A Sheet Pan with a Plan: One Pan Roasted Sausages With Potatoes, Fennel & Apple Recipe

If you are looking for a quick dinner that requires only a few dishes to wash afterwards, my One Pan Roasted Sausages With Potatoes, Fennel & Apple Recipe will be perfect for you. Once again, I received a few products from my friends at OXO to use in my kitchen and to share my experience with you. As always, all opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

I love roasted vegetables with any protein: beef, chicken, or pork. This time I used Italian sausages with apples {very seasonal!}, fennel, onion, and potatoes. Everything cooks in 30 minutes and you have very little mess to clean. Be ready for your home to smell delicious!

A few key notes about the oxo products I used:

By placing the sausages onto the silicone roasting racks, you make sure that they don't sit in the fat. Instead, the fat seeps into your vegetables and flavors them! The best thing about these roasting racks is that they will never ever rust!! I bet I can use one of them in my pressure cooker as well.

The non stick jelly roll pan has enough of a lip to hold everything in the pan, allows for even heat distribution, and is incredibly easy to clean. Plus, just like other oxo baking pans I've used in the past, it has a great weight to it and will not bend.

One Pan Roasted Sausages With Potatoes, Fennel & Apple Recipe

5 Italian sausages, at room temperature
1 large apple, or 2 medium ones, cut into 8 pieces {of course remove the core}
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 8 wedges
1 large onion, peeled, cut into 8 wedges
2 cups nibbles potatoes {if you can't find these tiny potatoes, cube regular potatoes into bite size pieces}
olive oil
salt & pepper
whole grain mustard
hard cider

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. Place silicone roasting racks directly onto the non stick jelly roll pan. Place the sausages on top of the roasting racks.
3. Place the apple, fennel, onion, and potatoes onto the jelly roll pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to make sure all the vegetables (and the apple) are coated with olive oil.
4. Roast for 30 minutes, turning everything 180 degrees half way through the process.
5. If you wish to get crunchier texture, broil the meal for a few minutes at the end.
6. Serve with whole grain mustard and hard cider. 

What's your favorite one pan meal??


Meatless Monday: Vegan Laksa With Zucchini, Peppers & Mushrooms With Goya

What if I told you that by buying a can of Goya Coconut Milk or Cream of Coconut you can help feed America?

I've paired up with Meatless Monday Bloggers and Can Do campaign to let you know that when you buy a can of Goya Coconut Milk or Cream of Coconut this November and December, Goya will donate at least 600,000 pounds of food to those in need! Will you participate?

I hope you do! And I have a fabulous recipe for you for Vegan Laksa With Zucchini, Peppers & Mushrooms Soup. This recipe is my adaptation of a recipe for Squash Laksa Soup from Jamie Oliver.

Disclaimer: I received a few Goya products, but am otherwise not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Vegan Laksa With Zucchini, Peppers & Mushrooms Soup

2-3 red chillies, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 inch-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
stems from 1 bunch of cilantro {reserve the leaves for garnish}
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 limes, zested and juiced {more for garnish}
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can coconut milk
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large zucchini, spiralized
2 portobella mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1. In a food processor make a puree from the chillies, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, sesame oil, zest and juice of 2 limes, and soy sauce.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and pour in the puree, aka laksa paste. Allow it to cook for a minute.
3. Add in coconut milk and vegetable broth and simmer for 15 minutes. NOTE: If the mixture separates, use an immersion blender to very carefully smooth out the broth.
4. Add in zucchini, mushrooms, and peppers. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
5. Serve topped with cilantro leaves and an extra wedge of lime.

This was the first time I've ever had laksa soup and I'm utterly in love with it. The flavors are so vibrant! You can make this soup with any other vegetables you like or add tofu. If you don't observe Meatless Monday, feel free to add cooked shrimp or chicken.

I'll leave you with a visual process of how I adapt recipes ;)


Lamb Lollipops With Adobo Cranberry Sauce: Get Read For Thanksgiving

And so it's November. November is the month of my dad's and brother's birthdays and what would have been my grandmother's birthday. It's also the month of one of the most delicious holidays: Thanksgiving! I'll be overseas for Thanksgiving this year, but wanted to share a Thanksgiving related recipe with you I made in collaboration with Superior Farms. They sent me a gift card to cover the ingredients and challenged me to create a recipe using lamb that could make it onto your Thanksgiving table.

Immediately I thought about using lamb lollipops. These are fun to eat and can be served as an appetizer, a snack, or the main course. The cranberry sauce I created has a bit of sweetness and some heat, and can be served not only with the lamb, but also with the turkey, or even on toast with peanut butter!

Lamb Lollipops With Adobo Cranberry Sauce
Makes 5 (easy to double or triple!)

olive oil
5 lamb lollipops (ask your butcher for a lamb rack in the French style and cut it into individual pieces)
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 cups fresh cranberries
juice of 1 blood orange
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons (or more to taste) adobo sauce from chiles in adobo can

1. Preheat the broiler.
2. Heat a cast iron skillet. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet and allow to heat.
3. Season lamb lollipops with salt and smear with mustard on both sides. 
4. Sear the lamb in the oil for 2-3 minutes on each side and then broil until it's golden brown and the mustard starts to sizzle.
5. Meanwhile, make the cranberry sauce by adding cranberries, orange juice, sugar, and adobo sauce to a small pot, bringing the mixture to a boil and then simmering  the sauce for about 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crush the berries.
6. Serve the lamb lollipops topped with the cranberry sauce. Be careful because the bones will be really hot! 

NOTE: there will be fat and mustard left in the skillet which I highly advise you to use to fry some cubed parboiled potatoes!! Don't waste the goodness ;)

Have a wonderful November!


Meatless Monday: Pickled Beet & Egg Salad On Avocado Toast Recipe

Beet lovers, this Pickled Beet & Egg Salad On Avocado Toast will have your taste buds doing a happy dance. 

I'm not sure why it took me so long to combine pickled beets in a salad with eggs since growing up in Russia, there were multiple dishes in which roasted beets were combined with hard boiled eggs and mayonnaise. The taste was great, the vibrant color was even better.

If you think beets taste like dirt, you need to reconsider. Roast a few beets or buy them pickled in a jar and give them another chance.

My twin has posted several photos of hard boiled eggs pickled in the liquid from pickled beets and turned them into a salad. I decided to go one step further and add pickled beets into the salad!

First, you cook the eggs as you normally do. For me, that means covering eggs with cold water in a small pot, bringing it to a boil, turning the heat off, and letting the eggs sit covered in the pot for 10 minutes. Cool, peel, and dunk into the liquid from pickled beets. Refrigerate.

I found the texture of the eggs change quite a bit and become firmer and almost unpleasant. The color was gorgeous, but even after several days in the pickling liquid, the flavor didn't really permeate the egg. 

Instead, I suggest you use regular hard boiled eggs, and then add pickled beets. You'll get the same great color, but better texture.

Pickled Beet & Egg Salad On Avocado Toast Recipe

1 hard boiled egg, peeled, chopped
1-2 pickled beets, depending on size, chopped
mayonnaise, the more the better
whole wheat toast
avocado, sliced

1. Combine chopped eggs and beets with mayonnaise.
2. Top the toast with sliced avocado and beet/egg salad.
3. Serve with coffee.

By the way, the very first photograph in this post shows my avocado tree!! How pretty is it? Have you tried growing one? It's a super long process which has tested my patience several times. The tree will never produce actual fruit, but I love the green leaves!


The Tale Of Two Burgers in DC: Duke's Grocery and DBGB

Do you ever have a craving for a burger but don't want something that's a simple patty on a bun with ketchup and a few slices of pickles for $3 or some extravagant concoction that's served on a silver platter and will cost you $40? Well, I have two candidates that will satisfy your taste buds and not cost you an arm and a leg. 

First, featured above, is Proper Burger from Duke's Grocery. It's made from Angus beef with melted Gouda, dill pickles, charred red onion, Thai sweet chili, rocket (arugula!), and garlic aioli on a ciabatta for $12. You can add a fried egg, but it's not necessarily. 

I like my burgers medium rare. This was a juicy, delicious mess in the best way possible. The only negative thing was that it did not come with fries. AND I could not order fries because Duke's Grocery doesn't have a fryer. Why??? I ordered elote instead. My friend Emily shared her pickled vegetables with me which were a great counterpart to the rich burger.

The burger below is from DBGB. The Frenchie is made with a 7 ounce beef patty, pork belly, arugula, tomato-onion compote, and morbier cheese on a potato bun and comes with fries for $19. If you are ordering this burger for brunch, like I did, get the Bloody Mary on the side and then make sure you have time for a nap.

Where are some of your favorite places to get a burger? How do you like yours cooked?


Meatless Monday: Veestro Plant Based Meals

It's Monday! I had a weekend of yoga, burgers, Bloody Mary, ballet, and shrimp and grits. It's all about balance, right?

I also had a chance to try out plant based meals prepared and shipped to me by Veestro on behalf of Meatless Monday. The meals were sent free of charge, but I'm not compensated in any way for sharing my thoughts with you.

Okay, not that that is out of the way, let's talk about the fact that we all know that we need to consume more vegetables and fruit. I will not tell you to cut out all animal products, because that's not what I do. Instead, I try to have meals that are balanced and some that are completely plant based. After all, eating less meat is good for our health and our planet, and stretches our budget and creativity when it comes to creating recipes.

Veestro sent me the meals frozen with clear directions on how to prepare them. Some required to be simply defrosted in the refrigerator over night, while others had stove top or oven heating directions.

Overall, I liked all the dishes I tried and found them easy to reheat, satisfying, and something that I'd consider recreating in my own kitchen.

The Red Curry with Tofu pictured above was probably my favorite because of the flavorful sauce and surprisingly pleasing tofu texture despite it being defrosted. I recommend topping the dish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Below is Beluga Lentil Braise with kale, peas, and quinoa. I wish it had more lentils than the other ingredients because of its name, but liked the contrast of creamy sauce with the crunchy vegetables.

The Oatmeal Breakfast Pie was big enough for two breakfasts. The texture reminded me of a souffle, and I was happily surprised this pie wasn't too sweet. I had it with Greek yogurt, sliced apples and a bit of ginger syrup drizzled on top. This also reheated great in a microwave the next day.

The Roasted Beet and Kale Salad in my opinion could have used the most work. I don't know about you, but defrosted kale is not my idea of the best salad. I recommend you actually saute the kale and also toast the walnuts before making it into a salad. I did like the dressing that came with it. The Johnny Appleseed juice was just as refreshing and bright as its color.

These meals weren't complicated in their flavor combinations and would be something I'd keep in my freezer for those nights/days I don't feel like cooking. They were easy to make and did not leave me feeling hungry a few minutes later.

What are you eating this Meatless Monday?


Recipe: How To Make Kale Chips

Is the kale craze still going strong? I think so. I do like kale in salads and soups, but I think my favorite kale preparation is chips!

You can buy kale chips, but they are cheaper and better to make at home because you can control the amount of salt and the types of flavors/spices you may want to use.

Last week I strolled through Whole Foods and saw that purple (aka red) kale was on sale for $1! I picked up a bunch and brought it home, where it sat in the refrigerator for a week. Finally, yesterday, I turned that bunch of kale into kale chips.

How to make kale chips

1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
2. Remove and discard the thick stems from the kale leaves.
3. Tear the leaves into large pieces and wash them well.
4. Make sure to dry the leaves very well using a salad spinner, a kitchen towel, or paper towels.
5. In a large bowl drizzle kale leaves with olive oil and season with salt. You want enough oil to lightly coat the leaves, but not to soak them. Start with a small amount of oil and then increase as needed.
6. Put the kale leaves onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 to 25 minutes tossing the leaves every 5 minutes.
7. Once the kale leaves are crispy and have turned into chips, take them out of the oven and sprinkle with additional spices: I used sumac.
8. Allow the chips to cool down slightly and consume immediately

This is before photo. The one above is the after.


How To Cook Salmon: Quick & Easy Salmon In 5 Minutes

Are you interested in eating more seafood and increasing the amount of good fats in your diet? Are you intimidated by cooking salmon? Well, I am here to solve all of these issues for you.

I've been splurging on Whole Foods Atlantic salmon filets for weeks. They are $4.99 per portion and make for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner.

I like my salmon cooked all the way through (unless it's inside a sushi roll, in which case, make it completely rare!). I've found the quickest and easiest way to prepare a salmon filet is as follows:

1) heat a skillet with a bit of olive oil in it
2) put the salmon filet skin side down and season the fish with salt and pepper
3) after 1-2 minutes of searing the skin, add a few splashes of white wine, water, or chicken broth to the skillet (be careful not to splash yourself), and simmer the fish with the lid on for 3-5 minutes depending no how thick the filet is and how cooked through you want your final product to be
4) serve salmon, after removing the skin, on a bed of arugula dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and cut up vegetables of your choice (avocado, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, etc).

How do YOU like to cook salmon?


Meatless Monday: Rainbow Potato Salad

If you believe in eating the rainbow, you'll want to make my Rainbow Potato Salad! This can be a side or a meal in itself, and is perfect for Meatless Monday. If you follow a vegan diet, leave out labneh and use a combination of olive oil and lemon juice.

Rainbow Potato Salad
purple potatoes, cooked until tender, quartered
corn kernels, sauteed in olive oil with finely chopped white onion
beets, roasted, peeled, chopped
Persian cucumbers, choppped
cilantro leaves
salt & pepper
chili powder

That's all! Go eat a big salad today!


Dinner Under 15 Minutes: Salmon & Corn Cakes

These Salmon & Corn Cakes are done in under 15 minutes and use canned salmon! Serve them as a meal or make into smaller cakes for a fancy appetizer.

I suggest that you only use skinless and boneless canned salmon.

What makes this recipe a breeze and allows you to use only a few ingredients is a jar of corn salsa from Trader Joe's because it's full of flavors. {not sponsored, I just really like that product}

Salmon & Corn Cakes
makes 4

6 ounce skinless boneless salmon, drained and lightly mashed
1/3 cup corn salsa, plus more for serving
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
olive oil for sauteeing
a few splashes hot sauce or sriracha
to serve: arugula, cilantro, labneh, lemon slices

1. In a mixing bowl, combine salmon, corn salsa, egg and bread crumbs. 
2. Form the mixture into 4 cakes.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute the salmon cakes for about 4 minutes on each side.
4. Serve the cakes on a bed of arugula topped with more corn salsa, cilantro, labneh, and a few slices of lemon.

Easy. Good for you. Can be served hot or at room temperature. This makes a great Friday night dinner or a weekend lunch.


L'Shana Tova: Easy Dessert Rr Breakfast For Rosh Hashanah

Tonight marks the beginning of a Jewish New Year! Whether you are a religious or a cultural Jew, or just like good food, I have a quick and easy, but gorgeous (!!) breakfast or dessert you can make to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

It is said that you need to eat apples and honey for a sweet year to come. But what if you forgot that you were out of apples!? Well, I used beets :)

This plate above is something I made for a sweet breakfast before work today:

Homemade Labneh With Beets & Honey
1) homemade labneh
2) roasted beets (use apples or any other fruit you have: or a combination!)
3) honey
4) ginger syrup
5) roasted and salted cashews


For more traditional apple cake and honey cake ideas, check my previous posts.


Meatless Monday: Beefsteak Burger At Beefsteak In DC

Are you looking for a vegetarian burger that's light, has no beans or lentils, and is beyond satisfying? Well, then you either must go to Beefsteak, or make one at home.

Over the weekend I took myself to lunch at Jose Andres' Beefsteak and absolutely loved his tomato burger. This was my second time at this restaurant and each time I've ordered the same thing. Go before the tomato season is over. 

Beefsteak Tomato Burger 
thick slice of beefsteak tomato
pickled red onions
caper herb mayonnaise
olive oil brioche bun
extras: avocado and fresh mozzarella

What's your favorite meatless burger?


Chiko DC: 10 Things To Know Before You Visit

It took me a while, but I finally had dinner at Chiko in Eastern Market. 
CHIKO is the first restaurant from The Fried Rice Collective. Chef’s Danny Lee and Scott Drewno pair modern cooking techniques with traditional Chinese and Korean flavors, while Drew Kim provides his passion for hospitality ensuring a unique dining experience.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind before you go:

1) Show up on the early side because by 7 pm, they are super busy.

2) Chef Scott Drewno is actually IN the restaurant and doesn't simply has his name on the website. {Thanks for sending out a tray of snacks!}

3) If you can, bring friends because you'll want to order pretty much everything on the menu.

4) The name is pronounced CHAIKO not CHEEKO :) Chi as in Chinese, Ko as in Korean.

5) There's a sense of humor when it comes to the menu: the restaurant has Meatless Tuesday specials unlike the well 
established Meatless Monday.

6) You mix your own cocktails! Well, at least the Gin & Tonic that I tried (pictured below) that had lemongrass infused basil seeds in it!

7) My favorites: Wagshal's Chopped Brisket with Soy Brined Soft Egg, fuikake butter, and rice; Potato and Egg Salad, Sichuan Spicy Cucumbers; Chiko's version of street corn.

8) Leftovers make for a great lunch: make sure not to microwave kimchi.

9) Make sure to check out Chiko's specials: on Tuesday they had a great combination of corn, asparagus and pea shoots.

10) Superb service. Even better food.


Meatless Monday: Visit to Bangkok 54 and Atilla in Arlington, VA

Do you feel like you are in a cooking rut? If you answer yes, I highly recommend a visit to an ethnic grocery store. Over the weekend I visited Bangkok 54 and Atilla markets on Columbia Pike in Arlington, VA and picked up quite a few fun products that will be great for experimenting with in the kitchen, and happen to be perfect for Meatless Monday.

First up, Bangkok 54: I was overwhelmed with the varieties of rice, sauces, curry paste, spices, and soup packets. Luckily, one of the women at the store was really helpful and explained which curry paste to use with vegetables (yellow!), and also told me to never ever shake a can of coconut milk! Instead, you are supposed to use the solids to saute the curry paste and the vegetables, and only then to add the liquid! Who knew?

I picked up fresh bok choy, lemon grass, three varieties of curry paste, and buckwheat soba noodles. I also bought a jar of pickled pepper corns that are supposed to be great added to a stir fry.

I'm taking bets on how quickly I'll consume a container of Pocky dipped in chocolate topped with crushed almonds ;) 

By the way, Bangkok 54 is a great place to load up on Sriracha and sambal if you like your food spicy!

Tucked behind the parking lot of Salsa Room, where I go salsa dancing, is a Turkish market called Atilla. Interestingly enough, many of its products looked very similar to the ones you'd find in a Russian grocery store. I could not resist picking up a container of pistachio halvah as a treat with coffee or tea.

I also bought a container of labneh, a jar of roasted eggplant, and a packet of feta to top my tomato and cucumber salad. What was labeled as pomegranate juice turned out to actually be pomegranate molasses: I'm planning to use it in salad dressings, marinades, and to flavor black tea.

Finally, I bought a jar of red pepper and eggplant spread that's great as a dip or to use in sandwiches with mayonnaise.

Let's get cooking!


Dinner In Minutes: Gyoza & Vegetables Quick Soup

Need a quick dinner that will warm you up and leave your taste buds satisfied? I have just the recipe for you: Gyoza & Vegetables Quick Soup

Last night when I got home after work, I decided I did not want to do anything but sit on the couch and chill. For the entire night. And I did just that. Plus all the food! It was one of those nights.

I made a really quick soup for dinner using Thai Vegetable Gyoza from Trader Joe's frozen section, chicken broth I made in my pressure cooker from the bones of a rotisserie chicken, some vegetables and a few flavor boosters. So easy. So good. Pretty healthy, unless you follow it up with enormous amount of hummus, smoked almonds, and pistachio ice cream.

Dinner In Minutes: Gyoza & Vegetables Quick Soup


chicken broth
mushrooms, thinly sliced
peas, fresh or defrosted
red pepper, thinly sliced
Thai Vegetable Gyoza, prepared according to directions
soy sauce
lime juice
parsley, chopped

1. Bring chicken broth to a simmer. Add mushrooms, peas, and red pepper and allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add Gyoza to a bowl, pour over the broth with the vegetables. 
3. Season the soup to your taste with the rest of the ingredients.

I know...pretty precise recipe :)



Bake a Difference with OXO for Cookies for Kids' Cancer

Welcome back from the 3 day weekend! Hope you are all rested and are ready to jump back into work...I know I'm not :/

One of the fun activities I did this weekend, other than dancing, brunch, and a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, was bake Spritz cookies! This was my first time ever using a cookie press, and I loved it.

This blog post is another collaboration with oxo. As always, I'm not being compensated for this post: I received products from oxo to try in my kitchen and am sharing my opinions with you.

This year, OXO will donate up to $100,000 to Cookies for Kids' Cancer. Cookies for Kids' Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey. 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies fund pediatric cancer research. Visit OXO or cookiesforkidscancer.org for more information.

The Cookie Press was incredibly easy to use and clean. I liked the fact that it was simple to change the disks and ended up using four flower themed disks to make cookies. Oxo also sent me an additional set of fall related disks, which I'll have to try once the weather cools down a bit.

I was already familiar with the OXO pizza pan, and expected the same great performance from the Non Stick Pro Cookie Sheet. It has a great weight to it, is nonstick, easy to clean, and allows your baked goods to brown easily. 

Finally, even though I have plenty of spatulas, both metal and silicon, this one from oxo was the perfect size for the cookies! It's sturdy despite its little size and has a flexible edge that allows you to easily get under the cookies. Please make it in fun colors oxo!!

My friend Kate sent me a recipe for Spritz Cookies from America's Test Kitchen baking book. I also found it here. Butter, sugar, flour, and a few other ingredients are all you need, and I actually had everything on hand! 

The cookies smelled delicious, were super buttery, and not too sweet. I shared them with my friends, neighbors, and condo office workers.

Let me know how you use your cookie press!


TBT: Postcard From Seattle.

Where to eat in Seattle?

It has been about two weeks since I came back from a week in Seattle where I visited family and friends. This turned out to be more of a vacation/staycation because my sister was able to take the whole time off work and our friend Jenny was visiting from Houston at the same time. We ate, danced, went hiking (!!), saw family and friends, and did some touristy things. 

I wanted to give a few shout outs to some of my favorite bites from this trip.

The photo above is from General Porpoise. These doughnuts were worth a hike from the bus stop. I loved the bright interior, gorgeous flowers on the tables, and of course the doughnuts themselves. I had the lemon curd flavor, and was happy that it wasn't overly sweet. Definitely check out this place on your next Seattle visit.

For a neighborhood feel, a great selection of small plates, and a great Happy Hour, we went to Pair. Make sure to order their shakshuka for its smoky flavor, the gougeres if you like carbs, and the daily selection of cheese. The mussels were also superb. Below are the desserts we shared: an in season apricot cake and a mocha chocolate mousse.  

For something away from the city, pack a picnic and head out to Taylor Shellfish Farms. Don't forget your oyster knife and patience: shucking 6 oysters takes forever but is so worth it. The view is stunning and makes you forget about reality.

And finally, The Walrus and The Carpenter. Make sure to show up as soon as the restaurant opens to be seated. The oyster happy hour is the main draw, but next time I'll definitely stay for dinner. These oysters were plump and sweet and I did not have to shuck a single one of them.


Last Of Summer Meatless Monday Salads: Mango, Tomato & Mozzarella

Summer is almost over, so you might as well enjoy a beautiful, colorful salad before summer tomatoes and strawberries disappear for good.

This gorgeous Mango, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad came about as most of my other creations do from random things I had in my refrigerator. 

I had a ripe mango and a bag of arugula from Trader Joe's, organic strawberries and tomatoes from MOM's Organic, and a container of fresh mozzarella.

Having consumed a large amount of Ethiopian and Thai food over the weekend, this salad was exactly what I needed.

Mango, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad
mango, peeled and sliced
variety of cherry and grape tomatoes, halved
strawberries, sliced
fresh mozzarella
chili oil (I used Nudo)
freshly ground black pepper

That's all folks! Arrange in any design you desire.

Happy Meatless Monday.


POPSUGAR MustHaveBox Turns 5!

Earlier this month I received a gift from POPSUGAR: their August Must Have Box on THEIR 5th Anniversary! How sweet is that? One of my favorite gifts inside the box was this Cheers Lacquered Tray from Fringe Studio...because let's face it, everyone can use a little bit of cheer in their life.

The tray is great to hold a remote control, lotions, pens, or iced coffee, an orchid bloom and some ketchup to go with a weekend breakfast of potatoes, a poached egg, and a black bean & tomato salad.

If you are a first time subscriber to POPSUGARMustHaveBox, you can get $10 Off your first box until August 31st

How would YOU use this tray? 

Small print: 
All current Must Have subscribers are eligible for a chance to win! You can sign up before the end of August for a chance to automatically win a *major* surprise each week from following brands: 
Week 1: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Pehr Designs 
Week 2: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from First Aid Beauty 
Week 3: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Kendra Scott 
Week 4: Limited # of lucky subscribers subscribers will win something from Tarte cosmetics 
Week 5 (8/31): 5 Grand Prize! Limited # of subscribers something from Cambridge Satchel Co + 1 year Must Have 

Disclosure: I received the MustHaveBox for free but am not being compensated for this post. 


The Bachelorette Finale: Meatless Monday Potluck Dinner

Are you watching The Bachelorette Finale tonight? I am! A few friends are coming over for food, drinks and commentary.

Over the last season, I've hosted about 5 such viewing parties and they are always a success. I get a chance to clean my home, have friends over, and the conversation is always great.

Here are a few ideas for potluck dinners you can put together easily that allow grazing while watching the show. 

1. Don't stress
2. Don't do it all yourself: have friends bring a bottle of wine or dessert or a dip with chips
3. Keep it vegetarian for Meatless Monday
4. Use pretty plates and bowls for store bought snacks
5. Don't worry about everything matching

Dinner #1:
Stove top roasted carrots: quarter the carrots lengthwise and saute in olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper until they are golden brown. I kept mine aldente. Garnish with parsley.

Hummus: store bought or make your own.

Beet chips: save the calories from carbs by thinly slicing raw beets!


Baba ganoush.


Sauteed olives with orange zest, red pepper flakes and garlic. {Similar recipe}

Fresh figs and cherries.

Wine: I found a bottle of Moldovan White Cabernet which I really liked.

Dinner #2:
Big Ass Salad: mixed greens, fresh corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, pickled peppers, pistachios.

Cheese and crackers.

Artichoke dip.

Celery, carrots, snow peas.


Chocolate mocha cake.


For tonight's gathering, I'm making deviled eggs, putting out store bought baba ganoush with kale chips, and assembling a dessert with store bought pound cake, fresh berries, and home made whipped cream. 

My friends are bringing over sangria, cold soup, and a few other appetizers. Make sure to check out my instagram for photos later tonight.


Watermelon, Fresh Mozzarella & Tomato Salad: National Watermelon Day

One of my favorite summer foods is watermelon! Sweet, juicy, refreshing, and guilt free. Growing up in Russia, we only had watermelon with seeds, but over the last two decades in the US, I got spoiled and hate seeds in my watermelon ;)

What are your feelings about seedless watermelons? Yay or nay?

Today is a National Watermelon Day, so I thought I would share with you a quick salad I put together over the weekend. This is not my typical nicely arranged salad. Instead, I threw things on the plate and called it a day. It tasted great regardless of the appearance.

Watermelon, Fresh Mozzarella & Tomato Salad: National Watermelon Day

watermelon, cut into triangles
heirloom tomato, sliced
fresh mozzarella balls, torn into pieces
salt & pepper


1. Put watermelon and tomato slices on a plate. 
2. Top with torn mozzarella. 
3. Spoon over pesto and season with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

What do you like to pair with watermelon?


Meatless Monday: Eggplant & Kale "Meatballs" With Smoked Cheddar Adapted From Skinnytaste

Need a quick, healthy and delicious recipe!? Do you stick to a meatless diet? Do you want to use a few random vegetables in your refrigerator? Then you'll definitely want to make my Eggplant & Kale "Meatballs" With Smoked Cheddar Adapted From Skinnytaste

I saw Gina's Eggplant "Meatballs" recipe last week on Facebook and decided to make it over the weekend...and actually did!

I made multiple changes to make the recipe my own:
1) I added kale into the "meatballs" mixture
2) Instead of bread crumbs, I used panko crumbs
3) I used a few extra seasonings 
4) Using smoked cheddar and doubling its amount REALLY made this recipe shine
5) Doubling the sauce amount is a must!

Meatless Monday: Eggplant & Kale "Meatballs" With Smoked Cheddar Adapted From Skinnytaste

Makes ~ 22 "meatballs"

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large eggplant, diced into 1/2" pieces
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and discarded, leaves chopped
salt & pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup water
oil spray
1 egg, whisked
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
0.2 pounds (4 ounces) smoked Cheddar, shredded
2 28 ounce cans of tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, smashed
10 thyme sprigs
basil for topping
ricotta (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add eggplant, kale, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes and water, and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender.
3. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then add to a food processor and pulse a few times. I left mine a little bit chunky. You don't want a paste.
4. In a large bowl, combine the egg with panko crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, parsley, smoked Cheddar, and eggplant/kale mixture.
5. Spray a baking pan with oil. Form "meatballs" using an ice cream scoop and then rolling them into uniform balls.
6. Bake the "meatballs" for 25 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, simmer tomato sauce with garlic and thyme sprigs in the same skillet you sauteed the vegetables. Make sure to cover the skillet with a lid to avoid tomato sauce splattered all over your stove.
8. Once the "meatballs" are done, remove the garlic and thyme from the tomato sauce, add your "meatballs," and simmer covered for about 10 minutes. 
9. Serve the "meatballs" with fresh ricotta and basil.

This was such an easy recipe to make. My condo smelled amazing, and I'll be having these "meatballs" for lunch with roasted butternut squash this week. Of course you can serve them over spaghetti or rice, and they'd be great in a sandwich topped with even more smoked Cheddar!