Baked Tomato Risotto

I didn’t think I would enjoy making this as much as I did. When it comes to cooking, I’m really into the “under 30 minutes and less than 5 steps” category. Once you start adding in multiple processes and using scary words like “bechamel,” I begin slowly backing away. I mean, do you realize that multiple sauces and mixtures means more dishes to clean? Haven’t you people heard of one pot wonders? Why can’t every recipe read, “Add all ingredients to bowl. Stir. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.”*

*note to self – great idea for a cookbook

However, when I saw this dish on Giada’s show, it seemed too delicious to pass up. But I was shocked at how easy this was to prepare. And it included a lot of stirring, which if you’ve had a stressful week can be very relaxing, in a hippie, zen-like sort of way. Let’s break it down. Continue Reading →

Tomato and Parmesan Benedict

Seriously, this post was meant to go up like, a month ago. But no one told me it was September so I just totally missed it. I mean…it was August for a minute and then I wake up and suddenly it’s the middle of October. Ummm…is there someone I can blame for this? Shouldn’t a memo have gone out or something??

Thank goodness this recipe is just as good in October as it was in August. Roasting the tomatoes means that this will taste good year round since it develops the flavors of even the most bland grocery store tomato. And honestly, anything tastes good if it’s drowning in a cheese sauce, am I right?

I’ve been hesitant of making a benedict due to the fact that recipes with more than 3 steps often overwhelm me. However, this dish might seem complicated, but it looks much scarier than it actually is. Let’s do this, shall we?

First we’ll discuss the one step I don’t have a picture of since I just spaced out on the whole “photos/camera” thing: roasting the tomatoes. I would do this first since it takes the longest and the tomatoes can be set aside until you’re ready to use them.

Slice a tomato into 1/4 inch slices. Lay flat on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450˚F for about 25-30 minutes, or until they have cooked down and are beginning to caramelize. Set aside until you’re ready to use them.

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Vegetarian Gumbo

I really wish this gumbo was prettier.

If this dish was a person, it’d be the kind you would describe to someone as having “a really great personality” when you tried to convince them to take him/her on a date. Seriously, I get it. You’re looking at some darkened vegetables swimming in a murky tomato broth and thinking “there’s no way I’m going to make this, I wish she’d posted a recipe for cookies instead.”‘

The thing is, I’m not a big fan of vegetable soups myself. Whenever I inquire at a restaurant about their soup of the day, I’ll normally jump on it if it’s something like “corn chowder” or “broccoli cheese,” but tell me it’s “vegetable stew” and I typically go with a sandwich instead. I’ll admit, I can be a bit judgmental.

But this gumbo breaks the mold. First of all, it has okra in it, and okra always makes things better. Always. Second of all, it is absolutely DELICIOUS. All that stuff about it having an amazing personality? In this case, it’s 100% true. You NEED to give it a chance; just take it out for dinner one time. I promise you’re going to fall in love.

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Smoky White Bean Chowder

Writing a blog is so often an exercise in wrestling with one’s own limitations. There are some limitations that can be easily fixed – spell check was invented for a reason, after all. There are others that may take time but can certainly be adjusted – I can always read books on writing to sharpen my skills (Bird by Bird is an all-time favorite).

But then there are things like inspiration, which is something that seems unfixable when you no longer have it. When I’m inspired writing comes easily, but recently I’ve felt like I’m at the bottom of a very dry well, praying for rain. I’m longing for the days when I struggled to get to sleep because my mind was alive with ideas. I try to throw in some humorous barbs that came so naturally in some posts but have now taken on the distinct tone of pandering.

Most likely the best remedy is that I listen to my inner voice more than I usually do. This post was originally going to be about how I hate the cold weather and like to eat soups like this when it is dreary outside (all true facts). But it was taking on a tone that felt disengenuinely “cute” and a was a little too peppy. So I finally gave in to the fact that I just wasn’t full of wit or humor today, and hopefully you lovely readers who for some reason keep coming back will still enjoy my writing (and please keep coming back, it is something that will forever keep me in high spirits).

Here are my honest thoughts on this soup: it’s delicious. It has smoked paprika in it, for goodness’ sake. (If you’ve never had smoked paprika, you should know that it makes ANYTHING taste better. Fact.) It’s hearty and full of veggies so you don’t have to feel bad about having second or third helpings. It requires a bit of chopping, sauteing and stirring which can be a lovely mediative therapy after a long day. And it really is good to curl up with on the couch on a dreary day. Please give it a try – and thanks for reading :)

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Sun-dried Tomato, Mozzarella and Arugula Panini

Can I be honest for a second? I hate grilled vegetable sandwiches. Partly because it is the token vegetarian option on every lunch menu, and mostly because there is nothing appealing to me about a random mix of mushy grilled vegetables smothered in goat cheese. And there is always goat cheese. Apparently someone sent out a memo to the meat eating world that “All vegetable eaters love goat cheese. Please put it on everything or they’ll just cry from disappointment.” Which has only resulted in people like me rolling their eyes whenever they see it on the menu. I’m down with goat cheese, but stop spreading it on my sandwiches. I’d prefer if you mixed it into my grits. Please and thank you.

The other vegetarian standby, a Caprese sandwich, is one of my favorites but even that gets old after the millionth time, which is why I try to make things a little more interesting when I’m at home. This is a fun take on a Caprese, with peppery arugula substituted for the sweet basil and a sun-dried tomato walnut pesto filling in the place of a fresh tomatoes (this also makes it something you can make year round and it will still be delicious).

Grilled vegetable sandwiches = bad

Panini w/ cheese, sun-dried tomatoes & arugula = good


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Roasted Tomato Puttanesca

This is one of those recipes that I fantasize about. It is totally possible that when I first saw this in my Whole Living magazine that I drooled on the page. I will eat roasted tomatoes with almost anything, and since I’m Italian and legally obligated to love pasta this is pretty much heaven for me.

There are a few reasons why this recipe is so great:

1) You get to make a totally comfort food worthy sauce without having to stand over a hot stove stirring a pot. (I actually secretly love doing just that most days but sometimes I would rather watch SVU).

2) You can get great flavor out of any tomatoes you have, even after all of the flavorful summer ones have vanished and you’re left with those far less impressive winter offerings. Trust me, anything will taste good after it’s been roasted in the oven with olive oil and garlic. I would eat balsa wood if you cooked it like that. Well, not really. I mean, maybe. If you used enough garlic.

3) Did I tell you there were olives in this? And garlic? Does anyone really need another reason not to just shove their face in it?

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