Superfood Spring Rolls

I’m in the final week of my mini-summer, and I’m wearing myself out keeping myself occupied. It’s a tough life.

Anyways, to keep myself busy (and because I moved into a new apartment), I decided to host a few friends (the ones kind enough to drive out to see me) for some summer swimming and snacking. And I’ve learned how terribly fun it is to menu-plan.

Because I now live very near to the largest Asian market in the area, I decided my menu would be Asian-themed. Here it is!

Saucy Asian Meatballs from Gimme Some Oven
Edamame Potstickers from Stay Happy, Stay Healthy
Superfood Spring Rolls (recipe below!)
Fresh veggies & homemade hummus
Popcorn seasoned with ginger

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Tex-Mex Stuffed Bell Peppers

A few weeks ago, I made an important discovery. My boyfriend, who routinely eats fast food and Pringles Cheez-ums, likes bell peppers. Whoa.

Now, to his credit, he isn’t really a picky eater, just someone who doesn’t have enough time/motivation to cook all the time. He always tries what I put in front of him, and generally he likes it. But bell peppers used be a problem food of mine, so this discovery was pretty awesome. And it meant we needed to make stuffed bell peppers.

There are so many stuffed bell pepper recipes that I might be crazy adding mine to the mix, but let me tell you — these are GOOD. Everyone who tried them agrees. All three of us.

But seriously — very yummy, very easy. And if you eat Paleo, this recipe is nearly there besides the cheese (right? I’m still not 100% on that). If you’re vegan, you could sub the meat with lentils and/or beans (I’m hooked on lentils lately, they’re such a winter food).

My boyfriend likes things organized neatly. So I introduced him to the tumblr of the same name.

My boyfriend likes things organized neatly. So I introduced him to the Tumblr of the same name.

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A Scrumptious Thanksgiving

This year, my family of five had no obligations. We didn’t have to go anywhere, do anything, or have anybody over.

So we decided to do Thanksgiving our way. Our seasonal veggies, made-from-scratch, cast-iron-skillet way.

And the results? Delicious. I think this has been our best Thanksgiving meal yet.

I got to use my sister Jenna’s Rebel to photograph our lovely spread. And those oranges and lemons? Homegrown. Oh yeah.

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Hot and Sour Soup from a Kroger

I’ve loved Hot and Sour soup for longer than I can remember. My parents say that when I was little bitty they’d pick out the tofu for me, and I didn’t even mind the spiciness. I’ve never understood why anyone would pick egg-drop over this deliciousness. In fact, I use this soup as a quality meter for Chinese restaurants. If your Hot and Sour soup sucks, there’s a chance I might never step foot in your restaurant again.

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But we can’t all make traditional Hot and Sour soups in our own homes. Three years ago, my mom and I became somewhat addicted to it, so we devised a recipe from things you can find at your very own suburban supermarket. Continue reading

Improv Italian

I’m always challenging my boyfriend to try new foods, and I really appreciate how game he is when I try to feed him cauliflower crust pizza or his first raw sushi. He says he’s liked everything I’ve ever gotten him to try, but last night, we both agreed we needed a little comfort food.

Or how he put it: “Cheesy, greasy, bad-for-me Italian food.”

Hungry yet?

I decided earlier in the day that we’d make pasta shells, but I hadn’t quite thought it all the way through, and before I knew it I was standing in the produce section of a Central Market without consulting a single cooking blog.

Good thing this ain’t my first rodeo.

ImagePasta shells pre-oven… Success!

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Best Summer Salsa

Oh man, I’m so sorry, y’all. Finals and graduations (unfortunately not mine) and working and moving completely usurped my spring, leaving me with no time to blog. But good news! I have a new, adorable house, a new, adorable boyfriend, and a new, adorable kitten.

I’m sure you can tell which is the most important 😉
Since I haven’t posted in forever I think y’all deserve a special treat. I’m going to share my super-secret, super-awesome, super-yummy recipe for salsa.
My dad had a garden when I was younger, and he would grow squash, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, corn, and more. We would always have an abundance of yellow squash, which my mom would make into an extremely unappetizing casserole of squash, milk, bread, and cheese that I still give her a hard time for. But more importantly, we had plenty of tomatoes, the main ingredient in salsa, and my favorite ingredient, cilantro.
Because of the garden and my Tex-Mex upbringing, I prefer salsas that are chunky, flavorful, and spicy. So I developed this recipe, and it hasn’t failed me yet.
HOWEVER! This time I left the base recipe the same but threw in a mango, and it was absolutely phenomenal.

Discoveries: Cookies, Kale and Concerts

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I baked more cookies. But don’t forget that I also I cooked kale and went to an incredible concert. But cookies first. Trust me, it’s worth it.
This guy I met in my creative nonfiction writing class and I decided that because our class sat right on top of Valentine’s day dinner hour, we should bake cookies for everybody! That crazy kid wanted to make cookies out of a tube, but I insisted on making them from scratch, even though we were strapped for time. I’m a purist, what can I say?
I made some delicious discoveries about cookies and their content thanks to Baker Bettie (an awesome post I found on Pinterest, of course!), and the cookies we brought to class were PHENOMENAL, if I may say so myself!
She doesn’t share her perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, which is fine because that’s how she makes a living, so I thought I would share mine from Valentine’s Day. Because it really is that awesome.

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Cranberry-Ginger Carrots

Last week I was reading the Dallas Morning News and I stumbled upon an article that included “healthier” recipes for Thanksgiving, one of which was cranberry-ginger carrots. I took pictures of two other recipes, but as luck would have it, I found myself craving cranberry-ginger carrots for the rest of the week.
  So what’s a girl to do? Wing it, of course!

Yummmmm!

The ginger? Perfect with the cranberries. So tasty! I let the carrots sit too long in a covered dish and they got a bit mushy, but overall, the dish was excellent, and a great alternative to plain cooked carrots. I’m pretty sure my version isn’t exactly healthy, though…

Cranberry-Ginger Carrots

1/2 pkg fresh cranberries
2 tbsp diced ginger root (really, you should grate it, but I couldn’t find a grater)
water
2 pkg baby carrots
1 tbsp butter
1/3 c brown sugar

1. Cook cranberries and ginger with a bit of water in a saucepan until the cranberries start to pop.
2. Add carrots, butter, and brown sugar and cook with lid on until carrots are mostly soft, about 20 min, and stir occasionally. Make sure a decent amount of water stays in the pot so the carrots can cook well.
3. Take the top off and simmer so the juices condense into a nice cranberry-brown sugar glaze, about 5 min.

And that’s it! Easy, inexpensive, and tasty. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Acorn Squash Soup

When you cook, you learn that there is a lot to know about food that most people take for granted. For example, you learn what squashes are winter versus fall. You also learn that what you thought was a butternut squash your whole life is actually an acorn squash. I didn’t know this when I picked up an acorn squash on a whim last week, but it turned out to not really matter anyways. The soup I made was excellent.
  I adapted the recipe from a blog called Twin Tables (Makes me wish I had a twin!) because, like the blog says, it sounded too good to not try. 

Kickin’ STEAMED ACORN Squash Soup

1 acorn squash
Cayenne pepper
Cinnamon
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
olive oil
1/4 c maple syrup
1 c chicken stock
cilantro leaves
apple cider vinegar (optional)

1. Halve the squash, remove the seeds, and steam until soft. Remove the skin whatever way works best for you (I had a hell of a time), then mash the squash with a few dashes each of cayenne pepper and cinnamon.
2. Heat a bit of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook the vegetables until tender.
3. Add maple syrup, chicken stock, squash, some cilantro, and simmer.
4. Use an immersion blender to puree the veggies until smooth. Serve with a dash of apple cider vinegar, if desired. 

A few bonuses:
Clean the seeds from the squash and roast them with salt and allspice. A word to the wise: these things explode like popcorn kernels. Don’t put your face in the oven!
If you time things right, you can easily make this soup in one pot. I chopped my vegetables while the acorn squash was steaming, then rinsed the saucepan and used it to cook the veggies while I tried to get the skin off my squash (much easier said than done!).

UPDATE 1/14/12:
I took these pictures with my phone when I first made the soup. Not sure why I never posted them, but here they are!