Spicy braised kale

Spicy braised kale

I always do this. I tell myself I’m going to lose weight for an event and then suddenly the event is one month away and bummer, I’ve only lost 2 pounds. Needless to say, I’m in that same scenario now. So, I’m on a very strict diet/cleanse for the next week or so and I’m not going to lie to you guys, it sucks. It really really sucks. But you know what? It’s working and recipes like this spicy, braised kale make it slightly more bearable. I cheated a bit with the bacon, but 4 thin slices of bacon for 10 oz of kale is not that much right? Hmm…Maybe this type of rationalization is what gets me into trouble in the first place. (more…)

Refreshing cabbage and jicama slaw…and a note about balance


refreshing cabbage & jicama slaw

Wow…The last time I posted was in March. I didn’t even realize how much time had actually gone by since my last post. I knew it had been a while but when I logged in to write this post I was surprised at the date of my last one. Well, life has been busy, that’s for sure. Too busy for my liking. Sometimes I feel like life is a bit of a whirlwind. It’s easy to say, “Oh things have been crazy!” And that’s definitely true. But the flip side is I haven’t been as intentional about blogging and writing as I should be. It’s what I love to do and when I don’t do it I feel like something is missing. But even though I love it, it takes time and brain power and discipline. And lately I’ve been putting that time and brain power and discipline into other things. And I’ve felt drained. I haven’t had the time (or made the time) to be creative in the kitchen, to work on my writing, to read, to do many other things that make my soul so happy. So needless to say, I’m happy to be blogging today. I’m hoping this will be the start of more regular blogging once again. (more…)

Comforting chicken and rice casserole

comforting chicken and rice casseroleThis casserole is dangerous. Because once you make, unless you have super human self control, you won’t be able to stop eating it.

It’s an old family recipe. I’m not exactly sure where it originated, but I think it was my great Aunt Esther’s recipe. My grandma and mom both make it frequently, and recently, I’ve started making it too. I have to admit, I’d kind of forgotten about it but, the other day, my mom invited me over for dinner with some friends of ours and she made this casserole. I couldn’t stop eating it! It had been years since I’d had it last but, that night, I was reminded of its deliciousness. So, last week when I was thinking of what to make as a last minute meal for some friends of ours last week, this casserole came to mind. It’s a great recipe to fall back on when you don’t know what else to make because it’s always a crowd pleaser. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like it. Even the kiddos like this one. (more…)

Pierogis with bacon and leeks

Pierogis with bacon and leeks

This is the easiest lunch ever. Good store bought pierogis, or homemade if you have the time, a little bit of bacon, one leek, and some parmesan cheese and black pepper, and you have yourself a delicious and EASY lunch or dinner. I like the Delicious Fresh Pierogi brand, particularly the potato mushroom variety, but use whatever pierogis you can find. And, like I said, even better if you have homemade ones. I happened to be making this lunch on the go, as I so often am, so store-bought it was.

What’s not to love about this? Dumplings stuffed with potatoes and cheese, or whatever you like (there are so many different pierogi varieties), sautéed with bacon and leeks? I mean, come on. It can’t be bad. Well, maybe for your waistline, but your tastebuds will be happy, I promise. (more…)

Slow cooker Moroccan beef stew

Slow cooker Moroccan beef stew

Sometimes, after a long day at work, when I’m watching TV (most likely Food Network or The Real Housewives of somewhere), I like to pick a cookbook off my bookshelf and just flip through it. I do this, one, because I find it immensely relaxing, and, two, because it often inspires me to come up with new recipes of my own.

A few nights ago, I was looking through Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Make it Ahead. All of her recipes look absolutely mouth watering, but I found I kept flipping back to one in particular, her Moroccan lamb tagine. This recipe stuck out to me because I love Moroccan food and tagines (although I don’t actually have a tagine), and also because it looked simple to make. As I thought about it more, I wondered if I could make it even simpler by making a slow cooker version. Ina’s Moroccan lamb tagine is definitely a party dish. It’s a show stopper, and although the recipe is easy enough to follow, it takes a bit of time to assemble and 3 hours to cook in the oven. It happened to be the middle of the week, I hadn’t planned on having company over, and I didn’t want to wait 3 hours after work for dinner to be ready. So, I brainstormed a bit and came up with my own slow cooker version of her recipe. I swapped out a few ingredients and traded lamb shanks for beef stew meat, but it still resembles her recipe and it definitely is reminiscent of those famous Moroccan tagines I love so much. Think of it as the weeknight version of Moroccan lamb tagine. It’s just as delicious, just a little less fancy. (more…)

Spicy slow cooker pulled pork with salsa verde

spicy slow cooker pulled pork tacos

I know I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again, I love my slow cooker. I broke mine out this week, after neglecting it for several months, to make spicy slow cooker pulled pork with salsa verde. I was watching an old episode of Mexican Made Easy, and Marcela Valladolid was making cochinita pibil, a slow roasted pork dish that combines onions, citrus flavors, achiote paste and pork shoulder. She made it in the slow cooker and it looked absolutely delicious when it was finished. It inspired me to make my own version of slow cooked pulled pork.

Cooking confession: Sometimes, giant cuts of meat are intimidating to me. But I promise you, this is so easy and delicious and it makes a ton. We had pulled pork tacos the first night and bbq pork sandwiches the second night and I still have enough for a 3rd meal. Not sure what I’ll do with the leftovers yet. Maybe some tostados or nachos. Anyway, don’t let the big cut of pork shoulder intimidate you. By the way, a pork “butt” is actually the same thing as a pork shoulder. Another cooking confession: For years I did not know this. I’m still not sure why they call a shoulder a butt, but whatever, it’s the same thing. A nice, fatty piece of pork that is perfect for slow cooking and pulled pork dishes.

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Healthy vegetable curry

healthy vegetable curry

I figured January called for a healthy recipe. After all, it is the month of resolutions and new starts. The problem is, because it’s cold, dreary and dark here in January, I never really feel like eating salad, or anything cold for that matter. Granted, there are so many things you can do with vegetables besides make a salad, but I’ve been lazy on the food front lately. But this weekend I felt inspired and on Sunday, I spent a good portion of the evening cooking. This healthy vegetable curry was, by far, the best thing I made that night. I also made a delicious beef and asparagus stir-fry for Matt, but it doesn’t really count as my recipe because I used Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce for the marinade. Guys, that sauce is so delicious. I rarely buy bottled sauces, because I like to make my own but, as I already mentioned, I’ve been lazy on the food front this month. If you ever need a quick dinner, marinate some meat or tofu in this sauce and stir-fry it with some veggies. It is so versatile and so delicious. But, back to the veggie curry, the star of this blog post. (more…)

Must read books

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about what I’ve been reading. In January of 2014 I set a goal that I would read 15 books. I love to read but I noticed, at the beginning of last year, that I wasn’t doing it enough. I was letting busyness (and watching TV) get in the way. Setting a goal was a way for me to be more proactive and intentional about making time for reading. I’m happy to say that I exceeded my goal and actually read 18 books in 2014. This year, I “upped” my goal to 20 books. I’m reading Wuthering Heights right now (yuck, so far) and have a lot of other books on my “to-read” list.

Throughout 2014, I posted a few times about the books I was reading. You can read about my thoughts on the books I read earlier in 2014 here. I kind of fell off the band wagon when it came to posting about the books I read, so I’m catching up now. If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for recommendations on good books to read. Here are my thoughts on some of the books I read later in the year. If you read a book that really spoke to you or have any recommendations for me, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

eleanor and park

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Lemon chicken pasta with broccoli

lemon chicken pasta with broccoli

I love Ina Garten and am often inspired by her recipes. I was watching Food Network the other day, as I often do, and an episode of Barefoot Contessa came on. Ina was making all kinds of delicious things, including tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons, which I quickly added to my “to make” list. She also made lemon chicken with broccoli and bow ties which was the inspiration behind this recipe. Tonight I needed to make a quick, satisfying dinner and her recipe came to mind. Only, I didn’t have time to marinate the chicken and I don’t have an outdoor grill. Even if I did, it’s way too cold to be outside. So, I came up with this quick version and called it lemon chicken pasta with broccoli. It combines many of the same flavors and ingredients but it cuts out a lot of the steps in Ina’s original recipe. I’d venture to say that it’s probably just as good as Ina’s, although, I can’t say for sure, because I’ve never tried hers. (more…)

Smoky sweet potato side dish

smoky sweet potato side dish

I’m not a huge fan of traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato side dishes. You know the ones I mean. Those super sweet dishes where the potatoes are mashed and topped with brown sugar or marshmallows or some other sugary topping. They have their place but they just don’t do much for me and, in my opinion, they don’t go with all the other savory items on the plate like the turkey, stuffing and gravy. Maybe I’m in the minority but I generally don’t like to mix savory and sweet things. Which is also why I usually skip over the cranberry sauce as well. It’s not that I  truly dislike “sweet” sweet potatoes, but I definitely prefer the savory side dishes. (more…)

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