Monday, April 29, 2013

Sesame Kale Macro Bowl

I have a little confession to make.  I'm a LOT obsessed with Native Foods!  Everything is so delicious that Matt and I have been known to go twice in a weekend!  And the carrot cake cupcakes are incredibleeeeeeee!!!!!  But my favorite part is how good I feel after eating there!

Part of my passion for cooking comes from having a stomach that makes things that are wonderful (eg. macaroni and cheese or chocolate chip cookies or a super burrito with sour cream and cheese) sound like a bad, bad, very bad day!  When I cook for myself, I get to use ingredients that make me feel maaaaahvelous!  And most things at Native Foods fit that description too (hence the few too many carrot cake cupcakes).

One of my favorite dishes is the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl.  It sounds so... healthy... and it is!  But it's also delicious. I have a love of all things pickled, so  I think the sauerkraut is the key.  I decided to make my own version and got the idea for the tahini sauce here!  Voila!


1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup quinoa
A bunch of kale chopped into bite size pieces
1 clove garlic, microplaned tiny (probably not a real word but you get it, right?)
The same amount of fresh ginger, also microplaned (tiny)
4 tablespoons of Tahini
A splash of apple cider vinegar
Tempeh cut up into bite-size pieces
Sesame oil
Soy sauce


  • Cook the quinoa/rice according to your usual method. (I do twice as much water as rice and add more if needed while simmering)
  • Steam the kale
  • Cook the tempeh in a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil until browned
  • Mix the ginger, garlic, tahini, vinegar, and some water to thin it out
  • Assemble your bowl!
  • Rice on the bottom, kale on the next layer, sauerkraut next, tempeh, and drizzle your tahini sauce on top!
Easy and yummy. And nice to look at!  Drink it with a nice glass of wine and then, because you've been so very healthy, maaaaaybe some ice cream for dessert :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Asparagus and Almond Pesto

I discovered this recipe on the cover of Fine Cooking Magazine while in line at the grocery store and it was just so beautiful, I had to get out of line and go back into the store to get the ingredients to make it!

I'm glad I did because it was just as pretty and delicious as it looked!

The magazine called for Parmesan in the pesto (left it out), grape tomatoes (I used a mix of grape and yellow heirloom), and the original recipe was made with linguine instead of spaghetti squash.

If you haven't tried spaghetti squash, you absolutely must!  You're bound to see a lot of squashy posts on here due to my fervent passion for the vegetable in any color, shape, size, or season! I have to say that squash in spaghetti form is one of the most easy and fun ways to eat it.

Here we go!


1 spaghetti squash
3/4 pound of asparagus
2 cups of the prettiest tiny tomatoes you can find
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Sea salt 
Olive Oil

Spaghetti Squash:

I'm not kidding... it's really REALLY easy!
  • Pick out a nice spaghetti squash (bright yellow and heavier-than-it-looks means it's a good one)
  • Bring it home.
  • Stab your nice spaghetti squash with a fork several times on all sides (it won't mind)
  • Microwave it for 5 minutes.
  • CAREFULLY turn it over and microwave another 5 minutes.
  • Turn it again and another 3-5 minutes in the micro.
  • You'll know it is done when it gives a little when you poke it.
  • Wait for it to cool a bit and carefully cut it in half
  • Scoop out the seeds and mushy stuff in the middle
  • (Here's the fun part) Rake a fork through the squash and you'll see magical spaghetti squash strands appear!  
  • Set your spaghetti aside for later

Pesto and Veggies:

  • Preheat your oven to 425
  • Cut the bottom half-inch or so off of the asparagus (in my picture below, I cut it into chunks too early and later had to separate the stems and tips by hand!)
  • Place the asparagus and tomatoes on a baking sheet with some olive oil and sprinkle some salt
  • Bake for approximately 18 minutes until the tomatoes are nice and wrinkly and the asparagus is bright green and a little toasty
  • Toast your almonds for about 10 minutes on another baking sheet
  • Set aside the tomatoes
  • Set aside the asparagus tips. Chop up the asparagus stems
  • Set aside 2 tablespoons of toasted almonds
  • Grind up the rest of the almonds in the magic bullet
  • Add the following into your magic bullet along with your ground almonds:
    • Asparagus stems
    • Basil
    • Olive oil to taste and consistency
    • A little salt
    • (if you're a cheese person, you can add 2 tablespoons of grated parm here)
  • Blend it up!  I had to stop, shake it, and add olive oil a few times.

Finishing Touches:

  • Mix the pesto with the spaghetti squash.
  • Add some water if the pesto is more paste-y than saucy. (Rachael Ray would tell you to add starchy pasta water but since we don't have any, regular water works just fine!)
  • Garnish with the asparagus tips, tomatoes, and the rest of the toasted almonds
Enjoy your masterpiece with some vino and keep up the good cooking, good looking!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thanksgiving in April

It's always nice to give thanks, and it's especially nice for an extra occasion to eat stuffing and potatoes covered in marshmallows.

So when my friend Emily decided to have a Thanksgiving Potluck for her birthday last weekend, I was more than a little excited!

I was planning on making THIS and actually serving it IN a pumpkin! But it's almost impossible to find a pumpkin in April so I was a little relieved when I was assigned cranberry sauce.

Except then I realized... it's almost impossible to find cranberries in April too!

Matt said "So we'll just buy a can, right?"

I said "Nay! Boo!"

He said "We can like, take it out of the can and serve it on a plate to make it nice"

I said "Are you crazy!? We're going on a scavenger hunt to find cranberries. Real, actual cranberries."

In hindsight, i'm not actually sure which idea was crazier...

It turned out to be more difficult to find a can of cranberry sauce than a bag of frozen cranberries so the home-made way won in the end! My apologies to any of those families out there who swear by the gelatinous tower of cran.  It's really so easy to make it yourself!  And what could be a better excuse to mix practically equal parts sugar and fruit together than Thanksgiving in April!?

 Homemade Cranberry Sauce

12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 orange

Boil the water and simmer with the sugar until it is dissolved.  Add the cranberries. Add some orange zest to taste. You can even squeeze some of the orange juice in.  Wait a few minutes and the berries start popping!  After about 10 minutes, when all of the berries have popped and the liquid is half reduced and starts to thicken, remove from the heat and cool in a bowl.  As the sauce cools, it will thicken by itself.  Keep it cool in the fridge until you're ready for your Thanksgiving feast!

Everything else that everyone brought, incidentally, was AMAZINGDELICIOUS as you can tell from the table!

Happy Birthday, Emily! Thanks for Thanksgiving!

Princess hats should be a Thanksgiving tradition!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Short and Sweet and Souper

When i'm on my way home from work, absolutely starving, the only thing that keeps me from driving right past my apartment to Rubio's or omg Native Foods (at least most of the time) is knowing that I have so many delicious things waiting in my fridge to combine into an amazing new creation!  The best thing for one of these occasions is usually something short and sweet, so i'll keep this post just that!

Short and Sweet Squash Soup


Butternut Squash (Mine came in cubes from a bag from Trader Joe's)
1 to 1.5 cups soy milk
Small bunch of parsley leaves
3 or 4 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
Smoked paprika for sprinkling (If you haven't tried it before, you simply must!)


  • Steam the squash according the TJ's bag. Leftover baked squash also works well. No time to bake squash when you're already hungry!
  • Add squash cubes, parsley, sage, shallot, salt, and pepper to magic bullet cup.
  • Blend for about 25 seconds until smooth.
  • Pour into a bowl and garnish with extra sage and smoked paprika.
For some crunch and added gourmet-ocity, make some garlic toasts for dipping:

Garlic Toasts:

  • Slice a few diagonals off of a baguette.
  • Brush with olive oil.
  • Put under the broiler for about 1 minute. Keep checking on it until toasted.
  • Once cool to touch, rub half a garlic clove on the toasts.

Enjoy your soup about 10 minutes after you started making it! I had it with some leftover risotto :)
Bon appetit!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Risotto So Crazy it Just Might Work!

A few months ago I made Risotto for the first time.  Specifically, THIS risotto.

And I was in loooooove.

Lately, i've been craving more.  With a gigantic, final grad school paper standing between me and the rest of my life as a "real grown-up" I thought the time consuming task of risotto preparation would just be irresponsible.  But earlier this week I had a brief reprieve from the crazy project and before I had a chance to collapse in a paper-editing induced stupor on my living room floor, I declared:

"Tonight, I am making risotto!"

The leftover asparagus spears were egging me on from their spot in the refrigerator anyway.

The only problem was, this risotto calls for things like mushrooms, artichoke, white wine, and um... Arborio rice.  When I took stock of my food storage situation, I realized I was missing most of the ingredients that make risotto risotto!

But powering through an entire paper looking for extra/missing commas and periods in the phrase "et al.," for several hours gave me the sense that I really deserved this risotto and I was going to make it work!

So, I swapped the mushrooms and artichoke for some leftover shallot, the white wine for RED!

The biggest challenge was that I only had a tiiiiiiiny bit of Arborio rice; clearly not enough for a big pot of risotto. So I decided to mix it with Quinoa!

All in all, it turned out to be SO good!  This recipe is creamy, buttery, nutty, light, and a little tangy! (And of course, lactose free!)

And besides the deliciousness, there are secret benefits of risotto.  You have to know, risotto takes TIME.  You have to watch it, and stir it, and love it, and take care of it so it doesn't burn and stick to the pot.  And the undivided attention you have to give it creates sort of a meditation like state. It's all very Zen. And don't forget all the calories you burn from the stirring!

That being said, making risotto is basically just like going to a yoga class.
So mix, stir, eat, and then have a little savasana for dessert!

Risotto So Crazy it Just Might Work


About 2/3 cup of Arborio Rice 
About 2/3 cup of Quinoa
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I prefer home made but in this case, Better than Bullion)
1/4 cup of red wine
Half a shallot, chopped 
Half a cup of chopped onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
A few sage leves
3 tablespoons "butter"
Olive oil (as needed)
A bunch of asparagus spears, cut into  2-inch pieces
A splash of milk (I used soy)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Get out two cooking pots: one larger for your risotto, one smaller for your stock. Get out a ladle or scoop. (I like to use a 1/2 cup measuring cup). Like so:

  • Bring the stock to a simmer then turn it down so the stock stays hot but not boiling the whole time you're cooking.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of the "butter" with some olive oil in your bigger pot until hot
  • Add shallot and onion. Cook until almost translucent.
  • Add garlic, sage, and asparagus.
  • Cook for about 4 minutes.  You don't want anything to burn.
  • Take out the veggies/herbs and put them in a separate bowl.
  • Add a little more olive oil to your big pot.
  • Pour in the rice/quinoa and mix together.
  • Cook until just toasted.
  • Add the wine. Stir it up.
  • When the wine is absorbed, add 1/2 a cup of the stock. 
  • Stir, stir stir until absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup and stir it up...
  • Keep adding 1/2 a cup at a time and stirring constantly.  If you forget, your risotto will burn and you will cry :(
  • Once most of the stock is absorbed, check your quinoa to see if it's soft.  If it isn't add the rest of the stock and cover the pot for a few minutes.  Then stir and stir until all absorbed.
  • Add the veggies back in, add the milk, and a tablespoon of "butter" and stir some more

Bon appetit!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Matt's Birthday Dinner Extravaganza!

Matt was in the frozen tundra (opening day for the Detroit Tigers) on his real birthday, so I decided a really awesome belated birthday dinner was the best thing to do!

My goals in planning a menu are to cook things that taste really good, are at least semi-healthy, and also leave us feeling really good!  Which is why we don't eat a lot of things meat-related and I don't eat anything lactose-related. so coming up with a menu is always a bit of a challenge. Good thing i'm usually up for a challenge!

So without further adieu, I present...

Matt's Happy 28th Birthday Dinner!

He liked the menu!


Fresh Tomato Bruscetta

Recipe adapted from my mom

Cut angled slices from a baguette.
Brush with olive oil.
Put on a cookie sheet (NOT with parchment paper. You will burn down your house.)
Put in the broiler. 
Do not step away from the broiler. It helps to keep your hand on the oven handle and not let go until your bread is nice and toasty. If you let go, it will probably burn.
Let the toasted bread sit out until cool enough to touch.
Rub a cut-in-half garlic clove on the toasty bread.
Put these things in your magic bullet and make it go:

It will look yucky. Drain out the water in a mesh strainer. It will look pretty.
Top the toasts with the tomato/basil mixture.
Eat them all. 
Share some with the birthday boy too.

Asparagus and Marinated Artichoke Salad

Adapted from Curtis Stone
(It was so good I forgot to stop and take a picture!)

Blanch 20 asparagus spears and 2-inch cut stems in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl of ice water.
Dry in a colander with a paper towel.
Put in a bowl with some mixed greens.
Add some chopped marinated artichoke (Mine came from a jar from Trader Joe's)

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil (recipe called for sunflower oil but it was crazy expensive!)
Half of a shallot
Mix it up until the shallot is chopped in the magic bullet!

Toss the dressing with the salad and help yourselves to seconds!

Main Course

Mustard Glazed Salmon in Phyllo

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Cut raw salmon into portion-sized rectangles
Remove the skin 
(Does anyone know the best way to do this? I have such a hard time! Maybe I need a set of kitchen knives that didn't come with a box of Omaha Steaks)
Season with salt and pepper
Brush with dijon mustard
Set salmon aside to focus on the phyllo

Here's what I learned about phyllo:
It comes in a roll of very thin, square sheets.
It dries out very quickly.  Keep the sheets under a damp paper towel and work fast!

Melt some "butter" in a bowl in the microwave (I used vegan "buttery spread")
Put one sheet out on a work surface (I used a plastic cutting board)
Brush with the butter.
Add another sheet.
Brush with butter.
Repeat with about 8 sheets.
Cut the square in half so you have two rectangles.

Put your salmon in the middle of the rectangle and fold it up like a package.
Set in a greased baking dish and brush the top with oil.

Bake at 325 for approximately 20 minutes until the dough is nice and flaky and the fish is just done.

PLEASE wait for it to cool down before digging in to the flaky, tangy, buttery deliciousness!


"Killer" Pumpkin Pie

(Disclaimer: If you knew my track record for baking, you'd think I was crazy for attempting to bake a pie. From scratch. In high school, my parents came home to the kitchen covered in melted marshmallow, and me, crying on the kitchen floor covered in a failed fondant experiment. So I approach baking projects with an air of "Well at least there's ice cream in the freezer!")

 The crust!

 The filling! The recipe said mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. I say Bah Humbug to extra dirty dishes! Beat the scrambled eggs in the empty pumpkin can.

 The recipe made a little too much filling!  This was a full pie!

 I got it into the oven without spilling it!  Then I realized the recipe said to put the pie on a cookie sheet in the oven.

So I spilled the pie on the oven door putting it on a cookie sheet. (It could have been a lot worse)
Pie time!  Enjoy while watching "Waiting for Guffman"

The Table

 Some people decorate their table with little chocolates or confetti. When I make you birthday dinner, you get new earplugs!

 Le Menu

Happy Birthday to Youuuuu!
I love that guy!
 (right before we burned our tongues on the scorching yet scrumptious salmon)

To many more happy birthdays to come!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lazy Breakfast for Dinner

Sometimes, after a long week full of overscheduled patients, schoolwork, and lack of sleep, cooking something spectacular sounds particularly UNspectacular.

And that's where Breakfast for Dinner comes in!

Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite dinners.  I remember when I was growing up, my mom (and gourmet-goddess-cooking-inspiration-extraordinaire) would make breakfast for dinner once in awhile and it always felt like a special occasion!

For a brief, dark period of time as a college sophomore without a meal plan, I pretty much ate (burnt or undercooked) scrambled eggs every night, except for a brief foray into a creation I like to call "sauteed salad with marinara previously opened yet not refrigerated" so breakfast for dinner wasn't quite so novel...

But now, it's still my favorite easy, quick, comfort food dinner :)

Sometimes, it's pancakes, sometimes it's oatmeal, sometimes it's a bagel with all the fixings, but tonight, it was:

The Supereasy Magic Bullet Omelet

Not much to look at, but SUPER yummy!  Someday i'll master the art of the perfectly fluffy, round omelet, but until then, i'll enjoy mine slightly lumpy :)

Crack 2 eggs into the magic bullet cup
Add some veggies or herbs (I was short on veggies so I used fresh garlic and sage)
Blend it up
Pour into pan heated with oil (I used coconut. In a spray can. From Trader Joe's. AMAZING!)
Use your spatula to pull the edges in, and turn the pan so the egg fills in the gaps.
Cover with a pot lid for a minute or so.
Flip the omelet 
(Flip carefully. But don't be too hard on yourself if you break it. It's still going to taste delicious!)
Cook until the other side starts to brown.
Put some shredded cheese (or soy cheese for my lactose intolerant amigos)
Put the lid back on the pan until the cheese melts.
Fold the omelet over.
Eat it!
I like to eat it with a little tabasco sauce.

...and maybe a glass of wine...
it's ok because it's dinner (wait, I thought you said it was breakfast...)
and it's friday!

Happy Weekend!

Stay tuned for Matt's Amazing Exciting Belated Birthday Dinner soon!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Espinicas con Garbanzos!

I just have to say, before I say anything else...


I got the recipe from, once again, the amaaazing Deb from Smitten Kitchen.

You can click on the link to see it.

I made a few little changes...
I didn't buy enough spinach so I used some of the mixed greens I bought for the fennel salad.
I used sourdough bread (From the bread pitcher!) instead of sandwich bread because it was all I had.
And then when it was ready, I ate it with a little leftover piece of fried sourdough. YUM!


The smoked paprika was a perfect touch!

This would make AMAZING appetizers!  You could serve them on little toasts with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and the entire tray would be gone in 5 seconds!

This was also a really quick recipe to make!  You can make all of it in one pot plus the magic bullet so it's easy to clean up after too.  I was starving when I left work and was about to forgo the recipe for a Rubio's burrito but after reading through, I realized the recipe was simpler than it looked.  It probably took 20 minutes from garbanzo can opener to bon appetit.

I was actually a little sad when I finished my plate... I think i'm off to get seconds!

P.S.  I discovered some great new cooking music today. I heard about FreshlyGround on NPR on my way home from work. They're kind of like No Doubt from the 90s but they're from Africa and sound like nothing else!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Catch up!

The past few weeks have been busy but i've been cooking anyway! I've rekindled a passion for my favorite cooking apparatus... The Magic Bullet!  I saw the infomercial the other day and realized I could do so many things i'd never tried.  This thing is seriously magic.  So far, i've made tons of smoothies, sorbet, omelets, pasta sauces, and used it to chop onions/garlic/sage to spice things up :)

This was for the second-to-last-night of Passover at Matt's house:

More Matzah pizza...

Then there was the last night of Passover:

Mustard Potato and Green Bean Salad

Blanche the green beans and boil the potatoes for about 12 minutes.
Cool the veggies.
Mix together dijon mustard, lemon juice, and chopped shallot.
Cut the potatoes into chunks and cut the green beans in half.
Mix the mustard sauce with the veggies.

Mixed Veggie Tofu Soup

This recipe actually came from an Acai juice cleanse recipe book Matt bought at Costco.  We modified it with the tofu to add some protein since we weren't juice cleansing:

Pick your veggies!
We used shallot and a bag of mixed veggies from Trader Joe's (carrot, broccoli, cauliflower).
Cook in vegetable stock until soft. Add in whatever spices you want (we used garlic, salt, and pepper).
Place in blender and add cubes of silken tofu. (we used 3/4 of a regular box of tofu).

If you blend hot things in a regular blender, it forms a terrible vortex of death that will explode and burn you if you don't do it properly!  Take the circular insert out of the blender top before turning it on and hold a folded up kitchen towel over the hole. Hold it while you blend. Prevents splashes and lets the air flow through so you don't end up with vacuum-sealed-explosion-death soup.

Put it all back in the pot and cook it a few more minutes. Pour into bowls and enjoy with your boyfriend and his parents who said they weren't hungry until they smelled the soup and then finished it all!

Another time, I made cantaloupe sorbet!  I didn't get a picture of it, but you can see the other half of the cantaloupe that I just ate out of the rind with a spoon!

 Magic Cantaloupe Sorbet

Freeze chunks of cantaloupe.
Put in magic bullet along with some coconut water (or rum...)
Squeeze in some lime juice
Put the lime in the coconut and mix it all up
Blend it in the bullet!

I didn't cook this, but I went to a party that served mashed potatoes in a martini glass and had a table of toppings next to it. My new favorite way to eat mashed potatoes!

Last night, I made two very yummy recipes!

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Adapted from a bunch of recipes I googled...

Mix roasted squash, soy cheese, chopped sage, salt, pepper, and egg white together. 
Place little spoonfuls on a wonton wrapper.
Wet two sides of the wrapper and fold over to press it closed.

These ones turned out a little floppy and not so structurally sound... so I ended up folding the edges over with more water again.

 After boiling them in a pot of water for 3 minutes, I pan fried them in some garlic-infused olive oil.

Served with some soy parmesan and chopped sage. Soooooooo delicious!

Then there is this salad, from the incredible Smitten Kitchen!

Endive and Celery Salad with Fennel Vinaigrette

Always wanted try an Endive!

Someday i'll have beautiful serving dishes, but when i'm making a giant salad for the week just for me, a big tupperware does the trick!

 The fennel salad dressing was so fun to make! I ground the seeds with the magic bullet :)

I used mixed greens instead of frisee because I don't enjoy eating weeds... no offense, frisee.

Unrelated to cooking... but I bought a loaf of sourdough in a paper bag and realized I was out of plastic baggies... Necessity is the mother of invention!

That's all for now! I'm off to eat some leftovers!