Category Archives: Lunch & Dinner

Zucchini Tomato Marinara Pasta with #OXO

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“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

If you were standing in my apartment earlier this morning, that would have been the inarticulate sound from the kitchen.

Now before you panic (oh my god, there’s a MANDOLIN SLICER in her photos!!!), I can assure you that it wasn’t a scream of pain.

No, my friends–that was a shriek of pure joy issuing in glass-shattering pitch as I played with my newest kitchen toy. And I am so so so excited to share it with all of you today–can you tell?

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OXO recently sent me another lovely bundle for my pasta-making lazy days: this Adjustable Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer, a Grape & Tomato Cutter, and a beautifully sturdy Rice & Grains Washing Colander with a draining spout near the top edge for easy pouring. Now as a gal who doesn’t often indulge in acquiring “kitchen gadgets” (okay, maybe the bread maker I got for Christmas is an exception. And the confectioner’s sugar dusting wand. And the Mickey Mouse ice cream scoop….oh fine, I love kitchen gadgets), the arrival of these wonderful toys via mail could only mean one thing: pasta play day!

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By noontime, thinly sliced zucchini was sizzling on the stovetop and my pasta was happily draining al dente in its colander. With all of the craziness happening around here lately, it was a relief to just spend an hour in the kitchen cooking, slicing, photographing, and–best of all–eating a truly homecooked meal.

Even I was surprised at how fresh this whole meal tasted–with whole wheat pasta, lightly cooked zucchini, quartered cherry tomatoes, a dollop of marinara sauce, and a sprinkling of assorted cheeses, this pasta is giving me the physical, emotional, and mental fuel to get through the rest of this crazy day (I’m currently preparing a guest lecture for Tuesday’s English survey course and am slightly freaking out, but don’t mind me).… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Tofu Pineapple Veggie Rice Bowl with Tangy Asian Peanut Sauce

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

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It feels like it’s been forever. It really has been forever, hasn’t it? HI!

Things have been flat-out crazy around here lately, hence the radio silence recently. I drafted up a Life Plan-of-Attack a few weeks ago that basically boiled my hours down to a fine dust: 63 hours of research, 20 hours of miscellaneous writing work, 15 hours of blogging, 15 hours for teaching prep, and 15 hours for swimming. That left 40 hours in the week for sleeping, and next to the word “social” on my whiteboard are two giant symbols:

“??”

Thankfully, it turns out that the weeks of sleepless fervor were well worth it, because now that we’re entering February (WHAT), the dissertation writing momentum is finally, finally starting to pick up. I’ve waded through what must be a quarter of the school library’s tomes on evolutionary theory and child development, not to mention haunted the local Starbucks in more stuporific dazes than I care to mention. Meanwhile, I’m slowly reintroducing parts of my social life back into its place, and guess what? Now that I’ve done some preemptive cramming, I actually get to spend this coming weekend rocking out with my fambam for Chinese New Year’s!

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CNY is kiiiiinda a crazy weeklong affair for my family. While we’re pretty Americanized in a lot of ways (helloooo, English major and not yet disowned! hooray!) this is one holiday on which our household definitely does NOT skimp.

The end of every year always starts with a head-to-toe house cleaning, followed by the plastering of new fortune papers and placing of tangerines all around the house. This year will be the year of the monkey, so we’ll spend the next lunar year in the company of the troop of cartoonized red-cheeked primates that will deck our walls.… Read more

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Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Parmesan Cheddar Broccoli and LEAN CUISINE® Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

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

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Being back in the pool this year feels SO wonderful. While I’m not a huge proponent of New Year’s resolutions in general, I did make it a goal to kick off 2016 by swimming 6 times a week.

Swim club has been great about keeping me right on track: this weekend, a few of us hit up the pool for some workouts and reminded me how fun it is to be back in a swim community again. After just a few weeks, it feels good to know that when my arms pull through the water, my body is actually inclined to move forward at a relatively fast pace again. I’ve even been motivated enough to squeeze in a few (just a few!) double days of morning and evening practices, which I honestly haven’t done since dinosaurs roamed this earth. Good lord, it’s like I’m actually making progress!

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With this zealous swim calendar and an even crazier work schedule, though, I’ve found the hard way that it takes a world-class juggling act to maintain any sort of balance in my life. After a week of solid swim practices and absolutely nothing in my fridge when I came home wet and hungry, I decided to swing by Walmart one weekend and scour the aisles for something satisfying, but balanced enough that I could eat right after workout.

I was on my way out of the store after picking up some broccoli and shredded cheese when I finally found the golden ticket: LEAN CUISINE® Marketplace Collection Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese. I probably can make this sound any cheesier if I wanted to, but it really was love at first sight, because if there’s one way to my heart of comfort food hearts, it’s mac & cheese.… Read more

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Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner

Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Breadsticks

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

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I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling just a wee bit nostalgic now that the holiday season is over. Classes started again this week, which means that I’m back to being a responsible (er, “responsible” adult on a teaching schedule and that my three-day stretches of wearing only PJs are over. Research, teach, work, blog, repeat…

And then, of course, there’s the food, best enjoyed with the fam. Who wouldn’t miss the food?

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Comfort food with family and a healthy start to the new year might sound like an oxymoronic combination, but thankfully I’ve done my fair share of digging and discovered some neat ways to reconcile the two. You might have heard of the power of cauliflower–have you ever tried using it as a carb sub? If not, you’re TOTALLY in for a treat!

To be honest, I didn’t believe the hype until I tried it myself a few months ago. I made a version of these cheesy garlic cauliflower breadsticks and instantly fell in love with the major gooey oozing shredded cheese that I’d smothered all over the light, delightfully gluten-free cauliflower crust. But how does it work, precisely? So glad you asked…

In full-blown vegetable mode, cauliflower seems like a formidable substance to handle. Luckily, all you need to do here is give it a few good chops, throw everything in your food processor to create cauliflower “rice,” and then microwave the whole shebang! From there on out, I’m happy to report that it gets even easier…

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Microwave! Oh boy oh boy. After microwaving your cauliflower rice for 8-10 minutes, you’re ready to mix in some eggs, cheese, minced garlic, garlic salt, pepper, and dried basil. Then it’s off to the oven!… Read more

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Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

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

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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 LOVE THESE VEGGIE CORN DOGS.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian