simple

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Banana Berry Smoothie

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 4 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 of a 5.3 oz container blueberry yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups ice

Add. Blend. Drink.

[open wide!]

p.s. my baby niece learned how to walk yesterday! yahooooo

 

 

 

 

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Meet Foodha.

[image credit menuism blog]

This chubby guy is the official face of Menuism, a site started by two college buddies that’s dedicated to the food loving community. Aside from being the home for Foodha, Menuism is a place where foodies can trade restaurant tips and the inside scoop on favorite spots across the country.

The team at Menuism filled me in on a fantastic Facebook deal they’re running – for every new Facebook fan Menuism earns until April 24, they will donate $1 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. This is a great [and easy] way to help people right here in Chicago. Last year alone the Food Depository distributed 135,000 meals a day. Amazing!

[image credit menuism blog]

Take a second to pop over to Facebook and ‘like’ Menuism today.

 

 

 

 

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[whale-print paper from vineyard vines {thanks mom!}. letterpress calendar from chicago-based orange beautiful]

Some ideas to warm up your Wednesday…

  • try a new recipe
  • treat yourself to a new pair of shoes[or in my case, some fig vanilla black pepper syrup i read about to drizzle over ice cream, coffee, tea ... so many possibilities]
  • go for a light jog [bundle up if you're in chicago... brrr! spring has not sprung, not even close]
  • make some homemade trail mix to snack on throughout the day when you crave something salty and sweet [mix 1/2 cup oven roasted almonds with sea salt + 1/2 cup raisins.]
  • take a moment to enjoy a breath of fresh air
  • start a new book [i'm reading 'a thousand splendid suns' by khaled hosseini right now {thanks deirdre!} and am hooked.]
  • make a simple piece of jewelry [last fall i took a class at caravan beads at lincoln + roscoe. they have all sorts of cool beads that will get your creative juices flowing.]

[a bead-ish looking jelly bean]

What are some of the ways you spice up the midweek mopes?

 

 

 

 

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Continuing the theme of vegetarian meals, I put together this coconut curry tofu that’s chock full of so many veggies you won’t even miss the meat. I’ve always enjoyed curry dishes and although it’s possible to make your own curry paste, it’s pretty time consuming and the packets you can buy at the store taste just as good – plus the unused portion will keep in your fridge for months. My favorite is ‘A Taste of Thai’ red curry paste, it has a great spicy kick to it.

If you’re like Vince and are afraid of tofu, don’t be, it’s delicious and absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce it happens to be simmering in. It’s also a breeze to cook with, you can throw it into pretty much anything without any prep work [unlike chicken... sometimes the sliminess of chicken gets to me]. You can find it in the produce section of  most grocery stores and if my two nieces [c = 11 months, her first birthday is in 2 weeks!, and m = 3 years] love it, you will too.

Coconut Curry Tofu

  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp ‘A Taste of Thai’ red curry paste
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped [pick your favorite color or mix'n match like I did]
  • 1 bunch snow peas [in the pod], halved
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 7 oz. extra firm organic tofu [half the package], cut into bite-sized cubes

Bring coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and curry paste to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Let mixture stand for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Ladle over whole grain brown rice. Serves two plus leftovers.

[the vibrant colors of these veggies practically leap off the cutting board]

[the lineup continued... coconut milk + soy sauce + fish sauce]

[coconut milk + soy sauce make a pretty design in the pan]

 

 

 

 


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I learned a valuable lesson with dinner last night: it is very possible for you to over salt your pasta water. I was standing by the stove top absentmindedly tipping my sea salt into the pot [watching a dvr'd episode of real housewives of oc, no less] when half the container accidentally dumped into the water. Eek. I debated for a second then reasoned, most of the salt gets poured down the drain with the water so how much actually sticks to the pasta? I threw some tortellini in the pot without a second thought. Ten minutes ticked by and the pasta looked done. I took one bite and promptly tossed the batch into the trash – I could barely stomach it, it was like eating a hunk of salt – [shudder]. A new package of pasta and some conservative pinches of salt later I came up with my red, white, and green tortellini. It’s another simple meatfree option for these Lenten Fridays and only has four main ingredients, easy peasy japaneasy.

Basil, Tomato + Spinach Tortellini

  • 1 package buitoni all natural spinach cheese tortellini
  • sprinkling of parmesan cheese
  • 8 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil, gently salt, then add tortellini. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. While pasta is cooking, slice tomatoes and basil. Add cooked pasta to all remaining ingredients and toss together. Yum!

red.

white.

+ green.

ta-da!

 

 

 

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Ever since I saw Lindsay Lohan’s character dunk an oreo in a jar of peanut butter in The Parent Trap, I was hooked on the snack. I found this recipe for a no bake bar [my first] and had all the ingredients on hand. Remembering how good peanut butter + oreos are together, I strayed from the recipe and added a touch of peanut butter to the mix. I also didn’t have a full package of oreos so I improvised and added some reduced-fat chips ahoys.

Cookies’n Cream Bars

  • 1 package oreos [I used Trader Joe's Joe-Joes  {like oreos but better} and again, only had half a package so I used some reduced-fat chips ahoys. use any cookies you have.]
  • 2 spoonfuls natural peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 package mini marshmallows

Place cookies in a ziploc bag and crush [doesn't need to be a fine crush]. Place marshmallows, butter, and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl and microwave for 1.5 – 2 minutes or until marshmallows begin to puff. Remove and pour in cookie mixture. Stir to combine then transfer to a foil lined 8×8 baking pan. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove bars out of pan with edges of foil and cut into squares. Makes 9 large bars. Told you it was easy!

 

 

 

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[lenten lunch]

Ladies + gents, the season of Lent is upon us, which you probably know means no meat on Fridays for the next 40 days. Typically I’ll forget about this until halfway through something extra meaty of course [like a cheeseburger], rationalize it by saying God wouldn’t want me to waste it, then proceed to polish it off and vow to remember for next Friday. This year I’m cracking down, baby. No meat on Fridays, period, and I’m making sure my butt is in a pew each and every Sunday. Although these are both things a good Catholic should already be doing, this former altar girl is trying to get back on track.

No meat, no problem. Here is a quick and healthy recipe for a tuna melt.

TGIF Tuna Melt

  • 1 can chunk light tuna, drained
  • 1 tsp low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp deli mustard
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese
  • dash of kosher salt + black pepper
  • 2 ‘veggie slices’, cheddar flavor [see explanation w/photo below]
  • 2 slices good quality whole-grain bread

Mix first six ingredients together in a bowl, place mixture on top of bread and finish off with the veggie slices. Pop under a broiler in your toaster oven for 1-2 minutes, voila.

[in case you were wondering what the violently orange stuff is in the picture up top, i have to admit it's a cheese imposter. i saw these in the organic produce section at jewel and wanted to give them a try. they're pretty good and taste surprisingly like cheddar cheese - plus are much, much better for you. the orange color comes a natural food coloring, carotenal, which is derived from skins of oranges and tangerines. they're mostly soy and pack three grams of protein per slice. try these out!]

[i love LaBrea's whole grain bread. it's got a thick, crunchy crust and the inside is soft and chewy even days later. the bakery is based in california but they ship everywhere - i got this loaf at jewel]

 

 

 

 

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[nutella pillows]

You may have noticed navy + cream was out of commission the past week, and I’m pointing my finger at you, Snowmageddon 2011. Below, one of many eerie photos circulating the web that captured the mayhem.

[Lake Shore Drive, a highway that runs through Chicago, as it appeared the morning of February 2nd.]

Although the blizzard threw everyone out of whack, I secretly loved it. We spent the two blustery days holed up at Vince’s sister and husbands house lazing around in our pajamas playing board games, eating junk food and watching movies. The third morning Vince and I felt the twangs of cabin fever and we finally surfaced from their home, only to discover that Vince’s poor car was buried under a miniature Mount Everest. Two hours, a piece of cardboard, a borrowed shovel, and two good samaritans later, we managed to free his car from the snowdrift. That was about the time I started to simultaneously loath the snow and praise the Lord for my heated garage spot.

Blizzard business aside, this past week I discovered a new favorite holiday: World Nutella Day. Music to my ears. On February 5th, chocolate lovers like myself celebrate all of the goodness that is this delicious, sweet, and creamy Italian spread. I came across this yummy-sounding yet simple recipe on Picky Palate and thought it would be the perfect way to ring in Nutella Day.

Nutella Pillows

  • 1 package puff pastry, 2 pastry sheets thawed [you can find it in your freezer aisle]
  • 1 cup Nutella [available at most grocery stores, at Jewel it's located by the peanut butter and jelly]
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water for egg wash
  • sprinkling of sugar
  • sprinkling of powdered sugar [optional]

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Cut each square of pastry into 4 equal size pieces.  Spread a couple tablespoons of Nutella spread onto the center of each pastry leaving 1/2 inch border around edges.  Top each with about 12-15 mini marshmallows and fold over to form a little triangle.  Crimp edges firmly with the tines of a fork.  Brush with egg white wash then sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until pastry just turns golden.  Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar then dig in! Yields 8 pillows.

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Switching gears from the healthier, straight-laced grapefruit, I have to share how much I love these sweet potato “frites” from Trader Joe’s. Not quite as innocent as their raw siblings, they’re sweet + salty and pretty darn delicious. Plus, this post title is a bit of a misnomer as I bake my guilt-free frites, rather than fry them.

Piping hot out of the oven with a dash of kosher salt, I’m {almost} convinced I have a large fry in my hands from MickyD’s. *sigh.. my arteries will thank me later.

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It was the Monday coming off of a Bears playoff loss [frown] but a Steelers playoff win [semi smile]. Allow me to explain. Let it be known that under no circumstances am I a Steelers fan [I'm a proud Browns fan and always will be], but seeing as how my parents and extended family hail from Steel City, I’m happy for them. There, I said it.

Tonight, dinner needed to be easy. This high-fiber, protein packed salad was so quick & simple I’m not sure I can call it a recipe. I must advise you to take heed if you’re averse to the strong flavor of raw garlic. I happen to love it but many people don’t. Raw garlic has been proven to boost your immune system, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, among other health benefits. Though regarded as an herbal whiz kid, it will clear you sinuses as well as anyone within a five-mile radius. Your breath will be a lethal weapon, consider yourself warned.

Garlic + Bean Winter Salad

  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame beans
  • 1/2 cup chick peas
  • sprinkling of parmesan cheese

For vinaigrette:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 palmful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt
  1. Combine the edamame beans, cannellini beans, chick peas, and parmesan.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette. Pour over bean mixture until all ingredients are evenly coated. Enjoy!

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