if you ever need a crowd-pleasing dip…

buffalo hummus

Then you should really make this buffalo hummus. Because it checks all the boxes:

√ Takes almost no effort
√ Quick to prepare (and even quicker to go!)
√ Nutritious
√ Full of flavor
√ Spicy
√ Tastier than store bought hummus
√ Impressive to guests
√Inexpensive ingredients

buffalo hummus 1

I pretty much made the exact recipe from Oh She Glows (hence no recipe on my blog, so check out the original source here), although I did add way more Frank’s Red Hot because…well, one tablespoon just wasn’t going to cut it for me. I’ve been on such a Frank’s Red Hot kick for the last year, I even carry it in a small container with me on the go sometimes. It really is great to have on hand.

I prepared it the night before a party. I had only ten minutes to spare before I had to go to bed (I say ‘had to’ because if I don’t get to bed at a certain time every night and Jules wakes me up for feedings in the middle of the night/early morning, I’m pretty much a zombie the next day). So, in a much simpler way, what I’m trying to say is: make this. It’s quick, simple and you’ll want to dip everything in it!

buffalo hummus 2

what i eat: an update and a tomatillo-avocado recipe

cilantro

One. I’ve changed this series name to What I Eat, instead of How I Eat. I thought about How I Eat, and I immediately wanted to respond with a , “I eat with my mouth”. So that just kind of killed it for me.

Two. I haven’t posted one of these in a long time. Originally, this was going to be a post about my Sunday at home (I know. Please…contain yourself). But as I sifted through photos, I realized, no this is totally a What I Eat post. And so, here we are.

salad

Romaine lettuce with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, hemp seeds and chia seeds.

Every chance I get, I’ll add hemp seeds and (sometimes) chia seeds to my food. Hemp seeds, in smaller amounts, are virtually tasteless and texture-less so it’s an easy extra dose of nutrition (essential fats, amino acids, protein, etc.). I add hemp seeds to most of my food, even if it’s just a small sprinkling.

I use chia seeds less since they have a crunchy texture when dry and a gelatinous consistency when wet. They are great sprinkled on avocado toast or in smoothies. One of these days I want to experiment with them in a homemade strawberry or raspberry jam.

mexican skillet

One-pan Mexican quinoa topped with tomatillo-avocado sauce (not pictured above / see tomatillo recipe below)

I’ve really taken to quinoa lately. Initially I disliked it, but I recently learned that I just prefer it smothered in sauce. In Sunday’s case, a tomatillo-avocado sauce. But my favorite is quinoa with steamed broccoli and mushrooms in a simple San Marzano tomato sauce. YUM.

stew

West African peanut soup. I added two sweet potatoes to the recipe to make it heartier and subbed the collards with kale. Not pictured: a side of brown jasmine rice.

sunday cooking

Monday’s dinner in the front, Sunday’s dinner in the back.

Sundays have been my go-to day for bulk cooking. At most, I’ve only been able to cook two  meals and some prep work for other meals for the week. My goal is regularly cook three meals most Sundays. Cooking on one day makes the following work week so much easier: No cooking, less dishes, more time—what’s not to love about that?

cupcakes

Cupcakes from Burgers & Cupcakes

Sugar is my weakness. Still working on that ravenous sweet tooth. Another thing I’m working on? Breakfast. Lately, it’s been my least nutritious meal of the day, i.e. lots of toast and bagels.

My main goal is to eat a mostly plant-based diet. As in veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes. I haven’t eaten meat in over a month now and I don’t plan to either. I’ve had very little temptation to do so and it’s usually fleeting, so it hasn’t been too difficult to abstain. That said, it’s been easier to eat well because other more nutritious ingredients get more play. I’ve been much more creative and adventurous with dinners. I’ve always been down for trying new dishes, but now I’ll take something that normally has meat and replace it with a vegetable or grain…or nothing at all! You can pretty much make anything vegetarian or vegan.

As for protein? This seems to be the common question when you tell people that you’ve stopped eating meat. I always say I’m not worried about it. There’s enough protein in foods like nuts, seeds, lentils and even fruits and veggies to help me get my recommended intake. I’m more interested in B12 and plan on buying a supplement this week.

tomatillo sauce

Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce
makes about 2-4 servings

1 tomatillo, husk removed and sliced
1/2 of an avocado
1 small handful of cilantro or to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
chili powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients together. Add a tablespoon of water at a time to reach your desired consistency.

This sauce on top of the Mexican quinoa made the whole dish for me. Feel free to use on other foods like nachos, tacos or spicy potatoes.

dad’s birthday

candles

Last weekend was probably the busiest since Juliette was born! Friday night, Bob and I celebrated Valentine’s Day early with a delicious dinner at DeStefano’s. I can’t say it enough: they are simply the best. The food and service are always always always on point. They could probably screw up my order and spill a drink on me and I’d still think, Nope they’re still the best! Needless to say, we left stuffed and happy. The next night, we went out for a friend’s birthday at Virage, now known as Bar Virage. For whatever reason, they rebranded and changed their menu and we were so not impressed. Virage was an old favorite and a restaurant we frequented many years ago, but they rid their menu of all their best dishes (R.I.P. spinach fettucine and bacon-wrapped figs!) and now it just seems…less special. I was disappointed with the food, although there is something to be said for accommodating service. We had a fun time with our fun group, which ended with a few rounds of beers at McSorley’s. I haven’t hung out like that in a long time, so the next day I was extra tired and achy (read: a little hungover). But we still made it out for an early birthday dinner for my dad, however exhausted we felt. We were a smaller group without my brother and his kids, but it worked out just as well. It was low-key and perfect.

We started with dinner and dessert at an Italian restaurant.

bros burrata jules and grandma

dessert

Mason’s beautiful birthday card to Dad. In left to right order: Jules, Jax, Mase and Dad!

bday card dad and mase

tre

Then, we came back to the house for a second dessert – birthday cake! This year, mom baked it.

cake

Jules had a teeny tiny taste of frosting.

jules has cake

Her silly cousins love her and it is just the cutest!

jules and mase

Tequila down the hatch!

shotsshots2

Spoiler alert: dad hates tequila.

shots3

Oh and check out my total mom fail…

jules

Didn’t even realize that her dress came with briefs. They were still attached to the dress with the plastic tags! Insert facepalm meme here.

christmas day 2015

village4
This year, Christmas was extra special for us because it was Juliette’s first Christmas. That morning, we put on some classics and tore into Santa’s gifts. As expected, she really took to the actual tearing of her gifts, more than the playing of her gifts. It was super cute, but I can’t wait for more Christmases where she’ll be more aware. I remember feeling like this was the most magical time as a kid. Of course, what child doesn’t love this holiday? But I had my little December traditions: watch Charlie Brown Christmas specials a few times, The Grinch etc. I’m so excited for when I can introduce Juliette to some of my favorite movies. I fully intend for her to love The Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story. I think this might be one of the best parts of parenthood—imposing your ideals on your kids, haha 😉

jules and grandpa

Watching the train run around the tree with Grandpa.

unwrapping

We got so caught up in Juliette’s unwrapping of  gifts that Bob and I almost forgot to exchange with eachother. How times have changed.dirty bib

Juliette’s dirty bib.

village6village5

Later on in the day, we packed up the car and headed to out Jersey to spend a few days with my folks. It felt like a little mini vacation because we partied and had lots of homemade coquito (like egg nog, but way better…and Puerto Rican) and then relaxed while my mom did awesome things like make us breakfast and sleep with the baby so that we could have a couple of nights of uninterrupted zzz’s. It was heaven!

tequilamike

ladies

Coquito in red solo cups, as we do.

Every year, I love my dad’s little Christmas village more and more. He likes to add a few new things to it and I have such fun pointing out what’s new and who’s going where. I told him next year, I might help him set it up so we can tell some new stories with the characters. I think it could be really fun (and tedious).

dinner tablesaladbeans

Can you believe 2016 is almost here? I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it because it’s an overused sentiment, but boy did this year fly by. I remember being pregnant in the beginning of the year and thinking, this year is going by soooo sloooow, I just want this baby to be here already. And then boom, once she came, it was like the clock sped up and suddenly she was 6 months old and we were feeding her solids already. Either way, I know 2016 will be another momentous year for us. It will be such a joy to watch this little girl turn one this summer. We may start looking for a house again towards the end of the year. And who knows? We may even take a small vacation? The year has many possibilities!jax and trethe boys

gold

How was your holiday? Wonderfully merry, I hope!

oh hey!

me and bob

It’s been a while.

Things have been better since I last updated you. Actually, they got worse before they got better. Let me explain.

We had a mouse in our house.

A MOUSE. In our house.I was feeling miserable about it. Not only was I still adjusting to my new surroundings, but now I had to deal with this. And see, I don’t like mice. To me, they are filthy little creatures that carry diseases and they give me the creeps. Nothing is more uncomfortable when you’re walking on eggshells in your house, expecting a rodent to pop out at you any moment (Bob tells me they don’t “pop out”, rather they scurry away. But still). Any little sound or squeak inside the house and I jumped. And this mouse was sharp! He bypassed multiple types of traps set up around the house. I would have been impressed if I weren’t so disgusted. We finally had pest control come in to set traps and fill up some of the holes around the house with a filling that’s supposed to block rodents and insects from entering. Since then, we haven’t had any mouse sightings, thank goodness. Of course, then his grandmother who lives downstairs started seeing mouse droppings on her countertop shortly after. I did feel bad about that. A few days later, when his grandmother found the mouse dead by her front door (from natural causes?), a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Sorry to say it, but it’s true.

cupcakescupcakes2

Bob and I celebrated our birthday in a  low-key fashion this year. We went out to eat, just the two of us, at Bobby Flay’s semi-new restaurant Gato.  The life-changing scrambled eggs appetizer made my night! It was easily the best thing I’ve eaten in months. It was spicy and wonderful and had the consistency similar to a soft cheese spread. Second best thing? The berry crostata dessert. It was such a nice night and the first time we were able to slow down and enjoy each other’s company in weeks (which we’re trying to do more of before the baby arrives). The seemingly never-ending move really took up a lot of our weekend free time. I’m hoping the baby doesn’t come too early so we can have a few weeks of calm before she’s due to arrive later in the month.

eggs

My sister’s wedding was last weekend! I took very few pictures and they were only of the bride getting ready at the gorgeous NU Hotel in Brooklyn. No time to snap pics when you’re the maid of honor! But I would eventually like to post the pictures once I have the professional ones. A full photo of the bride’s dress (along with other beautiful moments from the wedding) needs to be shown off because…duh. Plus, there’s this video of my nephew Mason tearin’ it up with his dance moves that my dad has yet to send me. The kid is seriously so good. I’ve never seen anyone just feel that music and let loose like he does. I hope he never loses that!

getting readybouquet

I’d gotten to the point where I legitimately had NOTHING to wear. The weather warmed up considerably and I thought I’d get away with wearing my old summer dresses once that happened. As it turned out, I’d gained more weight than I realized and those dresses made me feel like sausages in casings. When I told my mom, she asked me, “Why did you think you’d be able to fit in your old dresses?”. Good question! I think part naïveté and part wishful thinking. I had held out for as long as I could on the maternity wear, but I had to give in last Monday. I went to Target on my lunch break and bought over $100 in dresses and one pair of comfy pants.

Okay and one eye shadow too because I have no self control in the beauty section. No regrets!

nice shoes

Things are going to start to quiet down within the next couple of weeks (here’s hoping), so I’d like to start picking up my DSLR regularly again. I miss taking pictures. I miss blogging too. And you guys, of course. How are you?

how i eat: what’s for dinner this week?


dried pasta

I am so in the mood for some new cookbooks. Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food gets great reviews. One day, my friend and I planned on eating at the restaurant for brunch, but the wait time was long and we were so hungry. The tiny tables sidled up so close to other patrons weren’t looking too appealing to a very hangry me either, so we ended up at a place around the corner instead. It was mediocre and I regretted not waiting just a little while more for the acclaimed brunch. I always make a mental note to go back, but just never get around to it. I’ll make it there one of these days. But once we we’re all moved in, I’m going straight to Amazon and ordering this book. It’s the next best thing. I can’t wait to try out some new recipes and I love simple Italian/French cuisines and techniques so I’m confident I’ll love this one. But for these next few weeks of moving madness, I’m sticking with what works.

Sunday: Chicken BLT Avocado salad with my lemon dijon vinaigrette. This is on regular rotation. As in, every week for weeks now. I like it that much. Bob doesn’t mind it either. I think it’s the homemade croutons that make it for him.

Monday: Skinny pasta alfredo with spicy roasted broccoli. I’d been craving a comforting alfredo sauce for a while now and since I need to use up the ditalini rigati, I figured ditalini rigati alfredo (that’s a mouthful!), why not?  I wanted only a slightly lighter option than the usual stick of butter and loads of cheese and cream version and found this one. It was perfect because, while it was a touch lighter, it was still  rich and creamy like the original. I didn’t have Neufchatel cheese, but I did have cream cheese which comes pretty close, so I used that. I didn’t have heavy cream, so I completely omitted it from the dish, but I did use whole milk (as opposed to 2%) so I think that made up for it.  I ran out of white flour so I used using whole-grain instead, but that flavor came across in the pasta a little bit. You’ll definitely want to use white flour for this.

Tuesday: I’m excited for this one: Thai chicken wraps and a small side salad. I’ll grill thin chicken breasts, cover it in this peanut sauce, add a little extra cilantro and sliced seedless cucumbers, wrap it in some of those fajita wraps I have in my fridge and call it a night. Greens on the side are a must. I’ll toss in a few roasted Brussels sprouts on the side for Bob (he loves ’em) and a romaine salad for myself.

Wednesday: Bob is going to cook! He’s been adamant about using up all the ingredients we have in the fridge/freezer/cabinets so he’s going to do an “everything but the kitchen sink” Crockpot dish. All I know is that it will include sausage and bbq sauce. Not going to lie—I’m a little worried that he might go overboard, but I’m crossing my fingers for a hit. I’m still learning to relinquish control in the kitchen.

Thursday: A Spanish omelette. Thinly-sliced potatoes, crispy bits of bacon bacon and caramelized onions all tossed into a batter of eggs seasoned with milk, smoked paprika, vinegar, salt, pepper and then cooked. This recipe comes close to what I’m trying to achieve. I’ve been finding myself more exhausted than usual when I come home on Thursdays (end of the week fatigue!), so I’ll  probably cook the onions and bacon ahead of time. I like saving the easiest or quickest meal for Thursdays since all I want to do is lay out, watch Sex & the City reruns and nod off at around 9pm. That’s the ideal Thursday night right there, guys.

the dressing i put on everything

lemon

Almost everything. As in, salads, avocados, sandwiches, raw and cooked veggies. I haven’t yet tried it as a marinade for meat, but that’s coming up. I could imagine it ‘ll taste excellent on some grilled chicken breasts. Ooooh! I just pictured this and now I want to try it with the chicken I’m making this Thursday. Okay, done. It’s happening.

It’s such a simple vinaigrette and it’s something I just decided to make after not having all the ingredients to make another dressing. I haven’t looked back since.

See these here?

lemon dijon vinaigrette

That’s it. That’s all you need. You might have them in your kitchen already. Easy peasy.

Let’s not even call this a recipe. Let’s call it…a blend of simple ingredients. You don’t even need to follow the same measurements. These happen to be the measurements that I prefer, but if you lean towards a certain taste, then add more of that. Adjust, taste as you go…do you.

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
serves 2-4 (depending on how large your salad is)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder or garlic paste (when I have it, I prefer the paste.)
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar.
Shake vigorously until fully emulsified.
Serve.
Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week.

Quick, versatile, almost effortless and 10x better than the store-bought stuff!

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