Thursday, August 30, 2012

Toasted Coconut Brownie

So. I've been entirely out of commission and fighting flu-like symptoms since late Monday night. I'm completely desperate to share my early-week veggie curry recipe with you, but every time I've tried, my stomach churns. And it's awfully depressing, because it was incredible! My body launched itself into fever and chills 12 hours after we ate it (I promise, not as a result of the curry, more a result of preschool germs)...and well, you can imagine how distant I'm trying to keep myself from curry memories now. However, I'm (almost) just as excited to share my brownie recipe with you! You'll forgive me, right?
Do you want to know my ridiculous fever-breaking secret? I do the opposite of what I'm always told and have a chocolate milkshake and within hours, my fever breaks. It works every time. There is no medical or scientific basis for my claim. It's my thing. Do you have a "thing" that helps you heal?
In regards to this brownie, please prepare and eat with heed. No self-loathing thoughts about "deserving it after a bad day", etc. When we do that, we end up eating a lot more than originally intended and end up HATING the brownie (is it really the brownie we feel such upset towards?) To me, a craving is a result of a vitamin/mineral deficiency, hormonal changes or mental. Everyday "cravings" should be closely examined. I think that wanting something sweet and calling it a craving changes it from a "want" to a "need" in our minds and immediately helps us forgive ourselves for indulging. Please enjoy this brownie in small squares and slowly. Do not make my brownie your punishment. In other words, please enjoy this on a good day, not just on a bad day. Enjoy this brownie because you're fabulous.

During our meandering of Asheville recently, we made ourselves comfortable here:, and ordered a variety of different things. Shortbreads, macaroon brownie, rose-infused homemade house soda. I LOVED the macaroon brownie and have done my best to recreate it. My recipe lacks the TLC of ANY dessert created in a chocolate lounge-but will at least substantiate until you (or I) can enjoy the real thing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir 2 eggs, 1/4 a cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, 1/2 a cup of butter, melted. In separate bowl, sift 3/4 cup of Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa, 2/3 cup of flower, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1/2 a cup of shredded coconut and 3/4 cup of milk chocolate chips. Combine ingredients from both bowls into one bowl. Stir. Spread into a greased 2 quart pan. Top with a generous amount of coconut and bake for 35 minutes, or until coconut is perfectly golden and crunchy. Enjoy!

So as I'm sitting here, before the masses awake, in almost darkness with a mug of green tea, my thoughts are flowing. Doesn't that always happen the day that we're recovered from feeling sick? You feel like a superhero! The 3 most recent novels that I've read have been written by authors from London, where their stories also take place. One term I have noticed in all three books is "early days", and I love it. Women refer to their early pregnancy as "it's early days", and couples refer to early relationships the same way, "oh well, you know, it's early days". I've never heard a term that mitigates such straightforward + cavalier feelings at the same time, have you? All you're required to say is "it's early days" and the crowd nods in a quiet, contemplative understanding. I adore it. Do you ever pick up terms in books or on TV and integrate them into your daily language? I don't often, but this time I'm going to try :) Have a wonderful day. And good morning!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

Are you a glutton for garlic, like I am? I made this pasta dish last week but thought it would be MOST suitable for a Monday morning blog post because it's EASY, delicious and PERFECT for a weekday dinner. Because of the ease involved, I have to admit I was surprised by its complete deliciousness. I'm guilty of forgetting that simple can be divine.

Roasted Garlicky Cauliflower Pasta
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a head of cauliflower into small, bite sized pieces and toss in a bowl with olive oil and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Spread evenly on baking sheet and cook until golden brown (I like to roast vegetables until a dark you?) and remove from oven.

Cook whole wheat pasta, al dente...spaghetti, penne, anything will work!

Toss cauliflower into pasta with the juice of a whole lemon, 4 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped, 3 large garlic cloves, minced, a pinch of kosher salt, pepper and 3 ounces of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

I think the combination of cauliflower perfectly caramelized by the olive oil and salt, lemon juice and fresh thyme took this pasta dish to a level separate from your typical weekday pasta night, but was just as simple.

Serve with a fruit salad or vegetable salad. We served with this honeydew melon to offset the saltier-flavor of the pasta. We found a honeydew melon so ripe, it was like eating candy. Perfection!

How was your weekend? Ours was full of leisurely family coffee dates, lots of yard work, exercise, wine and relaxation. My weekend also included some work replicating a Macaroon Brownie that I had at Asheville's Chocolate Lounge (successfully!), which I'll share later this week. We also had to miss a party held for my Sister-in-Law and future Brother-in-Law (boohoo, we hate missing parties!) as we prepared for our Labor Day Travels. Did you do anything fun this weekend? I would love to know. Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tomato Cobbler + Lentil Salad

Last night I made comfort food! A lot of things I make have a relative amount of comfort involved (I feed a man a vegetarian diet, I must make it hearty!). The only credit that I can take for the Tomato Cobbler recipe displayed below is that I found it in Sept 2012 Food Network Magazine, needed it, and made it! I also made a lentil salad (entirely my own creation), which I'll also share below. Have you noticed that I serve a salad with every meal? That's my own personal goal.

Tomato Cobbler done right.

The best part of borrowing recipes is that as I'm recreating something previously created, I become lost with my thoughts, fulfilling the motions of measuring according to the paper until the steps are completed. But really, my mind is completely somewhere else. When I'm making something new and using trial and error, I need to maintain a general level of focus on the food.
Yesterday afternoon, both of my babies were sound asleep (thank you, dual naps!) and I began to think about the nature of people. I love people as much as I love food and spend hours of my day and night thinking about the way that people work. This infatuation with human nature undoubtedly drew me to my profession as a therapist. And when you stop working as a therapist, you never really stop working as a therapist.
I was making a mental list including the people in my life who are the same on the inside as they appear to be on the outside. There is so much to be said for authenticity, and every best friend that plays a role in my life has a great level of it. It only takes me a few moments to understand when someone is projecting something differently on the outside than they are feeling (chaos, generally) on the inside, and it always makes me sad but weary. And it almost always makes relationships complicated. What are your standards for friendship? Who are you willing (and unwilling) to invite into your life? What kind of friend are you? The helper, the follower, the leader, the listener, the avoider?
Relationships are the most important thing in my life and I am so happy (and so lucky) to have so many real ones. I have a family and a family of friends. My belief is that its always important to check in with ourselves and make sure that we are being the same kind of person that we expect other people to be. Our obligation to ourselves is to be (or become) the kind of individual that we respect and to have (or seek) attributes that we admire in others if we want to live a wholesome life and attract authenticity into our hearts. Be the friend you want to have. And enjoy the lentil salad posted below (make it for your dear friends and hug them today for being dear to you-life is short and true love is rare).

Lentil Salad with Cumin Dressing
Cook 1/2 a cup of lentils and cool. Mix the juice of one lemon, 2 garlic cloves, minced, a splash of olive oil, chopped fresh parsley and a pinch of kosher salt into lentil. Let sit to enhance flavors.

Combine mixed greens, diced red peppers and feta cheese.
Put an ice-cream scoop of compacted lentils on top of salad (to make it look beautiful)

Drizzle with dressing made from the following: 1/2 cup of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, 2 1/2 tablespoons of cider vinegar, salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cajun Couscous "Crab" Cakes

I created this dinner using the art of substituting crab meat with artichoke hearts and couscous to make "crab" cakes (sans crab). If you like cajun food and a little spice, you will love these. This recipe makes 6 vegetarian cakes.

Combine 1/2 a cup (measure uncooked) israeli (pearl) couscous with 4 cups of water, a pinch of salt and 2 thyme sprigs in small pot. Bring to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

Combine 2 teaspoons of stoneground dijon mustard, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt, 1/4 cup of sweet relish, 1/4 teaspoon of paprika and 1/8 teaspoon of ground red pepper in bowl.

Save half of yogurt mixture to top "crab" cakes. Refrigerate.

Mix second half of yogurt mixture with 8 oz of artichoke hearts (diced roughly but in small pieces), couscous, half of 1 red bell pepper, 1/4 cup of chopped green onions, 1/4 cup of chopped celery, and a pinch of black pepper and sea salt.

Brush baking sheet with olive oil. Spoon mixture into 6 equal sized parts and pat into cake form. Place each cake on baking sheet. Refrigerate for one hour to enhance flavors.

Bake at 500 degrees until brown and crispy, roughly 10-12 minutes on each side. Mix leftover yogurt combination well and dollop on top of "crab" cakes.

I served my Cajun Couscous "Crab" Cakes with 3 sweet potatoes mashed and mixed with a pat of butter, 1/4 cup of greek yogurt and a pinch of salt. I also cooked 3 cups of spinach on medium-low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of butter and 3 garlic gloves, minced, until wilted.

This combination of colorful, beautiful food was the perfect trio for my family. I get a deep feeling of satisfaction when I serve my family healthy foods and they enjoy the way they've been prepared. Do you feel this way? I hope that something about this creation catches your eye, and that we can share it its preparation as you choose to make it, too. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cherry Vanilla Pancakes

Cherry Vanilla Pancakes

This is what's brewing in our kitchen this morning...what's brewing in yours? We're up early with the sunrise today and decided to make cherry vanilla pancakes. For a special treat, Cloveleigh got an espresso mug of "cherry milk" to complete our early morning girl time. This recipe is so aromatic! In the photograph, notice the sweet two year old hand stirring the flour.

To make 8 pancakes:
Combine 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in one bowl.

In a second bowl, combine 3/4 cup of milk (we used vanilla almond milk...yum!), 1 egg (if you prefer), 1 tablespoon of butter (melted), 2 teaspoons of honey and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Combine both bowls into one. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Pit 1 1/2 cups of cherries and chop roughly. Stir into batter.

Heat skillet with butter, pour medium sized pancakes, flip, and serve when the perfect shade of black cherry brown. We serve with real maple syrup and butter. These would also be great with a sprinkle of confectioners sugar.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Creamy Avocado Pasta

The Perfect Pair: Avocado Pasta and a Simple Summer Salad

I started to see recipes for avocado pastas pop up everywhere I looked...and I immediately knew that I needed to invite this combination into my life. Pasta? AND avocado? The perfect storm, I determined. Who doesn't (at least secretly) enjoy a thick, creamy pasta sauce? I immediately set out to create a healthy, dairy-free, version of my own.

Avocado Pasta

Combine 3 avocados, 2 garlic cloves, the juice of one lemon, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup of pesto and fresh basil leaves in your food processor. Process until smooth. Let sit as long as possible at room temperature to enhance flavors. Mine sat for 2 hours before use.

Cut 3-4 roma tomatoes into eighths. Toss on a cookie sheet with a glaze of a combination of olive oil and minced garlic. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cook whole wheat fettucini or whole wheat spaghetti al dente (7-11 minutes)

Stir tomatoes, avocado sauce and pasta together until all sauce and tomatoes are distributed evenly.

Serve immediately!

I paired my avocado pasta with a simple summer salad that consisted of:

romaine and spinach combination (to enhance nutritional properties)
caramelized onions (sweet onions cooked on low-medium heat with a touch of butter and brown sugar for 25 minutes, refrigerated to be added at a cold temp to salad later)
fresh tomatoes
fresh strawberries
roasted corn
fresh carrots
fresh radish

We used a champagne vinaigrette but any light, summery type of dressing will be divine.
Please let me know what you think if you decide to make either (or both) the avocado pasta and summery salad. I loved the alfredo-like consistency of the pasta sauce but with all of the added health benefits by using tomatoes, lemon, garlic and avocado instead of cream and cheese. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Veggie Sandwich

A beautiful sandwich-to warm your belly and your heart

This is a recipe that I've created for a simple, rustic sandwich. It can be made easily and served hot or cold.
My favorite way to serve this is warm, on crunchy, rustic fresh bread with rosemary from my garden. This sandwich is easily made in mass quantities (the huge heirloom tomato I used in these photographs made 7 sandwiches!)...I just love tomato season!

One large, beautiful heirloom tomato-slice and sprinkle sea salt and coarse ground pepper, generously.

One large, ripe eggplant. Slice, spread on pan and drizzle olive oil on top-roast @ 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until brown around edges.

Combine 4 oz of goat cheese, a can or jar of artichoke hearts (with liquid), half a cup of grated parmesan cheese and a splash of balsamic vinegar in blender. Blend until it becomes a thick spread.

Toast thick slices of warm bread.
Arrange components in sandwich form accordingly and ENJOY! Add fresh rosemary or basil if you have on hand.

I think that this would be wonderful if served with a cold cucumber/avocado soup, or a simple summer salad. I hope you have a chance to make this soon and enjoy it as much as I did! Share your thoughts with me, if you like. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Some very wonderful things took place in my weekend: guacamole, margaritas, a vegetarian taco bar and best friends to share it all with. I wanted to share some recipes that are perfect for entertaining. Because of all the steps involved, these are fun to cook in an open kitchen while listening to music and the laughter of your very favorite people.

My Very Rockin' Guac (double and triple for amount of guests)

3 avocados
the juice of one lime
both the stalks and leaves of 3 garlic chives (if these are unavailable to you, substitute 2 garlic cloves and half of one white onion)
1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
1 very ripe tomato
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
stir well and serve with blue corn tortilla chips

The Best Margarita I've Ever Had (double and triple for amount of guests)
*this is the ultimate combination of several different margarita recipes, perfected just for your palate.

1 can of frozen limeade
1 can of gold tequila
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 can of Sprite
1/2 can of water
1 Tecate beer

Mix well and serve either on ice or blend in blender with ice until it looks just right for you and your guests!

Taco BAR! (Enjoyed most adequately when surrounded by good friends!)
Taco Bars can be made with whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand. I'm simply including what I had available this particular evening. Most importantly, tacos can be HEALTHY and the shells are simply a vessel for whatever awesome combination of vegetables/proteins you LOVE!

2 cans of black beans, simmered with 1 jalapeno, 2 garlic cloves, one large tomato and salt/pepper for an hour
Freshly grated carrots served raw
Sliced radishes served raw
2 large sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil and cooked at 400 degrees for 40 minutes-the key to taco sweet potatoes is to cut into tiny, 1/2 inch cubes and cook until they begin to crunch! Delish!
One large bunch of kale, sauteed on medium heat in olive oil and rice vinegar for 30 minutes
One large bowl of chopped, very ripe, very beautiful tomatoes
One medium bowl of sliced avocado
Goat cheese, crumbled
Sharp White cheddar cheese, grated
A combination of soft, whole wheat and hard corn taco shells
Hot sauce!
A bowl of spanish rice as a side dish

Set up into bar/buffet form and allow guests to work their way down the taco line. ENJOY...and OLE!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A taste of Italy

When my husband comes home from work today, I want my house to smell like Italy (don't you?). I've been daydreaming lately of a trip we took together (with my brother in law as well), camping on the Italian coast, long before marriage. I've decided to make homemade marinara sauce in my crockpot, to assure that my entire house wafts of garlic, basil and tomatoes by dinnertime (hopefully the kind of smell you can actually detect before you even come through the front door). I love the feeling of stirring a heavy pot of italian sauces with a huge wooden spoon. It's during the preparation phase of cooking that I ask myself questions about life that I don't otherwise have time for. Where are you when you're most comfortable having these conversations with yourself? I would love to know. I'm mostly keen on such a recipe in the middle of a cold winter, or on a cool, rainy night-so save this for the fall/winter as well. Nothing is more satisfying (to me) than a big bowl of steaming pasta in the coming seasons and some quiet thoughtfulness that accompanies the creation of it.

Crock Pot Marinara (cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high):
2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
a big bunch of fresh basil, chopped roughly
a big bunch of fresh oregano, chopped roughly
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
A half a cup of red wine, or as much as you feel like you can part with (some days will be more, some days less, depending on your mood of course)
3 whole bay leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker. Remove bay leaves when finished. This can also be packaged in glass jars and saved for later.
My husband would likely make a Spritz Campari (2 parts Campari, 3 parts flat prosecco and 1 part soda to bring the bubbles back-served with an orange wedge) if he were daydreaming of sitting in the sunshine of Italy, too.
I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Come with me.

Last evening as dusk approached, I found myself crying ugly tears into my cooking, trying to regain composure just for the sake of my own reflection in the mirror. I was thinking, “tears can’t hurt the food, right?” and laughed at myself for such a simple inquiry. I knew that the only way to clear my mind and dry my crying was to achieve a beautiful, colorful plate for my family.
I’m inviting you into my life. I was mourning the loss of my father on the 9th anniversary of his death. I poured myself a healthy glass of wine, switched on Bela Fleck, pulled everything of color from my fridge and pantry and set out to create a masterpiece. My final product was a lentil cake, a calm soul and the creation of my new blog, named “For the Love of Lentils”.
The purpose of my alone time in the kitchen is to accomplish mental balance. By trade, I’m a mental health therapist but am taking time off of work to spend with my baby, who is now 4 months old, and my toddler, at 2 and a half. I try to create beautiful recipes through trial and error (lots of trials, lots of errors, and lots of sometimes surprising successes) to help my family achieve good health and to thrive on all levels of growth by using simple ingredients. I can’t promise they are always local, but I do promise to try my best.
I hope you’ll accept this invitation to become part of my family. I hope you can learn to share in my life by trying some of my recipes and forgiving me if they’re awful. You will get a glimpse of my children, Cloveleigh Mildred and Banner O’Grady, and share with me as I begin round #2 of making baby food for my infant as he gets a slight bit older. You will get to meet my husband through my blog, who I (non)bashfully admit is some serious eye candy, currently walking around in his towel, contemplating my “smoothie that will change the world” (recipe below)-however, I will ease more tactfully into his photographic introduction in a way that he will forgive me later-this man is a handsome person inside and out, a talented architect and designer and a loyal and unwavering guinea pig to the trials and tribulations of what I like to call my own “food therapy”.
Please find below what I consider a blast of unexpected inspiration as I awoke, titled the “smoothie that will change the world”-or at least improve your morning. Please come on my journey to achieve balance of the mind, body and soul through the creation of healthy, palatable foods.

Smoothie that will change the world

Handful of sliced almonds
One cup of cooked oatmeal
One large, very ripe peach
Handful of Ice
½ cup of greek yogurt
Splash of Vanilla Extract