November 16, 2015

Quick Weeknight Dinner: Spinach Tagliatelle with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

by ashleyjmorgan

Photo by: Paolo Margari

Before we start cooking, let’s first imagine we are gliding down a canal in Bologna, Italy in spring with beautiful flowers gracing the balconies and friendly Italians waving as we pass. Somewhere off in the distance a man with a deep baritone voice is singing as he kneads dough to make delicious spinach tagliatelle pasta. We stop at a market to pick up the freshest, most vibrant cherry tomatoes, fire roasted red peppers, some robust balsamic vinegar and a basil pesto sauce made fresh that morning by the world’s most adorable grandmother. Of course we can dream up the best ingredients possible, but we all know that I’m stuck in a city apartment the size of a closet and cooking with the best I can find in my local market. I was able to find some amazing fresh spinach tagliatelle, you can substitute dried if you don’t have this luxury. And I purchased a jar of great basil pesto as well as a jar of fire roasted red peppers, both of which should be easy enough to find in most supermarkets. I already had a great Modena balsamic vinegar at home and some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used – and voila, the quickest gourmet weeknight dinner ever.

If you have 15 minutes, you have enough time to put this on your table tonight. The below recipe yields enough for a quick dinner for one or two, but can easily be adapted into dinner for a family of any size.

Spinach Tagliatelle with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

Serves two


  • 4 oz spinach tagliatelle pasta (fresh, if available)
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto (typically found in your grocer’s sauce aisle)
  • 1 whole fire roasted red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 pint grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar

Boil water in a medium sized pot and cook the spinach tagliatelle until al dente, time will vary depending on whether you purchase fresh or dried pasta. In a separate pan on medium-high heat, sauté the halved cherry tomatoes, the minced garlic, and roasted red pepper strips until heated through and slightly browning. Add the basil pesto and the balsamic vinegar to the pan and turn off the heat, stirring constantly until heated through and well incorporated. Serve the sauce over the cooked pasta.



November 9, 2015

It’s Hello Fresh For Dinner…. Again

by jmichael614

I’m a sucker for a good deal and every single time that Hello Fresh sends me their little coupons for 50% off, I jump on it (even full price, these meals are worth it!).  I received the package of 3 vegetarian meals on Thursday afternoon and have made the Tuscan Ribollita and Curried Thai Rice Bowl, both delicious!  These boxes make me feel like a fabulous chef and even though my husband doesn’t relish the taste of Thai food (in fact he refuses to eat Thai), he asked me to pack what was left for lunch.  Too late! I packed it for myself.

The Tuscan Ribollita was a suprise to me.  I thought I was going to hate it because it seemed there were too many veggies and not even spices but it was absolute perfection when paired with the ciabatta bread croutons.  The perfect combination of savory and fresh.  I honestly wish I could have these boxes delivered to me every week because it makes things so much simpler and I always have leftovers in our three person household.

As a reminder, you can check them out here: (this code will give you $40 off your first box so eat up!)

October 13, 2015

Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar

by jmichael614

Can I just say that I’m in love with my husband’s camera!  This (veggie) burger shot makes me hungry.

Sunday night we checked out Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar for a late dinner.  My husband’s coworker told him he absolutely HAD to try one of their burgers and of course the Cookie and I were hauled along for the ride.  My nasal congestion and this horrible sinus infection makes it difficult to be hungry for anything, I can’t smell anything and when you can’t smell, nothing tastes right!

Thank goodness it looked this good because I had no appetite and still finished over half the burger.  This veggie monster is made from scratch in-house! Can you believe that?  They don’t just throw a frozen patty on the grill, they actually take the time to craft a really well-made, flavor-packed, patty. The atmosphere is also very wine-bar-ish in the middle of Sawgrass Mall in Sunrise, FL.  I can definitely see coming here with some girlfriends or guy friends and having a nice glass of red while chatting for a few hours.

Check them out at or on Facebook.

October 8, 2015

QBar Burgers & Blues

by jmichael614

This has been one of those months.  We moved, we had issues with schools and work and car problems, etc.  All together it meant that I haven’t been very adventurous with foods lately.  Ever feel like you’re in this food rut?  Like you don’t want to try anything new because it’s too hard to make decisions?  That’s where I’m at.

Even though I’m not being super adventurous food-wise, I’m at least trying some new places on the “other” side of town.  Today, while meeting with a group of other moms, I was able to check out this amazing little shopping center called “Union Planters”.  They have a Whole Foods and a yoga studio and some other cute little stores that are perfect for an afternoon out with the girls or guys.

They also have a burger place called QBar, it has this open atmosphere, you can sit outside or in.  They also have live music at night which sounds like a great chill evening to me.  Their portobello burger was a little different than I was expecting, it’s fresher and more sauteed veggies than portobello so it was a nice surprise to have something a little different.  They also have the option of switching out regular fries for sweet potato.  You know what they need to make?  Truffle sweet potato fries…. let that sink in for a second.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  Great, now I want truffle fries.

So… if you’re on the east side of Fort Lauderdale near Wilton Manors, check out QBar and all the cute little stores in between.

Oh and give someone a high five if you see one of these floating around.  Do it, seriously, don’t ask questions, just do it.  Plus it’s fun to have random strangers give you high fives.

October 6, 2015

Wooden House, Dohuk, Kurdistan

by jmichael614

Mama Veg travels the world and brings you delicious foods from the far corners you’ve only heard about on TV.  This week, Mama Veg tried out The Wooden house in Dohuk, Kurdistan.  Here is what she found:

Fatoush and tabouleh at the Wooden House in Duhok (Dohuk) , Kurdistan, Iraq. As far as Fatoush goes, this is just about the best I have ever had! Extremely fresh, everything was crispy, and had a nice presentation. I wish I had taken better pictures because this was such a great experience.  We received excellent service, the waiters and staff were courteous and attentive.  As this is middle eastern food, there are some vegetarian choices for dinner but the majority of options are actually side dishes that can be made into a meal if you fancy that.

If you ever find yourself in Kurdistan, perhaps working with refugees or visiting the still-bustling city, go to and look them up!

August 25, 2015

Little Goat Diner, Chicago

by jmichael614

It’s amazing how quickly your plans change when you have a short time to do everything.  We had planned to eat out all over Chicago last week.  That didn’t happen when we got delayed at the airport with missing car seat (we ended up finding it an hour and a half later) and then missing car reservation (it was there but sniff sniff, they didn’t let us go Gold because it was under my husband’s name and not mine).

Finally, we arrived and were so hungry we ended up finding the nearest chain restaurant and shoveling down acres of crap just to put a damper on all the stress we had created for ourselves.  Thankfully, that was the end of the stress and the rest of our short trip went swimmingly.

We spent an entire day in Chicago, if you’ve never been, park outside of the city and take the train in so you don’t pay hundreds of dollars in parking (we found out the hard way).  Do the Willis Tower first thing- before 9:30- or you’ll sit in nightmarish lines.  Thankfully we got this little tidbit before we went and it was a straight shot up to the top.  Don’t bother to do the fastrack line at that time, it’s completely unnecessary during the week before 9:30.

We also went to look at the art and pretty landscaping at the Fourth Presbyterian Church and walked all the way from the water to the “Bean” or Millenium Park.

On our way out of the city we were dying to go to Girl and The Goat because everyone raved about it.  It’s not a vegetarian restaurant but they have some great options.  We were bummed to learn they don’t open till 5- wa-wa (insert sad face).
However, they have an adorable little sister restaurant across the street that is a wonderful diner serving FAT ELVIS WAFFLES.  These are the best waffles I’ve eaten.  They were crisp but not hard and the peanut butter/butter blob on top was the most delectable little thing.  The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the maple syrup that comes with it has bacon in it so please be sure to ask for the non-bacon syrup.

We are so in love with Chicago, from the sweet Bonita, at the Brown Street line that showed my son around the station to the pizza to the Bean and the water flowing through the middle of the city.

I never had a desire to see Chicago before but I’m so glad that I can now say I’ve been able to experience it.  We will definitely be back.

August 3, 2015

Lagniappe House, Midtown

by jmichael614

If the draw of jazzy music pulls you in, Lagniappe House in Midtown, Miami is the place to be.  Great lighting, relaxed atmosphere, good wine and cheese, all make for a great night out.

Google translates “Lagniappe” as something given as a bonus or extra gift.  This place lives up to it’s meaning.  Not only do they have a great little wine house inside but the backyard is a huge open space with tables enough for large crowds.  If you’re looking for something loud and intimate, stay inside for the music.

Lagniappe is a “serve yourself” house.  There is a wine bar where you can order from a variety of wines and then out back is the cheese course to order for your table.  You can order a large tray or a single serving that includes bread and fig jam. You pick out your cheese from the fridge and then they create your plate behind the counter.  Service is fairly quick even while busy.

But wait, there’s more!! Lagniappe House also doubles as a sort of “bed & breakfast” with New Orleans style bedrooms upstairs to rent for the night.  I can just imagine falling asleep to the jazz music as it floats up from the street.  The prices are actually quite good for midtown as well.

This place does get busy, especially if a popular band is playing so get there early if you want to sit.  We’re discovering more and more amazing hidden places in and around Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and can’t wait to try some more.  Get out and enjoy your city and let us know what special places you have found!

Lagniappe House website or Lagniappe House Facebook for more info on what bands are playing and when they are open.

July 27, 2015

Panther Coffee, Wynwood

by jmichael614

If you haven’t yet been to Wynwood in downtown Miami, you’re becoming one of the few.  It’s host to art shows and an unending stream of tourists coming to take pictures of random art all over the sidewalks and graffiti’d walls.

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I have driven through it and kept making a mental note to go but hadn’t made the time till this past weekend when my sister-in-law suggested we check out “Panther Coffee”.  It’s very hipster and packed full of people on a Saturday morning.  In fact, I waited over 5 minutes for a coffee but it’s worth it for the people-watching.

Their outside tables are quite large and even a middle table that resembles a “family eating” style as everyone is at one very large u-shaped table.  Definitely a must if you are in Wynwood and you have to try the Bunnie Cakes mini cupcakes- super cute and gluten/dairy free!

Prices: Think “Starbucks and a little bit more”.

July 20, 2015

Arabian Knife Food Truck, South Miami/Sweetwater

by jmichael614

I like the “dive-y” feel of food trucks, it doesn’t matter how clean or presentable they look, it just reminds me of cookouts and family time.  Some people are over the whole trend but I think they are still relevant.  Especially when you stop at the restaurant you looked up online (Spice ‘N Curry Indian Restaurant), wake your toddler up from the back seat and carry him in, only to realize that the restaurant part of the store closes at 4pm.  4pm?  On a Friday?  What restaurant closes that early?

Needless to say, I was starving, I had a cranky toddler in the back and I was an hour and a half into a trip that should have taken 30 minutes in light traffic.

Just passing FIU, going south on 107th, I saw a food truck out of the corner of my eye.  Thank goodness!  It was middle-eastern and my taste buds were screaming.

I can always find vegetarian options at middle eastern/Arabic restaurants because there are so many choices like Tabbouleh or Babaghanoush or hummus, falafel, etc.  I ordered the usual falafel wrap and waited about 10 minutes (there was no line in front of me) so I was little apprehensive about how it would taste.  I also asked for baklava so the cookie would be satisfied till I got him some nuggets because they didn’t have anything for him- the menu is a little short as most food trucks are.

One falafel wrap and two small bakalava’s was about $11. It was worth it though, that pita had tons of little falafel balls, a nice lemony taste, pickles (I love pickles on my falafel wraps) and just the right amount of dressing.  The cookie even had a few bites of the falafel and asked for more – he never tries anything new.

If you live near FIU or find yourself wandering the back streets of west Miami, check them out: Arabian Knife Facebook

July 7, 2015

Quickie Post: Tempeh Balls in Red Sauce

by jmichael614

Just wanted to share a quick picture of the amazing Tempeh Balls in Red Sauce I made last night.  It is a recipe out of the Emily Skye F.I.T. plan and it’s delicious!  So simple and I never even thought of grinding up tempeh and making it into “meat” balls.

Thanks to Emily for helping me to fall in love with healthy eating again!


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