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baked

Garlic and Herb Butternut Squash

 Garlic and Herb Butternut Squash

Squash is one of my favorite remedies for surviving East Coast winters. Caramelized juices, from all varieties, are constantly dripping over the bottom rack of my oven. It’s just the warmth I need to make my little apartment cozier.

Butternut Squash

Here, you’ll find a recipe that features one of my favorites — butternut, both its seeds and its flesh.

It’s a garlicky dish the works as a side to plenty of hearty winter meals. I also love it slathered across slices of crusty toast.

No matter the execution, the seeds lend a nice crunch. Use the leftovers to top salads or simply snack on.

Garlic and Herb Butternut Squash

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Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

This is essentially a recipe for baked falafel. But to me, if the batter isn’t crisped up in the deep-fryer, it’s not falafel.

So I present you instead with “baked herbed chickpea bites”. The name, I know, could use a little work. But they’re delicious, I promise.

Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

These are best served aside a creamy dip. Pick the tahini-based sauce of your choice. Hummus, baba ganoush, or even just a simple sesame-garlic-lemon sauce will all serve you well.

To make the latter, finely mince a small clove of garlic and whisk it into several large spoonfuls of tahini. Add a pinch of salt. Squeeze in a wedge or two of lemon. Then add warm water, as needed, to thin it out.

Baked Herbed Chickpea Bites

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Breakfast Sweet Potato Boats

Breakfast Sweet Potato Boats

I eat a lot of oatmeal. A lot.

Recently, however, I’ve been striving to switch things up. I’ve been experimenting with other grains, but also with sweet potatoes, my new favorite for adding a little variety to the breakfast table.

Trust me, sweet potatoes needn’t be just for dinner. They’re a real treat when complimented by other sweet flavors (cue bananas & maple syrup) and accented with nuttiness (cue peanut butter & toasted almonds).

Plus, a sweet potato’s natural creaminess isn’t far off from a traditional breakfast porridge, and you can really top it off with many of the same ingredients you might use with oats or other sweet (vs. savory) breakfast bowls.

Beyond the add-ins mentioned above, I utilized cinnamon and coconut flakes, two natural pairings to sweet potatoes. But really the options are endless. You could try pineapple and coconut milk, almond butter and raisins, tahini and cinnamon apples, etc. etc.

Give it a try and let me know what you think! Continue Reading…

Tofu Banh Mi Collard Wraps with Wasabi Peanut Sauce

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

Certain neighborhoods of Philly are infiltrated with Banh mi. The classic Vietnamese sandwich essentially acts as the Chipotle of the Asian food world, but even cheaper. You walk in, select your “meat”, and leave within 5-10 minutes with an aluminum wrapped, $5 foot-long sandwich, ready to be eaten. It’s a great feeling.

Scallions

Since it’s so easy to pick up a Banh mi around Philly, I rarely take the time to make it. Yet, it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the sandwich world, and so on the occasion that I’m getting a simultaneous desire for both Banh mi and a chef’s knife in my hand, I put on my cooking hat and grab my own tofu to be canvassed.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

When Banh mi making is going down in my kitchen, you can nearly guarantee it’s going to have a little flair to it. What’s the point of making the original version when I can grab that anytime, with little detriment to my bank account?  Besides, if I’m recreating a dish, I’m always about finding further ways to maximize its flavor since the ingredient make-up lays entirely in my hands. No doubt, that’s going on with this recipe. Wassuppppp wasabi?

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I don’t eat a ton of white bread, but when it comes to Banh Mi, a chewy white roll will always oust a whole wheat counterpart. This is one instance where whole wheat just won’t work. The flavor is unfortunately just too overpowering.

Collard wraps, on the other hand, those can create some Banh Mi magic.

CollardWraps_blog11

Here, collard wraps are able to balance the delicate freshness of the traditional Banh mi composition, while adding an even extra layer of freshness on top of it all. It lightens up the whole meal, while enabling more flavor to shine through. Peel back that one-inch layer of bread, and the notes of deliciousness from the slaw, cilantro and other jamboree of ingredients are able to reach their fullest potential.

Shredded carrots

Be patient with the tofu, and make sure it gets a nice crisp so it can add that contrast to the creamy peanut sauce you’ll place beneath it.

For a fun, spicy twist, this peanut sauce receives a generous punch of wasabi that’ll make it stand out among other sauces. I love the flavor it brings to the subtle sweetness of the peanuts and the carrots.

CollardWraps_blogmontage

True to the grab-and-go nature of banh mi — but more so with the intention to make your wrap-eating a little less messy! — envelope your collard packages in aluminum foil. This will seal in all the flavors so they don’t end up on your shirt. Although, if you’re like me, that’ll probably happen anyway.

I brought that big pile up above into work last week, and served it with a slide of Asian slaw for my coworkers. Two thumbs up, all around.

Since these are destined for pre-packaging, this will makes a great recipe for your own workweek lunch. While best the first day, the wraps can certainly withstand being rolled up the night before and kept in the fridge till you head out.

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Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

I’ve never been good at desk jobs.

My brain says yes. But my body says no. And then my brain gets confused. And then I get confused. And my mind says, “What am I supposed to do with my life?!”

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

We’ll see if that question ever gets answered. In the meantime, I’m juggling office life with photoshoot life, and keeping my workdays and work weekends busy. It’s been exciting on both fronts, and I am happy to say I’ve finally come across a company on the front end of that which is working to make my uncertainty at least a little easier. The very nice people at this company, at least mildly, know desk life gives me trouble.

And so they’ve granted me permission to spend one day per month cooking the office lunch. Um, can you say dream job perk?

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

After spending the 9 o’clock hour perusing the aisles of Whole Foods to gather the first lunch’s ingredients, I almost thought, “Could this be my dream job?” Shopping at Whole Foods, maybe. Cooking day-in-and-day-out in a hot, windowless kitchen, probably not.

The company lunch creation was super fun though, and definitely a success. On tap: a herb-laced spring garden salad with sungold tomatoes (my favorite cherry) and red onions, along with a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette. This Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers, Roasted Eggplant, and Crispy Tofu recipe. And a finale of fresh ginger juice shots to finish out the meal with some pep.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

I decided to create this recipe based off of three primary factors. 1) Who doesn’t love noodles? 2) Though pasta is a pleaser, there’s no way I was showing up with a boring/non-creative recipe. 3) I’ve been entirely inspired by cucumbers lately. Don’t ask me why, but they’re the one summer veg. I’ve been consistently buying as of late.

So this was born, and it’s definitely going on the repeat list. SO MUCH FLAVOR. The sesame sauce adds that first depth, and then the cilantro and scallions make sure not one bite goes flavorless. You’ve also got the velvety, roasted eggplant adding to the creaminess of the sauce, with crunch cukes lightening the whole dish up, and crispy tofu adding in some protein. Oh, and ginger, too. Okay, I’ll stop listing off the ingredient list now. But you get the idea of how it all comes together.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

If you can’t get this on your workplace’s table, get it on your dinner plate. And enjoy ideally at room temp., but really whatever temp. your set on at the moment.

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