Homemade Cookie Butter

Homemade Cookie Butter

Are you into cookie butter?

It’s basically like peanut butter…except made from pulverized cookies. You know. Because your sweet tooth wasn’t getting enough attention.

I have meant to make a homemade cookie butter recipe for you at Christmas for about three years now (it makes a great foodie gift in a cute jar!)…but every Christmas slides by without me doing it. So if you are asking yourself why I am sharing a warmly spiced spread with you in the middle of a boiling summer….well, it’s Christmas in July this year!

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Mustard Greens on Toast

Mustard Greens on Toast

It may surprise you to learn that I don’t actually eat a lot of vegetables. I can go entire days without a vegetable, if you don’t count the tomato sauce in pizza.

The problem obviously isn’t that I don’t like vegetables…I love them! The real problem is that I am busy and tired, and preparing vegetables (plus, let’s get real: doing the subsequent dishes) takes more time than boiling an egg.

“But,” you protest, “you’re a vegetarian. How can it be that you don’t eat a lot of vegetables!?”

And that, my friends, is a beautiful question. As I have been trying to plot ways to actually model good health for my kiddos, I have made a resolution: I will make it a priority to eat greens at every meal. Seriously, even breakfast. I have been drinking green smoothies and tossing kale into scrambled eggs. I even made oatmeal with spinach in it. More on that later.

Greens are so good for you. Greens, and vegetables more broadly, are the one thing we never have to eat in moderation.

Jump on the greens train!

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Chana Masala

Chana MasalaI adore Indian food. I love the spices and the warmth. I love that Indian food is packed with things that are good for my body, and that it doesn’t taste like “health food.” Indian food is fantastic.

But I’ve got to admit that I don’t cook Indian food at home very often. True, I love going home and recreating every delicious food in my very own kitchen; but I just find that Indian food is always better when I order it out. (Or, ahem, when friends make it for me. Yeah, you know who you are.)

In the months since learning about Caitlin’s dairy intolerance, I’ve had to avoid eating a lot of my favorite things. Dairy is in almost everything! And since a lot of Indian food is cooked with ghee (clarified butter), I’ve been wary of ordering Indian food at a restaurant.

Enter glorious chana masala, a simple dish featuring chickpeas cooked in a rich, spicy tomato sauce full of grated ginger and pressed garlic. This version comes together very quickly, ready from start to finish in under an hour, thanks to the help of canned chickpeas. And it is delicious!

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Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Casserole

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Casserole

What is it about Thanksgiving that makes us gravitate toward casseroles and gratins? From the simple classics of green beans and candied yams, to some of my new favorites like kale gratin and scalloped potatoes, if it’s creamy and comes in a 9″x13″ baking dish, it’s sure to find a home on the Thanksgiving buffet.

People always ask me what I eat for Thanksgiving, since I don’t eat the turkey. But with a dish like this cheesy sweet potato and chard casserole on the table, how could anyone go hungry?

I hope it’s not too heretical to proclaim that this casserole would be my choice over candied yams any day! I have never been a fan of emphasizing the sweet character of sweet potatoes: it just seems like too much sweet in one place. I love hitting sweet potatoes with some savory and some spice, and this casserole, with the barely bitter greens and the mountain of Gruyère, does not disappoint!

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna

I am so excited about Spring, aren’t you? Spring flowers and warm weather and kicking a soccer ball around with my son in our backyard…

But sometimes I just have a hard time saying goodbye to Winter. Especially this year, when I basically avoided my kitchen all Winter unless company came over or I had a hankering for dessert.

So today, on the very last day of Winter, I just can’t resist sharing one final amazing dish with you: butternut squash lasagna.

This baby is so delicious, and so worth the effort! And because it is full of sweet squash instead of greasy meat and spicy tomato sauce, you could even get away with eating it in Spring. I’m just saying.

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Colcannon

Colcannon

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day! So I made you colcannon.

Normally, I am not a huge fan of potatoes, but I definitely must make an exception for colcannon. This was incredibly easy to make, and with the addition of leafy greens I actually felt like I was giving my body something nutritious along with all that starch and butter. Mmmm.

Apparently I unwittingly made a more “traditional” version of colcannon (which is one of the many Irish variations on mashed potatoes) when I decided that kale was a better choice than cabbage.

At least, that’s what Darina Allen tells me.

I had never seen colcannon with anything other than green cabbage mixed in, but when I stumbled across a recipe that used kale, I knew it was the one for me. Later, after gobbling down a huge mountain of buttery mashed potatoes speckled with dark green kale, I looked up colcannon in my Irish cooking bible and discovered that I had not, as I feared, completely abandoned the spirit of the Irish dish.

So. Happy St. Patty’s day! Make some potatoes. Make them with kale. Your mouth and your stomach will thank you.

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

It’s Pi Day again!

But this year, I thought I would do something a little unusual and make a savory pie. (Let’s face it: I do not need another reason to eat dessert at this stage in my pregnancy.)

Shepherd’s pie is a classic ground meat dish. It’s as meat and potatoes as you can get. But thank goodness for the Moosewood Restaurant in New York, where Mollie Katzen dreamed up a way to make a delicious meatless version! I actually think this veggie-friendly shepherd’s pie does a great job of mimicking its meatier friend by using shredded tofu, mushrooms, and soy sauce to build umami beneath a delightful layer of mashed potatoes.

So it’s not quite a pie. Let’s celebrate Pi Day anyway!

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Grown-Up Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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It’s a snow day, so you know what’s on the menu at my house: grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s the perfect comfort food!

I have so many memories of eating this meal as a child, especially after traipsing around in the snow on a winter day. My mother would stand at the stove and stir milk into the Campbells condensed tomato soup, expertly flipping buttery cheese sandwiches on the griddle. She had a special mug that was just for her tomato soup—because tomato soup should always be served in a mug.

We would sit at our old Formica table, slurping our soup and dipping our melty sandwiches, getting warm enough to go out for another round of sledding down the giant hill in front of our house.

But, of course, I have grown up a little. And as much as I still love the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup of my childhood, I also like to let my comfort foods grow a little.

And seriously, I dare you to find anything more delicious than goat cheese, nutmeg, fresh thyme, runny egg yolks, and balsamic vinegar. I dare you! This grown-up version of a favorite comfort food is just stunningly delicious. Thank you, snow days, for being so yummy.

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Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

This pregnancy has definitely done something to my taste buds. For weeks I cringed at the thought of an egg (used to be one of my favorite foods). I suddenly find myself interested in eating Chinese food (one of Dave’s favorite things), and I have discovered a love of potatoes!

I have held a grudge against potatoes for a long time. It just gets my goat that people treat potatoes as a vegetable and neglect their brightly colored roots, fruits, and leafy greens. Potatoes don’t belong on a plate next to a slice of bread. Potatoes are starchy! They drive up blood sugar because the body treats them like carbohydrates!

But…I must admit…they are rather hearty for winter. And the body does need some starchy calories in addition to vegetable nutrients. And potato skins are actually quite full of things that are important to vegetarians, like vitamin B and potassium.

So when I found myself randomly craving potato leek soup, something I had only ever eaten once in my life before, I just went for it. I ate almost the whole batch by myself. And then I made another batch (with a few extra veggies, just because). I think I am hooked.

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Chocolate Mint Butter Cookies

Chocolate Mint Butter Cookies

Here’s some big news: We are expecting our second baby this coming spring! A little girl!

Jake is very excited to become a big brother. It’s so cute to see the things that stand out to him: he is sure that “Baby Nugget” spends all her time swimming (and she may or may not also be inside his tummy, too); some of his toys have now been earmarked to share with the baby; and he is very concerned that his sister may have to sleep in the same room as the vacuum cleaner.

Here’s some more big news: We just moved to a new house!

This is a super crazy season of life. For months (and maybe you noticed by my conspicuous absence…) I was too exhausted and grossed out to cook anything, and we subsisted largely on Taco Bell (let’s blame that on the baby) and pancakes. Then, at last, I recovered some of my energy and poured it all into making a wedding cake and packing up everything I own to move to a wonderful, amazing, beautiful new house!

It’s been hectic and quite emotional, and I don’t think that’s just the hormones talking.

Now, in the middle of unpacking Christmas has reared its dear sweet head, and it’s definitely time to break out all the delicious cookie recipes and get baking.

I love chocolate and mint together during the holiday season, and these buttery, minty icebox cookies are fairly easy to make. Not only that, but they are cute and festive!

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