Author Archives: westyn

Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Chickpeas, Lemons and Olives with Quinoa and Lemon-Tahini Dressing

I’ve been trying recently to make salads that combine a bunch of produce and taste like they could be served in Paris (“Feed me like one of your French girls”).  This was a great combo of some cherry tomatoes that were a couple days away from their expiry date, roasted cauliflower (which is my all-time fav), chickpeas, mediterranean olives and lemons, topped with a lemon-tahini drizzle and served over a quinoa and bulgur mix. It seems way fancier than it is, takes about 10 minutes tops to throw together, minus cooking time, and makes a ton of a really healthy, super filling dish for lunch or dinner.

Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Chickpeas, Lemons and Olives with Quinoa and Lemon-Tahini Dressing

  • Two 15.5-oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • One lemon, sliced into fairly thin rounds
  • Half a large head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size slices
  • 1/3 cup olives, pitted
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes
  • One cup dry quinoa, or quinoa/bulgur mix, which is delicious and takes approx. 10 minutes from start to finish to cook
  • 1.5 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp. coarsely-ground salt
  • 2.5 tbsp. EVOO, or Lemon Olive Oil, if you have it
  • Lemon-Tahini Dressing
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, for easier cleanup.
  3. Spread chickpeas over the parchment paper, then top with sliced cauliflower, olives, cherry tomatoes and sliced lemons. 
  4. Drizzle olive oil over everything, then add herbs de provence and salt. With your hands, mix everything until fully covered. 
  5. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a spatula to flip as much as you can. Roast for another 15 minutes or until tomatoes are blistered and cauliflower has browned edges. 
  6. While the dish is roasting, make the quinoa/bulgur mix according to package directions. When ready, fluff with a fork and remove from heat. 
  7. Serve the veggies and chickpeas over the quinoa. Drizzle with some lemon-tahini dressing to taste. 

 

 

Lemon-Tahini Dressing

This dressing is so simple, so delicious and can be used as a drizzle over anything from roasted veggie sides – it would be fantastic over roasted asparagus – to a salad or a hearty dish over grains. It keeps for about a week but honestly, you’ll be lucky if it lasts for more than a day. Enjoy.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing (makes about 1.5 cups)

  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. tahini
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO (lemon olive oil, if you have it, is amazing in this)
  • 1 large garlic clove, pulverized or finely grated on a microplane
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/3 tsp. salt
  1. Combine all ingredients, then stir really really well until it reaches a “drizzle” consistency – you want it to slightly coat a spoon, but also pour off pretty easily. Make sure you eliminate all the lumps of tahini – you want this to be smooth.

    pre-mixed

  2. Season to taste with more lemon juice, salt and olive oil as needed.
  3. Serve and enjoy, or keep in the fridge up to a week.

 

Quinoa, Lentil and Herbed Root Vegetable Salad

Apparently my new thing is to just combine some grains/legumes, roast some veggies, toss it with some fresh herbs and there you go: a delicious side, or main, that goes with almost everything. Rosted radishes are among my very favorite roasted veggies – you can get a big bundle of them for about a dollar right now, and organic carrots are about $1.50, so this whole dish couldn’t possibly cost more than $5 total. I honestly don’t know what my deal was with avoiding lentils for so long. They’re super healthy, filling and delicious, too!  Enjoy.

Quinoa, Lentil and Herbed Root Vegetable Salad

  • 1 Cup green lentils, cooked
  • 1 C. uncooked quinoa (makes approx. 2.5 cups)
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch sticks
  • 1 cup radishes, quartered
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • Kosher salt & fresh pepper
  • Fresh dill & fresh flat-leaf parsley, one generous tbsp. each.
  • Sprinkle herbs de provence (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Prepare the veggies. In a roasting dish, toss with EVOO, kosher salt, fresh pepper and herbs de provence. Cook approx. 25 minutes or until roasted, turning once or twice.
  3. Cook lentils according to package directions (should take about 25 minutes).
  4. Cook quinoa according to package directions (should take about 20 minutes).
  5. While everything is cooking, make an herbed lemon-yogurt dressing. Combine greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt and shredded garlic, then add chopped herbs.
  6. Combine roasted veggies, lentils and quinoa, then top with the remaining fresh dill and parsley.
  7. Top with a little herbed lemon-yogurt dressing and enjoy!

 

Herbed Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

Herbed Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

  • 1 C. Greek Yogurt
  • 1.5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or shredded on a microplane
  • Fresh dill and fresh parsley, chopped, approx. 1 tbsp. each
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO or Lemon Olive Oil

This one is pretty difficult. Ready?

  1. Combine everything, season to taste, add more olive oil or lemon juice to thin the dressing to your preference.
  2. Refrigerate for about an hour. Will keep for approximately five days, but odds are good it’ll be gone before then.

 

Broccoli and Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Bombs

This is really simple, super delicious weeknight meal. Taking the shortcut of using a “steamables” version of the broccoli and cheese sauce allows you to throw all this together in no time flat for a healthy meal that makes great leftovers, too. Honestly, I would roll just about anything up in chicken – but this one earns its name since these little chicken bombs are legit “the bomb.”

BROCCOLI AND CHEESE-STUFFED CHICKEN BOMBS (serves 2-3)

  • 1.5 lbs thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • Broccoli & cheese sauce (steamables)
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1/2 C. water
  • Squeeze of lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Cook broccoli and cheese steamables according to package directions, set aside until it’s room temperature (so the heat from it doesn’t start to cook the chicken once you start assembling).
  3. Arrange your little assembly station: place the panko breadcrumbs in one bowl, mix the EVOO, water and squeeze of lemon in another bowl,
  4. Salt and pepper the chicken.
  5. Lay chicken on a flat surface, then top with the broccoli/cheese mixture and a sprinkle of the mozzarella. 
  6. Roll the chicken up in a little twirl of deliciousness, then dip in the EVOO/water/lemon mixture, then roll in the breadcrumbs. If you have olive oil spray, lightly give the chicken bomb a little spray. This will help them develop a golden color as they cook.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  8. Place the chicken in a lightly greased baking dish, then cook for approx. 30 minutes or until cooked through. Serve and enjoy.

 

 

 

Stuffed Peppers

Ok, so I hated these growing up. Then one day about a year ago, I decided to try them again. And they’re AMAZING. Making them with ground turkey and adding a secret spice to them kind of makes them taste – warmer, I think. Brendan added these to the top of his “favorites” list and he gets soooo super psyched whenever I tell him I’m going to make these for dinner. This all comes together really quickly, especially if you use quickie rice, looks so pretty and makes perfect leftovers, too. Enjoy.

STUFFED PEPPERS (makes 6 halves)

  • 3 red and/or orange bell peppers
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. EVOO
  • 2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 large tsp Garam masala (don’t skip this, it gives it a unique flavor we love)
  • 1 large tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Uncle Ben’s quick-cook rice (I use the whole grain brown chicken-flavored rice) that cooks in 90 seconds
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Heat EVOO over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chopped onion, garlic and cilantro, sautee for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add ground turkey, garlic powder, garam masala and salt, stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is browned.
  4. Add 1/2 C. chicken broth and all the tomato sauce, turn the heat to low and simmer for five minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cut the peppers lengthwise (I think this also makes the dish look so much better), scrape out the seeds, but keep stems on if possible for decoration.
  6. Heat up the rice according to package directions, then add to the turkey mix. Stir to combine.
  7. Place peppers in a baking dish, then carefully stuff with the turkey and rice mixture. 
  8. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
  9. Add another 1/2 C. of the chicken broth to the baking dish, creating a little pool of liquid around the peppers (don’t splash this IN the peppers).
  10. Cover and bake at 400 for 45 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven, top with scallions and serve immediately.

 

French Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

Ugh, I swear this is how French women stay skinny. I crave vegetables in France. There’s just something simple and indulgent about how they’re cooked and presented, and my very favorites are haricots verts, or French green beans. They’re basically American green beans, but super skinny (very French). This is a super simple, incredible tasty side that I could have with almost every meal I make. Enjoy.

FRENCH GREEN BEANS WITH TOASTED ALMONDS (serves 3-4 as a side)

  • 1 Lb. haricots verts (you can usually find these in grocery stores like Whole Foods, Wegman’s or Central Market, they’ll be labeled “French green beans.”)
  • 2 Tbsp. walnut oil
  • Heavy pinch fleur de sel
  • Fresh-cracke black pepper
  • 1/4 c. blanched and slivered almonds (you can find these in a bag in the grocery store, you don’t have to do this yourself).
  1. Heat walnut oil in a nonstick skillet over a little more than medium heat.
  2. Add green beans and a heavy pinch fleur de sel. Stir and cook for about three minutes.
  3. Cover most of the pan with a lid and cook for 6 more minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a small pan over medium, then add walnuts and toast, shaking the pan frequently and watching closely so the almonds don’t burn. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat when golden brown.
  5. Add salt and pepper to haricots verts to taste, then top with toasted almonds. Serve and enjoy. J’adore les haricots verts!

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

Texas is good at a lot of things, but they miss the mark on anything buffalo (wings, hoagies, bites, etc.). I’ve really been missing that food since we moved here, and finally came up with a recipe that solves my cravings, sneaks in some veggies and can even be made gluten-free. It’s awesome and one of my go-to’s when I need some comfort food.

BUFFALO CHICKEN MEATLOAF (serves 3-4)

  • 1 Lb. ground chicken
  • 1/3 c. blue cheese dressing, plus more for dipping
  • 4 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot (or your favorite hot sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 3 scallions (whites and greens)
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced (plus more stalks for serving on the side)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 c. almond meal (or flour if you prefer)
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for the blue cheese and Frank’s Red Hot.
  3. Form into a meatloaf shape, place into a lightly greased pan.
  4. Combine blue cheese & Frank’s Red Hot, pour over the meatloaf to coat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, carefully pouring off the runoff after about 25 minutes.

6. Let rest for about 5 minutes, them slice and serve with a drizzle of blue cheese and fresh-cut celery sticks.

 

Roasted Vegetable Winter Salad

Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad

Annnnd, I’m back. What a year. For everything we’ve all been through in 2017, I’m really hopeful for everything ahead in 2018. As Nina Simone would say, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and I’m feeling good.

This hearty winter salad helps. Freekeh serves as the base and is loaded with protein and fiber. Roast up some veggies (including a sweet potato), toast some almond slices, whip up a quick lemon-maple vinaigrette and toss it all together. This is awesome and filling on its own, but Brendan has eaten it for breakfast, warmed quickly and topped with a fried egg. And it’s good for you!!  Anyone else need a detox after the holidays?  Hell, anyone need a detox after the dumpster fire of 2017?  Start here.

ROASTED VEGETABLE WINTER SALAD (serves 4)

  • 1 cup freekeh, pre-cooked
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups cauliflower, broken into florets (I had purple cauliflower on hand, which was so pretty in this, but any color will work)
  • 1/4 c. almond slices
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries

Lemon-Maple Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. In a small pot, bring one cup of freekeh (no need to rinse this, like you do with quinoa) and 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Cover and simmer about 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

    Freekeh

  3. Toss brussels sprouts, sweet potato and cauliflower with a glug or two of EVOO and some kosher salt & fresh-cracked black pepper. Roast at 400 for about 25 minutes or until browned and tender. 
  4. To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice with the salt and pepper. Next, add the maple syrup and then whisk in the EVOO. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the almonds, flipping often, until golden brown – about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on these – they’ll go from perfect to perfectly burned in a span of about 30 seconds. 
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked freekeh, the roasted vegetables, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and the dressing. Mix everything together.
  7. Serve and enjoy. Happy 2018!

    Winter Roasted Vegetable Salad

 

 

I’m (Still) With Her

Image result for hillary clinton

On the morning of Tuesday, November 8, 2016, my husband and I signed all the paperwork to begin our journey of starting a family. I’m 37, and we live in a city only two hours away from a country that’s had travel restrictions in place for months due to the Zika virus. Egg freezing and IVF seemed like the most logical option for us as we thought about our future family. Driving back from the appointment, I marveled about how amazing it was that we even had that choice: thanks to so many people fighting for women’s rights and reproductive freedoms, we could choose when and how to start our family. How incredible it was, I said, that we’d someday be able to tell our kids that we started to build our family on the same day our country would elect its first woman president of the United States.

When I was little, I wanted to be the first woman president. Long before I set out on a path of politics, healthcare and marketing, I believed that I could be anything I wanted to be, because I knew I was smart, talented and capable. In my 15 years as a professional, and my 37 years as a woman, I’ve had doubts that those qualities were enough to lead me to success. And last night, the country I live in confirmed that.

This election cycle has been a circus of absurdity from day one of Donald Trump’s ridiculous, gold-plated presidential candidacy announcement. I’ve watched with morbid fascination as he insulted, demeaned, trivialized and lied his way through situation after situation, all the while gaining supporters and the admiration of those who claim to like the way he “tells it like it is.” The media could barely keep up with him: the minute they focused on one point that seemed certain to lead to his ruin, he was off and running in another, more horrible direction. Every time I thought “this will end him,” he proved me wrong. Throughout it, I grew more and more mystified: how the fuck was he doing this??? All the while, Hillary Clinton, a woman with more experience, talent and knowledge than perhaps any other presidential candidate in this lifetime – who was, I’m sure, thinking the same goddamn thing – kept her cool. And do you know why she had to? Because she’s a woman.

Let’s not mince words: it fucking sucks to be a woman in a man’s world. I say that because that’s my truth. I know what it’s like to be in a professional setting as the only woman in a room full of men, knowing you are just as smart, confident and capable as them – if not more so – and still know inherently that I needed to “know my role.” Be a little more demure. Laugh a little more than necessary at their jokes. Let them man-splain something to me that I already knew better than they did. Because it’s one thing to be smart, talented and capable. But it’s another thing to let on that you know you are.

Quick poll: how many men have had a stranger or co-worker come up to them and, unsolicited, tell you to “smile!” Zero? That’s how many I’d guess. On the contrary, the amount of times this has happened to me in both my professional and personal life is too many to count. It’s as if I exist, to a certain group of strangers, for no other reason than to look nice and make them feel good about themselves. It doesn’t matter why I’m not smiling: maybe I’m thinking about how to work through a crisis situation, maybe it’s just my resting bitch face. No matter. If you’re a certain kind of guy and I’m in your eyeline looking anything other than pleasant, it’s your obligation to tell me to look nicer for you. I’m not your equal. I’m your object.

With this election, this country has commanded women to “smile.” They have said that yes, they know who Donald Trump is. They acknowledge his hatred, his lies, his corruption, his charade of “character,” his homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny and racism. A large part of America is grateful to him for validating these qualities they share, for giving their hatred a voice. But another large part of the population looked at all of this and shrugged all, “Meh. Still better than a woman.”

Why don’t you like Hillary? Emails. Benghazi. “Corruption.” This is bullshit. You don’t like her because of who she is. You call her “dishonest” and “arrogant” when she displays the same qualities that could and would get a man elected. You don’t like the way she looks. She isn’t smiley enough. She doesn’t know her role.

Driving home yesterday, I thought about all those meetings when I was the only woman in a room full of men. I thought about all the times I’d been labeled a bitch when a man could have exhibited the same decisiveness and strength and been applauded for it. I thought about how hard I’ve worked to get where I am and how tough I’ve had to be to get over what people think of me when I knew what I was doing was right, if unpopular. I thought about when I was passed over for a job that was given to a man less qualified than me. I thought about all the times I discovered I was being paid tens of thousands less to do the same job that a male coworker was doing, even though I was working harder. And I imagined with hope our country electing Hillary Rodham Clinton as its president and all of that beginning to change.

Instead, by electing Trump as president, this country told me that my value is less because I am a woman. I can be as smart, confident, talented and capable as you can imagine, but it doesn’t ultimately matter because this is still a boys’ club. I am angry and I am deeply sad. I am heartbroken for Hillary, for our generations of young women and for the future of this country.

My (ever-patient, loving, supportive, super-smart and handsome) husband is an environmental journalist. I’m a healthcare professional living in the state of Texas who wants to start a family. What does this presidency mean for our careers? What does it mean for our lives? How can we bring a child into a world of ruin when we’ve both worked so hard to create positive change within it? Donald Trump has repeatedly come out against everything we are and everything we work to further. And the country I live in looked at all he stood for and said “Yup. Let a man do the man’s job, no matter who that man actually is.” I know that we’re going to have to work ten times harder now to prove ourselves and create any sort of positive change. Maybe that will start tomorrow, because I sure don’t have it in me today.

For now, America, I guess we’ll just grin and bear it.