Breads, Breakfast, Sweet

Buckwheat Pumpkin Banana Bread

Buckwheat pumpkin banana bread

It’s really started feeling like fall this past week, so I’ve been doing all the cliché fall things. I bought two new flannels, wore my boots, and picked up a can of puréed pumpkin from the grocery. All things pumpkin/pumpkin spice peaked a 2 or 3 years ago, and now it’s like people have to make a self-depreciating comment before they can admit to liking anything pumpkin related. I will not do that! Pumpkin/pumpkin spice foods and drinks are delightful and fall would be a disappointment without them! I will enjoy my buckwheat pumpkin banana bread with a cup of pumpkin spice chai and will not label myself as #basic.

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Budget Friendly, Dinner, Healthy, Soups and Stews

Moving, Camping, and Gochujang Chili

The past 2 months have been all about planning, recycling, box hoarding, organizing, purging nonessential possessions, and packing. So much packing. And then it was driving, unpacking, assembling Ikea furniture, and trying to settle into a new apartment/job/city. Moving isn’t easy. A blog hiatus was necessary, but it’s been on my mind throughout the moving process. In February, long before job offers and moving plans, we decided to go camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes in mid-May. Since we had looked forward to the trip for a few months, we decided to still go after I accepted the job offer. Now we were planning for camping AND moving! I decided to use the camping menu to help clean out the fridge and pantry, since we couldn’t move a bunch of food to Seattle. Gochujang Chili was the tasty result of my efforts.

Gochujang Chili

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Budget Friendly, Dinner, Healthy

Pantry Staple: Linguine puttanesca

Linguine puttanescaI will admit this recipe sounds a little weird. Just have an open mind and you might (will!) be pleasantly surprised. I honestly cannot remember how I first learned about Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, but I discovered it near the end of undergrad. I suspect the initial recipe may have been in an issue of Bon Appetit. However, it’s one of those recipes that doesn’t really need a recipe, so I never returned to the source. Anyway! I think the history and translation of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca are more interesting than how I came up with my recipe for Linguine Puttanesca.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie: A not so boring pie

Strawberry rhubarb pie

I wasn’t planning to make a pie. I even have half of a post written for a soup to counter this last (hopefully) round of winter weather. That recipe is put on hold for this strawberry rhubarb pie. Strawberries and rhubarb were both on sale at the grocery store, so how could I not make a pie? While you can buy strawberries all year, rhubarb is almost synonymous with spring in my mind. We are still a few days out from the beginning of spring, but I’m ready to move on from winter!

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Breakfast, Sweet

Cocoa PB2 Chocolate Milk Waffles

Cocoa PB2 Chocolate Milk Waffles topped with raspberry syrup, banana slices, and dark chocolate chunks

Life has been a little chaotic lately! This week is almost over but only going to get busier. However, at the moment, there’s enough time to finally post an update. I’ve discovered the wide variety of homemade waffles, since becoming really active on my food Instagram. Every weekend there are SO many beautiful pictures of fun, and tasty looking waffles! It’s very inspiring and didn’t take long to convince myself to buy a waffle iron. I opted for a light stove top iron over an electric model. For whatever reason, I seem to have an aversion to electric, single-purpose kitchen gadgets. Two days later my waffle iron arrived just in time for the weekend! It took a little experimenting, but I finally made mine own Instagram worthy Cocoa PB2 Chocolate Milk Waffles.

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Budget Friendly, Healthy

The Lunch Dilemma: Black bean and cheese freezer burritos

In my pre-cohabiting life, lunches were pretty easy. Whatever I had for dinner, I would eat for lunch the next day.  Unless my dinner was salmon, I don’t want to be THAT person microwaving fish at work.  However, this approach had to change when I started cooking for two. A meal that was once two dinners and two lunches, was no longer going quite as far. As much as I enjoy cooking, I don’t want to make a new dinner every night. So, no more leftovers for lunch. Deli sandwiches were out ( pricey, too much meat), tuna salad was out (pricey, too much tuna), and PB&J was out (cheap but not healthy enough). As I’m struggling through how to feed myself at work, I’m buying Ben frozen burritos every week at $2 a piece. Then it finally occurred to me. I can make black bean and cheese freezer burritos!

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Breads, Sides

Black Olive Focaccia Bread

My aerogarden is currently blowing up with fresh herbs. I’m constantly trimming back my Thai and Genovese basils to make room for more plants. I even have little bowls full of water and herb cuttings spread across my counter in an attempt to keep the leaves fresh until I can use them. My plan for using some of the herbs was to make a big pot of tomato sauce with the Genovese basil for pasta and a cast iron skillet pizza.  However, I kind of messed up and used all of the sauce in the pasta dish, which left me with a bag full of pizza dough. Fortunately, store-bought pizza dough is versatile! It can be used in recipes like the Orange Glazed Pecan Cinnamon Rolls I made a few weeks ago or to make a loaf of savory Black Olive Focaccia Bread.

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Breakfast, Budget Friendly, Healthy

In Defense of Grains: Apple ginger baked oatmeal

It seems like since the Atkins Diet reached peak fad status in the early 2000s, grains have been getting a lot of hate. Atkins has fallen out of favor, but new diet trends like Whole30 preach very similar rules. I agree that most people could and should limit their intake of sugar and simple starches like potatoes, white bread, and pasta. However, I wholeheartedly disagree with the belief that whole grains like barley, oats, farro, and quinoa belong on a “Do NOT Eat” list. These grains offer many great health benefits and are very affordable. Healthy and budget-friendly foods definitely deserve more respect! If you are unconvinced, continue reading to learn more about why oats in particular are good to eat. If you are already a believer, skip to the end to find a whole grain loving recipe for Apple Ginger Baked Oatmeal.

apple ginger baked oatmeal

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Budget Friendly, Healthy, Soups and Stews

Sour and Spicy Chicken Tomatillo Soup

Chicken Tomatillo Soup

My first try at cooking with tomatillos was on a whim when experimenting with a salsa verde type of chili recipe. I really didn’t even know what a tomatillo was or what it tasted like. I only knew they were a key ingredient in green salsa. That chili recipe is still under construction, because I got completely distracted by my idea for a chicken tomatillo soup. It’s similar to what a lot of people call chicken tortilla soup, but I really wanted to highlight the tomatillos as a key ingredient.

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Healthy, Salads, Sides, Vegetables

A Salad for Two: Spring green salad with strawberries, pear, blue cheese, and walnuts

It’s always good to have a few hard to mess up, easy to make, and tasty recipes. Dishes that are pretty simple but taste kind of impressive and a little special. The types of recipes that can be confidently made for any special occasion. For me, that recipe is a spring green salad topped with strawberries, sliced pear, crumbled blue cheese, and toasted walnuts. Finished with a balsamic vinaigrette, this salad – in my opinion – is perfect. It looks pretty and the sweetness of the fruit balances out the blue cheese.  Without question, this salad is a first choice for a Valentine’s Day dinner menu.

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