on a mission

Yesterday, I awoke on a mission.

Luckily—for both my taste buds and dishware—this mission did not involve devising a microwaveable strawberry syrup.

Nor did it involve tackling the mound of writing projects that has kidnapped me from the blogosphere as of late. Though, perhaps, it should have. And, perhaps, I should not have just admitted to procrastinating those aforementioned projects when my employers read my blog. Lo siento :) .

Well, no use in crying over spilled milk words…

Yesterday’s mission was of the nut butter nature.

And it was prompted by dos nut butter revelations.

Nut Butter Revelation #1: I currently have 13 open jars of nut butter residing in my pantry. As someone who once declared herself too anal to have more than one nut butter open at once, this revelation made me incredibly anxious. And the OCD-freak in me immediately decided that it was time to clear out some of those nut butters. Fear not. By clear out, I clearly mean consume.

Nut Butter Revelation #2: There is one buttah, in particular, that’s been occupying shelf space longer than the rest: cashew butter. If you recall, I first tried cashew butter back in November, and my sticky-mouthed verdict was,  “meh.” Since then, I’ve dipped in for several “let’s give this another shot”-spoonfuls. But, time and again, the taste underwhelms me, and I deliberately neglect consumption. Clearly. Since five months after opening the jar, nearly three quarters remain. Not to sound like a guy, but I swear that’s never happened before.

And so, Mission Learn to Like Cashew Butter commenced.

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The unusual suspects:

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Cashew butter, cranberry pomegranate pepper jelly and hummus? For breakfast? I’ve tried to like cashew butter in all the conventional ways—atop granola, cereal, oats, straight up—so I figured it might take some stepping outside the breakfast box to convert my cashew butter-blocking taste buds.

The breakfast strategy:

Slather a toasted sandwich thin with cashew butter.

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Add bountiful dollops of cranberry pomegranate pepper jelly and tahini hummus.

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Spread.

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Let those loco flavors meld.

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Chomp.

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And… enjoy!?

¡Sí! I looooooved this breakfast. Sure, the cashew butter got by with a little help from his jelly and hummus friends. But if Mission Learn to Like Cashew Butter calls for a little crazy flavor combining, I’m all for it.

Since I’d already gone down the hummus for breakfast path, I figured I’d wrap up my meal with a little manzana and Sabra duet.

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Lunch wasn’t very mission-minded—but it was FANTASTIC.

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Quesadilla with Boar’s Head Blazing Buffalo Chicken

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Melty fresh mozzarella…

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and Frank!

The ‘cado and peppers were added for prettification/nutrification/they-were-on-their-last-leggification.

(The green fruta, though, is part of my ongoing mission to learn to like avocados. I know, I know. I’m the only person food blogger in the mundo who doesn’t love avocados. Much like with cashew butter, I find their taste really underwhelming. But they’re pretty fantastic for you—and I always have an abundance of ‘em en mi casa (and can’t watch food go bad… another OCD thang)—so I’m trying, people.)

I did get some cashews in at lunchtime—in non butter form—with a side of homemade trail mix.

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Cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate chunks, dried cherries, craisins and raisins—the lunch dessert of all lunch desserts en mi libro :) .

Dinner kicked off with una ensalada enorme.

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La mezcla: mounds of romaine, shrimpies, grilled onion, grilled portobello, oil-cured black olives, hard-boiled egg whites, salsa and cottage queso.

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I’m in love with this Crate + Barrel bowl for its ability to host my massive ensaladas. Because eating out of mixing bowls makes for less-than-photogenic fotos…

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Also pretty in love with this DELICIOUS duo.

To continue on with the day’s mission, I decided to try out another crazy cashew butter flavor combo in dinner parte dos.

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Brown and wild rice con Soy Vay and cashew butter.

I’ve mentioned my hypothesis that Soy Vay makes everything taste better—and this crazy concoction confirmed it.

Teriyaki sauce + cashew butter? Success!

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I wanted to make the cashew butter into a sauce, but I was out of milk. So, needless to say, there were some pretty sticky bites. I didn’t mind them :) .

Dessert was Neapolitan ice cream revised, with cashew butter playing the chocolate role.

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Buenisimo.

So, after un dia de cashew butter, am I convert? Not so much. On its own, I still think it’s really blah. Swimming in a delicious sea of White Chocolate Wonderful, Barney Butter and Naturally Nutty, cashew butter drowns.

However, I certainly discovered delicioso accomplices that make cashew butter consumption an enjoyable experiencia. What are your thoughts on cashew butter? Any suggestions for other flavor combos that’ll help me get through the jar more quickly? I’m on a mission here, people…

Happy humpdia!

Amor,

Sarah

Oh Hello, Portobello

First things first. Let’s address several things about the creepy webcam picture below.

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  1. I am not naked.
  2. I am, however, sporting one of these fashionable get-ups post-shower.
  3. I always look like the Victoria’s Secret model featured in the above link when donning said get-up.
  4. Lies. In reality, I often cook immediately after showering. So my towel-dress-thingamajig—which I consider appropriate chef attire—is usually decorated with hummus (or salsa, or some other condiment I frequently dip my grubby hands into mid-cooking). As is my face.
  5. Your eyes do not deceive you. That is, in fact, a portobello mushroom the size of my head.

Last week, my local produce market put out giant portobello mushroom caps. I love portobello mushroom caps. I also love “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid”-sized vegetables.

Needless to say, the prodigious portobellos piqued my interest. Logically, I purchased three pounds.

(Shocker. Since I never hoard. And never overconsume.)

And so, I present to you the many ways I’ve been merrily making my way through my ‘shroom stash.

“Sticky Rice” Oatmeal-Stuffed Portobello

(Don’t cringe. I promise, it tasted fantástico.)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 mammoth portobello mushroom cap
  • EVOO + sea salt
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup water
  • dash salt
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 packet stevia

Directions:

  • Microwave 1/2 cup oats with a dash of salt and just over 3/4 cup of water for 2.5 minutes.
  • Combine 2 tbsp. of soy sauce with 1/2 packet of stevia.
  • Stir soy sauce mixture into oats and set aside.
  • Broil portobello (lightly rubbed with EVOO and sea salt) for 5 minutes on each side. (Mind you, this was for a big shroom. For a normal-sized portobello, you’d probably only need to broil for 3 minutes per side.)
  • Remove from oven, fill with oatmeal mixture and broil for an additional 3-4 minutes until top is browned and slightly crispy.

First, let’s take a gander at the final product.

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If my webcam head-to-‘shroom comparison didn’t convince you that these babies were L.A.I.C. (real language translation: large and in charge), the above picture is my A-‘roid-riffic portobello on a dinner plate.

Have I mentioned that Herculean vegetables fascinate (read: woo) me?

So, the logic behind this odd-to-you/normal-to-me creation:

Ever since I stuffed and broiled that cottage cheese and hummus ‘shroom several weeks ago, I’ve had a hankering to do further stuffed-and-broiled experimentation. Additionally, ever since discovering the wonder of instant “sticky rice” oatmeal, I’ve pretty much jumped at every opportunity to re-create it.

Never one to miss the boat on melding food obsessions, I seized the ‘shroom and allowed my cravings to combine forces.

I had to replace old-fashioned oats (you could use instant, but I didn’t have any en casa) for the packet of instant oatmeal I used in the original “recipe” because it wouldn’t have been enough to stuff this big ‘bello.

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It turned out perfectly. The second broiling created an amazing outer layer of crispiness—and the flavoring from the soy sauce-stevia combo seeped into the ‘shroom. Glad I took that leap of taste.

Another super simple stuffed-and-broiled ‘bello creation:

The Laughing Cow Cap

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Rub the portobello cap with a little EVOO (it really absorbs the flavor so you only need enough to lightly coat) and sprinkle with seasoned salt (Lawry’s=the best).
  • Broil for 5 minutes on each side (top of the cap first). Remove from oven.
  • Top with chopped Laughing Cow wedges and return to broil for another 2-4 minutes, until you reached your desired “crisp” factor.

This ended up being more smothered-and-broiled than stuffed because even two Laughing Cow wedges couldn’t fill out the monstrous mushroom.

But I’m not complaining. This was delicious. It makes a perfect starter/snack/side—and it’s SO simple. I actually felt silly typing it out as a recipe because it was so easy to make.

(By the way, it would taste insane with the new Blue Cheese flavor! How many more días ‘til June?)

Next in line—a very untraditional Foodie Diaries receta:

Bacon Lover’s Baked ‘Bello

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Ingredients:

  • Portobello cap
  • Bacon
  • Onions, diced
  • Roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup couscous (cooked)
  • 1 egg

*(You’ll need individual-sized ramekins, big enough to fit the mushroom cap whole.)

Directions:

  • Bake the portobello cap at 400° for 7-8 minutes (time would be more like 4-5 minutes for more average-sized portobellos).
  • Cook bacon in skillet.
  • Once bacon is cooked, add onions and sauté until caramelized.
  • Add roasted red peppers and cooked couscous and sauté on low-heat for 3-4 minutes, just allowing enough time for the flavors to combine.
  • Place portobello in ramekin, pouring any juices into the bottom. Top with skillet mixture and press down down with a spoon, making a well in the center.
  • Break egg into the well(o) of the portobello. Bake until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are slightly runny.

So, have I converted to bacon-eating? Negativo. I made these for a couple of hombres—one being the infamous Kev Thug—and they both raved about them. So I figured I’d share. Because, you know, some people in blogland do eat bacon.

The next creation is much more moi.

Any guesses as to what’s inside this quesadilla?

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Since I’m sure you’re entirely stumped, I’ll give you a hint.

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Cottage Queso and Portobello Quesadilla

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Again, I had to seize the opportunity to combine my current obsessions.

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat wrap
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Portobello cap (broiled for 5 minutes on each side and sliced)
  • Onions, chopped
  • EVOO
  • Ranch seasoning

Directions:

  • Sauté chopped onions in a pan lightly coated with EVOO for about 3 minutes or until translucent.
  • Combine cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella, ranch seasoning and caramelized onions in a bowl. Mix thoroughly
  • Heat whole wheat wrap in skillet and spread cottage cheese mixture on one half.
  • Layer sliced portobello over cottage cheese.
  • Fold wrap, carefully flip and cook ‘til desired quesadilla brownification is reached.

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Clearly I love my ‘shrooms. But the magic of this concoction was definitely in the CC mixture.

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If you’re not yet sick of ‘shrooms, I have uno más creation. If you are sick of ‘shrooms, I’ll have you know I saved the best for last ;) .

T.M.I.A.S. (Tuna Melt In a ‘Shroom)

(To be hummed to this classic.)

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Ingredients:

  • Biggest portobello cap you can get your hands on
  • EVOO + sea salt
  • 1 can chunk light tuna
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • 1/8-1/4 cup chopped onion

Directions:

  • Broil portobello (lightly rubbed with EVOO and sea salt) for 5 minutes on each side.
  • Caramelize chopped onions in a EVOO-coated skillet for 3 minutes, or until translucent.
  • In a separate bowl, mix can of tuna, Laughing Cow, capers and caramelized onions.
  • Remove portobello from oven when cooked, stuff with tuna mixture and top with shredded mozzarella.
  • Return to broiler for 2-4 minutes, dependent on how crispy/burnt you want your outer layer.

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Best. Combination. Ever.

I’m not sure if the brilliance was in the double cheesiness or the capers. I’m a little biased because I’m obsessed with capers and sort of think they make anything taste better. But I guess I have the same philosophy when it comes to cheese.

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Especially simultaneously melty and crispy queso.

With that, I’ll conclude my ode to cabeza-sized ‘shrooms. But I can’t promise you won’t be seeing más. I may or may not have refilled the ‘shroom stash yesterday… ;) .

Preguntas: What’s your take on larger-than-life vegetables/fruits? Enticed? Enamored? Freaked out? I’ve founded some way to calm all of my genetic modification neuroses and embrace ‘em. And I’m not exclusively enamored by big ‘bellos. Super-sized sweet potatoes and mighty manzanas make mi corazón flutter, too.

Happy hump-día, mis foodies favoritos!

Amor,

Sarah

Dora the Explorer Birth Control

You mean haven’t heard about the new chewable Dora the Explorer birth control?

doraSource.

Ok, maybe those are just vitamins.

But Dora the Explorer birth control does exist.

And it comes in the form of…

IMG_2839Gigi! (Otherwise known as, and mistaken for, Dora.)

For any new readers who’ve not yet had the pleasure of “meeting” Gigi, she’s my sassy five-year-old quasi-hermanita (translation: little sister). I say quasi because she’s not really my sister. She’s my dad’s girlfriend’s daughter. But she’s been en mi vida since the very first day she arrived to America when she was 10 months old (she’s adopted from Guatemala), so I consider her familia.

Why, you may wonder, am I referring to a beloved familia member as birth control? Well, last week, I had the pleasure of spending an entire día with Dora because she had a day off from escuela. Note my use of the word pleasure, which is not meant to carry any tones of sarcasm. I truly enjoyed my Dora-filled día, but it was utterly exhausting. Kudos to las madres who muster up the energy to deal with kiddie chaos day in and day out, but un día with Gigi was enough to confirm that there will be no mini foodies en mi futuro for a very long time.

Mi día con Dora kicked off with a desayuno disaster.

The previous night, I’d dreamt up a decadent bowl of oats. And we all know what ensues when you conjure up a creation in the midst of slumber. (This is assuming that everyone dreams of food. Right?) You awake fully intent on making that delicious dream a reality.

Or maybe I’m just a foodie freak. But when I dream of Jeannie foodgasms, I make ‘em happen.

So, let’s get to the bowl of my dreams. The base was my standard banana, egg white oat bran. The topping was the culprit behind the drool on my pillow. I envisioned my creamy oats drowning (in a happy way) in a pool of strawberry pomegranate syrup.

I’ve never made any sort of fruit syrup before—but I had my first pint of seasonal strawberries and some POM samples that Kristen generously sent my way a few weeks ago—so I figured it was worth a shot.

The only problemo? I had to pick Dora up in 20 minutes—and didn’t have the time to simultaneously stir a pot of oats and an experimental pot of syrup.

A normal person would have abandoned Plan Oat Bran and thrown together a quick yogurt mess. But I’ve always been next to normal. At least on the food front.

So I convinced myself decided that creating my very first fruit syrup in the microwave was entirely plausible.

The strategy? 1 cup of fresh strawberries sliced + 1/2 cup POM Wonderful + 1/2 cup water + 3 tbsp. sugar. Microwaved for 8 minutes.

Needless to say, this wasn’t what I was going for.

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Yep. 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of liquid came out looking like this.

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I’m guessing 8 minutes was a little too long. Woops.

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That was really fun to clean.

I’d already made my oat bran (1/2 cup Hodgson Mill’s oat bran + 1 cup water + 1/2 sliced banana + 1/3 cup egg whites)—which thankfully made it out of the microwave in fine form. So I plopped my “strawberry pomegranate syrup” on top and called it breakfast.

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Except my 2 tbsp. of strawberry gunk looked depressingly meager on my big bed of oats.

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So I decided to douse it in almond milk and cinnamon.

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I can’t remember the logic behind that decision—I was frantically packing snacks and getting myself in order for mi día con Dora—but it was a great call.

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Super creamy oats with a hint (italics, bold and underline necessary to emphasize the word hint) of strawberry and pomegranate. Not the bowl of my dreams—but I didn’t hate it.

I scooped Dora from her madre, and then we were off.

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Places to go, people to see…

By that, I mean supermarkets to visit, supermarket workers (who admittedly know me by name/think I’m suspicious for spending so much time perusing the aisles) to see…

Sí, Gigi and I were off to do some grocery shopping!

Gigi’s madre hates grocery shopping, especially with Gigi because—for some strange reason—Gigi behaves terribly during supermercado trips with her madre. We discovered that Gigi not only behaves during—but enjoys—grocery shopping with me—and we need not address my amor for food shopping. So I volunteer my grocery store services whenever Nancy (la madre de Gigi, la novia de mi padre) is in need.

One thing I’ve learned regarding Gigi and food shopping: She always “gets hungry” on the way. I guess the idea of entering a magical mundo of food-filled aisles whets her appetite. Can’t blame la chica.

I packed provisions.

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We had a riveting discussion about the difference between Special K bars and Clif Z bars—wherein Gigi learned that Z bars are not only healthier, but also more filling. She assured me that no bar was too filling for her big girl appetite.

Somehow, a quarter of her way into the bar, she went back on her word and declared fullness.

And, so, 3/4 of a Z bar ended up on my lap.

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And by in my lap, I mean in my mouth.

Maybe this “mommy” thing isn’t so bad after all…

We got our goodies…

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…and headed home to get our lunch on.

At this point, I was again reminded that I’m definitely not ready for mommydom. This sounds entirely trivial—but I’m not used to catering to anyone’s cravings but my own. And mommydom means your cravings come segundo. No me gusta.

You see, I’m big on the whole intuitive eating thing. I’ve not read the book—but I avidly practice the “eat what you’re in the mood for” principle.

I was in the mood for an omelet. Gigi was not. I wasn’t up for making separate lunches—nor was I interested in force-feeding an omelet to a stubborn five year old.

So I got creativo and made the following pitch:

Gigi, what if I told you that we could turn eggs into cupcakes?

Dora signed off on this proposal, and we set out to make Caitlin’s mini quiches egg cupcakes.

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We mixed up 5 eggs, 1 cup of broccoli, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, poured the mix into cupcake tins and baked them at 350° for 35 minutes.

Gigi didn’t like the whole waiting 35 minutes aspect of our egg cupcakes—so we had a lunch appetizer of Jarlsberg nachos and hummus.

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You know I never speak badly about my beloved Sabra—but the Chipotle hummus was disgusting. This is the only Sabra flavor I’ve met and not liked. It was weirdly smoky and just very awkward tasting.

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Malo.

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Bueno.

Good thing we had other Sabra options.

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Greek Olive saved el día.

Actually, egg cupcakes saved el día.

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These were incredible—and so kid-friendly.

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I threw some mozzarella and parmesan on top of mine and broiled them for an additional two minutes.

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Gigi went the straight-up mozzarella route.

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Egg cupcakes? ¡Delicioso! Foodie & Dora-approved :) .

After several more horas of chasing Gigi, I was happy to drop her off with her madre and unwind by making myself an unrushed, non-kiddie cena.

First up, roasted broccoli.

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Simply tossed in EVOO and sugar, then broiled for 8 minutes.

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Luckily 8 minutes turned out beautifully this time around ;) .

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I also roasted my last kabocha squash of the season :( .

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See you next fall, mi amor…

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And whipped up a big bowl of cold sesame noodles.

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I don’t have a recipe for this one because I was ravenous and just threw together a basic combo of soy sauce, peanut butter, almond milk, garlic, sesame oil and honey.

And garnished with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts :) .

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I knew how Gigi felt waiting for the egg cupcakes earlier. It was not fun waiting for these to get cold. But SO worth it.

I think I really needed my precious kitchen time after a day of running around with/after Gigi because post-cena, I got the baking bug.

As usual, I embraced it.

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I finally made April’s low-carb sweet bread, which was AMAZING.

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Even more so topped with cream queso and strawberry preserves.

I guess the strawberry craving from my dream was still lingering… ;) .

Preguntas: Do you dream of food creations? Por favor, tell me I’m not the only one. Do you have kids? If so, how do you manage ENJOYING EATING while catering to kiddie taste buds and an on-the-go lifestyle?

Feliz lunes, foodies! I hope you’re all enjoying fantastic weather, wherever you may be!

Amor,

Sarah

A Laughing Cow & a Hungry Girl

I have a special place in my heart for la vaca que ríe.

¿La vaca que ríe?

Oh, that’s just español for The Laughing Cow.

I’m sure you’re not surprised that I have a sentimental attachment to a charmingly convivial cow—especially one responsible for creamy queso. Still, allow me to elaborate.

Once upon a time, when I lived in the magical land of España…

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…when I wasn’t being force-fed chocolate cake…

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(No, really. I was force-fed.)

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…I had the luxury of living with a Spanish familia and becoming fully immersed in a true Mediterranean diet.

This meant incredible fresh fish, wine and olive oil in lieu of butter, regional cheese, gazpacho galore and just the most innovative real food I’ve ever eaten.

This also meant mucho meat.

Problemo para mi.

I’ve touched on this before, but I was a pretty picky meat eater pre-España. I barely ate chicken—and I was just learning to love seafood.

And there I was—thrown into a land where prosciutto is praised and chorizo is celebrated. However, I wasn’t about to prance into a welcoming Spanish family’s home and instruct them on how to feed me. I told my señora—my host-mom—that I preferred pollo and seafood, but that I’d happily eat my way around any other meats she threw into dishes.

Señora Cristina was overwhelmingly accommodating and never served jamon or chorizo as the center of our meals. But lunches—which were packed for escuela—were a bit more dicey on the meat front.

(Her housekeeper packed them and obviously wasn’t aware of my finicky relationship with meat. Her name was Lolita. She spoke in song. And told me tales of her teenage love stories. Clearly, I liked her anyway.)

Most often, I got prosciutto slabbed on a baguette—in which case, I just ate the baguette. On better days, I got a Spanish tortilla (essentially an egg, onion and potato pie) slabbed on a baguette—in which case, I just ate the tortilla.

And then there were the best days. I’d eagerly and inquisitively unwrap the mysterious foil to find a simple cheese sandwich. Elation—and, uh, consumption—would commence immediately.

Not only was I thrilled to be able to eat my lunch in its entirety—but I was in love with whatever ridiculously creamy, gourmet cheese Lolita spread between those two pieces of white bread.

I’m not above admitting that I loved life just a little bit more on cheese sandwich days. So much so that when my six months en España came to its end, I refused to part ways with my beloved gourmet queso español. I was determined to find an American version of the cheese that saved me from six months of lunchtime starvation.

And so, on my last day in Spain, I asked my señora to do her best to describe the type of cheese that Lolita put on my sandwiches—so that maybe, with some thorough investigation and scouring, I’d be able to find its American counterpart.

Señora Cristina se rió (which means laughed).

Sarita, mi amor, es el queso con la vaca roja feliz. La vaca que ríe.”

Her answer?

La-vaca-que-riePhoto credit. 

The happy red cow. The cow that laughs.”

Separation anxiety averted, my Spanish love affair continued to flourish back home.

Need proof?

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“Hi, my name is Sarah. And I’m a hoarder of all things fantastically creamy.

With that novel of a love profession preface, I’d like to introduce you to three NEW vacas that I’ve welcomed into mi vida.

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No, mis foodies, your eyes are not deceiving you, and this is not an April Fools joke. (I’d never be so cruel.) Those are three nuevo Laughing Cow flavors.

The bad news? They won’t be released until June.

The good news? I got to try them yesterday, and I’m here to report all the dirty (and by dirty, I mean delicious) details. (Also, it’s officially April, which means June is only dos short months away!)

**Before I continue, I just want to ensure you that I’m receiving no form of compensation from Laughing Cow. If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with food. So when I gush about a product, it’s because delicious food excites me, and I find it difficult to express said excitement without exclamation points and enthusiastic adjectives. I’m sure you understand, seeing as I’m the chica who fell in love with a CHEESE in Spain…)**

Let’s get to the queso.

Yesterday I was the luckiest foodie in NYC and attended a VIP tasting event featuring the three new Laughing Cow Light flavors.

Say hola to my little friends…

1. Blue Cheese

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Taste bud talk: I’m really not a blue cheese person, but this was incredible. It was sort of the perfect blend of blue cheese and original Laughing Cow flavors.

Cheesy concoction potential: I’m pretty sure this will replace feta in all of my ensaladas. I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect it’d be on a summery salad with walnuts and manzanas. Oooh, it’d also be amazing in a wrap with Morningstar Buffalo Chik’n, or really any protein topped with Frank’s. (Kailey—I am prophesying that this is going to be your numero uno and make its way onto all of your summer wraps.)

2. Queso Fresco & Chipotle

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Taste bud talk: Definitely the most distinct of the three flavors. It tastes exactly like the queso fresco you find in Mexican dishes—with an unmistakable chipotle pepper kick.

Cheesy concoction potential: My mind immediately went to eggs. It’d be great in an omelet or quiche creation. I also bet that if you melted it and mixed it with habanero lime salsa, it’d make a pretty ridiculous dip.

3. Mozzarella, Sun-dried Tomato & Basil

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Taste bud talk: Can it be June now, por favor? This flavor gets my number one billing—mostly because I think it’s the most versatile of the newbies. Slash because I’m obsessed with all things sun-dried tomato.

Cheesy concoction potential: I don’t even know where to begin without wetting myself. I really can’t wait to smear it on everything. Wraps, pita pizzas, my face… No, but seriously, I’ve already dreamed up several concoctions. The one I’m most excited to create is a hummus featuring this flavor, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. I can taste its perfection already.

Honestly, all three flavors were amazing. And I was thinking of all of you the whole time I was there because I know how integral a role Laughing Cow plays in our foodie lives/creations—and I know you’re all going to fall in love. (Because I know I’m not the only foodie freak that feels affection for queso…)

As much as I enjoyed the wedges straight up—and I had several of each, for review purposes only ;) —the hor d’ourves were incredible.

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This one featured sun-dried tomato and kalamata—which is an automatic foodgasm in my book.

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This one was packed with gloriously grilled onions—and we all know how I feel about grilled onions.

Ok, I’ll interrupt Laughing Cow gushing to address part dos of why I was the luckiest foodie in NYC ayer.

Also in attendance at the taste testing…

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Hungry Girl!

I like how I say “also in attendance” as if she and I were on the same level. I should clarify that while I was a guest at the event, she was the event.

If you don’t know Hungry Girl—whose real name is Lisa Lillien—she’s the voice behind a daily e-newsletter that dishes out news, tips and recipes focused on helping hungry chicas navigate the world of healthy eating. Oh, she’s also a New York Times best-selling cookbook author.

She was at the event debuting her newly-released cookbook Hungry Girl 1-2-3, which features her simplest, guilt-free recipes.

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That’s her above, fervently proclaiming her adoration of Laughing Cow. While my sentiments for LC are strong, Lisa devoted an entire section of her book to la vaca que ríe. That’s amor.

In all seriousness, I was so excited to meet Hungry Girl because (1) I’ve always sort of felt like we were food soul mates and (2) she’s basically fulfilled my dream of creating a career that combines food, nutrition and writing.

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Oh, and she’s adorably little. A.K.A. I didn’t look like a midget standing next to her. This always earns bonus point en mi libro ;) .

It was such an amazing event—in part because we were on a rooftop and the NYC weather gods decided to play nice yesterday, in part because it was so much fun tasting the new flavors. Mostly, though, the event’s success rode on the people who were present. It was so extraordinary to just talk food with so many like-minded, passionate (read: food looooving) people.

I want to thank Courtney, Laughing Cow, Lisa Lillien and the amazing Hungry Girl staff for allowing me to participate in such a fun event—and for listening to me chat my foodie face off all day.

Gracias for the swag bag, too :) .

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I’ve already started making my way through Hungry Girl 1-2-3—and I can’t wait to try, uh, every recipe. Maybe I’ll cook my way through, blog about it and a major motion picture house will turn it into a movie. Oh, that’s been done before?

Tell me, amigas, which Laughing Cow flavor are you most excited about? Also, are there any brands to which you’re loyal because they hold sentimental value? Tell me I’m not the only one…

Amor,

Sarah

Challah

My long lost foodies! Vida has gotten extraordinarily busy—in bueno and exciting ways—but I just wanted to quickly check in and challah!

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To all my chosen foodies, I wish you a feliz Passover! (Yes, I realize that challah is not kosher for Passover—but who am I to suppress the irresistible allure of the overdone holla/challah pun?)

I hope all of your Seders are filled with food, familia and, most importantly, balls!

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And, to all my food-loving gentiles, I urge you to get in on the matzo action. If balls aren’t your thing (though, let’s be serious…), perhaps you’d fancy some French toastified matzo?mld103286_0408_matzo_l

Photo credit.

Or  perhaps chocolate-covered matzo?

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Photo credit.

I’m off to la cocina to make some matzo miracles with Martha’s recipes in-hand. Are you celebrating Passover? What’s your favorite matzo goodie? To my non-Joodies (Jew-foodies?), what’s your take on matzo? Love it, hate it, no desire to venture into unleavened breadland?

Be back soon with normal foodie shenanigans and a recap of whatever matzo madness is about to commence in my cocina!

Amor,

Sarah

When It Rains…

…I bake.

Oh, that’s not how the saying goes? Well, that’s definitely how it went this weekend.

If you’ve not heard, the skies that hover above NYC—the same ones that just a day before had begun to resemble the likes of springtime—decided to open up wide and bestow a violent deluge upon its city.

Blackouts (not the recreational sort), floods and fallen trees, oh my.

Fear not, mis foodies. I’m safe. Such would be the prone outcome of spending the entire weekend en mi casa.

As soon as I realized that the outside mundo meant monsoons and the possibility of death by fallen willow trees (bet you didn’t know we had those in Brooklyn…), I made the executive decision to have a homebody fin de semana.

I did not make the executive decision to go on a baking spree. That just, uh, happened. (Likely, this was my subconscious attempt to lure social interaction into the comforts of mi casa. It worked, in case you were wondering. Slash I wanted to confirm that I did not eat all of the following comida on my own ;) .)

It started off innocently enough with some non-baking.

As soon as I saw this recipe on Jessica’s site, I knew I needed to make it.

Chocolate banana bites? Bueno. It was the peanut butter topping that wooed me.

And rather quickly so.

I read her post at 6 p.m. on Friday. By 6:28 p.m., I’d decided to embrace my inner PB floozy and concoct those little bites of perfection. (I don’t have a freaky photographic memory [though I was infinitely envious of Cam Jansen during my childhood]. I know the exact time because I tweeted Jessica for some PB advice.)

Dark chocolate, peanut butter, banana bliss.

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I’d highly recommend my peanut butter topping of choice: White Chocolate Wonderful. If you’ve ever tasted White Chocolate Wonderful, you know it tastes exactly like the inside of a Reese’s. Therein, you understand exactly why it took this little frozen bite to magically delicious heights.

For the full recipe—not to mention far more photogenic documentation of the chocolate banana bites—check out Jessica’s post. (Warning: If you don’t want to go on a baking spree like me, don’t peruse her recipe page.)

Post-banana biteage, I decided to take on baking (or, uh, sweets) project numero dos.

This came in the form of blondies. Because my propensity for chocolate is a very recent development in mi vida, I’ve always turned to blondies as my brownies substitute.

These days, I’m an equal opportunity employer. But I still have to play a little favoritism with mis blondies. After all, they saved me from being that kid who didn’t like dessert.

Dried Cherry Blondies

Adapted from How to Cook Everything

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. fine ground sea salt
  • 1 cup dried bing cherries

Directions:

  • Spray a 9×13 pan with baking spray, and pre-heat oven to 325°F.
  • Melt butter and mix with brown sugar until smooth.
  • Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
  • Mix in flour and salt. Fold in dried cherries (or any other nut, dried fruit or chocolate additions).
  • Pour into pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Or, if you like a gooey center, doesn’t come out clean :) ).
  • Let cool before cutting.

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The nuttiness of the whole wheat flour and the sweet caramel flavor of the brown sugar combined with the tart chewiness of the bing cherries made it imposible to stop at one.

And because bing cherries are so plump and sticky, there were a few fortunate blondie squares that played host to cherry clumps. And a few fortunate foodies who got to bite into those wondrous clumps ;) .

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White Chocolate Wonderful may have made an encore appearance as frosting for a few of these—which, needless to say, worked brilliantly.

You’d think banana biteage and bing-filled blondies would’ve effectively sent me into a sugar coma. But you’d be wrong.

El baking continued.

Proyecto numero tres hailed, again, from the mind/sweet tooth of Jessica.

Seriously, I strongly advise against browsing her recipes unless you have a desire to (a) drool on your keyboard and then practice a masochistic amount of self-restraint in your decision to not commence baking or (b) drool on your keyboard and surrender to a baking bender.

Either way, mind your keyboard.

After mucho recipe perusal/droolage, I adapted her recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookies.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried bing cherries, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Mix butter, sugar, eggs and cream cheese together. Add vanilla and mix. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and dried cherries.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until edges are golden brown.

I basically kept the recipe the same, but tweaked the flour, cream cheese and sugar amounts to see if I could get a sweeter, more cream-cheesy cookie. (Many reviews I’d read of this recipe—including Jessica’s—said the cookie wasn’t quite sweet enough. And I, personally, adore all things cream queso so I knew I wanted to amp up its prominence.)

First things first—the batter was heavenly. It tasted like icing—which made it difficult to not eat spoonful after spoonful.

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The cookies—despite the long list of naughty ingredients that went into them—were actually very light tasting. And their consistency was cake-like. (This, I think, was a result of my flour/sugar/cream cheese tweaking.)

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They benefited greatly from a little icing action. I may have enlisted the leftover batter for icing purposes.

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Oh, you’re not supposed to eat raw eggs? Oops.

And, again, White Chocolate Wonderful icing worked brilliantly.

You’d think my productivity in the kitchen—which, by the way, is the phrasing I’m using to describe this baking binge—would have extended into the realm of creating, um, more diabetic-friendly eats (read: real food). But, again, you’d be wrong.

While I had an uncanny motivation to wear my Pillsbury dough boy hat en la cocina all weekend long, I had no desire or energy to concoct any real food.

I blame the monsoon. You see, I knew that many New Yorkers were experiencing power outages—thus being forced to order in all of their meals. So, being the empathic chica that I am, despite having full power, I wanted to share the powerless sorrows of my fellow New Yorkers.

Yes, that must have been it.

I commiserated with a Mediterranean feast from First Oasis, where you’ve seen me eat before.

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The feast commenced with the vegetarian combination platter.

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Hummus

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Babaganouj

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With a pile of fluffy pita for dippage

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Stuffed grape leaves and falafel

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Ensalada

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Also on the appetizer front…

Spinach Pie: Fresh spinach, onion, garlic, feta cheese, herbs, walnuts, spices, and olive oil baked in filo dough

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Entrees included:

Chicken and lamb kebabs (none of this guy for me, though)

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With rice and steamed veggies

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And my personal favorite…

Mussakka: Fried eggplant, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, potatoes baked in tomato sauce w/ mozzarella cheese served w/ house rice.

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AMAZING.

Sometimes you just need a night off from kitchen duties.

Sometimes you need two.

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Ethnic feast numero dos, brought to you by Chopstix, included chicken dumplings, chicken and Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce and chow fun.

Takeout overload.

Come Sunday morning, I was ready to part ways with all things baked and taken-out. Yep, that sugar (slash general food abundance) coma finally hit me, and all I wanted was a big, comforting bowl of oats.

Enter Chai Latte Oats. This is a recipe I’ve been dreaming up ever since I first became enthralled by the art of concOATions (you know, oat concoctions).

Chai lattes have a special place in my heart because they were my cafe drink of choice before I became a coffee person.

Yes, the coffee monster that stands before you today once detested anything that hailed from or mimicked the flavor of coffee beans. College quickly changed that. But prior to acquiring coffee-friendly taste buds—courtesy of many all-nighters of coffee chugging—I always ordered a vanilla chai latte when I found myself in a “I’m the only one not drinking coffee” social situation.

But enough of my coffee and chai saga, I present to you…

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat bran (I used Hodgson Mill, my current favorite)
  • 1/2 cup egg whites, whisked
  • 1 and 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 1 bag Tazo Organic Chai tea
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
  • container cinnamon

Directions:

  • Bring almond milk and 1/4 tsp. sea salt to a slow boil in a saucepan and add teabag. Let simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring to make sure a milk “skin” doesn’t form.
  • Add the oats, oat bran, vanilla and honey and cook on medium low heat for about 8 minutes—or until your desired consistency is almost reached.
  • Turn heat very low and slowly add whisked egg whites. Whisk in and cook on low for at least 5 minutes. When your desired consistency is reached, stir in flaxseeds.
  • Transfer to bowl. Douse in cinnamon. Sprinkle with remaining sea salt. And add a drizzle more of honey, agave or another sweetener, if you want a super sweet chai bowl.

I know that seems like a ton of work for a bowl of oatmeal, but I promise you, it’s worth it.

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The result? The creamiest, most flavor-packed bowl of oats ever.

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The creaminess that surrounded the oats had the perfect balance of sweet honey and vanilla and spicy chai—and the cinnamon, honey and sea salt topping was the proverbial cherry on top.

(A side note: you know you’ve spent too much time photographing your comida when it begins gathering feathers…)

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All mixed together—it became even more apparent that the texture of this oat bowl rivaled that of a thick rice pudding.

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Verdict: chai latte oatmeal > chai latte.

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I’m not sure exactly what made this bowl of oats so fantastic—I’m thinking the texture was a result of slow-cooking and the whisked egg whites—but I know that I am going to experiment with jazzed up (hello, perfect backdrop for dried cherries and golden raisins galore) editions whenever a lazy Sunday permits.

I urge you to do the same.

On that aggressive note, I’m off to spend el día with everyone’s favorite explorer. Happy martes, amigas!

Amor,

Sarah

A Taste of Primavera

The español word of el día: primavera.

Primavera means spring.

Spring means fabuloso weather, fresh produce and a general influx in reasons to love life.

So when Wednesday decided to play dress-up as primavera, I awoke in a state of general gleefulness—and with a surge of extra endorphins.

I sprung (pun definitely intended) out of bed and immediately channeled those enthusiastic endorphins toward creating a delicious spring-welcoming breakfast.

Being the indecisive chica that I am, breakfast brainstorming took some time.

And so, I partook in a little pregame of iced coffee and cinnamon sugar Truvia manzana.

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Apparently my brain just needed a little fuel/caffeine/deliciousness because mid-manzana, inspiration struck.

Last week, when I reached out for cottage cheese consultation, my dear amiga Little J insisted that I’d fall in love with her favorito cottage cheese concoction, which involves fresh fruta, Kashi and almond butter. My taste buds operate on a similar wavelength as hers doso I was eager to heed her advice.

Unfortunately (except not really), I’ve been a bit of a cottage cheese junkie since discovering its glory. This means I’ve been plowing through almost an entire container in un día. This also means that every morning when I’ve woken up intent on trying the Jess Favorito, I’ve not had enough cottage cheese left to make it work.

Oh, the woes of a crack cottage cheese addict…

But back to that miercoles morning moment of inspiration. I realized that, for the first time in a long time since I started eating cottage cheese last week, I had enough cottage queso left to make the Jess Special.

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La mezcla: 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean, 1/2 cup Kashi puffs, 1 cup sliced strawberries and an almond butter spoon.

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Simple? Sí. Spring-welcoming? Sí. Mind-blowingly delicious? Sííííííííííííí.

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I’m still in awe of the fact that I’ve missed out on years of this creamy wonder.

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Mostly because this means I’ve missed out on years of this messy bowl of loco goodness.

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Yo quiero más. Ahora.

Lunch continued down the path of primavera-welcoming, fresh foodism.

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Oh, and cottage cheesedom.

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On a toasted whole wheat English muffin: 1/2 cup cottage cheese mixed with 2 scoops roasted red pepper hummus and sriracha. Topped with half an avocado and seasoned salt.

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I overestimated how much ‘cado an English muffin could host—so some slices served decorative purposes. By that, I mean I ate ‘em straight up.

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On the side: giant plum, baby peppers and grapes.

(Yes, some of the cottage cheese mixture made its way onto a grape. No, I didn’t hate it.)

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Con Sabra for baby pepper/finger dippage.

Later, I met a fellow writer amigo for a Starbucks productivity session because we both had fallen a bit behind on our freelance writing workload.

Of course, I packed provisions—courtesy of some samples I was sent this week.

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I had one of each Granola Gourmet energy bar so that I can post a full review for you in the near feature.

Note to self: Eating two “energy bars for athletes” at once will induce ridiculous fullness.

Note to self #2: Your crazy estómago will always find a way to defy all properties of fullness and demand the biggest dinners ever.

So, you know how I’ve been on a double dinner kick?

Yesterday I embarked on a triple dinner endeavor.

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Endeavor was a poor word choice. Clearly I succeeded at dominating that dinner.

Let’s start in the center because the eggplant dish was the star of cena.

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En serio, this may have been the best eggplant dish I’ve ever created.

Oh, you want a receta? Fine.

Sesame Seed Japanese Eggplant

Serves one as entree.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Japanese eggplants
  • sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 packet stevia

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400°.
  • Cut the eggplants lengthwise.
  • Score around the edge of the skin and then cross-score.

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  • Brush with sesame oil.
  • Mix 2 tbsp. soy sauce with 1/2 a packet of stevia.
  • Then pour 1/2 tbsp. of soy sauce/stevia mixture onto each eggplant half, making sure it sinks into the cuts.

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  • Place on baking dish and sprinkle 1/2 tbsp. of sesame seeds on each eggplant half.

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  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until eggplant is soft and the skins begin to peel away from the flesh.

The result?

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Fantastically tender, sweet, salty, sesame-seedy eggplant.

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I’m very partial to smothering my baked eggplant with hummus—but this dish really gave that combo a run for its money. I’m pretty sure the crux of the deliciousness lies in the stevia and soy sauce mixture.

I was so enamored by this concoction that parte dos y parte tres of my dinner also featured it.

Asian Ensalada

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In the mix: endless romaine, grilled zucchini, baked portobello mushroom cap, grilled onion, clementine, soy sauce/stevia-marinated shrimp and a fortune cookie! Dressed in Newman’s Own’s Sesame Ginger dressing.

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An outer ring of clementine, portobello and green cheetah.

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Inner ring of shrimpies.

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I mixed up another 2 tbsp. of soy sauce with a 1/2 packet of stevia and let the cooked shrimp bathe in the mix for a bit. Los taste buds were screaming gracias for that foresight.

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And a grilled cebolla and fortune cookie center.

Post-photo, I crumbled the fortune cookie and devoured.

Oh yes, and I obviously took a gander at my fortune.

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A merry corazón? Just another symptom of springtime.

However, I was more interested in the Chinese lesson on the back.

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Bao means bread.

Bread means carbs.

Which brings me to parte tres of dinner.

I almost forgot to include carbs in my cena. Almost.

Devout carbist that I am, I brainstormed a quick carby creation.

Which brought me to this amazing life-changing discovery.

Brace yourselves, carbists…

Instant “Sticky Rice” Oatmeal

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Desperate for a quick carb fix, I hit up my instant oatmeal stash and attempted a simple side of savory oats.

What resulted was an unexpected foodgasm.

The method:

  • Microwave one packet of plain instant oatmeal with a dash of salt and a little less than 2/3 cup of water for 2.5 minutes.
  • Combine another 2 tbsp. of soy sauce with 1/2 packet of stevia.
  • Douse instant oatmeal with soy sauce mixture and stir.

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Commence consumption/moaning over instant “sticky rice” oatmeal.

Despite all of the effort I put into the rest of my dinner, this 2.5 minute creation was—hands down—the best part. I will likely begin eating this on a daily basis. As should you.

Dessert catered to my both my sweet and salty cravings.

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Vanilla peanut butter fro-yo with whipped cream, sourdough pretzels and the salty remnants from the bottom of the pretzel bag.

BRILLIANCE.

Seriously, spring brings out the best in us.

Unfortunately yesterday’s taste of primavera was exactly that—a taste. The forecast for the weekend is not looking so bueno—but I’ll be perfectly content curling up with bowls of instant sticky rice oatmeal, sweet and salty fro-yo and cottage cheese concoctions.

Preguntas: Are you as enamored by springtime as I am? Even if it’s just a tease of warm weather day? What’s the last amazing food discovery you stumbled upon on a whim?

Amor,

Sarah

In Defense Of Carbs

To continue my proclamation of amor for my favorite food group, let’s play a little game of name that tune.

I love carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs

Carbs, I do adore

Sound familiar? No? Okay, maybe it’s not a real song. Maybe I just replaced the word carbs for girls in Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls Girls.” But it’s catchy, no? Perhaps it’s time for a food-themed remix, jigga.

So you’re probably wondering: ¿por que are we still talking about carbs?

I don’t doubt that I effectively communicated the fact that I love my carbs on Friday. However, while most of you embraced my carby adoration, I did receive one anonymous carb-condemning comment.

It went as follows:

Wow you really eat alot of carbs. Ever heard of “everything in moderation”? I find it interesting that your studying nutrition yet promoting such a reckless dietary approach. Your clients are gonna be obese.

Lovely, no?

I usually let negative anonymous comments fall by the wayside—and I won’t bother addressing the grammatical mishaps (oh, wait…)—but I do feel obliged to come to the defense of my beloved carbs.

Dear Anonymous Carb/Me-Hater,

Yes, I eat a lot of carbs. (Some may even go so far as to call me carbzilla.) And, yes, I’ve heard that whole “everything in moderation” spiel. (In fact, it’s sort of the backbone of my food philosophy.) But who says high-carb equates to a “reckless dietary approach?” Sure, there are a lot of nutritional experts who preach low-carb, high-protein diets. But, for every R.D. telling you to put down that piece of bread, there’s another telling you to open up wide, chew that carby goodness and get skinny. My point is that there is no one right dietary approach. We’re all different. And we all have different dietary needs. My body happens to feel its healthiest when I give it lots of carbs. Yours may not (in which case, I send my condolences).

Carbingly yours,

Sarah a.k.a. Carbzilla

Don’t believe me on the high-carb thing? Let’s take a gander at what I studied en escuela this weekend.

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Well, what do you know? I’m not alone on this whole “carbs can do the body good” thing.

Can you imagine how excited I was to open my handout folder and find this at the top of the pile? Yes, the first order of business at escuela was studying the history, progression and validity of high carb diets. (This made me wonder if IIN has ESP/reads my blog?) Needless to say, I was fascinated and jotted down every word mi profesor said regarding the benefits of getting our carb on.

I also used this carbspiration as an excuse to wander down to Whole Foods during my lunch break and pick up some new carb goodies.

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(Yea, I shop at Whole Foods with a Trader Joe’s bag. Blasphemy.)

I can’t wait to experiment with these—especially the millet!

Among other topics like protein, calorie requirements and the macrobiotic diet, we also learned about the principles behind The South Beach Diet. (This further fed my suspicion that my school has ESP/reads my blog, as I just mentioned The South Beach Diet on Friday.) Our guest lecturer was Dr. Arthur Agatston, the author of The South Beach Diet. Despite having a not-so-fun personal foray into South Beach dieting, it was fascinating to learn about how and why he developed the diet. For the record, even Dr. Agatston addressed the benefits of carbs. Just saying… ;)

Since all this carb talk is only further perpetuating my carbzilla reputation, I will now switch gears to another (newly) beloved c-food: cottage cheese.

Since we last spoke, I’ve been through three containers of cottage cheese. In defense of cottage cheese/me, I really wanted to try out so many of your cottage cheese recommendations. All in the name of experimentation, mis amigas.

Let’s get to the cottage cheese creations.

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En el bol: 1/2 cup oats cooked in 1 cup almond milk with 1/3 cup pumpkin, 1/3 cup TJ’s high fiber cereal (random) and 1/3 cup cottage cheese stirred in at the end. Dressed in maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and whipped crema.

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I’m not sure what inspired this crazy concoction—I was mostly just craving a ridiculously creamy bowl of oats—but I’m glad I went with it. I usually just cook my oats in water, but the almond milk, plus the cottage cheese addition at the end, created the perfect creamy consistency.

One more point for cottage cheese being the greatest thing ever.

More pumpkiny cottage cheese oats were had.

This time, eggs were added. And, OHMYGOD, make this now.

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The mezcla: 1/2 cup oats, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup egg whites. 1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1/2 cup pumpkin stirred in at the end.

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Okay, the abundantly eggy (almost custard-like) oats mixed with creamy cottage cheese and pumpkin gloriousness? I’m pretty sure my taste buds discovered new heights of ecstasy.

Onto some cottage cheese snack recommendations.

Almost all of you mentioned the cottage cheese + preserves combo, so I knew I needed to go there.

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Increible. In this concoction, I used put the raspberry preserves atop 2% whipped cottage cheese, per another recommendation.

I liked the whipped version—but I have to say, I really missed the little chunks/curds/whatever other gross term can be used to describe the consistency of cottage cheese.

Worry not, I got my curd fix in my next snack experiment.

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1/2 cup applesauce + 1/2 cup cottage cheese.

Definitely one of the most brilliant cottage cheese suggestions thrown my way. I’ve eaten this combo at least once a day since trying it—mostly because it sort of reminds me of cheesecake.

I also did a bit of savory cottage cheese investigation.

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2 eggs stuffed with spinach sautéed in garlic + EVOO, 1/2 cup cottage queso and seasoned salt.

Another suCCess.

Lastly, we have the least photogenic—but possibly the most delicious—of my experiments in cottage cheesedom.

Cottage Cheese and Hummus Stuffed Portobello

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1 Portobello cap brushed with EVOO + sea salt on both sides. Baked at 400° for 5 minutes. Removed from oven and smeared with 2 tbsp. roasted red pepper hummus. Topped with 1/2 cup cottage cheese mix with 1 diced roasted red pepper. Returned to the oven to broil for 3 minutes.

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Broiled brilliance. I was pretty skeptical of how cottage cheese would taste post-broilage, but the crispy cottage cheese layer that formed was amazing.

The only fail was the fact that—due to aforementioned skepticism—I only made one. Muy triste.

Preguntas: I didn’t go into too much detail about escuela because I wasn’t sure how much you want to know. Do you want to hear more on what I’m learning? Or more about the experience as a whole? Oh, and, since you gave my such amazing cottage cheese recommendations last time, do you have any more that I must try? I’d be happy to oblige ;) .

Hope you’re having a bueno you-kn0w-what día, mis foodies!

Amor,

Sarah

Carbzilla

¡Feliz Friday, foodies!

I almost opted out of posting today porque I have to finish up several writing projects and some tarea before the weekend commences.

However, Google Analytics (my procrastination method of choice) just changed my mind.

Yesterday, 13 people Googled the term “carbzilla” and landed on my blog. Thirteen people. Seriosamente.

This, in itself, was too hilarious not to share. But, upon perusing yesterday eats, I realized that I really am a carbzilla.

I’ve always realized that I have a very carb-centric diet. (I blame this on my stint with the South Beach Diet in tenth grade. I’m pretty sure my body consistently demands carbs to compensate for that period of deprivation. Lo siento about that, cuerpo.) But yesterday was a full-blown carbzilla día.

Allow me to illustrate.

For desayuno, I really wanted to try out one of the many mouth-watering cottage cheese concoctions you all recommended.

Unfortunately, in addition to being a carbzilla, I’m apparently also a cottage cheezilla. On my first day of cottage cheese consumption, I polished off almost an entire container. All that remained was—maybe—a half-cup serving.

Obviamente not enough for a breakfast base.

And so I turned to carb numero uno del día: Oat bran.

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This was, hands down, the most delicious and ridiculously filling bowl of oat bran I’ve ever had.

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En el bol: 1/2 cup Hodgson Mill’s oat bran cooked in 1.5 cups water with one egg white, 1/4 banana, 1/3 cup pumpkin and 1 tbsp. cocoa powder. Topped with 1/2 cup cottage cheese and cinnamon.

I just started using Hodgson Mill’s oat bran, and it is inexplicably way more filling and voluminous than Quaker’s oat bran. The grains are also bigger and chewier—buenisimo!

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This fantastic creation held me over perfectly ‘til almuerzo.

At which point, all I really wanted was más carbage.

To quote the notorious Regina George, “I can’t go to Taco Bell! I’m on an all-carb diet!

I had a feeling it was going to be a día of veggie scarcity so I started with an ensalada before catering to my carby cravings.

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En la mezcla: fresh spinach, cauliflower, butternut squash and grilled cebolla con seasoned salt and Newman’s Asian Sesame dressing.

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Veggies? Check. Now bring on los carbs.

I realize this below bol is rather aesthetically underwhelming, but I promise you it was one of the most delicious savory oat concoctions that’s ever graced mi boca.

And you know I’ve been around the block on the savory oats front.

Cheesy Butternut Oats

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La receta: 1/2 cup oats cooked in 1 cup water. Laughing Cow wedge and 1/2 cup mashed butternut squash stirred in during the last minute of cooking.

Bonita? No.

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Deliciosa? Sí.

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In my carbzilla defense, I did consume some fruta in the form of an undocumented apple and orange. They were eaten whole, in an entirely unphotogenic manner—which, if you’re a food blogger, you know grants you a get out of photographing free card.

I know that apples and oranges, too, are carbs. But these, mis foodies, are not the sort of carbs that earn you a reputation as carbzilla.

These are.

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Meet my carby cena: copious carby couscous and carby cinnamony starchy sweet potato.

I thought about veggifying the couscous—but all I really wanted was a big bowl of grainy goodness.

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With a simple side of sweetness.

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A few bites in, some of the starchy sweetness joined forces with the gloriously golden couscous.

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And then some glorious golden additions made their way onto the sweetness.

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I will not apologize for my copious carbage porque it’s simply what my cuerpo craved.

Oh, and I had plans to drink dance the night away at an amazing Mayer Hawthorne concert. So I needed the carby fuel :) .

Post-concert, carbage continued. I may or may not have decided to bake a cookie pie at 2 a.m.

(FYI: Cookie pie is the term I use to denote any cookie recipe baked in a brownie pan.)

I found this incriminating evidence this mañana.

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Worry not, there were leftovers.

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This cookie pie happened to be of the oatmeal raisin chocolate chip variety.

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I did manage a little healthification by using whole wheat flour, agave, golden raisins and dark chocolate chips :) .

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On that carb note, I have to get back to mi trabajo/the rest of the cookie pie!

Are you a carbzilla? Have you ever ventured into the land of carb-restrictive diets? I’ll wear my carbzilla badge with pride because not only does my body crave carbs, it functions best when it’s carb content. I was miserable when I attempted the South Beach/Atkins way of life—and I ended up gaining weight. So, para mi, carbs do the cuerpo good.

Amor,

Sarah

By Now, I Should Know…

By now, I should know that cereal and I are futile breakfast partners in crime.

You see, when cereal and I meet en la mañana, we always do the same old dance. I dole out far too large a serving. I enjoy the soggy deliciousness but find myself still hungry. I refill with with more “heart healthy” servings. I continue to enjoy the soggy deliciousness ‘til el estómago tells me she’s full. I proceed to get hungry an hour later.

This story plays out the same way every single time. So, by now, I should know that, para mi, cereal is snack—not breakfast—material.

Yet, when I peer into my pantry and spy a mysterious addition of Honey Bunches of Oats’ new Vanilla bunches flavor, I immediately commence taste-testing.

It just so happened that, yesterday, I spied this newbie first thing in the A.M. And so cereal for breakfast it was.

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I attempted to change my standard cereal saga by eating out of my enormous new mugbowl—in hopes that pouring a larger than life portion would preclude my usual refillage.

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I also added some organic dried bing cherries for a little healthification. A valiant nutritional effort, no?

This tactic backfired porque, as I said, my breakfast cereal saga always plays out the same way. Refills were had. Only this time, they were larger than normal since I made the brilliant call to eat out of a bowlmug bigger than my head.

Ah well, I embraced the necessity of refillage as an opportunity to try out a creation that’s been on my mind since it graced my Google Reader month’s ago.

This would be Amy’s brilliant cereal cake.

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I always eat my cereal soggy (to the extent that I stopped eating Kashi Go Lean Crunch because it simply won’t soggify)—so when Amy suggested essentially marinating cereal in milk until it reached a cake-like texture, I drooled on my keyboard knew I’d fall in love.

The method: Allow your cereal to absorb the milk for a few minutes. Drink the remainder of the milk out. Marinate the seductively soggy cereal in the fridge for 10 minutes.

The result: Cereal cake perfection.

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Cottage cheese, and now cereal cake? I’m falling in love with so many new-to-me double Cs.

By now, I should also know that grande breakfasts consumed shortly before pilates class makes for an uncomfortable hour of planks and rollovers.

Luckily, la profesora was the most entertaining Russian in all of Brooklyn. Yesterday, I found her particularly astute.

Mid-class, she said, “Come on, you can hold it for a few more seconds. You know you’re about to go home and eat a box of cereal.”

Way ahead of you, lady.

Come almuerzo, I concocted a beautiful ensalada.

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En el bol: fresh spinach, roasted butternut squash, cauliflower, grilled onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Dressed in Newman’s Own Asian Sesame dressing.

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‘Twas fantastic. The only problemo was that I really wasn’t in the mood for a salad. I only made it because I’m currently eating my way through a very produce-packed fridge.

By now, I should know that eating something I’m not in the mood for only necessitates a part dos of something I am in the for.

In this case, I was in the mood for something of the carby and hummusy nature.

I sought this out in a veggie burger.

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On a sandwich thin: mucho Sabra, black bean and rice burger (frozen from way back when), roasted red peppers and kalamata olives.

Since I know you want to see it topless…

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Mucho mejor. By now, I should know to always what you crave.

I ran with this lesson when I got snacky and, shocker, was craving carbs and queso.

Not just any carbs and queso, Snyder’s sourdough nibblers and Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.

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I’ve always disliked sourdough anything—but apparently my transforming taste buds are really into these guys. Addicting.

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My food affair with that incredible white stilton cheese, on the other hand, has a history. If you ever see this cheese in stores (I rarely do), get it. I promise, you’ll fall in love (with me and the queso).

That little plato was snacktastic. However, it was a bit of a foodie fail because there’s something else I should’ve known by now.

When you have plans to feast with a fellow foodie, you shouldn’t do your own pre-gaming.

Mostly because if your dining companion is truly a foodie, he’ll expect some pre-game action, too.

Mildly full from the queso, I somehow managed to try the pre-feast goodies that my fellow foodie brought over.

The first being Trader Joe’s Pomegranate & Blueberry Flakes And Clusters Cereal:

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He recently picked this up and, having a pretty good gauge of my foodie taste buds, realized I’d be obsessed with it. I am. Another cereal I’ll have to add to the breakfast snack roster.

We also noshed on leftovers from an incredible turkey chili he made this week.

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I looove chili but rarely eat it because I’ve never ventured into chili cooking. Anyone have a to-die-life chili recipe (preferably vegetarian)?

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Ok, enough snackage. Let’s get to real cena.

We weren’t sure what we were going to make—but we knew it would involve this.

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Oh, just some pomegranate arils and TJ’s dried cherries that had been marinating in a balsamic, pepper and agave medley for 24 hours.

I decided to make this magical mix the star of a couple ensaladas enormes.

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In the mix: baby spinach, mozzarella, roasted cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, celery, cucumber and the dried cherry + pom concoction.

There wasn’t quite enough marinade left to dress both of our salads, so I mixed some extra balsamic vinegar and agave for good measure.

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BEST. SALAD. EVER. The noises I was making during the devouring process were really embarrassing/mildly inappropriate.

Next up, pollo!

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Chicken breasts, also marinated in balsamic, pepper and pomegranate, and then pan-fried.

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BEST. POLLO. EVER.

On the side, we had couscous. If you couldn’t guess, I’m going to go ahead and deem this the best couscous ever.

In all seriousness, this is my tried-and-true method for preparing couscous.

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This is how we do it: I cook 1 cup dry couscous in 1 cup vegetable broth. In a separate saucepan, I grill onions and sauté minced garlic in EVOO. In a small bowl, I pour warm water over about 1/2 cup golden raisins so they plump up. When the couscous is done, I combine it all and season with sea salt, garlic and cinnamon.

A tip to keep couscous on the lighter side: Never add the recommended amount of butter or olive oil while cooking. Its flavor will mostly get lost during the cooking process. To moisten and deliciously flavor your couscous, you need far less butter. And you can simply add it to taste to each serving.

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A tip to fall in love with your couscous: There is no such thing as too much grilled onion.

Despite singing cries of fullness after finishing this feast, we were somehow ready for dessert an hour later.

Not so bonita because it had been previously “tasted” by mi padre and mi fellow foodie—but this little box took delicious decadence to new heights.

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The goodies hailed from Cafe Lalo in NYC.

First up was a plum and pear fruit torte.

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I’m not big on fruity desserts, but this was muy impresionante.

Not more so than la segunda: BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE.

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I have a loyal love-love-love relationship with cheesecake, and this ridiculous creamy wonder definitely made it into my top five ever tasted.

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Clearly.

Do you have any food lessons that you feel you should know by now? I’m not sure I’ll ever fully grasp the “cereal does not keep me full” thing—but at least learning, and re-learning, that lesson is a delicious experience ;) .

Amor,

Sarah

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