Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets

Most of these gadgets were gifted to me from real bonafide cooks, and I love them all dearly.  One of my favorite presents for my foodie friends is a Silpat baking mat and a bottle of Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract. 

                                                              1. Microplane zester

2. Silpat baking mat
3.  Wusthof Knife Set Classic Starter
 8-inch cook's knife
3-1/2-inch paring knife
4.  Nordic Ware Bakers half sheet with CIA masters collection 
wire cooking rack (both available on Amazon)
*an essential for the favorite bacon crackers appetizer*

5.  The Lodge color enamel 6-quart Dutch Oven

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spaghetti Squash 101

I discovered spaghetti squash last fall, and have been buying one weekly ever since. As a lover of real pasta, I thought to myself, this sounds too good to be true. No way. I was, for lack of an easier way to put it, totally wrong! Though not what I would call a pasta substitute, spaghetti squash is hearty enough to serve in a traditional pasta sauce or simply mixed with pesto. I found the tastiest way to prepare is to cut squash in half, spray with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, and roast at 400 for 45 minutes. Then take a fork and have at it. Joshua usually hovers around me to ensure I scrape out all of the inner goodness. 

This recipe was a 30 minute "empty the fridge" meal, and Josh has already asking when I will make it again.  The cast of ingredients: 1lb chicken sausage, onion, red pepper flakes, spaghetti squash, and a DIVINE three cheese marinara sauce I picked up at Trader Joe's.  (the sauce is now on my Trader's Staples list, it was THAT good.) I'm sure you could substitute ground turkey or lean ground beef and it would be just as good.



  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 1 Tbsp good olive oil 
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 jar TJ's three cheese marinara 
  • Salt/Pepper to taste (I always use Morton kosher salt and freshly ground pepper)
  • Grated parmesan cheese optional 
  1. Roast spaghetti squash at 400 degrees for 45 minutes (instructions above), then scrape out the inner goodness with a fork. 
  2. Saute onion in olive oil. Add ground chicken and cook until brown. Add marinara sauce and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve sauce over shredded squash (or mix all together in sauce pan). I like to grate fresh parmesan cheese on top.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

photo of the week

I love my girlfriends. To sum up our recent adventure: five girls, five nights, five year anniversary cruise from our first cruise together five years ago. Our first cruise together was way back in 2008 when we were all young and poor PA students in our 1st year of the PA program at JCHS in Roanoke. Needless to say, we have all grown up a lot since then!  

Thanks to these girls, in 5 short days, I have been educated on birchbox, glam bag, insanity work-outs, nerdy medical websites, Teamine eye cream (wrinkle prevention!), new Trader Joe's kitchen staples, and Very Jane for fun affordable jewelry. I'd be totally lost without these girls! 

Quinoa Obsession

I must thank my vegetarian friends (Katie and Elisabeth), who have slowly inducted me into the healthy world of quinoa, nut butters, tofu, and edamame. A few years ago, I could not even pronounce quinoa (keen-wa).  Now, it has become a beloved kitchen staple. 

Before you make this recipe, I must warn you. You will make it again, and again, and again. Your colleagues, friends, and family will kindly demand that you bring it to parties and pot lucks. I now keep the ingredients on hand, at all times, in case I need to whip up a batch on short notice. One of my surgeons has fondly nicknamed them "sticky power balls", and has been seen eating ten in one sitting. They make for an easy fuss-free breakfast or hiking treat. This recipe yields 12 balls, though I usually double it. 

Quinoa Trail Mix Balls 
from Eat, Live, Run


  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (I use Quaker)
  • 1/4 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup raisins (or craisins)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
  2. Mix together sunflower seeds, oats, raisins and coconut in a large bowl. Drain quinoa and add to bowl. Mix well. 
  3. Bring honey to a simmer on stove; then stir in the vanilla extract and pour on top of nuts and seeds. Mix until well combined.
  4. Let mixture cool slightly before adding the peanut butter, sea salt, and dark chocolate chips. Mix well with your hands so the peanut butter is evenly dispersed. Cool mixture in fridge for 1 hour. 
  5. Using wet hands, gently roll mixture into golf ball-sized balls. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.