Category Archives: Lunch & Dinner

Easy Squash Casserole

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NaturallyCheesy #CollectiveBias

Need more cheese in your life already? Visit Kraft for more delightfully cheesy recipes!

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Tortilla Chip: I can’t believe how mean you were today on the playground. You know how sensitive I am about my toasty crisp edges!

Cheese: Aww, c’mon–it was just a joke!

Tortilla Chip: I don’t want to taco ’bout it.

Cheese: But we’re friends–

Tortilla Chip: I am nacho friend!!!

(ba bum chiii)

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Have you ever been asked to tell a joke during an interview? After going to piano lessons unprepared and being eaten alive by a pit full of beetles, one of my greatest fears is having someone pop the “tell us a joke” question on me in a professional setting. Not only are the majority of jokes I know utterly unsuited for PC retelling–the ones that aren’t morally, religiously, or politically offensive are so, so cheesy.

Especially when they’re about tacos.

Eh? Eh?

No? Okay….

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Last week, I tried telling a joke about a chihuahua and was completely shut down by my friend, who just looked at me and asked blankly, “Was that the punch line?” Ouch. Guess it was a yappy joke anyway.

Thankfully, I redeemed myself shortly thereafter by telling a joke about a bear raiding a restaurant in Yosemite (in fact, the joke was stolen from a Yosemite park ranger), but after that I decided to stick to the kind of cheesy that I know I can do without shattering my dignity too badly. Enter cheesy easy squash casserole!

Now that the holiday season is officially here–yes, “Last Christmas” is currently playing on repeat on my computer, even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving–my oven is back on in full swing and the order of the day is casseroles.… Read more


Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Vegetarian Tomato Bisque + Veggie Corn Dogs

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FallWithATwist #CollectiveBias

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Confession time: so by the time I finally got around to photographing these veggie corn dogs and writing this post last week, there was only one left. ONE. Apparently I had eaten all the others without realizing it (okay, I definitely realized where this was going and liked them too much to care), so that’s why there is a single veggie corn dog in these photos…

Growing up, I loved corn dogs. They hold a special place in my heart because whenever my mom and I went clothes shopping at the mall, we would always stop by the food court stands and buy two corn dogs, plus a big cup of freshly squeezed lemonade to share. Since transitioning to a 95% vegetarian lifestyle a few years ago, I began searching for alternative options that would fit the bill, but nothing seemed to stick (ha ha, get it?). Believe it or not, it’s hard to find a veggie corn dog that can stand on its own two feet! Er, wooden popsicle stick.

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I don’t care whether you’re vegetarian or vegan or pescatarian or an avid meat-eater–whatever you are, these veggie corn dogs are it. One of my favorite things about being a food blogger is getting asked to try new foods and rambling on about my favorite ones endlessly. The corn breading and veggie hot dog in the center are so on point!

Ramble ramble ramble.


I personally can’t tell the difference between these and the original–if anything, these taste ten times better because they’re so light and don’t weigh me down after I devour one! Or two. Or four. Possibly right before swim practice.

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In other news, haaaave you met this tomato bisque?… Read more


Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Lunch & Dinner

Honey Walnut Tofu with Long Grain and Wild Rice

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #justaddrice #CollectiveBias

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Growing up, rice was a staple at home. If it was mealtime and there wasn’t rice on the table, either you had read the clock wrong and it wasn’t dinnertime, or you were eating out. Or the house was on fire but even then, there was probably rice…

I think I can count on both hands the number of times our family partook in a dinner without rice–because yes, even when it was lasagna night, the rice cooker would still be steaming happily away. You know, heaven forbid the pasta got burnt and became inedible or something.

Maybe we just really liked rice.

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So you can imagine the shock I felt when I learned in college that some of my friends didn’t eat rice at all. When my floormates and I had a potluck during my second year, I remember looking around the table for something that wasn’t bread, pasta, or some other form of insanely cheesy carbs.

Most importantly, where was the rice??

Okay, and also where were the chopsticks, because lezbehonest “not impaling your food before eating it” > “poking holes all over your food with a fork,” any day. Even if you have to bring your bowl up to your face when using chopsticks just to shovel the rice into your mouth. (But that’s half the fun!)

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Fortunately, once those godforsaken college years passed and I graduated to a real kitchen of my own, a nightly order of rice was back on the menu–and this time I was determined to play experimenter. As a kid, I had poo-poo’ed anything other than steamed white rice, mainly since my mom went through a phase of mixing brown rice with jasmine rice in the effort to make our meals “healthier.” It tasted terrible, with the brown rice still uncooked and the jasmine rice a big pile of mush.… Read more


Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Rice, Vegetarian

Marinated Tempeh + Ube Tacos with Homemade Chipotle Sauce {vegan}

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So, guys. Guys. 

I think I just told my advisor that I’m a food blogger. Say what?

Yep, it slipped out right in the middle of our last check-in a couple of weeks ago. As if I was Peter Parker revealing my identity to Mary Jane. Or James Bond doing his big giveaway speech. Or Darth Vader unmasking for Luke. Professor sir <huuuuyyyh> I AM your fahhther.

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The fact that I’ve finally broken the silence about my blogging alter-ego might not seem like a big deal, but oh, it most definitely is. On the list of Top Things That Are A Big Deal In My Semi-Significant Life, this one is right up there next to a) the discovery that Diagon Alley from Harry Potter is a phonetically deconstructed version of the word diagonally (Knockturn Alley = you guessed it, nocturnally!), and b) learning that strawberries are not actually berries, but bananas and avocados are (I KNOW, right? Mind blown!)

The reason this is such a big deal is because I am plagued by a chronic case of compartmentalization syndrome. I like to keep all the pieces of my jigsaw puzzle life in neat little boxes, connected but nice and separate, too. It’s kind of an issue. For instance, while I talk about a lot of personal stuff right here on this blog, there’s a crap ton of stuff you’ve probably never heard me mention, to the extent that you probably weren’t even aware that I wasn’t mentioning them in the first place.

Don’t take it personally–it’s just this thing with me that I’m still working to get over. Of course, when I found out in May that I’ll be hauling my sorry blogger butt over to the World Food Champs later this year and that I’ll be missing class for a week for it (which inevitably also means that I’m going to need to break the news sooner or later), it occurred to me that there’s really nothing quite like 4 years of keeping your alter-ego blogging identity a secret from your advisor to soothe your nerves.… Read more


Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup (Vegan!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CampbellSavings #CollectiveBias

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You may find it surprising that, although I am a PhD student in English, there are plenty of commonplace words that I would not be able to define for you. Most recently, I heard a word that I had not heard in a very long time – about four years, actually – and that seemed like a ghostly echo from some long forgotten past.

The word: summer.

Can you please use that word in a sentence? 

“In ancient times, the period between two academic semesters, when occurring during the months of June, July, and August, was known as summer vacation.

“Of course, recent empirical studies conducted by a reputable PhD student in English Literature and her colleagues have demonstrated that the notion of “summer vacation” is purely mythical.”

I’m guessing 90% of you out there know that feeling. As the awesome lady of manners Maggie Smith once famously asked: “Wh-what is a weekend?”

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Summer may be in full swing for most of the educational world, but here in Grad School Land, every minute not spend researching dissertation materials is either spetd worrying about not spending enough time researching dissertation materials, or girding our loins for the Back-to-School teaching curriculum that, lo and behold, is only two months away. Now somebody tell me, WHEN AND HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

And I don’t want to hear any Interstellar jokes, okay?

Just the other day, I was mulling over the prospect of starting another school year and started doodling up a list in my notebook. (Note: I love love love making lists!) After jotting down a few thoughts, I realized what I was writing and scribbled a huge title across the top of the page:

<10 Things I Absolutely Do Not Want to Do After Getting Home from a Long Day at School!> <– “Work” also works.… Read more


Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Grilled Vegetable & Veggie Burger Naan-wich

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GrillWithATwist #CollectiveBias

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It’s summer! It’s hot! It’s grill time! It’s summer! It’s hot! It’s grill time! It’s summer! It’s…time for a summer-spired story ♪

As a vegetarian, I never used to be a big fan of grilling. Most of my friends never quite know what to do with me when it comes to the good ol’ summer BBQ: “You’re vegetarian,” they’d say, “but is sausage okay?” or “I know you don’t eat meat, but does fish count?”

These are legitimate questions, since there are a lot of different denominations of “vegetarian” floating around these days. For the record, I’ve been 97% meatless for going on four years now–the 3% I reserve for special cultural occasions in which family is involved, because there are just some traditions I’m not willing to give up. I eat eggs and consume dairy products, but about half of my meals are actually vegan (no meat, eggs, OR dairy), and later this month M & I are going to try a week of veganism together! All in all, I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about sustainable, nutritious eating, and I’m pretty satisfied with how far I’ve been able to come since I first laid my eager paws on Michael Pollan’s wonderful book, In Defense of Food.

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Luckily, as the years have gone by and our friend groups back home have expanded, we’ve introduced a few more vegetarians and vegans into our midst, which means that our gatherings are a lot more dietary-need-conscious nowadays. Most of the time we’ll opt for potlucks so that everyone can bring and enjoy something, which is fantastic because then our spreads end up looking like this:

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So colorful and fresh! I’d like to take partial credit for being a good influence ;)

Since I was traveling a lot and didn’t have much time to prep a dish, I decided to bring a good ol’ everyone-friendly veggie patty from one of my favorite go-tos, MorningStar Farms.… Read more


Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Extra Easy Hummus

The following post has nothing to do with hummus, and it certainly isn’t “extra easy” for me to talk about. I’ll share the recipe for this hummus at the bottom of the post, as usual, so feel free to skip the rest and scroll down if you’re looking for it. If, however, you read on and have any insight to share, please do. Writing from a dark place, I could use the perspective right now.

(Edit: I am SO sorry about the timing of this post. I was writing it from a musty hotel room over the weekend and it honestly didn’t even occur to me that it was Father’s Day until the post went live. I love my daddy to bits and I hope to write him a proper post of appreciation later this week :) until then, these are some immediate thoughts that I hope won’t be a damper. But I’d still love to hear your thoughts ASAP!)


In recent years, I have learned the hard way that trust is not something that stands on a solid foundation built from words, assurances, contrition, or even years of trust-building. Instead, it teeters at the edge of a narrow, misshapen precipice, whose sharp point inexplicably–perhaps even miraculously–holds up the imbalanced weight that it bears, so that it seems always on the verge of toppling when the breeze of Doubt blows by–as Doubt will, on some sad occasions with more pertinacity than others.

With parents in particular, this precipice is a tricky one to travel, and one always has the feeling that a misstep will not only cause the entire structure of trust to crumble, but to cast one into a dark void of purposelessness and intense self-hatred that cannot be occasioned by anyone else. Those of us who are lucky enough to have loving parents know that we are born into a system of trust–that we begin, essentially, possessing one or more other beings’ trust without having earned a shred of it, unless you count the act of being genetically (or adoptively) related to someone “earning.” With every subsequent human encounter in our lives, we work hard to foster and maintain that trust–but a parent-child relationship is, for better or for worse, one that begins with a blind willingness to believe in someone we have only just come to know.… Read more


Filed under Appetizers, Dips/Spreads, Healthy, Homemade/DIY, Lunch & Dinner, Snacks, Vegetarian

Roasted Broccoli + Sweet Potato Black Rice Bowl with Sesame Miso Dressing { #VegFlavorBible Giveaway! }

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Whether you’re a long-standing vegetarian (or vegan!), or just someone who loves cooking and hunting for the perfect flavors to accompany your colorful dinner table, you’re going to love the book I’m sharing with you all today. When Karen + Andrew reached out and asked if I wanted to use, review, and give away a copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, I pounced on the opportunity like Simba nailed Zazu during that memorable scene from The Lion King.

Vegetarian? Flavors? The BIBLE of all things vegetarian flavored? COUNT ME IN.

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Have you ever been stumped when it comes to cooking that ingredient you bought on a random whim–expecting to use it every single day of your glorious kitchen life–and have never even touched? (cough my former relationship to tahini cough) That’s me like, 99% of the time. I’m a total impulse shopper, so often I buy fabulous fresh produce from the farmer’s market, tuck it away in my fridge, and it never sees the light of day again until it’s on the point of going bad and I just steam the crap out of it. You can imagine how often I have guests over for dinner…

With Karen + Andrew’s new cookbook, though, I’ve been seriously whizzing through my produce this month. Not only am I inspired to cook more often–I’m also inspired to try out new (and guaranteed awesome) flavor profiles that help me take full advantage of my stocked (but usually untouched) pantry!

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One of my favorite inspired dishes was this roasted broccoli + sweet potato black rice bowl with sesame miso dressing. It’s got to be one of the best vegetarian meals I have cooked up in a very long time, not least of all because the deep flavors of the black rice complement the nutty sesame, salty miso, and bright roasted broccoli so darn well.… Read more


Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Rice, Vegetarian

Grilled Cheese Rollups

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PourMoreFun #CollectiveBias (Psst! If you love grilled cheese, you’ll want to check out more cheesy recipes at!)

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If you had to pick five objects that represent your entire childhood, what objects would you pick?

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In no particular order, mine would be an inflatable armchair, the Backstreet Boys Millennium CD, my favorite pair of obnoxiously polka-dotted booger green tights, grilled cheese, and Kool-AidCan I get a hashtag #90sbliss?

(Especially for that sexy inflatable armchair–I owned a blue one like this. Cool kids? You bet your velvet bellbottoms and rainbow slinkies we were.)

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Discovering Kool-Aid Easy Mix as an adult was like stepping into a time machine and being transported instantly back into the head-boppin’, teeny-bopper 90s – except this time, there was no irritated high school cashier to tell me off for refilling at the drinks machine wayyy too many times. I bought all three flavors from Walmart recently – cherry, tropical punch, and grape – and I may or may not have already sipped my way through an entire bottle on my own before I even got around to writing this post. Whoops? (Good thing it has 50% less sugar than comparable regular sodas, right?)

When you live in 90°F springtime California, though, it’s hard not to want to drink Kool-Aid all the time. You can probably imagine that Kool-Aid Easy Mix is kind of nirvana for someone like me: just add water and enjoy? Now that’s my kind of childhood throwback!

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That’s not the only 90s throwback I’m sharing here today, though. As you can probably tell from the photos of gorgeous, oozing, melty, cheddary cheese that are flooding your lovely Tuesday monitor at this very moment (I’m sorry, did you say you’re at work and want to lick the whole screen right now? … Read more


Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

The Very Best Kimchi Fried Rice for #SundaySupper


I rarely get hungry while editing my photos for this blog (I know, shocker!), but every once in a while something like this Kimchi Fried Rice happens on Saturday night at 2 AM and then I get the hangrays. Like, real bad.

Do yourselves a favor before you read on and save this recipe, guys. Seriously. This is NOT just your run-of-the-mill fried rice.


Fried rice is the Asian goddess of all things leftover. Except when I was really young, we never really ordered fried rice in Chinese restaurants. It’s sort of like going out to a Vegas buffet and only getting bread–you know, the cheap stuff that anyone (in this case, a shoddy graduate student) can make, and still make taste decent. That’s not to pooh-pooh fried rice, because I love the stuff; it’s just not something a respectable member of an Asian household is supposed to indulge in. (Please don’t tell my parents I love Panda Express too, okay?)

Back at home, though, my mom made it every time we had anything to use up–vegetables, tofu, eggs, the whole lot just went phut! into the sizzling wok, and minutes later we’d each have a heaping plateful of amazing fried rice sitting on our plates, ready to be inhaled right up.


Maybe that’s why, weirdly enough, I never cooked a single Asian dish when I was at home. When you have actual Asian relatives running around the kitchen making amazing, authentic fare, you’re going to want to stick to stuff that isn’t going to make you look like a disgrace to your heritage. Pick a dish that nobody has heard of–the more exotic-sounding the better (for example, pierogies or bouillabaisse!), though–and you’re in business! The family will instantly think it’s the best thing in the world, simply by virtue of having nothing to compare it to.… Read more


Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Rice, Vegetarian