On the Menu for the Week {Getting Back Into the Routine}

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4

Eggs over medium with sour cream & green tomatillo salsa at Flying Biscuit

Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Jambalaya Mix with bell pepper, onions, and sausage

Buffalo chicken crack dip {corn} quesadillas

Ginger & cumin marinated tomatoes

Cool as a cucumber salad

Chicken satay with peanut sauce

Spinach and garlic butter steak pinwheels


Peach & Tomato Summer Salad

Remember when I mentioned that the July section of my Cooking Light cookbook focuses heavily on peaches? After reading that, I stumbled across flats of peaches at Trader Joe’s for $5.99 and decided to pick one up. Mine has 13 peaches in it, so it equals out to about $.46 per peach- not bad!

Now that I’m a wild child who makes sweet and savory salads {like watermelon & feta!}, I decided to try a peach & tomato summer salad from MyRecipes.com. It turned out so well and I would absolutely make it again. It would be the best salad to take to a July potluck!

For exact measurements, see the recipe or just follow my haphazard winging it approach (serves 1).

  • Chopped red onion
  • 1/2 ripe peach, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 large tomato or a handful or cherry tomatoes
  • A dash of red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil
  • A very small spoonful of honey
  • A dash each of sea salt and ground pepper
  • A small handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • A sprinkling of torn basil leaves
Combine all ingredients and let marinate anywhere just a few minutes or overnight.

Next on my peach agenda? Peach salsa!

On the Menu for the Week

It’s the beginning of July, which means I can crack my Cooking Light: Annual Recipes cookbook open to a new month! I picked this cookbook up for $2-$3 at the thrift store and it was the best find. It catalogues every single recipe from a year’s worth of Cooking Light magazine into one hardback book. Though it’s from 2004, it doesn’t really matter because food is timeless 🙂 The July section features recipes based around tomatoes, peaches and dinner at dusk, which will undoubtedly make appearances in my On the Menu posts for July!
Traditional & buffalo chicken gluten-free pizza bites {recipe to come}

Cool as a cucumber salad

Tuna and white bean salad {update: not blown away; will post recipe if I can adapt it!}

Salad with Asian ginger dressing

Potato salad

Rice noodles with peanut lime chicken

Chicken salad

And something with my big flat of peaches!

What are you cooking this week? Any great tomato or peach recipes?

Mexican Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

Remember when I made Mexican chocolate bark back in the day? I got the idea to recreate a Mexican chocolate {basically cayenne + cinnamon} recipe as cheesecake. A quick Google search gave me a few recipe options but I liked this one best.

I eliminated the crust and used a cupcake tin, so I ended up with gluten-free cheesecake bites! But what I’m most proud of is figuring out that you can replace whipping cream with an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt to make the recipe healthier. That means Chobani will be getting even more business from me 🙂


Make 12 cupcake-sized cheesecakes.

  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 12 oz ( 1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if desired, adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a cupcake tin.

In saucepan, boil 2 cups of water over medium. Place a heatproof bowl on top and drop in chocolate chips. Melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add in Greek yogurt.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and vanilla with mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Stir in chocolate mixture.

Pour into cupcake tin, leaving room at the top for cheesecake to rise slightly. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon and a dash or two of cayenne pepper over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly. Turn oven off; open oven door 4 inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes. After removing cake from oven, run a metal spatula around the edge of pan. Cool on rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

I’m obsessed! They’re incredibly rich, so I usually eat just half of one at a time.

I’m also loving the interesting combination of chocolate and spiciness- I keep seeing it everywhere. The other day, I read that some celebrity spreads sriracha on her chocolate bars! And Locopops sells Mexican chocolate popsicles and Videri Chocolate Factory sells a chocolate bar with pink peppercorns in it.

Any other Mexican chocolate recipes that you love? What other flavor combinations are you a fan of?

We all know I love salted caramel!

Mexican Casserole Variations

When I saw Fannetastic Food’s super easy and adaptable Mexican Chicken Lasagna, I decided to make it as a part of the four course Mexican-inspired meal I was planning to whip up.

I decided to make two different versions of the casserole- one vegetarian and one with chicken. Both had plenty of beans though!

On the big one:
  • Corn tortillas
  • Shredded chicken
  • Chopped red onion
  • Black olives
  • Yellow and green sauteed peppers
  • Salsa
  • Canned green chiles (on half)
  • Chopped jalapenos (on other half)
  • Cheddar cheese

On the smaller one:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped red onion
  • Refried beans
  • Black olives
  • Shredded zucchini
  • Salsa
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Corn (cut off the cob)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Enchilada sauce

I lined both pans with corn tortillas (6 in total)

Next up: refried beans for the smaller one; kidney and black beans for the bigger one

Corn and zucchini for the small one; sauteed yellow and green peppers for the large one

Ready for the oven!

Cover the casseroles with tin foil and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes {until the cheese is melted}. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better!

A sample of both versions served with spiced tomato & chickpea soup and watermelon & feta salad


If I had my choice, I would have used flour tortillas, but the corn tortillas ended up tasting great anyway- and they’re gluten-free.

Pepper jack cheese would be good in addition to or in place of cheddar cheese.

I made the big one with sour cream and the smaller one with plain Greek yogurt- in the future, I would just use Greek yogurt because it’s healthier and you can’t taste a difference!

The chopped jalapenos were a bit intense {even for me!} so I would stick to sauteed jalapenos or the canned green chiles next time.

kim chi cabbage soup

After my trip to the farmers’ market, I found myself with a head of cabbage to use up. I made homemade kim chi with half of it and decided to make an easy kim chi soup with the other half!

In a soup pot, saute chopped onion, garlic, and shaved ginger in olive oil over medium. Add dried red chili peppers and cayenne to taste. Add a cup or two of vegetable or chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add chopped cabbage and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until cabbage is soft {about 15 minutes}. Garnish with sesame seeds and a dash of sesame oil. 

Granted, this is a bastardized version of any authentic soup but it’s healthy, easy, and pretty filling! You could add chopped green onions, fish sauce, sriracha, and even meat if desired.

P.S. My friend Shelly is Korean so I’m going to make her teach me how to make authentic kim chi!

Buffalo Chicken Crack Dip

Photo credit

Remember that buffalo chicken dip recipe that I promised you? Here it is. But I must warn you- be careful. This stuff is addicting- some even refer to it as crack dip.

  • 5 cooked chicken breasts (shred after cooling). Try this method for great chicken!
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons blue cheese or ranch dressing
  • 8-10 oz of Franks Hot sauce (they generally come in 12 oz bottles)
  • 2+ cups of shredded cheddar

Mix together and bake in a casserole dish for 30-45 min at 350 degrees. Serve with tortilla chips, carrots, celery, etc.

Ha, clearly I make no claims of being a healthy food blogger. I always joke that I’m 85% tofu and nutritional yeast and 15% buffalo wings and Bud Light. Gotta have balance in life, right?!

Thank you to Kelley for this recipe!

tuscan white bean gluten-free pizza

When I was trying to figure out pizza toppings, I remembered my recent Tuscan white bean soup soup and decided to go with a Tuscan theme again. I had leftover cannelli beans from my spicy sriracha bean dip, so I turned to Google for inspiration and found a great recipe on Vegan Planet.
 First I prepped my gluten-free Red Mill pizza crust. I only used half of it, which filled my whole pizza pan.
 I wrapped up the other half for later use!
 Pizza toppings laid out and ready to go

  • White cannelli beans
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Chopped roasted red pepper
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • A sprinkling of dried red chili peppers
  • Caramelized onions
  • Feta

Roast red pepper in a 400 degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes on each side; remove from oven and wrap in tin foil. After about 30 minutes, peel skin off {it should come off easily}. If you’d like, buy jarred roasted red peppers.

Caramelize onions {mine were already prepared, which cut down on prep time}.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium. When the oil is hot, add chopped garlic and saute until it becomes aromatic. Add cannelli beans and heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash with a fork. 

Spread bean mixture and tomato paste onto pre-cooked pizza crust. Layer with other ingredients except feta. Bake for 10 minutes at 425. Sprinkle with feta; bake for 5-8 more minutes.


strawberry meringue daring pairing

I’ve been inspired by Rachel Ashwell’s design style, Shabby Chic, for a long time. In her book– which sits in the middle of my coffee table- she says, “Comfort, the beauty of imperfection, the allure of time-worn objects, and the appeal of simple, practical living: These are the cornerstones of…the Shabby Chic style.”

[Photo Credit: Country Cottage One]

If a comfy sun-drenched room- casually draped with strawberry and cream colored accents-  is the place to enjoy a long summer night, isn’t a light and fluffy strawberry meringue the perfect dessert to enjoy there?

[Photo Credit: Taste of Home]

Strawberry Meringue Pie [via cooks.com]

For meringue: 
  •  4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 c. sugar
Beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff. Add sugar gradually and beat until stiff and glossy. Pour into pie tin and bake 1 hour at 275 degrees. When cooled add the filling.

For filling: 

  •  1 pt. strawberries
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/2 pt. cream, beaten

Cut strawberries in quarters and sweeten to taste. Let stand. Drain off juice. Spread meringue with a layer of whipped cream, then the strawberries, then the cream.


P.S. Check out these Shabby chic accent pieces: Scrollwork CandleholderWooden StandArched-Top Wall Mirror.

watermelon inspiration

Trader Joe’s is currently selling $4 seedless watermelons, which means my roommate and I have bowls of watermelon in rotation in our fridge. It’s hands-down my favorite fruit, so I thought I’d dig up an old watermelon daring pairing from Harmonized Living.

Pink & green home decor 

[via My Pear Tree House]

A unique savory & sweet watermelon salad

[via Jessica Mayo]

  • 3/4 cup halved, thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 quarts seeded, cubed watermelon
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olive halves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice. Let stand for 10 minutes [the acid of the lime will mellow the flavor of the raw onion]. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives, onions with the lime juice, and mint. Drizzle olive oil over it all, and toss to blend. Serves 6.