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Cookbook Challenge: Another One Down

So I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve managed to stick with this cookbook challenge all month so far. For this week, I made an egg and cheese omelet (Menemen) from Vegetarian Dishes from Across the Middle East by Arto der Haroutunian. There were a lot of dishes I wanted to make from this book and marked for future reference, but I was trying to use up some ingredients I had in the fridge, so this stuck out to me right away.

omelet and english muffinThe book said to pair with salad and pita, but since I’d already made salad that day and had no pita, I used an Ezekiel English muffin—haven’t bought those in ages, but it was a nice treat. Great vehicle for baba ghanoush and roasted eggplant slices. Can’t say I earn any points for presentation, but it kind of resembles a smiley face so I’m hoping that counts for something! The wide “eyes” make it look kind of a deranged smiley face, though, so let’s just say I am never going to be a food stylist.

This was the only all-vegetarian book I’ve made something from so far, mostly because the recipes are delicious regardless of whether you eat meat or not. Also, I could eat Middle Eastern food every day and not get sick of it.

Here’s what my loose interpretation of the recipe ended up looking  like:


  • Oil spray, oil, or butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup sliced pepper and onion
  • 1 c baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp goat cheese
  • 3/4 c liquid egg whites
  • fresh parsley or dried
  • pepper to taste

Directions :

  1. Saute pepper and onion a few minutes until beginning to soften.
  2. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  3. Mix egg whites, cheese, parsley, and pepper. Pour mixture over veggies.
  4. Cook until egg whites are set. Serve immediately.

In short, I’m happy that I managed to cook something new each week so far this month, even if I didn’t do anything too ambitious:

Zucchini Coins

Eggplant Caviar

I haven’t decided yet what I’ll make next week—part of me would like to undertake something a little more involved, but we’ll have to see…

What do you make when you’re trying to clean out the fridge? 

A few things for Friday

1.) I love that this exists. Someone out there’s  looking out for me. wine to go

Haha. I don’t know what my deal is—I sound like such a wino, but really, I usually end up having, like, 3 or 4 drinks over the course of a whole week. If that. I’m like that kid who never shuts up about sex because he can’t freaking get any. Of course, I can have a glass of wine whenever I damn well please, I just only do it when it’s worth the headache. PS—I totally wrote “cometimes” before autocorrect came to my rescue.

2.) On a semi-related note…Things I Have Learned About Dating #168:

When your date accidentally punches you in the face, the least they can do is buy you a four-dollar bourbon.

(Okay, okay, it was just an elbow, but holy s***. Still hurt like a metaphor.)

3.) I am never giving up shopping for Lent again. I want to buy all the things this week.

4.) I am officially obsessed with chickpea pancakes for breakfast. Recipe coming soon.

Instagram-y Pancake

Instagram-y Pancake

5.) I may not be a runner, but as someone beats the crap out of their feet, I found this article very helpful.

6.) Watch out—the flu is back. Not like it ever left. Happy fun times.

7.) The 10 Comments You Should Never Make to a Woman About her Body. Yes.

What’s on your mind this Friday? Any hard-learned dating lessons to share? 

What to do with Easter leftovers

Last year, I was digging on some babka French toast after Easter. Polish/French toast? I don’t know. It didn’t matter because it was delicious.

This year, I ended up with a to-go container of meat, so my leftover creations are on the savory end of the spectrum. One inevitability was leftover lamb with roasted veggies, baba ghanoush, and goat cheese. lamb leftovers

On the “good experiment” side of things, Monday morning, after throwing in a load of laundry and getting my ass kicked by Jillian Michaels, I threw together this super-satisfying breakfast with the contents of what was left in my fridge and freezer.kielbasa leftovers


  • 1 small shallot, sliced thin or diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced leeks (thawed from frozen)
  • 1 large handful kale
  • 2 slices kielbasa, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 c liquid egg whites


  1. In a small pan with a lid, sautee shallot and leeks in olive oil until beginning to caramelize.
  2. Add kielbasa. Sautee another few minutes.
  3. Add kale. Cover to wilt.
  4. Meanwhile, scramble egg whites in a skillet or microwave, covered, at 45-second intervals until cooked.
  5. Add egg whites to kielbasa & kale mix. Serve immediately.

How do you like to use leftovers? 


Eggplant Caviar, Approximately

April always makes me want to listen to Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. I think it’s something to do with a musical flashback to my first year of college, that fresh-air feeling of Boston after a long, dark winter. It was still cold as s*** but it smelled like spring. There were cherry blossoms outside my window and I still had the stamina to pull all-nighters listening to music and writing and go to class the next day like it was the most normal thing to subsist on no sleep. Hah! Now I feel like death with a swipe of eyeliner if I get less than seven hours.

I had a time times to kill after getting everything organized for Tuesday’s event in New Jersey, so I started unpacking boxes of old clothes at my parents’  house to separate things to give away.  I sniffed this one scarf I used to wear almost every day back in March/April/May of 2005 and since then, the song “Queen Jane, Approximately” has been stuck in my head.

The next morning, I made myself take a weekend day (or at least try), since I’d been going at full speed for a bit too long and have some busy weeks at the hospital coming up. After a refreshing hot yoga class, I took a few minutes to pick another recipe for my April Cookbook Challenge. Cheers to not forgetting three weeks in a row!

IMG_5562This go-around it was eggplant caviar from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food.  If I’m remembering right, this book was a Christmas gift from my mother back in 2008 or 2009. Of course, instead of actually following the recipe, I just followed the first and last few steps (roast & scoop eggplant, mix in olive oil). I completely side-stepped the minced garlic and fresh parsley on top, going instead with the Garlic Gold infused olive oil I got for Christmas this year because, well, why not? Culinary spring cleaning, what up? Eggplant Caviar, approximately.

1 eggplant
salt + pepper
2-3 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice eggplant lengthwise. Season cut edges with olive oil (or olive oil spray) and salt and pepper. Place face-down on baking sheet and roast until soft inside, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from over.
  3. After allowing eggplant to cool, scoop insides into a bowl. Stir well to ease into a puree texture.
  4. Stir in olive oil 1 tsp at a time until mixture is desired smoothness. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
This is great on toast, but I also mixed some into a cauliflower rice stir-fry and loved it that way. It’s also great tucked into an omelet. Who are we kidding, though—I could eat this from the bowl with a spoon. I think this recipe is going to be added to the regular rotation. This may or may not mean I just buy an extra eggplant every week instead of allowing this to replace the roasted slices I enjoy in salads, stir-fry, and on toast. I have no idea how or why I’m such an eggplant freak, but it’s the number one reason I could never follow a macrobiotic diet. I love me some nightshades, what can I say?
What foods can you not get enough of? 

A Few Things for Friday

1.) Wedding season it almost here. #vanityWhite Strips


2.) This  hilarious post from Foodtrainers: “Are you an “Instaslave?” (I’m totally a little bit guilty of 9 & 10)

3.) Sometimes I get living-space envy when I see bloggers talking about being upstairs or being downstairs in their home. I essentially live in one room and it feels huge. Until I read something about someone’s basement or washer-dryer in the garage. Then I remember I don’t have to clean all those rooms and I feel happy and NYC-smug again.

4.) This Lobster Polenta Pizza from How Sweet It Is—right up my alley. I can’t believe I spent the first 18 years of my life thinking I hated lobster. I could basically eat it with anything now. For the uninitiated, Trader Joe’s frozen langostino tails are a good day-to-day substitute.

5.) Any of you guys with upcoming travel plans, check out this jet-lag app—so cool!

6.)  How to do “small plates” right.

cosmo surf and turf7.) Sexy-time in the presence of crustaceans just sounds like a bad idea. Lobster claws are strong! Also, can someone please tell the folks at Cosmo that they totally missed an opportunity to make an Annie Hall joke?

On a semi-related note, I tend to dream about lobsters when I have anxiety about whether I should be involved with someone I’m involved with. This winter, I had a dream about getting a lobster at a suburban grocery store. Instead of giving it to me in a bag, the person behind the counter just handed it to me, and the lobster clamped down on my left arm. My dream-self tried to play it cool, tried to shake it loose, but no dice. I asked the cashier if she could please kill the lobster, and she gave me a blank stare. It was then I realized that in order to get the lobster to let go of me, I had to first let go of the lobster. I woke up skittish as ever but feeling like I’d learned something.

8.) I’m working on next month’s newsletter—drop me a line at keepingitrealfood(at)gmail(dot)com if you want to be added to the list.

Are you a slave to Instagram? Do you like lobster? 


What I Ate Wednesday #158: Work-From-Home-Monday

Athleta April 15What I Ate Wednesday, we meet again. How’s your week going? I feel like I’m still coming down from the excitement preparing for last night’s event. One of my favorite things about being a dietitian is being able to do workshops and other healthy-eating events in the community. I want to give a big shout-out to the folks at Athleta for being so great to work with! Also, thank you to everyone who came out! I had so much fun! I’ll have a post about the event soon.

Monday, I was working from home, which was a great opportunity to tie up loose ends for Tuesday. I also had quite a mountain of emails to tend to after working at the hospital Saturday and spending most of Sunday in Queens catching up with friends. One of the things I underestimated when starting my own business was just how much time I would spend on it. It’s what I wake up thinking about in the morning, and it’s what’s on my mind when I go to bed. For better or worse, it doesn’t even feel like work because I’m doing something I’m passionate about that allows me to use my skills while also learning new ones. Turns out that “labor of love” cliche is true.

One thing I should admit, though, is that on my work-from-home days, my meals do not score very high on the “presentation” side. I see nothing wrong with eating salad right from the mixing bowl…

Things in BowlsHere’s what I ate this past Monday. I wasn’t planning to make it a meatless one, but that’s what happened:

  • Breakfast: A smoothie similar to this one, except with chocolate whey protein powder. Of all the protein powders I’ve tried, whey is still my favorite—love the texture! I also feel it keeps me full for much longer than other types, and I can practically feel my muscles saying, “Thank you” after a workout when I have this for breakfast after. An aside: it happens to make smoothies taste like a Wendy’s frosty. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but hey.
  • Lunch: Another giant salad, with butter beans and tons of roasted veggies, plus a little avocado. A little later, I had a single-serving bag of Trader Joe’s kettle corn. Totally forgot to take a picture, though. Whoops!
  • Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with flax, cinnamon, and a few blackberries, topped with a drizzle of the rosemary fig honey I’ve been enjoying lately.
  • Dinner: I was trying to use up some kale, so I added some Trader Joe’s falafel, roasted veggies, hummus, tahini, and goat cheese.
  • Snack: Another photo fail: a sliced banana with PB2.

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

How do your meals differ from when you’re at work vs home?  


#TBT—Anatomy of a Packed Lunch

Jess 2000ishAround age 13, I realized I just needed to embrace my nerdy side instead of trying to hide behind Abercrombie and Fitch sweatpants, which were totally the Thing circa 1999. I was not fooling anyone, least of all, myself.

I don’t have many pictures of myself around that age, but in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, here’s one in which I appear to be sporting a fuzzy hoodie and grown-out bob. I really hope I am not also wearing the camo cargo skirt and chunky black sandals I was oh-so fond of in 8th grade, but it’s totally possible, as I wore them basically every other day. Actually, sometimes I wish I still had them. I should not admit this to the internet but, well, I just did.

For grades K-6, I went to a school that had no kitchen, so packed lunch was a given during my formative years (thanks, Mom!). Going to middle school and trying to navigate a cafeteria full of unappetizing foreign things like tater tots while still wanting to buy lunch like the cool kids was…interesting. My default became a sesame seed bagel with peanut butter and a carton of milk.

It never occurred to me this was weird until one day someone asked, in only the way a 13-year-old can make the simplest question sound mean, “Why do you put peanut butter on your bagel?” Read More »

Hemp Seed Pesto

Happy World Health Day! What are you doing to celebrate and nurture your health today? This morning, I have two things for you:

1.) a funny buzzfeed article about our national kale obsession

2.) a Meatless Monday recipe

As someone who can’t eat pine nuts but knows what they’re missing, I’ve been longing for a pesto recipe I can enjoy without struggling to breathe. I tried it with pumpkin seeds, and I even tried it with just basil, olive oil, and parm, but neither of those worked out for me.

dorot basic cubesIn the spirit of culinary spring cleaning, I’ve been trying to make things that incorporate those ingredients that have been taking up room in my cabinets and freezer so I can make space. Make space for what, I’m not sure, but as a New Yorker, I’m obsessed with the concept of roominess. This recipe came together in a moment of hunger-induced madness, when I spotted these basil cubes in my freezer and then looked at the little bag of Whole Foods bulk-bin bulgur I had thrown on the kitchen counter. This bulgur has been sitting there since…November? December? However long it’s been since I had lunch at Congee Village with my old volunteer supervisors and I went to Whole Foods after, that’s how long it’s been.

Since I’ve been all about hemp seeds in recent months, that next ingredient was a no-brainer. Lots of things I eat lately are based off of whether I can add hemp seeds, similar to how I base a lot of choices on how well it might pair with tahini and/or goat cheese. Or avocado. Fat phobia is not something I struggle with, clearly. 

Anyway.  Feel free to sub fresh basil or omit the frozen spinach if you do not have a bag languishing in the freezer. 


  • 10 basil cubes, thawed
  • 1 c frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic gold nuggets (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Process ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Makes 2-3 servings

hemp seed pestoThe first time I ate this, I tossed it with some cooked bulgur, leftover roasted veggies, and (thawed) frozen peas. I added goat cheese because that sounded good to me, but parmesan is also fantastic. If you want to keep it vegan, you can use nutritional yeast instead of cheese.

This also happens to be delicious with eggs. And tahini. And probably avocado. It’s totally okay if you think I’m weird.

What’s your favorite way to eat pesto? 

A Few Things for Friday

Well done, you’ve made it to Friday. Anything fun planned for the weekend? Unlike last weekend, I’m working part of it at the hospital, but I’m also planning some fun things too.

1.) Also planning: Any readers in New Jersey, I’ll be doing a fun event at a local Athleta store later this month.

2.)  What it would take to burn off your favorite Easter candy. Very informative, unless your favorite Easter candy happens to be jelly beans, specifically the white Russell Stover’s flavor that tastes like your childhoodJust saying. 

3.) The Onion nails it once again 

4.)  Mindy Kaling being awesome

5.) I made hemp seed pesto the other night (recipe tk), using these cubes I had in the depths of my freezer. #CulinarySpringCleaning IMG_5422

6.) Let’s talk food jags for a minute: This week, my go-to after-work snack has been sprouted-grain toast with peanut butter or avocado on it. Complex Carbs + Healthy Fat + Protein=staying power. Perfection. Unfortunately, I’ve been too ravenous to remember to take a picture.

7.) Ever wonder what chefs have in their fridge at home? Of course you do.


The Cookbook Challenge Begins

IMG_5395Since I worked from home Tuesday, it seemed like a good time to kick off the actual cooking part of the April Cookbook Challenge. For my first attempt, I kept it super simple with this recipe for Tuscan chicken from The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook. I’m sorry I can’t remember who gave this to me or when!

Anyway, recipe was perfect, as I was in the mood to just throw a bunch of stuff in the pot with some liquid and let it cook while I went and tackled my to-do list. Done and done!

Of course, I forgot the lemon juice even though I had the lemon sitting right there on the counter. Some days are just like that. My days off are really more “work from home” days, so I get sidetracked easily when it comes to things like citrus. Luckily, this still came out really well!

I put some on my lunchtime salad the next day. So good! I’m obsessed with rosemary lately, and this hit all the right notes.IMG_5401

Perfect weekday salad happenings over here:

Tuscan Chicken Salad

Any favorite recipes you’re loving lately? 

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