Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies: New Year, New Recipes

Remember my resolution to make more new recipes this year!? Well, Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies is the latest one I tried. I literally baked these cookies this morning before going to work.

Here's what happened:
1) I saw a link for Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies on The Nosher Facebook which led me to 
2) Hey Alma website and to 
3) Sonya Michelle Sanford's website and instagram.

I already knew I love tahini cookies, so adding chocolate chunks and salt to them made perfect sense!

The recipe was incredibly easy: I made the dough last night after eating steak/potatoes/asparagus/Prosecco dinner I made for myself for Valentine's day. The dough needed to be refrigerated for 24 hours, but overnight worked out just fine.

I scooped the dough this morning as I was getting ready for work and brewing coffee, and putting on makeup, and attempting to straighten my hair.

These cookies are so good!!! Please use chocolate chunks as the recipe mentions and not chocolate chips. Next time I'll add pecans.

I love when I make a new recipe and it works!!! I brought some to work to share ;)


Winter Salad

Winter salads can be as colorful, flavorful, and delicious as spring or summer salads.

Over the weekend I combined a few random ingredients from my refrigerator and pantry in a large bowl and liked it so much, I decided to remake it, plate it nicely and photograph it in order to share with you. You are welcome.

Winter Salad
baby spinach
Cara Cara orange segments
red pepper, thinly sliced
pecans, toasted
dressing: whole grain mustard, remaining juice from segmenting the orange, olive oil, salt & pepper


Roasted Butternut Squash & Avocado Toast on Le Creuset Dutch Oven Bread

Think bread baking is hard!? Think again! Le Creuset Dutch Oven Bread is something you can easily make on a lazy Sunday with very little effort. In fact, that's exactly what I did last Sunday as most of you were getting ready for Superbowl. 

I used this recipe from Le Creuset but added about a tablespoon of za'atar during the last rise and baked it for 10 extra minutes, and then finished it under the broiler to get the top crust really crispy.

Yes, that's my attempt at a football design ;)

Using a stand mixer made kneading this bread a breeze. The dough was super smooth, doubled in size in only 2 hours, and wasn't sticky to work with.

I'm still trying to figure out how to make the bread itself more flavorful: it needed a lot more salt in the dough itself, but that could have jeopardized the work of the yeast. I did love adding za'atar, but thought it would have gotten inside the bread itself and not just the crust.

Here's a slice of the bread toasted, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with plenty of truffle salt: I'm fancy like that.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Avocado Toast on Le Creuset Dutch Oven Bread

thick slice of bread, toasted
avocado, sliced
roasted butternut squash cubes
sour cream mixed with sriracha to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Assemble all ingredients.
Dig in with a knife and fork.

I had to slice and freeze most of this loaf so that I would not inhale all the calories at once.

Happy bread baking!


Sweet Potato, Avocado & Feta Meatless Monday Meal

If like me you stayed up to watch This Is Us last night, you may be barely awake now. But don't worry, you are minutes away from a nutritional, easy to put together, and Meatless Monday approved breakfast or lunch. Or make my Sweet Potato, Avocado & Feta recipe for dinner.

It all started when I wanted an avocado toast but did not have bread. (I eventually solved that problem by baking my own bread on Sunday: check my instagram.)

Instead, I sliced a roasted sweet potato into planks, sauteed the planks in a bit of olive oil and topped them with sliced avocado and crumbled feta.

I then topped this concoction with an Indian spice mix my friend Sangeetha shared with me (her mom made it!). I don't know exactly which spices are in this little jar, but I think there's turmeric and curry and maybe cayenne for sure. It's divine on all things ;)


Loaded Baked Potato And Cauliflower Soup From Healthyish With OXO Tools

Just as the weather was starting to warm up a bit, the cold front returned. What's better than a steaming bowl of soup for lunch or dinner? A steaming bowl of soup topped with bacon ;)

My friends from oxo sent me a copy of Healthyish cookbook, which I've already written about, with a variety of oxo tools to make Lindsay's Loaded Baked Potato And Cauliflower Soup. {Disclaimer: the book and the tools were a gift. I am not compensated in any way for this blog post. All opinions are my own as always!}

Although my kitchen is pretty well stocked, it's always fun to get new tools to play with. Also, I gave the older versions of these tools to my friend Emily. Win/win!

Pro 8" Chef's Knife - So sharp!! I think everyone needs a chef's knife, and this one did a great job cutting through large potatoes and cauliflower; plus, it's made in Germany, which is a good thing in my book when it comes to kitchen tools.

12" Tongs - perfect for taking out strips of bacon from the pan or reaching out to the top shelf of your cabinet to grab a bag of snacks.

Wooden Corner Spoon - who doesn't need an extra wooden spoon? This one has a straight side, which makes it easier to reach into the corners of your pots and pans.

Coarse Grater - perfect for any cheese or vegetable!

Swivel Peeler - cushioned handle with an extra sharp blade! This peeler handled Russet potatoes as if they were butter. 

Kitchen and Herb Scissors - my favorite part about these is that you can take them apart for ease of cleaning or to sharpen.

And now for the soup!!!

Loaded Baked Potato and Cauliflower Soup
Makes 12 cups; serves 4 to 6

True or false? The best part of a baked potato is the toppings. If you agree, then this soup is perfect for you. Starting off with bacon fat means that the entire soup is infused with delicious, smoky flavor. And, instead of just using starch-heavy potatoes, a blend of potato and cauliflower makes for a creamier, lighter soup. All this as balance for the classic baked potato toppings, naturally.

4 large slices (8 oz/225 g) extra-thick cut bacon
2 onions (12 oz/340 g), chopped (about 2 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large russet potatoes (2 lbs/910 g), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces (about 5 cups)
1 medium head cauliflower (1 ¼ lbs/570 g), cut into small florets (about 6 cups)
8 cups (2 L) chicken stock or vegetable stock
Sour cream, chopped fresh chives, and grated Cheddar cheese, for serving

Heat a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Place the bacon slices flat in the pot and cook, turning a couple times, until crispy and most of the fat has drained from the bacon, 8 to 12 minutes total. Using tongs, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate, leaving the fat in the pot.
Add the onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and soft, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes, cauliflower, and stock, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a strong simmer and cook, stirring here and there, until the potatoes are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
Purée the soup, using a blender in batches or a handheld immersion blender. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if you like.

Slice or tear the cooked bacon into bite- size pieces and sprinkle it over bowls of the soup. Serve topped with sour cream, chives, and cheese.

The only changes I made to the recipe were 1) using scallions because my store did not have chives, 2) using an immersion blender, and 3) adding a bit of cayenne powder in the end.

The soup is comforting and filling and is great for leftovers the next day. My friend Emily came over for dinner with her boyfriend Cal and we paired the soup with epic grilled cheese sandwiches cooked on a panini grill with onions, ham and tomatoes! SO good. The onions Emily cooked in leftover bacon from from the extra bacon I cooked for the soup ;)


Coriander-Rubbed Chicken Breasts With Lentil Radicchio Salad From Healthyish Cookbook

Meal prep can be so exhausting. What if you could make a dish on Sunday that you could eat for several lunches during the week without getting bored? Would that not be awesome? What if, on top of the convenience and great flavors, that dish was simple to make, good for you, and fun?

That's exactly what Coriander-Rubbed Chicken Breasts With Lentil Radicchio Salad From Healthyish Cookbook is!

I received a copy of Lindsay Maitland Hunt's Healthyish cookbook from oxo for a campaign I'm doing with them (more about it next week), and after paging through the book and admiring the beautiful photos, decided to make this recipe.

I'm not going to retype the recipe (go buy the book!), but here are the things I liked about it:

1) Tahini dressing: it has mayonnaise in it! If you've met me, you know how much I love mayonnaise. Also, instead of the usual lemon juice, Lindsay uses lime juice. This dressing is garlic free: this means I'll feel comfortable eating this dish at work without the fear of alienating my coworkers.

2) Lentils form the base of the salad with an addition of the slightly bitter radicchio. Cucumbers add the additional crunch and color.

3) Surprise factor comes from the use of preserved lemons! I've never thought about adding them to a salad, but really liked the idea.

4) Chicken breasts: Lindsay bakes the chicken in the oven in a covered baking dish with a bit of water after marinating the breasts in coriander powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. The result is really tender meat! 

5) Meal prep: if you are planning on making this recipe for the week, I recommend adding the dressing to each portion when you are about to eat the salad. Same goes for feta.

Disclosure: I received Healthyish from oxo for a nonpaid campaign and am getting no compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.


Travel Tuesday: Mexico City Best Bites

It's been slightly over one week since I've flown back from a 7 day vacation in Mexico City with my twin and our 3 friends. I was blown away by the mere size of the city, how inexpensive everything was, the colorful houses and street art, kind people, and countless beautiful parks with cacti sprinkled around the city.

Below are some of the best bites we had while in Mexico City. I highly recommend them all. {Quick note, not pictured is our first late breakfast at Lalo because my picture did not do it justice. You should still go and get a Bloody Mary and anything with eggs and fresh tortillas and chorizo.}

El Moro: the crispiest, non greasy, and satisfying churros! No wonder this establishment has been in business since 1935! There are several locations around the city, but I highly recommend the original one.

Street Tacos: don't be afraid of street food! There was a taco stand next to our airbnb which we visited at least 4 times! Two tacos for 30 to 40 pesos, which is less than $2! This particular cart had a bar set up with several types of salsa, grilled potatoes and onions, and even cactus leaves! The first night I topped my tacos with the spicy salsa, without realizing it, and had tears coming out of my eyes to an amusement of an old Mexican man! 

Kate also suggest we bring our own plates from airbnb when getting tacos to go instead of using styrofoam containers: we got some amusing and confused looks :) 

Rosetta Panaderia: this might have been one of the best croissants I've ever had. I usually go for croissants filled with chocolate or almond paste, but this one had ricotta and spinach and was worth the wait. We missed out on having dinner at Rosetta, but loved having our morning mocha or coffee and pastry at this sister restaurant.

Eno: the wait at Lalo was too long for our last late breakfast in the city, so we strolled a few blocks and decided to eat at Eno. That was a great decision! I had eggs in spicy tomato sauce with chorizo and avocado, and freshly squeezed tangerine juice. I could have this every single day of my life!

La Casa de Tono: this was one of the places my friend Joahna recommended. The line was out of the door at 9pm and we were slightly, to say the least, overwhelmed once we got inside. This place reminded me of the busy dim sum restaurants in New York City: tables filled with locals and tourists, food flying out from the kitchen, the noise of conversations, and a ridiculously low bill. We ate and drank for $35! For five people! Guacamole itself was worth the visit. 

This restaurant is known for posole, which I usually don't love, but liked their version because of the flavorful broth, tender chicken, and hominy which was more tender than the versions I've had in the states. At one point my friend Kate and I had to hold a few plates in our hands because there was no place on the table!

Note: we did eat at the famous Pujol. I liked dressing up and feeling a bit fancy and lunching in a beautiful restaurant. The service was top notch. The food was creative and well prepared, but it did not wow me.

I can't wait for the next food vacation :)


Weekend Edition: Buy Yourself Flowers

TGIF! I'm back from a wonderful vacation in Mexico City with my twin Anna and our friends Kate, Sveta, and Jenny!

One of the things I did almost immediately, other than unpacking, was buying fresh flowers. You see, when I was a little girl growing up in Russia, my parents and my grandmother always placed fresh flowers in Anna's and mine room for us to see after we came home after summer camp. Isn't that the sweetest tradition?

Well, I now do the same for myself. I encourage all of you to treat yourself to fresh flowers or a new plant!

This arrangement is an homage to Pantone: greenery for 2017 and ultra violet for 2018.


Meatless Monday: Black Nebulla Carrots With Lemony Tahini Dressing & Pistachios

Have you ever heard of Black Nebulla Carrots? If like me you order produce from Washington's Green Grocer, you probably received these beauties in the last few orders. Well, now you can make a stunning vegan dish with them: Black Nebulla Carrots With Lemony Tahini Dressing & Pistachios.

Washington's Green Grocer started a Cookbook Club, which I joined immediately, and the first recipe is a lemony tahini dressing from Alison Roman's Dining In cookbook. Lisa (owner of WGG) posted a recipe idea on instagram of roasting the carrots and drizzling them with the dressing. I went a few steps further by adding chopped pistachios, parsley, and lemon zest.  

Black Nebulla Carrots With Lemony Tahini Dressing & Pistachios

Black Nebulla carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise
olive oil
kosher salt
for the dressing
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely grated
salt & pepper to taste
roasted pistachios, chopped
parsley, chopped
lemon zest

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly coat the carrots with olive oil and season with kosher salt. Roast in a single layer cut side up for 20-30 minutes depending on the size.
2. Whisk the dressing ingredients.
3. Drizzle the carrots with the dressing and sprinkle with pistachios, parsley, and lemon zest. 

Beware that these carrots will stain your hands!!! 

I really liked this recipe. It can be served straight out of the oven or at room temperature. I bet it'll taste equally great with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, or any other vegetable you want to roast. The dressing, of course, is perfect on any salad!


Sunday Supper: Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

Need a filling delicious meal to satisfy your taste buds and warm you up on a freezing cold winter weekend? Make Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon (beef stew) for Sunday Supper.

This is only the first weekend of 2018, and I'm already fulfilling one of my resolutions to make new recipes more often!

As I've mentioned in my earlier post, I've never made Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon...until now that is!

I used this recipe from tbsp, but made a few adjustments.

My thoughts:

1. After making the recipe, I think there really is no need for bacon. There is plenty of flavor from the wine, onions, and mushrooms. Also, the recipe called to simmer bacon in 4 cups of water...what? I simply browned mine.

2. 1 carrot for a big pot of stew is ridiculous ;) I used 3.

3. There are a few steps where you cook the stew in 450F oven for four minutes at a time to cook out the flour. No thanks. I skipped those steps and kept the pot on the stove and then put it in the oven for 3 hours at 325 to tenderize the beef.

4. Did you know good stew beef is expensive? That was news to me.

5. I used brown mushrooms instead of white ones because that's what I had.

6. For the pearl onions, I simply sauteed them for 10 minutes without then simmering them in liquid for 40 minutes. Who has the time? Plus, they are small and 10 minutes was long enough for them to be fork tender.

7. Overall, I loved this stew! It wasn't too complicated to make and I'll probably do it again. Plus, it'll keep well in the freezer.

What have you cooked lately?