Stuffed

Mother’s Day is a fantastic reason to get together as a family and have brunch. We don’t have any traditions for Mother’s Day in my family… other than that we don’t go out to eat. This year, David and I hosted my mom, her husband, my brother and his girlfriend. It was a delicious and nutritious breakfast and was great to spend the entire weekend at home for once.

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When figuring out what to cook, David had a fantastic idea to make a Breakfast Stuffed Pepper. I loved the idea and decided to run with it a little bit. I made two versions of the stuffed peppers. The girls had a vegetarian stuffed pepper and the boys had the same mixture, but with spicy pork sausage added to it. They were a hit, but feel free to switch up the vegetables for ingredients that you have in your fridge and what you like.

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What you need (6 servings):
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small zucchini, finely diced
1 tomato, diced
6 mushrooms, diced
3 handfuls of kale, chopped
6 bell peppers
1 cup of cooked quinoa (we mixed red and regular)
6 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 tablespoons cheese of your choice, we used a breakfast brie
Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional: sausage or meat of choice*

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First things first, you’re going to want to spend some time chopping and dicing. Because you’ll be filling the pepper with all these delicious ingredients, you’ll want them to be diced decently small. This will allow a little bit of each ingredient in every bite. Then heat a large pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. First add the garlic and onion and cook until they are fragrant.

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One by one, add the different vegetables to the pan. You’ll want to start with the ingredients that will take the longest. In my case, I added the zucchini, then the tomato and mushrooms, then the kale was last. It won’t be the end of the world if you go out of order, but it’s nice to have ingredients cooked to the same degree.

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After the vegetables were cooked, I added the quinoa, salt and pepper to the pan. Mix them all together. If you have the intention of cooking some peppers with meat, I’d cook the meat in a separate pan and then add the vegetables and quinoa to the meat once it’s cooked. If you’re keeping them vegetarian, don’t worry about the extra dishes.

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At this point, I prepped my peppers. I tried to cut as little off the top as possible, but made sure to keep them flat and with a large opening. Our oven is not fully working right now, so David grilled the outside of the peppers for about 5 minutes to get them soft.This step is optional if you have a functional oven.

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I wanted to keep the egg somewhat separate, so I scrambled them in another pan with a little bit of cooking spray. I just beat the eggs with salt and pepper.I cooked them to be soft-scrambled, since they’d be cooking more in the oven. Then I folded the eggs in to the vegetable mixture with some cheese. Next it’s time to fill!

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I placed the peppers in little casserole dishes, but feel free to use any oven-safe dish that you’d like. We placed the peppers on the bottom rack of the oven and put the oven on a low broil. If you don’t grill your peppers ahead of time, bake them at 375 for about 20 minutes. The pepper should be soft, the filling should be hot and the cheese should be melted.

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It was the perfect brunch with a fresh salad and sweet, summer berries.

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I hope you had a fantastic weekend filled with time spent with loved ones!

Grill and Chill

Before I get into the grilling I’ve been doing and chilling I’ve been working on, I wanted to share some fun news. While I’ve been far less frequent in my posting than I would prefer, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking. In order to keep easy recipes, healthy tips and fun food pictures coming out regularly, Sveti decided to start a new Instagram account. So, if you like the types of recipes and tips you read on here,  take out your phone right now and follow: @SveltSveti

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Anyways, back to grilling and chilling. One of my favorite parts of living in a house, is the access to a grill whenever I feel. I’m still far from being one of those master griller types, and sometimes my meat needs to go back on for a few minutes after I’ve cut into it, but it’s a fun new adventure. Along with being able to play with Perrin outside as I cook, another major perk to grilling dinner is no dishes. Come on, who doesn’t love a meal that makes minimal dishes?

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On Tuesday night, I decided it would be wing night and I made some Old Bay Chicken Wings with Grilled Veggies. The veggies, I just chopped up and tossed with some chili-infused olive oil, salt and pepper, so I’ll just write about the wings. This is far from rocket science, so read closely!

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What you need (4 servings):
About 20 wings or drummetes
Old Bay Seasoning to coat

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I promise that I didn’t forget any ingredients and, I mean, I did warn you that this was far from rocket science. When I got home from work, I dumped the wings and at least four heavy shakes of the Old Bay seasoning pour spout into a large Ziploc bag. I rubbed it all together to make sure that the wings were coated and let them sit for about 20 minutes until David was home and we were hungry. Then I just put them on the grill alongside some zucchini, bell pepper and corn for about 5 minutes per side. Depending on the size, you’ll want to feel them to make sure they are a little more firm. That’s how you can know they’re done. Just like that, dinner was ready and the only dishes we had were the plates we ate off of (which I proudly placed in the dishwasher).

I hope you’ve had a great week!

Don’t Kale My Vibe

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint -Exupery

After 16 weeks of working full time, studying for a Masters in Nutrition Education, attempting to have a social life and trying to maintain sanity, a week off for “summer vacation” is exactly what I needed to re-boot. Learning to juggle all of these aspects of my new normal have made it even more important to plan. I’ve been known to meal plan weekly and this has only become more of a necessity. This also ties in to the fact that month after month I’ve been encouraging my clients to make healthy foods as accessible as the unhealthy snacks…and sometimes you really need to practice what you preach. With my weekend off, I made sure to block out some time to hit up the fruit stand and prepare some versatile meals that could be breakfasts or lunches throughout the week.

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This Soy Chorizo at Trader Joe’s  piqued my interest a few months ago and I’ve been incorporating it into different dishes. It’s a great protein-packed, flavorful alternative when you want a hint of spice in your food. While it’s a little higher in sodium than I’d like, a package costs less than $2 and I can make at least six meals out of it…so I just don’t add salt to the dishes that I cook it in. For this week, a Soyrizo, Kale, Quinoa and Egg White Scramble seemed perfect to keep us full and motivated as we tackle deep cleaning the house, school, work and a few work events.

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What you need (6 servings):
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pack Soy Chorizo
1 cup cooked quinoa
6 cups raw kale, washed and torn into bite size pieces
5 egg whites
1 tablespoon olive oil

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In a large, heavy-bottomed pan heat your olive oil, garlic and onion over medium-high heat. Cook for a few minutes until you can smell the garlic and onion throughout your kitchen (trust me, it’ll happen). Then add the pack of chorizo and continue to cook together.

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Next you’re going to add the kale. I know it’s going to look like a lot, but it’s like spinach. It’s going to cook down and you’ll wonder whether you need to add more. (Go for it, if you want to add more!) Continue to saute together.

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After the kale has cooked down, add some quinoa and lightly toss together. Turn the heat down to low and add your egg whites. You’re going to constantly mix the contents of the pan until the egg white doesn’t look slimy anymore and everything is cooked together. Just like that you’ve made six meals for the week! Next is the fun part:

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Lay your containers out and scoop about two-thirds of a scramble into each one. Then you’ll have your healthy meals all portioned out and in the morning, when you’re tired and running late to work you can’t say, “I’ll just go out for lunch today.”

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Let’s be realistic. You’ll totally feel them staring at you with disappointment if you have them leftover at the end of the week.

Give It Another Go

Happy 2016 my friends! I hope you’ve been able to start the new year off on the right foot. For New Years Eve this year David’s friends rented a karaoke room in San Francisco (which was luckily also a sushi restaurant…hello midnight sushi roll!). We were lucky enough to stay at my brother’s apartment and wake up to a gorgeous day before heading back to pick Perrin up. I brought my new toy for some photo adventuring to start the year.

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After our morning frolicking in SF, it was time to get to business on some serious napping and (more importantly) serious reading for my graduate school program that I’ve now began. Despite wanting a weekend to simply lay around the house, we also wanted to cook some foods that required a little extra time. It’s a joke in our relationship that I don’t know why David kept dating me because the last time I made Risotto with Lemon Shrimp for him was an extremely unflavored dish (and probably one of my worst ever). When I was thinking of what to cook, I figured I needed to prove myself over two years later.

What you need:
Risotto
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Arborio rice
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Shrimp
1/2 pound 16-20 ct shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper

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Heat a deep, medium pan over medium high heat with the olive oil in it. Once heated, add the onion and garlic and combine until they become fragrant and translucent.Then add the Arborio rice and continue to combine. Let the rice brown. After about 4 minutes, add the wine and continuously stir until ally he wine is absorbed by the rice. Then you’re going to want to add about 1/4 cup of the broth and do the same thing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before continuing. Continue adding the broth bits at a time and stirring the rice until the broth is absorbed. It will take a while (and you’ll get an arm work out), but I promise you’ll get the creamiest risotto if you do it a little bit at a time.

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When you are out of broth, the rice has expanded and is soft, add the sliced mushrooms and let them soften in the hot risotto. Stir in the cheese and taste for salt and pepper. The risotto will be fine to sit as you cook your shrimp, but continue to check on it and mix it every few minutes.

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Next things next is the shrimp! Preheat the oven to 425 and on a baking sheet place a piece of foil that is large enough to wrap around the shrimp like a package. In the middle of the foil, place the lemon slices in a straight line, layer the sliced garlic on top then add the shrimp on top of those. Sprinkle with salt, a generous amount of pepper and the chili powder.

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After about 10 minutes, the shrimp should be pink and curled up ready to go. To plate, I placed a small handful of some arugula we had in the fridge, then placed a mound of risotto topped with a few shrimp and a drizzle of the leftover lemon sauce from the foil.

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After his first bite David agreed that I had redeemed myself! It was a great comforting dinner on a cold winter night where I actually had the time to stand at the stove stirring. In the past, I have rushed the risotto and it doesn’t develop that same natural creaminess that can develop if you really give it the time to absorb the liquids.

Happy New Year! Hope you’re having a great week!

Ending 2015 on an Italian Note

I wanted to get one last recipe in before 2015 ended and all the excitement of the new year (and the 5 chapters I have to read for school by Tuesday) takes the front seat. For the holidays I was spoiled with a Canon Rebel T6i that will not only provide hours of entertainment, but will create even cooler blog posts with intensely detailed pictures. As David did the dishes last night (thanks again!), I played with my new toy and my favorite model.

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Speaking of toys, I had not been using my Spiralizer as much as I used to and after a conversation with a coworker, some leftover zucchinis and chicken from the holiday weekend and a desire for a lower carb dinner I decided to make a Lightened Chicken Piccata with Zoodles. I’m always game for a dinner I have everything for already. It was delicious.

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What you need (4 servings):
1 pound of chicken breasts, cut into thin cutlets
1/4 cup gluten free flour
1/2 onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lemon
4 tablespoons parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons olive oil divided
salt and pepper

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If you’re making zoodles, I just quickly sauteed them with some garlic and olive oil before starting to make the chicken. But for the chicken itself, combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish large enough for the chicken to lay flat. Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat.

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Lightly dredge each cutlet in the flour mixture, then place in the heated pan. Cook for a few minutes on each side to get a crisp and to make sure the chicken is cooked through. I kept the chicken warm in the oven on a low temperature (like 200) as I made the sauce. Save the remaining flour, as you’ll use a little of it as a thickener for the sauce.

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Once the chicken was cooking, I diced the onion and minced the garlic. Use the same pan that you cooked the chicken in and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and onion. Stir for a few minutes until they become fragrant and translucent. Juice the lemon into the pan and add the chicken broth. Continue to stir as it reduces some and add the wine.

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Once the alcohol smell seems to have cooked off, add a tablespoon of the leftover flour mixture and continuously stir the pan to make sure there are no lumps. Add the capers and let the flavors combine for a minute or two. I tossed my cooked zoodles in the sauce, then plated it over the chicken and sprinkled with parsley.

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After a weekend of solely eating, it was nice to have a comforting food that didn’t feel one bit of heavy.

That’s it for 2015 my friends! I’ll see you in 2016! 

Have a happy and safe new year surrounded by those you love!

Looking Back to Go Forward

2015 has been a year filled with more fun and adventure than I could have hoped. I rang in the New Year in Washington DC with friends, got to visit “home” (Hawaii) twice, ate my way through my first road trip and camped for the first time ever, took a trip to reconnect to Jewish culture (and connect to the food) in Israel, all while continuing to grow with my job, moving in with David, fixing up the house and becoming a puppy mom to Perrin. Here are some of my favorite shots (and food shots) of 2015:

Going into 2016, I’ll have more challenges that I can’t wait to conquer. Next Monday I begin a Masters in Science in Nutrition Education program that I’ll be able to learn from and share here. I’ve decided that I want to set some kitchen goals for 2016, but want them to be reasonable and attainable as I’ll be working full time, studying full time and still trying to remain social. Since there are three more days of the year, it’s time to get these goals down in writing!

My goals for 2016 are:

  1. Master the poached egg – I love poached eggs, but honestly have never tried to make them myself. Eggs are affordable, filled with nutrients and protein and can be added to the top of almost any dish.
  2. Take a cooking class – When I lived in DC, I did a variety of one-time cooking classes that I had so much fun at. One was on sushi making and another was with Top Chef finalist Carla Hall. I walked away with new skills, a fully stomach and had just spent an afternoon or evening doing something I love.
  3. Make a pot of stock from scratch – There is nothing wrong with the broths and stocks that I use for my soups regularly, but I’d love to have the experience of literally making a soup from scratch. Especially since I’ve been overly obsessed with soup lately.
  4. Make wings – While I generally don’t really like chicken, I love me a good plate of wings. (It’s normally how David gets me to come watch sports at a bar with him). Last year in Baltimore we had an amazing plate of Old Bay Wings that I’ve been craving ever since. I’d of course bake my wings instead of fry them, but I really want to make a batch myself.

I hope you’ve had a great holiday season are as excited for 2016 as I am!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Pantry Challenge Pizza

As the holidays are rapidly approaching, and the temperature is dropping significantly, we’ve decided to spend the week doing a “Pantry Challenge.” Because we’re in an area with amazing, cheap produce, we’re allowed to go to the fruit stand, but other than that it’s only food that we already have in our pantry, fridge or freezer. We also aren’t allowed to eat out unless we’re invited by other people (so please, invite us to a meal:) kidding). December is a big month for us with our anniversary, Hannukah, Christmas, David’s birthday, Perrin’s birthday, so saving a little money using what we’ve got will go a long way (and I’ll finally get some clean and organized cabinets that I’ve wanted since I started cooking in David’s kitchen). Last night, I opted to attempt pizza from scratch. This was not a challenge in the toppings department, but most recipes called for yeast. Pinterest to the rescue yet again, I found a recipe that I could go off of that didn’t include yeast!

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What you need (4 servings):
2 1/2 cups of flour (self-rising is best, but any all purpose will work)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oregano
1 1/2 cups of water (possibly a little more)
1/2 cup pasta sauce or tomato sauce
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
Toppings and cheese of your choice

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, then in a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, oregano, olive oil and water. Combine together so that it is sticky, but not so that it is completely wet. If you need to add a little water to get it to a workable consistency, do it.

Once it’s combined, dust a little more flour on a cutting board or clean flat surface and roll the dough out to your desired thickness. Some people prefer thick crust pizzas and others thin.

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Sprinkle a little extra flour on your baking sheet (I lined mine with foil, but probably wouldn’t do that again), then lay your dough out. Spread tomato sauce around the pizza and place sliced garlic strategically around. I tried to get fancy and curl my crust, but you’ll see in the end it decided it wanted to stick straight up instead. Stick the plain pizza in the oven for about 7 minutes to pre-cook the crust.

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Take the crust out and begin adding your toppings. Since we were working with what we had, I used some pre-roasted squash, Brussels Sprouts and chicken and sprinkled it all with some Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and more oregano.

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About 15 minutes late we had a melted and cooked pizza ready to be eaten, but continually check it since all ovens cook at different speeds. I just pinched off small parts of the dough and saw that they were cooked all the way through. This went perfectly with a fresh salad on an almost freezing Monday night, but you could also just have it plain. What are you go-to toppings you have in your fridge right now?

Turkey Leftover Makeover

Anytime that we get a Thursday and Friday off, it’s obviously going to be a great weekend. It gets even better when it’s Thanksgiving and my mom has my brother, his girlfriend, David and I over for three nights of family fun, redwood trees and great food. My mom only lives an hour and a half from our house, but it feels like a completely different place because we’re right by Muir Woods and have tons of hiking at our disposal. Before I get into my latest leftover creation, here are a few fun pictures from the weekend:

 

I read a quote the other day that was far too fitting: “If you don’t have leftovers after Thanksgiving, you did it wrong.” Compared to most Thanksgiving meals that I’ve heard of, ours is apparently pretty healthy, but we have tons of turkey leftover because my mom buys the biggest one she can find. Normally around 24 lbs. On Friday night, we made a Shepard’s Pie, which was delicious, but needed to keep repurposing the leftovers. We got sent home with a large amount of turkey (and stuffing), so for our Sunday dinner I decided on a healthy version of an Alfredo sauce for Turkey, Brussels Sprout Alfredo.

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What you need (4 servings):
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons flour (or gluten free flour)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup nonfat milk
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped cooked turkey (or chicken)
1/2 cup shredded Brussels Sprouts
1 large handful pasta of choice (we used brown rice noodles)

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Start a pot of water boiling and cook the pasta to the directions on the package. As that cooks, heat a medium to large skillet with the olive oil. Add the garlic and stir for a few minutes as the garlic cooks. Sprinkle in the flour and combine to start the roux. Once combined, add the chicken broth and continue to combine.

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Once those have combined, add the milk and lower the heat to let them simmer together. Once bubbling, add the cheese and stir together to thicken the sauce.

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This is a great time to add the turkey and brussels sprouts to let them begin cooking. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to stir until the pasta is cooked and the turkey is warmed.

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When the pasta is done, drain it and toss it in the pan with the sauce. Plate and sprinkle with a tiny bit more parmesan cheese. It’s the perfect comfort food that isn’t as guilty as it feels. What’s your favorite way to repurpose Thanksgiving dinner?

B(ri)e Thankful

Tis the season to be focusing on everything that we’re thankful for and to be spending time with family and friends (and often some delicious food as well). I’m somewhat already on my way to my moms for the Thanksgiving festivities and will get a few nights in the redwood trees with the family. Tomorrow is also my mom’s birthday so the day will be taken VERY seriously.

Last night, we started the festivities early with a Friendsgiving in Davis. It was nice to get together and be able to share appreciation for friends (and drink wine and good food). We were asked to bring an appetizer, so I immediately thought of Baked Brie, since I hadn’t made it in a while and it’s absolutely delicious. I try to make myself test a new recipe for baked brie each time. This time I opted for a Maple Pecan and Cranberry Baked Brie, since it sounded really “fall.”

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What you need:
1 round of brie (8 oz)
1 pack of gluten-free pastry dough (or your own puff pastry dough)
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup of cranberries
1 egg, for an egg wash (you won’t use it all)
A little flour for dusting

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First things first, preheat the oven to 375. Then mix the cranberries, chopped pecans and maple syrup in a small bowl together. You’ll want the nuts and cranberries to be coated with the maple syrup.

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Next, dust a little flour on a cutting board (or the counter if you have a clean house) and roll your dough out, if necessary. I then cut mine into a square and saved the scraps for David to decorate the top later. Place half of the nut and cranberry mixture in the middle of the dough.

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Place the brie on top, then top with the remaining cranberries and pecans. Carefully fold the dough up and over the brie, as neat as you can. Ours kept breaking, so we just attempted to get the brie covered and figured out how to make it presentable after. Once it’s folded over and made pretty, brush with the egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes until it’s golden brown.

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We rolled the scraps of dough out and David cut some leaves and rolled a few balls to decorate it on top, but decorate it however you’d like. Hearts could be cute for Valentine’s Day, or a little Christmas tree for the holidays… get as creative as you’d like. We served ours with some gluten free crackers, but serve it with crackers, bread, or you could probably eat it plain as well.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it’s filled with lots of fun, family, friends and most importantly FOOD.

The Comfort Zone

Fall has definitely fallen and I’ve continued to have soup at least 4 times a week for various meals (more like 8 times a week realistically, but shh). I really just can’t get enough of it. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather, the simplicity, the variety or because there’s something about soup that’s so comforting. Whether it’s a clear-brothed bowl of pho or the thickest, creamiest chowder, something about the warm bowl of soup just makes you feel better in that moment.

Comfort is something that has been extremely important lately in lots of realms of my life. On a more shallow level, we have redone all the floors in the house pretty much and were living out of backpacks, hotels and sometimes sleeping on an air mattress in the kitchen. Totally worth it now that it’s done, but not having a place to go home, cook dinner and curl up at the end of the day took its toll real quickly. On a deeper level, comfort has felt great as a dear friend passed away two weeks ago. This weekend we celebrated her life and it was a mix of tears and tequila shots because that’s the type of woman she was. Everything was a party, whether we were driving to San Francisco for a day of meetings, or working million hour days at Bike MS, she always found a way to make it fun. Now that I think about it, she also loved her soup and had a “Soup-Off” every year, so maybe that’s where this strong desire for soup comes from. Regardless, we celebrated her life like she’d want us too, starting the party early with a solid meal, drinks, shots and Sees…

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The top picture was at Tara’s baby shower last January, the last time the five of us saw each other. The bottom was our recreation with Damari (Tara’s baby) before the Celebration of Life.

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Anyways, now that I’ve recovered from that shot of tequila, let’s get to the latest soup that I made. I found a recipe on Pinterest for a Cauliflower Chowder. Since my obsession with cauliflower continues to grow, I thought this would be a nice, lower carb alternative to a thick chowdery soup. I liked the basis of the recipe, but wanted to make a few changes. (Sidenote: I don’t have a ton of pictures of the steps because to be honest, the soup doesn’t look delicious and it was good so I’d rather you imagine it looking really good and actually make it)

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What you need:
1 large (or two smaller) head of cauliflower, chopped pretty small
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
4 slices of bacon, cubed
1 cup of nonfat milk
4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup of flour (or gluten free flour)
1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

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In your large stock pot or soup pot, heat the stove to a medium high heat. As it heats, add the bacon and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. The fat should come off of the bacon (kind of gross, I know) and the bacon will begin to crisp. As it is cooked, take it out and place on a bed of paper towels to soak up any extra grease. Keep the pot on and add the garlic, onions and carrots. Stir occasionally as they cook and you begin to smell the onion and garlic. It’s a beautiful smell, take it in. Then add the cauliflower and flour. Stir frequently and try to get the flour evenly over all the veggies. Then slowly add the milk and broth, stirring constantly. Finally add the bacon, a little salt and pepper, and let it simmer for at least 15-20 minutes as the cauliflower softens. I let mine sit for almost two hours while we watched a movie, then stirred some cheese in right before we ate a little.

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Since I mostly wanted it for lunches the next few days, we had a small portion with some steak, roasted brussels sprouts and roasted delicata squash. It would be a great star of the meal too though!