Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe is the quintessential Roman supper dish: cheese and pepper pasta. Done. So simple, so classic, so easy to make, and so delicious. Leave it to the citizens of Pax Romana to invent something this brilliant. Imagine walking through the ancient streets, past outdoor cafe after cafe, filled with locals eating pasta and drinking vino. Yup, life is not tough. Cook this dish to  a Puccini soundtrack, close your eyes... and pretend you're here:

3/4- 1 cup Cacio cheese (you can find it with the parmeggiano, pecorino, etc)
3/4- 1 cup Parmeggiano Reggiano and/or Pecorino Romano
2 tsp fresh crushed black pepper, extra to taste
Olive oil
Fettucine or spaghetti


1. Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente; drain and reserve the pasta water.

2. In a large pan, heat olive oil. Add in the fresh cracked black pepper and allow to cook a few minutes, stirring, until fragrant.

3. Ladle about 3/4 cups of pasta water into the pan, and use tongs to transfer the pasta evenly into the pan. 

4. Sprinkle the cheese on top and toss frequently with the tongs until the cheese turns creamy and the water reduces. As the sauce thickens, it will start to cling to the pasta, almost like a thin layer.

5. If cheese clumps up, add a little additional cooking water. 

6. Transfer to plates and garnish with additional cheese and fresh pepper as desired. Serve with a bold red like a sangiovese to compliment the dish!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ryan's Homemade BBQ Sauce

Don't be so surprised- just because I don't eat meat, doesn't mean I can't enjoy some awesome BBQ sauce! Ryan has gotten into smoking meats with his cousin Brendan  (So far they've smoked a Thanksgiving Turkey, a rack of ribs, and two whole chickens)- and it was only natural Ryan tried to make his own sauce, too. I get to benefit of course by putting it on tofu (I LOVE it in the TLT recipe!!) and on fake chicken fingers. It's also pretty fun to hang out in a backyard for 8 hours, smelling the apple and cherry wood chips and enjoying the 90 degree heat... with a side of... heat.


4 tbsp Molasses
4 tbsp worcester sauce
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup Ketchup
2-3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup water
1/4 tsp hot sauce (we use Franks)- to taste
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp extra dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp pepper

1-2 tsp cayenne
dash of paprika

dash of cumin


Combine all wet and dry ingredients together in a small sauce pan.
Bring to boil over medium heat
Turn to low, stirring frequently and allowing to simmer for about 20 min.
Remove from heat and allow to rest until cool. Refrigerate overnight.

Serve over your favorite grilled or smoked meats, or tofu, if that's your thing :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pasta Fresca

I loved that this pasta came out tasting super fresh and light. We didn't add the asparagus tips this time, and Ry is not a fan of artichoke hearts, but we both agree that the recipe would benefit from a green  the next time we make it! Definitely nice to mix it up from red sauce and still avoid cream-based sauces (it's waaaay too hot here for that!).

Penne pasta
1 box of cherry tomatoes (Maybe roast these for a few, too.... or grill... for a little extra flavor)
asparagus tips or artichoke hearts
6 cloves garlic
olive oil
sea salt
red pepper flakes
Tomato Paste
white wine
Shaves of pecorino cheese


1. You can leave the peels on the garlic for this first step (cool, right?). Place the garlic cloves in a small pot and cover with water. Poach for about 15-20 minutes, at a slow boil.

2. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the garlic, and reserve the water. The peels will slip right off the cloves, and place them in a small bowl with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt. Mash into a paste.

3.Meanwhile, bring the pasta to a boil. Heat a large sauté pan, pour in a little olive oil, add the tomato paste and the garlic paste, and a splash of white wine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.

4. Raise heat and add in the cherry tomatoes. Cook quickly allowing to blister.

5. Turn down heat to medium and add in basil and asparagus tips. Pour in some of the water used to poach the garlic and cook off for a few minutes.

6. Once asparagus is bright green, after 2-3 minutes, add in the pasta. Season with the salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add in more pasta water if it starts to stick or doesn't seem saucy enough.

7. Since we had a little leftover pesto hanging in the fridge, we added a little dollop of that. But otherwise, garnish with fresh shaved pecorino and slivers of fresh basil.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Flexitarian Menus

The never-ending, million dollar question I often get is... "But what do you eat?"

For a friend who, like me, recently went veg and has a meat-eating husband, I compiled these examples, and figured I'd share them here, too! Flexitarian eating is way easier then it first sounds- just check out these delish meals from the past month or so!

Week 1:

Black Bean Soup, Garden Salad, and Pillsbury Rolls
Baked tofu in Peanut Sauce/Grilled Steak (for Ry) with baked sweet potato and Brussels sprouts
Penne pasta with sauteed garlic, cherry tomato and basil, with a pesto garnish and side salad
Tortilla soup with a Southwestern Citrus Salad (topped with chicken for Ry)

Totals: 2 veg, 2 flex meals

Week 2:
Pasta with homemade tomato sauce (meatballs for Ry) and salad, garlic toast
Burger/Grilled Portobello Mushroom burger with wilted spinach and corn on the cob
BLT/TLT (Tofu/lettuce/tomato)  and Kale Caesar Salad
Curry noodle with cilantro butter Tofu/Chicken

Totals: 4 flex

Week 3:
Fajita/Beef Tacos with rice and black bean salad
Braised Ginger Tofu/Grilled Pork with pearled couscous with braised leeks and green beans
Black Sesame noodles with tofu/steak
Stuffed Shells

Totals: 3 flex, 1 veg

Week 4:
Taco Salads (Fake Chik'n/chicken for Ry)
French Onion soup and apple, arugula and cheddar salad
Chicken/Eggplant Parm with salad and garlic bread
Tilapia Parmesan with broccoli and new potatoes

Totals: 2 flex, 1 veg, 1 pesc

Saturday, June 1, 2013

chikpea "chicken" salad sandwich

Chicken Salad was one of my favorites back in my meat eating days- but this version is just as tasty, and the chickpea texture, though it might sound strange at first, is a very satisfying substitute!!!!

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed & Drained
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, chopped very small
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4-1/2 tbsp dijon mustard to taste
Salt and Pepper

1. Use a fork to gently mash the chickpeas- don't overwork, it's ok if some are more whole than others, until most are at least split in half.

2. Add in the celery and onion and stir together.

3. Mix in the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.

4. Adjust seasonings to taste.

5. Serve on a bun with lettuce and tomato if desired!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hummus Sandwich

So perhaps you are noticing a theme to my posts recently! I've been tired of the same old lunch items, so I was inspired to find some different sandwiches to put in my lunch box! This one I often order when I'm out at delis, but made a good home version, too!!

Hummus- I love Grandma's !! (But my cousin makes some awesome homemade hummus that I'll get his recipe for and post soon- as you may recall, my attempt to make scratch tahini and hummus went awry....)
butter lettuce

Spread the hummus on the bread, and stack the other sandwich ingredients. Eat and enjoy!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Southwest Citrus Salad

I'm always looking for new spins on salads. Changing up the lettuce, making my own salad dressing- anything to keep it original.  So you can imagine my excitement at finding out this gem tastes great!! Even better, it was so simple to put together and packed a lot of flavor!


1/2 red grapefruit
1/2 lime
olive oil
chili powder
red cherry tomato
radish, sliced thin

Combine the ingredients in a bowl.
Dress the salad with the lime juice, chili powder, salt, and olive oil.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tortilla Soup Redux

Since I moved to the south,  I see tortilla soup on almost every menu, but usually with chicken. I had a mean craving for it, and hadn't made it in quite some time- This recipe was originally published on my blog back in 2010!! So, here is my new and improved homemade veg version, now with a make-your-own broth!!! Hopefully, it will bring as much comfort as this heartwarming movie I've never seen.

-olive oil
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
-Tomato paste- 1/2 tsp
-black beans, rinsed
-1/2 white onion
-1/2 red onion
-3 cloves garlic
-1/2 jalapeño, seeds in for heat, out if not.
-1/2 red bell pepper
-fresh ground pepper
-sliced avocado
- cilantro
-corn kernels, rinsed
-1 lime


Preheat over to 425 Degrees.

1. Pour a small amount of olive oil in a large soup pot. Sweat the garlic and onions over low heat. Once they turn translucent, add in the jalapeño and continue to cook over low heat.

1A. While the onions and garlic cook down, put 2 or three tortillas into the oven, and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.

2. Once the peppers, onion, and garlic are fragrant and soft, add in the tomato paste, cumin, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for a few more minutes.

3. Add in the stock, beans, corn, red pepper, and cilantro. Bring to a boil.

4. Turn soup to simmer. Add in lime juice.

5. Cut tortilla and avocado into strips. Stir the tortilla strips into the soup.

6.Taste and adjust seasonings.

7. Serve soup and garnish with the avocado.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Le Yum: a french sandwich delight

Coming up with creative vegetarian sandwich ideas can be tough. Tuna and Egg salad are always nice, or tomato/mozz/basil... and of course classics like the PB & J, fluff n' nutter, cream cheese and jelly, and cream cheese and cucumber all take turns in the rotation. Recently, we've added the TLT (Tofu, lettuce, and tomato), and the portobello mushroom burger makes an appearance on occasion, too. But I'm always looking for more....

So imagine my happiness at discovering this french delight: Radish, St. Andre, and herb butter (see yesterday's post!!)

And voila, I call this "Le Yum". Apparently this is a very popular sandwich in France. And I think this would make an excellent addition to my next picnic or tea party. Yeah, I said it. I'm sooooo Bourgeois.

St. Andre (find it next to the brie at the grocery store)
Herb butter (or...just butter)
Butter lettuce
Baguette or other crusty bread

1. Cut small radishes into thin slices.
2. Spread the herb butter and St. Andre onto the crusty bread.
3. Garnish with the butter lettuce.

Simple, delicious.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Herb Butter

Some things in life are so amazing. Herb butter is one of them. Let's be specific: BUTTER is an amazing thing- and as soon as there are flavors in it- with garlic, or chive, or parsley... well, that's just so right, it's wrong. The best part is that it is super easy to whip up, keeps well in the fridge for a looooong time (I've already kept it 'too long' and it's still delicious) and can make any weeknight meal a little more special.

1 stick butter
Herbs of choice: chives, parsley, basil, sage

1. Melt the butter in a medium pot over low heat. Do not allow to boil.
2. Stir in the herbs until submerged completely into the butter.
3. Allow to simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes.
4. Pour the butter and herbs into a sieve, allowing it to drain through to a container below.

5. Press the herbs to extract the last bit of flavor (and precious butter- I treat it like liquid gold!!)
6. Refrigerate. The butter will separate into a clear solid block on top and a creamy-looking block on the bottom of the container. Use just the clear part.

As always, thanks to Ronna Welsh who originally showed me the light and taught me how to clarify butter and flavor it with this method!!!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 1 Cleanse: Fruit Salad with Mint

Last summer I decided to do a 3-day cleanse with my cousins. I didn't get around to blogging the experience at the time, but I actually really enjoyed it (overall) and decided to do it again this march. This time, though, I am committed to posting the recipes and the experience!

Here are the rules of the cleanse:
No alcohol, caffeine, added sugar/sweets, salt, or high fat foods throughout

Days 1-3
Raw fruits & veg, natural fruit and veggie juices, steamed veggies if inedible raw (ie, Sweet potato)
Small amount of nuts and seeds
Lots of water

Days 4-7:
Raw and Cooked Fruit and Vegetables
Proteins: beans, eggs, tofu, tuna- prepared without fats or salt

Days 7-10
Fruits and Vegetables
Whole Grains (couscous, barley, brown rice, etc)

Days 11-14
Fruits & Veg
Whole Grains
Small amounts of fat and dairy

It's amazing how great you feel after you do it, and for me, it helps to halt bad habits (like eating lots of cheesy foods and sweet treats!) This is also a great time of year to do it, since summer is coming and the winter parties have finally faded.

The first day is usually ok for me, but the 2nd and 3rd you can feel quite fatigued. I think of how monks in the desert must feel, living on a diet of fruits and nuts- no wonder so much time spent quietly sitting still in meditation. You will not want to pair this with a busy weekend.

So, to answer your next question- what do you eat? Here is a recipe from day 1:

Fruit Salad with Mint

Several kinds of berries
mint leaves

Combine cut pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and orange slices in a bowl. Squeeze lemon on the fruit and mix in some finely chopped mint leaves. Let sit for 5 minutes before eating.
Stir and serve.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Taco Salad

I loved Taco Salad as a kid. But the restaurant versions are usually super unhealthy and gross, not to mention, typically covered in chicken or taco meat, so I stopped eating them in recent years. SO you can imagine my excitement when I saw a post on facebook about how you can use an overturned muffin tin to bake fresh soft tortillas into little taco shell bowls! Here is our take on this dish, which turned out so delicious.

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Turn over a muffin tin. Wet the tortilla and mold into a bowl shape. Set the bowl between the depressions in the muffin tin. Bake for about 10 minutes.

2. While the shells are baking, prepare the salad ingredients:

Romaine Lettuce (cut width-wise into strips)
Red pepper
black beans
Taco Cheese
Chicken or black bean patty (optional)

3. Remove the taco shells from the oven and let them cool. Prep the salad dressing:

Handful of Cilantro
clove of garlic
olive oil
1 tsp mayo
salt and pepper
1/2 lime, juiced
2-3 slices of jalepeno, seeded

Use a blender, cuisinart, or whisk to combine.

4. Prepare the final dish by setting each taco shell on a bed of lettuce. Sprinkle the salad ingredients and top with the dressing.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


My first experience with fondue was as a teenager on a school trip to Italy, Switzerland, and France. (Yes, I did indeed lose my fondue cherry in the Swiss town of Gruyere, and that is why I later grew up to be the ridiculous gourmand I am. (Read: food snob)). Later, fond memories include spending a week with a high school boyfriend's family in the french countryside- and eating fondue on a cold January night. They introduced me to the fun french way- or perhaps, it was just their fun way- of eating fondue: if you lost the bread off your fork, you had to basically complete a truth or dare. I remember being dared to go next door to a french farmer, and request, in french, to borrow a cup of sugar. I chickened out, but  it was a fun evening nonetheless!! (Du sucre, s'il vous plait?)

SO, when the ATX family decided to have a little Christmas Eve gathering, it seemed like this dish HAD to make an appearance! We dusted off the fondue pot and I went to look for the recipe.... only to discover that I neglected to write it out! So, re-contrsucted here, with the help of the internets, the joy of cooking, and believe it or not, the recipe that came with the fondue pot- is our fondue recipe (with a few updates!!)

1 loaf crusty french bread
3/4-1 lb Gruyere (shredded)
1/2 lb Emmenthaler Swiss (shredded)
1/2 lb Vacherin Fribourgeois
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 1/4 cup - 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (Fendant, a swiss wine, or something like a Sauvignon Blanc)
1-2 tbsp cornstarch (add slowly until desired thickness)
2 tbsp Kirsch
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Rub the inside of a pot or the fondue pot with the garlic.
Add the white wine to the pot and simmer over medium heat. Stirring constantly, gradually add the shredded cheese.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and the kirsch. Stir it into the melted cheese mixture.
Season to taste with the sat, pepper, and lemon. If too thick, add additional wine.