One Week Wonder: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burrito

Sooooo…Sari and I have been MIA for a while but we’re BACK!  We’ve actually both been cooking a lot, but had a hard time actually writing about it.  But we figured it’s time to start things up again.  And no better note to start on than a yummy one…

After being off work for a week during the holidays, and having plenty of time to cook, I made a decision to not go back to store bought lunches/dinners.  Easier said than done because I’m a sucker for Cosi and Potbelly.  I needed something GOOD, that I’d want to eat a lot.  Enter the Sweet Potato Black Bean Burrito recipe I had sitting around for a while.  Super easy, super good, super(ish) healthy.  I sadly just finished my last one, and in honor of that want to share the recipe.

Makes 6

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burrito

Adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (small)
  • 1 red pepper, cubed (small)
  • 1 red onion cubed (small)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (if you want less heat sub another red pepper)
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • squeeze lime
  • shredded cheddar (I used dairy free)
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas or Wraps  (large)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2. In medium bowl toss veggies in olive oil and season with spices.  Place on a large baking dish and roast for 20 minutes, tossing around halfway in between.

3. Let cool.  Add to a bowl of rinsed black beans.  Add cilantro and squirt of lime juice.  Combine gently.

To make all burritos at once…                                                                                                   Add about 1/4 of a cup of vegetable and bean mixture to center of each wrap.  Top with shredded cheese.  Fold over, fold in sides and continue to roll.  Place on baking dish, seam side down.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 375 degrees, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and serve.

To make one burrito at a time…                                                                                                  Fo Follow directions above for one wrap only.  Once folded, wrap burrito in foil and place in toaster oven (a regular oven will work, too).  Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 375 degrees.  Remove and enjoy!  Store the rest of the vegetable and bean mixture in the fridge for up to a week, and continue to make burritos one at a time.

You can also premake all burritos, wrap in aluminum foil and keep in refrigerator for 3-4 days.

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One Week Wonder: Spaghetti al’ arrabiata

Wow!  This Spaghetti al’ arrabiata was amazing.  It’s spicy, tomato-y, and healthy, and would be a great main course for a casual dinner party served with garlic bread and a Caesar salad.

The sauce takes some time to simmer; don’t try to rush it!  The longer it cooks, the spicier and thicker the sauce gets.

Serves 4-6

Spaghetti al’ arrabiata

  • 1 box whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 c red table wine
  • 2 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • garlic bread crumbs (see below)

heat a large saucepan on medium heat.  Add olive oil and heat.  Add diced onions and 1/2 the salt and saute for 10 minutes, until onions a translucent.  Add the rest of the salt, bay leaves, crushed red pepper, and garlic, and saute for another 5 minutes or so.  Add the wine and reduce until the wine is really thick and syrupy, about 7 minutes.

Puree 1 can of tomatoes.  Add both cans of tomatoes and fresh diced tomatoes to the pan, along with the chopped basil.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered for about 40 minutes.  Taste.  If needed, add some sugar to cut the acidity.

With about 20 minutes left, boil water and cook the spaghetti.  Drain and return the spaghetti back to the pot.

Add half the sauce to the spaghetti.  Serve with remaining sauce, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese.

Garlic breadcrumbs

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (put bread in food processor)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • drizzle of olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Lay out on baking sheet and cook at 325 degrees until golden brown.  I did this in the toaster oven.

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One Week Wonders: Cashew Chicken or Chik’n

So, I photocopied these authentic Chinese recipes from my mom.  She got them decades ago from my aunt who took a cooking class in Chinatown in NYC.  Now, I’ve been making stir fries for years, because they’re such a great way to eat veggies, but I always used prepackaged sauces, and the consensus was that my stir fries kind of tasted “fake.”

These Chinese recipes I took from my mom are the REAL THING.  The first time I made it, Nate agreed that it tasted like we ordered take-out.  The best part is that cooking it yourself you can make it with whatever vegetables and proteins you want, and limit the amount of oil you use to cook.

For this cashew “chicken” recipe, I used cubed seitan (West Soy brand) because it was on sale at Krogers.  But you can use any protein:  tofu, tempeh, chicken, beef, pork.

I also bought the chinese spices and sauces at Jungle Jim’s, this INCREDIBLE international market that’s about the size of a SuperWalmart, and is jam-packed with authentic food from all over the globe.  Using light soy sauce from China absolutely makes this dish taste better than the Kikoman packets you hoarded from ordering sushi.

You can also substitute any vegetables you want.  I used broccoli, red pepper, and yellow onion this time, but it’s also great with bok choy, celery, carrots, peppers, onions, etc. etc. etc.

This looks difficult, but its actually pretty easy, if you make sure you have “mise in place” (have everything organized and cut up before you start cooking).

Cashew Chicken

  •  1 lb protein, cubed
  • 1/2 c whole dry roasted cashews (Trader Joe’s has them cheap)
  • 2 stalks broccoli
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • Sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp ground bean sauce or hot bean sauce (find it at the Chinese grocery store)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  • Marinade for protein
  • 1 tbsp thin soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice wine (Chinese grocery store)
  • 2 tsp corn starch

Marinade the protein for 20 minutes.  While the protein is marinading, chop all the vegetables into 1 inch pieces, approximately.

Heat wok on high heat.  Add 2 tsp vegetable oil, add protein and stirfry about 5 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown.  (if you’re using a vegetarian protein, you can brown it until pretty dark, you can’t really overcook seitan or tofu).  Remove protein and set aside.

Heat wok again on high heat.  Add a little oil, ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce and ground bean sauce, then all the vegetables.  Stir fry for 1 minute, then add 1/2 to 3/4 c water (more water the saucier the dish), cover, and cook for 2-5 minutes, until vegetables are brightly colored and crisp.

Add protein and sesame oil, stir in cornstarch to thicken, add cashews, and stir.

Serve over perfect rice.

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French-Inspired Carmelized Onion Tart

As I mentioned in the last post, I hosted book club a few weeks ago.  I LOVE book club, but hosting it comes along with some pressure.  There are a few unofficial guidelines to keep in mind:

  • You need enough food for 6-8 hungry girls.
  • Food should be appetizer-like, but should also serve as dinner
  • People like it when there are 1-2 homemade dishes, in addition to veggies, cheese, dip, etc.
  • It’s also appreciated when some of the food relates back to the book.
We were discussing The Paris Wife (which is awesome, btw; I highly recommend it), so I wanted to make something impressive and French-inspired.  The fact that I don’t eat cheese made this a little complicated.  After looking around I found this Carmelized Onion Tart, which was very French and very wonderful!  It was flavorful, and definitely a little rich, which was helpful because it led to full stomachs.
If this doesn’t make you think of Paris, I don’t know what would!

French-Inspired Carmelized Onion Tart

Serves 8

Adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen

For the crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 sticks cold butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4-5 tablespoons cold water

For the carmelized onion filling

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 4 – 5 (depending on how prone you are to nibbling) large sweet Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • dash cayenne


  • 4 tablespoons butter to finish
  • In a food processor or with a hand mixer, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and add, then pulse until the mixture looks a little crumbly. Put in the egg yolk and about 3 tablespoons of the water, then run the processor until the dough starts to come together. It should clump into a big ball; if it doesn’t, drizzle in another tablespoon of the water. You want to add as little liquid as possible.
  • Remove dough from the food processor and flatten into two 7-inch disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 minutes.  I kept mine in for about an hour and they were a little harder than I would’ve liked when they came out.
  • While dough is chilling, make the filling.  Sauté the onions in the oil over a medium flame, stirring very infrequently (this is important – I overstirred a little and almost ended up with mushy onions) .
  • Once they soften and begin to brown on each side, return the flame to low and allow to slowly caramelize. During this time, it is important to make sure the onions are spread as evenly as possible across the pan. Every few minutes, scrape the bottom and redistribute the onions so each gains the maximum amount of surface area. The whole process takes 40 minutes to an hour.
Carmelized onions should look something like this.
  • When the onions are dark brown, but not burnt, add the thyme, cumin, and season with salt and a touch of cayenne. Set aside
  • When ready to make the tarts, preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out each disk into a rough circle. No need to be perfect, you just want the dough fairly even. Fold about 1 inch of the edges in all the way around, pinching every inch or so to seal. Slide onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Right before it went into the oven.
  • Spread about 3/4 cup of the onion filling onto each crust. Top with 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into little squares. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Garnish with fresh thyme, then cut into 8 wedges and serve.
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Cake and Icing Balls

Last week was a big week in terms of baking opportunities.  With book club on Wednesday and a co-worker’s birthday on Thursday it was time to test out a new, fun recipe.  I wanted to bake something pretty and yummy, but more importantly I wanted to bake ONE thing that would work for both occasions.

I’m a huge cake ball fan, and figured this would be the perfect solution!  Anybody who has made cake balls knows that they can be quite a process, and knowing that I needed to do my baking on a work night I was not super-excited.  Then I came across this recipe for an alternate version that was not only a little less complicated, but also a little healthier.  And honestly, they tasted just as great!

Cake and Icing Balls

Adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen

Makes about 50

  • One box yellow cake mix
  • 8 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Bake cake according to recipe on the back of the box.  I a 13×9″ baking pan.
  2. Once cake is out of the oven and cool, crumble it with your fingers.  Pour crumbs into large bowl.
  3. Stir in cream cheese and 1/4 cup of sprinkles.  Use your fingers to combine with cake crumbs (this is a little messy, but also kind of fun).  Make sure cake, cream cheese and sprinkles are very well mixed.
  4. Form mixture into small balls – approximately 1″ in diameter.  Place balls at the bottom of cake pan or on baking sheet.
  5. Once all balls are formed, make frosting by combining egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract.  Stir quickly for approximately 2 minutes.  If frosting makes small ribbons when fork is lifted, it is finished.
  6. Use spoon to drizzle frosting over cake balls.  Drop the remainder of the sprinkles on top.
  7. Let cake balls sit for 30 minutes to an hour, until frosting is hard and shiny.


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Dairy-Free Breakfast Smoothie

I am a huge morning person, ask anybody who knows me.  I always set aside at least an hour before work to sit back and take in the day.  This usually involves a combination of coffee, the Daily Show and breakfast.  Up until about three months ago breakfast consisted of a bowl of cereal, almond milk and half a banana.  Then randomly one day, I was just over cereal.

For a while the change was really hard on me, and there’s been a lot of trial and error with alternate breakfast foods – frozen waffles are good, but can get pricey; eggs take forever to make and require lots of clean up; Clif bars get old after a while; I can keep going…  One absurdly hot DC morning after a run I discovered a banana in my freezer. This turned out to be one of the best mornings ever because it marked the discovery of one of my favorite breakfast replacements – the Dairy-Free Breakfast Smoothie!  This is the fastest, easiest thing to make and is a great start to a summer morning.

Dairy-Free Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 1

  • One frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 3/4 cup of almond milk (soy milk works, too)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh brewed coffee (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  This usually takes about 2 minutes in my blender.  Pour into a tall pint glass and enjoy!
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Yes. No. Yes, I’ll have another piece.

This Father’s day we celebrated with my parents by grilling pizzas!  I had my dad, mom, sister Mallory and her boyfriend Jeffrey over for linner (you know, lunch/dinner).  We were supposed to cookout, but of course it rained.  Still, I grilled pizzas and threw together an amazing salad.  Both are super easy and, more importantly, incredibly delicious.  I think the pictures speak for themselves.  Thanks to mom and Jeff for the iphone pics!

Grilled Pizzas:  Makes 2 8 inch pizzas

  • 1ball pre-made dough.  You can buy it at your local pizza shop or Whole Foods.
  • Whatever toppings you want!  We made 3 types:  regular cheese, caprese, and “caprese plus plus” inspired by Figlio’s in Columbus
  • olive oil
  • flour
  • Grill (gas or charcoal)

Caprese pizza toppings

  • roasted garlic (cut the top off a bulb of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes)
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • Fresh basil (from our garden!)

Caprese plus plus toppings

  • Fresh mozzarella
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Avocado
  • Balsamic glaze (purchased at Whole Foods)

To make your grilled pizza:  Clean your grill.  Heat it at about medium-high.  Stretch your dough to make about an 8 inch pizza, but make it oval, so it fits on the grill!  Make it as thick as you can, but not too thin that it doesn’t maintain its shape on the grill.  With tongs, place the dough on the grill.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom has nice grill marks and starts to bubble.  Take the dough off the grill and flip the dough so the uncooked side is on the bottom.  Add your toppings to the cooked side.  Place back on the grill and cover, cook for about 5 more minute or until the cheese melts.  Enjoy!

Caprese Plus Plus

CapreseOh yes, and I almost forgot the salad!  Everyone was raving about it, which is so funny to me because it was so easy.

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 bag mixed field greens
  • Handfull of fresh mint
  • 5 dried figs (I used the calamyra variety, they are lighter in color and bigger)
  • 4 oz goat cheese

Balsamic vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients except olive oil.  While whisking, slowly add olive oil to emulsify.  Or, you can combine all the ingredients in a blender or magic bullet and blend!

To make the salad, crumble goat cheese, slice figs in half or fourths, and tear the mint into small pieces.  Combine with lettuces and toss with dressing to taste.

Sorry I don’t have a picture of the salad, it went too quickly!

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