Tag Archives: Tomato

New parent vegetable lasagna and my favorite app


I love cooking meals for friends that have just had a baby because it means 1) I get to cuddle a newborn, and 2) hopefully bring a little sanity to some under-slept pals. However, you can’t just bring anything – there are a few qualifications that these meals must pass:

  • Little to no work for the new parents to prepare
  • Chock full of veggies to keep new parents going strong
  • Makes enough servings to have a few days of leftovers
  • Delicious
  • Pairs well with the glass of wine that mom desperately deserves

This lasagna fits the bill – I’ve made it several times now.  After a couple requests for the recipe, I decided to post it.

New Parent Veggie Lasagna, adapted from KathEats

-1 package lasagna noodles
-25 oz jar of pasta sauce (I like any kind from Trader Joe’s)
-1 small jar of pesto
-1 bag baby spinach
-2 to 3 zucchini
-4 roma tomatoes
-2 to 3 medium carrots
-5 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
-8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
-16 oz. low fat cottage cheese


Let’s do this:

Slice your zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots thinly. I like to use my mandolin for this task.

Prepare all your ingredients and get ready to layer!

I go in the following order: noodles, sauce, pesto, veggies, cheeses, spinach. Then start over with a new layer of noodles, so you have 3 layers by the end. Top the last layer of spinach with a little extra cheese.




Cover with tin foil. I tucked in some italian bread, red wine, and two pieces of this cake that I happened to have made the day before for a birthday.

Plus a note with baking instructions (400 degrees covered for an hour).



As a final note, NONE of my recipes would be possible without the new app I have been using – ziplist! I was looking for a way to quickly add ingredients from recipes I found on the internet (mostly pinned on pinterest) to a running grocery list. Here’s how ziplist works for me:
(Note: This post is in no way sponsored by Ziplist – I can assure you they have no idea who I am. I just like it!)

1. Go to ziplist and create an account.

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2. Drag the ziplist toolbar icon onto your bookmark bar.

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3. Find any recipe you like on the internet and click your new bookmark bar.

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4. The ingredients get added to your “recipe box”.

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5. Click “add to list” and choose the ingredients you want added to your grocery list.

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6. Download the app from your app store. Take your app to the store and shop!



Do you guys use an app for grocery lists? I’d love to know!!

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Comfort food salad: Pasta, tomato, corn, and avocado salad with vegan creamy garlic dressing


Some signs you are not woman enough for the TV series you are currently watching:

  1. Counting down episodes in the same manner one counts down miles in a marathon (“16 down, 10 more to go – you can do this!”)
  2. “Ok, let’s get this over with”, said with a hearty neck roll and shoulder shrug, translates to: time to watch the next episode.
  3. Pausing the show regularly to take deep breaths with your head in your hands, and let your heart rate fall out of the heart-attack zone.
  4. Monitoring the time elapsed on the DVD player and breathing a sigh of relief when you realize there are only a few minutes left. What could possibly happen in 5 minutes?
  5. Any neighbor looking in your windows would assume you actually had a good reason to celebrate given the number of high fives exchanged in celebration of reaching the end of an episode without a brain aneurysm.

In case you are wondering, it’s Breaking Bad. And I have a problem in which I internalize the plight of characters.

***Speaking of getting out of your comfort zone, I need to give a huge shout out to my friend and hero Maureen, who recently quit her day job to pursue her passion full-time. Maureen is an amazing Pilates instructor and wellness coach, which all of Chicago now knows since she was on NBC 5 news!!! Check out her segment, and hit a girl up if you are looking to make a change to your health and wellness. Trust me, peeps: girl knows her fitness, and she’s not the kind of person who is going to send you off with a prescription for protein powder and egg whites at every meal. She’s all about holistic health and wellness. Plus, I just love Maureen more than margaritas.****

We’re talking a lot about comfort here, so let me introduce my comfort food salad. Kind of an oxymoron, I know, but I’ll explain. When I worked overseas, on my first day of work a coworker took me to a salad shop where I learned my first Swedish word: pastasallad. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a green salad with pasta on it. Naturally, I ordered this for lunch for the next 4 weeks since it was one of 3 words I knew. Picture me strolling the city streets exclaiming “Hej” (hi), “Tak!” (thank you), and “pastasallad!”. I was popular.

Comfort food salad: Pasta, corn, & tomato salad with vegan creamy garlic dressing, serves 2
-1 head romaine
-1 cup dry pasta (I used shells, but any kind will work)
-1 ear corn
-1 cucumber
-1/2 avocado
-1 cup cherry tomatoes

Let’s do this:

Start by making your pasta according to the package directions. Once it’s done, let it cool down a bit.


While pasta is cooking, cut up your other salad toppings. I stand my raw corn on one of the long ends in a bowl and use a knife to remove the kernels (you can also cook the corn if you prefer, but I like the crunch of raw). Cut up your tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and cut the romaine into bite-size pieces.

When pasta is cooled, add the romaine, then pasta, and remaining ingredients. Top with your favorite dressing – I like a creamy garlic (4th Swedish word learned: vitlok) with this salad.



Vegan Creamy Garlic Dressing, Adapted from the Chicago Diner recipe found here, makes about 1 1/2 cups
-4 garlic cloves
-1 t olive oil
-salt & pepper to taste
-2 t lemon juice
-1 cup dairy-free milk (I used flax milk, but any unsweetened milk, like soy or almond, will work)
-2/3 cup Vegenaise (any mayo will work, but may not be vegan, if you care)
-2 T fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover your garlic cloves in a 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until cloves are golden brown.

Combine the milk and lemon juice and stir. Let sit for about 2 minutes. Milk will get a little lumpy, but that is ok – this makes a vegan “buttermilk”. If you prefer, substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the lemon/milk combination.

When the garlic is done, transfer the milk/lemon juice mixture and the garlic into a blender and process until garlic is smooth. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the Vegenaise, parsley, and more salt & pepper to taste.

Off to bite the last of my nails off – finishing season 4 of Breaking Bad!!!

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Late summer lunch: Avocado and Tomato Toast


I know, I know, this hardly qualifies as a recipe. But there’s no shame at DR; everything here is bit of a stretch. So think of this as more of a PSA: avocados and tomatoes are amazing right now. Go make this sandwich. Even if you don’t really feel like it right now, do it for all the times you pick up a tomato in November and get disappointed. And the rest of the year, for that matter.

Avocado and Tomato Toast, serves 1

1 tomato
1/2 avocado
1 english muffin or 2 pieces of bread (Current obsession: these english muffins. So chewy and amazing!)
salt & pepper


Toast your english muffin.

Smash a quarter of your avocado onto each side of your english muffin.

Sprinkle salt and pepper.

Top with a tomato.


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Wilted kale, avocado, tomato, and cashew late summer salad


Yesterday I picked up a copy of The Onion and almost shot coffee out of my nose when I saw this article:

Ruby eats every meal like she’s a close second in a pie-eating contest. A re-occurring joke in our house involves Ruby sitting in a circle at a Weight Watchers meeting, admitting “I was eating food so fast, I couldn’t even taste it!”

The look she’s giving me right now says she’d like to tell all of you how she’s seen me eat food.

On another note, the Air and Water show scared the sh*t out of Ruby on Friday. Like, literally. Not fun.

Enough crazy dog lady stuff.  Speaking of stuffing faces, I can’t stop making the Vegan Creamy Cilantro dressing I posted a few weeks ago. This is the latest salad pairing for my new fave dressing.

Wilted kale, avocado, tomato, and cashew late summer salad, serves 2
-about 6 cups mixed baby kales (baby kales are key – this just won’t be the same with regular kale – too tough)
-1 cup cherry tomatoes
-1/2 avocado
-1/4 cup raw cashews
-2 T hemp seeds (any seeds will work – sunflower would also be good)
-Dressing of choice (I made Vegan Creamy Cilantro)


Start with your baby kales. I got mine from Costco, but I’ve seen them in a lot of stores.


Get a big bowl, grab a handful and twist them to wilt. Like this:

Then grab another handful, and keep going until kale is soft. Top each salad with 1/4 avocado, 1/2 cup tomatoes, 1/8 cup cashews, and a tablespoon of hemp seeds.


Add dressing and enjoy:



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Portabella mushroom pizzas


It has been an exciting week over here at DR: DR-Sis got engaged! Rest assured: I am going to DIY the sh*t out of this wedding!!! What’s that, DR-Sis? You don’t need my help? Well, maybe you should have gone through with that whole divorcing-the-family plot you had when you were 17. Because this. is. happening. Yaaaay!

Pinterest is going to show up at this wedding and then duck out in shame when it sees the wedding-cake-with-cupcakes-inside-served-in-mason-jars-with-cream-cheese-and-crushed-oreos*-hand-tied-with-twine-and-small-handles-for-carrying-home <hits three-pointer at buzzer>. Betcha never thought of that, Pinterest!!!

Yes, that sound you hear is DR-Sis eloping.

Anywhoo, this recipe is for DR-Sis, since she can’t eat gluten. Reality check: DR-Sis never cooks and the rest of you will just order real pizza. I guess this recipe is for me.

*why does every recipe on pinterest involve cream cheese and/or oreos? just me?

Portabella mushroom pizzas, serves 2, adapted from BodyrockTV
-1/2 white onion
-2 T olive oil
-4 cloves garlic
-1 leek
-4 tomatoes
-about 1/4 cup fresh basil
-juice from 1/2 lemon
-3 or 4 of the biggest portabella mushrooms you can find
-about 1 cup mozzarella cheese (I tried the Diaya brand this time and it was pretty good!)
-salt & pepper to taste


First, the pre-work: Chop up your white onion, tomatoes, and basil. Mince the garlic. Slice the leek into thin coins (I only use the white and light green portions).


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion.

Cook the onion until soft (looks like this):

Add the garlic, leek, and tomatoes.

Saute for about 5 minutes, or until leek and tomatoes are soft.

Add the lemon juice, basil, and salt & pepper to the skillet. Give it a stir and remove from  heat.

Twist the stems off of your mushrooms and fill each mushroom with the onion/leek/tomato mixture.

Top each ‘shroom with about 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake for about 12 minutes, then change oven temp to broil and cook for 1-2 additional minutes (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn – this is just to get the cheese browned a little). Note: I baked my pizzas on a cookie rack on top of my cookie sheet. This keeps them from sticking and also drains out some of the excess moisture from the mushrooms. If you don’t have a rack, don’t sweat it – just use some parchment paper or spray the cookie sheet with a little oil to keep from sticking.

Remove from oven and top with a little extra basil and salt & pepper. Pizza time!


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Shrimp Tex-Mex Salad with Vegan Creamy Cilantro Dressing

I’m at it again with the Mexican/Spanish/Latin food. Must be Cinco de Mayo – I just can’t help myself! I think I’m trying to convince myself that it is warm enough here in Chicago to eat this outdoors.

I had this dressing on one of my Pinterest boards for ever, and now that I’ve finally made it, I don’t know what I ever did before! I have seriously been putting it on everything. If you don’t usually make your own salad dressing, give this one a try – sooo much better than bottled, and it only takes a few minutes!

This salad is pretty versatile, so try your own variation. If you don’t like tomatoes, you can be friends with Ruby. Girl ate a receipt yesterday on our walk, but wouldn’t touch a tomato that fell on the ground while I was making this.

That’s her “It wasn’t organic, ma!” face.

Shrimp Tex-Mex Salad, serves 2, inspired by this recipe
-1 T. olive oil
-1/2 lb. shrimp (I bought cooked shrimp because the little guys were on sale, and it makes preparation a little faster, but raw shrimp will work too!)
-1 T taco seasoning
-1 head romaine
-1/2 avocado
-1 ear corn
-2 cups cherry tomatoes
-2 green onions
-1/4 cup sunflower seeds


Creamy Cilantro-Lime-Avocado Dressing (inspired by this post, makes about a 1 1/2 cups):
-1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
-1/4 c. lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
-2 cloves garlic
-1/2 c. canola oil
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
-1/2 avocado
-1/2 t. sea salt


1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the shrimp. Sprinkle some taco seasoning on the shrimp and stir for about a minute, until coated in seasoning. Remove from heat.

2. Chop your romaine, tomatoes, avocado, and remove corn kernels from cob.

3. Make dressing: add all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend for about 30 seconds to a minute.

4. Add all salad ingredients to a bowl and serve with dressing!


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Vegetarian three-way: Butternut squash and black bean chili over spaghetti squash


Readers, get your minds out of the gutter. This isn’t that kind of blog and you know it.

DR-Brother-in-Law introduced me to the Cincinnati 3-Way Chili back in the day. He’s famous for his own version. I’ve never attempted it until now.

When we host dinner for non-vegetarians, chili is my go-to meal. Served with some cornbread, it’s so filling that most people don’t even notice its vegetarian. Plus, it’s one of my favorite dinners; I love curling up with a bowl of chili, a blanket, and a football game. My chili “recipe” is hardly a recipe since I always just throw stuff into a pot and cross my fingers, but my favorite versions always have butternut squash, black beans, and corn. I recreated it for my non-vegetarian guests the other night, served over spaghetti squash and topped with cheddar:

Vegetarian 3-way: Butternut squash and black bean chili over spaghetti squash, makes 6-8 servings

-1 butternut squash, or about 2-3 cups pre-cut butternut squash
-4 T canola oil
-2 peppers (I used green and yellow)
-1/2 onion
-2 cans of beans (I used one can black beans, one can kidney beans)
-2 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes
-1 can tomato sauce
-2 c frozen corn kernels
-2 chili spice packets (I either use McCormick or Simply Organic)
-1 t sea salt
-1 large spaghetti squash


for toppings:
-shredded cheddar cheese
-sour cream
-green onions


Let’s do this:

First thing to do is get your butternut squash cooked. This time I bought the pre-cut butternut squash, tossed it in about 2 T canola oil and roasted it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 375. (keep the oven hot because you’ll use it again for the spaghetti squash)


While that is cooking, dice the onion and green peppers. Note that onion is left out of the pictures since it doesn’t agree with one of my guests (that’s putting it politely).


When the butternut squash is almost done, get 2 T of canola oil heating at medium heat in a large pot and add the onion and green pepper. Stir often until softened, about 5 minutes.


Once the onion and pepper are soft, add just about everything to the pot: the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn kernels, cooked butternut squash,  chili spice packets, and salt.


Stir and cover. Cook at medium-low heat while your spaghetti squash is cooking (that’s our next step!).


Cut your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place skin-side up on a cookie sheet. Add about 2-3 T water to the cookie sheet and bake at 375 for about 40-45 minutes. During this time, your chili can continue to heat. If you see it simmering, just lower the heat a touch.

When the spaghetti squash is done, you will able to pierce the skin easily with a sharp knife. Remove it from the oven and use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti” flesh. (see this video for help!)

Add a thin layer of spaghetti squash (about a cup) to the bottom of a bowl or plate. Top with about 1-1 1/2 cups of chili. Serve with your toppings: cheese, avocado, green onion, and sour cream!



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The salad I apparently can’t go 2 days without


There is a cheese & wine shop near my work called Pastoral that sells sandwiches and salads during lunch. One salad in particular has stolen my heart, and I get it at least once a week. This weekend I found myself craving it and decided it was time to recreate this masterpiece at home. Because there was just no way I could wait until Monday.

Pastoral-esque “Health Nut” salad, serves 1

-about 2-3 cups mixed salad greens
-1 small tomato (these are not on the original salad – I added them)
-about 1/4 cup cucumber slices
-roasted spiced almonds (I picked up the rosemary Marcona almonds from Trader Joe’s, which are amazeballs)
-1/4 of an avocado
-about an ounce of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
-amazing red wine vinaigrette, which I came pretty close to replicating, see below


Top your salad greens with all ingredients and prepare to be addicted.


Now, there are a few corners you must not cut when assembling this salad:
1. No pre-shredded cheese. Do yourself a flavor (pun intended) and get some real Parmesan and shred it. All the diffs in the world, I promise.
2. No bottled salad dressings.
3. No plain almonds. It just wouldn’t be the same.

Pretty-close-to-amazing red wine viniagrette:
-1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1 T dijon mustard
-1 t honey or sugar
-salt & pepper

Put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until combined.


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Grilled summer veggie tacos


Today I did something I’ve always wanted to do.

I had the day off, and I went for a long run on the lake with friends (yes, I made them all get up before they had to go to work and run with me – I’m a great friend like that). When it was over, I was hot and disgusting. So I jumped in the lake. It was glorious.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to jump in the lake during a run, but somehow the opportunity never presented itself. Now, am I past the threshold at which one can bare her midriff in sports bra and shorts and jump in the lake? Most definitely. But I wasn’t about to get my tank top wet too, and the only person watching was an octogenarian who thankfully judged me in silence. Afterwards, I went to Starbucks and ordered a huge iced tea with seaweed in my hair. Even less romantic was the soggy bus ride home. But by then I had snacks so I didn’t care.

When I got home, my dear neighbor promptly told me about the seaweed, because she’s one of those people who is always like “well, I wouldn’t want you walking around like that!”. Which, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate most of the time (e.g. spinach in teeth before a big meeting). But when I’m about to walk in my house, I say just let me go on with my bad self, even if I look like the little mermaid.

Anyway, I think this ridiculous story is a vessel for this recipe, which I polished off the other night. If you have some summer veggies to get rid of, I highly recommend:

Grilled summer veggie tacos, serves 2 with leftovers

Go get:
-2 ears of corn
-cherry tomatoes (I used about a dozen, but that’s because the Huz still hasn’t realized that tomatoes are the best things ever. Not sure what’s taking so long)
-1 bunch slim asparagus
-1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
-corn tortillas
-balsamic vinaigrette dressing (I made my own, see recipe below)
-Olive oil for cooking veggies


Let’s do this:
Prep the veggies by cutting the corn off the cobs, slicing your tomatoes in half, and trimming the asparagus.

Start up your grill and heat it to medium. Spray the veggies with olive oil and put them in your grill pan (you can also use tin foil if you don’t have a grill pan). Here the veggies are on the grill:


Once the veggies are cooked and charred a little, remove them from the heat and turn the burners off. Throw your tortillas on the grill to warm while the veggies cool a little.


Remove the tortillas from the grill and arrange the veggies in the tortillas. Top with goat cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!


Lazy girl’s balsamic:
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1 t maple syrup
-1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.

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Summer Gazpacho


I’ve talked on the blog before about my love for tomatoes. Well, the CSA gods must have heard my cry, because this week we got a bunch of gorgeous tomatoes.

After shoving a few in my mouth straight from the bag, tomato juice dripping down my chin, I decided I needed a plan for these cuties. Cue the gazpacho recipe. Last time I made this, I ate the entire batch in one sitting. Not that this means very much to any of you, since I have repeatedly demonstrated a lack of restraint when it comes to food. See: tomato juice on chin, pesto, sweet potato hummus, etc.

Gazpacho, adapted from Natalia Rose’s Detox for Women cookbook

Go get:
-about 6 medium tomatoes (we got a bunch of cherry tomatoes, so I just eyeballed it)
-1 c fresh basil leaves
-juice of 1 lemon
-1 t soy sauce
-2 cloves garlic
-2 t Spike (this is a seasoning/salt alternative available at Whole Foods. It’s great but if you can’t find it, no biggie, just add more salt + pepper)
-1 bell pepper
-1 small jicama (just add extra bell pepper & corn if you can find this)
-1 ear corn
-avocado (for garnish)
-Salt & peppa


Let’s do this:
Chop up your bell pepper and jicama. Remove kernels from corn. Combine in a bowl and set aside.


Quarter your large tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients to your blender or food processor and blend for about a minute. Add the blender mixture to the bell pepper, jicama and corn and mix well.


Ideally you have time to chill this for about an hour. If you have no time, or if you have no self restraint (yours truly), serve immediately.


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