Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Peppers

I've been on a bit of a red pepper kick lately. Maybe it's because their beautiful, vibrant color drags me out of the depths of winter? I'm not sure. But whatever the reason is, red peppers are so great for you - a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Not to mention that they're easy on the eyes! 

For a moment today, I reflected on how nature really tells us what to eat. It's hard not to be drawn to beautiful reds, blues, yellows, and oranges (considerably harder when cookies are in the background, but we have to try!) One of the things I've enjoyed most since I've been cooking more is cooking with simple, beautiful ingredients. I'm in no way an advocate for expensive, exotic ingredients and overly complex, ostentatious recipes. I believe that the simple things in life are truly the best (health, meaningful work, good food, friends, family, and plenty of love). Really, what more could you need? As a doctor, you are quickly reminded each day that you are so lucky simply to be walking and breathing. 

With that said, I decided to have a go at stuffed red peppers. The stuffing is quinoa, onions, pineapple, and sausage. This recipe is very easy to put together - essentially 5 ingredients in total. Mix everything up, stuff the peppers, and bake for 30 minutes. When this comes out of the oven, the sausage will be perfectly browned and the top layer of quinoa slightly crispy - it's absolutely wonderful to dig into! 

Here we go: 

Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Peppers
makes 4 stuffed pepper halves


2 large bell peppers, halved and seeded

1 small white onion, chopped

1 tbsp minced garlic

3 links Italian sausage, medium sized

1/2 cup diced pineapple 

2 cups quinoa, cooked ahead of time

1 tsp olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat a large saucepan to medium heat; add 1 tsp olive oil

2. Add sausage links and brown. Turn heat down slightly and cook sausages until nearly cooked through (approximately 5 minutes)

3. Remove sausage from pan and cut into bite sized pieces

4. Add garlic to the saucepan (be careful not to burn the garlic - make sure your heat isn't too high). Cook until fragrant. Add quinoa, onion, pineapple, and sausage

5. Mix to combine and cook for a few minutes to heat through. While waiting, halve and seed  2 large red bell peppers

6. Place red bell peppers on a baking sheet. Divide filling evenly among the peppers

7. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until sausage and quinoa are toasty and browned

8. Enjoy! 

Thanks for reading. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Green Spinach Smoothie

I finally did it - I made a green smoothie. I've been avoiding these for so long, mostly because it was inconceivable to me how strong, green winter vegetables like kale could possibly blend well with fruit. When I think of kale, I often of other members of the cruciferous family like brussels sprouts, which can often have a slightly bitter taste and a sulfurous (gag) odor if cooked too long. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli - their slightly bitter taste is due to an abundance of sulfur containing compounds called glucosinates, which have anti-carcinogenic properties.  I think cruciferous vegetables are delicious -- just on their own as a side dish or as a salad (I had the most delightful kale salad with toasted breadcrumbs, hazelnuts, cherries, and breaded chicken at one of my favorite restaurants downtown). 

So, when I came across a green smoothie that used spinach, I gave myself the go-ahead to see what the green smoothie craze was all about. Spinach is decidedly the boring cousin of its cruciferous counterparts - it just has a much milder personality and plays well with other foods. I was delighted by this smoothie, which was creamy, mildly sweet, fruity, and not spinach-y at all. The addition of oats gives this smoothie a little more heft and staying power in your stomach, and as an added bonus, makes you feel like you are actually eating something instead of drinking juice. This recipes makes 4 small servings; if you're having this smoothie as a meal, it makes two servings (I happily guzzled half of mine immediately after I made it!)

Okay, let's do this...

Green Spinach Smoothie

(from the FoodNetwork)


2 cups soy milk (or any milk of your choosing!)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen peaches, mangos, or a combination

1 cup ice cubes

1 cup baby spinach, loosely packed

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 bananas


Add all of the above ingredients to your blender.

Blend until smooth.



I hope you'll enjoy this as much as I did! If you have any favorite green smoothie recipes that you swear by, please share! I'd love to try them -- even if they include kale. Hey, I'll try anything at least once! ;)

Thanks for reading!


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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Apple & Garbanzo Cake

 Apple & garbanzo cake. Did you just wrinkle your nose? If you did, you're not alone - I definitely did when I came across this interesting entity. Yet, I was simultaneously intrigued. This is definitely not your every day cake. After all, who thinks "You know what would be great in this cake? Beans." 

I maintained a high degree of skepticism while I was making this, quite convinced that something was going to taste "off" in the finished product. I was (happily) completely wrong. Different? Yes. But it was so delicious! It's a little bit difficult to describe the texture of this cake. It's very soft and tender, but in no way fluffy like a traditional cake. It's meltingly soft, apple-y, and cinnamon-y, and you cannot detect the chickpeas (tested on my husband - he had no clue and loved the texture!). 

This is a wonderful, healthy recipe, especially for those who are avoiding gluten. Although I love baking with whole wheat flour, sometimes it's nice to give the grains a rest and try something different instead! This is healthy enough to eat for breakfast. Clocking in at approximately 90 calories per piece (this recipe makes 12 pieces), you won't break the calorie bank either. You'll definitely want to give this a try - it's absolutely delicious and a perfect guilt-free dessert or breakfast (pictured here with a dollop of greek yogurt)! 

Apple & Garbanzo Cake

adapted from ibreatheimhungry


One 16 oz can of no-salt-added chickpeas

4 eggs, beaten

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

2 small granny smith apples (or 1 medium apple), finely grated


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Drain and rinse chickpeas; pat dry

2. Process chickpeas in food processor until they become a paste (see photo below)

3. Finely grate your apples. They will be very watery; this is fine! (see photo below)

4. Combine chickpeas and apples in a mixing bowl

4. Beat 4 eggs, add to bowl and stir

5. Add salt, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, and lemon zest

6. Mix until thoroughly combined

7. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Add batter to pan

8. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean 

9. Allow cake to cool completely. Cut into 12 squares and enjoy! 

 You'll see a beautiful, shiny top to your cake when it's done. So pretty! 

Of note,  I will likely reduce the sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup next time. I prefer to avoid over-sweetness, and 1/2 cup sugar is pushing it. Of course, this depends on your preference, but I'll cut it back to 1/4 in the future; the apples pack a lot of sweetness on their own! 

 Have you tried baking with any unusual ingredients? I'd love to experiment more...

Thanks for reading! 


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Monday, February 10, 2014

Baked Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes

Oh my. These were the perfect weekend treat. As much as I love donuts (who doesn't?), I've always been terrified to re-create them at home (hot oil? thermometer? No thanks). Not to mention they're not exactly the healthiest treats to indulge in. If you ever take a moment to look at the ingredients used by the East coast donut behemoth (Dunkin Donuts), you'll see all sorts of completely unpronounceable ingredients and partially hydrogenated fats. 

Just an interesting side note on partially hydrogenated fats: they're created from vegetable oils by addition of hydrogen atoms. The addition of hydrogen changes the chemical makeup of the fat so they're solid at room temperature, easier to incorporate into doughs, and have a longer shelf life. These modified forms of fats are also cheaper than animal sourced fat, such as butter. All of this adds up to more $$$ for big food companies (capitalism at its best....not). But what does it add up to for you? Not much, I'm afraid, except for cheaper, worse-for-you food. The worst part about partially hydrogenated fats is that they spawn trans-fats (from a side-reaction during the hydrogenation process). Trans fats have been definitively linked to worsening cholesterol profiles and increased inflammation in your body, put you at risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease. 

Think you're ok because the food label says 0 grams of trans-fats? Think again - the FDA allows foods that contain less than 0.5 g of trans-fats to be labeled 0 grams (see the guidelines here). So, if you eat a few donuts that are labeled 0 g trans-fats per serving, and you could easily be taking in 1.5 grams without even knowing it. The more I think about all the trickery that goes on with food, the more I never want to eat processed foods again! 

But you know what? Life is short, so have a fried donut every once in awhile - just not every day. For all the other days, these donut holes are a delicious, wholesome treat. With no-fuss ingredients (that you likely have in your kitchen at this very moment), these baked chocolate donuts holes are assembled and baked in 15-20 minutes or so. Not only is it healthier to bake at home, it's more cost-effective. It's seriously this easy - let's get started.

Baked Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes


For the donut holes:

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg

1/2 cup whole milk (you could use 1% or 2% as well - I've just been enjoying whole milk recently - read more about it on my previous post)

1/8 cup greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%, again, you could probably use a lower-fat version)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tsp unsalted butter, melted

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar

1/8 cup whole milk (you can use cream for an even thicker glaze; do not go for lower fat milk here, or your glaze may be too runny)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Mix the dry ingredients (the first 7 ingredients) in large bowl. Sift cocoa powder and flour to eliminate clumps. Set aside

3. In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients (the last 5 ingredients)

4. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

5. Mix until just combined - do not overmix! 

6. Grease a mini muffin pan. Spoon batter into each tin so it is approximately 3/4 full

7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

8. While donuts are baking, prepare the glaze. Thoroughly mix confectioners sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a bowl

9. Once donuts have finished baking, remove them from the muffin pan and cool slightly

10. Dunk each donut hole in glaze and place on a baking rack or dish to try. If you like extra glaze, simply make more and re-glaze each donut hole for additional sweetness! 

I hope you enjoy these! Let me know how they turn out for you! 


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Friday, February 7, 2014

Greek Yogurt Cranberry & Pecan Chicken Salad

 Alright - we've made it to Friday! I finally tackled the chicken breast in my fridge. I was at the point where I ask myself: if I haven't used it yet, should I just freeze it? No easy outs for me today though - I jumped into action. Hands down, this is one of the easiest, quickest recipes I've ever made. It's completely assembled and ready to eat in 15-20 minutes. Using a pound of chicken, you'll likely have leftovers for lunch - an added plus!

I've been thinking about greek yogurt chicken salad for awhile, ever since I made greek yogurt egg salad (see here), but there are so many delicious things to create that I got sidetracked! Let me tell you, I'm so happy I made this. It's delicious, and absolutely packed with protein - you won't be hungry for a long time after. And for my husband (who has an aversion to cold food during meals), this chicken salad tastes great heated up on toasted bread as well. You can eat it sandwich style, or if you're avoiding carbohydrates, add it to a big salad for a big protein boost.

All you need is 4 ingredients: chicken breast, dried cranberries, pecans, and greek yogurt. Could it get any easier? Let's get down to business.

Greek Yogurt Cranberry & Pecan Chicken Salad

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pound chicken breast

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cups pecans, roughly chopped

1 six oz. container of greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Add olive oil to a a medium to large skillet; heat oil over low-medium heat

2. Add chicken breast and cook until chicken is tender but cooked through

3. Remove chicken and place on a separate plate

4. Shred chicken. Add cranberries, pecans, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined

5. Chill in the refrigerator, or enjoy immediately - it's up to you! 

I hope you'll enjoy this chicken salad recipe. It's so easy and really good for you. It doesn't get much better than this!


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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tortilla Española

Okay - it's almost Friday! There are so many things I'd love to try in the kitchen this weekend...I wish I had more than two days! Tonight, I wanted to whip up something easy and healthy. It's not quite as easy as just scrambling a couple of eggs (breakfast for dinner, anyone?), but the extra effort is worth it. I really believe cooking is a true form of relaxation and meditation - I completely agree with Dana Velden's piece here. I'm often tempted to grab the first thing I see after coming home from the hospital (residency can put you on autopilot like that). I'm not denying that healthy, quick options exist, but I often find that the benefits of cooking extend far beyond just the food. For example, tonight, it allowed me to connect with my husband (who has been incredibly busy lately) in the coziness of our warm kitchen. While I chopped and sautéed, we chatted - and something as simple as that can make the night wonderful.

Ok, let's get down to business. Not only is this is an incredibly simple recipe to make, it is infinitely flexible. A tortilla española, otherwise known as a Spanish omelette, is frequently served hot or cold as a tapas dish. These delicious omelettes are traditionally made with potatoes, onion, and egg and cooked in a rich olive oil. As you'll soon see,  however, you can add pretty much whatever you like to tailor it to your tastes - I went with sliced red peppers and some sautéed mushrooms. If you want meat, chorizo could be wonderful too, but the limit is really your imagination! 

If there's one thing I love about recipes, it's healthiness and simplicity. It doesn't get much better than this: eggs & veggies - a winning combination of protein + fiber & nutrient-packed veggies! Pair this with a small side salad, or even better, convert your leftovers into a hearty sandwich (I can picture this between slices of a chewy whole grain baguette...mmm). If you find that you just can't stop adding things, simply increase the number of beaten eggs so that the tortilla is rounded out (no lumps and bumps please!)

As a forewarning, the only challenging part of cooking this omelet is inverting it. Once you have added the egg to the other cooked ingredients, you'll want to let it cook through until the egg at the surface is almost set. At this point, you'll want to slide the omelette out of the pan (onto a separate plate), invert it, and return it to the pan so it can finish cooking. We had a little accident here - let's just say that this omelette needed a little reconstructive surgery - but it was nevertheless delicious. 

 Tortilla Española

preparation time: approximately 30 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 onion (white preferred, yellow will work too), chopped

3 red potatoes, sliced thin (approximately 1/4 inch)

2 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

1 medium red bell pepper, sliced (optional)

1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms (optional)


1. Heat 12 inch skillet over low-medium heat. Add olive oil. Once hot, add garlic and cook until fragrant

2. Add chopped onion and sliced potatoes to the skillet. Add 2 tsp paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for approximately 20 minutes until potatoes are soft and onion is translucent

3. Add bell pepper to skillet; cook until slightly tender, but still crisp

4. Increase heat to medium; add beaten eggs to the mixture. Let eggs cook until almost completely set (keep an eye on the omelette here; if you're not careful and your heat is set too high, you'll risk burning it)

5. Transfer omelette to separate plate. Invert and return to pan. Cook until egg is set all the way through

If you try this out, I'd love to hear what chose to incorporate! Relish in the fact that you've taken the time to try something new and created something healthy, delicious, and nourishing! 


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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Game On

Superbowl Sunday - football? For me, not so much (all I hear is a melange of grunting, excited man chatter, and the roar of the crowd). But I'll take this an excuse to try something new and delicious - in this case, Melissa Clark's Short Rib Chili Nachos from the NYTimes. All I can say is wow. I'll be honest, these take a bit of work, but the result is so worth it. Meltingly tender, fall-off-the-bone meat mixed with melty cheese and creamy guacamole? Heaven. The game is just a plus ;) 

Slow-cooking large cuts of beef is relatively new to me, but this was really quite easy. You start with about 4 pounds of bone-in short rib (bone-in is key; as the meat cooks slowly, the marrow fat breaks down, releasing lots of flavor). In a nutshell, you'll brown the short ribs evenly, make the sauce, combine, and cook for 1.5 hours in the oven. After that, it's pretty  much just assembly and a quick heating under the broiler. The addition of lime and cilantro really brighten these nachos up and is a wonderful complement to the beef ribs. With just the two of us, we have a ton of leftovers, and the husband was a big fan - double points! Since I followed the recipe exactly, please see the original NYTimes piece for the recipe.

These are obviously a great game-day recipe, but they'd be wonderful to make on a slow weekend  afternoon. Give these a try - you'll love them! What are you munching on during the game?

 Thanks for reading and enjoy the game!


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