The Zen of Brownies

11 Mar

GF Brownies

I’m a big proponent of a little sweetness after a savory meal, but typically I don’t want a huge dessert and I need it to be gluten free. Also, I’ve not yet reached the point where I’d like to start experimenting with various GF flours…a little of this guy, a lot of this one, and a pinch of this one…it just doesn’t interest me right now.

Enter the scrumptious brownie mix from Namaste Foods! It makes a huge pan of brownies that can be sliced any way you like it. We prefer the 1.5×1.5″ sized pieces so we don’t feel like we’re downing a million calories. Of course I’m unable to stick to repeating the instructions on the box, and my mind starts to wander off into worlds of other complementary spices, powders, and chunks that would accentuate the already perfect mix. For a while I was on a kick with adding organic dark chocolate chunks and a tablespoon or so of apollonia spice (basically orange blossom and cocoa powder). We just ran out of the apollonia spice, so I’m thinking I might go spicy the next time…

Ancho chile chocolate brownies, anyone?


Adobo & Lime Skirt Steak Tacos with Corn Relish

1 Mar

Adobo Lime Steak

I rounded out the last day of my staycation by cooking a delightful Mexican dish inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe. It was full of flavor, comforting, and outside of some prep time, extremely easy to make. I’ve really gotten into the smokey hot flavor of chipotles and adobo– a tiny little can of the peppers can go a long way and into multiple dishes. I only used the adobo sauce for this dish and saved the chipotles for the turkey chili I made the next night.


  • Skirt steak (as large as you want, just make sure the rest of the ingredients can cover it)
  • 2-3 tbsp adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 green onions
  • 2 ears of corn, husked
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp finely grated lime peel
  • pinch of smoked paprika


Whisk the adobo, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1 tablespoons olive oil to coat skirt steak. I ended up cutting mine in two and laying the pieces next to each other in an 11×7 baking dish to marinade. Let the flavors hang out at least 15-30 minutes before grilling the meat– use the time to make the corn relish and some guac. It’s way too cold here for me to use our grill, but the grill pan worked well. Let the cooked meat rest for a few minutes before you slice against the grain. I used the same grill pan to heat up the corn tortillas (El Milagro is the BEST, ever!) on both sides– soaking up a little of the meat flavor and taking on a gorgeous texture that was slightly crunchy but folded around the fillings like a nice hug.

While the steak is marinating, brush green onions and corn with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until slightly charred, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes for green onions and 7 minutes for corn. Working over bowl, cut corn from cob directly into bowl. Coarsely chop green onions and add to corn. Stir in cilantro, lime peel, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and a pinch of smoked paprika. Season relish to taste with salt and pepper.

The relish ended up being the most time consuming part of the entire meal– partially because I used a grill pan instead of an actual grill to roast the corn. I also made some lovely guacamole hat made it onto the taco as well…plus the Chihuahua cheese because I couldn’t help myself.

Mussels and Risotto

25 Feb

Mussels and Risotto

It’s been a long year already, and February isn’t even over yet! Life has calmed down and I’ve been preparing myself to dive back into the kitchen as well as this blog, yoga, and the gym. I’ve recently become engaged to another foodie– watch out wedding caterers of Chicago! We are super judgy of their dishes and want the food at our wedding to be memorable.

For some reason, I’ve been on a seafood kick the past month or so. Always ordering fish or shrimp on a menu or eyeballing the oyster list. In sticking with the latest resolution of cooking as well as my latest obsession with seafood, I wanted to connect with Julia Child— more specifically with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which has been sitting on my shelf for a few years, barely opened. Julia is INTENSE, but amazing. As per usual, I used her recipe for moules marinières as a guideline and altered as I saw fit.

I was dying for a baguette, but since I’m gluten free I had to opt for creamy parmesan risotto for some depth (and to soak up the lovely broth!).

Sopes with Spicy Semi-Refried Beans and Veggies

29 Aug

Vegetarian Sopes

I’ve realized that I’m obsessed with smokey heat in general…chipotles in adobo in particular. I had a brainflash about beefing up the flavor in refried beans without beefing up the fat and keeping it vegetarian. This dish was also a case of, “Okay…I’ve got 1/2 of a zucchini, 1/2 of a squash and 1 sweet potato in the kitchen … WTF do I do to make this a dinner for two AND stay gluten free?” Here was the answer.


  • 4 Sopes
  • 1/2 Zucchini, diced into 1/4″ bites
  • 1/2 Yellow Squash, diced into 1/4″ bites
  • 1 Sweet Potato, diced into 1/4″ bites
  • 1 can of Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-3 Chipotles in Adobo (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 2 tbsps water
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Queso Fresco
  • 1/4 cup fresh Mint, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 1 tsp whole Coriander
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste


Lightly fry the sopes and set aside on paper towels to drain. Using a food processor, add the pinto beans, chipotles in adobo, and water, and mix until smooth. Place bean mixture in a small saucepan and heat through.

Using a sauté pan, throw in the veggies, mint, and coriander, adding salt and pepper to taste. Saute until cooked– about 10 minutes.

Divide the refried beans into the four sopes, then add the sautéed veggies, finally topping them with the crumbled queso fresco and scallions.

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Crumbled Feta

27 Aug

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Crumpled Feta

At the request of my healthcare provider I’ve been about 90-95% gluten free for the past two weeks (only 4 more to go!). It has offered me some downright depressing realizations: “What do you mean I can’t eat at Great Lake for 6 weeks?” as well as some fun recipe challenges like the dish here today. Overall, I feel lighter and generally have more energy on a daily basis. It was a solid decision for my body during its healing process and a great way to prepare me for the diet I’ll start in the next few months.

For this dish I was inspired by a couple of recipes from Epicurious— taking a few bits from each to create something new. I love their colorful and simple organization and it’s easy to prop up the iPad on the counter while I’m cooking. The ingredients really pop individually, yet work so seamlessly together. So easy and so incredibly tasty!


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large English hothouse cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced


Cook the quinoa per instructions on the package.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool on the counter or in the fridge if you’re in a hurry. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing.

Add cucumber, tomatoes, feta, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Drizzle remaining dressing over and fold in.

Cannellini Hummus with Sage

1 Aug



Use your favorite hummus recipe, but replace the chick peas with white beans and add some fresh sage with the rest of the ingredients in the food processor. Awesome.

Black Bean & Steak Quesadilla

18 May

Black Bean & Steak Quesadilla

My job often allows me the flexibility of working from home. Today, due to the NATO Summit invading Chicago, we’ve all decided to work virtually. It’s a win-win for me– no commute, lounging in yoga pants all day, catching up on a few chores, and making a yummy lunch.


  • Flour tortillas
  • Black beans
  • Steak (already diced and cooked)
  • Jack cheese
  • Adobo sauce
  • Fresh lime


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