Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, then you already know how dearly I love Sarah of Well Dined.

She is one of my favorite people on the planet! Sarah has been unspeakably kind and generous to me in the seven years (!) we’ve known each other. She is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and hilarious. She is bold—and I don’t just mean her hair—and she pursues life fully. I am grateful to Sarah for stretching me as a cook, for her encouragement and patience through all of my motherhood woes, and for being the best friend a girl could ask for.

Which is why I am so excited to be cooking from Well Dined for the September Secret Recipe Club challenge!

Months ago, when Sarah joined the SRC, I mentally earmarked this spinach and gruyère strata to make whenever I got assigned to cook from her blog. But…surprise! During one of our subsequent lunches, she mentioned this amazing caramelized French toast she makes, and I knew my life would not be complete without it, so I decided to make that instead. And then, when the assignment actually happened, I got so excited about making some kind of ravioli, which Sarah makes all the time—and we talk about endlessly—that I threw out all my breakfast plans entirely. This somehow turned into the joy of hiding vegetables inside of pasta sauce.

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Rainbow Cauliflower Bowl

Rainbow Cauliflower Bowl

I’ve become kind of obsessed with cauliflower.

Lately, I’ve been eating it almost every day, with beet hummus, for breakfast scrambled with eggs, instead of rice with Indian food.

And then Sarah and I decided to combine our powers for good and make a colorful, healthy lunch totally based on cauliflower.

I am NOT on the low-carb bandwagon. Wheat would have to go extinct for me to give it up for the rest of my life. Despite these truths, I really love replacing grains with cauliflower.

Here’s the thing. I am the type of person who wants to spend time eating. It’s hard for me to feel “done” eating if my plate is clean in five minutes or less, even if I’ve actually had enough calories to fill me up. This is why vegetables, and cauliflower specifically, are amazing. More volume for less calories, longer meals with less overeating just because I still have the munchies.

This rainbow bowl is delicious and surprising. There are a lot of components, but all together they make an incredibly satisfying meal!

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Green Bean and Farro Salad with Manchego

Green Bean and Farro Salad with Manchego

I like to collect cookbooks. Mostly pretty ones. Often written by bloggers I enjoy and famous chefs.

Yet, like everyone in my generation, when I want to figure out what is for dinner, I usually ask Pinterest.

Which is why it’s so weird that I have been cooking lately from magazine clippings and *gasp* the actual pages of the books on my shelves!

When I found this grain salad as I was idly flipping through a magazine one morning, I immediately wrote all of the ingredients on my grocery list and purchased them the next day. I love whole grain salads, and you should, too!

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Zucchini and Squash Blossom Soufflés

Zucchini and Squash Blossom Souffles

Are you a gardener?

I keep trying, really I do, but I have never had any success with squash. I know they are supposed to be easy to grow, prolific even…but so are the tiny little caterpillars that keep murdering my squash plants year after year.

Which is why I am so grateful for friends with better garden prowess!

This year, one of my dear friends from church gifted me with zucchini blossoms and the world’s largest zucchini. Seriously, it was the size of a small pumpkin.

This soufflé recipe is a perfect way to make the most of the zucchini plants in your own backyard (meaning: you don’t need an industrial quantity of squash or blossoms, so you can make this recipe with what you are able to harvest—or what your friends are willing to part with!). I urge you not to be scared of soufflé. Yes, it’s fancy, and it makes all of your dishes dirty, but it’s also delicious and less delicate than you think! And, bonus, it’s a great way to trick your kids into eating delicious summer veg.

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Beet Hummus

Beet Hummus

Last week, I made these amazing beet burgers. Beets are lovely, aren’t they? I think beets are the most beautiful color in the whole world. But…I have to admit that I really hate to eat them plain. I’ve tried them in salads with goat cheese and soaked in butter and horseradish sauce. But my favorite beets are definitely those diced small and mixed well with other flavors.

As I was contemplating what to do with the lonely, leftover beet in my crisper, I suddenly remembered a batch of beet hummus Dave’s aunt had made at Christmas, and I immediately got excited.

This hummus is a little earthy and a little tangy, and full of gorgeous pink. Eat it with a huge handful of bright, raw vegetables and you will feel like you are on cloud nine.

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Red-Handed Beet Burgers

Red-Handed Beet Burger

Admit it. You love veggie burgers. You can’t escape the truth.

Veggie burgers are one of the best things about being vegetarian, in my opinion. (Why eat something boring when you can eat something creative?) And these beet burgers with quinoa and black beans are no exception! They are delightful and hearty and a little smoky.

They are also a brilliant backdrop for all sorts of toppings, so pick your pleasure and take a big bite.

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Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream S'Mores

Two weeks ago, we went camping as a family for the first time ever.

After I got over the trauma of packing (you guys: packing everything you could possibly need for your shelter and all your activities outside and food cooked over a camp stove, which you also have to bring along…why did I want to do this, again?), plus my fear of the bear wandering around the state park we camped in, I really had a magnificent time!

We went with my best friend and her family, who are expert campers. They did not even mock me as my tiny percolator boiled over repeatedly, or when I admitted I had left some of the ingredients for our joint dinner on my counter at home. They laughed at me when I whined about how the shower only spouted water for 8 seconds at a time (literally). They waited patiently for Jake as he slowly hiked up his first mountain, and they raced around the campsite with my kids, who were loving all the time outside!

The best part of this whole adventure, obviously, was making s’mores.

Dipped Ice Cream S'MoresHow do you like your s’mores? Do you like to toast your marshmallow nice and slow or are you a down-and-dirty, set-it-on-fire type? Either way, you should really consider ditching the campfire (I’m thinking of you: it’s too hot outside for fire!) and making these fancy pants s’mores with toasted marshmallow ice cream instead.

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Rainbow Baked Eggs

Rainbow Baked Eggs

As you may be aware, my husband and I have radically different food tastes.

If he could eat whatever he wanted for the rest of his life, he would be staring down a long succession of barbecues, charcuterie, spicy chicken wings, corned beef and cabbage, anything that goes well with rice (basically all Asian cuisines, especially dishes that are spicy and beefy and porky), Irish black tea, buckets of cola, mountains of fresh fruits covered in sugar to make them super juicy. I’d wager you would find nary a vegetable on the list, unless it appeared incidentally with the meat.

I, on the other hand, would be wolfing down cheese pizza by the pie, any dessert that has chocolate in it (especially cookies, brownies, ice cream, cake, tarts…oh my gosh, sweet tooth), butter, cheese, bread, buttery cheesy bread, salmon, crab cakes, ripe tomatoes, toasted nuts, Riesling, gallons of black coffee…and let’s throw in some salads for good measure. Because as much as I would love to eat nothing but foods half held together by butter, I definitely spend hours each week obsessing over how to eat more vegetables and be more healthy.

As you may imagine, this can make dinner time a little stressful (and it’s one of the reasons we love to eat out: to each their own!).

Thank God for eggs.

Seriously, thank you, God, for eggs. Because without eggs, Dave’s and my taste buds might have to declare war on each other.

And because of these eggs, I have a favorite little memory tucked away: Dave came home from work the day after I made these colorful eggs for the first time, and he announced: “All day long I was craving bulgogi. And then I realized that I didn’t want bulgogi. I wanted more of the eggs you made last night!”

(Cue victorious fist pump. Dim lights. End scene.)

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Stovetop Elotes (Mexican Street Corn)

Stovetop Elotes

A few weeks ago, a friend told me about this amazing way to eat corn on the cob.

At first, I was only half listening…unlike most people, I don’t get too excited when ears of corn start to overflow from farmer’s stands or grocery store aisles. It’s just corn.

But, as she told me about this corn, my ears perked up. You put mayonnaise on corn? What? (You know how I always like things that sound too weird to be true…)

I got just curious enough to buy a few ears and let them sit in the fridge for a week. But my grill is not currently at my house. And it’s always raining anyway. And mayonnaise on corn can’t be doing anyone any nutritional favors.

Finally, mostly in an effort not to waste the corn I had already bought, I decided to “grill” my corn on a cast-iron pan on the stovetop. As I licked the spoon after stirring together what turned out to be the. most. delicious! sauce in the whole entire world, I knew I would never be satisfied with corn any other way.

Make this corn. There are no more excuses. You must make elotes.

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Zucchini and Goat Cheese Quiche with Cracker Crust

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Quiche with Cracker Crust

I laughed out loud when I saw the name of my Secret Recipe Club blog for July: Why I Am Not Skinny. That’s a question I ask myself an awful lot, usually after a bowl of homemade ice cream or a third slice of pizza.

I was seriously tempted to make Maxine’s crepes…lately I have been all too eager to make breakfast, and dinner has sort of turned into a black hole into which I throw takeout and yes, more breakfast foods (and I wonder why all this baby weight is stubbornly sticking around….).

For some reason, both my kids have started losing their cool at exactly 5:00pm. Dinner is hard.

Which is why quiche for dinner is perfect! First of all…it is kind of like breakfast (but healthier and more filling than a plate full of carby sugar)! Second of all, you can prep quiche several hours before baking it, which makes the witching hour much less dreadful.

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