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as my few loyal followers (hi, family and a couple friends) may recall, last week i posted a recipe for best ever brownies, which, i have to remind you, are totally delicious. as you also may remember, i stated in that post that these brownies were perfect for mix ins, like s’mores, for example.

well, now i’ve gone and mixed in graham crackers and mini marshmallows, and the results are spectacular. the marshmallows give the brownies an ooey gooey quality that can’t be beat, and the graham crackers somehow melted into just a tiny bit of crunch – but not too much crunch, so you’re not biting into a bit of brownie and scraping your gum. since in new york we don’t exactly have campfires on the regular, i’ll be putting this brownie recipe into regular rotation. next up, i’m thinking i’ll attempt s’more ice cream sandwiches…can ya dig it? YUM. 

anywho, if you want to make these, consult the best ever brownies recipe, and then throw in 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers and 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows.

try and resist the urge to eat the entire pan as soon as they come out of the oven. i tried and all i got was a burnt tongue and singed fingers.

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i got you right there, didn’t i? you know what that’s called? a hook, folks. i hooked you in with the special sauce, and you’re not going to regret that i did, because let me tell you, special sauce is like crack. crack that you smother on hamburger buns and dip french fries in. i mean, who doesn’t like crack, right? at least it’s not LSD (which is rumored to be the drug that hannibal lector wannabe was on when he got caught eating a man’s face off in miami on memorial day). anyWHO, case in point: special sauce is delicious. after you eat, you’ll never eat a burger with plain ol’ ketchup again. no offense to heinz, but there are other fish in the sea.  

memorial day weekend marks the official start of summer. the days of bare legs and tan lines and sunburnt shoulders and spiked lemonade and all that other goodness that comes with the season of sunshine. here in the northeast, there’s a moment where the seasons simply switch. one day, you wake up, and there’s a weight in the air, a heft that wasn’t there before. the phrase, “air so thick you could cut it with a knife” comes to mind. the sun will be shining and the birds will be chirping, and you’ll look out your window and see streets riddled with pretty young things in cut off shorts and tank tops, sunglasses perched noses and stuck behind ears like headbands. if you’re in new york like i am, you’ll also smell the faint scent of garbage, awaiting pickup and baking in the sun. glorious, isn’t it?

i’ll be the first to admit i’m not a summer person, i much prefer autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet. i can’t stand the heat, i hate feeling sticky, and i’m not particularly partial to summer’s sartorial options. but that being said, even i can appreciate a good picnic, a great day at the beach. i love a good dunk in the ocean, salt water stinging your eyes and rendering your hair a mess of tangled waves. i love that feeling you get when your skin starts to crisp, love the slightly coconut-y scent of sunscreen. and of course, there’s the food. the bbq-ed chicken and the corn on the cob, the potato salads and the watermelon mojitos. there’s little i like more than packing a cooler full of goodies for a day at the beach. standing there in my galley kitchen as the morning sun beats on in, molding ice packs around my sandwich meats and fruit salad, i feel like a mini martha stewart, except without the jail time or the naturally blonde hair. 

one of my favorite summer eats is beautiful in its simplicity: the burger. dressed up, dressed down, cheese or no cheese, fillings or no fillings, burgers are hard to screw up. don’t have a grill? there’s a grill pan for that. don’t have a garden? take it to the streets, to the park. there’s something about the juxtaposition of crisp lettuce and juicy tomato alongside the substance of a great, meaty burger. it melts in your mouth. and then when you add special sauce…WHAM KABAM. explosion of goodness in your mouth, i tell you.

let’s get cooking, shall we?


The Recipe (adapted from Brian Boitano’s West Coast Burgers)

1/2 lb of lean red meat  (enough to form 2 patties)

1/4 cup of chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup of chopped mushrooms

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 slices swiss cheese

2 slices of tomato

2 green lettuce leaves (i used spring mix instead of iceberg)

2 burger rolls (i like mine with sesame seeds)

For the Special Sauce (adapted from 

1/3 cup mayo

3 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1 tbsp hot sauce (optional – i use sriracha) 

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika 

to make, saute the onions and mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil over low heat until soft and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. meanwhile, whisk the ingredients for the special sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Image

when onions and mushrooms are softened, add mustard, season with salt and pepper and stir another minute, until evenly incorporated. remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. while the mixture is cooling, heat up your grill pan with nonstick spray. 

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to make the burgers, separate your meat into two equal sized patties. make a hole inside each pattie and fill it with about a teaspoon of the mushroom and onion mixture. squish your patties around until the mushroom and onion mixture is evenly incorporated into the meat. reserve the rest of the mixture for toppings. 

place your burgers on the heated grill pan and cook, about four minutes. while they’re cooking, toast your buns slightly, either in your oven or on the other side of your grill pan.  flip, and cook another few minutes, until you can press on them with a spatula and no red juices leak out. top each burger with a slice of swiss and cook another minute or so, until the cheese has melted. Image

to assemble, split your toasted buns and top with special sauce. place lettuce and tomato on one side and burger on the other, then top the burger with your extra mushroom/onion mixture. Serve with thin cut french fries and a bit more special sauce on the side. 

[original recipe]

when i was younger, i hated breakfast. as in, there was nothing i wanted to eat in the breakfast food category. not bagels, not cereal, not eggo waffles or even pancakes. i just flat out did not like breakfast. it was my least favorite meal of the day, to the point where i’d only eat in the morning if i was eating a meal that technically fit in a different category (like “dinner”). case in point: i’d happily eat a can of beefaroni (my fave – big shout out to chef boyardee!) for breakfast, but you’d be hard pressed to find me enjoying a bowl of cheerios before school.

now that i’m mature and an adult and all that jazz (yeah right), i’ve come to appreciate breakfast. actually, scratch that. i’m still not a huge fan of breakfast in general – but my love for brunch, that beloved middle meal where you can eat whatever you want, has taught me the beauty of early morning eating and all that comes with it. for starters, if you eat in the morning, you feel better all day long. it’s just a fact. you’re also less likely to overeat at lunch, and hence, less likely to overeat at dinner. you start the day off feeling groovy, and there’s really nothing bad about that.

but that all being said, it’s not like i wake up in the morning and crave eggs (except when i’m hungover. then i want eggs to the face, preferably smothered in hollandaise and served with a whopping side of homefries). i’ve come to really love bagels, and i appreciate a good stack of pancakes now and then. and i LOVE homefries. man, i have to got to put a homefries recipe on this blog. note to self. homefries, in my opinion, are god’s gift to starch-lovers. they’re a godsend when you’ve got the kind of hangover where you think you might barf into your bloody mary and your head feels like someone shoved a brick inside it – a brick that’s repeatedly hitting your skull, hard.

my favorite homefries can be found in a few places:

Beverly’s, Saratoga Springs, NY – my college town homefry joint. best homefries i’ve ever had, i think. a quick google search for the beverly’s website confirms that the resto CLOSED and is hunting for a new location. heart=broken. are you there, god? it’s me, sarah. i need you to find beverly’s a new lease in a new location. maybe they can relocate to NYC?

Jake’s, Northampton, MA – my hometown homefry joint.  they make a dish called “deluxe homefries” that are regular homefries covered in CHEESE. i mean, what could be better? jake’s closed a few years back but reopened with a new lease on life thanks to a skidmore grad (!!!) and northampton native. they’ve since brought back the “late night” menu – opening from 11pm to 3am – which is a genius move. hello, stoners of western massachusetts. this one’s for you.

B&H Vegetarian, New York, NY – an east village standby where breakfast costs you less than $5 and you get some great convo with the israeli cook to boot. the homefries here are somewhat unnaturally orange (but you know they’re actually all natural – just spices!) and are mixed with parsley. they’re served at the counter with a bottomless cup of coffee and a big ice water and some greasy made-right-before-your-eyes eggs. want an omelette? you got it. want a milkshake? no problem. a smoothie? that too. this place is the opposite of pretentious, which is why i love it. i spent many a morning here during my first year in new york, hungover and filled with a thirst for city life that even my exhaustion couldn’t curb.

so, anyway, where were we? oh, eggs. the incredible edible eggs. i’m not a fan of yolks, but i do love the healthy protein that eggs provide – and i love a good “throw everything in the pan and scramble” meal, which is where this recipe came from. on a recent day off, i found myself scrounging around in my fridge for whatever i could find, and as it turned out, whatever i could find was the leftovers from the tacos i’d made a few nights before. so i figured, mexican eggs could be pretty good, right?

let’s get down to business.


The Recipe

2 to 3 eggs (your choice – how hungry are you?)

3 tbsp chopped red onions

1/4 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 chopped tomato of your choice

1/4 cup shredded mexican cheese

1/2 of an avocado, chopped

sour cream and salsa, to taste (optional)

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

to make, saute the tomato, mushrooms and onion in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion has softened, about 3 minutes. meanwhile, scramble your eggs in a small bowl and add a dash of milk. mix the cheese into the bowl as well.

pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir so that the tomato, mushrooms and onion are evenly distributed. turn the heat down to low. scrambled eggs, according to my grandfather and now my mother, are best cooked “low and slow.” don’t turn up the heat, and don’t rush it. just let them do their thing, stirring occasionally. you might want to add a bit more salt and pepper here, and you could also throw in a little hot sauce if that’s your sort of thing. as the eggs start to harden, throw in half of your cilantro and the avocado, then stir again. now, let them be.

your eggs are done when they’re no longer runny, and have a tiny bit of golden crust at the edges. remove your scramble from the pan and top with the rest of your cilantro. if you feel so inclined, add a dollop of sour cream and some salsa. i served mine with salad and some fresh pineapple (fusing flavors, i suppose), but these eggs would be DELISH with some tiny corn tortillas and some black beans.

now, go forth and make eggs. and eat homefries.

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a few weeks before i started my blog, my friend alissa emailed me a recipe for grapefruit bread – to which i immediately responded something along the lines of, “i hate grapefruit with a passion but i’ll happily make it for you!” fast forward a month or so, when i sent out an email to my friends and family notifying them that i’d started the blog, asking them to request their favorite recipes/anything they’d like to see on sarah’s sweets. alissa, of course, wanted to see her grapefruit bread.

well, liss, here it is. and you know what? it’s damn delicious. yes, i still hate grapefruit. i think it’s the bastard child of the orange – pretty but way too sour. i don’t really like oranges either, mind you, but grapefruits…those i really can’t stand. i’m not a huge fan of those folks who eat a half grapefruit for breakfast, either. as if that sort of thing could sustain a person any longer than 20 minutes. so this recipe is not to say i’m on team grapefruit, because i’m not. i remain firmly on team cantaloupe, thank you very much. but that being said, i’ll admit – this bread (or cake, really, because there’s enough sugar in it to be called cake, i’m only calling it bread because it’s in bread form) is DELISH. as in, i may or may not have brought it to a rooftop party on sunday and eaten multiple slices myself. i also may or may not have eaten another slice for breakfast the next morning. 

it’s perfectly moist – like a really good cupcake, and the zest in the batter gives it a sweet, citrusy flavor that can’t be beat. it’s perfect for summer brunches, would be delectable dipped in a cup of tea, and would also make a great gift, if you’re into gifting baked goods (which i am). it’s best if eaten within the first day, but it’ll last a few if you wrap it tightly. but judging by how fast mine went, it probably won’t last long. the best baked goods never do.

i used this recipe. i added a bit of extra vanilla (always do when i’m baking) and used my (enormous) grapefruit for both the zest and the juice. ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, babyyyy…

note: this recipe looks longer and more complicated than it really is. don’t be alarmed. it’s easy!

The Recipe

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*

For the syrup:

1 cup grapefruit juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze: 
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grapefruit juice

*i used 2 teaspoons

to make, preheat your oven to 350. line a bread pan with parchment paper and trim the edges so you have about 1″ of overflow on all sides. if your paper doesn’t want to stay, throw something heavy in there to hold it in place. i used a soup can.

mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium size bowl. set aside. in the bowl of your stand mixer (or just a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), mix the zest and sugar together with your fingers, until the sugar is fragrant. it’ll smell delicious. i dare you not to shove some in your mouth at this time. Image

next, beat the eggs, one at a time, into the sugar/zest mixture. beat on medium speed for about three minutes, until the mixture has thickened. add the next three ingredients in this order, with the mixer on as you go: milk, oil, and vanilla. 

turn the mixer down to low, and add the dry ingredients. beat until just combined. pour batter into your bread pan (remove the soup can first). spray a butter knife with nonstick spray and run it down the middle of the batter. this helps to create that even cracked line down the middle of the bread, ie, it makes you look like a real pro.

bake for 30 minutes, then rotate your pan and bake another 30 – or however long it takes (mine took about 40 minutes). you’ll know it’s done when you insert a toothpick in and it comes out with tiny grapefruit-y crumbs on it. 

while your bread is baking, make the syrup. combine the sugar and the grapefruit juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. stir to dissolve the sugar, then simmer another minute. remove from heat. 

when your bread is done, take it out and sit the pan on a cooling rack. immediately, take your toothpick (or a fork) and poke tiny little holes in the top of the bread. brush the bread with your syrup – it’ll soak in through the little holes you just made. don’t be surprised if you can’t use all the syrup; i couldn’t. but brush that baby up good. trust it’ll make for a better bread. 

let the bread cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove it (parchment paper and all) from the pan and put it on the cooling rack. then, let the bread and the cooling rack get to know one another for a while. once the bread is at room temperature, whisk the confectioner’s sugar and the grapefruit juice together to make the glaze, and drizzle that bad boy. glaze is what makes this bread a cake, i think. or maybe it’s shit ton of sugar you put in the batter. whatever. it looks like a bread so i call it a bread. tomato, tomahto, bread, cake. 

et voila! you’ve got yourself a citrusy cakebread that’s perfect for BBQs, brunches and more. thank you, alissa, and thank you, grapefruit. you’re alright, i guess. 

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when all else fails, i make pasta. it’s the quickest, generally the easiest, and of course, the carb-iest, which gets high points in my book. the other night while at trader joe’s, i was in the cheese section, stocking up – as cheese lovers do – and came across a log of herbed goat cheese. a lightbulb went on. i hadn’t the faintest idea what i would be making for dinner, and then i remembered this martha stewart recipe. in an age where cookbooks appear to be somewhat of a relic, what with everyone pinteresting up a storm and most, if not all, recipes living online, i’m proud to say i make great use of my great food fast book by the great MS. the title speaks the truth: it’s full of easy to make, quick and delicious recipes that generally call for ingredients you’re likely to have on hand. none of that complicated food network stuff. martha may be the queen of homemaking, but she understands the beauty of a simple recipe.

anywho, as the genius she is, martha came up with the thought of mixing a little bit of pasta water with goat cheese to make a simple sauce, and let me tell you – i am so on board. the beauty of cooking is that sometimes the best dishes are the simplest. case in point: this pasta.

i riffed on martha’s recipe, added lemon juice and zest, because i love a little citrus. i also used herbed goat cheese, because why not? and sautued my asparagus instead of roasting them, because it was hot out and i didn’t feel like turning on my oven. but you could roast yours, if you’d like.

so, let’s get to it.

The Recipe

2 bunches asparagus, tough ends cut off

1 cup frozen peas

1 box rigatoni or pasta shape of your choice

1 log herbed goat cheese (5 oz)

2 lemons, zested and juiced

to make, put a pot of water on to boil. zest your lemons and halve them. once your water is at a rolling boil, dump in your pasta with a little bit of olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon. stir every few minutes to keep pasta from clumping together.

meanwhile, cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces and saute over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil and about half a lemon’s worth of juice. season with salt and pepper as you saute. while the asparagus cooks, crumble your log of goat cheese. when asparagus is bright green and slightly browned at the tips, turn off burner and remove from heat.

about a minute before pasta is done, dump the peas into the pot. they’ll cook in the water.

drain your pasta/pea mixture and reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water. put pasta and peas back into pan with water and add asparagus, and add your crumbled goat cheese. squeeze your remaining lemon into the pot. stir – the goat cheese will melt and mix with the water and lemon juice as you go, creating a delicious, creamy sauce.

to serve, top pasta with grated romano cheese and lemon zest. now, go catch up on your DVR-ed episodes of revenge (if you’re not watching that show, you should be. emily thorne is one badass bitch) and dig in.

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as much as i love cookie dough – straight to the face, homemade, eaten sitting on my couch in my oversized flannel PJ pants while watching house hunters – sometimes, a girl just wants a brownie. an ooey gooey mess of chocolate that leaves a trail of crumbs in its wake. i’ve tackled red velvet brownies, but last night, i just wanted to plain old CHOCOLATE. so i turned to my ice cream guru david lebovitz, who, surprise surprise, has some pretty other fantastic recipes too. like these brownies, which are quite possibly the easiest thing in the world to make. you’ll have to trust me when i tell you these are THE BEST. THE BEST EVER. as in, you can cover me with these brownies when you bury me (or at the very least, leave a few in my coffin for me to eat during my eternal slumber). i added some extra chocolate chips to mine, but i get the sense that you can add just about anything to these and they’d still be delicious. which makes me think that next up, i’m going to make s’more brownies. think of it…chocolate…crushed graham crackers…MARSHMALLOWS…i’m salivating just thinking about it.

so, without further adieu, best ever brownies.

The Recipe

Makes about 9-12 brownies, depending on how big/little you slice ’em.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (i just used about 3/4 of a bag of semi sweet chips from trader joe’s)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla (i added 2…whoopsies, a bit liberal with the pouring)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup all purpose flour (yes, that’s it)

1 cup walnuts, or whatever else you want to mix in (you can skip this step all together if you’d like)

to make, preheat your oven to 350. line a 9 x 9 baking pan with tinfoil or parchment paper.

melt the butter in a saucepan* over medium to low heat. once butter is melted, mix in the chocolate. stir until melted and smooth. resist the temptation to stick your fingers in it/slather your body with it. it should resemble willy wonka’s chocolate river.

*if you have a stand mixer, use a small pan – you’ll do your mixing in the kitchenaid. if you don’t have a stand mixer, use a large saucepan  – you’ll do all your mixing in it.

remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the sugar and the vanilla. transfer the mixture to your stand mixer and beat in the eggs, one at a time. if you don’t have a stand mixer, keep everything in one place – but still beat the eggs in one at a time. once evenly combined, add the flour. beat vigorously for 60 seconds. count it out. twirl your hair. practice your vocabulary. call your BFF and leave a lengthy voicemail. whatever you do, make sure you beat for the full minute. at the onset, the batter will appear grainy, but once you’ve beat it (just beat it…BEATTT ITTTT…BEAT ITTT…sing it, MJ!), it will be smooth and creamy and delicious. now you can stick your fingers in. just one little taste. you deserve it. it’s been a long day.

if you’re adding mix-ins, add them now and mix just enough to fold them in. pour the batter into the pan and use a spatula to ensure it’s spread out fairly evenly. bake in the middle of your oven for about 30 minutes. mine ended up taking around 40 to be done; ovens vary. check with a toothpick to ensure that the brownies are done before you take them out for good.

let cool fully. as in, don’t try to cut yourself a bite after twenty minutes. the brownies need to set. once they’ve cooled down, you can cut them up and distribute them to friends and loved ones and the homeless guy outside the post office if you feel so inclined.

ps: david lebovitz, you’re a good among men.

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the worst: those nights when you have no food in your fridge (or at least, no food that you feel like eating). those nights where you stand in front of your fridge, eying the avocado that’s probably gone bad by now, the parmesan cheese that’s begging to be grated, the mint that was supposed to end up in a wheatberry salad a few days ago. everyone has those nights – where you just can’t figure out what to do with what you’ve got in your fridge.

the other night, i had one of those nights. and i made this. and thankfully, it was delicious. hearty, interesting – a party in my mouth, really – and loaded with carbs. i mean, who doesn’t love carbs? i should start running marathons so i can carbo-load with reckless abandon. i bought a bunch of italian sausages on a whim a few months ago at my local organic grocery store, thinking i’d find something to do with them. i was bored of chicken and red meat and even my beloved tofu, so sausages it was. let it be known, sausages gross me out. that whole, jam a bunch of squished up meat and lord knows what else into a gross wrapper that kind of reminds me of a condom thing…not really my cup of tea. BUT, sausages, when out of their condom, are delicious. especially when you break them up and saute them with garlic and onions and other yummy things that make your kitchen smell like good ol’ rachael ray came to dinner.

so i bought the sausages a few months ago, and used three out of six to make a weird lentil dish that i probably won’t attempt again. it sounded good in my head, but it was just so-so in my mouth. i decided to freeze the other three sausages until inspiration struck.

fast forward to tuesday night, when i needed a dinner and didn’t really want to eat anything i had. LIGHTBULB MOMENT! i had sausages! and since there’s no legitimate sausage in my life right now to speak of (did i go too far?), i figured i’d whip those babies out and make them into something yummy. and that i did! i sauted them with a lil bit of garlic, threw in some sliced red onions and some tomato paste, deglazed the pan with a little bit of my dear friend white wine, then threw in fresh tomatoes and a bit more wine. then i threw the whole thing over a batch of penne, called it a sauce, and topped it with some fresh mint (a stroke of genius, might i add – could have been oh so wrong but somehow, it tasted oh so right!). et voila, a meal! in under 30 minutes, might i add.

so, want to make it for yourself? you do, it’s good. you can use any sausages, really (italian sausage, flavored sausage, chicken sausage) – though i wouldn’t recommend fake vegetarian ones. veggie peeps, this recipe ain’t for you. go eat some tofu.

The Recipe

Makes enough for two with a little bit left over for lunch.

1/2 box of penne or the pasta of your choice

3 sausages, cut out of their little holding cells and ready to be broken up

3 gloves of garlic, diced

1/2 red onion, sliced

olive oil, for the pan

1 beefsteak tomato, cut up into large chunks

3 tbsp tomato paste (use your judgement – you can add more if you want a more saucy sauce)

1/4 cup white wine

3 tsp fresh mint, chopped

grated parmesan cheese (though romano would be good too)

to make, put a pot of water up to boil for your pasta. meanwhile, throw a bit of oil into a skillet and toss the sausages in there. if you can handle touching the raw meat with your fingers, break the sausages up into bits – much like you would with chop meat if you were making tacos. if you can’t handle touching the sausages, use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. let cook until browned, about 5 minutes. while the meat is cooking, slice your onion and garlic and tomatoes. once meat is browned, add garlic and onion and tomato paste. turn your burner down to low. cook for a few minutes, until the onions wilt and the tomato paste is mixed in. add wine and scrape the bottom of the skillet to get up all the good stuff at the bottom. i love a good wine sizzle, don’t you?

your water should be boiling by now. add your pasta and throw a dash of olive oil in the pot. i learned this trick from rachael ray, and it’s a lifesaver. your pasta will never stick together again! GENIUS. i love that woman. and her husband is in a band that i once saw open up for hanson, so there’s that.

while pasta is cooking, turn your burner on the meat up to medium and add your tomatoes. feel free to salt and pepper your dish here, or add some red pepper flakes. my sausages were spicy, so i didn’t need the extra kick. but if your sausages are just so-so, a pinch of red pepper flakes will work wonders in taste department. once the tomatoes have wilted down, remove the skillet from heat. set aside.

drain pasta and reserve a tiny bit of pasta water. mmm, starchy goodness. divy up pasta into two bowls and top with sausage mixture. sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and top with the chopped mint. now, dig in and try and tell me this stuff ain’t GOOD.

here’s the thing. i used to think smoothies were reserved for two kinds of people: health freaks and celebrities. though i guess celebrities pretty much always fall into the health freaks category, don’t they? i’m thinking of gwyneth paltrow, whose long, lithe frame is the envy of every big hipped woman in america. gywnnie is a BIG fan of smoothies, and often sends out recipes for them in her GOOP newsletter. in true skinny girl form, paltrow drinks smoothies not in addition to meals, not as an extra boost of fruit or veggies, but IN LIEU OF MEALS. i’m sorry, but i thought slimfast was a fad that departed around the same time justin timberlake ditched the canadian tuxedos and cornrows.

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anywho, obviously, i’m not in the camp of “drink in lieu of eating” – i’d almost always rather chew my food that simply swallow it. drinking is all well and good, and i love me some ice cold water (and some ice cold wine), but let’s face it, i’d always rather eat my calories than drink them. give me a brownie over a milkshake any day. this all being said, i’ve been really into smoothies lately, to the point where i did this CRAZY thing and went into Vitamin World and looked at protein powders (who am i? i don’t recognize myself). speaking of which, apparently, protein powders have a whole lot of CALORIES and SUGAR in them. and since my smoothies consist of really healthy things like fruit and apple cider, i don’t see the need to go upping my caloric intake on behalf of some weird-tasting powder. like i said, i like to eat my calories, not drink them. so scratch the protein powder, but give me the frozen fruit, stat.

lately, i’ve been mixing frozen fruit with fresh apple cider and a little bit of froyo for a whole lot of delicious that i call the “wake up call.”

The Recipe

1/4 cup frozen yogurt (or just use vanilla yogurt if you don’t have froyo)

1 banana, sliced

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1/2 cup frozen mangos

apple cider or fruity tea, to cover

to make, dump the fruit and the froyo into your blender. pour in enough apple cider to cover the ingredients, and pulse into smooth. if you don’t have apple cider on hand, substitute a fruity tea. i’ve had a lot of success with tazo’s passion tea. it adds a slightly different flavor (a bit less tart than the cider) but it’s still fruity and delicious.

note: the frozen fruit eliminates the need for any ice. i buy mine in bags at trader joe’s, but you could also get fresh fruit and freeze it yourself. if you do so, make sure you spread the fruit out before you freeze it – otherwise, you’ll end up with a huge, unbreakable mass of fruit. to freeze at home, chop fruit into bite size pieces and spread out on a baking tray. stick the baking tray in the freezer (alternatively, freeze small pieces of fruit in ice trays) and let sit until the fruit is frozen. then stick it in a freezer safe ziploc and put it back in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. once you’ve got your frozen fruit, you could also pre-make “smoothie bags” by divvying up your ingredients and baking them ahead of time, ie, making sandwich sized bags filled with chopped bananas, some berries, some mangoes, etc. when it comes time to blend, all you have to do is dump the bag in.

so, what are you waiting for? gwyneth called and told me your blender could use some love. get crackin’!

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i know many people think tofu is the pits – a weird, slightly gelatinous, unflavored blob of boring – but over the years, i’ve really come to love my good friend bean curd. on nights when i can’t bear to cook much of anything, i love to whip up a quick stir fry, and having tofu on hand ensures that i’m always getting protein in there with my veggies. eating tofu makes me feel like a healthy person. you know, something to make up for all the sweets i’ve constantly got sitting on my counter, taunting me, like this: “EAT ME, SARAH. I AM A TOFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BAR AND I AM SOOO GOOOD.”

tofu, on the other hand, is made from soy. which means it’s healthy. and yes, it’s unflavored, and yes, it looks extremely weird in its basic state. but the fun thing about unflavored things? you get to add the flavor. the world is your oyster when you’re cooking with tofu, because you can manipulate it any which way you damn please. it’s freeing, really, when you think about it.

the other day, i was really craving this amazing tahini dressing that they serve at haymarket cafe in my hometown, and I decided to get crafty and make my own. I wanted mine a bit more lemon-y, so I adapted Mollie Katzen’s recipe. if molly’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s the brains behind the new moosewood cookbook. growing up, my parents loved that book. my mom’s a big fan of healthy people food items such as lentils and chickpeas and what have you, and was always turning to moosewood for recipes. it’s one of the first cookbooks i remember seeing on our counter on a regular basis, so i was excited to rework Katzen’s recipe to make it my own. it was almost like delving back into my childhood, except without the lentils. Image

there are a million and one recipes out there for lemon tahini sauce. some people add miso, some don’t. some people like lots of lemon juice, others react like this when the word lemon comes up. i for one love me some lemons, especially in the spring, so my recipe was verrry lemon-y. i also added soy sauce instead of salt, mostly because i didn’t have miso and i love soy sauce on just about everything. luckily, it added just the kick i was looking for, instead of ruining the entire recipe.

SO – let’s start at the very beginning, which sister maria tells us is a very good place to start. 

The Recipe

Serves 2. Double the tofu and broccoli portion if you’d like to feed a family of four. 

1/2 container of extra firm tofu (the firmer it is, the less gross it is, in my opinion)

1 head of broccoli

3 tsps oil (i use canola since it can withstand high heats)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

To make the tahini sauce:

3/4 cup sesame tahini (you can generally find this in health food stores)

6 lemons, juiced 

1 clove of garlic, minced (add more if you like things really garlicky)

2 tsps soy sauce or tamari

3/4 cups to 1 1/2 cups water

start with the dressing. place the tahini, garlic, soy sauce and lemon juice in a blender and whizz until combined. start to drizzle in the water slowly, mixing as you do. add water until you’ve reached your desired consistency. i like mine somewhere in between sauce and dressing – like goldilocks, not too thick and not too thin – but you do your thing. once you’ve reached your desired consistency, transfer to bowl if using immediately, or a container if you’re going to save it. i put mine in a small ball jar and refrigerated it for two days before i took it out for use. it can stay in the fridge for up to two weeks, and you can always add more water at a later date to thin it out a little.

next, heat your oil in a skillet. while it’s heating up, cut your tofu into bite-sized cubes. once the pan is hot, throw the tofu cubes on the skillet. appreciate the sizzle, you’re on your way to becoming a master chef. cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until the tofu is browned nicely. while it’s cooking, cut up your broccoli and dice your garlic. again, you want bite sized piece. of course, feel free to use bigger ones, but don’t call me crying when you can’t fit that baby in your mouth. once your tofu is a nice toasted golden brown, throw the broccoli and garlic into the skillet. if you need to, add a tiny bit more oil. cook until the broccoli is slightly crisp and bright green. 

remove from heat, serve either alone or on top of a bed of the grain of your choice (i like brown rice, but quinoa would be yummy too), and drizzle with your tahini sauce. voila, a healthy meal! look at you, you healthy eater! i can’t believe you’re eating tofu! 

note: you’ll have plenty of lemon tahini sauce left over. stick it on salads, dip pita bread into it, or drizzle it over wheatberries. this sauce pulls double duty, so use it liberally as you see fit.