Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

You’d think that working at a pizza place for five years would have burned me out on pizza. Or going to school in the land of deep dish pies. Or having one of the single.most.amazing pizza restaurants just two blocks away from my apartment.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

But no. I still can’t and don’t get enough of it. But, I don’t just want the standard cheese and sauce anymore. I need flavor, I need texture, I need…well…I need more of this pizza.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

It’s fruity and sweet, but substanstial and filling. It’s got a small bite of peppery flavor from the arugula and a salty kick from crumbled gorgonzola. Plus a whole other layer of flavor from the balsamic reduction drizzled over top at the end! Swoon! It’s like summer. But pizza.

I cut corners here by using a store-bought whole wheat crust, feel free to use homemade if you’ve got the skill or patience (I have neither). It’s summer, I can’t wait for dough to rise. Not when I need pizza. And you need this pizza. Now.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza (serves 4 – 8)

1 container store bought whole wheat pizza dough

1 TBSP olive oil

2 peaches, thinly sliced

3 cups arugula

1/4 – 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola

balsamic vinegar reduction (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/8 inch thick circle (mine was about 16 inches around) and place on pizza pan. Alternatively, if you don’t have a round pan, you can use a square pan and simply press the dough into it.

Drizzle olive oil over prepared crust and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Pop any wayward bubbles with a knife to release steam.

Top partially baked crust with half of the sliced peaches, a layer of arugula, the remaining peaches and sprinkle with gorgonzola. Return to oven for an additional 5 – 7 minutes, or until cheese has just begun to melt and arugula is wilted.

Drizzle with balsamic reduction and slice into 8 equal pieces. Serve immediately.

For the balsamic reduction:

Pour 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by over half.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

Pizza = summer = pizza

 

Double Berry Breakfast Parfaits

I accidentally made a perfectly patriotic parfait! (Yay alliteration!)

Double Berry Parfaits

I had an abundance of blueberries and strawberries languishing in my fridge, too much Greek yogurt, and a hankering for something different for breakfast. And I wanted to put something in old mason jars because I though it was very Pinterest-y of me. And I’m obnoxious.

Double Berry Parfaits

These Double Berry Greek Yogurt Parfaits were just the ticket. Super quick to make, full of protein and fiber, and naturally sweet, they are perfect for the morning or an afternoon snack and a wonderful post-workout treat!

Double Berry Parfaits

Double Berry Parfaits (serves 2)

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 ½ cups sliced strawberries

1 pint fresh blueberries

Honey, optional

Cinnamon, optional

In mason jars or bowls, begin layers with ¼ cup of Greek yogurt, followed by a layer of strawberries and then blueberries. Repeat layering process until yogurt and berries are gone. If desired, add a drizzle of honey and sprinkling of cinnamon to yogurt layer before adding berries.

Store any uneaten parfaits covered in fridge for up to two days.

Double Berry Parfaits

‘Murica

 

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad

Sometimes it is so tempting to not pack a lunch for the office. Sometimes I just want those extra ten minutes to sleep or drink coffee or play with my hair. Sometimes I am uninspired by what I see in my fridge. Sometimes I just plain don’t feel like making lunch.

strawberry and coat cheese salad

So I go out. I zip to the Whole Foods five minutes away and peruse the aisles for something to eat (grocery shopping when hungry may actually be considered some form of torture). I usually end up in the prepared food/salad bar section of the store trying to narrow down my choices. A few weeks ago I found a “Seasonal Selections” salad filled with berries, nuts, and goat cheese. I had to have it! So I did…for about $8. For. A. Salad.

strawberry and coat cheese salad

I am ashamed. It’d be one thing if the dish would stretch to two meals, but let’s be real, I rarely leave leftovers as it is and a salad surely won’t make the cut. It was delicious, just like I thought it would be, but it wasn’t entirely worth it. Plus, I did the math (which in itself is huge!) and realized I could spend about twice that much on ingredients and make the same kind of salad 6 times over!

And that’s exactly what I did. This Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad is light, summery and perfect for on the go lunching or those days when making food is the last thing you want to do. Sweet berries, tangy cheese and filling nuts on a bed of crunchy greens? Yes please!

strawberry and coat cheese salad

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad (serves 1)

3 cups lettuce blend (I like Spring Mix and Romaine)

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1 oz.  walnut pieces

balsamic vinegar, optional

Pile lettuce on plate and top with strawberries, nuts and cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.

strawberry and goat cheese salad

Whole Foods, Schmole Foods.

Browned Butter Banana Layer Cake

My momma is a pro at making cakes. I, on the other hand, have never been that good. My mom’s cakes always rise beautifully, are cooked perfectly and taste delicious. Granted, sometimes my mom gets a little help from Betty Crocker, but I know for a fact that the woman can make a mean chocolate cake from scratch.

browned butter banana layer cake

My cakes, more often than not, are less than ideal. The edges get done before the middle, they’re gummy, or, my personal favorite, they get stuck in the pan. I still eat them (umm, hello? It’s cake.), and I’ve even figured out a way to make them passable for others.

browned butter banana layer cake

See, I’ve figured out an easy fix for a cake that’s a bit sunken in the middle. A generous layer of frosting along the entire cake to make it level! It disguises the small crater and is an excellent excuse to use extra frosting. Not that I’ve ever needed an excuse for that.

Would leveling the top off to the sunken part work too? Probably. But there’s no extra frosting involved in that. Go ahead, judge away.

browned butter banana layer cake

I did the exact same thing when I made this cake the first time. I used a springform pan for all the batter because I had yet to get 9-inch round cake pans. That one sure backfired. While the cake was delicious it was so sunken in the middle that there was easily an inch of height difference between the edge of the cake and the middle. That made for a lot of frosting. My recipe testers didn’t complain, but I knew I could do better.

And so this is better. This is a Browned Butter Banana Layer Cake. With Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s by no means perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. A moist (hate.that.word.eww) cake that’s a bit caramelly from a healthy dose of browned butter. It’s the heft of a good piece of banana bread that’s then smeared with a tangy and warm cream cheese frosting. Game changer. Game over.

browned butter banana layer cake

Browned Butter Banana Layer Cake 

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, browned and cooled

2 cups dark brown sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 – 4)

1 recipe Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper, butter paper as well.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in vanilla. Add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the sour cream, mixing thoroughly to combine. Gently stir in bananas.

Divide batter among pans and bake in preheated oven 30 – 35 minutes, or until cake just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool cakes on wire rack for 30 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely.

To frost: Level the top of one cake with a serated knife and spread with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. Top with other cake layer. Coat entire cake in a light layer of frosting (this is what’s commonly known as a “crumb coat”), and put in fridge for 15 minutes to firm up. When cake has set, frost generously with remaining frosting.

Serve immediately or store cake lightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature

1 8-oz. block cream cheese, softened to room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 cups powdered sugar

large pinch salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

3 – 4 TBSP milk or heavy cream

Cream together butter and cream cheese until light. Add vanilla, powdered sugar, salt, and cinnamon and slowly begin to mix. Add in milk, one tablespoon at a time, until frosting is thick and creamy.

Leftover frosting can be stored in fridge for up to one week.

browned butter banana layer cake

Wait…can I play this game again?

Shredded Chicken Tacos

In high school, my best friend and I had a Cinco de Mayo tradition. We’d leave soccer practice and drive to the next town over, where the only semi-authentic Mexican restaurant was. Still in our sweaty gear, we’d hit the taco bar, wearing the complimentary sombreros they gave out on the holiday, and eat until we wanted to be sick.

When we had our fill, we’d waddle back to her car and drive home with the windows down. We’d sing, we’d laugh, we’d shout hi to people walking (all while still clad in our sombreros, of course). Those were the days.

shredded chicken tacos

This year, I really missed that time with her. I missed the feeling of the cool breeze on my still hot skin. I missed the warm flour tortillas. I missed the glares of people at neighboring tables as we laughed loudly and uncontrollably.

So, naturally, I made tacos. Shredded Chicken Tacos. Cooked low and slow with a spicy, smoky salsa and paired with creamy avocado, these tacos are the perfect start to taco season, in all its glory.

shredded chicken tacos

Shredded Chicken Tacos 

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 medium white onion, thin sliced

1 16-oz. jar salsa of your choice (I used Frontera’s Chipotle Pumpkin)

flour tortillas, avocado, and other toppings for serving.

In a large pot (or a slow cooker if you should be so lucky to own one), combine the chicken, onion, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 3 – 4 hours, or until begins to shred when pulled with a fork.

Once cooked, allow to cool for 30 minutes before shredding the chicken with two forks.

Pile chicken onto tortillas and toppings of your choice. Serve warm!

shredded chicken tacos

Delicioso!

Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad

In grocery stores back home the deli cases offer a huge selection of what they call “salads” though none of the dishes actually have lettuce or greens in them. It’s a very Midwestern thing, I think, to have these giant bowls of goodness loaded with mayonnaise, pasta, potatoes, meats, and occasionally vegetables and to sell them for only $4.95/pound.

sweet potato and lentil salad

There’s potato salad (Polish or German, there’s a difference), pasta salad, tuna salad, fruit salad, grasshopper salad (a delicious combination of Cool Whip, mint flavoring, green food coloring, and crushed Oreos). The list goes on.

The traditional Midwestern response: “Kale? Escarole? Radicchio? Just who do you think you are? Those don’t belong in a salad! Now go get me a can of cream of mushroom soup for tonight’s hot dish…”

sweet potato and lentil salad

Aaaaaaaaanywho. That loose definition of what constitutes a salad led me to make this delish dish. Creamy sweet potatoes, protein-packed lentils, tart apples and meaty mushrooms are combined to make an incredibly filling vegetarian dish. A drizzle of balsamic reduction and a healthy sprinkling of a nice salty cheese balances out this warm and filling Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad. Make a large batch of it at the beginning of the week and eat for days or make for a group and a delicious side dish to go along with a roast chicken.

sweet potato and lentil salad

Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad (makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

¼ medium red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 tart apple (such as Cortland), chopped

1 medium sweet potato, steamed, peeled, and chopped

1 cup cooked lentils

Balsamic vinegar reduction, see recipe below

2-4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)

Salt to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, stirring to coat with oil, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook until mushrooms begin to soften and release juices. Add remaining oil, apples, sweet potato, and lentils. Cook until warmed through, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Divide among bowls and top with balsamic vinegar reduction and cheese. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

½ cup balsamic vinegar

Place vinegar in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly. The reduction will thicken as it cools.

sweet potato and lentil salad

Totally worth $4.95/pound.

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes

I am not the biggest fan of pancakes. Even though I’ve posted about them twice before, I really and truly prefer waffles (waffle recipe coming soon, promise!). I guess what I am really not a fan of is restaurant pancakes. They’re always so heavy and dense. Whenever I eat them I feel so sluggish and lethargic and I’m usually not hungry when lunch rolls around, which is a major disappointment for me.

oatmeal protein pancakes

Making pancakes at home though, that I can do. Even on a weekday. Even when I’m starving after a workout and want food asap. Even when I’m running around getting ready for work. I still make time for these pancakes, since they don’t take much time at all. Most of the “prep” work is done the night before so all I have to do in the morning is blend and pour. The part that takes the longest is waiting for my coffee to finish brewing so I can enjoy it alongside these Oatmeal Protein Pancakes.

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What kind of eater are you?

What kind of eater are you?

Kelly Kapoor Cupcake

This may seem like a weird question – to wonder what kind of eater someone is. And I’m not talking about the vegetarian, vegan, or meat eater debate. I’m talking about exactly how we eat the foods we choose, the relationship a person has with food.

There are so many different kinds, and one person can be one of them, all of them, maybe even none of them. I know that for me, recognizing the eater I am at any given moment has been instrumental in getting a hold on overeating.

***

Guilty Gorger – You have “good” foods and you have “bad” foods. So long as you don’t stray off the “good” list, eating is fine, no big deal. One slip onto the “bad” side of the list, one too many cupcakes or a few too many chips, and all hell breaks loose. Because of the connotations of food being either “good” or “bad,” there’s a lot of remorse and guilt tied up with eating certain foods. These feelings of guilt often lead to a downward spiral of overeating.

How to combat it: Assigning the labels of “good” and “bad” to food is never a good idea, it will only lead to problems. Rename foods, if you must, as healthy or nutritious or indulgent and think about what they do for your body. Remember the old adage of enjoying everything in moderation. One cupcake is not going to make you gain weight, just like one salad won’t miraculously make you skinnier.

Stress Snacker – You’ve got three deadlines to meet, midterms are coming up and you’re behind on reading, rent is due next week and you’re more than a little bit short. This is all incredibly stressful – on mind and body. And the only way to alleviate that stress is by eating. And eating. And eating. The eating is distracting, an escape. You turn to food when you have to make difficult decisions because food is always there, it understands.

How to combat it: Look for something else to alleviate your stress, seek another outlet. Walking, reading, writing, even talking on the phone are all good distractions from stress and will often do a far better job of clearing your head than eating an entire pizza could. If the stress is really pressing, try talking to a professional – there’s no harm in getting help if it will make you feel better in every area of your life.

Emotional Eater – Happy? Sad? Melancholy? Overjoyed? Eat! E-A-T! You use food to celebrate, to mourn, to comfort, to remember. Food is a reward for a job well done, or a shoulder to cry on when you fail. Food is playing a staring role in your life, as well it should, but to the point where it’s starting to overshadow some other important characters – like family and friends.

How to combat it: There’s a saying “you’re not a dog, you do not reward yourself with food.” It’s painfully true but, as a culture we gauge our emotions and eat accordingly. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating with a big slice of birthday cake and yes, sometimes the soul does need that piece of chocolate, but know when food is becoming a crutch and when the “celebrating” needs to stop.

Mindless Muncher – The TV is on so you might as well snack, right? Go ahead, grab those chips. And when a commercial comes back on grab the dip. Wait, you’re halfway through this season of New Girl and the chips are already gone? But how? You don’t remember eating them all. You’re still hungry though, maybe some ice cream will do the trick…

How to combat it: Focus, focus, focus. Get rid of distractions when eating. No TV, laptop, or cell phone. Think about what you’re doing in the moment. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and balance of a meal. If you’re watching TV, try drinking flavored tea instead of eating, that way your hands and mouth are busy and your brain registers flavors without all the extra calories.

Restrictive Rationer – After succumbing to one of the other types of eating, you feel so remorseful that you vow to do better next time. And by do better you mean eat less. To make up for a perceived “failure” you limit the foods you eat for the next day or even multiple days in order to offset the calories. This often leads to a cycle of restricting and then binge eating.

How to combat it: This is very similar to being a guilty gorger, so the thought process to stopping it is very similar. Just because you feel you over indulged for one meal or one day doesn’t mean you can make up for it right.that.second by refusing to eat again for the next 72 hours. That puts the body into starvation mode and it will actually store fat. The best thing to do after eating much too much is to simply begin eating a normal diet again. Easier said than done, but jumping right back on that bandwagon after falling off is the only way to make lifelong, sustainable habits.

Calorie Counter – Numbers count (no pun-intended) and nothing else. The focus is solely on the caloric value of a food, not the nutritional value or the ingredients. So long as you don’t exceed your allotted number of calories for the day, everything else will be fine.

How to combat it: Educate yourself. Many processed and packaged foods that are low in calories are also low in vitamins, minerals and nutrients – the important things our bodies need to be happy and healthy. Focus on nutrition and not numbers. Eating minimally processed foods will be the best way to get the most bang for your (caloric) buck. For example, avocados and nuts are highly caloric but also chalk full of heart healthy fat and minerals and do wonders for hair and skin to boot!

Absentminded Abstainer – You make a sandwich then get a call on your cellphone and before you know it two hours have gone by and the sandwich is still on the counter but your desire to eat it has long since dissipated. Three meals a day is unfathomable, two is maybe doable but you might be too busy or just accidentally forget and not eat at all.

How to combat it: Make a schedule. It sounds silly, to need to write down when you’ll eat meals, but it’s the best way to ensure meals won’t be missed or skipped. Pack a lunch the night before work so you’re not tempted to skip the next day. Always travel with snacks on hand, in your bag or car so when you actually do feel hungry there’s something available.

***

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been every single one of these “eaters” at one point or another. Sometimes it’s a combination of a few, sometimes I have no idea how I would classify my eating habits. What I was trying to show with this post is how important it is to be aware of when, how and why we turn to food. Figuring out my past and current relationship with food has been integral to forging a better, healthier, and happier one with food in my future. It has given me insight into my head and heart, even outside of food.

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