through a fine sieve over a bowl and discard the solids.
  2. Cook udon noodles according package directions, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  3. Heat the large saucepan over medium-high heat and add canola oil, swirling to coat. Add set aside sliced mushroom caps and saute for a few minutes. Add minced garlic and ginger, saute for a minute or two. Add white wine and cook for 4 minutes, scraping the pan to loosen the bits stuck to the bottom. 
  4. Add stock to the pan, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add shredded chicken, soy sauce, honey, and salt and pepper, simmering for 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated through. 
  5. Divide noodles evenly among 4 bowls and add 1 1/2 cups soup to each bowl, sprinkling with green onions for garnish and extra deliciousness. 
LOOK AT THOSE NOODLES!
Anyone else looking forward to fall? I just love soup weather! AND SWEATER WEATHER!
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October 19, 2015

Meatless Monday: Brown Rice Miso Bowl with Kale and Eggs

Brown rice miso bowl with kale and eggs

Hi, remember me (probably not)? It may have been QUITE a while since I've posted here but this summer had a ton of moving parts and it was hard to focus on anything having to do with this blog - especially healthy eating. After starting my new job and moving into a new apartment in a new part of Boston, I had a tough time staying on track with my good eating habits. Let's just say, it was a summer full of takeout, drinking, and not thinking about Points or my ever-expanding waistline...

But now that summer is officially over and fall is in full swing (YAY) I am back at it and getting back to this blog so HAAAAAAAAI! I'M BACK!

I was just saying how fall is my favorite time for eating because the food is so filling, warming, and delicious. I love fall flavors and can't wait to start cooking casseroles, stews, and slow cooker meals again. Before we fall into fall food (hehehe) though, I want to share this ridiculous miso bowl that I made for a Meatless Monday dinner. It's made up of some of my absolute favorite things: rice bowls, eggs, kale, and miso and I think you're absolutely going to lerve it.
Brown rice miso bowl with kale and eggs

Brown Rice Miso Bowl with Kale and Eggs
Recipe from Cooking Light
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup rice mixture, 1 egg | PointsPlus: 10
Ingredients
  • 4 tsp rice wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 3 tsp water
  • 2 tsp sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups thinly sliced kale
  • 1 cups thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 8-oz. package precooked brown rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup water (more/less depending on how you poach)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (white or black)
Directions
  1. Combine 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, miso paste, and 3 teaspoons water in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. 
  2. Combine remaining rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar in a large bowl. Add kale, radishes, and scallions (leaving some scallions aside) to the bowl, tossing to coat. 
  3. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and remaining sesame oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice, saute 5 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted. Stir in kale mixture and remove pan from heat. Add the brown rice/kale mixture back to the large bowl, stir in the miso mixture, and cover with tinfoil. 
  4. Gently poach the eggs according to whatever directions you prefer!
  5. Place 1 1/4 cups brown rice/kale mixture into two shallow bowls, topping each with 1 egg, sesame seeds, and set aside scallions. 
Brown rice miso bowl with kale and eggs

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July 14, 2015

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs
You may or may not know that July is National Hot Dog Month! And that makes me happy because I friggen love hot dogs. I grew up eating them (confession: I used to eat them cold out of the refrigerator) and one of my favorite dishes was hot dogs and beans which was literally exactly what it sounds like: a bowl of baked beans with hot dog coins mixed in.

Now before anyone comes after me because I put ketchup on this hot dog, please read the title of the post again while I emphasize Chicago-STYLE. I'm a mustard purist but sometimes you just want a little something extra! And considering these dogs don't even have all the quintessential Chicago toppings, you can cut me some slack, right? I can't get behind their style of pizza but I LOVE Chicago hot dogs so here's a healthier version so you can love them, too! Want to celebrate National Hot Dog Month even more? Try these Mushroom Faux Dogs!
Chicago-Style Hot Dogs
Recipe from Weight Watchers
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 hot dog (okay, I had two!) PointsPlus: 5
Ingredients
  • 4 light beef hot dogs (I use Hebrew National 97% Fat Free)
  • 4 light, whole wheat hot dog buns, toasted
  • 4 Kosher dill pickle slices
  • 4 small tomatoes, cut into slices
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
  • sweet relish
  • yellow mustard
Directions
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook hot dogs until charred. If you have a grill, feel free to grill these babies up! I live in a fourth floor walk up, soooo options are slim.
  2. Place hot dogs in toasted buns. Arrange 1 pickle slice on one side and tomato slices on the other side of each hot dog. Top each hot dog with shallots then relish. Drizzle each hot dog with mustard (and ketchup, if desired) and dig in!
Chicago-Style Hot Dogs
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July 13, 2015

Meatless Monday: Broccoli and Edamame Soba Noodle Bowls

Meatless Monday: Broccoli and Edamame Soba Noodle Bowls
One of my favorite things about soba noodle bowls is that you can essentially throw whatever you have in the fridge onto a pile of cold noodles coated with some sort of sauce and it's a guaranteed hit. This bowl is inspired by Stephanie from i am a food blog, one of the most amazing food blogs I've ever come across. She has some of the most tantalizing recipes out there and her photography skills are unmatched. Every photo is as beautiful as the one before and they just add to how delicious the recipes are in the first place.

I'm sure you know (if you happen to be a reader) that I like to go vegetarian once a week for Meatless Monday. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner - all meatless. You may also know that I love noodle bowls, which is why this dish had me smiling last week when I first found it. Stephanie used just broccoli but we had some leftover edamame so I threw it into the mix. I think this noodle bowl is tasty, light, and doesn't heat up the kitchen too much on these hot summer days. 
soba noodles, edamame, broccoli, vegetarian
Broccoli and Edamame Soba Noodle Bowls
Recipe modified slightly from i am a food blog
Serves: 2 | Serving Size: 1/2 (2-oz. noodles) | PointsPlus: 7
Ingredients
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-oz. soba noodles
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • sesame seeds, for garnish
Directions
  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coast. Add broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is charred. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the pan and set aside. 
  2. Cooking the soba noodles according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the edamame for one minute. Season with salt and pepper, drain, and set aside.
  3. Whisk together rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic in a large bowl. Add in broccoli then the edamame. Drain and rinse the soba noodles and add to the bowl. Season again with salt and pepper. Toss the mixture well and divide between two bowls. Top with sesame seeds and serve!
soba noodle bowl, broccoli, edamame, healthy, vegetarian
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July 10, 2015

Chicken Caesar Pizza

Chicken Caesar Pizza
I'm sure if you've read this blog (or if anyone actually does, hello?) you've realized I've got a thing for pizza (I mean, who doesn't?) Despite trying to lead a healthier lifestyle and track everything I eat, there are a few things I just can't give up - pizza being the main thing. Luckily, I've got a resource or two that can help me eat pizza while staying within a points budget and that's when one of my favorite healthy food bloggers, Emily Bites, comes in. She has all these amazing comfort food recipes that are still Weight Watchers-friendly and delicious. Obviously I cruise her blog pretty often and her recipes usually end up in my weekly meal planner. She recently posted a chicken Caesar salad pizza that I just knew I would love.

While I'm a fan of really saucy pizzas, I also like ones that have lettuce on top (like this, this, and this) so I knew I was going to be making this one. I haven't had a Caesar salad in such a long time and it was really fun to throw all the ingredients on a pizza crust and eat with my hands instead of a fork and knife! I eat my pizza with extra garlic powder, salt and pepper, and hot sauce on top but that's just a suggestion :)
the classic Caesar salad turns into a pizza
Classic chicken Caesar salad becomes a pizza
Chicken Caesar Pizza
Recipe from Emily Bites
Serves: 2 | Serving Size: Half the pie | PointsPlus: 15 (or 5pp/slice)
Ingredients
  • 12" whole wheat pizza crust
  • 1/2 cup light Caesar dressing, divided (I used Ken's Light Options)
  • 3-oz. cooked chicken breast, cut into little bite-sized pieces
  • 2-oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups greens (I used a medley!)
  • Hot sauce to taste!
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450f. 
  2. Set aside 2 tbsp of dressing and spread the rest evenly across the top of the pizza crust, leaving an edge. Place cooked chicken pieces evenly around the pizza crust then top with shredded Parmesan and place on a wire rack on a baking sheet and put in the oven (or a pre-heated pizza stone if you're lucky enough to have one!)
  3. Bake for 12 minutes or longer depending on how you like your crust (I like mine super crispy). Remove from the oven and place the lettuce all over the top of the pizza. Drizzle with the set aside Caesar dressing. Slice and serve! Top with hot sauce, if desired - it gives it an extra, tasty kick!
Chicken Caesar Pizza
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July 9, 2015

What to Wear: Clovers All Overs

ModCloth dress, fit and flare, printed
maiden braids, ModCloth triangle earrings
Do you have a dress that makes you feel great when you put it on no matter what? It instantly lifts your mood and makes you walk with that extra little bump? This heart/clover printed number from ModCloth is that dress for me. I love the low back and exposed zipper and how the neckline is cut higher up. It's feminine and flirty and makes me have a teeny tiny waist. For awhile, I wasn't able to wear it because I had gotten too big but now I'm back in it - with room to spare.
ModCloth fit and flare dress, exposed zipper, print, maiden braids
I've worn this dress in the winter with tights and a sweater; in the summer with flats and not much else and as a skirt with the top folded under. It's one of those pieces that is timeless to me and changes with me and the seasons. I've had it for nearly 3 years now and it holds a special place in my closet. I love the print - it looks like little hearts that make up four leaf clovers. I've worn it on Valentine's Day to be subtle yet festive (I'm not one of those red and pink kind of girls).
Colorful print, hearts, clovers
This is my go-to hair when I'm feeling a little FONCY! Maiden braids are an easy way to elevate a look and while they look super complicated, they are SO easy to achieve (well, for me at least - I have a ton of hair to work with). Split your hair in half and make a braid on either side starting around your ear. Tie off each end with a small elastic then bring them up and over the top of your head. Use pins to secure and that's it! Some girls can do that loose, flowy maiden braid look but not this one...
maiden braids - so easy to do!
maiden braids, dainty necklace, triangle earrings
Belting this dress and adding a dainty necklace and simple pair of flats finishes off this look!
Dress: ModCloth | Earrings: ModCloth | Necklace: gifted from my sister | Belt: H&M | Flats: Steve Madden
ModCloth fit and flare dress, black flats, belt, dainty necklace, earrings, maiden braids
PS: This is what I used to look like in this dress. Quite an improvement, right?
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July 8, 2015

Steak Sandwiches with Homemade Pesto Mayo

Steak Sandwich with Homemade Pesto Mayo
Steak sandwich piled high with veggies on a crunch baguette
Steak isn't featured all that often in my weekly meal planner (though beef does make an appearance every once in awhile) but when I saw this recipe on Cooking Light's website I knew I had to make it ASAP. I LOVE sandwiches. Put anything between two pieces of bread and I'm there. Slather on any sort of condiment and pile it high with veggies and I'm LIVIN'.

This sandwich has so many ridiculously tasty elements that it's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so amazing. Is it the thick slices of juicy tomato? The spiciness of peppery arugula? The bite of raw red onion? The shmear? Or is the perfectly seasoned, seared to perfection steak? Whatever it is, I'm singing for this sando. The serving size is technically a fourth of the sandwich buuuuuut, I couldn't help myself...
Whole wheat baguette hollowed out so it can hold more veggies!
Piled high with veggies and peppery arugula

Steak Baguettes with Nut-Free Pesto Mayo
Steak Sandwiches with Homemade Pesto Mayo
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1/4 sandwich | PointsPlus: 9
Ingredients
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sunflower seeds
  • 12-oz. sirloin steak, trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 12-oz. whole wheat baguette, cut in half
  • 1 large tomato, cut into slices
  • 1 small red onion, cut into slices
  • 1 cup baby arugula
Directions
  1. In a mini food processor (or whatever you have) combine basil leaves, olive oil, and sunflower seeds. Puree until mostly smooth and set aside. 
  2. Season with steak heavily with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook the steak 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. I like mine pretty rare as you can see in the photos above!
  3. Combine set aside basil pesto with mayo in a small bowl, stirring until well blended. Hollow out each half of the bread and evenly spread the mayo on both halves. Layer bottom half with steak then add tomato, onion, and arugula. Slice into fourths and serve!
Steak Sandwiches with Homemade Pesto Mayo
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July 7, 2015

What to Wear: Zebras on Zebras

Zebra print dress for the summer
I feel like summer is the perfect time to rock an unconventional print like this zebra print dress that is overprinted with little zebras. Zebras on zebras. I've had this dress in my closet and though I don't wear it that often, it seems to make it through each closet clean out cycle. I told myself that if I didn't wear it this summer, it was definitely going into the donation pile so I guess it made it through to live another day!

I can't wear my hair down in the summer - it's too big, too thick, and too damn hot so I try to get as creative as possible rather than just wearing my standard top knot (not that I don't love how it looks, it just gets boring day in and out!). I tried out some seriously Pinterest-y hair with this outfit and I'm crushing on it big time. Can I be impressed with myself? I think so. I tried to recreate it again and majorly failed sooooo, take a good look cause this is most likely the last time you'll be seeing it!
Crown French braid top knot
Crown French braid top knot
I think every black and white outfit needs a little pop of color so I paired this zebra on zebra print dress with a layered neon necklace that I always forget I have and am always so happy to find again. Since losing a bunch of weight, I've had to either donate or modify a lot of my clothes (good problem to have, I know!) so I cinch the waist of this dress (and many others) with a belt. I love the little black braided belt I wore with this outfit. It has a little bit of sparkle to it and since it's braided, you don't have to rely on holes to close it so I can keep wearing it the smaller I get :)
Neon necklace with black and white print
Black flats
Dress: H&M | Necklace: H&M | Belt: H&M | Flats: Steve Madden
Zebra print dress with neon necklace for summer

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July 6, 2015

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Banh Mi

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Banh Mi
Ooooooh, I am so excited to share this sandwich with you. I'm still dreaming about how it tastes and I ate it last Thursday! A twist on a traditional banh mi, this sandwich is full of pickled veggies and subs in meaty eggplant slices for pork. Crunchy bread with a chewy interior shmeared with a creamy soynut butter-miso spread seriously takes this sandwich to extraordinary levels. I think I inhaled this bad boy - I'm drooling a little while typing this. I can't get this sandwich OUTTA MY MIND!

Aside from the pickling, this sandwich takes about 15 minutes to complete which makes it just perfect for a crazy weeknight meal, especially a Meatless Monday. The original recipe calls for peanut butter but since I'm allergic, I substituted with soynut butter (I.M. Healthy unsweetened creamy, to be exact!) and couldn't even tell the difference. I want to put the spread on everything and I definitely had a few spoonfuls before getting it onto the bread...
Eggplant Banh Mi vegetarian sandwich for Meatless Monday
Eggplant Banh Mi
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1/4 sandwich | PointsPlus: 14
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups julienne-cut carrot
  • 1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/3 cup creamy soynut butter (or PB if you can have it!)
  • 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp yellow miso
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 16-oz. French bread baguette, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Pickled veggies, seared eggplant, soynut butter-miso spread
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375f.
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the carrots, cucumber, and jalapeno slices and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Brush eggplant slices with canola oil and cook until tender and browned, at least 7 minutes on each side. 
  4. Combine soynut butter, scallions, ginger, miso, and lime juice in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Hollow out the top and bottom halves of the bread, place on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown. Spread soynut-miso mixture over each bread half and top bottom half with eggplant slices.
  6. Arrange pickled carrots, cucumbers, and jalapeno slices on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle over cilantro leaves and top with the other half of the bread. Cut into 4 equal pieces and chow down!
Pickled veggies and eggplant on crunchy, chewy bread
Meatless Monday: Eggplant Banh Mi
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July 1, 2015

What to Wear: Survivor

army green top, distressed boyfriend jeans, sandals, personal style

My office is super casual - as in I saw someone in terrycloth shorts and a tee-shirt the other day... But just because some people think basketball shorts and a ratty old shirt are office appropriate, doesn't mean that I'm not dressing my best for work. I'm not wearing a suit day to day, but I think I keep it classy!

I love these boyfriend jeans from American Eagle. I have them in a lighter wash that are a bit more distressed (less work appropriate in my mind) but the dark wash transitions from office to night to weekend very easily. My coworker told me I look like a member of Destiny's Child circa the 'I'm a Survivor' video in this outfit and I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not? Whatever it is, this outfit is making it into my routine again.

I think it's the last season for these sandals, unfortunately though. I got them from Target a few years ago and I'm totally obsessed. They go with practically everything and I have a gold version for classier affairs! (excuse my lack of pedicure #priorities)
cute sandals, cuffed boyfriend jeans, style
Since my hair is so thick and doesn't really cooperate in the warm weather (or any kind of weather), my summer look is a big top knot with a scarf or bandanna a la Rosie the Riveter. Gotta work with what you've got, right? I got this scarf from an old costume department I used to work for and it frequently makes an appearance in my outfits. Throwing a scarf into my hair is such an easy way to make me feel a little more done up, without tons of effort. 
head scarf, army green top
head scarf, army green top, geometric earrings
I pride myself on being a true Maxxinista. I always find great items there and I've had this cargo zip jacket thing for a few years now. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be an actual jacket or not but I rock it as a top zipped up. All in all, this outfit was pretty cheap! YES, BARGAINS!
Top: TJ Maxx | Jeans: American Eagle | Sandals: Target | Scarf: Thrifted | Earrings: ModCloth
army green top, distressed boyfriend jeans, cute sandals, head scarf, style
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June 29, 2015

Meatless Monday: Mushroom Faux Dogs (aka Portobello Pups)

Meatless Monday Mushroom Faux Dogs
Happy Meatless Monday! And happy it's finally-summer-even-though-it-doesn't-feel-like-it-at-all! I'm excited to have an extra long weekend for the Fourth of July because my company is closed on Thursday AND Friday. Three day week for the win! 

I absolutely LOVE hot dogs in the summer (well, year round), especially on the Fourth so when I saw this amazing recipe for 'Portobello Pups' (how cute!) on Pinterest from Love & Lemons I stopped, dropped, and drooled. Marinated portobello mushrooms are grilled to smoky, tasty perfection and topped with a homemade salsa for pure deliciousness. I don't have a grill (yet! my new apartment has a 'grilling area'!) so we cooked the mushrooms in a cast iron skillet and it worked just as well, though the 'shrooms did lack the characteristically summer grill marks. 

I'm a mustard-topped hot dog purist, so obviously these pups were covered in the bright yellow stuff, but you can do ketchup if you're one of those folk...
Meatless Monday Mushroom Faux Dogs
Mushroom Faux Dogs
Recipe modified barely from Love & Lemons
Serves: 2 | Serving Size: 2 dogs | PointsPlus: 6
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced into 4 long slices
  • 4 light, whole wheat hot dog buns
  • Homemade salsa topping
    • 1/2 cup red onion
    • 1/2 cup chopped baby tomatoes
    • squeeze of lime
    • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
    • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Meatless Monday Mushroom Faux Dogs
Directions:
  • In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, balsamic, and mustard and brush onto the portobello slices until they're coated. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large, cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook mushroom strips on each side, about 3-4 minutes until they are tender and juicy. Toast hot dog buns and place mushroom strips into the buns.
  • Combine red onion, tomatoes, lime juice, and jalapeno in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Top off each mushroom faux dog with lots of homemade salsa topping and mustard. 

Meatless Monday Mushroom Faux Dogs
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