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Summer Tomato Basil Cheddar Panini

Summer Tomato Basil Cheddar Panini

In the summer, elaborate recipe creations rarely take place in my kitchen. Really, those fancy, multi-hour-long cooking sessions don’t happen with frequency during any time of the year. (What can I say, other than that I’ve got an impatient stomach and an endless list of hobbies to keep in mind. Both apply not only to summer, but spring, fall and winter too…)

However, its summertime when 3-ingredient meals reach their highest occurrence. Fruit, fruit and nuts  — breakfast is served. Tomatoes, mayo, bread — lunch, no stove needed. Dinner — dare I say repeat lunch? But don’t forget the bowl of peaches, blueberries and ice cream on the side. Or maybe a garden salad with tomatoes/cucumbers/red onion/steamed green beans/beets/carrots/goat cheese/walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette. I know, that’s a lot more than 3-ingredients going into one bowl. But the three steps it takes to get them there — slice, drizzle and serve — and you might as well file it under the same suit. Simplicity at its best.

When garden-fresh ingredients are around, forget having them shaken or stirred, or even always heated. I want them straight-up. There’s no need for complex preparations. A tomato plucked straight from the vine has all the flavor you could ever wish for, and then some.

Summer Tomato Basil Cheddar Panini

If it were summer all year around, I’d have to pull a Rachael Ray. Maybe even out-do her by trimming away 20 minutes and starting my own “10-Minutes or Less” show. Of course that would be pretty boring. “Step one – Wash blueberries. Step two – Eat.”

Obviously I don’t survive off of single ingredients alone all summer long. But I do make a lot of easy dishes like tacos, sandwiches and stir-frys. The kind where all you have to do is put a bunch of veggies with some olive oil/simple marinade on a baking sheet and roast, or in a saute pan, do a quick cook, and let their flavors speak for themselves.

The recipe below is one of my favorites for when tomatoes are at their prime, and basil is up and growing. It elevates my favorite tomato-mayo combo to the next level with the simple addition of cheese and a quick press on a panini maker. Classic and simple, yet totally blog-worthy, considering I could eat this several times a week and still never get bored.

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Quinoa Omelet Cakes + Giveaway

Quinoa Omelet Cakes

I like cake. Carrot cake. Pancakes. Chocolate molten cake. Quinoa cakes. My ideal diet would include the whole gamut of cakes, the birthday kind excluded.

I’ve had some serious misfortune lately, including a run-in with a Philadelphia tow truck company and a stolen wallet. That first one made me cry. The second incident made me realize life can be hard, but if you just roll with it, then it doesn’t have to feel that way. Having the “things happen for a reason” mentality allows you to avoid a lot of tears. Seriously. Although, I’m still not really sure what life was trying to tell me with that tow truck disaster. I digress…

Quinoa Omelet Cakes

Anyway, my life as of lately could use a little cake. Unfortunately, after having a huge chunk taken out of my bank account and then becoming wallet-less, I’ve put myself on a food budget. But, that doesn’t mean cake can’t be eaten. On the bright side, I have a stockpile of grains that could probably last me for the next six months. You know, just in case I ever wanted to become the whole grain version of Aladdin.

Using up some ingredients already on hand, this egg and quinoa “cake” was born. Eggs are my go-to for whipping up a quick, and as of lately, cheap, lunch for one. Quinoa cooks relatively quickly too. Although, any leftovers of the grain work perfectly in this recipe. Feel free to experiment with different cheeses, such as a combo of 1/2 parm and 1/2 cheddar.

When life tries to get you down, this is likely the better cake-for-lunch solution. Trust me, I love my share of icing-topped cake too. But when does sugary cake every truly make you feel better?

What will make you feel better, aside from these cakes, is winning a giveaway! MorningStar Farms recently launched a brand new Mediterranean Chickpea Burger. They are collaborating with me to give one lucky reader the opportunity to try the new burger — for free! A few other complimentary goodies will come with the winning ticket as well. Just follow the steps below to enter.

How to enter: 

(Leave a separate comment per entry. Each separate comment will give you one entry in the contest.)

This contest closes on **June 16, 2013 at 8:00pm EST**

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite kind of cake, and why.
2) Leave a comment on this post telling me if you’ve had MorningStar’s new chickpea burger yet.
3) Become a fan of F-F-F on Facebook
4) Follow me on Twitter
5) Link this giveaway on one of your blog posts and let me know that you did.
6) Tweet a variation of this on Twitter:@GraceDickinson is giving away free Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers, the latest from @MorningStrFarms – at

One winner will be chosen at random by

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Cheddar Chorizo Baguette Melts (Vegetarian)

The other day, my roommate picked up some Trader Joe’s vegan chorizo, which turned out to exceedingly surpass my expectations.  The meat-free chorizo came in a casing, a plastic one that is (as opposed to pig intestines), that held a spicy blend of deeply flavored soy crumbles.

Luckily my roommate went home for the summer and mistakenly left the remnants of her chorizo in the fridge for me to use.  Free food = win.  Free food that’s vegan and tastes awesome = WIN.

Since the chorizo is already infused with a spice blend, it doesn’t need much dressing up.  For this recipe, I simply paired it with a crusty baguette and a little cheddar cheese.  Melted in the oven and topped with a hint of fresh parsley, these turned out to be a huge hit.

The baguette rounds make great finger food, and thus are perfect for parties or potlucks.  AKA, looking for a Memorial Day recipe? Then try this. The appearance might just dupe your meat-lovin’ friends, and if you’re still hooked on meat, these will enthrall your own taste buds as well.  If you don’t live near a Trader Joes, I’m sure another soy chorizo brand would work, just be sure to look for one that has a crumbly texture and a pre-spiced flavor.

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