Sloppy Seconds

I hope everybody has recovered from holiday gluttony at this point. I was so sick of the starchy leftovers that I made a trip to TJ's a few days ago to stock up on my superfood necessities: berries, yogurt, spinach, tofu, quinoa, black beans, almond milk, etc. I couldn't handle all the thanksgiving reruns anymore.

I really stretched the leftovers this year.

First there were turkey enchiladas with black olives.

Delicious, yes. And a nice ethnic departure from the pilgrim food. And a great excuse for a Corona Light.

Then there was baked eggs over leftover sourdough stuffing.

Kind of an easy combo, yes, but it reduced the amount of stuffing hoarding space in the fridge. It also made a great lunch with a big green salad.

Then there was an extremely clever use of leftover gravy, vegetables, dinner rolls, and green bean casserole in a thanksgiving-inspired shepherd-ish pie.

However I have little desire to blog any of those recipes. Nobody cares about thanksgiving or leftovers at this point anyway, right? The fridge should be purged of leftovers by now, or you may be growing science experiments.

How about some delightful hummus? I've never made my own hummus before, but it was so easy and so delicious, I can't wait to do it again. All you need is a food processor or an efficient blender. I like my hummus extra tahini-y, but you could modify this recipe to your taste. You could also toss in a bit of tabasco to make it spicy, a bit of basil to make it herby, or a few cherry tomatoes to give it festive color. The possibilities are endless. Hummus is great as dip, spread on to veggie sandwiches, or as sauce on flatbread pizzas.

Basic Hummus
makes 2 cups


  • One clove garlic
  • One can garbanzo beans, drained - reserve a few for fancy garnish
  • 3 heaping tbsp tahini
  • 1-2 tbsp good, fruity, quality EVOO
  • juice of one large lemon and one large lime
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Process clove of garlic alone to mince it up so you don't get any unwelcome garlic chunks
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Process until super smooth
  • Garnish with a few whole beans and a drizzle of olive oil if you want to be fancypants, like me

It's hard to remember that just because the holidays are socially equated to loads and loads of tasty food, it doesn't give you a license to eat. It's important to treat your body well throughout the year and clue in to the "holy hell that's a lot of carbs" sirens that go off in your brain during the holiday season. I have to constantly remind myself that just because it's November/December, my metabolism has not changed. I know I will feel better about the holiday season if I do not indulge. On the flip side, I know that one or two indulgent meals won't derail me from my health and weight loss goals. Though the holidays are a challenging time for internalized fat kids like me, they really make me analyze my relationship with food.  (It's a pretty serious relationship. We're thinking July wedding.) 

David Sedaris, my favorite author of all time, summarizes the international fascination with food perfectly. In a story of international students trying to explain holiday traditions to members of other cultures, Sedaris writes,
"Faced with the challenge of explaining the cornerstone of Christianity, we did what any self-respecting group of people might do. We talked about food instead."
Me Talk Pretty One day


Post Holiday

There should be term equivalent to hangover that relates to holiday food consumption. I have one lovely friend who refers to the teenage candy and pizza sleepover binge guilt as "sleepover gut". (Shout out Kare Kares!). This is what I feel like after a holiday. Like my guts got a workout of not-so-nutritious or moderate choices and I feel like crap. It's prob a combo of carb overload mixed with miscellaneous booze, excess sugar, and a lot of sitting around. It's adult sleepover gut, holiday edition. It's not like I'm forced into this pattern, but it has become a lethal family tradition over the years. Sit around, eat, sit around some more, eat some more, sit around a bit, go to sleep.

The fam had a great spread this year:

 This year my favorites included a spinach/cranberry/fat free feta salad and sourdough mushroom leek stuffing. Healthy options mostly!

However the family traditions always make it to the table. Even this demon, candied yams. We don't do the marshmallow thing, but that doesn't make it health food. Now don't get me wrong. These yams are ri-dic-u-lous. I always save room to eat one last, as dessert. They also make a great breakfast item. They've been on the table since I was a kid and they are going nowhere. As nutritiously devoid as they are, they are incredible.

Candied Yams
Makes one 9x13 tray of yams
4 WW P+ per one piece of yam (steep!)

  • 4 large yams
  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light karo syrup
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • Scrub yams clean
  • Boil in salted water until skins slip
  • Drain, let cool to handle and skin the potatoes
  • Cut each yam into 4 even pieces and place in two baking dishes
  • While yams are boiling, combine sugar, butter, karo, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt, and vanilla in a sauce pan over medium low heat
  • Boil away for about 20 minutes until frothy and caramely
  • When ready, pour over yams evenly
  • Bake at 350 F for about two hours, removing every 20 minutes to baste the yams
  • These can be made ahead of time and frozen. They reheat excellently. 

No, not healthy. But necessary, yes. The holiday feast would not be the same without them!


Skinny Tortilla Soup

Today's recipe is the perfect pre-thanksgiving meal. It's not heavy and won't leave you feeling gross before you eat a 3,000 calorie dinner tomorrow evening (not including the booze). I wasn't kidding about the 3,000 calories. I won't lie, if you're one of those people that isn't against dinner foods for breakfast (i.e. leftover pizza, mashed potatoes, sushi?), then this tortilla soup is excellent for breakfast with an over-easy egg.
This version of tortilla soup utilizes Reduced Guilt tortilla chips from TJ's, though you could easily pick up another version of reduced calorie tortilla chips in baked form.

Truly, what makes restaurant tortilla soup dangerous is not the soup itself - it's the toppings! If you douse anything in large amounts of avocado, full fat sour cream, full fat cheese, and deep fried chips, it's going to be less than healthy. Case in point: taco salad. Argument over.

So, with recipe inspiration cred to Ms. Rachael Ray, I bring to you a skinnied up version of tort soup.

Skinny Tortilla Soup

  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • S&P
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 2 c. reduced guilt/baked tortilla chips
  • 1 quart chicken stock/broth
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Toppings of your liking:
    • Fat free greek yogurt
    • Hot sauce like Cholula or Tapatio
    • Avocado, sliced
    • Lime wedges
    • Reduced fat shredded mexican blend cheese
    • Reduced guilt/baked tortilla chips
  • In a soup pot, heat EVOO over med-high heat
  • Season chicken with S&P, lightly brown in pot
  • While chicken is browning, get together garlic, bell pep, onion, jalapeno, and celery
  • Add all veg to pot along with cumin and coriander and a pinch more of salt
  • Cook for a few minutes until veg starts to soften up, stirring frequently
  • In the meantime, food process, or crush, the 2 cups of tortilla chips. This part is a little weird, but it's what thickens the soup and it makes it super good. So trust me.
  • Add tortilla chip crumbs to pot, and stir to incorporate into the chicken/veg mixture
  • Add broth, zest and juice of 1 lime (I throw in the limes after I squeeze out the juice. I like it limey)
  • Let her simmer on low for 15 minutes for all the flavors to have a little party
  • When ready to serve, throw in the cilantro and stir it up
  • Ladle up and garnish to your liking
strangely delicious!

I served the soup with black bean quesadillas. This not only prevented me from gorging on chips, it also provided more protein in the meal. TJ's has blue corn tortillas that look cool, taste great, and are only 60 calories.

it's not a white balance problem.

This recipe is not super brothy like traditional tortilla soup because of the crushed chips. It's almost chowder-y because of the thickness. Highly recommended! You could always reduce the amount of crushed chips or increase the amount of broth to reach your desired soup thickness balance. It would also be a great way to utilize left over turkey after T-day! Just omit the chicken browning step and toss in the cooked turkey after the veg is browned. 

Happy Thanksgiving readers!


Shin's Tribute

Recently I've been feeling very nostalgic for San Luis Obispo. Let me be a bit more specific: I've been feeling nostalgic for SLO restaurants. Fat kid status? Probably.

Boys and girls, I want to tell you about a magical place. It's a place where the food is cheap, the beer comes to the table quick, the service is sub-par (read: minimal tip), and you can even have a happy birsday.

Like this:

Ok, that was annoying. Let's get back to my point. Shin's sushi, a SLO staple, has a special place in my heart. Ps. shittttyyy website.

My favorite shin's meal:
Sunomono <---the best!
Miso Soup
Grover Beach Roll
1/2 price Spicy Tuna cut roll

Not only would this cost me like $10 max, it would put me in a sushi-induced food coma for a good five hours.

The Grover Beach Roll is like a california roll, a lettuce wrap, and tempura combined. Could you complain? The best part is that it's easy to recreate at home! And thus ....

Shin's Grover Beach Roll Knock Off
Makes 10 rolls


  • One large head of iceberg, cored and leafed (not sure that's a culinary term for "deconstruct the iceberg"
  • 2 cups cooked short grain/japanese white rice
  • 1tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 c. imitation (if that's all you can find) or real crab (claw or lump, depending on your budget)
  • 1/4 c. light mayo
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrots
  • 10 pieces Shrimp Tempura - thank you Trader Joe's!!
pretty sure i'd perish without TJ's
  • Food process crab and mayo together until combined
  • Cook tempura according to instructions
  • Sprinkle rice vinegar over hot rice and let cool - will make it like a poor white girl's sticky rice
  • Lay out an iceberg leaf or two for your roll
  • In each roll, put in 1-2 tbsp rice, 1 tbsp crab meat, 1 tempura, 2 slices avo, a bit of carrot
  • Wrap er up!
  • Serve with sriracha, soy sauce,wasabi, whatevs for dipping

assembly line, assemble!

aw, come on.

piled high for the eatin
One note for this recipe: wrapping in the iceberg leaves is a bitch. Doubling up the leaves helps, but you may need more than one head of iceberg for this recipe then. In the end, it tastes effing delicious, regardless of your wrapping skills.

While this has temporarily stymied my SLO cravings, nothing truly matches the SLO experience. I'd like to be 65 and retired living in Morro Bay right. about. now.



This recipe combines two of my favorite things: vegetables and eggs. Scratch that: three.... there is cheese.
I will be honest, I ate this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Not all on the same day).

I once heard on the Food Network, via Melissa D'Arabian, via the Next Food Network Star, aka crappy television, that an easy way to remember the ingredients and order of operations for ratatouille is "EZ Pot"... sounds like "Easy Pot". It stands for Eggplant, Zucchini, Peppers, Onions, Tomato. EZPOT. Got it? Now you won't forget it. Anywho, I tossed in mushrooms to make it EZPMOT, which is not as easy to remember, but it IS more delicious. SO just bookmark this recipe and move on.

Ratatouille and Egg Casserole


  • 1 small eggplant, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, any color(s), chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped white mushrooms
  • 4 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 sprig each thyme and rosemary, de-sprigged and chopped
  • 4 eggs plus 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1.5 c. shredded parm

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a large deep pan, heat EVOO over medium high heat
  • Don't add the eggplant until the oil is screaming hot or your eggplant will just be a healthy sponge and drink up all the oil
  • Add vegetables in order, waiting 1-2 minutes between addition
  • Season with herbs, S&P
  • Meanwhile, beat milk and eggs and whites in a large bowl. The more air the better for light and fluffy eggs.
  • Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray
  • Layer 1/2 ratatouille mixture, 1/2 cheese, 1/2 egg mixture, then repeat
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until eggs are set through and cheese on top is brown and bubbly
  • Great with pizza dough breadsticks!

Cheesy and eggy and veggie-y! I think that basically covers all the food groups, right?


Obedience Training

Somethings require me to exercise more self control than I know that I possess. This problem runs in the family. If my dad is presented with a box of cookies, it is a personal challenge for him to finish off the box before the sun rises. He alway prevails. This is why I do not bake. It's nearly impossible to resist something so delectable. I know another family member who can relate:

"leave it!"
It's not that self control can't be taught.... It can. See:

Sometime you just have to look away from that delicious treat on the floor ...er... kitchen counter.... Whatever.

But come on, I've been good, I've been patient. Can't I please have just one?!?! Pretty please??!?

puppy eyes!
I'll be self-restrained. I'll be good. Promise.

I promise to be good afterwards. Just one treat, then i'll pack em up and give em away.  I'll even shake on it. 

Well then, okay.

This is why I don't bake for myself. But I will gladly bake for others. It's a good thing the world has Jessica from the most entertaining cooking blog on the web, How Sweet It Is. Otherwise, the world would never see this ridonculous cookie recipe. This recipe is made special by two techniques: melted salted butter and the stacking method. To form the cookies, roll a 2 tbsp lump into a ball, rip the ball in half, and stack the pieces on the baking sheet like a deformed snowman. And do not, do not, do not overcook.

 Instead of m&m's, I filled my cookies with white chocolate chips and mini peanut butter cups from trader joe's, which PS are excellent frozen and even more excellent not within my reach.

get out of my house

I baked these treasures for a kind and wonderful coworker, er, ex-coworker, since I have now re-established unemployment. More on that another time, maybe.

 And yes, folks, I used self-restraint and only ate ONE. And it was awesome.


Three Little Words

Best Dressing Ever. What did you think I meant?

When I say "best dressing ever", what comes to mind? If it is not the balsamic dressing at Upper Crust in San Luis Obispo, then I don't think we can be friends.

I've wasted many minutes of my life pondering how and why that dressing got so good. What I really should do is dedicate more time to research, and by research I mean drive my butt up to SLO for a salad bathing in that ridiculously good dressing. I swear it must have bacon in it. And shallots. And rainbows. Those are the only reasons it could be that good. I could spend hours trying to recreate the dressing, but the truth is that some things should be left to the experts. In an attempt to satisfy my craving for the best dressing ever, I whipped up a roasted garlic balsamic. It's not Upper Crust, but it's damn good.

First you need some roasted garlic, which, ps, could not be easier. It's as easy as 1, 2 ,3...

Lob off about 1/4" of the head of the garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle 1 tsp EVOO over each head, wrap with foil, place on a baking sheet and roast at 400F for 40 minutes. When time is up, remove from oven and let cool inside the foil for about 20 minutes. When you unwrap, you will be greeted with a sweet, savory, garlicky treasure. Spread on toast, toss with pasta, mix into salad dressing, or whatever else your heart desires.

Now you're ready to make a tasty dressing.

Roasted Garlic Honey Balsamic Dressing


  • One head of roasted garlic
  • 1 tbsp smooth dijon mustard (like grey poupon)
  • 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • In a food processor, blender, or other magic bullet type device, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth
  • The food processor also aerates the dressing, making it nice and thick


This dressing is perfect with baby greens, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. And it doesn't leave you with garlic breath, like the upper crust dressing does. However, I would have upper crust garlic breath every day for the rest of my life if I could. Best. Dressing. Ever. The three sweetest words you could ever hear.



In my personal opinion, the kabocha is the unsung hero of squashes. It's tastier than any squash out there. It can be roasted, pureed, sauteed, tempura'd, etc. It's always good. If you haven't tried kabocha, do so now. Actually, you probably have and didn't know it. Kabocha is the squash used in vegetable tempura dishes at japanese restaurants. If you didn't know, now you do.

This is the giant kabocha space ship that sat on my counter for days and begged "eat me!"

And so . . . I did. Today's recipe was inspired by a recipe in Self magazine, 2008. I maintain that you could slather a kabocha in paint thinner and it would still be delicious. But that's just me.

The first step is to slay your kabocha squash. This is where a good knife is just as important as it is dangerous. Just close your eyes and tell me when it's over.

i don't wanna!

It's really not that bad, but does take some elbow grease. Good thing i'm ripped. (?)


Cumin Spiced Roasted Kabocha
1 WW PP+ per cup of squash

  • The hugest kabocha you can find, or two small, insides scooped out, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp paprika - any kind
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Toss kabocha in EVOO
  • In a spice grinder or in a mortar and pestel, crush bay leaf with sea salt
  • Combine sea salt/bay mixture with cumin, sugar and paprika
  • Sprinkle over oiled kabocha and toss until coated all over
  • Spread on a baking sheet and bake for one hour, or until edges are golden and kabocha is soft
  • You won't be able to flip the kabocha, so don't try -  it doesn't get crispy. Just tender and delish.

The cumin flavor is not overpowering and the balance of sugar and salt is perfecto. Kabocha is already sweet, but the brown sugar really complements the natural sweetness and doesn't compete with it. Also, this whole bay leaf/sea salt business is a winner and will likely find its way into my kitchen again.

If you need an awesome recipe to go with the kabocha, you will have to come back in a couple days! It's finals season in lauren land, so naturally i'm procrastinating by doing everything BUT studying. What the heck is that about? Off for a bike ride ...