Caprese Penne

Caprese Penne

Remember when I mentioned how crazy hot it’s been in LA? Our sauna, I mean apartment, was too hot to handle the other night so I decided break out the blender and make an ice cold smoothie. 1 banana + 2 small apples + big handful of spinach + 1 tbsp chia seeds + almond milk +ice made 2 servings of such a healthy and refreshing drink. Ever since I’ve been on such a smoothie kick, so I just bought frozen raspberries and strawberries at Trader Joe’s. Yum!

OK, now that I’ve talked about something healthy I can tell you about this delicious pasta recipe. It’s actually not all that bad for you. You get whole grains from the whole wheat penne and lycopene (super healthy antioxidant) from the tomatoes. But then you pile on some mozzarella and everything is righting the world. I had never finished a pasta recipe with time in the oven but it was definitely worth the extra 25 mins for cheesy goodness.

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Healthy Beefy Chili

Healthy Beefy Chili

Why is it 90 degrees on October 12th? It feels odd to be writing about a chili recipe during this insane heat wave but I assume the majority of the country has actually moved onto Fall. That must be nice…

We first made this recipe when Matt was on the South Beach Diet and we’ve made it several times since. I decided to make it more hearty this time around by adding in lean ground beef. Good decision. Plus, I got to use our new Le Creuset pot courtesy of Matt’s mom. Thanks Kemper!

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Chinese Takeout From Scratch – Honey Sesame Chicken

Chinese Takeout From Scratch – Honey Sesame Chicken

Yum. That’s really the only word I can use to describe this recipe. I love Chinese food but the closest I’ve come to making it at home is a stir fry with veggies and tofu. This Honey Sesame Chicken recipe is simple yet insanely flavorful and much healthier than what you’d get a restaurant. I had to buy cornstarch for the first time to make this dish. I’m still not exactly sure what it is, but I can tell you the cornstarch + egg coating gave the chicken an amazing consistency. This is going into our dinner rotation and I have a feeling you’ll be a repeat customer as well.

I was REALLY hungry when I made this so I did not have the patience for step-by-step photos.

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Tamale Bake

Tamale Bake

The fruit flies are back. As much as I love a good rainy day in LA, I’m very annoyed at our latest “storm” because it caused our pesky kitchen visitors to return. Go away! I hate you fruit flies; you make cooking not as fun. I’m hoping they just go away on their own like last time but if not I guess we’ll have to create another trap – which consists of red wine in a shallow dish covered by saran wrap with tiny holes in it. Enough about bugs because they are gross…

Onto my 2 new favorite cooking obsessions – polenta and casseroles! Casseroles are so easy to throw together after work and they leave you with a massive amount of food, perfect for lunch the following day. Polenta is straight up delicious and can be integrated into a ton of recipes. Plus it’s healthy! I found this recipe on another Trader Joe’s cooking website and I’m VERY glad that I did. I made a half batch since the recipes yields 10 servings. Next time I’ll make the full batch and bring it for lunch several days in a row (yes, it’s that good).

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Oreo Peanut Butter Brownie Muffins

Oreo Peanut Butter Brownie Muffins

The fact that this recipe only requires THREE ingredients leaves you with no excuse not to make this immediately. Unless you are allergic to peanut butter, or even even worse, dislike chocolate. I’m not sure if we can really be friends if you don’t like chocolate so you should probably just stop reading this now. Thanks to Trader Joe’s Ready to Bake Brownie Mix this took barely any time to prep. Next time I might try making a healthier brownie batter from scratch to lighten the recipe up but it’s hard to pass up the shortcut. The only part that really takes “work” is spreading delicious peanut butter on top of delicious Oreos. Need I say more?

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Zucchini Polenta Bake

Zucchini Polenta Bake

I cooked polenta for the first time this week and I will definitely be doing this again soon. I had no idea how easy (and healthy) it is to prepare. I’ve been super excited to use my new Le Creuset casserole dish so this Zucchini Polenta Bake seemed like the perfect dish. The idea came from a Trader Joe’s fan website full of recipes using ingredients readily available at TJ’s. Thanks to Melissa for passing it my way!

Some really good things about this recipe…

1. It is very easy to throw together
2. It yields about 6 servings (perfect for lunch the next day)
3. You kinda feel like you’re eating lasagna without all the calories that come with it

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Apple Pie Cake

Apple Pie Cake

I’m starting to feel like Amy Adams’ character in Julie & Julia, except instead of tackling “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” I’m making my way through SmittenKitchen.com. I really can’t help it. It was the first food blog I started reading! And Deb’s recipes are unreal. *Real-time update: Matt just made fun of me for how fast I type.

I’ve been really excited to make this Apple Cake. It’s delicious and just so…pretty! I couldn’t help but go crazy on the pics; it photographed beautifully. I highly recommend eating the cake warm and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

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Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I’ve been a really bad blogger. It’s been almost a week since I posted something! I assure you I’ll get back into the swing of things. Part of the problem is TWO, yes two, recipes that were complete fails.

First was a tomato, corn, avocado and crab salad that I was really excited to make, especially since it looked so easy to throw together. How could I possibly mess this up? Well, I now know to be careful buying crab meat because a can of FANCY crab meat is very, very different than LUMP crab meat. Yeah, it was disgusting.

Second mishap was with these oatmeal apple cake cookies. They didn’t spread in the oven at all. I googled why this may have happened. 1. Oven isn’t hot enough. 2. Dough is too cold. It’s way overdue but I finally bought an oven thermometer this weekend so hopefully that will solve any temperature discrepancies. The recipe specifically said to refrigerate the dough for an hour so I don’t see why being cold would be a problem.

Anyways, I finally have something to share and it’s one of my all-time favorites! Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Don’t be scared by the mention of sour cream. I hate sour cream. You can’t taste it in the final product and it makes the cake super moist.

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Choco-Coconut Macaroons

Choco-Coconut Macaroons

Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and eggs. Mary-Kate and Ashley. Chocolate and coconut.

I may be a big fan of chocolate and peanut butter, but I’m not sure if anything tops my love for chocolate + coconut together. Whenever I get frozen yogurt I always end up with some sort of choco-coco combination. German chocolate cake, bring it on.

Not surprisingly I get really excited around Passover when people start to whip out the chocolate macaroons. Recently a coworker (thanks Elissa) brought some into the office from the market and I found myself saying “OK, this is my last one” way too many times. They are bite sized – it’s so easy! I had no idea that this love for macaroons was a controversial one. I posted about my obsession on Facebook to a mixed response. Half my friends said things like “ew, gross” and “those are foul” while the rest defended my beloved treat.

I came across a recipe for these magical cookies and added them to my Instapaper (seriously, best tool ever) right away since they looked pretty easy. Turns out they ARE easy to make if you have a little bit of time. They came out pretty amazing so I suggest you get on this if you are a fan!

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Painting Our Apartment

Painting Our Apartment

This post may be non-food related; however, it is related to one of my favorite things…home design! I dream of the day that we have a house I can decorate, but for now our 1500 square feet will have to do (hey, I’m not complaining. I love our apartment). We fell in love with this place the moment we saw it and decided to put a deposit down right then and there. I can’t believe it’s been over two years! After about a year of nagging Matt that I wanted to paint, we took the (three) trips to Home Depot and stocked up on Glidden for a 3-day weekend paint-a-thon. The result is a bright and cheery environment that I can’t get enough of.

I was ecstatic when a photo of my orange bathroom door was featured on CasaSugar. Next goal is getting a food photo up on TasteSpotting!

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