Category Archives: Dinner

Secret Single Behavior and Brussels Sprout Quinoa Gratin

brussels sprout quinoa gratin 3

One of my favorite Sex and the City episodes discusses secret single behavior, which is something that both men and women can probably relate to. After Carrie moves in with Aidan she talks with her friends about the loss of her alone time, aka the loss of time for her secret single behaviors, such as standing in the kitchen reading fashion magazines while eating a tower of saltines with grape jelly.

I’m fortunate that my relationship has never involved much humility. We both realize how ridiculous the other one is, so nothing surprises us too much. At the same time, I do notice my behavior shift a bit when he’s out of town. Since we’re currently right smack dab in the middle of prime deer hunting season, the past few weeks have brought on a lot of secret single behavior opportunities.

brussels sprout quinoa gratin 2

Like when I dramatically belt out Taylor Swift songs at the top of my lungs while in the shower. Or when I sit in my underwear and watch cooking shows while eating stale toast. Or when I get out some Christmas trinkets for a few hours just to see how it feels (hint: it feels AMAZING).

These are all hypothetical examples. Totally.

quinoa brussels sprout mixture

A single behavior that’s NOT so secret? Pretty much every day when the boy’s away I eat a super weird experimental meal. Sure, we experiment when we cook together, but when he’s gone our kitchen transforms into a scientific laboratory where meat-lovers go to die. It’s all about things like tofu, quinoa, kasha, barley, and embracing the green and leafy.

More often than not these experiments highlight the only thing I have found that the boy will absolutely not eat. Brussels sprouts are known to polarize the general population, but our home is especially divided. I love them, LOVE them. They’re just so darn cute, with their little baby cabbage form, and then there’s that fun texture, and don’t even get me started on the endless options for preparation…what’s not to love!?

brussels sprout quinoa gratin breadcrumb sprinkling

On the other side of the brussels sprout spectrum stands the boy, who says they taste like dirt and sulfur. When we started dating I was all, “I’ll make brussels sprouts for you and I’ll change your mind, you just wait and see!” Welp, I made them for him, and he kindly ate one, but it did not go well. I’m happy we made it past that blip of a date.

Last weekend I decided to expand my brussels sprout horizon with a gratin of sorts. Since I wanted something substantial to have for my weekday lunches, I decided to add quinoa to the mix and bake it all together in a sort of mac and cheese brussels sprout gratin type thing. Ya dig?

brussels sprout quinoa gratin pan

The cheese sauce for this recipe is very similar to my Double Tomato Pepperjack Macaroni Bake. It’s a super easy sauce that starts with a roux and lends itself well to experimentation with different cheeses and spices, so play away.

brussels sprout quinoa gratin 6

The brussels sprouts are cooked just enough so they still have a bit of a bite to them. I love the textural combination of the sprouts mixed with the quinoa and smooth sauce. The parmesan and crispy bread crumbs on top are just extra credit, really.
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Vegetable Soup with Gouda Dumplings, aka “Dawson’s Dumps”

vegetable soup with cheese dumplings

This week’s theme is apparently television. After sucking dry every last bit of Revenge I could find last weekend, I just so happened to have a girl’s TV night with a couple of college friends this Monday. Not just any TV night either, but a Dawson’s Creek themed TV night (that might be the lamest sentence I’ve ever written). Dawson’s Creek held a lot of power over how I viewed the world in my late teens and early twenties. I blame it for [nearly] all of my overly-dramatic girl moments circa 2000-2008. Damn you, Joey Potter.

…but not really, cause I actually kind of love Joey Potter. And Pacey. Especially Pacey.

Early on in freshman year of college, a good friend and I discovered that we shared an equally embarrassing love of the teen drama; We knew every episode, we could quote the characters, and we even had Joey’s facial expressions nailed. Now, 8 years since we first bonded over our fascination, we finally have another friend who’s begun dabbling in Dawson’s life. When we got wind of our friend’s new Netflix go-to choice, we saw an opportunity for another [much needed] person to bond with over absurdly dramatic teen moments. For our Dawson’s Creek get-together, we decided to dive right into the heart of the drama when, at the end of season three, Joey and Pacey admit their feelings to each other (FINALLY OMG). This most-dysfunctional love triangle results with poor Dawson, that well-meaning boy with no lady luck whatsoever, getting dumped by his soul mate, and betrayed by his best friend.

With this theme in mind, we decided on a dinner of chunky vegetable soup topped with “Dawson’s Dumps.” Comforting and laden with puns, it seemed like the perfect meal to slurp up while watching Dawson’s heart get shattered into a million pieces…yet again.
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Crispy Red Lentil Garbanzo Burgers

chickpea red lentil burger open

In case you were wondering, I do realize that I’m a big pile of inconsistencies. I’ll eat peanut butter Nutella granola for breakfast nearly everyday, but justify it by mixing in ground flax and wheat germ. I’ll put brown butter in my pumpkin waffles, and top them with syrup, powdered sugar, and sometimes a bit of brown sugar as well, but convince myself that they make a balanced meal because they’re whole wheat. The funny thing is that when I’m not obsessing over sweets, I’m usually eating brussels sprouts and quinoa, or an absurdly huge salad with avocado and hummus (well, and a pretzel roll on the side). The way I see it, making healthy choices most of the time leaves room for naughtier choices other times (/for dessert every night). Logical, right?

Which brings me to these vibrant burger patties. This past Sunday, after returning from our two-year anniversary trip that included lots of delicious things, such as raspberry cream cheese turnovers and dark hot chocolate with pumpkin cream liquor, my body was yearning for some nutrients. Fortunately, a bag of split red lentils had been sitting in our pantry for a few months and were just begging to be used. When you cook red lentils, their texture leaves something to be desired, but their flavor remains awesome. So, I figured why not take that flavor, puree it with some chickpeas, coat it in panko, and make a sort of crispy falafel doppelgänger, if you will? Or a falafel relative of some sort? You know what I’m saying…whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty awesome. Especially if you put it on a pretzel roll (seriously, I have a problem).
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Spicy Tortilla Soup and Cheddar Biscuits

Tortilla Soup Cheddar Biscuits

Since the boy and I were having a full-out Fall weekend at “Deer Camp” last week, I felt the compulsive foodie need to make things that were cabin and cold-weather appropriate. The first morning started off with pumpkin brown butter waffles, but for dinner my mind went directly to soup and bread.

Soup, because it warms me from the inside out and makes me feel cozy. Bread because, well, I’m pretty obsessed with bread in all forms: sliced bread, flatbread, bagels pizza dough, naan, english muffins…you name a bread, and I probably love it. Especially biscuits, which hold a special place in my heart. Buttery, flaky, sky-high biscuits. I went through a phase in high school where I would eat a biscuit every single morning. I’d eat it alongside my cereal, of course, because carbs power you through the day (this is my logic and I’m sticking to it).

For this Deer Camp soul-food occasion, I decided that the soup would be a spicy tortilla variety with black beans and crispy fried tortilla strips. And as you may have guessed, the bread wouldn’t be your average sliced bread (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but buttery biscuits filled with shredded sharp cheddar and black pepper. Both of these things are perfect on their own, but together? They’re a Fall soul-food force to be reckoned with.

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Double Tomato Pepperjack Macaroni Bake

pepperjack tomato macaroni bake finished

Macaroni. Where do I start? It’s one of my favorite things, and it’s also one of the first things the boy and I made together nearly two years ago (d’awwww). We’re not talking blue box Kraft macaroni here, people. No, this is legit: start with a béchamel, fold in some fancy cheeses, top with bread crumbs and bake it so it gets all brown, crispy, bubbly, and ridiculous.

When I went to my garden last week, handfuls of tomatoes, both big and small, were ready to be picked. After having my fill of tomato salads, I decided these tomatoes deserved something special. Special and cheesy.

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Whole Wheat Corn and Zucchini Galette

whole wheat zucchini corn galette finished 3

Aaaaand this is me being a hypocrite. Last week I boldly stated that the BEST thing you could do during zucchini season is make chocolate zucchini cake. I’m not taking that back, heavens no, but I’m just admitting that there are a couple great things you can do.

Since one can/should only eat so much zucchini cake in a span of 2 weeks, I wanted to make a main entrée with my overflow of zucchini. A recipe I’d been eyeing from Smitten Kitchen came to mind…a buttery galette recipe with zucchini and cheese.

Did I mention there’s butter? Butter and marscapone and parmesan and goat cheese and grilled corn. And, as a sort of joke, I decided to adapt the crust to be a whole wheat pastry. Now I’m not only a hypocrite but I’m also an oxymoron…whole wheat pastry dough?…with a stick of butter folded in?…and topped with three kinds of cheese? That’s just dumb.

Dumb and brilliant.

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Economical Copycat Veggie Wrap

vegan veggie wrap sundried tomato aioli

So folks, it’s official. After over a month of slowly moving items from point Veggie to point Beast, I now am living in a new neighborhood with a new roommate. I can’t complain about the company, but the location is taking some getting used to. It’s not that I dislike my new neighborhood. It’s just too…tempting.

For instance, I have not one, but TWO malls within walking distance. It seems that every corner holds an enticing boutique, and of course a Target sits just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Then there are the restaurants. Oh me, oh my, the restaurants.

This one particular restaurant haunts me. It creeps up on me when I’m hungry, reminding me that an awesome wrap is just a short walk away. A delicious wrap that’s full of veggies, brown rice, and a tangy vegan sun-dried tomato aioli that I could drink with a straw (gross…too far?). In short, it’s amazing. Amazing, expensive, and available for takeout. It’s a triple threat.

In an attempt to sidestep the multi-week veggie wrap purchases that would inevitably ensue, I decided to try my hand at wrap construction. With all the temptations surrounding me, I figured my bank account would thank me for trying to cure my wrap cravings at home.

My bank account may need to have a talk with me about the clothes cravings, and the nearby cures, but that’s an issue for another day.
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