Monthly Archives:

April 2014

Crispy Brown Rice Cakes with Avocado and Egg

Crispy Brown Rice Cakes with Avocado and Egg

April showers bring May flowers. And rainy rides to work.

Thank god for rain pants, otherwise I would’ve been one soaking mess at the office today. I hate driving, and I hate the majority of Philly’s public transit systems. So unless there’s some kind of lightning zombie apocalypse, you can generally catch me on my bike if I’ve got places to be.

If this sounds like you – invest in some rain pants. I’ve been borrowing a friend’s this week, and they are a savior. You could say they’re kind of like meals like this – good to keep around for when you need to be somewhere quick but still want to treat yourself well.

Okay, so maybe that rain pant / crispy brown rice cake comparison is a bit of a stretch. But both have served me well this past week. Hence, here I am, laying out a thank you to each on my blog today. So be it. I’ll blame the weather on this rambling blog post, if need be.

Let’s cut to the chase. There is certainly no debate around whether or not a ripe avocado is a savior in all lunchtime situations. It is, it is, it is. And if you’ve got brown rice cooked and stored in your fridge, you can use it to turn a breakfast-like combo into an interesting meal like this in no time.

Not dissimilar to avocado toast, this simply swaps the bread for crispy, wholesome rice used as a base and spiced as you desire. Feel free to play around with the toppings, or keep it simple like this. Following April showers, serve with an obligatory side of flowers.

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Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Ever feel like if you eat another spoonful of tahini or drizzle of toasted sesame oil, you’ll turn into the seed its made from? Or that you eat so much coconut curry there’s no way you shouldn’t already be sitting on the next plane to Thailand? Maybe for you it’s cumin and chili powder. Rice and beans. Turmeric and chickpeas.

Perhaps it’s none of things – but all I know is that as a vegetarian, it’s rare I’m cooking something other than ethnic cuisine. Usually it’s Asian-inspired. Usually there’s tahini involved. Usually I’m a happy camper.

Sometimes, however, I just crave something more, I don’t know, American? After maple-tahini on my oatmeal, and soy sauce/tahini/sesame oil on my lunchtime beans and grains, I have to tell myself to step away from the tahini jar. I’m telling you – lately it’s been going on everything, and dare I say, might just be outcompeting peanut butter in my diet.

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

I can’t tell you how American tempeh is, but I’m fairly certain Old Bay is the country’s seasoning of the summer. So forget pizza, forget pasta. My non-Asian oriented meal is going to have tempeh, and I’m going to label it American. You can call it otherwise, I really don’t care. (In this case, perhaps an American flag would’ve made a better table setting than the Mexican blanket I used…)

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Come summertime, throw some corn cobs on the grill, this tempeh on the stove, a beer in your hand, and a fresh tomato salad onto the side section of your plate, and then you can give me your answer. I’m already dreaming of this day as I type. Count me in for summer seasonings and garden-fresh sides all season long. (We’ll see if this can kick my tahini habit to a once-per-day max.)

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Fresh Carrot Slaw

Fresh Carrot Slaw

I could eat carrots for breakfast (in the form of carrot cake – mandatorily topped with cream cheese icing), lunch, and dinner. Dessert too, if we’re circling back to breakfast here. It’s my veggie snack of choice. Straight up raw. No baby business. Colored in shades of red or purple, if I’m feeling extra fancy.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

As warm weather falls upon us, raw carrots become a pleasantly light and refreshing snack all on their own. If you’re like me, that goes for all year around, too.

However, if for some reason you’re not quite as enthused about acting under the constant facade of Bugs Bunny – or simply want a nicer side dish for your just grilled burger – other options abound. Take this carrot slaw, for example, filled with several depths of flavor, yet still every bit as fresh as a just picked and rinsed carrot from the ground. This slaw keeps it raw, but also keeps it chic.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

This time of year, I like to serve this alongside a meal straight from the grill. Think grilled tuna burgers with spicy mayo, or jalapeño black bean burgers with mango salsa, or a sesame crusted tofu. Grilled or not, think Aloha-inspired recipes or Asian-fusion cuisine. Whatever that happens to mean…

Spring bloom

Feel free to play with the herbs here, depending on what you have, or looks fresh. Also, make sure to toast the walnuts. To do so, simply heat up a cast iron pan (or saute pan, if you don’t own cast iron) over medium-high. Without greasing the pan, add the walnuts straight to the hot surface, and toast until fragrant and edges are browned, stirring regularly.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

Share your favorite light & healthy spring/summer veggie sides in the comments. Would love to hear what you’ve been cooking up lately!

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Quick Spring Eats

Spring so far has been more about cleaning than cooking. It’s been all about salad days — Mac DeMarco included. Morning runs — some in shorts and a t-shirt!(!!)  And quick, unplanned dinners. It’s been about leisurely minutes spent outside, explorations with friends, and cleaning my psyche. (I hope you didn’t think by cleaning, I meant my apartment. Currently, my laundry’s flooding my room, and likely covering up the dust that’s swimming down beneath it. Hey – that could be considered laundering the floor though, right?)

Sometimes, when spring calls, you’ve just got to shift your priorities a bit and soak up all that sun that bright sky is shining down. However, that doesn’t mean turning your diet to crap. Short on time certainly doesn’t mean pizza night should be every night.

Let's eat

For Lunch/Dinner: When you can have a few quick and easy recipes up your back sleeve, your spring cleaning will feel so much more CLEAN. As I said, I’ve been doing a lot of salad. Raw greens are my go-to, largely because their heartiness can take on a lot, and because they’re easy to make a meal out of. Add grains. Add beans. Maybe add herbs or cheese. Add nuts. Add other veggies. Definitely add avocado. Create a salad that feels like much more than a salad, so you can feel both healthy and excited. The best part? When you start with a base of raw kale or collards, you can make a huge bowl on Sunday night, and have something already made you can munch on all week. Throw this Tahini Dressing on it, and you’ll be golden.

Chia Overnight Oats

For Breakfast: If you’re like me, and you’ve been using the spring weather to get up early and bike/run/read/whatever — or if you’re not, perhaps consider doing so; it feels great  — it’s ideal to have a breakfast that’s both energizing and quick. I HATE rushing around in the morning. It starts my day off on a stressed out note. But when going for a run in the morning, I can’t say I love waking up extra, extra early either. My solution? Have breakfast prepared the night before.

Here’s where overnight oats comes in. I’ve definitely featured a few of these recipes before on my blog. I’m still eating it on the regular, and am still loving how satisfying it is. Plus, it’s made in advance so you literally need just one minute in the morning to pull it out of the fridge, top it with nuts, and drizzle maple syrup on top — leaving all your other morning minutes to relax and fuel up. See below for the recipe to my latest chia seed rendition.

Curried Ketchup Cabbage and Potato Stir-Fry

For Lunch/Dinner: Another go-to is breakfast-for-dinner. Pack your breakfast with veggies, and this becomes an incredibly quick health-for-your-buck kind of meal. My breakfast of choice this past week? Eggs a la Curried Ketchup Potato Cabbage Stir-Fry.

There’s a beer garden in Philly that turns simple snacks into memorable menu items solely by the curried ketchup they offer on the condiments table. I’m pretty sure all they do is add a little curry powder to regular store-bought ketchup – which is what I do with my potato/cabbage breakfast-for-dinners.

There’s no set recipe here. Dice 1 large onion and 1 large potato, and saute in some olive oil until the onion is caramelized. Meanwhile, slice up about 1/2 head cabbage. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of ketchup to the pan, along with a palmful of curry powder. Stir, and then add the cabbage. Add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar, and cook over medium heat. If cabbage begins to stick, add 1/3 cup of water, and cover pan with a lid. Finish cooking until cabbage is tender, 8-10 minutes in total, adding a few red chili pepper flakes if you want it spicier. Top with a pan-fried egg, and serve.

Don’t worry. I’ll be back to cooking up slightly more elaborate meals pretty soon once the novelty of spring wears off. And if that doesn’t happen, then the abundance of early season veggies on their way is bound to get me back in the kitchen. I’m getting antsy just thinking about it.

What’s your favorite spring meal? Or your favorite quick meal to make?

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Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

My friend runs a farm just on the edge of the city, and its first harvestable produce is beginning to take flight — into my hands. And my kitchen. And my bowl. And on my blog. Spring is here — as if I hadn’t told you a million times already — and this makes me happy. My kitchen too.

Now please excuse me while I take this next moment to praise the earth for baby bok choy.

Praise earth. Baby bok choy. Coming to a farmer’s market near you soon (or so I hope).

Baby Bok Choy

Its leafy greens are my first taste of the ground this year. (And I mean that quite literally – make sure to wash your bok choy extra well if you don’t want to swallow some dirt.) As tender as ever, early young greens are the best.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

This past week, I took a trip out to the farm after work to help toil some soil and sow a few seeds/starters into the ground. Radicchio was farm-boy’s starter of choice for the night, so into the ground we put plant after plant after radicchio plant.

Each one was so small sometimes I began feeling like a nervous mom, wondering how they’d all survive a night without me. I’ve planted my fare share of infants though, so fortunately I walked away with confidence knowing they’d take root. And that has nothing to do with my gardening skills – plants are tough little guys! I’m excited to watch the baby radicchio leaves, with their ever so faint pink streaks, grow into the mighty magenta that makes spring salads shine.

Toasted sesame seeds

It always feels good to get my hands and jeans dirty, even if for just a couple of hours. City living or not, I’ll always be a farm girl at heart.

Perhaps with that comes an endless excitement for new harvests and crisp produce. I took this bok choy home with me from the farm and whipped it up the very same night. Simple dishes like these can be ever so satisfying when your produce is fresh. As any gardner, farmer, or farmer’s market enthusiast knows, spring is the golden season of all good things to come. The freshness just keeps trickling in until you have a steady stream of items to swap in and out of your diet. Just wait. Once strawberries arrive, I’ll be taking more than a small moment at the front of my blog to praise the earth for its fruit. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Be on the lookout for baby greens. If you can’t find bok choy, opt for something else that’s on the slightly bitter side, which will pair nicely with the Hoisin sauce in this recipe. This will serve 4 as a light meal, but to pump it up, feel free to crack an egg on top.

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