Tag Archives: leftovers

New Year’s Resolutions

14 Jan

We are two weeks in to 2014, and I thought I would check in on how everyone is doing with their New Year’s Resolutions. How goes it?

I try more and more to not have to find a reason to make positive changes, but there is something about a crisp new page on the calendar that is conducive to new behaviors, attitudes, and … food! New ideas in the kitchen, new recipes, new ingredients, you name it: 2014 seems like a great opportunity.

I have a few food-related New Year’s Resolutions for myself and want to share them with you here, and then I will check those boxes, so to speak, in future posts. I even made a “New Year’s Resolution” tag, if you would like to follow along that way. We are more likely to stick to our goals when we share them with others, right? Well here we go!

  1. Take healthy lunches and snacks to work: It’s often a struggle for me, time-wise, to plan meals for the week, get to the grocery store, cook, pack lunches the night before, and remember to bring it the next day. I would love to get this down to a system! It seems like casseroles and other one-pot comfort foods might be a good option (one container – easy to transport; and filling – our work cafeteria closes at 2pm so healthy afternoon snacks can be challenging). For snacks, healthy, filling, and easy to transport are also key. On busy days, I maaaay be guilty of trolling the halls for unattended candy jars (sigh), and I would love to curb that habit.
  2. Eat filling and healthy breakfasts: Too often I find myself needing to hunker down and work hard between 10:30 and 11:30 on weekdays … not because of any particular deadline or project at work, but because 10:30 is about when my coffee buzz has waned, and 11:30 is when it’s socially acceptable to eat lunch. When I have a full breakfast, I can power through; when I skip breakfast, I feel it. I generally don’t have a ton of time to prepare breakfast in the morning, but oatmeal is one option; I would also like to get into a routine of make-ahead breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos, and other similar dishes that I can grab on the go or heat quickly right when I get to work.
  3. Eat less meat: I love meat. I do. But I would like to exercise more moderation. I can’t promise that I will have “Meatless Mondays,” but I don’t think that one or two days per week is unreasonable.
  4. Get to know a few herbs and spices better: How many spices are in your spice rack? I counted once, when a friend of mine was writing an article for a magazine on a related topic, and it was more than 60 – I have to guess I am over 70 or 75 now. Some I crank through, like oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes … others, like garam masala, tarragon, and even paprika I would like to find a few solid recipes for. And as fresh herbs become more bountiful in the warmer months, I am looking forward to picking up something pretty at the farmer’s market and exploring! Which herbs do you wish you knew more about or used more?
  5. Make my father proud: My dad wishes I had a Jewish food blog. I don’t. That niche is not really sustainable for me, but I like the idea of trying to make one traditional recipe per month. It will be worth it even if only to hear my dad do his impersonation of what he thinks it sounds like when I write blog posts. So cute.

If you have ideas for anything in this post, please leave them in the comments!

After-Party Egg Scramble {Chicken and Dips}

4 Jan

Egg Scramble-2This year for New Year’s Eve, I wasn’t in the mood to battle crowds at bars, or have dinner out and then make a 10pm decision on where to ring in the new year – and I’m always in the mood to cook.  So I decided to have a few people over. I told my invitees that I didn’t need to know if they were joining until the last minute, and I was happy to be a back-up plan, or a place for them to start or end the evening of they had other plans.

That’s all fine and good, but it made planning a menu a bit difficult! Was I going to have 12 people over for 5 hours (heavier menu), or would 4 people swing by for an hour here and there, maybe on their way to eat (lighter menu)?

I decided to just make a menu that, if I had excessive leftovers, would translate into easy lunches for me for the rest of the week, and healthy snacks to have in my fridge for the weekend.

The “main event” on my NYE buffet, therefore, was a make-your-own mini sandwich station. I poached 3 chicken breasts and roasted a small filet mignon from Trader Joe’s (SUPER easy and delicious, pre-seasoned and ready to put in the oven!). I sliced a baguette, and then sliced the meats to fit, and set them out just on the cutting board with roasted peppers, pesto, and a caramelized onion dip made with greek yogurt and light cream cheese. There was also hummus available with a veggie platter, if people wanted to use the hummus with the sandwiches. It was a hit – my guests loved that it was substantial food that wasn’t too heavy.

The next morning, I was faced with the glorious leftovers. I looked at the chicken, peppers, and dips, and thought they might make an awesome breakfast – and I was right.

Egg Scramble-3

Pesto, when you think about it, is just spinach, herbs, oil, and cheese – all things that go well with eggs {sure, a bit of walnut, but it’s pulverized}. The onion dip was made of richly caramelized onions, and dairy product. If you have never scrambled eggs with a splash of milk, you are missing out; the dip was thicker than milk, but still a dairy product, and I figured I would just try it, to see if it went well with eggs. Win.

Serve with some French Fries or Roasted Potatoes, and call it your hostess gift to yourself.

Egg Scramble-5

– 2 eggs (pictured here is 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites)
– 1 T skim milk
– 3/4 t pesto
– 3/4 t onion-flavored dip with dairy base {I will post the recipe a bit later!}
– handful of meat, to your taste, chopped small (chicken or beef)
– any other leftover veggies, like spinach from making pesto (optional)
roasted peppers, any amount

How do I make it?

  • Set a medium or large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • While the skillet is warming, whisk the eggs with milk until it’s uniform. Then whisk in the pesto and onion dip.
  • Spray the warm skillet with olive oil spray.
  • Once the spray has warmed, heat the meat until it browns a bit on the edges. Add the red peppers and mix, just to warm them.
  • Push the meat and veggies to one corner of the pan, and re-spray with oil.
  • Add the egg mixture, and begin to scramble. When they are about half-done, stir in the meat and veggies. Cook until it’s as firm as you like it. When it’s almost done, stir in spinach, to wilt it. Spinach won’t need more than a few seconds in the pan.

Egg Scramble

More info please?

You can really add any meat or veggie to this recipe. Potential party foods you may have on hand that would be delicious in an after-party scramble include broccoli, raw peppers, tomatoes, or marinated mushrooms. Cook any raw veggies at the same time you heat the meat, and add any cooked veggies to warm with the peppers.

You can also add any cheese left over from a cheese platter, when the eggs are almost done. I shredded some parmesan reggiano (that I “forgot” to put out at the party … and got to keep for myself…) on top once it was done.

Egg Scramble-4

Roasted Potatoes

28 Nov

Roasted Potatoes-7

I am often asked what my favorite dish to cook is, but today I was asked what my favorite food is. Not something that I have been asked in a long time,  and it took me a minute to answer as the kid in the candy store that was my head ran around in circles.

“French fries.”

But as the words came out of my mouth, I found myself running through different cuts of french fries. If I went to a restaurant that offered thin cut, thick cut, steak cut, waffle cut … what would I choose? And what about thin and crisp potato skins? What about fully loaded potato skins? Twice-baked? So many options. My mind raced. And then it hit me …

I love potatoes.

“I take it back. Potatoes.” ZA and I shared a moment when she revealed that she, too, loved potatoes and thinking about it, would probably answer her own question the same way. So simple, so versatile, such a staple.

I used to get frustrated that I couldn’t get the texture I wanted from roasted potatoes – well-done inside, and crisp outside – until I realized two tricks: 1) You need to start with potatoes that are baked, rather than raw; and 2) The less you mess with them while they are cooking, the better!

Ingredients:- 6 medium russet potatoes, baked (can be altered, but I recommend using smaller potatoes, and budgeting more than one per person)
– 6 cloves garlic, peeled (smashed if you would like!)
– 2 T extra virgin olive oil
– 1 t dried oregano, or 1 T fresh oregano
– 1/4 – 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes

How do I make it?

  • {To bake potatoes, either toss a few in the oven while you are cooking something else (prick them with a fork first) – 45 to 60 minutes at any temperature between 350 and 400 should do it. Or, prick with a fork and wrap in paper towel, and microwave one at a time for 6 minutes. Cook before handling!}
  • Preheat the oven to 400 and, if you have a heating element on the top of the oven, set a rack in the top 1/3. If your heating element is only on the bottom, set the rack in the middle of the oven. You will want your pan to be close to the heating element, but you don’t want to over-brown on the bottom of the pan.
  • Cut the potatoes into 1″ cubes. This is why I like to use medium potatoes – you can cut them in half once the long way, then in half again the long way, and then easily chop into cubes that will cook at a good rate (and most importantly, all of the pieces will have skin on them!).Roasted Potatoes
  • Transfer the potatoes to a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Make sure they all fit in a single layer.
  • Add the garlic cloves to the pan.
  • Drizzle the oil over the potatoes and garlic. Add the oregano and red pepper flakes. Top with freshly ground pepper, if you would like.
  • Using your hands, toss the potatoes, garlic, oil, and spices together in the pan, making sure to coat the potatoes with the mixture as much as possible.
  • Roasted Potatoes-2Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, without stirring the potatoes around. After this time, give them a good flip. You should start to get a nice golden crisp on the potatoes.
  • Return the potatoes to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes-5


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Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-3







Focaccia with Rosemary, Tomato, and Caramelized Onions

23 Nov

Rosemary Focaccia-5Focaccia is as thick as dough can be while still remaining a flatbread. It can be topped with nearly anything, but traditional toppings include herbs, onion and other vegetables, cheese, and meat. Focaccia also has a high olive oil content, which keeps it moist and adds flavor – and sets it apart from pizza dough. A sprinkle of salt tops it off! I love having focaccia available for snacking – I think the small amount of salt is satisfying. And when you slice off small pieces, the calories don’t count, right?

– 1 package dry yeast
– 1 cup warm water, 100-110 degrees
– 1 tsp honey
– 3.5 c all-purpose flour
– 1/2 c (plus a little more) extra virgin olive oil (divided – you will use it at a few different times)
– kosher salt
– 1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
– 2 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4″ slices
– 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem
– 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

How do I make it?

  • In a medium bowl, stir together yeast, warm water, and honey. Let rest until bubbles form on top and you can smell the yeast, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in 3 c flour, 1/4 c olive oil and 1 t kosher salt.
  • Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth (see photo below), 5 to 10 minutes. Add flour if the dough gets sticky {it’s ok if you don’t use the full 3.5 c!}.
  • Rosemary FocacciaPlace dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour. Don’t worry if it doesn’t completely double! Not a big deal.
  • While the dough is rising, Heat a large heavy skillet or pan over medium heat. When warm, add 1 T olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion slices, separating as you drop them into the skillet, and cover. Cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. The longer the onion cooks, the sweeter it will get!
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and lightly oil a 9″ x 13″ rimmed baking sheet, or metal baking pan.
  • Remove dough from bowl and press it into the pan until it touches the edges. Using your fingers, make dimples all over the dough (see photo below).
    Rosemary Focaccia-2
  • Drizzle the dough with 1 – 2 T olive oil and spread it around using your fingers or a pastry brush.
  • Let the dough rest 20-30 minutes, until it becomes a little puffy.
  • Top the dough with tomato slices, caramelized onions, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, and a bit more salt, to your tastes. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil.Rosemary Focaccia-3
  • Bake until the focaccia is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool before cutting into pieces and serving!

Rosemary FocacciaMore info please?

If you plan to serve as finger food for a party, try smaller tomatoes, and line them up in rows and columns so that when you slice with a serrated knife, the tomatoes stay pretty and intact.

Original link: http://www.cookincanuck.com/2011/02/focaccia-with-caramelized-onion-tomato/

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes

8 Oct

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-3

When I open my refrigerator on a lazy weekend morning (or any morning during this federal government shutdown!) and see healthy ingredients left over from the week’s meals, I pat myself on the back and pretend I planned the whole thing. Then I usually scramble up whatever is there, with a few eggs. Pretty good, but I wouldn’t mind a little sparkle now and then.

This recipe for Quinoa Breakfast Cakes gives those healthy ingredients some purpose. Try it first with the ingredients and ratios as set forth here, and then try to mix it up just a bit, substituting a different herb for the basil, sweet potato for the white potato, or Gruyere for the Parmigiano Reggiano.

If you make a whole batch on the weekend, they will last for a few days into the week – just reheat them in a pan or in the microwave, and enjoy the cakes on their own – definitely a healthy breakfast in their own right – or with some scrambled eggs and salsa. Before your coffee is done brewing, you are on your way to THIS:

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-6

Pretty good-lookin’ weekday breakfast, right?

p.s. I won’t tell a soul if you also eat these for lunch or dinner. Or snack.

– 1 medium sweet onion, diced
– 2 c minced portobello or cremini mushrooms
– 1 c baby spinach, chopped
– 2 c cooked quinoa
– 1.5 baking potatoes, skins removed, chopped, boiled, and mashed (or use 3/4 c leftover mashed potatoes)
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– 1/4 c Parmigiano Reggiano
– 10 leaves basil, chopped
– 1/4 t red pepper flakes
– 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

How do I make it?

  • Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is warm, add extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the onion and saute they start to brown and are softened.
  • Add the mushrooms and spinach, and cook 2-3 minutes more, until the mushrooms are tender and the spinach is bright.
  • Transfer the onions, mushrooms, and spinach to a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and stir to evenly distribute.
  • Form into patties (this recipe will make about 12, give or take). Make sure the patties aren’t too thick, or else the egg won’t cook through (1/2″ – 3/4″ thick should be great).
  • Wipe out the skillet, and re-heat over medium-high heat. When warm, spray with olive oil and place 4 patties in the pan. After about 5 minutes, check the bottom of one of the patties. If it is browning, flip it, and repeat with the others in the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Continue with this process until you have cooked the entire batch.

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-4

Original recipe: Adapted from December 2012 Women’s Health Magazine, “Eat Smart: Quinoa Meatballs”

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Broccoli Chicken Quinoa Casserole

6 Oct


Are you a cheesy casserole person? Would you be if the calories, fat, and sodium usually associated with said cheesy casseroles were not an issue?

Count me in on the latter scenario.

Usually when a recipe involves little more than combining a few ingredients and then baking, I would rather just eat all of the ingredients separately – who needs to dirty another dish? But here, the synergy works, and it is worth the extra step on a cold autumn night. Casseroles like this are also great to bring to work for lunch. I mean, if you are not a furloughed federal employee this week.


– 2 c cooked quinoa
– 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
– 1 pound broccoli {crown chopped in to florets; stem peeled with a vegetable peeler and sliced in to small discs}
– 1 1/2 c low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese {p.s. I don’t like cottage cheese on its own, but it was great in this dish – if you want to switch it up, try ricotta cheese instead}
– 3/4 c grated cheddar cheese
– 1/4 c panko breadcrumbs
– 2 T grated Parmesan
– 1 t extra virgin olive oil

How do I make it?

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, it thins out – swirl it around the pan to coat the bottom, and add the cubed chicken in one layer in the skillet, making sure to not crowd the pan, so the chicken can brown {you want to avoid adding too much chicken, which would cause the chicken to steam instead of brown – it will still be cooked if it doesn’t brown – it just tastes better when it is a little crispy on the outside!}.
  • Saute until the chicken is browned on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken cubes and repeat on the other side of the chicken, another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and repeat as necessary with the rest of the chicken – you probably will not have to add more oil though.
  • With all of the chicken removed from the pan, add the chopped broccoli and cook until the broccoli is lightly softened and bright green, about 2 minutes. Add just a little water (1-2 t) if there is not enough liquid left over from the chicken. DO NOT over-cook, because the broccoli will cook again when you bake the casserole, and you don’t want it to get mushy!
  • While you are working on the chicken and broccoli, in a small bowl, combine the panko, grated Parmesan, and one teaspoon of olive oil, and stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Remove from heat, and in a large bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, cooked quinoa, cottage cheese, and 1/2 c grated cheddar. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with freshly-ground pepper.
  • Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and press it down, and spread the remaining grated cheddar over the top. Top with the panko mixture.
  • Bake until breadcrumbs are lightly browned and cheese is melted through, about 15 minutes.


Original link: Adapted from http://thescrumptiouspumpkin.com/2013/03/28/easy-quinoa-cheddar-bake-with-chicken-and-broccoli/

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Chicken Fried Quinoa

22 May


“I want to eat THAT.”   – Friend and Cooking Club member, MS, happening upon this picture in my camera.

I did eat that. It was wonderful. “That” is a take on chicken fried rice – healthed up with quinoa instead of rice, egg whites instead of whole eggs, all the veggies you want, and total control over the amount of oil and soy sauce. I do not feel guilty eating it, and although I always intend for the quantities below to be enough for two servings… it is usually just one. Well, two bowls, but one sitting.


– 2 eggs
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1 small sweet onion, chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 t ground ginger OR 1 t fresh minced ginger
– 1 crown broccoli, chopped small
– 3/4 c cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
– 1 c cooked quinoa
– 2 T low-sodium soy sauce

How do I make it?

  • First, the eggs. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; when hot, spray with cooking spray. Cook one egg white at a time: crack an egg into a small bowl (discard the yolk and shell). Pour it into the skillet gently, and let it cook until set (do not scramble) (but if you DO scramble it, it will taste fine, I promise). This should be a minute or two – keep an eye on it. Flip and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove the first egg white to a cutting board, and cook the second egg white the same way. When cooked, stack the two egg whites on the cutting board, cut into thin strips, and set aside.
  • Turn up the temperature to medium-high and heat 1 T olive oil. Add the onions, and cook until browned (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for another minute.
  • Add another T of olive oil and add the chopped broccoli. As soon as it turns bright green, add the chicken and quinoa and heat them through. Add a bit more oil if it gets too dry. A little browning on this dish is good, but burn is not. (Note, if the broccoli is already cooked, just add it with the chicken and quinoa to heat through.)
  • Add the egg white strips to the skillet, and distribute them throughout.
  • Top with soy sauce, and heat through again.
  • Eat. Up.

More info please?

This is a great way to use leftovers, and you should feel free to add any other vegetables you have on hand – peppers, carrots, peas, you name it. Just cook or heat them at the stage where you cook the broccoli, above. I assume it goes without saying that this could easily be adapted to be vegetarian – either use a protein substitute or just increase the vegetable portion.

Southwest Quinoa Bowl

20 Apr

Quinoa Bowl

I did a lot of cooking this week, and found myself, as I do during such weeks, with odds and ends in the fridge, in small quantities, and no real plan. At such a time, pizza delivery may sound perfect, but these delicious ingredients were all calling to me. Perhaps you recognize some of them from recent posts: garlic, onions, cooked quinoa, avocado, kale, black beans, cilantro … add a few other stragglers, like the last tablespoon of pico, a quarter can of corn, and a few tortillas, and my friends, that is what we call “dinner.”


– extra virgin olive oil
– kale or other greens (1 cup, chopped)
– 1/2 sweet onion, diced
– 2 cloves garlic (left over from garlic post – minced or sliced)
– 1 c cooked quinoa
– 1/2 c black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1/4 c canned corn, drained
– 2 T cilantro
– avocado, for garnish
– pico or salsa, for garnish
tortilla chips made from 2 corn tortillas

How do I make it?

  • Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 T olive oil. Add the greens and half the garlic, and cook until the greens start to wilt and turn bright green. Remove the greens from the pan and set aside.
  • Return the skillet to the range and add 1 T olive oil. Add the onion and remaining garlic. Cook until the onion browns (about 5 minutes), then add the cooked quinoa, the black beans, and the corn. Stir until it is heated through. Add the cilantro and the cooked reserved greens, and combine to heat through.
  • Transfer to a bowl, and top with avocado, pico, and more cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.
  • I am not a gratuitous cheese person, but if you are, this seems like a wonderful vehicle for a little chunk of cheese you were saving for a rainy day. Likewise, aren’t you glad you made extra shish taouk for a time like this?