Brussels sprouts are the resident enemy vegetable, but I like including them in my vegetable side rotation every once in a while. I've braised them as a side and roasted them as an appetizer, but I like to find new tastes for them. I googled a recipe for sesame brussels sprouts and found this one, so I went with it. They turned out well and were really easy, though a little more of the sauce wouldn't have hurt.
sesame roasted brussels sprouts
serves 4

1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
fresh cracked black pepper

When I decide what to cook every week, I try to stay away from pastas because as a vegetarian, I could probably eat some form of pasta for every meal, and that could end badly health-wise. So when I was scouring Pinterest for this week's selections, I found this recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen which I had pinned a while ago. I loved the Mexican-inspired dish with slightly surprising flavors. I altered the recipe a bit for myself because I don't like goat cheese, but for the most part kept it the same. These were easy to make and on her recommendation of going with Trader Joe's enchilada sauce, made my life that much easier. It will definitely be added to my usual rotation!
black bean and zucchini enchiladas
serves 4

At her suggestion, I used the Trader Joe's enchilada sauce (it's a whole bottle), but she also recommended this one if you want to go homemade. I hope to try and make it eventually but having the pre-bottled stuff insures that you're going to get a good flavor and saves some time (for the full time employee like me!).

3 large zucchini/summer squash, 1/4'' dice (about 4 cups once chopped)
3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper/garlic salt*
1/2 of a small red onion or 4 green onions, finely chopped
1 15 oz. can/ 2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
5 oz. soft goat cheese (or other soft, melt-able cheese. I used feta)
10ish taco-sized corn tortillas (the amount will depend on how full you stuff them)
12 oz. red enchilada sauce, see note above

for topping
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (parsley or nothing works, too, if you're cilantro-averse)
2 avocados
squeeze of lime

*I decided against investing in these seasonings because I wouldn't use them very often. Instead I just roasted them in olive oil, salt, pepper, Paula Deen seasoning and half of a lemon. The fun part about this is that it lets you improvise to your taste and what's in your kitchen.

Pasta has always been my go-to when I'm hungry, home alone and want something that requires minimal effort. And as much as the 9-year-old inside me still loves pasta with butter and parmesan, I've decided to take my new status as a college graduate to branch out on my quick and easy pastas. I found this recipe in the Trader Joe's cookbook, and the 5 minute prep time and 20 minute cook time is not far off. With one amendment to the original recipe, this turned out to be the perfect post-work easy, filling and tasty meal and my new fall-back pasta.
Yeah, you cook it in wine. In a sauté pan. I was skeptical, too.
red wine pasta
serves 4-6

1 (16-oz) bag of long pasta (spaghetti, capellini, etc), I used angel hair
1 bottle red wine (I used Trader Joe's Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon, the book suggests Zinfandel or Syrah)
4 cubes frozen crushed garlic (also found at Trader Joe's)
red chile pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
4 oz crumbled feta (the original recipe called for Gorgonzola) 
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (optional)
parmesan for topping (also optional)

These cookies are actually healthy. Sure, they have chocolate chips and peanut butter to make them taste great, but the oats, minimal added fat and chia seeds (one of the buzziest super foods of the moment) give them plenty of nutritional value. I used this recipe from one of my favorite healthy food blogs.  
Chia Seed Peanut Butter Cookies
makes about 12 

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup all purpose or gluten-free flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chunks or chips 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

This flavorful pasta salad is a great way to use up any fresh veggies you have on hand. You can pretty much add anything you want because the simple red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing complement almost everything. I decided to make a greek-inspired salad, but to add roasted eggplant for variation in texture and flavor and to forgo the olives usually found in greek salads because the feta already added enough saltiness. Paired with some grilled shrimp, it's all you need for a light summer dinner. 

greek pasta salad with roasted eggplant
makes a giant batch, enough to serve at a party!

1 14oz. box of pasta, cooked according to instructions (I used this one)
1 medium eggplant
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 pint sweet cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 medium red onion, chopped into small pieces
4 oz. block feta cheese, cut into half-inch cubes
3 heaping handfuls fresh baby spinach, torn into small pieces
8-10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Those who know me know I love pizza in any and every form at any time of day. Unfortunately, general logic and my arteries tell me that I can't have it for every meal, so I do what I can to incorporate the same tastes into new dishes. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to make it. With a few amendments to the original recipe, these were a very satisfying substitute (and the perfect appetizer/finger food) for the I-wish-it-was-acceptable three Artichoke Pizza meals a day.
pizza stuffed mushrooms
serves about 4 (as an appetizer)

For mushrooms:
2 packages of baby bellas
4 oz softened cream cheese
¼ cups grated parmesan
¼ cups grated mozzarella
1 tablespoon ricotta
¼ teaspoons Dried Basil
⅛ teaspoons Dried Oregano
garlic salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped white mushrooms
note: as you can see from my amendments, you can really use any pizza topping in this filling. Use what you like and forget what you don't for your perfect pizza reincarnate!

For (optional) red sauce:
can or jar of pre-made marinara or pizza sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more for extra heat)
salt and pepper to taste

He may have a disturbing penchant for orange Crocs, but I'll give him this: Mario Batali knows a thing or two about good food.  I was recently craving some rustic Italian deliciousness, but I unfortunately wasn't able to stop by Eataly for the best focaccia I've ever tasted (and the most reasonably-priced thing you can buy there, I might add). Instead, I decided to try out this Batali recipe from Food & Wine

Simple, elegant, a tad garlicky and of course, fried. Delicious. This dish makes a great appetizer - I'd recommend squeezing a bit of  fresh lemon juice over it just before eating, or pairing it with a side of spicy marinara sauce for dipping. 

zucchini-ricotta fritters
makes 20 fritters

1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used fat-free and it still tasted delicious!)
Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
2 medium zucchini (about 7 ounces each), coarsely shredded
olive oil for frying
3 large scallions, thinly sliced
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, minced
Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Fact: you could put a poached egg on virtually anything and I'd eat it. I'm always drawn to eggs florentine when I see it on a brunch menu, but one thing I don't like about the dish is the not-at-all-healthy hollandaise sauce it usually comes drowning in. 

This recipe is not only really easy and quick to make, but it's also much healthier. Instead of a butter and cream based sauce, fat-free (or low-fat) ricotta melts beautifully into cooked spinach for a much lighter - yet completely satisfying - version of the indulgent brunch staple. Just add a mimosa for the perfect at-home brunch experience.
six-minute eggs florentine
makes one serving

1 large egg
2 tbsp white vinegar
cooking spray
1 tbsp olive oil
4 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach (you can also use chopped frozen spinach here)
3 tablespoons low- or non-fat ricotta
2 slices baguette or good whole grain bread, toasted
salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)

As we've already made incredibly clear here at The Fixation Files, we're pretty obsessed with Deb and her blog Smitten Kitchen, one of the absolute best food blogs out there (and there are a lot out there). So when I wanted some appetizer inspiration for a party I was having, I went straight to Smitten Kitchen to find a recipe that looked good. I ended up making this recipe because it sounded easy, flavorful and relatively healthy. Not only were these eggplant toasts all of the above, but they were also gone within minutes because my guests loved them so much. So thank you for the inspiration, Deb! 
This is a great appetizer, side dish or even main course, if you serve the bruschetta with some mixed greens on the side. 

eggplant + feta bruschetta
makes about 8 toasts - but I recommend making more!

1 medium eggplant, cut into small, bite-sized cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled crumbled feta
1 scallion, thinly sliced
3-4 chives, minced
8 slices of baguette, brushed with olive oil 
1 large clove garlic, peeled and left whole

I've loved standard basil pesto for as long as I can remember. I was a weird child who didn't shy away from green pasta - I actually preferred it to the typical buttered noodles most kids grow up with. Now I love experimenting with incorporating different flavor combinations into the pesto I make, and this recipe is my now my favorite summer variety. 

The sweetness of the peas, nuttiness of the parmesan and decadence of the crispy shallots make this pasta a stand-out side dish (great for bringing to a summer party!) or indulgent main course for the next time you encounter a serious pasta craving. 
minted pea pesto with crispy shallots
makes about 6-8 servings

1 package pasta (I used whole wheat thin spaghetti)
1 ten-ounce package of frozen peas, thawed 
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup of parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup of walnuts (pine nuts work too)
5-6 fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 large shallot, thinly sliced (for garnish)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil, separated
salt and pepper to taste