Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprout Grain Bowls

IMG_7914After a couple of food and drink-filled trips to Chicago and Louisville this year, I've been trying to get back in the groove of eating healthily (at least for breakfast and lunch.) One big thing that helps me do this is prepping at the beginning of the week—if I can just throw some vegetables, grains and dressing in a bowl when lunchtime rolls around, I'm much more likely to go for that instead of a grilled cheese (though of course, there's a time and place for grilled cheese too.) I prefer a ratio of 3:1 vegetables to grains, but you can adjust according to your preference. I typically make this on Sundays, and then it lasts me the entire week for lunch!

Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprout Grain Bowls (serves 6)

1 cup quinoa

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 teaspoon fish sauce

6 eggs


1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil


Sliced cabbage, quick pickles, or other greens of your choosing

Salted roasted peanuts

Hot sauce


  1. Make quinoa: Add quinoa and 2 cups water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°. Spread sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until tender and browned.
  3. Spread Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 25-30 minutes, until very crispy. Toss with fish sauce.
  4. Make dressing: Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Add eggs to a saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off heat and let eggs sit in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, rinse under cold water and carefully peel.
  6. To serve: Add quinoa, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts to each bowl and drizzle with dressing. Carefully cut each egg in half and add to bowl. Add additional vegetables, hot sauce and peanuts as desired.

Homemade Granola

_MG_5822We have a special guest today from none other than my PIC, Ari King. He took a little time off from his radio show to share a recent cooking project.  –Maren_MG_5816Although I am usually the one on ‘dish patrol’ (as my mom always puts it), I’m occasionally able to give my scoundrel a respite when it comes to cooking. True, this recipe doesn’t exactly translate to “Hey, I’ll take care of dinner tonight, you’ve had a long day” but it does show an effort has been made and it is pretty tasty._MG_5821

I’m going to come right out and say it: I love cereal. I love it. I love it for breakfast and I love it for dessert. But, I recently chose to cut back on the sweet cereal (Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and look into different types of granola. Each grocery and health food store I went to carried granola but it was always so expensive. I decided to just make the granola myself and, like most amateur kitchen-dwellers, I Googled recipes and got 22,000,000 results in 0.57 seconds and drove myself crazy trying to find the perfect one before  settling on this one from Bon Appétit. The good thing about making your own granola is that beyond the essentials – oats, nuts, olive oil, sweetener – you can add whatever you want. I threw in flax seeds, chia seeds, coconut shreds, and added goji berries and currants on top._MG_5823

And a little something extra:

*If you are feeling really groovy, toss in some chocolate chips. Go head. It’s cool.

*Imagine eating a toasted cloud. Put some granola on top of your delicious yogurt and you can know that feeling. Add fruit if you are into that kind of thing.

*Hungry between meals? Grab a fistful and tilt your head back and throw it in your mouth like popcorn at the movies.

Homemade Granola (adapted from Bon Appétit)

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine 1 large beaten egg white, 3 cups old-fashioned oats, 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (we used cashews), 1 1/2 cups unsweetened dried coconut, 1/2 cup agave syrup, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup flax seeds, 2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a large bowl; toss to combine. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake granola, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and dry, 40-45 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet (it will crisp as it cools).
Mix in 1 cup dried fruit, such as currants, raisins, cherries or cranberries.

Chocolate Mousse

_MG_5789 _MG_5786When I was growing up, Valentine's Day meant a special dinner with our family, and most importantly, CANDY. I still remember one V-day in particular where my sister and I each received a giant Hershey's Kiss, and I'm pretty certain that we both ate at least half that night (Solveig, you know what I'm talking about). _MG_5812Besides having an incorrigible sweet tooth, Valentine's Day was never really my favorite holiday – I never really thought it was necessary to have one day to let the people close to you know that you love them. Of course, I'm never going to say no to a good dinner, so when Ari and I were deciding what we were going to do (obviously, House of Cards was the first item on the agenda), I thought it would be fun to come up with some things I don't make on a regular basis. Surprisingly, I have never tried my hand at chocolate mousse, always one of my favorite desserts at French restaurants, but after this I will definitely be making it again. Seems fancy, and is deceptively simple  – plus you can make it hours ahead of time, which makes it perfect for a dinner party._MG_5792



Chocolate Mousse (adapted from Bon Appétit)

1/2 cup chilled heavy cream, divided 2 large egg yolks 1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee, room temperature 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 3 ounces semisweet chocolate (60-72% cacao), chopped 2 large egg whites

Beat 1/4 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.
Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 1 Tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water). Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 degrees, about 1 minute. Remove bowl from pan. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions; fold whipped cream into mixture just to blend.
Divide mousse among 4 teacups or 4-oz. ramekins. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours and up to one day.
Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; dollop over mousse.

Corn, Chicken & Butternut Squash Soup

_MG_5428Soup isn't the most glamorous of meals – not nearly as exciting as, say, foie gras, or steak, or even pizza. And yet, there is something so inherently comforting about a bowl of warm soup, filled with hearty vegetables and diced chicken, with a little honey-drizzled cornbread on the side for good measure. Soup like this makes me long for a fireplace, for a cabin somewhere in the woods with snow falling outside the window and no honking horns of the city. I can't promise that this soup will take you there, but it will make you warm on a cold night no matter where you are, and give you your daily serving of vegetables to boot. And sometimes, that's good enough._MG_5431



Corn, Chicken & Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Epicurious)

Word of warning: this recipe makes A LOT of soup. So be sure to have plenty of tupperware for leftovers, or make it for a lot of people (i.e. more than two)

2 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
9 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash (cut from one 1 3/4-pound squash)
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 16-ounce bags frozen corn kernels
1 cup milk
4 cups diced skinned roast chicken (2-3 chicken breasts)
2 cups chopped green onions
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 cup bell peppers. Sauté until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Mix in broth, then squash, potatoes, and thyme; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until squash and potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add corn, cream, and 1 cup bell peppers. Simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Add chicken, 1 cup green onions, and 1/2 cup cilantro; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle chowder into bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup green onions and 2 tablespoons cilantro.

Vegetable Fried Rice

_MG_5167 _MG_5172

Do you ever have one of those nights where you feel like you have nothing to eat even though the fridge has plenty of food? Sometimes I get home from work at 7:30 and don't feel like making a complicated meal, and lately, fried rice has been the one thing that has saved me from ordering takeout (also great, but it adds up quickly). Fried rice may not be quite as healthy as having a salad, but it is a great way to use up any miscellaneous vegetables and the variations are almost endless. I love adding chicken or tofu for more protein, and while my favorite vegetables are broccoli and peas, it would be great with carrots, zucchini, or pretty much anything else you might have lying around in your refrigerator.


Vegetable Fried Rice (serves 3-4)

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 large eggs

Salt and pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 scallions, white and green parts separated

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cups broccoli florets and stems, roughly chopped

3/4 cups fresh or frozen peas

3 cups cooked rice

2 cups spinach, chopped

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan or wok. When hot, crack eggs directly into pan, and quickly scramble with a spatula until barely set. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat remaining oil in the same pan. When hot, add white parts of scallions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and sauté until you can smell the aromatics, 1-2 minutes. Quickly add rice vinegar and sugar and stir. Add broccoli and peas, and cook until broccoli is bright green and still crisp, about 5 minutes.

Add rice, spinach, oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce and mix well. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add cooked eggs. Serve immediately, garnishing with remaining scallions and peanuts, if desired.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

_MG_4864As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I went home to Minnesota for a week at the end of June. I love going home, not only for the opportunity to escape from New York for a little while, but also because my parent's house is such a lovely contrast from my little apartment in Brooklyn. One of my favorite things to do there in the summer is eat breakfast (or pretty much any meal) on the porch, and my mom surprised us all on the first morning of my trip with these delicious blueberry pancakes. The fresh peonies everywhere were pretty great too. _MG_4871 _MG_4869

The rest of the week was spent with family, eating, playing croquet, and reading -- all in all, a perfect vacation. _MG_4876

Happy 4th of July to all of you! Hope you are somewhere enjoying a few days off and celebrating the independence of our great country._MG_4881



Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Heat griddle over medium heat. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps. Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter onto griddle. Wipe off excess. Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. Sprinkle 8-9 blueberries on each pancake. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, (about 3 minutes) flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm with maple syrup.

4th of July Recipes

Mention Independence Day, and I automatically think of barbecues, beach, and best of all, fireworks (not to mention the Will Smith movie). Growing up, we always spent the 4th of July at my grandparents' cabin in northern Minnesota, and the days were full of swimming in the lake, four-wheeling, card-playing, and, of course eating -- as I always think they should be. Living on the east coast makes it hard to get home for this celebratory holiday, but I'll be lying on the beach in Connecticut and hopefully eating some great seafood, which should be almost as good. I rounded up a few recipes that would make great options for a 4th of July barbecue:

_MG_3663Ricotta & Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

_MG_4165Guacamole _MG_3090Corn & Tomato Salad

_MG_2829Greek Salad

_MG_4748Blue Cheese & Bacon Potato Salad

_MG_4715Pulled Pork Sandwiches

_MG_2988Rhubarb Pie

_MG_1739Peach Cornmeal Shortcakes

What are your plans for the 4th of July? Do you have any long-standing traditions? I'd love to hear!

Apricot-Mascarpone Tart


_MG_4828If you are new to this blog, you may not know that we are pretty big stone fruit fans around here. Though I love the early-summer strawberries, my favorites are the endless peaches, plums, and apricots that show up in July for just a few short months. Though I feel like I have generally confined myself to desserts in the past, this summer, I'm excited to try using stone fruits in more inventive ways, such as making a peach salsa or adding them to a salad. I haven't seen apricots at the farmer's market yet, but these were at a local market and were surprisingly good. I think that next time I make this, I would make a couple of changes, including adding just a bit more lemon zest to both the mascarpone cream, and using this crust recipe instead of the one below -- I felt that you could taste the cornstarch a little too much, although that could also be solved by adding more flour and cutting the cornstarch. That said, I think that this still makes a lovely summer dessert, and since you only bake the crust, it's a great way to not have the oven on for too long, and to show off those lovely berries or apricots._MG_4823



Apricot-Mascarpone Tart (adapted from Bon Appétit)

Crust 1 cup all purpose flour 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 1/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup apricot preserves

Filling 1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese, chilled 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream 1/3 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3-4 apricots, pitted and thinly sliced

To prepare:

For crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Add flour mixture and beat until large clumps form. Gather dough into ball; press over bottom and up sides of prepared tart pan. Freeze crust 15 minutes.

Bake crust 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Using back of spoon, press sides to raise until even with top edge of pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Spread preserves over bottom of crust. Bake 5 minutes. Cool on rack.

Meanwhile, prepare filling: Using electric mixer, beat mascarpone, cream, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and both extracts in large bowl until peaks form, about 2 minutes. Spread filling evenly in cooled crust. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Arrange apricot slices in concentric circles atop filling and serve. Keeps well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Maple-Balsamic Fig Crostini

_MG_4836This is one of my top-five appetizers. It was inspired by a lovely special at one of the best (and most underrated) restaurants in Minnesota, the New Scenic Café. A bright yet unassuming exterior with views of Lake Superior just across North Shore Drive hides wonderfully simple, local fare. Unfortunately, I don't get to make it there as often as I would like, but a version of this crostini was served as a special appetizer one of the last times I was there. Once I got home, I had to re-create it -- I love the contrast between the sweet balsamic-glazed figs and the salty gorgonzola cheese. You could also serve this as dinner with a salad (which I have definitely done)._MG_4813 _MG_4842

I'm actually in Minnesota this week (hooray for vacation!), and won't be making it up to Duluth, but I can't wait to check out some favorite restaurants, like The Bachelor Farmer (I wrote about it last summer here), Anchor Fish & Chips (best fish and chips I have EVER had), and hopefully a few more. But mostly, it's so lovely to hang out with my family, see some friends, and relax. Are you taking any trips this summer?_MG_4845


Maple-Balsamic Fig Crostini (serves 6 as an appetizer, 2-3 as a main course)

1 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

12 figs, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

Black pepper

1-2 oz gorgonzola or blue cheese

1/2 cup marcona almonds or walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place baguette slices on a large baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until lightly toasted and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Place figs in pan, cut side down and cook for 30 seconds. Pour maple syrup, vinegar, and wine over figs and cook until liquid is reduced slightly and becomes syrupy, about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper.

To serve: spoon 2-3 fig halves on a piece of bread, then sprinkle cheese and toasted nuts over. Serve immediately.