Calling to Chit Chat & Allergy-Friendly Potato Salad with Arugula

Just after graduating college, I had the privilege to move to New York City for a job with a brand new health and fitness startup. It was my dream job and my dream city. But it wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds: I took the train from Boston to NYC with two giant suitcases and moved into an illegal AirBnB apartment near Union Square with my new boss and another dude who was working with us (neither of whom I had ever met). The three of us worked out of that apartment with about five other 20-somethings for a whole summer before moving on to a “real” office (and separate living quarters). We spent all of our time together. Most days, we ate ate all of our meals together, worked out together, explored the city together. At one point, my parents were actually worried I was part of a cult rather than just working really hard.

It was one of the most transformative periods of my life. I became a more confident person, a more independent woman, and way more sure of myself. But probably the best thing about that time was the women I worked with and the friendships we were able to build. They’re not the people I talk to every week or even every month, but I know that even if a year goes by I could reach out to them to check in without it being awkward.

574836_575315930142_1713581452_n
Kelli (second from right) and me with our coworkers, Fall 2011

One of those awesome women is Kelli. Kelli is from Wisconsin and was brand new to NYC when we met, just like I was. When she walked into our apartment-slash-office on her first day, I knew pretty quickly we would be friends. She is kind, genuine, sarcastic, and has one of my top-five favorite laughs ever.

A lot has changed since those days, but one thing that definitely hasn’t is how much we both think about food. (And wine. Duh.) In fact, Kelli just started a new blog called Calling to Chit Chat with the whole purpose of getting to talk to people about food. So, naturally, when she asked me to chat for her most recent post about life with food allergies/restrictions, I was more than happy to oblige.

And that brings us to potato salad. Kelli asked me to share some easy ideas for feeding an allergen-conscious crowd, and I immediately thought of this potato salad. I’ve made countless versions of this salad to bring as a side dish to barbecues and dinner parties, and it’s a hit every time. Plus, the recipe is easy, you can make it ahead of time, and the leftovers will keep for a few days.

Allergen-Friendly Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

What you’ll need:

1 lb baby yellow potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
1/2 container baby arugula
2-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon dijoin mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry herbs of choice (or 2 tablespoons fresh herbs) — tarragon, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano would all work!
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper (2-4 turns of a pepper grinder)

What to do:

  1. Start by boiling the potatoes in super salty water. Cook until you can insert a knife into the center of the largest potato and remove it without resistance.
  2. While the potatoes cook, make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, herbs, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk until combined.
  3. When the potatoes are done cooking, drain them in a colander and immediately dump the hot potatoes into the large bowl with the dressing. Use a large spoon to toss the potatoes in the dressing until they are evenly coated.
  4. Taste a potato and adjust seasoning with salt/pepper to your liking.
  5. If you’re serving it immediately, add the arugula, toss to combine, and serve.

    Note: To make ahead, stop at step 4 and store potatoes in a covered dish. Just before serving, add arugula and toss to coat. You may also want to add a bit more dressing, which you can make easily with a quick swirl of olive oil and a sprinkle of vinegar or lemon juice.

Zucchini Noodles with Sausage, Tomatoes, Basil, and Balsamic Glaze

This one one of my most favorite easy weeknight dinners ever. It totally tastes restaurant-quality, uses only one pan, and can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. The recipe is super simple with only about six ingredients, and it packs in about two servings of veggies per person. If you want to add even more veg, sliced asparagus or broccolini would make great additions! (Oh, and a nice warm piece of bread on the side is never a bad thing either.)

Zucchini Noodle and Italian Sausage by Kate MorinServes 2

1 medium zucchini, spiralized using the blade that creates thin, wide noodles
2 Italian sausages (sweet or hot, your choice), removed from casings
4 tablespoons chiffonaded basil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups whole grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.

Once the pan is hot, add sausage and sauté until fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes or until you can’t see any more pink. Once cooked, add the shallots, tomatoes, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the tomatoes have started to shrivel and release their juices, about 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of your tomatoes).

Add the balsamic and cook uncovered until the liquid has reduced and the vinegary smell is gone, about another 5 minutes.

Add the zucchini noodles on top of everything else, and cover again. Cook until the noodles have started to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover, add the basil, and toss until everything is combined and the noodles are coated in the balsamic-y sauce. Top with parmesan (or dairy-free parmesan!) if desired and serve immediately.

Spinach and Canadian Bacon Egg Cups

Spinach and Egg Canadian Bacon Cups

It’s been a while since I posted here. I’m not very good at accomplishing things that I don’t feel like doing, and I just haven’t felt like blogging for a few months. It’s been a combination of adjusting to a new job and schedule, traveling quite a bit, and needing a break from staring at my computer 24/7. But now I’m back — and hopefully will be regularly.

A lot has happened since posted my last entry (those sad, overflowing “celebration” Funfetti cupcakes)! As I mentioned, I’ve been at a new job for about four months now, and it is going well. And I also got engaged to this guy over Memorial Day weekend:

Jonah and Kate at Fast Eddies
Despite the misleading appearance of this picture, no, we did not get engaged at this bar — this is from the next day!

We are getting married next October (2015) in Kansas City, and we are very excited! So, there may end up being a few wedding planning posts on here, too. They won’t all be food related, but there should be a few of those, too — I’m planning to host a morning-after brunch for out-of-town guests and close friends… and I’m cooking everything myself (well, with my mom). If I can’t get my sh*t together enough to share recipes beforehand, there will certainly be photos & recipes after the fact.

Now back to these bacon-and-egg cups. I put together this recipe the week before my first day of work back in March as a way to streamline the whole “breakfast” thing while I was getting used to my new schedule. They’re simple, packed with protein, and completely delicious. I tried these two ways — three cups used whole eggs, and for the other three, I beat the eggs before adding to the cups. I opted for spinach and cheese filling and Canadian bacon bottoms, but you can customize these with whatever you’re in the mood for or have on hand. If you want to use regular bacon bottoms, go for it — just make sure to line the sides and bottom with slices to avoid egg filling leakage. If you’re not in to spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, or really any other veggie (or more meat, for that matter!) will work just fine.

Spinach, Egg, and Canadian Bacon CupsThese are perfect to bake ahead of time, store in the fridge, and heat up for 15-30 seconds in the morning when you’re ready to eat. They should keep for about a week in a tupperware container in the fridge. Scroll down for the ingredient list and recipe instructions. Enjoy!

 

Spinach and Canadian Bacon Egg Cups

Spinach, Egg, and Canadian Bacon CupsMakes 6

What You’ll Need:

6 rounds Canadian bacon
6 eggs
2 handfuls fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray, oil, or butter.

What to Do:

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease six muffin cups with cooking spray, oil, or butter (your choice).

Line each cup with one piece of Canadian bacon. (I like using Canadian bacon because it fits perfectly in the cups!)

If you are using whole eggs: On top of the Canadian Bacon, place 1/6th of the cheese and 1/6th of the chopped spinach on top of the bacon. Crack an egg into each cup, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

If you want to use beaten egg filling: In a small bowl, combine the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper. Beat until well combined. Stir in spinach and cheese. Pour the mixture evenly into the six cups.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the egg whites (or beaten egg) appear to be completely set.

If eating immediately, let cool for 2-3 minutes, and enjoy! If saving for later, let the cups cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

A Reason to Celebrate (…with Funfetti)

How good do THESE look?!

Funfetti Cupcakes_trio

Funfetti Cupcake_soloUntil today, I had not had Funfetti cake in more than four years. That’s depressing for a few reasons: 1. Before I was diagnosed with celiac, I was in love with Funfetti cake. Any birthday, any reason to make cake, it was always Funfetti. 2. Why have I not found a reason to make gluten-free funfetti at any point in the last four years?! 3. What is more happy-making than rainbow-speckled cake? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

So when I accepted a new job last week (yayy!!) and was thinking of ways to celebrate, funfetti was obviously top of mind. I had a plan: I would use these adorable blue and white striped cupcake papers I found at Home Goods (aka heaven) and would make homemade frosting and it would be glorious and beautiful and perfect!

But we all know nothing works out as well in real life as it does in our heads. Case in point:

Funfetti Cupcakes_plainI think you need a closer look:

Funfetti Volcanoes

Somehow — I have no idea why — my glorious gluten-free funfetti cupcakes erupted from the middle like a cake volcano. The good news? They still tasted great, and the texture wasn’t bad either. In my book, a delicious item that looks awful is WAY better than one that looks great but tastes like crap.

And if you want a look inside these babies:

Funfetti Cupcakes_inside

Here’s the bad news: Because they didn’t work out perfectly, I’m not sharing the recipe today. You deserve the best, not Cupcakes that explode from the inside out! However, the next time I have something to celebrate, I will dutifully attempt the gluten-free funfetti  cupcake again, and once I master it, I will share the recipe. Instead, I give you photos. Why? Because even though these don’t look great un-frosted, a good swirl of buttercream speckled with sprinkles covers all that up. And also because I wasn’t going to let one baking catastrophe ruin a chance at improving my camera skills.

If you want to give these a shot yourself, here is the recipe I was roughly working with: Homemade Gluten Free Funfetti Cupcakes from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. If you give these a try, just follow her recipe instead of trying to mess with it like I did!

If you just want a bunch of mediocre gluten-free cupcake porn to look at. Here:

Funfetti Cupcakes Frosted and Plain

Funfetti Cupcakes_tallP.S. That is most definitely not homemade buttercream. After the cake part exploded, I decided to cut my losses and go for the canned stuff. Don’t judge me — they are still delicious! 

In My Kitchen: Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas [RECIPE]

Tortilla Quesadilla_duoIt’s embarrassing how many of my meals include one of these tortillas. Especially lunches, and especially in the 9-ish months I’ve been working from home. Quesadillas? Yeah, at least once a week. And I will put just about anything in them. Pizza? That usually happens at least once a week, too.

It’s true: rice tortillas lack the flexibility of “normal” flour tortillas, so they’re not so great for sandwich wraps (or anything that involves a lot of bending). However, crisped up in a pan or the oven, they make a great vehicle for healthy toppings and fillings, and that’s why I love them. Plus, once cooked, they’re easy to wrap up and bring on-the-go — I always make a sandwich-quesadilla hybrid with one of these and wrap it up when I travel!

I’ve made a ton of different quesadilla and pizza combos, but one of my absolute favorites is the recipe below with zucchini, roasted red pepper, and chicken. If those fillings don’t float your boat, try a mix of other veggies or proteins. Here are some of my favorite combos:

  • Black beans, spinach, and cheese
  • Chicken, broccoli, and cheese
  • Spinach, chicken, pesto
  • Avocado, black beans, spinach

Zucchini, Roasted Red Pepper, and Chicken Quesadilla

Zucchini and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadilla

Serves 1

What You’ll Need:

1 brown rice tortilla
1.5-inch section zucchini, thinly sliced
1 piece roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken
1/8 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt, to taste
Optional: Salsa, greek yogurt, pesto, hummus (for dipping)

What to Do:

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Once the tortilla is defrosted (i.e. it’s somewhat pliable), spread half of the cheese on one half of the tortilla surface. Then, layer on the zucchini slices, red pepper, chicken, and rest of the cheese.

Fold the tortilla in half, and press down. Let the quesadilla cook for 2-3 minutes more, or until the cheese is melty and the bottom of the tortilla is turning golden brown.

Flip, and continue cooking or another 1-2 minutes, or until the tortilla is golden brown.

Remove from pan, slice, and serve! I served mine with 1 tablespoon greek yogurt + 1 tablespoon pesto, but you can really use whatever you like!

Easy Warm Quinoa and Veggie Salad

Quinoa with Veggies

I’m not a turkey-sandwich-with-swiss-cheese-lettuce-tomato kind of gal. I sort of see lunch as a pick-me-up in the middle of the day, and un-inspired sandwiches that have been done 100 times before just don’t work for me anymore. Just look at my Instagram feed: apple and cheddar panini, tomato and mozzarella with prosciutto sandwich,  zucchini and red pepper quesadilla with pesto dipping sauce.

But, realistically, no one has the time to spend 30 minutes making lunch. (At least not every day.) But five or 10 minutes? That’s usually doable. This warm quinoa salad can be made two ways: in the microwave, or in a frying pan. I prefer the frying pan method, but in a pinch the microwave method works great, too. I’ll detail the pan method below, but the microwave method is so easy, I’ll tell you how to do it right here: Combine 1/3 cup cooked quinoa in a bowl with the raw vegetables listed in the ingredient list below, and microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until everything is heated through. Top with whatever dressings or cheese you like!

Since I’m currently working from home, I like to make single-serve batches of this dish (or a similar variation), but you could also make a big batch over the weekend and portion it out to take to work for lunch throughout the week.

Warm Quinoa and Veggie Salad

Warm Quinoa and Veggie SaladServes 1

What You Need:

1/3 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 tablespoons diced onion
1/4 red pepper, diced
2-inch section of zucchini, diced
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small handful spinach leaves
2 tablespoons kidney beans
Salt and pepper
Optional toppings: salad dressing of choice, hummus, pesto, goat cheese

What to Do:

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Once warm, add onion, red pepper, and zucchini to the pan. Sauté until vegetables start to soften, 2-3 minutes.

Once the onion, pepper, and zucchini begin to soften, add the beans, spinach, and tomatoes. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.

After the spinach has wilted and the beans begin to burst open, add the cooked quinoa. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, or until everything is heated through.

Serve, and top with whatever you like — simple oil and vinegar dressing, goat cheese, pesto, or hummus make great flavorings!

Be My Valentine Pancakes

I’m not usually one to go out of my way to make crazy holiday-themed meals. Yes, I will without a doubt use any holiday as an excuse to cook up a special meal, but it’s never specifically holiday themed. In other words, Christmas means quiche and champagne, not tree-shaped green pancakes with a piped chocolate star on top.

But this weekend, I got this idea in my head, and it wouldn’t leave me alone. So I knew I just had to see if that idea could translate to real life. And it did! Sort of. After one or two (or five) test runs.

Heart PancakesWhen I was little, we had this crazy awesome Mickey Mouse-shaped pancake mold. Occasionally, if I was really good at whining and could charm (read: guilt) my Dad into making pancake batter, we would enjoy these mouse-shaped delights for weekend brunch. I have very fond memories of these mornings, and for some reason have been thinking about that pancake mold a lot lately.

This, combined with all of the heart-filled cupcakes I’ve seen on Pinterest lately put the idea in my head for a regular old pancake with a perfect pink heart in the middle. Plus, I have a set of two heart-shaped cookie cutters, and I don’t think I’ve ever used them (sorry, Mom) — this was the perfect opportunity!

Fancy brunches in bed always feel more celebratory and special to me, so I’d always much prefer a leisurely meal at home like this than a fancy dinner. Since Valentine’s Day is during the week this year, I plan to make these beauties the morning after instead. That way, they can be enjoyed (with Saturday morning mimosas)!

Heart Pancakes for BreakfastThe best thing about this recipe? It’s super easy: Whip up a batch of your favorite pancake batter, divide the batter into two bowls, and add a few drops of pink or red food coloring to one of the bowls. Now, I just used Bisquick Gluten-Free this time around, but you can really use whatever recipe or mix you prefer. (My oat pancakes — minus the blueberries — would work great!)

Also, I chose to use regular food coloring, but if that’s not your thing you could easily use natural food dye, beet juice, strawberry purée, or even a tablespoon of cocoa powder (and a bit of extra milk) to one half of the batter for a similar two-tone effect.

Be My Valentine Pancakes

Valentine's PancakesServes 2 (plus leftovers, depending on how hungry you are!)

What You’ll Need:

1 batch pancake batter (I used Bisquick Gluten-Free)
2-3 drops red or pink food coloring (or your favorite healthier alternative)
2-3 tablespoons butter
Heart-shaped cookie cutter
Toppings to serve: maple syrup, strawberries, bananas, butter — your choice!

What to Do:

Make 1 full batch of pancake batter, and divide into two bowls. Set one bowl aside.

To the second bowl, add a few drops of pink food coloring, or whatever your dying-agent of choice is.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. The pan is ready when a few drops of water dropped onto the surface of the pan dance around before evaporating. Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in the pan.

Heart Pancake_in panPlace the heart-shaped cookie cutter in the center of the pan, and fill with one of the batters until the bottom if just covered (no deeper than 1/4 inch, about). (I made a few with pink hearts and white outlines, and a few with white hearts and pink outlines.)

Next, take the other color and carefully pour right around the edge of the cookie cutter. Do your best to get the batter to touch the cookie cutter, but you can also use your finger to spread it out a bit if you’re having trouble reaching the very edge. Immediately after the holes are filled in, remove the cookie cutter. The side that’s touching the pan should be set up perfectly, but soft enough that the edge of the heart will stick to the surrounding color. The side that’s facing up will be much softer and will blend together a bit more.

Once the first side is cooked (edges are firming up, bubbles appearing on the surface of the pancake), flip and continue to cook on the other side.

Serve these up with whatever toppings you prefer, and enjoy. (A mimosa on the side wouldn’t hurt, either!)

What’s your favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day?