Homemade Kale Pesto

Pesto | The Casual Classic

I am ALWAYS snapchatting about this or putting it on my Insta-stories, but I have yet to post the recipe, and I feel like I've been cheating you guys. It's such a simple recipe, and it's a delicious addition to pretty much any meal. My favorite way to eat it is mixed with quinoa and a little bit of parmesan cheese. Top it with an egg to make a "quinoa bowl", and you're set to go. I'm not sure why that's the best route, but it's just SO DARN delicious prepared that way. Pesto is also great mixed in with pasta, on top of toast or in sandwiches, and scrambled in eggs. Another one of my favorite ways to eat it is in a sandwich with egg, bacon, and avocado. Talk about a yummy breakfast. 

This recipe can be vegan if you'd like, as I usually make it without the cheese and use nutritional yeast instead. You can use either - it pretty much tastes the same. Also, the recipe below, like usual, is just my guesstimations - I'm one to just throw things in a food processor and continually taste and add to it until it tastes good. You may need a bit more olive oil, or may need extra cheese/nutritional yeast, depending on how strong you like your pesto to be. Don't be afraid to play around with this a bit - it's pretty hard to screw up (unless you add too much salt, so be careful with that one). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed (I have used 3 different types of kale and they all work!)
  • 1 bunch basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4-1 cup olive oil (or more)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast for vegan, or 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients into a food processor and process until completely mixed/chopped up. Start with the smaller amount of olive oil, and continue to add it while the processor is running until the pesto is a smooth consistency, without being too runny. 
  2. Like I said above, you can add more of any of the ingredients, like cheese/nutritional yeast, salt, lemon juice, etc. depending on what you like and how you want your pesto to taste. Make it what you want!

A few of my favorite pesto recipes:

Sweet Potato Risotto (vegan & gluten-free)

The Casual Classic | Sweet Potato Risotto

I made this twice last week, and got so many requests for the recipe, that I bumped this post up so I could get it to you guys immediately! It's a wonderful side dish to steak, chicken, or pretty much any protein that you desire really. It also works well next to a salad, as a base for bowl, or just all by itself.  Everyone that has tried this has loved it. It's super easy to make, and it's much healthier than your normal, run of the mill risotto.

My secret is that I use organic sprouted brown rice or wild rice (always choose organic!), instead of the white rice usually used in risotto that has no nutritional benefits. I also sub out butter and/or cream for ghee or coconut oil, depending on what you prefer. Instead of parmesan you can also use nutritional yeast, but this time around, I decided to go the cheese route. There is no replacement for good old, regular cheese people!

The Casual Classic | Sweet Potato Risotto

Feel free to add, subtract, sub, and do whatever you want to this recipe. It's a great one to experiment with! We actually doubled it (2 cups of rice instead of 1 cup serving that the rice package suggests) because we love having left overs (meal prep anyone!?). The recipe below is just an estimate of what I threw in the pot, but you really can't screw this one up. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes/yams
  • Organic brown rice (or whatever rice you'd like to use)
  • 1 small red onion (or half a large onion), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • Chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegan)
  • Parmesan cheese (nutritional yeast for vegan)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Put in a bowl, pour melted coconut oil over, and dust with paprika, cinnamon, and salt & pepper (I used a generous amount of spices since I like a lot of flavor). Toss in the bowl until the potatoes are evenly covered with the oil and spices.
  3. Place the sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet and put in the over for about 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned and soft.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, you can start on the rice! In a medium sized pot, heat the ghee (or olive oil) over medium heat.
  5. Once it is melted and bubbling slightly, add the chopped onion and minced garlic cloves. Cook for a couple minutes until translucent/slightly browned.
  6. Add the rice to the pot (all of it). Stir and coat the rice fully with the butter/onion/garlic mixture. Cook for a minute or two. Cover the rice with the white wine and again, cook for a couple more minutes.
  7. Begin to add the broth to the rice about 1/2 cup at a time. Each time, you'll probably cook the rice for about 5-10 minutes in between pours. You're going to do this until the rice is fully cooked. I cooked about 2 cups of rice, so I used about 6 half cups of water total by the time I was finished.
  8. While the rice is cooking, we're going to mash the potatoes! I used a food processor, but if you don't have one, you could just use a potato masher or a fork. You want to get it as pureed and smooth as possible. I'll add a little bit of broth to them before pureeing just to help the process a bit.
  9. Finally, once the rice is cooked, add some parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast), and stir well. Last step is to add the sweet potato puree.
  10. Mix everything together well and serve! You can also sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top to make it look nice. Let me know what you guys think below!

Vegan Mac & Cheese With Butternut Squash

Vegan Mac & Cheeze // Casual Classic

Full disclosure: I am not vegan, nor would I like to be (no offense to all you that are, I just really enjoy a good, grass fed hamburger on occasion). The reason I attempt vegan or vegetarian recipes sometimes though, is because I don't like to eat meat at every meal and I really try to limit my intake. Also, when I'm craving some bad food, like mac and cheese, I try my very best to give it a healthy twist so I don't feel like crap after eating it. This one was a huge success!

Vegan Mac & Cheeze // Casual Classic

We love doing some type of yummy comfort food on Sunday's, whether it's pancakes (paleo and gluten free of course), quinoa bowls, or this time, vegan mac and cheese. I honestly have to say, I wasn't sure this one would work. How could you fake mac and cheese? Let's just say I was super doubtful. I got on my computer and searched for some recipes, and stumbled across this one, by one of my favorite food bloggers. 

Now this recipe has a slight twist... It's not your typical "cashew cheese and nutritional yeast" vegan mac. This one uses butternut squash as the main cheesy ingredient, and it was freaking good. A little garlic, a little dijon mustard, some almond milk and nutritional yeast, and the result was a creamy, cheesy sauce. I do have to say though, I used a really high quality, organic, grass fed butter instead of Earth Balance in this recipe. I can't stand that stuff! I also went with trader joes quinoa and brown rice gluten free pasta, which is my absolute favorite. I added some peas for a little extra protein and flavor, but you can add anything from kale to sausage. 

Vegan Mac & Cheese // Casual Classic

I doubled the recipe below as I wanted to have some leftovers. It's Thanksgiving week, and we have barely any groceries in our house and are heading out of town in a couple days, so this was the perfect Sunday meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 bag Trader Joes gluten free brown rice and quinoa pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
  • EVOO (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp organic grass fed butter (or Earth Balance for vegan)
  • 3/4 cup unflavored and unsweetened almond milk (I think cashew milk would be amazing in this recipe though)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or flour if not gluten free)
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp himalayan salt & pepper to taste 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the over to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel and cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out and remove the seeds. Chop the butternut squash into little cubs and toss in the EVOO, salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 35 minutes or until it's soft to the touch.
  3. While the butternut squash is cooking, start on the cheese sauce. Heat the butter in a pot over low/medium heat, and whisk the almond milk and arrowroot powder in a separate bowl until there are no clumps. 
  4. Add the almond milk mixture to the pot and stir. Add the remaining ingredients (dijon mustard, garlic and onion powders, nutritional yeast, lemon, salt and pepper) and mix over low heat until the mix thickens.
  5. Cook the pasta according to the package.
  6. Once the butternut squash is done cooking, mix 1.5 cups of the cubed butternut squash with the cheese sauce in a blender. Puree until smooth.
  7. Add the butternut squash/cheese mix to the pasta and stir until it is well blended. You can also add in the peas, broccoli or whatever mix in you want at this point. 
  8. ENJOY!!