The food I love, and how to make it

Epic Weekend

Sam and I went up to Chicago last weekend and had a great trip. There’s so much to tell…


We woke up before dawn on the longest day of the year

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As soon as we got into the city, I met up with Jess and we went for our long run together. The first thing we saw when we got onto the lake path was this lady running with a dog balloon:

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We thought she was crazy until we saw this sign and realized that there was a race for PAWS going on.

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This ended up being a good thing because we got really thirsty around mile three and managed to convince the volunteers to let us have some gatorade even though we weren’t part of the race. Thanks PAWS!  After 8.5 miles, we went back to Jess’ place to shower and relax with this very snuggly lady:

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That afternoon, we went to a rooftop party celebrating our friend’s graduation from his MBA program at Northwestern. We ended up walking like half a mile so I’m going to add that to my daily total and say I did 9.

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This guy was the highlight of the party. I think you can see that we are in love.

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We watched a storm roll in from the rooftop, then ran inside when it started pouring. This was a bit of déjà vu for me since the same thing happened at our rooftop wedding exactly a year ago.

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The next day I met up with my friend Jess at one of my favorite brunch places, Southport Grocery. I don’t know how I’ve been there so many times without ever trying the grown-up pop-tart:

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Then I went to my favorite cheese shop Pastoral for some goodies

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Which Sam and I enjoyed later on a little anniversary date in Millennium Park

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If you’ve never tried Stiegl Grapefruit Radler before, I highly recommend it. It has a low alcohol content and is just a bit fruity- perfect for summer.

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The next morning, Sam joined me for a short run along the lake path and through Millennium Park





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This is where the start line for the Chicago Marathon is. See you in 3 months!

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We saved the best for last: before we got on the road, we had lunch at Irazu and ordered 3 of their mind-blowing oatmeal shakes! More on that later 🙂

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I miss you Chicago!




Versatile Fish en Papillote Recipe

Sometimes, you just need to make a quick, easy meal.

Like when you’ve spent the whole day doing vigorous exercises



Or The Bachelorette is on in 30 minutes

JJ Bachelorette

That’s right Andi, you could be the wife of a Pantsapreneur

But you’ve eaten almost 100% carbs for your last three meals so you need something healthy-ish

donut time

I donut care anymore

Enter: Fish en Papilotte

This is a simple, versatile dish (more like a meal idea than a recipe) that you can change up depending on what you have on hand. I’ll give you the simplest version, then some variations on the theme.


  • Two fish fillets (thawed if frozen) – I really like something called Swai that I pick up in my grocery store’s freezer section, but you could use salmon, cod, tilapia, halibut, etc
  • 1/2 lb of green beans
  • 1/2 cup of whatever herbs you have on hand- I raided my herb garden for parsley, tarragon, basil, and dill
  • 1/2 a small red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 lemon, peel cut off and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 parchment packet (or two if you have bigger servings) I use these:

    Culinary Parchment Cooking Bags

    Find it by the cling wrap and aluminum foil


  1. Preheat Oven to 450
  2. Wash and trim green-beans, then spread out on the bottom of a Parchment Packet
  3. Rinse fish fillets, dust each side with salt and pepper, and lay them side by side on top of the green beans in the packet
  4. Sprinkle fish with chopped herbs. Place onion slices, a garlic clove, and 2-3 lemon slices on each fillet.
  5. Roll up end of parchment packet and crimp a little so it stays rolled. place packet onto cookie sheet
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes (until fish is no longer translucent).

Serve with grains or potatoes.

Here are some other ways you could dress up your fish:

  • Asian- cilantro, ginger, soy sauce, green onions over kale
  • Greek- sun dried tomatoes, kalmata olives, red onion and feta over spinach
  • Piccata- parsley, capers, garlic, white wine over asparagus
  • Latin- corn, tomatoes, jalapeno, cayenne, lime, cilantro over sliced bell peppers

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Up at Dawn

I wish I could say that after one good week of committed morning runs, it has become a routine habit. Unfortunately, I am back to hitting the snooze button every morning when my run alarm goes of at 5:20am.

You know what is the best thing about Dawn? The character named Dawn from the Babysitters Club Series. She was crunchy and fashionable and healthy in a super eighties, teased bangs kind of way:

Dawn Schafer

Raise your hand if you actually tried to start a babysitters club when you were eleven years old

But I digress. I’m still working on the morning thing. Rather than jump from waking up at 6:45 to 5:20 all at once, I’m trying to establish a wakeup time 15 minutes earlier each week. Last week I woke up at 6:30, this week 6:15, and so on until eventually I (hopefully) am naturally waking up early enough to run every morning. I need to get my morning runs established before the weather gets too hot to run in the afternoon.

The most helpful piece of advice I’ve received (from the internet) is this- when your alarm goes off:

I’m a pro at talking myself out of things. But if I repeat this mantra in my head “Don’t think, just do. Don’t think, just do. Dontthinkjustdo” before I have time to make excuses, I can occasionally force myself out of bed before I hit the snooze button (or worse, fall into the instagram/buzzfeed vortex).

Obviously I need a little extra motivation… enter breakfast burritos. My first encounter with breakfast burritos was a college tradition…. everyone would go to the Q’Doba in Broad Ripple after a night out at the bars for a giant egg, steak, and queso filled monster of a burrito. Actually, because I was too much of a wuss to have a fake ID, my friend M and I use to ride the drunk bus (totally sober) to Broad Ripple just to go to QDoba. Where we would wait in line with about half of Butler’s student population and talk about who was throwing up in the QDoba bathroom.

a tiny hamster eating a tiny burrito


This version is sadly queso-less, in the name of health. I make a big batch and freeze them so that I have something hearty on hand in the morning to keep me full and energized throughout the day, and to sneak in some vegetables early. I put half of them in the freezer at work and half of them at home so I’m covered even if I’m running late.


-1 package of 8-10 large burrito sized tortillas (I used the wheat variety)

-16 oz carton of All Whites egg whites (or sub 10 eggs, beaten)

-Olive Oil cooking spray

-1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/8 inch thick

-1 medium red bell pepper, diced

-1/2 yellow onion, diced

-salt and pepper to taste

-2 cups Gardien Beefless Ground

-1 teaspoon italian seasoning

-crushed red pepper (to taste)

-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, add entire contents of All Whites carton. Using a spatula, keep stirring every 30 seconds until eggs are just heated through, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Transfer scrambled egg whites to a small bowl and set aside.

2. Spray skillet with cooking spray, add beefless ground, italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper. You’ll want to season generously as the stuff is pretty flavorless on its own. Saute until warmed through (stir constantly as it will stick to the pan easily), about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

3. Spray skillet with cooking spray, add zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until onions turn translucent and vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

4. Arrange Tortillas, eggs, beefless ground, sauteed vegetables, and chedder cheese in an assembly line on your workspace. Add about 2 tablespoons each of eggs, beefless grounds, and vegetables to each burrito. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheddar cheese.

Breakfast Burritos 1
5. Roll tortilla up- first roll halfway, then fold in sides, then finish roll.

Breakfast Burritos 4
6. Wrap each finished burrito in Saran Wrap, wax paper, or tinfoil. Store in plastic bag labeled with date and contents.

Breakfast Burritos 5

To reheat, microwave for 45 seconds, flip, and microwave for an additional 45 seconds. Or if you have time, heat on a dry  skillet for about 2 minutes on each side for a crispy grilled burrito.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with sausage, kale, and feta

Our summer home improvement project is to spruce up our patio.  What was once a slab of concrete between the house and the woods will soon be an inviting place to relax, eat, and entertain.  Our first step toward this aim was to put up strings of cafe lights, and I have to say that just this one little thing has made a huge difference. It turns it into more of a ‘room’ and brings a festive atmosphere.

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I decided to make a meal to match the European cafe vibes that my patio is giving off. Stuffed peppers have always been a go-to meal for me, though I’ve never made them this way before (inspired by this post). The Greek and Italian ingredients bring the dish to a whole new level. I don’t know if I will ever go back to my plain old rice/sausage/cheese stuffed peppers again.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 cup dry bulgur (can sub any other grain- couscous, rice, quinoa, etc)
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 red/orange/yellow bell peppers, cleaned and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 of a red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 lb italian sausage (or 2-3 links with casings removed)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 handfuls baby kale (can sub spinach)
  • 4oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil
  1. Prepare bulgur according to package, using 1 cup of stock + 1 cup of water for cooking liquid
  2. Cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Preheat your oven to broil and lightly oil, salt, and pepper the halved bell peppers and place in a casserole dish. Place under the broiler for a 2-4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 2-4 minutes.  You want them slightly tender, not limp.  Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F
  5. Heat a large pan over medium and add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and stir occasionally until translucent and soft, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and black pepper for 30 seconds until fragrant, then add in the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, sausage, and cooked bulger and stir together.
  7. Add in your baby kale and incorporate until just starting to wilt, another 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add half the feta, lemon juice, and lemon zest, then give it one more stir and taste.  Add more salt if desired.
  9. Lightly pack the bulgur mixture into the pepper halves, filling in any remaining mixture around the peppers in the  dish. Top with remaining feta.
  10. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes- until edges are crispy and feta begins to brown.

pepper 3



Super Crunchy

Recently my mom asked me how I would describe my brother and his wife, who are typical San Franciscans in that they live a fairly “green” lifestyle, aka they were refusing disposable shopping bags before it was the law, and they have seriously considered worm composting despite the fact that they live in a tiny apartment. In my mom’s time they might have been called hippies:

flower power

in the 90s they would have been yuppies:


They are not quite lame enough (or maybe too lame?) to be hipsters:

yes, a deer can be a hipster

To be fair, relative to anyone in the midwest, the entire population of San Francisco are hipsters.

The term I prefer is crunchy. As described on Urban Dictionary:

“Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. Modified derivative of granola.”

Which brings me to the point of this post: I made granola!!  My friend A had a baby this week, and naturally I went straight to work devising a reason to visit her and absorb as much new baby wonderfulness as possible. Granola is one of my favorite DIY gifts. It is easy, fairly inexpensive, and it makes a lot, so after you give a few jars away you still have plenty to enjoy yourself. Plus, who doesn’t love granola?

I am a fan of David Lebovitz’ recipe. It uses unsweetened applesauce to cut down on sugar and oil, and always turns out nice and crunchy, with plenty of nuts and a good roasty flavor.  Here’s how I make it:

  • 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 cups chopped nuts (I used 1 cup almonds, 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup pistachios)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 300F

1. In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

2. In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the agave syrup, honey, and oils.

3. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two jelly roll pans (or baking sheets).

4. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.

5. Remove from oven, then cool completely.

6. Add dried cranberries and mix.

I usually buy a new pack of pint-sized mason jars to package the granola- this filled 6 pints. The recipe is fairly flexible- use whatever combination of nuts/seeds/oil/dried fruit you have on hand. My favorite way to enjoy it is over plain greek yogurt, or by the handful with a nice cup of tea. This granola is so much better than anything you can buy in the store. Once you go crunchy, you never go back.

Fiery Tamales

For Cinco de Mayo, I decided to tackle a recipe I have been wanting to try for a while now: tamales.

Of course, I used some serious shortcuts. I made stewed chicken in the slow-cooker for my filling. I bought a tamale kit that included masa mix and corn husks. For a labor-intensive recpie like tamales, shortcuts are your friend.

1 tamales kit (alternatively, purchase corn husks and masa ingredients separately)
3-4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 jar of prepared salsa (I used Rick Bayless’ Chipotle Salsa)
1 cup shredded cojita or cheddar cheese
Optional fixins- sour cream, extra salsa, avacado, cilantro, lime
Serve with beans or rice

Step 1:
Add boneless chicken thighs and jar of salsa to slow-cooker. Cook on high for six hours if frozen, low for four hours if thawed. When finished cooking, shred chicken with two forks and discard extra liquid.  You will probably want to do this ahead of time- I started my chicken cooking at lunch so it would be ready for dinner prep, but you could even do it a couple of days ahead and refrigerate.

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Shredded chicken

Step 2:
Prepare masa according to package or recipe. Lay out corn husks- soak if necessary


Tamale assembly line

Step 3:
Spread about a third of a cup of masa on each corn husk, then top with shredded chicken and cheese. Roll up:

Step 4:
Arrange tamales in a steamer basket standing up on folded end with water simmering at the bottom of the pot. Steam for 60 minutes.

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The beautiful finished product (before I cooked them to death)

Step 5:
Top with sour cream, salsa, and avacado and enjoy!

Unfortunately, things did not go quite so easily for me. I didn’t have a steamer, but I did have a steamer basket that came with my rice cooker. I figured it was made for cooking and was probably silicone, so it could withstand heat. This assumption proved incorrect.

I put a ring of tinfoil at the bottom of a large pot, filled with about an inch of water, then added the steamer basket on top to set the tamales in. Knowing it would cook for an hour, I left it to go watch a little Shark Tank. I was literally watching this fireman pitch his idea for a device that would shut off an emergency sprinkler system when my fire alarm started blaring, and when I walked into the kitchen, I realized that there was a weird smell, and that my pot was full of smoke. I threw the pot outside, and frantically fanned the smoke detector while I assured the security company that there was no fire, just some smoking Cinco de Mayo tamales.

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FAIL. The melted steamer basket and ruined pot- sitting on the back porch to try to prevent my house from smelling any more like burnt plastic than it already did.

When things calmed down, I took the tamales out of the deformed steamer basket. They looked pretty ok. Like, there was a scorch mark on a couple of them, but I figured they were wrapped in the corn husks so they were probably naturally protected from all of the toxins released by the burning plastic. Plus, I had put a lot of work into these. Plus, I was really hungry. So what did I do? I ate two of them. Did they taste like burnt plastic? kind of. Do I feel sick? Kind of. But hey. I guess that’s what Cinco de Mayo is all about.*

So I learned my lesson- next year I will stick to margaritas.

*I have no idea what Cinco de Mayo is all about.