5/17/19

TGIF: Let There Be Cake


I'll be honest: sometimes I choose books by the cover and wine by the labels. More often than not, these decisions are actually pretty good.

Last night at a dinner at Brothers & Sisters, my friend Sangeetha and I chose The Next Vacation cake because both of us are looking forward to our respective vacations. This strawberry and cream cake was the perfect way to end our dinner: not too sweet with slight sour and salty notes and with strawberries from California.

TGIF friends. Wishing you a sweet weekend. 

5/6/19

Ottolenghi Inspired Pan Sauteed Asparagus With Almonds And Capers


Last week I checked out Ottolenghi's latest cookbook, Simple, from my library, and was intrigued by the Roasted Asparagus with Almonds, Capers, and Dill recipe. Because my oven was acting out, I don't keep butter on hand, and I had Parmesan left from another recipe, and a few lemons, I created my version of Ottolenghi's dish.

Ottolenghi Inspired Pan Sauteed Asparagus With Almonds And Capers

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
3 tablespoons capers
lemon zest
dill
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Directions
1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper and saute until your desired level.
2. In a small skillet, heat the remaining oil and quickly saute capers.
3. In a platter, serve asparagus topped with almonds, capers, lemon zest, dill, and Parmesan. 

This dish is great served hot but also keep well as leftovers. It can be a great starter to the meal or as a side served with protein.

5/2/19

Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides



If you only have 30 minutes and need to get dinner on a table that's delicious, fun, and impressive, I give you Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides.

This idea came about after I randomly bought one pound of ground pork at my grocery store. After a quick Google search for ground pork recipes, I found Delish's Sweet 'n Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps and with a few edits turned it into a full meal.

Turn on the music and get cooking!

The key to making an entire meal in 30 minutes is to chop whatever needs to be cooked first, and then prep the rest of the ingredients while the others are cooking. 

Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides

Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for snow peas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork
snow peas
salt
1/4 cup hoisin sauce, more if desired
1 tablespoon sriracha, more if desired
Bibb lettuce
rice noodles
cilantro
carrots, peeled
daikon, peeled
Russian sunflower oil
smoked almonds, chopped

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Start boiling a large pot of water on the stove.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add ginger and garlic and saute for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat without burning it. Add pork. Saute until the pork is no longer pink. This will take a while.
4. Meanwhile, coat snow peas with oil and season with salt an roast for about 15-25 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them to be.
5. Grate, or use a fancy peeler, carrots and daikon, drizzle with Russian sunflower oil, season with salt, and add cilantro.
6. Back to pork: add Hoisin and sriracha. Mix to combine. Heat through.
7. Cook rice noodles according to directions. 
8. Add rice noodles to the lettuce cups, top with pork mixture, cilantro and chopped almonds. 
9. Serve with carrot/daikon salad and roasted snow peas.

Leftovers are awesome for lunch next day! 

4/30/19

Taco Bamba Tongue Nachos


Not a recipe today, but a shout out to Taco Bamba's Tongue Nachos I had a few weekends ago.

I grew up in Russia where my mom pressure cooked tongue all the time, and I still order it whenever I see it on the menu (I've yet to cook it myself).

When I saw an option for tongue nachos at Taco Bamba, I decided to give this dish a try. Large enough to share as an appetizer, it was a perfect portion for a lighter dinner paired with a side of guacamole.

Don't expect oozy melted cheese. The crispy chips are topped with tender chunks of tongue, followed by salsa verde, crema, cotija, and pickled chiles. I wish this would appear in front of me right now.

Have you tried tongue?

4/22/19

Vegan Spicy Smashed Chickpea Salad Recipe


This Vegan Spicy Smashed Chickpea Salad Recipe is adapted from and inspired by a post I saw on Cup of Jo earlier last week. Smitten Kitchen's recipe was inspired by a sandwich on 'wichcraft menu, and I further changed it by swiping the black olives for the green ones, adding the adobo sauce, and using chives instead of parsley.

Vegan Spicy Smashed Chickpea Salad Recipe
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 cups cooked chickpeas, lightly smashed with a fork
8 large green olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce from chiles in adobo can (use hot sauce or sriracha as an alternative)
olive oil
salt
radishes
wasa crackers

Directions
1. Combine the first 5 ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and mix to combine. Season with salt. 
2. Serve with radishes and wasa crackers.

4/17/19

Smoked Salmon Spring Salad With Jammy Egg, Potatoes & Asparagus


Oh hi warmer days! The days when I don't want to heat up my kitchen and would much rather put together a meal from random ingredients and eat it sitting on my couch watching TV.

This Smoked Salmon Spring Salad With Jammy Egg, Potatoes & Asparagus was inspired by a photo I saw on Domenica Marchetti's instagram. Domenica made a version of Nicoise salad, but with smoked salmon instead of tuna. I immediately went to my grocery store to pick up smoked salmon, the only ingredient that was missing from all the other parts of the salad I had happened to have in my refrigerator. I also added cherry tomatoes and avocado.

Smoked Salmon Spring Salad With Jammy Egg, Potatoes & Asparagus

Boiled potato, cubed
smoked salmon, flaked
jammy egg, quartered (put eggs into a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let them stand for 6 minutes, then immediately put them into cold water with ice)
Kalamata olives, halved
avocado, cubed
asparagus, pan sauteed
red onion, finely chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil
salt

4/15/19

Meatless Monday: Big Ass Salad With Feta


If you follow me on instagram, you saw that I basically ate 10 pounds worth of lamb yesterday at the lamb jam event with my friend Jazmin. 

For something lighter, my lunch today is a version of what I like to call BIG ASS SALAD. What's a big ass salad? It's a salad that has a bunch of fun ingredients served in a large bowl or plated that can be a meal in itself. The salad most often doesn't even have lettuce, and instead combines a variety of vegetables in different colors and textures, with a few fun ingredients such as cheese or nuts or protein.

Meatless Monday Big Ass Salad With Feta
lettuce, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
red onion, finely diced
yellow pepper, diced
cucumber, diced
kalamata olives, halved
avocado, sliced
feta
olive oil
salt
za'atar

Note on feta: I very much prefer to buy a big block of feta instead of crumbles. It's usually more expensive, but tastes better and you can control how to serve it. This time I added a big slab of feta to my salad. 

Note: to "beef" up the salad, you can add a boiled potato and/or chickpeas!

4/11/19

Cocktails Around DC: Hazel & Mi Vida


I wanted to share with you two cocktails at the new-to-me restaurants I had while celebrating my birthday in March (and belated birthday yesterday).

First up, above, is a gorgeous, refreshing, and easy to sip Citrus G & T from Hazel with blood orange gin and winter citrus tonic. Despite the name, this is the perfect warm weather cocktail. Of course you'll not be able to find blood oranges for much longer to use as the garnish, so hurry up and replicate this beauty at home as soon as possible. 

Below is the Ceilo Rojo Margarita from Mi Vida with spicy serrano-infused watermelon, lime, and chile salt. I had two. I usually prefer a sugar rimmed margarita, but the flavor combination in this cocktail was perfection. Don't worry, the spice level will not kill your taste buds.


Tell me what your favorite cocktail has been lately!

4/1/19

Vegan Thai Basil Vegetable Nasoya Dumplings With Colorful Slaw


I'm going vegan!! Just kidding.

This Vegan Thai Basil Vegetable Nasoya Dumplings With Colorful Slaw dish, however, is not only satisfying and colorful, but comes together in minutes and doesn't require a full recipe.

I was contacted by Nasoya and offered a few samples of their vegan dumplings and a stipend to come up with a plant-based recipe. The dumplings are organic and contain 6 to 7 grams of plant-protein (per 5) and no cholesterol! You can buy them at Giant Food, Martin’s, Safeway, Weis, Shop Rite, and Wegman’s. 

I decided to pan-fry the dumplings and add them on top of a colorful crunchy slaw.

The Thai Basil Vegetable Dumplings contain tofu, peas, carrots, peppers, basil, and onion. They take less than 10 minutes to prepare and have a ton of flavor.

For the slaw, I combined yellow and red peppers, cucumber, red cabbage, and dressed it with the combination of olive oil and lime juice and seasoned with salt and cilantro. A drizzle of sriracha, a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, and a few lime wedges finish the dish. 

PS here's a coupon for you!

3/27/19

Lamb Shank With Fennel, Onions & Potatoes


Knock knock. Who's there? FedEx delivering a lamb shank from Superior Farms.

Oh, this doesn't happen to you? Well, then you'll just have to go out and buy your own to make my Lamb Shank With Fennel, Onions & Potatoes recipe.


Last week I received a free lamb shank from Superior Farms and created a quick'ish recipe that only takes 40 minutes in a pressure cooker. You could use the same ingredients and roast yours in the oven, but it'll take hours.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. I'm not getting reimbursement: I just love lamb and was happy to receive a sample. 

Lamb Shank With Fennel, Onions & Potatoes
Serves 1, but you can easily double the ingredients

Ingredients
1 fennel, sliced into 1/4" planks
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 cup cider (or use wine or chicken broth)
1 lamb shank, extra fat removed, seasoned with salt and pepper
pan roasted potatoes
fennel fronds

Directions
1. Add fennel, onions, cider and lamb shank to your pressure cooker/instant pot and pressurize for 40 minutes. Allow 10-15 minutes for natural pressure release.
2. Spoon out fennel and onions onto a plate, place the lamb shank on top and drizzle with some of the extra sauce. Top with fennel fronds and serve with potatoes. 

3/25/19

Mango, Ricotta & Pistachio Crostata Recipe


This Mango, Ricotta & Pistachio Crostata Recipe comes together in minutes, will impress your guests, and can be served hot or at room temperature.

The recipe is inspired by and adapted from a recipe from my friend Marnely. Yes, we are friends even though we've never met in real life, which I hope changes very soon!

I changed Marnely's recipe for Plum Pistachio Ricotta Crostata by using mangoes, adding lime zest, bourbon maple syrup, and crystallized ginger, and purchasing the pie crust at the store.


Mango, Ricotta & Pistachio Crostata Recipe

Ingredients
1 pie crust (purchased or made from scratch)
1/2 cup full fat ricotta
zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup pistachios, food processed until they resemble the texture of sand {I used salted roasted pistachios}
2-3 mangoes, sliced
1 egg
1-2 tablespoons bourbon maple syrup
extra pistachios for topping
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll out the pie crust onto a parchment covered baking sheet.
2. Combine ricotta with lime zest and pistachios and spread on the pie crust leaving about 1/2" all the way around.
3. Layer sliced mangoes. Crimp the edges of the crust and brush them with a whisked egg.
4. Bake the crostata for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush the mangoes with bourbon maple syrup and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Bake for another 10 minutes.
5. Remove the crostata from the oven and sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger.
6. Serve hot or at room temperature.

3/20/19

One Hour Brisket In A Pressure Cooker


This past weekend I was walking through my grocery store and saw corned beef on sale. I decided to buy about a 4 pound hunk of meat. Corned beef and brisket are the same cut of meat, but corned beef is brined.

I wanted to make a quick version of a brisket in a pressure cooker instead of roasting it for about 3 hours in the oven and used this recipe from Dad Cooks Dinner.

I threw away the spice packet that came with my corned beef, but did not account for the brining: the meat came out a bit too salty. Still, this was not the recipe's fault. You will only need salt, pepper and cayenne. Season the meat, add some water and a bit of Worcestershire and pressure cook for an hour!

I added chopped onion and carrots with the meat and pulverized the vegetables with some of the broth to use as the sauce once everything was tender.

To serve, I combined home-salted cabbage and beets with a bit of Russian sunflower oil and sliced scallions.

IMPORTANT: make sure to cut off as much of the fat from the meat as possible before cooking. 

3/11/19

Meatless Monday: Saag Paneer From Scratch


I don't say this often, but I was so proud of myself yesterday after making Saag Paneer from scratch at home!

It all started after a coworker shared a recipe he made in his pressure cooker for saag (an Indian spinach side). I thought I will do the same, and also make paneer (Indian cheese).

Special thanks to my friend Sangeetha for providing dried fenugreek leaves: they add a great depth of flavor to saag.



I used My Heart Beets' Recipe for saag with a few changes:

1) I used 36 ounces of spinach because I could not find mustard greens
2) I did not have ghee, so used olive oil
WARNING: use less salt than what the recipe calls for. Don't freak out about how much spinach you have in the beginning: add it to the pressure cooker in batches and allow it to wilt before adding more.

For the paneer, I used Swasthi's recipe. I had to add more lemon juice, but the final result was pretty good, if not perfectly shaped as I had to run out to a museum outing with my friend. I used the leftover liquid from paneer to cook basmatti rice.



Leftovers for lunch will be awesome!

3/8/19

Weekend Inspiration: Macrame Wall Hanging


TGIF! Happy Friday and happy International Women's Day.

I wanted to share with you the latest arts & crafts project I made last weekend: Macrame Wall Hanging. Doing this simple wall hanging reminded me of all the macrame projects I did at a summer camp in Moscow. There's something magical about completing a project that is seen daily in your home.

Go create something!

3/6/19

Preserving Italy: Porchetta by Domenica Marchetti


Would you take advice on cooking pork from a Jewish girl (me)? Maybe not. How about advice from the author of multiple Italian cookbooks? 

Last weekend I recreated Domenica Marchetti's porchetta from her latest cookbook, Preserving Italy.

After attending Domenica's workshop in the summer, I had the porchetta salt and the cookbook and decided to try my hand at this relatively easy recipe of butterflied pork butt seasoned with salt, layered with sauteed fennel and garlic (a LOT of garlic), rolled, rested overnight in the refrigerator and roasted slow and low.


I had a lot of faith in this recipe because 1) Domenica made it for the workshop and it turned out awesome 2) all of the recipes I've made from Domenica's cookbooks have always turned out great


First, I'm obsessed with the photo of the salt. Second, I would suggest you actually grind the pepper instead of using whole peppercorns because I did not like biting into them while eating porchetta. The salt mix is made up of fennel seeds, coarse sea salt, grated lemon zest, rosemary, and peppercorns.

Third, my grocery store did not have fennel (!!), so I used 2 leeks. For the garlic, the recipe calls for 12 cloves: I highly recommend you use a mini food processor to chop the garlic and be ready for the aroma to invade every inch of your condo.


Fourth: I asked the butcher in my grocery store to butterfly or roll out the pork butt. He left way too much fat and connecting tissues. I removed some, but unfortunately not enough. 

Fifth, I used reusable silicone ties instead of kitchen twine to hold porchetta together.


The final results (scroll to the top), were delicious. Instead of making a sandwich, as Domenica suggests in the book, I ate my porchetta with a simple salad of mixed greens, thinly sliced radishes, snow peas and a combination of lemon juice and olive oil.

I had A LOT of leftovers, which per Domenica's suggestion I turned into a meat sauce by simmering porchetta in a mixture of sauteed carrots, onions, celery and tomato sauce.

Here's a similar recipe from Domenica's Rustic Italian cookbook.

3/4/19

Meatless Monday: Roasted Artichoke With Garlic & Parsley


Last week I received one of the largest artichokes I've ever seen in my life in my order from the Washington's Green Grocer. Luckily, they also linked to a recipe from Tasty that was incredibly easy to follow.

You cut off the top and the bottom of the artichoke, tear off some of the bottom petals, then drizzle the cut side of the artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt, top with microplane'd garlic and chopped parsley. I left out the cheese because I did not have it.

You then wrap up the artichoke in aluminum foil and roast it for about an hour depending on the size at 425F. I served mine (to myself) topped with freshly chopped parsley and a side of Ranch dressing. I then cut up the artichoke heart and made a salad with it with potatoes, cucumbers and leftover Ranch.


How do YOU usually prepare an artichoke?

2/28/19

Dark Chocolate Puffed Pastry Braid With Hazelnuts


If you are looking to impress your guests with a dessert that takes less than 10 minutes to make, I give you Dark Chocolate Puffed Pastry Braid With Hazelnuts.

Last weekend I went to brunch at a friend's house and promised to bring dessert. I google'd braided dessert and found this beauty from Living Locurto

You start with store-bought puffed pastry. Mine came from the refrigerated section, so there was no need to defrost it.

You then buy 2 bars of chocolate. Of course I went for the dark variety. You'll have at least 1/2 of one of the bars leftover, so buy the chocolate you'll want to eat. 

Go check out the braiding directions on Amy's blog

Once the oven is preheated to 425, use a beaten egg to lightly glaze the braided puffed pastry with the chocolate inside and bake on top of a parchment lined cookie sheet for about 15 minutes.

Remove the braid from the oven and top with chopped hazelnuts and bake for 5-10 more minutes until the puffed pastry is golden brown. Do not burn your nuts ;)

Allow the braid to cool down slightly and top with powdered sugar.

Ooh! Aah! This is such a beauty and tastes just as good if not better. You can experiment with different nuts and types of chocolate. Maybe even try peanut butter and jelly as the filling?

2/26/19

Chickpea & Rotisserie Turkey Turmeric Soup Recipe Inspired by Alison Roman


Have you heard of Alison Roman's Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric that went viral a while back? What's not to like? A combination of chickpeas and coconut milk is perfect for cold winter months, plus greens to make you feel even better about eating this rich stew.

Speaking of rich, 2 cans of full fat coconut milk sounded like a lot! Instead of making Alison's recipe, I decided to use only one can, increase the amount of chicken broth to make the stew into a soup, and add rotisserie turkey breast for extra protein. I also added chopped red pepper at the end for crunch and color, and used parsley instead of mint.



Chickpea & Rotisserie Turkey Turmeric Soup Recipe Inspired by Alison Roman

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil 
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 teaspoons turmeric 
a few pinches red pepper flakes
4 cups cooked chickpeas (I made mine in a pressure cooker)
15 ounces can full fat coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups shredded rotisserie turkey breast (or you can use chicken)
1 red pepper, diced
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh lime juice

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and saute for about 5 minutes.
2. Add salt, pepper, turmeric and red pepper flakes with chickpeas. Mix to combine. Saute for about 10 minutes.
3. Remove 1 cup of the chickpea mixture and set aside. Using a wooden spoon, gently smash some of the remaining chickpeas.
4. Add coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Add Swiss chard and turkey and simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the chard to wilt and the turkey to heat through.
6. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
7. Serve in bowls topped with reserved chickpeas, chopped red pepper, parsley, and fresh lime juice.



Just look at that color! I'm having this soup for lunch today (I had it yesterday too and will also eat it tomorrow and Thursday: perfect #mealprep). You can serve the soup as is or on top of rice or with a side of toast.

2/19/19

Roasted Beet Salad With Chipotle Vinaigrette


Roasted Beet Salad With Chipotle Vinaigrette looks beautiful plated, and tastes even better once you mix all the ingredients together.

I was inspired to create this salad after seeing a picture of beets on my friend Laura's insta story and asking her what she was going to make with them. Laura sent me a link to her recipe for Roasted Chipotle Beets With Goat Cheese & Egg Tostadas. I took some of the same ingredients, added a few extras, and turned it into a salad!

Roasted Beet Salad With Chipotle Vinaigrette
Ingredients
beets, scrubbed
olive oil
avocado, sliced
red pepper, sliced
blue cheese, crumbled
6 minute egg (put eggs in cold water, cover, bring to a boil, shut off the heat, wait 6 minutes, cool in an ice bath, peel, slice)
cilantro
for the dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chiles in adobo 
1 tablespoons lime juice plus extra lime wedges
salt to taste

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Put beets on an aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap, and roast for about 1 hour, depending on the size. Cool slightly, peel, dice.
2. Arrange the beets, avocado, red pepper, blue cheese crumbles, sliced egg, and cilantro on a plate.
3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.

For the purposes of the photo, I poured the dressing into a little bowl. You shall pour it onto the other ingredients.

The dressing was awesome! It could also act a a marinade for chicken if you want.

If you love beets, definitely make this salad. 

2/13/19

Vietnamese Lamb Meatballs Rice Noodle Bowl


Vietnamese Lamb Meatballs Rice Noodle Bowl is a recipe that comes together quickly, is absolutely gorgeous, and is packed with flavors, colors and textures.

Last week, my friends from American Lamb sent me a pound of ground lamb!! I typically make lamb meatballs with garlic, salt & pepper and maybe feta, but was intrigued by the Vietnamese flavors American Lamb suggested. Sometimes it is actually fun to follow a recipe and go grocery shopping with a list of ingredients in mind. Luckily, the recipe worked perfectly. You can find it here

I made my meatballs into smaller balls than the recipe called for and froze some for future use.

The meatballs are flavored with lemongrass, shallot, garlic, and fresh ginger and don't require an egg, milk, or bread crumbs. Using a little scoop really helps to make sure they are uniform.


I highly recommend you double the Nuoc Cham dressing: it's so good! Don't be afraid of fish sauce.

To build your bowl you'll need rice noodles (I cooled mine before serving), red cabbage, red peppers, cucumbers, peanuts, cilantro, basil, and lime wedges. Of course you can also use carrots, zucchini, avocado, or whatever vegetables you like. 


Thanks for my lamb American Lamb! This post is not sponsored. I received no compensation for it: I just ♥ lamb and am happy to share fun meal ideas with you all!

2/5/19

Tater Tot Tuesday: Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole With Italian Sausage & Peppers



Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole With Italian Sausage & Peppers is a great one skillet brunch or breakfast dish to make to share with friends, or can be an easy dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.

You know about Taco Tuesday, but what about Tater Tot Tuesday? Let's start this new movement ;)

This past Sunday, a few friends came for brunch at my place, and I decided to make up my own version of a tater tot breakfast casserole after seeing quite a few versions on line.

First, I knew I wanted to make the entire casserole in one dish instead of browning the meat in a skillet and then transferring to a baking dish.

Second, I did not understand why some recipes put the tater tots on the bottom: who wants soggy tater tots?

Finally, instead of prepping all the ingredients first, I chopped peppers and onions while the Italian sausage was cooking, and shredded the cheese while the peppers and onions were sauteing: this saved me so much time!

Tater Tot Tuesday: Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole With Italian Sausage & Peppers
Serves 6

Ingredients
16 ounces Italian mild sausage
2 orange peppers
1 onion
salt & pepper
8 ounce block cheese (I used a combination of Mozzarella and Cheddar)
8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
28 ounce bag frozen tater tots
parsley, chopped

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a large oven-proof skillet, brown Italian sausage.
3. Meanwhile, dice the peppers and the onion.
4. Remove the sausage into a bowl, and use the skillet to saute the peppers and onion seasoned with salt and pepper until tender, about 10 minutes. Depending on the fat content of the sausage, you may need to add a bit of olive oil to the skillet. 
5. Meanwhile, shred the cheese.
6. Add the browned sausage back into the skillet.
7. In the bowl that held the sausage, whisk the eggs with the milk, season with salt and pepper, and add all but 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
8. Pour the egg mixture over the pepper/onion/sausage mixture.
9. Layer tater tots in concentric circles.
10. Bake the casserole for 45 minutes.
11. Remove the casserole from the oven and evenly top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 5 more minutes.
12. Top with parsley.

before

My Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole was a huge success! You can vary the recipe by adding mushrooms or broccoli and changing the types of cheese you use. The leftovers reheat quite well.

This is my table setting: flowers are a must!


2/4/19

Meatless Monday: Vegan, Raw, Kosher & Fancy Fruit Salad


Got winter blues? My Vegan, Raw, Kosher & Fancy Fruit Salad will surely erase those. You will not find a single banana or an unripe melon in my salad. Instead, I combined seasonal citrus and apples with a tropical mango and a few berries. 

Meatless Monday: Vegan, Raw, Kosher & Fancy Fruit Salad

Ingredients
2 oranges
1 grapefruit
1 bunch grapes
2 apples
2 cups raspberries
2 cups blackberries
1 mango

Directions
1. Segment oranges and grapefruit
2. Slice grapes in half
3. Core and dice apples
4. Peel and dice mango
5. Combine all fruit and berries and serve

1/28/19

Upcycle: Pallet Coffee Table on Pin Legs


Remember when 6ish years ago I made a pallet coffee table that ended up being featured on ApartmentTherapy and then some dude tried to sell it on Etsy? Well, I took the coasters off and added pin legs!!! Love the updated look. 

Below is my original creation! Also an old lamp, painting, table, chairs, and blah walls. 



And now the new table! It was so easy: I took off the red wheels (what should I do with them?) and attached pin legs I bought on Amazon!


And here is how it looks in my living room with my "birch" wall, big plants, new'ish lamp and all the stuff ;)


1/14/19

Tuscanini Gigli Pasta With Fennel, Tomatoes & Peas


Tuscanini Gigli Pasta With Fennel, Tomatoes & Peas is a beautiful vegan dish that brings brightness, color, and at the same time comfort to a snowy cold winter day.

I received a sample of Tuscanini Gigli pasta and LOVED the fun shape which reminds me of a trumpet flower. It's apparently great served with sauce as the sauce sticks to the fluttered edges, but I decided to make it with a bunch of vegetables. In fact, there are more vegetables in this dish than pasta.

Of course you can use whichever pasta shape you love!

Tuscanini Gigli Pasta With Fennel, Tomatoes & Peas
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, then well washed and drained
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
salt & red pepper flakes to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup defrosted peas
1 cup defrosted corn
2 cups dried pasta, cooked according to directions {NOTE: I always cook my pasta 1-2 minutes longer because I don't like it al dente pasta}
Meyer lemon zest and juice
dill, chopped
extra olive oil


Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add leeks and fennel and saute until softened, mixing every few minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
2. Add cherry tomatoes, peas, and corn. Saute for a few extra minutes.
3. Add drained cooked pasta. Mix to combine. Saute for a few more minutes.
4. Off the heat, add Meyer lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust for salt.
5. Serve topped with dill and a drizzle of olive oil.

PS Leftovers reheat well and are great with chopped olives!


Dislaimer: I received a sample of pasta free of charge, but this post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.

1/11/19

Weekend Edition: Apartment Therapy's January Cure


DEHOARD. CLEAN. ORGANIZE. Those are just some of the things I've been doing for the last week or so thanks to Apartment Therapy's January Cure

Who knew I had so many random notebooks and notepads?

Who knew I did not actually lose those international electricity converters? They just fell behind my suitcase.

Who knew how much dust was hiding under my bed, in my closets, and behind my dressers?

Who knew I have at least 15 random glass jars from jams, pickles, etc?


I KNOW all that now!

The plan for this weekend is to go through all my kitchen cabinets.

Good thing my galley kitchen is pretty small. I've already found bowls and glass containers I'm giving to a friend because I have too many. I put post it notes on each cabinet and drawer for an easy visual of what needs to be done and for the sense of accomplishment of taking them off once that space has been cleaned.

I'm also going to clean the fridge: now is a good time because I don't have that much in it.

And those flowers? They were actually also an assignment: the easiest one because I buy flowers for myself all the time.

Share with me your cleaning and dehoarding tips. 

1/7/19

Vegan Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Kale Red Curry


Vegan Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Kale Red Curry
Serves 4-6
Inspired by Washington's Green Grocer

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil, more if needed
5 cups bite-sized diced butternut squash
1/2 diced onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
13.5 ounce can coconut milk (full fat!)
1 cup water
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 handfulls chopped kale
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
chopped parsley or cilantro
chopped smoked almonds (or any other nuts you like)

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add butternut squash and saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add onion, ginger and garlic and saute for 3 more minutes, adding a bit more oil if needed.
3. Mix in red curry paste, turmeric, salt, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the squash is tender but not mushy.
4. Mix in chickpeas and kale, cover, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until kale has wilted.
5. Off the heat add Meyer lemon juice. Adjust for seasoning.
6. Serve topped with parsley and almonds. 

You can eat this as is or over rice. This curry reheats great for leftovers: you may need to add a bit of liquid to thin it out.

1/2/19

Richard Sax's Chocolate Cloud Cake



The second I saw a recipe for Richard Sax's Chocolate Cloud Cake on Food52, I knew I wanted to make it for NYE party at a friend's house. And I did! The hardest part was figuring out whether to wait for the actual party to try the cake...because how could I take photos so late at night!?

Instead, I made this gorgeous cake in the morning, and my friend and I dug into it after her two daughters napped...I could not nap because I was so excited!! Even the 3 and 5 year olds liked it, but only had a few bites because it was too chocolaty :) No problem: more for us!


I've made another recipe for flourless chocolate cake many times, but this recipe stood out because of a cloud of whipped heavy cream slightly sweetened with confectioners' sugar and a bit of vanilla extract. I used dark chocolate chips and a bar or dark chocolate for the decorative shavings. You can use semi sweet chocolate I suppose, but please don't use the milk variety.

This was a dream! Relatively easy to make (I just had to read directions 5 times because I basically have ADD), beautiful, not too sweet, not too heavy, AND it tasted great the next morning!


I left the leftovers at my friend's house because that's how generous I am ;)