mediterranean quinoa


Burrata is the new black. Or the new Bufala to be precise. It’s showing up on menus across the city. This bulbous beauty is everything you love about mozzarella di bufala but with an additional, spreadable center. Let’s be real: it’s kinda sexy. I mean just look at those curves. Makes you just want to cup it in your hands and wiggle it a little.

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Once you’re done fondling your cheese, you might want to take a sec to admire the vibrant slow roasted tomatoes. Because between the burrata and the tomatoes, it’s hard to say who steals the show. You have to move quick, though, after taking these sweet bites out of the oven, because la mère might come and steal them all right off the baking sheet. Made too many? They’re easily stored in a container in the fridge with some olive oil and used in anything you want: salads, omelettes, sandwiches, pastas, or just an afternoon snack.

This mediterranean quinoa was born on the fourth of July two years ago from an abundance of basil and quinoa and a determination to not bring something predictable to the potluck. In addition to being unexpected, the quinoa adds a healthy alternative to the otherwise decadent menus that surface in the Texas summer with barbecue abound. You can eat it as a side dish, but I like to pack it as a lunch when I’m feeling just a bit squishy.


slow roasted tomatoes


  • 3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • preheat oven to 325˚F
  • mix all ingredients together in a large bowl
  • spread evenly onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper
  • bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until fragrant
mediterranean quinoa


  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • burrata or mozzarella, diced
  • ½ cup diced, peeled cucumber
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 1 cup slow roasted tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped basil
  • (optional) thyme to taste


  • add water and quinoa to a pot, let simmer with the top on for 20 minutes or until quinoa is not crunchy and is the consistency of rice. Set aside to let cool in large bowl.
  • Gather the rest of the ingredients and chop into the desired size.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, et voilà! Sometimes I add celery and cut the cheese to make it vegan and extra healthy, but then, cheese…

gooey butter cookies


It’s hard to take pictures of these cookies, because once they come out of the oven, they just seem to disappear. It’s either a mystery of science, the greatest long-running heist, or magic. I vote magic. This has been on hold for a while, but given I’m just sitting here in a test review session with nothing else to do, what the heck, here it goes.

I’m not a huge chocolate fan, though I’ve come to love the NYT version of the Jacques Torres masterpiece, a go to during the holidays. Hey, I think I still have a roll hidden away in the freezer… But I really am a vanilla person. I’d like to take as second to redeem vanilla. Often used to dismiss a person, place, or thing as boring or without character, I find vanilla to be quite the opposite. Vanilla is the pearl necklace of the flavor spectrum, the Chanel of pastries, a classic in a world of experiments. Hardly without character, vanilla has had eternity to build its base and develop into what is assuredly the most recognized flavor in the western taste profile. Vanilla is beautiful, clean, and wholesome. Common, but far from easy to actually do well.

Still with me? This discovery came about following disappointment after disappointment in my search for a good sugar cookie recipe. Everyone knows that cookie dough is way better than actual cookies, which is what makes these babies awesome, because they’re on the chewier, doughier side.

So have at it!


gooey butter cookies

This recipe was borrowed from the web, but unfortunately I’ve had it for so long, I can’t find the site I originally took it from. Let it be known that though this recipe is not my own, my family greatly appreciates the contribution from a lovely internet stranger. This recipe was cut in half because, though I love cookies, no one can eat that many cookies. I did it for your own good.


  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean scraped
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 egg


  • preheat oven to 325˚F
  • mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt
  • cream the cream cheese, butter, vanilla bean, and sugar until fluffy
  • mix 1 egg and vanilla extract into creamed mixture
  • add in the dry ingredients and mix
  • chill dough for 30 minutes
  • roll into small balls and toss in powdered sugar
  • bake 12-16 minutes (don’t let brown) *more on the side of 16
  • remove and sprinkle with more powdered sugar
  • let cool in the fridge

my first jbg box

… and I got one of these bad boys! How sexy!

Go on with yo bad, root vegetable self. Makes you just wanna snuggle down in a nice, warm bed of soil and take root ’til you sprout. Betch called you an albino carrot say wha? Ain’t no diva parsnip like you gonna take that ish.

Ok, enough sassy parsnip talk. That’s only the beginning of the fun I had with my first ever CSA box from Johnson’s Backyard Garden! Next came this amazing three cheese, kale, and slow-roasted tomato orecchiette. enchiladas-6225



Opening the CSA box is like one of those game shows, Tim Gunn in the corner telling me to “Make it work!”. I know kale has been très chic for the past few foodie fads, but I have to admit I was a little intimidated when I opened the box and saw the rubbery green monster staring me back in the face. I didn’t want to just throw it in a blender with a mélange of other fruits and veggies to mask the flavors, that would just be cruel to the locally grown, organic leaf that this kale bunch is.

So into the pantry I dove, and I found this beautiful box of pasta I’d bought on an impulse a few weeks before. Here’s to impulse buys and non-perishables! Spinach goes so well with pasta, so why wouldn’t kale? Plus, when you add three types of cheese to something it’s impossible to hate it.

But a key-stone ingredient was probably the slow roasted tomatoes. Now some might think slow means, oh, 45 minutes. No, these babies need to roast at 300˚F or lower for an hour and a half or longer. The lower and longer the better. It brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and neutralizes their acidity. Oh, and garlic. Lots of garlic. Because garlic makes everything better.


Right! Root vegetables! Look up there at that magnifique casserole. La mère did good for Christmas, and this was the first time I got around to actually using it. The thing holds up like a champ and is a wonder for serving to keep up appearances at the table.

But this root vegetable tian is simple and nourishing. Both parsnips and beets came from the treasure box delivered to my door, and both the russet and sweet potatoes were sitting in the pantry. It’s like the decision was made for me. And of course, anything can be made French with a little olive oil and fresh thyme. Emphasis on the fresh. I’m so thrilled about the color party these veggies and this dish had on my kitchen table. But make sure you do have a good while before any guests arrived, I kept this one in the oven for almost an hour and a half before I felt comfortable taking it out. This one requires patience, but it pays out in flavor.


Safe to say, I’m absolutely thrilled with my JBG subscription. I’m finding that I might not have all the time I’d like to cook everything in it the way I’d want before the next box arrives, but it’s such a privilege to have vegetables this fresh delivered to your doorstep. Here’s lookin’ to next week!

slow-roasted tomato and kale orecchiette


  • 1 bunch of kale, thinly sliced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of slow roasted cherry tomatoes
  • box of orecchiette
  • 1 cup of shredded gruyere
  • 1 cup of shredded parmesan
  • ½ a cup of goat cheese (chèvre)
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • salt and cracked pepper to taste


-steam the sliced kale in olive oil and 2 tbsps of water in a large saucepan

-while the kale is steaming, boil a pot of water and cook the orecchiette until al dente, then drain. Leave the pasta in the strainer in the sink

-in the pasta pot, add the white wine and bring to a simmer; add the cheeses and lemon zest and stir until all cheeses are melted into a cheesy sauce; add salt and pepper to taste

-add the pasta back into the sauce and stir until coated

-pour the pasta and sauce into the saucepan with the kale; add the tomatoes and stir until all is incorporated

-top off with a little more salt and pepper and some shredded parmesan as you see fit

root vegetable tian


  • beets, sliced
  • parsnips, diced into small cubes
  • potatoes, sliced, of any kind, I used russet and sweet
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • fresh thyme, both whole and de-leafed
  • salt and pepper to taste, err on the side of lots with the salt


-preheat the oven to 375˚F

-arrange the sliced beets and potatoes vertically in a buttered baking dish

-once arranged, sprinkle or place the diced parsnips on top

-drizzle the olive oil on top; add salt, pepper, and the leaves of the thyme plus a few extra whole sprigs

-cover with parchment paper; cook at 375˚F for an hour and a half, or until vegetables are tender

amanda’s kick-ass protein bowl deluxe 2000

So earlier this week I tried to ruin your New Year’s resolution. Terribly sorry but c’mon, enchiladas! To make it up, I have something that might help right that wrong.


I present to you, Amanda’s kick-ass protein bowl deluxe 2000! This is my go-to “oh my god what have I been doing for the past month” meal that won’t leave you hungry afterwards. Last semester I was ridiculously busy, I just had no time to work out. In combination with starting barre classes again for a physical revolution, it’s only fitting that there’s a meal to go along with it for a nutritional revolution.

There is so much protein in this bowl, from the spinach, the black beans, and everyone’s favorite miracle grain, quinoa, which I think is why it fills that hole in your stomach. And most ingredients can be made ahead for ease of assembly, all you have to do in the moment is steam the spinach.

So if you’re in need of a post-holiday detox, this meal might just do the trick.

amanda’s kick-ass protein bowl deluxe 2000


  • quinoa, made in a rice cooker
  • pico de gallo
  • dried black beans
  • small can of diced hot hatch peppers
  • baby spinach
  • half an avocado, cubed
  • tsp of creole seasoning

slow cooker black beans

-soak dried black beans overnight in a slow cooker covered in 2″ of water. The next day, cook the black beans on low for 8 hours, careful not to let the water line dip below the black beans. With 2 hours left, add the hatch peppers


-put a cup of quinoa, a cup of black beans, and half a cup of pico de gallo into a bowl.

-steam baby spinach in ½” of water and a vegetable steamer in a sauce pan with the creole seasoning until just wilted

-add the spinach and avocado to the bowl. Boom. Done. Amanda’s kick-ass protein bowl deluxe 2000 complete!

gringo enchiladas

Ready to ruin your New Year’s resolution yet? Because you know it was unrealistic anyways. And I’ve got the perfect solution. This one has taken me a while because I desperately wanted to do it justice. This is a sacred heirloom, and I expect it to be treated as such, you hear me? This, this is gringo enchiladas.




Again, no hiding it here. This is probably a complete bastardization of the traditional version with very little that resembles the authentic dish. But if this is what you get when you “ruin” a completely good dish, everything we know about national cuisine needs to be reimagined.

La mère got this dish from a friend about … well who knows when, but these are the enchiladas I grew up on. And I’m not going to lie, it took me a few tries to come to terms with the general public’s understanding of enchiladas when dining out. I’m not going to start any fights here claiming any superiority, buuuuut maybe you should give it a shot.




 Want to go full gringo? Serve with sushi rice and champagne.

gringo enchiladas

ingredients: hatch green chili enchilada sauce, sour cream, shredded monterey jack cheese, shredded pepper jack cheese, diced red onion, flour tortillas, chicken breast


– bake plain, unseasoned chicken breast in oven, for directions see the kitchn, cube when done

-mix sour cream and enchilada sauce

-spray glass or ceramic baking dish with non-stick cooking spray

-assemble enchiladas: on a tortilla, put a little cubed chicken, shredded cheese, a spoonful of sour cream enchilada sauce, and some diced onion. Roll and place in dish edge side down

-once dish is full of rolled tortillas, pour some more sauce on top, sprinkle with cheese and red onion

-cook in oven at 350˚F until bubbling, about 35-45 minutes

-top with halved cherry tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and avocado, serve with sushi rice and black beans for full on grigo

chicken tikka masala

My Indian craving has not subsided. I’m growing very comfortable with the idea that it may well be a permanent addition to my life. Some of these spices I’d never even heard of, but they are apparently staples in an Indian kitchen comparable to thyme and nutmeg in Lyon.

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While tikka masala was indeed named one of Britain’s national dishes a few years back, the history of the dish is not so simple. After reading Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors for a class (did I mention how much I love Plan II?), it turns out that Indian cuisine is a melange of international influences, with tikka masala’s real invention in Britain and vindaloo’s origins in Portugal. It really makes you question the meaning of “national cuisine.”

I mean, what is American food? Is it fried chicken? Or a Philly cheesesteak? Or a hamburger? Or even PB&J? It’s easy to see just how complicated defining American national cuisine is, and it’s important to treat the food of other cultures in the same manner, each with it’s own regional differences and complications. It is important that we not boil “Indian food” down to a minimal collection of dishes for fear of missing out on some true delicacies.

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So here is my creation. Whether or not it is representative of an authentic Indian dish or merely an American bastardization, it was freaking delicious. Plus, whoda thunk such a beauty could come from Buzzfeed?

chicken tikka masala


for the chicken tikka

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger (or more if you like your chicken zingy)

for the masala sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, minced (leave the seeds in for a spicier sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. garam masala (to make your own, combine 2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

for the rice

  • cook basmati rice in a rice maker or stove top with cumin seeds, whole cloves, and anise to taste


-Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

-Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, cayenne and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

-While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

-Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce; it may get overcooked). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve with cooked basmati rice.

from buzzfeed

leek tarts

We are all going to survive the holidays. We will. It’s going to be ok. It’s going to be ok! If you’re in the market for something to quiet the inevitable arguments born out of stress from a hot oven and pure boredom, there’s nothing better than a leek.

What’s a leek you say? Well its sorta like a monster green onion. First time I bought leeks I had no idea what to do with them. Which end do you even start with? A few google searches later and it turns out you really can’t go wrong (as long as you wash it thoroughly). But they’ve got this indescribable flavor and earthiness to them that onions just can’t match. Paired with a truffle oil walnut paste and goat cheese, a leek is so, so much more.

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Looking for the perfect holiday amuse bouche? These leek truffle walnut tarts are deceptively easy. The key is store-bought puff pastry dough. Just tear open the box and cut it up. Voilà, c’est pratiquement fini!

leek tart-5674I am a firm believer in all things truffle, but I really can’t tell if it’s the leeks or the truffles that make this tart what it is. It wouldn’t be the same with a regular onion, but it also wouldn’t be the same with regular olive oil. You can probably try a different nut, and even skimp on the goat cheese (though I’ve found the Vermont Creamery’s bijous are far out), but I think the leek and truffle are here to stay.

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leek tart with truffle walnut paste and goat cheese

inspired by Tarts: Sweet and Savory

ingredients: 1 bunch of leeks, 4 tbsps butter, 1½ cup of walnuts, 1-2 tbsps black truffle oil, 1 tbsp herbs de provence, salt and pepper to taste, goat cheese, pre-made puff pastry dough


-wash leeks and cut into ½” round slices. Melt butter in a pan and sauté leeks on a low heat, stirring often until soft, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat

-in a food processor, combine walnuts, truffle oil, herbs (you can improvise here!), salt and pepper to taste and pulse until a paste forms

-lay out puff pastry dough and cut into squares or rectangles about 3″ per side. Arrange on a cookie sheet on parchment paper

-spread walnut paste onto each individual puff pastry piece. Place chunks of goat cheese on each puff pastry piece. If you can find a goat cheese that is cylindrical with a rind, slice into round and put each round with the rind on the individual pastries. Spoon sautéed leeks onto each pastry

-preheat an oven to 400˚F. Put pastries on cookie sheet in oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. The pastry will puff up, and you want it to stay that way after it cools. If the pastry falls after removal from oven, it is underdone (but still delicious)

-serve warm with a smile to diffuse ubiquitous familial tension