Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Goals

I used to be anti-New Year’s Resolutions because I thought it was silly that one day was better than any other for setting goals, especially when most of us have spent the last 5-6 weeks overindulging in sweets, heavy food, and alcohol. But then I got really into goal-setting, and I realized that it wasn’t that people set their goals in the heat of the moment but that they weren’t setting goals in a way that was conducive to their achievement. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. It’s the difference between saying that you’re going to lose ten pounds before the summer and just saying that you’re going to lose weight. With that in mind, here are a few of my goals for 2012.


1. Train for and run a marathon.

I’m registered for the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati on May 6th. My real goal is to achieve the above without getting injured, dying, or hating running. If I can do that, I might decide to do another one in the fall.


2. Do more leisure reading.

I’m finished with graduate school when I really only had time for leisure reading on breaks or during the summer, and my to-read list is getting ridiculous. I used to consistently read before going to bed, and I would like to get back into doing that. Joe gave me Tina Fey’s Bossypants for Christmas, and I recently purchased The Paris Wife. I’m not going to be shooting for a number of books to read in the next year, but you can follow me on Goodreads!


3. Work on the house

We’ve lived here for 2.5 years now, and there are quite a few things we’ve been neglecting – closets that have never been organized and rooms that don’t feel quite “finished”. We’re at the point that we’ve graduated from some of our starter electronics and furniture but haven’t gotten rid of the old stuff yet. Extra IKEA bookcases anyone? So this year I would like to de-clutter and re-organize, namely the bedrooms, bathrooms, and their closets. In an ideal world, it would also be the year that we replace the kitchen floor and countertops, but that’s a stretch goal.

4. Make meal plans and stick to them.

Now that I work a normal person schedule (plus some), I don’t go grocery shopping on Thursday mornings anymore. It’s also been all too tempting to pick up take-out after a long tough day or when I hit the gym after work. If I don’t have food in the house, and I’m feeling lazy, guess what happens. I would like to work towards eating out no more than 3 times a week. We like eating out, but we’ve spent way too much money on mediocre food lately. Hopefully this will also lead to more blogging than I did in 2011!

photo (15)

5. Get down to my happy weight and stay there.

I was within five pounds in early December. It doesn’t seem like much, but on my 5’2” frame, every little bit helps. It would seem like training for a marathon would take care of this, but I get ravenously hungry when I’m training. Now I know that smaller, more frequent meals on long run days are better for me than just eating everything in sight, I will try to curb the run-ger. Eating at home and cutting out extraneous alcoholic beverages throughout the week will also help.

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A Summary

It was a year, a very busy year, though not so much on the food front.



Our travel this year was almost entirely contained to the Southeastern United States. In March, we went to Fort Lauderdale (thank you, free Southwest flight) where we had a great time. In November, we visited some of Joe’s family in St. Augustine and took a side trip to Universal Studios in Orlando. We’ve grown to really enjoy Florida since it’s so easy to get to and affordable for a quick vacation.


We also took a few weekend trips to explore Chattanooga and Atlanta and a short trip to the Knoxville area, including Smoky Mountain National Park, for a friend’s wedding.

Big Events:

In May, I graduated with my Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University.


It was a culmination of three long-but-short years of 84 credit hours, interminable paper-writing, and learning how to speed-read incredibly dense texts. It wasn’t always enjoyable, but I’m a better person for receiving that degree.

Then, about a month later, I was ordained as a transitional deacon in the Episcopal Church.


Now I’m doing a chaplaincy residency program (CPE) and serving as a youth minister at a great parish. After 5+ years in the discernment process and in seminary, it feels so surreal to actually be ministering as my full-time job. I’m crazy busy but so grateful and blessed to get to do what I love.


2011-09-05 07.57.16

2011 was a great year of running for me. It was also my first full calendar year of consistent running. I ran 3 half marathons, 3 10Ks, and a handful of 5Ks. I PR’d at every distance I raced and ran over 1000 miles this year, a goal I had set last year to keep me consistent and motivated. I was an official blogger for Women’s Half Marathon, and only suffered a few minor aches and pains.


Next year, I hope to complete my first marathon and continue to improve and get stronger. Another goal is to keep off the 10 lbs I lost this fall and lose another 5 to be at my happy weight.



I ate it. Occasionally, I made it. Some of my favorites that I’ve blogged from the past year:
Baked Eggs in Mushrooms with Squash Ragout
The Perfect Veggie Burger
Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash
Perfect Party Cake

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012 that’s just as delicious and joy-filled as this year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Joy

I survived and even enjoyed my first Christmas Eve and Day as clergy! The weather was perfect, and there weren’t even any disasters for my first year. Joe insisted on taking my picture before I headed off to my first service because he thought I looked pretty. Note the coffee mug in hand.

photo (6)

The church looked gorgeous. The music was perfect. And I received wine, chocolate, and sticky buns from several parishioners. I was completely unprepared for how generous everyone would be. It was much appreciated. My normal role is to read the gospel lesson, which on Christmas is, of course, the nativity story. It was a very special moment for me to read the nativity story for the congregation.

photo (7)

The hardest transition was waking up the next morning to go into the hospital to do two services. They weren’t as well-attended as I would’ve hoped, but there was a higher percentage of staff than usually attend and my homily was well-received. One of the nice things about doing those services is having some freedom and getting to do what I want, like read Luke’s nativity story from the King James version. Saying the shepherds were “sore afraid” rather than “terrified” just feels right. After four services in 20 hours, I was ready to get home, hang out with Joe, and open some presents.

photo (5)

I got a lot of GU Chomps. Training for the Flying Pig Marathon starts just after the first of the year. That many Chomps will probably last me for five marathon training cycles. I will never go hungry on a run again.


By far, this was the best present given or received this Christmas. Joe and I had been pondering upgrading the cat condo but never pulled the trigger. While we were at Costco for some last minute shopping, we saw some that were a really great deal. The only problem was fitting a 6’ tall cat condo into my Ford Focus. Not happening. My introvert of a husband announced that he was going to wander the parking lot and ask people with trucks or SUVs if they wouldn’t mind hauling it a couple of miles home for us. Sure enough, the first couple that he asked was more than happy to help us out and wouldn’t even let us give them a little cash for their trouble. I couldn’t believe it! The cats were thrilled with their Christmas present and have been playing King of the Mountain with the top compartment ever since.


Joe took care of the turkey that Vanderbilt gave us by injecting it with a Cajun marinade and doing a BBQ dry rub on the outside. I made blue cheese mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, and my mom/grandma’s cranberry salad. I did not photograph a darn thing. Not even the leftovers. A fellow working-on-Christmas chaplain came over for dinner, and we were having too much darn fun drinking wine and chatting. So it was and continues to be a good Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

And happy holidays from Cook, Pray, Love – brought to you by Instagram.

photo (2)
Christmas tree at Children’s Hospital.

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angel gave the sign.
(Christina Rosetti)

photo (3)
Our moderately pathetic Christmas tree

He came down to earth from Heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.
(Cecil F. Alexander)

photo (4)
Christmas card display

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
(Joseph Mohr)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lentil Tacos

When I read other food blogs around this time of year, I’m impressed and over-awed at the cookies and marshmallows and feasts that people crank out. I haven’t done much of anything for the holidays yet. We did get the (cheap, horrible-looking) fake tree put up and decorated, and a few of the nativity scenes arranged around the house, at least until the cats start playing with poor Joseph. Joseph always gets the short end of the stick.

Truth be told, I’m having a little trouble adjusting from my previous mindset of holiday = vacation to my current life of holiday = holy day = work. I’m on-call at the hospital Christmas and New Year’s weekends, and I’m serving at two Christmas Eve services Saturday night only to wake up the next morning and do Christmas morning services at the hospitals.

At first I was bummed. No sleeping in and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning before opening presents. But I’m starting to come around. I get to celebrate Christmas with staff and families and perhaps some patients who would rather be somewhere else. I get to bring Christmas and some sense of normalcy to them. I get to be at a pediatrics hospital on Christmas morning with all of the festivity and donated presents that entails. So my Christmas won’t look like my previous Christmases, and my Christmas probably won’t look like your Christmas, but I think I’ll still get all of the joy and wonder. I’ll just have to relax on another day.

So this is not a Christmas meal. This is an anytime meal. Joe particularly liked this, I would guess due to the meaty texture of the lentils. The flavors are spot on, and the raisins add a hint of sweetness. If you don’t have any raisins, a tablespoon or so of brown sugar might also do the trick.


Lentil Tacos
serves 4
source: Runner’s World


1 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup brown lentils, dry
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup water or vegetable broth (I had to add more liquid.)
3 tablespoons dried black currants or raisins, minced
1 cup salsa, plus additional for topping
8 6-inch corn or flour tortillas
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


In a large frying pan over medium heat, saute onions, celery, and garlic in the olive oil for five minutes or until vegetables are soft. Stir in the lentils, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook for one minute. Add the broth and raisins. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender (add more water or broth as needed). Remove the lid and cook an additional 10 minutes (until lentils are thick), stirring often. Fold in the salsa. Wrap the tortillas in a damp white cotton towel and microwave on high for one minute. Spoon the lentil mixture among the tortillas. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Cheddar Bread Pudding

I’d never actually made bread pudding before this savory version, even though a sweet, boozy bread pudding studded with raisins is one of my all-time favorite desserts. It’s rare that I have leftover bread of any kind, so it felt strange to buy a baguette with the explicit purpose of letting it get stale. Definitely worth it though.

Being a mostly meatless type, I offered to bring a vegetarian entrée to Thanksgiving, letting our marvelous hostess off the hook. While it isn’t even close to vegan or low-calorie, I think I would much prefer this to a Tofurkey. Everyone knows that the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving anyway. And the kale and squash at least gives the illusion of getting in some real vegetables.

My one tip would be to use the sharpest, best cheddar cheese you can find/afford. I skimped on that, and it just wasn’t as good as I know that it could’ve been. Another bonus: this can be made in advance and is probably even best made in advance. I spent nearly a week taking the leftovers for lunch, and it only got better as the flavors melded. Perfect for when your Thanksgiving morning is routinely taken up by running a 5K with your family.


Butternut Squash, Kale, and Cheddar Bread Pudding
source: Ezra Pound Cake




  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place squash and 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread out squash cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  3. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Continue whisking as you add half and half, wine, thyme, sage, mustard, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add baguette cubes to the egg mixture, and gently fold them into the mixture to coat each side. Let the baguette pieces soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes, and sauté until soft and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover the pot, and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes (the kale will still be a little crunchy).
  5. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer half of bread from egg mixture to the dish, spreading evenly. Spoon half of kale over the bread layer. Spoon half of squash over the kale layer, and sprinkle it with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread pudding.
  6. Cover bread pudding with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until custard is set, about 20 minutes longer.
  7. Preheat broiler; broil pudding until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent, not Christmas (yet)

This Sunday marked the first Sunday of Advent, one of my favorite church seasons (though I feel like I say that about all of them). Gone are the perpetually green vestments and the repetitive tediousness of the Sundays after Pentecost. Enter Sarum blue and the twinkling of the candles on the Advent wreath against the darkness of the shortening days. Enter, stage left, John the Baptist and the nativity without the baby Jesus.

American culture doesn’t do Advent. We don’t do waiting, silently preparing in our hearts for Christmas. And I’m not going to pretend that I wait until Christmas eve to put up my tree or listen to Christmas music. I live in two worlds – one where I sit quietly and focus on my Advent devotion and the other where I hustle and bustle with the best of them, going from shopping to holiday parties.


Advent seems particularly relevant for me this year as I’m ministering in a childrens’ hospital. There are so many times when I’m ready to throw up my hands, to admit that darkness has won. How long, Lord, how long must parents bewail a fatal diagnosis or sit anxiously in the surgery waiting room as a brain tumor is removed? How do people not just give up? How do I not give up? Coming back to the hospital, day after day, holding hands, saying prayers, trying to be a small light in the overwhelming darkness.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) Along with the literal darkness of the sun starting its descent before 4 pm, there is so much darkness in the world. I see the individual darkness in people’s lives – cancer, sick and dying children, child abuse. But there’s societal darkness as well – economic injustice, hunger and starvation, unemployment, racism, sexism, etc. It’s so overwhelming that I can see why people give up and resign themselves to cynicism or apathy.


In the darkness, the light shines even brighter. As Sam Portaro said, the lights on the Advent wreath are not talismans against darkness but testaments to the light. The light is here, incarnate among us. The light is the strength within the human soul that fights against giving into the darkness. The light is as simple as getting out of bed to live another day in the face of devastating loss. The light is a group of people’s insistence that their voices matter because they are people, because they are children of God.

The light is incarnate among us if we only look for it around us and let it illuminate our souls.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Allegedly, this is a food blog, and yet I haven’t said a word about Thanksgiving. Last year, Joe and I opted for vacation in Sonoma and the most expensive Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had at Madrona Manor. This year, I was hoping for a big family shindig. I joke that when Joe has a bit too much to drink, he gets very hospitable, which is partly how we ended up combining families this year. We discovered a little over a year ago that Joe’s paternal grandmother’s sister and two of his father’s cousins live in Nashville. We’ve become close to one of the cousins, Mary, and Joe proposed that we combine Thanksgivings. My parents are currently trying to sell their house, so they were relieved that Mary offered to host. Mary’s deck offered a great family photo opportunity!


Joe and I provided our “famous” bourbon slush. Every time I make it, I think a double batch looks like far too much, but then it’s obliterated. I also cut the sugar in half. It was still plenty sweet, but we could taste the bourbon better.

photo (2)

We really had a wonderful time. It was everything that Thanksgiving should be – lots of family and food and football, for those who wanted it. There were 10 of us in total, and we all got cozy around this beautiful table.

photo (3)

And the food, of course! From 12 o’clock – a little bit of “happy” (free-range, organic) turkey with gravy, stuffing, some really fantastic green beans, the butternut squash, kale, and cheddar bread pudding I made (which will have its own post), sweet potatoes, a deviled egg, and my mom’s cranberry salad in the middle.

photo (4)

There was chocolate chip bourbon pecan pie for dessert, as well as cheesecakes shipped from Junior’s in Brooklyn.

I have so, so, so much to be thankful for this year. I’m thrilled with my life, my jobs, my husband, my family, my health, living in a great city, etc. And I know I don’t deserve any of it. It’s all grace.

Hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Italian Slow-Cooker Eggplant Casserole

Vegan and slow-cooker are not two words that I usually here in the same sentence. Sure, I used to love my slow-cooker for cooking tougher cuts of meat all day long and leaving them fork-tender, but now that I’m not eating (much) meat, the slow-cooker is primarily reserved for soup and stew-making. Not that there’s anything wrong with soups or stews, but there’s only so much of that you can eat before you crave some solid food.

Not only is this meal vegan and made in the slow-cooker, but it also contains eggplant, which is not my most favorite food item in the world. I’ll eat it, but I never get terribly excited about it. But this was good. And easy. And delicious on a giant bed of noodles. The “ricotta” was surprisingly simple to make, and I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand since I had bought cashews the last time I was at Trader Joe’s.

BTDubs, if anyone wanted to get me just one cookbook for Christmas, the book this recipe originally came from, The Vegan Slow-Cooker, would be a great present.


Italian Slow-Cooker Eggplant Casserole
originally from The Vegan Slow-Cooker
as seen on Cara’s Cravings
Yields 4-6 servings


For the Cashew-Tofu Ricotta:
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
3 cloves of garlic
1 15oz package of firm tofu
1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Remaining Ingredients:
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4lb), thinly sliced (
1 jar (25oz, or 700gm) marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
Cooked pasta, for serving


The Night Before:
Make the ricotta by blending all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

In the Morning:
Oil the crock of your slow cooker. Pour in 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Top with half of the eggplant slices, half of the ricotta, and another 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat the layers once more, then top with the remaining sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with pasta.
If your slow cooker does not run hot and the dish seems water, remove the lid and turn the slow cooker to high. The liquid should evaporate in 30-60 minutes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baked Oatmeal with Fruit

I’m a really big fan of breakfast, but I’ve gotten into a rut. And now that the mornings have turned colder, smoothies and overnight oats just don’t have the same appeal. But something like a baked oatmeal casserole that I can bake on the weekends and heat up throughout the week sounded like a great idea. Until I got horribly, horribly sick.

It wasn’t the baked oatmeal’s fault, but after running a 102-degree fever for three days a few weeks ago (um, I’m a little behind on blogging), I developed some strange food aversions. It took me several weeks to be able to drink coffee again. Something about the bitterness just turned my stomach. And cooked bananas were high on the list of things I couldn’t handle. Plain carbs were about all I really had a craving for. Not a pleasant scenario.

Fortunately, Kelsey pointed out that you could do any number of substitutes with this to make it seasonal, and a layer of pumpkin puree on the bottom might inspire me to try again. This time we’ll hope I can finish it off instead of leaving it to languish in lieu of Gatorade and Diet Sprite.


Baked Oatmeal with Fruit
as seen on An Apple a Day


1 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 c. milk, almond milk, or coconut milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced 1/2-in. thick
1 c. assorted fruit (fresh or frozen), divided


1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.   Lightly grease or spray a 2-qt. baking dish. 
2.  In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. 
3.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine maple syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla. 
4.  Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with half of the berries.  Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer.  Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4-6.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baked Goat Cheese & Roasted Winter Squash over Garlicky Fettuccine

Last week was a complete roller coaster of emotions. Tuesday was my 27th birthday. Wednesday, I had a really tough hospital situation (boo), a haircut (yay!), a flu shot (boo), and a random woman come up to me and tell me that I was very pretty (yay!).

With all of those emotions, my goal this year is to try not to mindlessly eat when I’m sad, tired, or stressed. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to be intentional about it. Like on Wednesday night, I went to the Thai place next door to my hair salon, bought a big plate of vegetable pad Thai, and ate the whole thing. Healthy? Not exactly. Comforting? Oh yes.


Carbs are my comfort food. Throw in some roasted vegetables and baked goat cheese in a recipe from Cooking Light, and I might not even feel bad about it. Erin and her husband came over the night I was preparing this to pick up her share of our CSA and said, “I hope that makes it on the blog because it smells delicious!” It tasted pretty good too.

The pasta doesn’t have much of a traditional sauce, but the melty goat cheese can be broken up to kind of coat the noodles a bit more. I particularly liked the caramelized bits of squash.


Baked Goat Cheese & Roasted Winter Squash over Garlicky Fettuccine
source: Cooking Light as seen on Prevention, RD
Yields 4-6 servings


6 cups kabocha or butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 lb uncooked fettuccine
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Place squash and bell pepper in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss well. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, rosemary and black pepper. Bake at 425 F for 40 mins, stirring once.

Place goat cheese in freezer for 10 minutes. Cut cheese crosswise into 16 equal rounds. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Dredge each round in breadcrumbs; place on baking sheet. Bake at 425 F for 6 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pan; add reserved pasta cooking water, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and garlic, tossing to coat. Place 1 cup pasta in each of 4-6 shallow bowls; top each serving with about 1/2 cup squash mixture and 2 goat cheese rounds. Garnish with rosemary or thyme sprigs, if desired.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash

Occasionally, I hit the jackpot by making something that I’m willing to eat on a regular basis (reasonably healthy and easy to make on a weeknight) and something that is equally appealing to Joe. Without getting too much into gender essentialism as it relates to food, Joe does tend to prefer heartier meals. Arguably, this is about as meat-and-potatoes as you can get with vegetarian food.

Soy chorizo is perhaps not the most “natural” food that I eat, but it is so gosh-darn tasty that I try not to give that too much mind. I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, but the mix of sweet and regular moderates the flavor. And while there isn’t a lot of green in this meal, I could see serving it with a side or bed of kale chips. Lord knows I’ll be making this one again and again so I’ll have plenty of opportunity to experiment.


Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash
source: Cate’s World Kitchen
2 servings


2 tbsp olive oil
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled
1 medium potato, peeled
1 red onion, chopped
4 ounces soy chorizo
2 eggs
queso fresco and fresh cilantro, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cut the sweet potatoes and potato into small cubes (you should have about 3 cups).

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low. Add the potato and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. If anything begins to brown excessively, turn down the heat. Add more oil if things are sticking.

Once the potatoes are tender, stir in the chorizo. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Crack 2 eggs over the hash, then put the pan in the oven. Cook in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, or until the whites are set.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cilantro and queso fresco.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Italian-Style Meatless Meatloaf Muffins

(I ran another half marathon recently. Check out my race re-cap over at Run, Rev, Run.)

I haven’t been a very good food blogger. Oh, I’ve been cooking now and again, even trying new recipes, but I haven’t been sharing them. And I’m not going to the Food Blog Forum here in Nashville this coming weekend, even though some of my favorite people & bloggers are running the show.

I’m cheating on blogging with my job. I love, love, love my job. I’ve never been so exhausted and so happy to be doing something. But a few things have had to give, namely being connected to my various online communities. Even Joe noted, “You’re working as much as I do.” Um, yeah.


As I began to adjust to my new schedule, posting might be light for a little while. I’m still here though!

It’s evident I haven’t been as experimental in the kitchen as I used to be. Joe has re-developed his wariness at new things like these meatloaf muffins. I also didn’t go to great lengths to point out that they’re vegan, but he gobbled them up even after I named “nutritional yeast” as one of the ingredients. He preferred the mashed pinto beans to the tempeh in this recipe. They didn’t hold together quite as much as I would’ve liked, but they did make for pretty decent leftovers.


Italian-Style Meatless Meatloaf Muffins
source: Peas and Thank You
4 servings


  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce, jarred or homemade, divided
  • 1/4 c. flax seed, ground
  • Two 14 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • 3/4 c. oats
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 1T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. dried parsley
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. cracked black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, combine 1/4 c. of the marinara sauce and the ground flax. Stir to combine and set aside to thicken.
  • In a large bowl, mash pinto beans with a fork or potato masher. Do not over mash, we aren’t looking for refried beans, but a nice chunky texture.
  • Add onion, oats, garlic, Worcestershire, olive oil, nutritional yeast, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Add in marinara-flax mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
  • Scoop bean mixture into a muffin tin that has been lightly greased or sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes, until edges are starting to brown. Top each muffin with a spoonful of marinara. Return to oven for another 10-12 minutes, until muffins are firm and set.
  • Allow muffins to cool for several minutes, as they will firm up even more, before serving.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chocolate Pudding Pie

This pie wasn’t supposed to happen like this, but between Joe’s and my schedule, we’re learning to roll with it.


We were going to a friends’ house for dinner on Friday, and Joe proposed that we take nice beer and a dessert. Having debriefed in the gym parking lot, we decided to get take-out salads that night and make the dessert. I headed home to pick out a recipe while Joe got his work out on. However, our plans were derailed when Joe called to tell me that he had been called back to the hospital for a surgery. The bright side was that he would likely be off the next day, and he volunteered to make the dessert by himself.

I selected this pie, something we already had all of the ingredients for, and I left out the non-perishable ingredients on the counter. I sent Joe the recipe via e-mail along with some tips, mentioning that he could use a frozen pie crust but would probably need to blind bake it. And, for God’s sake, if he had any questions, to call me or page me.

All throughout my work day, I didn’t hear a peep from Joe. It seems as if he didn’t need my help. When I got home, I peeked in the fridge and saw a beautiful chocolate pudding pie. He had even whipped the cream and stored it in a separate container.

As we prepared to top the pie with the whipped cream, I asked Joe if he had baked the crust. He looked at me blankly.
“Didn’t you see that I had mentioned you might need to blind bake it?”
“Yes, but I didn’t know what that meant.”
I thought we might be able to serve it in a slightly soggy crust, but Joe broke off a piece of the unbaked pie crust and promptly vetoed that plan. Fortunately, he had purchased a pre-made chocolate cookie crumb crust, so even though it wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing, we scooped the chocolate pudding into the crust, topped it with the whipped cream and sprinkles and were on our way.


It went over smashingly. The pudding was light in texture but with an intense chocolate taste. The crust is secondary to the filling in my mind anyway. As always, the homemade whipped cream was vastly better than anything out of a can. Now if only we had gotten the crust right…

Chocolate Pudding Pie
as seen on Smitten Kitchen


1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 crust’s worth of your favorite pie crust recipe

Bittersweet chocolate shavings or chocolate sprinkles for garnish (optional)


Prepare pie dough: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp edge decoratively. Prick bottom and side of shell all over with a fork, then chill shell 30 minutes. While shell chills, preheat oven to 375°F with a baking sheet on middle rack. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake on baking sheet until pastry is set and edge is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil, then bake shell on baking sheet until pale golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool shell.

Make pudding filling: Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk [tips alert!] in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, two minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.

Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper (if you want to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least two hours.

Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings or sprinkles, if you’re feeling fancy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Perfect Party Cake

Growing up, I didn’t like that my mom wasn’t like other moms. She didn’t know how to French braid hair. She didn’t chaperone field trips or bake her famous homemade cookies for school bake sales. Instead of the long flowing hair of my female classmates, I had short hair and big goofy plastic glasses.


I didn’t realize it at the time because I was a spoiled little brat, but my mom wasn’t doing those things because she was busy being a bad-ass. She was a crazy fast runner before running became a “thing”. She was a corporate lawyer when there weren’t a lot of women who worked full-time in positions like that. She certainly wasn’t a saint, and we didn’t always have a great relationship. But now that I’m older, I really appreciate what I’ve learned from my mom:


1. My mom never told me I couldn’t do anything.
Whether I wanted to be an opera singer or a priest, she never told me I couldn’t do it. I never heard that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. In fact, I think at one point she suggested I try to join the wrestling team. She sent me to Michigan when I was 16 and let me fly all around the country for college auditions. When I decided to pursue ordination, she supported me fully in that as well. Whether I wanted to get married or not, have children or not, she has never openly discouraged me with regard to important life choices.


2. You can have a personal style without being prissy.
My mom is and was an athlete, and even though the 1980s may have taken their toll, she is awesome at finding a style that works for her, even if it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. She always looks good and takes care of herself but isn’t self-conscious and weird about it.

3. Physical fitness is important.
I’m so thankful that my parents are healthy and take care of themselves by exercising and eating well. I hope that I’m just as awesome when I’m their age.


4. Food is also important.
I partially credit my mom with my relationship towards food. She was never a person who was able to subsist solely on grilled chicken salads. Pizza, Mexican, doughnuts, etc. were all fine in moderation. While both of us have struggled at times to figure out moderation, she never modeled deprivation for me.

Obviously, the best way to celebrate my mom’s birthday was with wine and cake. We headed to Arrington Vineyards for a Riedel wine tasting and got to keep the glasses!


My mom prefers lighter white cakes to a big heavy chocolate cake, so I immediately decided to make Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. Layer cakes are definitely not my forte, so I was shocked when this turned out as well as it did. It was so light and tender with just a hint of lemon. Indeed, it was perfect for celebrating my mom’s 59th birthday!


Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake
as seen on Ezra Pound Cake


  • 1 1/2 CUPS SUGAR






  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
  2. For the Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
  4. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  5. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one-third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
  6. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
  7. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
  9. For the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  10. Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
  11. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
  12. To Assemble the Cake: Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

STORING: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Pineapple Foil Packets

I didn’t make this dinner. Joe actually made it on a rainy Tuesday while I was sitting in traffic trying to get home from the hospital. I had asked him to prep a couple of the things. Mostly, I was hoping that he would peel the shrimp because I despise peeling shrimp. Not only did he prep a few ingredients, but when I walked in the door, the foil packets were on the grill.

Granted, we had a short window for dinner due to our new membership in our condominium bridge game on Tuesday nights. We’re the youngest people by about 30 years, but if two 96 year-old women are playing, there must be something about it keeping the mind sharp. Neither Joe nor I had played in 8-10 years, but they were patient with us and answered our questions when we couldn’t figure out how to bid. Joe even ended up being the highest scorer of the night and took home the grand prize of $5.

So I can’t tell you much about the preparation of this meal, but I can tell you that the shrimp were really juicy and not at all dry or rubbery like shrimp can be. The foil packet method was especially easy for clean-up, and the citrus flavors of the lime and pineapple gave it a Latin-Caribbean vibe. Hopefully we’ll get to use the grill well into October, but this was a quintessentially summer meal.


Shrimp, Black Bean, and Pineapple Foil Packets
source: Cara’s Cravings
Yields 2 servings


8oz raw, medium sized shrimp (peeled, deveined)
1 cup cooked black beans
3/4 cup finely diced pineapple
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 avocado, diced
Lettuce wrap, quinoa, couscous, or whole wheat tortilla for serving


Preheat grill to medium.
Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, pineapple, red onion, jalapeno, and ginger. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice, coriander, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin.
Spray two large pieces of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Spoon half of the black bean mixture into the center of each and top with half of the shrimp. Squeeze the remaining lime juice over the shrimp. Bring the edges of the foil together and fold down, sealing well.
Place the foil packets on the grill, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes, until shrimp are opaque.
Carefully open the foil packets and stir the contents. Top with the diced avocado and sprinkle with cilantro.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

Every other week, I get a box from Delvin Farms that looks like this:


Fortunately, I split it with the lovely Erin and her husband because that is a lot of food, and someone does not always great about eating his veggies. Late summer means peppers galore, but we also received a watermelon, cantaloupe, and butternut squash hiding under all of those peppers. This was our second butternut squash, and because I am incapable of cutting them in half without injuring myself, I got the first one and gave Erin this most recent one.

Without a particular plan for it, I roasted that squash whole, scraped out the insides, and froze the puree for a later date when I would be in a bit of a rush, like, my first day of chaplaincy residency. Switching from grad student schedule (flexible but stressful!) to camp schedule (fun and outdoors!) to free time (boring!) and now to a normal working person schedule is going to take some getting used to. After getting home from the gym after 6:30, having the squash thawed and ready to go was crucial because I was about to chew my arm off. Lesson #1: Don’t skip your snack.

I quickly whipped up the filling. Joe stuffed and rolled the enchiladas. I covered them with sauce, and we threw them in the oven, allowing us enough time to clean up before they were ready to go. We were both surprised how filling they were. Two of these with a quarter of an avocado and we were stuffed, and the cinnamon/nutmeg/cumin combo was a just-right hint of fall. I always thought enchiladas were way too time-intensive for a normal weeknight, but with some of the components pre-made or bought, it was perfect for a relatively quick dinner. 


Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas
source: The Daily Garnish
Yields 6-8 enchiladas


  • 1 large butternut squash, roasted and mashed 
  • 1 medium onion, diced 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • salt to taste
  • 6-8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 large can red enchilada sauce (or homemade if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a medium-sized pan with olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add in rinsed and drained black beans and stir until heated.

Add the black bean mixture to the squash and fold in to combine. Add spices and salt to taste.

Pour a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan to coat. Fill a tortilla with about 1 cup of mixture and loosely roll, placing the rolled tortilla seam-side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Cover the rolled up enchiladas with the rest of the sauce and top with cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tempeh Tamale Pie


When I started to reduce my meat consumption, I didn’t immediately go to faux meat equivalents. Sure, I like a veggie hot dog now and again, but faux deli meat kind of frightens me. I also didn’t want to frighten Joe who had been turned off long ago by a girlfriend’s fake chicken riblets. Instead, we ate a lot of beans, and I gradually introduced tofu. We stuck with that plan for a good while. Then I started hearing about other options, namely tempeh and seitan, and I was intrigued so I picked some tempeh up at the store though I didn’t have any plans for it.

(browning the tempeh)

The vacuum sealed package was a little unsettling in its resemblance to the color and texture of our cats’ wet food. When I showed it to Joe, he gave me the I-don’t-like-it-but-I’m-going-to-trust-you face. When in doubt, I go with something ethnic-inspired, so Mama Pea’s tamale pie seemed like the perfect dish. Besides, she just published a book including this recipe, and I had seen it recommended on Twitter.


It was as great as promised. The tempeh and pinto bean filling had a great nutty flavor and texture. I had a bit of trouble spreading the cornbread mixture in my attempt to only use one pan. The original recipe calls for a 2 quart baking dish, but I did the whole thing in my cast iron. You can also easily make this vegan by omitting the cheese or using dairy-free cheese and sour cream. And sorry, Mama Pea, but black olives do not belong on any self-respecting Mexican casserole.


Tamale Pie
source: Peas and Thank You
Yields 4-6 servings


For the filling:

  • 1 medium onion or 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • One 8 oz. package tempeh, crumbled
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1 t. maple syrup
  • One 14 oz. can tomato sauce
  • One 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
For the crust:
  • 2/3 c. cornmeal
  • 1/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy or organic milk
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c. frozen corn, defrosted and drained
  • 1/3 c. non-dairy (i.e. Daiya) or organic cheddar cheese (optional)
For topping:
  • sliced olives and non-dairy or organic sour cream (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat and spritz with cooking spray or oil. Add onion and sauté until softened and starting to brown, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Crumble tempeh into the pan with the sautéed onion. I like to use a grater so that all the pieces are approximately the same size.
  • Lightly brown tempeh, cooking for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  • To the pan, add garlic, chili powder, 1/2 t. salt, vinegar, 1 t. maple syrup, tomato sauce and beans.
  • Allow bean mixture to simmer for a few minutes to meld flavors.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In your liquid measuring cup, combine milk, maple syrup and applesauce.
  • Add wet ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the defrosted corn.
  • Spread corn mixture carefully and evenly over the top of the casserole dish.
  • If using, top the casserole with shredded cheese.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese has melted and crust is set and starting to brown.
  • Serve with desired toppings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thin-Crust Pizza

Anyone who has been around for a while might remember the first time I tried to make pizza dough. It was an utter disaster. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth and sticky dough everywhere. I’ve always envied those people who do homemade pizza every Friday night with their own dough as if it is the easiest thing in the world. For me, pizza dough was almost always a production that involved a fair amount of angst and raised voices. If pizza was on the menu, Joe knew to steer clear of the kitchen lest my wrath towards the pizza dough be misdirected towards him. Until now.


This was the pizza night that almost didn’t happen. I made the dough 24 hours ahead of time (easily! in the food processor!), on Thursday afternoon, to give it plenty of time to rise, but when I was at the grocery store on Friday to pick up a few extras, Joe called me to tell me that he was very sick, was coming home to collapse, and probably wouldn’t be feeling up to dinner. So I had a glass of wine and wandered around the house, until at 8:30 pm, Joe announced that I could begin making the pizza. Well, the dough needed an hour to come to room temperature, and I wasn’t about to wait until 9:30 to eat. Then we had relatives in town for the rest of the weekend, so pizza wasn’t going to happen the next night. After a huge brunch, we needed something for dinner on Sunday but could actually wait for the dough to stand while we finished watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


The dough! The dough rolled out perfectly without all the stickiness that I usually experience even after throwing flour at it. And look at those crust bubbles in the picture above. I have NEVER gotten crust bubbles, just like at a real pizza place. And it wasn’t soggy. I could hold a piece and not have it wilt and cause all the toppings to slide off. Even Joe remarked that our pizza night was uncharacteristically successful. He got to top his with pesto, fresh mozzarella, and Boar’s Head pepperoni, like so:


And I stuck with traditional tomato sauce, an Italian blend of cheeses, and mushrooms. We each only ate half a pizza, so there were leftovers the next day as well.


Thin-Crust Pizza Dough
source: Cook’s Illustrated as seen on Oishii Food


1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. olive oil, plus extra
1 1/3 cups  ice water
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
3 cups bread flour, plus extra
Cornmeal (optional)


  • At least 24 Hours before prepare the dough. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, and yeast until combined. With the machine running, slowly add ice water through the feed tube and process until a dough forms and no dry flour remains. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
  • Add oil and salt and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball – about 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl, knead briefly on lightly oiled work area until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
  • One hour before baking the pizza, adjust the oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ degrees.
  • Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, with at least 3 to 5 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour, and place on a well-floured counter top. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk. Leave 1 inch of the outer edge a little thicker, while gently stretching the middle until you have a 12-inch round. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and spread a handful of cornmeal on the paper (if using). Place the dough on the paper.
  • Spread sauce (tomato or pesto) over pizza, add a couple handfuls of cheese and your choice of toppings. Carefully lift the parchment paper with pizza on-top and place onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 10-12 minutes. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Repeat steps above to make and bake second pizza. Enjoy with your favorite bottle of red wine.