shaved asparagus pizza.

May 22, 2014 § 2 Comments

My new favorite.


To set the scene:  It was a Sunday afternoon.  Ty and I had spent several hours cleaning out closets and piling up clothes for Goodwill.  Around 5:30, we realized we were starving.

I remembered that we had a pile of freshly picked asparagus on the counter–the perk of a long-ago-planted asparagus patch in our backyard.

20 minutes later, this pizza was in the oven.

15 minutes later, it was being devoured.

Just do it!

Shaved Asparagus Pizza
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (with some adjustments)

What you need:

  • one refrigerated thin pizza dough
  • medium bunch of asparagus
  • 1/4 cup grated or shaved Parmesan
  • 2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • roughly two tablespoons of olive oil
  • dash of sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon (optional)
  • dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2-3 minced garlic cloves (optional)

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and dry your asparagus.  Holding the thick end of the asparagus, shave long, thin strips using a peeler.  There is no perfect way to do this, and it doesn’t really matter if the sizes or thickness of your pieces are uneven.

Place the strips in a bowl and toss with the drizzle of olive oil and dash of sea salt and black pepper.  I also added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for a little kick.


Set aside the bowl momentarily.  Time to stretch out and prepare your pizza dough.

I used dough from Trader Joe’s.  When I prepare it, I stretch it out on a lightly floured cutting board.  Then I transfer the dough to a cookie sheet that I have drizzled with olive oil.

Once the dough is ready, spread the Parmesan cheese evenly.  Then, spread the Mozzarella cheese.

Layer your shaved asparagus on top.  If you are choosing to add garlic (and why would you not!?!) now is the time to sprinkle on the minced garlic.


Quick close up!


Put the pizza in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.  As soon as you take it out of the oven, sprinkle on your sliced green onion.  I squeezed the juice of half a lemon on top for added flavor.


Admire it for a second, then slice & eat!


We ate this so fast that I thought it was a dream.  Luckily I have these photos.




easy fajitas with grilled chicken, peppers, and onions.

April 21, 2014 § 3 Comments

So, to tell you the truth, I am exhausted.  Ty & I have been house hunting for several months, and last week  involved several nights spent with our realtor.  It’s so much more of an emotional process than I had anticipated!  Lots of excitement followed by let downs… But my fingers are crossed that something good is just around the corner!

In the meantime, I’m counting on simple recipes like this one to get me through some hectic weekdays.  I’ve made double batches of these fajitas twice in the last two weeks to give us some great leftovers!


Easy Fajitas with Grilled Chicken, Peppers, and Onions

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen with minor changes

What you need:

  •  1 and 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 6-8 flour or corn tortillas
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 3-5 assorted bell peppers (2-3 large or 4-5 small) – can be red, green, yellow, or orange
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • shredded cheese and/or sour cream, for topping


What to do:

Start by preparing your chicken.  I like to trim excess fat off of my chicken breasts before thinly slicing them in 1/2 inch strips.  Put the strips into a plastic freezer bag.  In a bowl, combine the lime juice, salt, oregano, cumin, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika.  Pour over the chicken strips.  Seal bag tightly and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.  (This can also marinate overnight!)

Peel and slice your onion into very thin strips.  Cut your bell peppers into thin strips, as well, removing seeds and stem.  ImageHeat a very large skillet over a high heat.  (You want this pan HOT.)

Once skillet has heated, drizzle with olive oil to coat.  Place your sliced bell peppers in one layer on the skillet.  Allow them to cook for several minutes without touching them–resist the urge to flip them!  Turn one over as a test to see if its begun to char.  If so, flip.  Sear the other side until brown.  Then, add the onions.  Also allow them to char and turn golden.  Once the onions have softened, remove the entire onion and pepper mixture from the pan and set aside in a bowl.   Add another drizzle of olive oil to the pan.   Add the sliced chicken strips in a single layer.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side, then flip.  Cook for another 5 minutes on the other side.  Chicken should be browning.  Once chicken is cooked, add the onion and pepper mixture back into the skillet and toss well.  When you are ready to serve, remove the skillet from heat.

I warmed my tortillas on a grill pan until they were slightly charred.  Spoon a generous serving of the chicken fajita mixture onto each tortilla.

ImageAfter snapping these photos, I topped my fajitas with shredded cheese and sour cream.  (You could add other toppings, to your liking, like salsa, corn, black beans, cilantro, slaw, etc.)


barley soup with turkey sausage, swiss chard, and shaved parmesan.

April 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

The calendar may say spring, but I’m not buying it.  We haven’t quite let go of winter just yet.  And for these lingering cold days when you’re in need of a hearty, warm lunch or dinner, may I suggest this barley soup?  It is good and good for you, simple, and tasty.


Top it with some shredded or shaved cheese and serve with some crusty bread.  Or just eat it like this.  I don’t care.  You will like it, I promise.


Barley Soup with Turkey Sausage, Swiss Chard, and Shaved Parmesan

Recipe from Climbing Grier Mountain  (with adaptations)

What you need:

  • 1 pound of turkey sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped [remove leaves and stem]
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cup barley [I used 1 package of Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Barley]
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 4 generous cups of cleaned and chopped Swiss chard
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • shaved Parmesan, for topping

What to do:

Finely chop your onion, fennel, and carrots.  In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil to medium high heat.  Add the turkey sausage, and cook until browned.   I let the sausage cook for about 10-12 minutes.  Then, add the chopped veggies and saute until soft, 5-6 minutes.  Add the barley and red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the broth.  Bring the pot to a boil, then turn to low heat and let the soup simmer for 35 minutes.  Add the chopped chard and rinsed & drained garbanzo beans, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove soup from heat.  Serve with a spoonful of shaved Parmesan cheese.


Note:  This was my first recipe with fennel.  It’s been described as having a licorice taste, but I found it to be lightly minty.  Once it was chopped, sauteed, and mixed into the soup, I couldn’t even distinguish it.  But it’s apparently packed with nutrients:  fiber, Vitamin C, antioxidants.   Still, if you are leery, or can’t find fennel in your grocery store, just use add more carrots or a finely chopped stalk of celery.  Whatever floats your boat will work well in this soup.




One last picture because I am new-camera-happy.

carrot coconut soup.

February 25, 2014 § 2 Comments

News flash:  It’s still winter.

Maybe it was a dream, but this past Saturday I took a long walk with my Mom in near-60 degree sunshine.  The strange, glorious warmth was a reminder that Spring is coming.  And also that I am really, really pale.  It happens.

For now, I’m still meandering around the house moaning about how cold I am (“Toughen up!” says Ty), snuggling up in fleece blankets, sipping the occasional (nightly) glass of wine, and making pot fulls of soup and chili.

Like this Carrot Coconut Soup!  Quick soups like this are the best.


For such a simple soup, it packs a lot of flavor and spicy kick.  Also, I love a bright, orange soup!

Carrot Coconut Soup

Recipe directly from Shutterbean (with just the teensiest of modifications)

I found this serves 2-3 generously – double if you want leftovers!

What you need:

  • 4 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
  • 1 pound of carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth (fat-free & low sodium)
  • 1  14 oz. can low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (found in the Thai section of your grocery)
  • sriracha sauce
  • fresh cilantro (optional for topping)

What to do:

As always, prep work first!  Peel and chop your carrots.  Peel and chop your onion.  Done!

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the butter and let it melt.  Once butter has melted, add the chopped carrots and onion.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Continue to stir until carrots are softened.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Now, stir in the chicken broth and coconut milk.  Also add the tablespoon of sambal oelek, if desired.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Vegetables should become very soft.

Remove the soup from heat, then puree with an immersion blender.  Serve the soup with a dash of sriracha and cilantro.


Note:  If you don’t want the soup to be too spicy, but still want some kick, eliminate the sambal oelek.  If you want a mild, sweet carrot soup, skip the sambal oelek and sriracha altogether.



cauliflower rice burrito bowls.

February 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last week, I posted a photo of my “delicious, healthy mess” of a dinner on Facebook, and several people were interested in the recipe.  Well, here it is, except this time, I think it’s a little bit prettier.  (That could be because I haven’t added three huge dollops of guacamole and mashed it all together… yet.)


I’m talking about cauliflower rice burrito bowls!  Cauliflower is kind of underrated, in my opinion.  Because it doesn’t have a strong taste on its own, it’s perfect for using in a dish like this.  Now, I don’t want to pretend that cauliflower “rice” tastes like actual rice.  It doesn’t.  It tastes like cauliflower.  But on those occasions when you want to go heavy on the veggies, and lighter on carbs, this cauliflower rice works perfectly.

Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

Recipe slightly adapted from The Roasted Root

What you need:

For the cauliflower rice–

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed, stems removed, and grated
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of sea salt and black pepper

For the guacamole–

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 package seasoning mix or your own seasoning blend
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

For the pico de gallo–

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

To complete the bowls–

  • 1 14-oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 C corn (can use frozen or canned)
  • Optional toppings, such as fresh cilantro, cheese, sour cream, etc.

What to do:

I made my guacamole and pico de gallo first, then let both chill in the fridge while I cooked my cauliflower rice.

To make your guacamole, halve and pit your avocados.  Scoop the flesh into a small bowl and mash well, with a fork or potato masher.  Add your seasoning, per your preference.  I sometimes use the McCormick Mild Guacamole packet.  After you blend the avocado and seasoning well, add a tablespoon of fresh lime juice.

To make your pico de gallo, begin by seeding and dicing the Roma tomatoes.  Peel and dice the white onion.  Put both the tomatoes and onion in a small bowl.  Add the juice of 1 lime, plus 1 cup of fresh chopped cilantro.  Blend well, then season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Now–to make our cauliflower rice!

Rinse your head of cauliflower.  Remove the greens and stem.  Grate the florets, either in a food processor or by hand.  I only have a small cheese grater, so that’s what I used!  I suggest grating the cauliflower over a cookie sheet to catch the small pieces.


Once the cauliflower is grated, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add two tablespoons olive oil.  Once the skillet is warm, add your grated cauliflower, the juice of one lime, and your seasonings.  Cook the rice over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Cook until the cauliflower becomes soft and browned.  Taste, and add more sea salt and pepper as needed.

Your “rice” will look something like this:


Now, it’s time to prep the rest of the ingredients for our bowls!  Rinse and drain your can of garbanzo beans, and warm the beans over medium heat in a small saucepan or skillet.  I like to saute the beans until they begin to crisp and brown.

Also heat your corn, either in a small saucepan or in the microwave.

All that’s left now is to mix it all together!  Put a heaping cup of cauliflower rice in your bowl.  Add a spoonful of corn and a spoonful of garbanzo beans.  Top with pico de gallo and guacamole!


Now is also the time to add any other toppings you choose.  This is really all up to you and what you like!  I like a TON of guacamole.  That’s just me.


This is a fresh, healthy lunch or dinner!Image

Mix it all up and dig in!

Note:  I would say that this recipe will serve two hungry people generously for a main dish, or is enough for 4 smaller lunch servings.  If you wanted to opt for plain mashed avocado or avocado slices instead of guacamole, I think that would be fine.

pineapple fried rice.

February 6, 2014 § 1 Comment

In my effort to become a more  adventurous cook, I’m trying new recipes with foods that I “don’t like.”  Rice is typically one of those foods.  I will eat rice if it’s buried under an order of sweet and sour chicken, but really that’s about it.  Despite that, I bought a bag of brown jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s a while back and its been sitting in my pantry, waiting for its moment.  This recipe for pineapple fried rice from How Sweet Eats caught my eye with all of its color, and I wondered how rice simmered in coconut milk and pineapple juice would taste…

Turns out it tastes really, really good.


Pineapple Fried Rice

Recipe from How Sweet Eats

What you need:

  • 1 cup brown jasmine rice
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 cups cubed pineapple
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews (optional)

What to do:

Don’t be intimidated!  This comes together quickly.  Keep in mind that you could prepare the rice a day ahead of time.

First: Cook the rice.  Heat a medium pot over high heat.  Add the rice, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and water.  Stir well and bring the rice to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat.  Simmer the rice for 30 minutes until it absorbs all the liquid.  Then, set it aside to completely cool.

Next: Chop your veggies!  Peel and chop your sweet onion.  Mince your garlic and ginger.  Cube your pineapple, if not already cubed.  De-seed and chop your red pepper.  Thinly slice your green onions.  Crack and beat two large eggs into a small bowl, and beat lightly with a fork.  Have everything ready to go!

Heat a large skillet over high heat, and add one tablespoon of coconut oil.  Allow the oil to melt, then add your chopped onions and red pepper.  Stir for 2-3 minutes while the veggies cook.  Then, add the garlic and ginger.  Cook for no more than one minute (so the garlic and ginger doesn’t burn), then scoop the veggies out of the skillet and into a large bowl.  Set the bowl aside.

Add another tablespoon of coconut oil to your now-empty skillet, and add the pineapple.  Stir and cook the pineapple for 5-6 minutes until it begins to brown.  Then, add the sautéed pineapple to your bowl of veggies.  Keep the bowl set aside.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil to your again-empty skillet, and pour in your beaten eggs.  The skillet should be very hot by this point, so the eggs will cook quickly.  Let them cook for 1 minute, stirring them the entire time so they don’t stick to the pan.  Break the cooked egg up into small pieces.  Then, return the cooked egg to the small bowl and set aside.

Now, it’s time to put it all together!  Keeping the heat high, add 2 and a half tablespoons of coconut oil to the skillet.  Once it melts, add your cooked rice and toss to coat.  Let the rice crisp and heat for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat to low.  Add your soy sauce and stir well.  Then, add in your bowl of veggies and pineapple.  Next, add your cooked eggs.  Mix well.  Top with the sliced green onions.  If you want some extra crunch, sprinkle on some crushed cashews.


If you’re so inclined, you could top the rice with grilled chicken or shrimp.


If you have never cooked with coconut oil, or you’re wondering where to buy it, look for it next time you’re in Trader Joe’s.

Also, one note:  I used a bag of frozen pineapple tidbits rather than fresh pineapple.  It worked fine, but I’d suggest using fresh pineapple for the best taste!

guacamole hummus.

February 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

I have a simple dip to share with you today: guacamole hummus!  It is fresh, healthy, and pairs as well with veggies as it does pita chips or crackers.  It also really takes just a few moments to prepare, so long as you have a food processor.


I could (and do) eat this by the spoonful on its own.   It’s tangy and savory–my favorite!


Guacamole Hummus

Recipe from Shutterbean

What you need:

  • 3 cups fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper

What to do:

In a food processor, combine the cilantro leaves and garlic clove.  Process until finely chopped, then add the rinsed and drained chickpeas and chopped avocado.  Keep processing!  Drizzle in a stream of olive oil into the mixture as it processes, then add the lemon juice.  Keep processing until smooth.  Season with an additional squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste.  Garnish with additional cilantro, if you like.

In my world, this makes about 2 servings—so if making for an appetizer for a party, you may want to double or triple this recipe.

P.S. Thank you to Kate for the lovely new bowl!


roasted blue cheese stuffed mushrooms.

January 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

In the spirit of the Super Bowl (um…) and delicious, salty, cheesy foods, I bring you these stuffed mushrooms.

Mushrooms are the perfect blank palette, really.  You can fill them with whatever you want.  I just happened to choose seasoned Panko bread crumbs, garlic, and oodles of blue cheese.

You could choose any cheese you like: feta, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, Parmesan…I love cheese. Sigh.


Roasted Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

What you need:

  • 8-12 baby Portobella mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • salt and black pepper

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Clean the mushrooms, and remove the stem.  Place them bottoms up on the baking sheet, and brush the mushrooms with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Then, scoop one tablespoon of blue cheese crumbles into each of the mushroom cavities.


Disclaimer:  I may have tried to stuff more than one tablespoon of cheese in there.  Sue me.

In a separate bowl, combine the minced garlic and the Panko bread crumbs, and season the mixture with salt and black pepper.   Drizzle in one tablespoon of olive oil and mix well.

Put a spoonful of the breadcrumb mixture on top of the blue cheese in each mushroom cavity.

Bake for 25 minutes—the mushrooms will be tender, and the cheese will be melted.

Try not to eat them all while they are still piping hot…


These make a great appetizer, but they also make for a pretty easy dinner.  Besides, why would you want to share?  Nom nom…


simple white bean soup.

December 18, 2013 § 7 Comments

In the midst of all the cookies and boxes of chocolates and holiday parties this month, I give you a soup that is warm and hearty and healthy.  This white bean soup is so inexpensive and easy to make that I’ve prepared it three times in the last month.  If you’re looking for a healthy, simple dinner recipe, this is for you.


White Bean Soup
Recipe from Shutterbean (with very minor adaptations)

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


What to do:

Prepare your veggies!  Dice your onion and celery, and peel and dice your carrots.  Peel and chop that garlic!  Now you’re ready to go.  Also be sure to drain and rinse your cannellini beans.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add the diced onions and cook until translucent, 5-7 minutes.  Add the diced celery and carrot and continue to cook, 10 minutes or until they have softened.  Then add the chopped garlic and bay leaf*.  Continue to cook for several minutes.

Pour the chicken broth into the pot, as well as your beans and a sprinkling of salt and black pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil over medium high heat.  Once soup comes to a boil, lower the heat and let soup simmer.  Cook uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour—vegetables should be completely soft.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup, and puree the soup—I used my immersion blender.  Stir in lemon juice and add more salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve soup in bowls with some crusty buttered bread.

*Note:  The original recipe calls for 4 sage leaves to be added with the garlic and bay leaf—my grocery store was out of sage the first time I made this soup, so I made it without.


This soup manages to be creamy without any cream or butter!  So good.

crispy buffalo chicken salad.

December 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

This buffalo chicken salad is going to become part of my regular rotation.


The baked buffalo chicken breasts are simple and delicious, and if you’re not in a salad mood, you could serve them whole as a main dish with potatoes or a vegetable.  But I suggest trying the salad first.  Super satisfying!


Recipe slightly modified from How Sweet Eats

What you need for the chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mild buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 C panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 C seasoned fine bread crumbs (I used Progresso Italian Style)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ tsp onion powder

What you need for the salad:

  • 6-8 cups of butter lettuce, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 chives, sliced
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

What you need for the dressing:

  • 6 tablespoons ranch dressing (I used low-fat)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy blue cheese dressing
  • 2 teaspoons mild buffalo wing sauce

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spritz with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut your chicken breasts into small pieces.  Trim the fat, if you prefer.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Get two bowls ready!  In one bowl, whisk together the eggs and buffalo wing sauce.  In a second bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs, fine bread crumbs, onion powder, and flour.  Dredge each piece of chicken first into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumb mixture—use a fork to lightly press the crumbs against the chicken.

Place the pieces of chicken on the foil-lined pan. Spritz with nonstick spray.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Chicken ready to go into the oven:


Let’s zoom in here, folks.


While chicken is baking, prepare your dressing!  Simple:  Just whisk your ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, and buffalo wing sauce together.

Once chicken is ready, you can assemble your salads.

Place several handfuls of lettuce in each bowl.  Add your carrots, chives, and green onions.  Place 4-5 pieces of chicken on top.  Add some crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and bacon pieces, then drizzle with dressing, to your liking.  EAT UP PEOPLE!


*This recipe yielded two large salads, enough to feed two very hungry people.


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