Strawberries & Cream Overnight Oats

Growing up, there was a time where breakfast almost every morning consisted of instant oatmeal and cinnamon-sugar toast, usually prepared with love and care by my dear dad. I didn’t hate it, but I think the 7 year-old-me would have just wanted cinnamon toast or, even better, a sugary toaster pastry—the furthest thing from wholesome and, even as an adult with the “freedom” to make and eat anything for breakfast that I please, I wouldn’t opt to eat to start the morning.

I rediscovered and started to enjoy oatmeal again when I started working after college. It was cheap, easy to make at the office, and filling enough to tide me over until lunchtime. By that time, there were also plenty of options beyond the tiny paper packages with the same old fruit-and-cream, apple cinnamon, and brown sugar flavors that I grew up eating on a daily basis.

Enter overnight oats, which I have wanted to try for a while. A few things along my 12-hour journey from making to eating told me it would be a success:

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Smoky Eggplant Dip

I made this dip recently out of both necessity and a need for something healthy to snack on. I had a Japanese eggplant in the fridge that I bought with the intention to make stir-fry as a quick weeknight dinner. Plans changed one night and by the time I revisited Mr. Eggplant, several days later, he was starting to look a little wrinkled and my taste for stir-fry had also dissipated.

I didn’t have tahini to make baba ghanouj and I was tired of hummus, so I decided to try something a little different. Roasting the eggplant and a few leftover baby carrots, then processing them with some spices (whole cumin seeds and smoked paprika included), harissa and light sour cream—one of my fridge staples—yielded a tasty, vegetarian-friendly dip.

If you’ve never tried it, harissa is a hot and garlicky red pepper condiment with origins from Libya and Tunisia. For this recipe, I used prepared Mina brand harissa that I had in my refrigerator; the “mild” variety was the only option in the store at the time, but they have a spicy variety that you might be able to find, too. There are plenty of recipes out there that outline how to make it, like this one from Epicurious, and look easy enough. Making your own allows you to tailor the heat level to make it spicier, if you so choose, by adding extra chiles—it’s something I’ll be trying at some point, but suffice to say today wasn’t the day.

Tasting like a cross between hummus and baba ghanouj, the dip ended up having a lovely reddish color from the smoked paprika, carrots, and harissa. As a bonus, it can easily be made vegan-friendly by omitting the sour cream—try it and let me know how it comes out.

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January is National Soup Month

Soup is like one of the most perfect foods. A complete one-pot meal, it warms you up when you’re cold and it makes you feel better when you’re sick. 

As chance would have it, January, in addition to being my birth month and one of the coldest months of the winter here in Pennsylvania, is National Soup Month!

Check out these recipes, including a few that are on my list of things to try. You can also follow #NationalSoupMonth on Twitter or check out my board of curated recipes on Pinterest for more ideas and inspiration.

Pantry Raid: Mushroom Barley Soup

I’m a big fan of soup. It’s often my go-to lunch since it’s quick and easy to grab from a store or a work cafeteria. I always have a stockpile of some kind of soup or chili in the freezer for when I don’t feel like cooking when I get home in the evening, too, which I thaw overnight in the refrigerator or, if I don’t remember, quickly thaw in the microwave.

I make and eat soup year-round, even during the summer, but nothing beats the magical feeling of eating hot soup on a cold day. It just warms up your body and makes you feel instantly better — at least, for me it does.

This recipe for mushroom barley soup is one of my favorites to make in the crock pot and let cook overnight for dinner the next day. It is healthy and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, making it a perfect recipe for using up pantry and fridge staples.

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