Archive for the ‘Gemma’ Category

French Lentil Salad

I’m not sure I have a whimsical anecdote to go along with this post, but lets see what I can manage…

I’m tired in the evenings when we get home from the gym, and if Jake isn’t around to wrangle Gemma while I cook something up, my dinnertime ends up being somewhere around 9:30pm.  That’s usually about the time I decide that a bowl of cheese puffs and a big glass of wine will do because who the hell wants to cook right before they go to bed??  Not me.  It has been getting warmer here in the ABQ, which makes cooking even less palatable.  (Jake made a pizza on Monday night and having the oven on made me feel like I was back in my Bikram Yoga days.  Seriously.  Sweating.  To.  Death.)  I’ve been playing around with different kinds of cold salads that I can prepare earlier in the day (hopefully during a 3 hour nap) and have waiting for me in the fridge after the gym and after I’ve gotten my Schizophrenic Toddler Terrorist down for the night.  This is one of those salads.

French Lentil Salad

Adapted from French Vegetarian Cooking:  A Step By Step Guide


*1 1/2 cups Le Puy lentils (you can always use another brown or green lentil, but the Le Puy have a great flavor!)

*2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (still essentially whole)

*Champagne Vinaigrette (Combine 1 heaping tbsp of mustard with about 3 tbsp champagne vinegar.  Stream 1/4 of olive oil into the mixture while whisking steadily.  Salt and pepper to taste.)

*Several sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, minced

To Make:

*Simmer the lentils and the garlic cloves in a large, uncovered pot of water for 25-35 minutes (until the lentils are tender).

*Remove the garlic cloves after about 15 minutes.

*Prepare the Champagne Vinaigrette in a large serving bowl.

*Add the parsley to the vinaigrette.

*When the lentils are ready, drain off the liquid and add them to the vinaigrette.

*Gently incorporate the lentils with the vinaigrette and parsley and adjust seasonings to your taste.

*Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Survey Says:

This is incredibly easy and incredibly good!  Gemma ate it for dinner last night with her beloved tomatoes (the dish pictured above is hers) and loved it.  Just give it a try.  You’ll like it.  I promise.  There’s something about the vinaigrette with the lentils that is just so perfect!  It’s definitely hearty enough to stand on its own as the main part of your meal, but could also be a great side!


Swiss Chard with White Beans and Tomatoes…(and the Zombie Apocalypse)

I seem to have a neverending supply of Swiss chard in my garden. It didn’t die during the truly freezing temps this winter or during the freak Spring snowstorm that hit a few weeks ago after many days in the 70s and 80s. Yeah, so I can’t manage to grow tomatoes under perfect conditions, but chard?? Sure. Whatever. Good thing it’s so good and will obviously still be around to feed us all when the Zombie Apocalypse* finally rolls around.

Apocalypic chard: saving you from zombies since 2011.

Swiss Chard with White Beans and Tomatoes


*1 bunch of Swiss chard (or whatever other hearty green you might have)

*1 can (or equivalent) white beans

*7 oz grape tomatoes, halved

*2 tbsp olive oil

*5 cloves garlic, minced or grated

*Splash of white wine or vegetable broth

*Salt and pepper, to taste

To Make:

*Heat oil in a large pan & add garlic.

*When garlic is just barely fragrant, add the greens & saute until they cook down.

*Add beans & tomatoes, salt & pepper and incorporate thoroughly.

*Here’s where you can splash in your wine or stock to make sure the mixture isn’t too dry.

*Simmer until heated through & you’ve achieved your desired consistency. (I usually let mine go for at least 25-30 minutes while I work on getting Gemma to bed)

Survey Says:

This has turned out to be a fantastic way to use up the Swiss chard!  Gemma asks for seconds every time she has leftovers for lunch.


*Some people think that having boats or weapons or huge stashes of food or toothpaste or deodorant or gold or power washers is going to save them from zombies. I, however, believe Swiss chard is the key. You can thank me later by not tearing me to bits when you turn into a zombie.  Is it that obvious that I’ve been immersed in The Bloggess’ book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”?  Seriously.  We should probably just pretend that this blog post never happened.


When Pants Chooses Her Dinner

Because Gemma eats before we go to the gym in the evening, she often has leftovers of what Jake and I eat the night before. It’s still working out pretty well for us. Tonight I asked if she wanted pizza (homemade and leftover from last night). She said “No thank you Mom.” I asked if she wanted Roasted Curried Cauliflower Soup. Same answer. When I asked if she wanted tortellini, she said “Yes, please Mom.” Here’s the meal she asked for.

Spinach tortellini, peas, feta cheese, and mini heirloom tomatoes.

Seems pretty happy with her choices, doesn't she?

Marinara con Lenticchie (because everything’s better in Italian)

So yeah…ummm…I haven’t been here for a while.  I started the new year full of grand plans and goals, and I’ve stuck with some of them.  I’ve been doing a Push-up Challenge where I started with 1 push-up on January 1st and I’m up to 65 as of today (March 5).  By Zumbaing (yes, it’s a verb) 5 days a week and being more mindful of what I eat (most of the time) I’ve managed to banish the last few pounds that were sticking around from France and Italy.  I’m using my yogurt maker to make yogurt and I haven’t bought canned beans since I figured out how to make them in the slow cooker.  The blog, however has been neglected as the cold weather sunk in around the ABQ and Jake, Gemma, and I craved our tried and true recipes rather than being more adventurous in the kitchen.  The unexpected death of a good friend on Valentine’s Day shook our little world, and I proceeded to eat and drink my feelings for several days in a row.  Fun fact:  did you know that my feelings happen to taste like red chile and white wine??  What do your feelings taste like?

But I’m back.  At least I’m trying to be back.  On Friday I willed myself to be motivated to cook something new, and you know what??  It worked!  The sauce that follows is another great way to break away from plain old marinara sauce.  I give you…

Marinara con Lenticchie (Lentil Marinara)

adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles


*1 tablespoon oil
*9 garlic cloves, minced or grated
*¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
*¼ cup red wine
*1 can (28 oz) tomato puree (or your favorite variety of tomato)
*8 ounces brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
*1 cup water (this was for a thicker sauce, but please add more to reach the consistency you want!)
*salt to taste

To Make:

*Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

*Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

*Add the wine to release (with scraping) any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

*Add the remaining ingredients and turn heat up to medium-high.

*Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low.

*Cook for 60-75 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the lentils are tender and the sauce is at your desired consistency.

Beacuse even movie stars have to eat dinner.

And let's all marvel once again at the TERRIBLE lighting in my house!

Survey Says:

Gemma and I really enjoyed this sauce (and she’s having leftovers for dinner tonight)!!!  The lentils add good texture, great taste, and awesome nutrition!  I made mine thicker so as to avoid any major sauce related accidents on Gemma’s part.  If you like a thinner sauce, by all means, use some extra water.

Pasta e Ceci

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I don’t do meal planning.  I am in AWE of the people who can plan their meals a week or a month at a time and stick to it.  I never know what I’m going to feel like from one day to another, so I just keep my arsenal of basics stocked up and I go from there.  This morning while catching up on Facebook, I was reminded exactly why meal planning isn’t an attractive notion in this household.  My friend Chiara, who happens to live in Rome, posted something about the weather getting cooler, and that this would be a good time to snuggle up and eat some Pasta e Ceci. I actually have eaten Pasta e Ceci in Rome & had totally forgotten about it until Chiara mentioned it!  It was at the Antica Birreria Peroni one afternoon when we popped in for lunch on our trip this summer.  Super simple and delicious, but I had never made it.  That has all changed now, and I give you…

Pasta e Ceci

adapted from


*1 can chickpeas, drained with some liquid reserved

*14 oz crushed tomatoes

*8 oz ditalini pasta (I suppose another smallish pasta would suffice, but ditalini seems pretty traditional)

*2 tbsp olive oil

*6 cloves of garlic, grated or minced

*salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

To Make:

*Saute garlic in olive oil until it begins to become fragrant.

*Add the tomatoes to the garlic.

*Season mixture to your taste (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes) and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

*Add chickpeas to the sauce with reserved liquid and continue to let simmer.

*Boil pasta until it is about halfway cooked, then add it to the sauce to finish cooking completely.

*Pour yourself a glass of Italian red wine (Chianti, Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola) to congratulate yourself on what promises to be a fantastic dinner.

*Sip on your glass of wine.

*This is ready to serve when the pasta has reached al dente doneness and when you’ve refilled your wine glass.

Please excuse the terrible phone photograph, but the battery for the real camera was dead!!

Survey Says:

Perfection in a bowl!  I think that Jake was a little wary of it to begin with, and seriously, who could blame him?  We eat a lot of pasta/legumes/tomatoes/garlic in this house!  He did, however, love it and tell me that it was definitely something that needed to be made on a regular basis.  Awesome, because although it’s not necessarily quick, it’s an easy and filling  meal!

Mini Veggie Fritattas

Jake and I never really used to do much on Halloween, but that has definitely changed since Miss Pants made her appearance just over 2 years ago.

For her first Halloween she was a lobster.

Last year she was a ladybug.

And this year she was a pumpkin.

Because of Jake’s unpredictable work schedule, he’s not really around on Halloween if it falls on a weekday, so to maximize the costume fun, we’ve been having friends and their kids over for a costume brunch the Sunday before (or of) Halloween.  NM is still having GORGEOUS weather right around Halloween, so we all get together, everyone dresses up and we hang out in the backyard with snacks and mimosas!!

Group Photo!

I made mini fritattas last year, and they were a big hit, so I decided to make them again!!  Super easy, and a good way to get eggs and veggies into the kids without them really realizing it.  I made two different kinds:  Asparagus and Feta + Zucchini and Mozzarella.

Mini Veggie Fritattas



*6 eggs

*1/4 cup of milk

*1/2 cup asparagus diced OR 1 medium zucchini, grated, with the water pressed out

*1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese OR 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

*salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

*Spray or grease your mini muffin pan.

*Whisk the eggs and milk together, then incorporate the remaining ingredients.

*Add a FULL tablespoon (I used my tablespoon measure for this and it is the PERFECT size) to each muffin cup.

*Bake for 12-14 minutes.

*Let cool before serving.

Asparagus and Feta

Zucchini and Mozzarella

Survey Says:

These were SO good!  They were perfect for a party, but I really need to start making them for breakfasts!!  There are so many possible combinations, so don’t hesitate to use ingredients you love or happen to have on hand!

Roasted Curried Cauliflower Soup

On Sunday afternoon, as I was supposed to be working, I was thinking about what I was going to make for dinner.  I’ve been overworking my slow cooker these days and I decided to give it a day off.  There was a head of cauliflower in the fridge that needed to get used, so I set about looking for recipes for cauliflower soup.  The problem is, dear readers, that SO many cauliflower soup recipes call for cream or half and half.  Now, I’m no vegan, but like I’ve said before…I’d rather have an extra glass of wine (or three) than use calorie laden ingredients that won’t be missed.  My search lead me to the blog Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  I don’t have a problem with good fats, so fat-free isn’t really my main goal in life, but this recipe incorporates a potato to help add creaminess to the soup.  It works!!

This is just myRoasted Curried Cauliflower made into soup form, so if you liked that, you’ll love this!  Oh and if you do not have an immersion blender, GET ONE NOW!  There is no reason in HELL that anyone should be ladling hot soup into a blender.  Ridiculous.  There are really expensive immersion blenders, but there are also really inexpensive ones.  I have an inexpensive one that I got as a wedding gift 5 years ago.  Go buy one.  Seriously.  Do it.  You’ll thank me later.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower Soup

Inspired by Fat Free Vegan Kitchen


*1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets or chunks

*2 tbsp olive oil

*2-3 tsp curry powder (depending on how currified you like your stuff!)

*5 -6 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled, but left whole

*1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks

*4 cups (1 box) vegetable broth

*Salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

*In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, curry, salt & pepper.

*Add the cauliflower and garlic and toss together until well coated.

*Place in baking dish or baking sheet & bake until VERY tender (35-45 minutes, depending on the size of your florets)

*While the cauliflower and garlic are roasting, heat the vegetable broth and the potato in a large pot.

*Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer until the cauliflower is ready.

*Once the cauliflower is VERY tender, add it to the pot with the broth and potatoes.

*With an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

*Salt & pepper to your taste here if you feel like it needs it.

*Simmer for 10 minutes and serve.

Survey Says:

AWESOME!  This was super easy and so good!  Jake and I inhaled most of it that night, but we saved some for Gemma and she liked it…to eat, as well as to smear in her hair when I wasn’t looking!  We had this with an arugula salad with a little bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice…delicious!

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