351. Veggietastic Breakfast Bowls

Yesterday I mentioned one of the things that is really working for me is eating a massive amount of vegetables.  One of the ways I do this is to load up my breakfast with 3 – 4 servings of veggies through these “Veggie Breakfast Bowls.”  This isn’t really a recipe so much as a method because you can use pretty much anything you want to create these bowls.  I like to switch it up week to week based on what veggies I have on hand and so I don’t bored.

Aside from being loaded with veggies, one of the nice things about these veggie bowls is that you really can make everything in advance, throw the bowl together and pop it in the microwave for a couple minutes if you don’t have a lot of time to make breakfast in the morning.

So here’s how I roll in the mornings:

  • First, grab a large-ish bowl and add about ½ c of your grain of your choice.  This week I went with quinoa that I made ahead on Sunday, but in the past I’ve used grits, couscous, and even oatmeal.  Since the grain was the only pre-made element of this morning’s breakfast, I just heated it in the microwave for 90 seconds.  If the rest of your ingredients are pre-cooked microwave it all at the end.

  • Next up, top the grains with 2 – 3 cups of veggies.  This week I’ve been using about 1 c of slice baby bellas and 2 cups of spinach which I sauté together in a splash of olive oil.  I’ve also used Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and leftover roasted veggies.

  • Now top your veggies with an egg.  I like to use over-easy or poached eggs so I get a nice runny yolk to mix in, but if runny egg yolks aren’t your thing you could definitely use scrambled or even hard boiled.

  • Top it all with some cheese (or don’t).  I bought a giant bag of Cabot 50% Reduced fat Sharp Cheddar Snackers at Costco a couple weeks ago so I crumble one of those on top.  Feel free to add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, or other seasonings as well.  Sometimes I do; sometimes I don’t.

  • Finally, mix it all together and enjoy!

Depending on the grain I’m using, the whole bowl clocks in at 6 – 7 points plus and usually keeps me full for several hours.  (I eat breakfast about 6:30am and generally don’t start getting hungry again until at least 10:30!)


230. A Thanksgiving Story (with a Make It Monday Recipe)

Things that are awesome: getting a brand new stove

(Does anyone else read the 1,000 Awesome Things blog?  It’s pretty awesome.)

Things that are less awesome: getting a brand new stove because your stove died the night before you’re supposed to cook and host your very first Thanksgiving for your parents and your boyfriend’s parents.

My kitchen has undergone some major upgrades in the last week.  It started with a plan to refinish my countertops using Rustoleum’s countertop coating product.  We had to pull out the stove to do the counter tops (which look pretty great, by the way), and when we put it back in place and powered it back up Friday afternoon, the oven door locked.  The stove top still worked, but I was completely locked out of the oven!  This was not good the day before I was supposed to be cooking Thanksgiving dinner part II.  The boyfriend tried to fix it, but didn’t get very far since I own about two tools.  My dad came over, and the two of them worked out what was wrong.  It could have been fixed, but since the stove was probably older than I am and this is the second time it’s broken in less than a year, we decided stove shopping was the best bet.

I actually ended up getting a pretty good deal at Lowe’s (after all, it was still Black Friday.)  Thanks to their free delivery, haul away, and installation and some hard work by the dad and boyfriend in modifying the counter and black splash*, I had my brand-spankin new stove by Sunday afternoon.  In the meantime, I hosted Thanksgiving at my parent’s house.

And I’m happy to report that despite the stove debacle, my first Thanksgiving was a huge success!  The boyfriend and I executed a delicious meal and everyone enjoyed the food and conversation.  While this wasn’t the first time my parents and the boyfriend’s parents had met, it was the first time they were meeting in a place that would allow for conversation.  (Their first official meeting was at a very large, very loud benefit at a bar.)  Every one of the recipes I made has been added to my recipe files to make again.  And since there are plenty of holidays left, here’s the awesome menu rundown for you.

Smoke Roasted Turkey with Pomegranate Thyme Glaze from the November issue of Cooking Light.  I promise you this was the best turkey I’ve ever had.  We used cherry woodchips, and the flavor was absolutely phenominal.

Old-Fashioned Cranberry Sauce also from the November Cooking Light.  I made their Cran-Apple variation by chopping up a pink lady apple.  Everyone thought it was a bit tart, but I loved it.  If you’re not a fan of tart, I would suggest more sugar or possibly skipping the wine.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Cassie at Back to Her Roots.  Even my mom, who hates Brussels sprouts, managed to stomach some of these.  Let’s face it, bacon makes everything better.

Whole Wheat Garlic Knots also from Cassie.  I used my mom’s bread machine to make the dough for these.

Pumpkin Pie from the Brown-Eyed Baker.  I used her pie crust recipe for my pumpkin pie last year and it was great.  This year I went the canned pumpkin route so I followed her pie recipe as well.  Just be warned, I ended up with enough filling for two pies.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes:  There’s no real recipe here: roast two heads of garlic, boil some baby red potatoes, toss the cooked potatoes and garlic into a bowl with some milk and mash with a potato masher, hand mixer, or stand mixer.  The garlic gave them so much flavor butter and gravy were total unnecessary.

Dad’s Stuffing

This is the go-to stuffing mix in my family.  The type of stuffing mix is up to you.  I went with the Trader Joe’s mix.  Personally, I think it’s really the sausage that gives it that little sumthin’-sumthin’. 

Serving Size: ½ cup | Yields: 8 servings
View and Print on Recipage


1 lb pork sausage
1 – 12oz package stuffing mix
1 large onion, diced
4 – 5 celery stalks, chopped
2 – 3 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried, ground sage
1 tablespoon butter, divided into 4 pats


  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Cook sausage in a large skillet with onions, celery, and sage.  Break up and brown the sausage as you would with ground beef.  Drain grease and pat with paper towels to remove excess grease.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sausage mixture and stuffing mix.  Add chicken broth a half cup at a time and mix until the stuffing mix reaches a slightly mushy consistency.
    Note: You want the stuffing mix to be thoroughly soaked without totally disintegrating
  4. Pour into casserole dish, top with butter  and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the top begins to brown.

I suggest making any or all of these things for Christmas or New Years or Hannakuh or because you’ve got a new stove or just because it’s the holiday season and all these foods are awesome.

*my previous stove was a drop-in which seemed to average a minimum of $500 more than a freestanding range.  I wasn’t looking to spend over a grand on a new stove so we modified accordingly.

320. Make It Monday: From Around the Web

I’ve been a busy lady lately which means I haven’t been cooking a great deal.  (Remember when I ate out 6 out of 7 days in a week?!) And when I have been cooking, it’s been straight from recipes with minimal adaptations.  However, the stuff I have been making has been really tasty so I wanted to let you all in on the secret.

BBQ Beer Chicken from How Sweet It Is
Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken from How Sweet It Is served on pretzel rolls.  This makes a ton of chicken.  I actually packaged up about half this recipe and brought it to my friends Jennie and John who just had a new baby.  I also have some in the freezer to eat at a later time. (Photo Source: How Sweet It Is)

Creamy Tomato Soup from Eat Live Run which was, of course, paired with a warm and gooey grill ham and cheese.  This has become my go-to tomato soup recipe.  It’s so quick and easy to make.

Portobello Cheesesteaks from Back to Her Roots
Portobello Cheesesteaks from Back to Her Roots also served on pretzel rolls.  I’ve never had a true Philly Cheesesteak, but I would venture to guess these are an amazing veggie substitute. (Photo Source: Back to Her Roots)

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes from whisktogether over at Tasty Kitchen.

This Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Cooking Light with these substitutions from The Candid RD.  I did actually make one substitution of my own on this one, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  I had several bags of mozzarella on hand so I used that instead of the gruyere.  I love mozzarella, but it just doesn’t have a strong enough flavor for this recipe.  It was good, but there was much more squashiness than cheesiness.

I suggest you go and make all of these things as soon as possible.  In fact, I just made your meal plan for the week.  You’re welcome.

295. Make It Monday: Grilled Margherita Portobello Burgers

Happy Monday Friends!  You will all be glad to hear, I’ve gotten my act together thanks to the mini goals I set last Monday.  Although I never did get around to doing laundry…I hate laundry.  In fact, if anyone is willing to come to my house and do my laundry, I will gladly pay them with lots of delicious food and undying thanks.  Seriously.  No takers? 

Well then…moving right along.

My downfall as a food blogger is that I am constantly forgetting to take pictures of my food.  Usually I’m in such a hurry to eat because I’m either a) starving or b) pressed for time, that the last thing on my mind is Oh! Picture!  I’ve wanted to share this recipe since, like, June, but of the three times I’ve made this, I’ve never once managed to take a picture.  Fail.  This is actually adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe, so I’m going to use their pretty picture which basically looks absolutely nothing like what I made.  Oh well.

As someone who is just learning to like mushrooms and tomatoes, this is a killer recipe.  The flavors mesh together so well that it’s hard to dislike anything about it.

Grilled Margherita Portobello Burgers
adapted from Weight Watcher’s Grilled Margherita Portobello Mushrooms
makes 2 burgers | 3 points per serving

2 large Portobello  mushrooms
2 T balsamic vinegar
¼ c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/8 t garlic powder
½ t oregano
1 medium tomato
4 leaves fresh basil
2 hamburger buns, rolls, or sandwich thins 



  1. Heat grill to medium heat.
  2. Wipe mushrooms clean and remove stems.  Rub each mushroom with the balsamic vinegar.
  3. Combine cheese with garlic powder and oregano.
  4. Wash and slice tomato into four slices.
  5. Spray grill with cooking spray, and place mushrooms stem-side down on the grill.  Cook, covered, for 3 – 5 minutes.  Flip and cook and additional 3 minutes. 
  6. Fill each mushroom cap with ½ of the cheese mixture (about 2 T) and top with two slices of tomato.  Close grill and cook an additional 2 – 3 minutes until cheese is melted and tomatoes are warmed.
  7. Serve on bun topping each “burger” with two fresh basil leaves.

These were so good I actually made them two weeks in a row.  Since summer is coming to a close – it’s been almost fall-like in the Chicago area lately – you should probably make these soon and often to get the most of your grilling season.

261. A Veggie A Day?

The Veggie-Off officially started on Friday, but today marks the start of the first full week.  I, for one, am very excited.  I’m looking forward to trying new veggies, and I hope to share some tasty veggie recipes with you all this month.  To kick off the challenge I wanted to share some information about the Dietary Guidelines as they relate to veggies.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans changed this year, and along with that so did the way we look at our veggie intake.

Gone are the days of 3 – 5 servings of vegetables.  Veggie recommendations are now given in cups.  For the majority of the population the recommendation is 2 – 3 cups of veggies per day. (2.5 for women ages 19 – 50, and 3 cups for men in the same age range.) (Source) This is why we’re measuring in cups for the purposes of the challenge.  Personally, I think it seems much easier to measure veggies servings in terms of cups than trying to figure out how many carrots is a serving or how many broccoli florets count.  I always struggled to grasp what exactly constituted one serving.

Of course, there are caveats to everything.  For example, 2 cups of leafy greens are considered 1 cup of vegetables.  The MyPyramid.gov site provides this chart with examples of what counts as 1 cup (or in some cases ½ cup) of veggies.  I’m definitely going to be referencing this when I need to know how many carrot sticks count as one cup.

One change that I find particularly interesting is that the USDA now considers dry beans and peas to be part of both the vegetable group and the proteins group.  If I remember correctly, previously these were only part of the proteins group.  Once the needs for the proteins group have been met, all dry beans and peas count toward the vegetables group.  If you eat meat regularly, you can most likely consider all of your dry beans and peas part of the vegetable group. (Source)  I’ve already professed my love of beans on multiple occasions so I’m excited that they can now be counted as veggies!

Things are about to get interesting around here…

259. Get Your Veggie On in the Great Veggie-Of

Two days ago Laura and I were g-chatting about how we both need to seriously ramp up our veggie intake.  For me fruit is no issue.  I love fruit.  I can find fruit I love in every season.  Veggies on the other hand are a struggle for me – especially in the winter.  There’s a lot of veggies I don’t like (mushrooms, tomatoes, and celery to name a few), and I’m not particularly adventurous when it comes to trying new veggies.  So while discussing our pitiful veggie intake, I half-joking suggested her and I have a Veggie-Off in the month of April.  She whole-heartedly agreed, and the Great Veggie-Off was born.

Anyone is welcome to participate in the Veggie-Off next month, but for those of us with a bit of a competitive spirit, there’s going to be a more formal competition, if you will.  We thought it would be a good idea to add the elements of accountability and reward to the Veggie-Off.  Here’s the deets.

You’re Invited to The Great Veggie-Off!


Where: The Interwebs
When: April 1st – April 30th
What: Maximize your veggie in-take (without sacrificing other important food group and nutrients of course!).  Juice counts, but if it’s if a combo juice only the veggie portion counts.  Veggie pills and shots do not count.  It’s gotta be the real deal folks. 
How: She (or he) with the highest veggie intake wins.

There are the basics.  Like I said, anyone is welcome to participate, but if you want to be involved in the competition and have a chance at the prize you’ll need to know a little bit more so keep reading.

There will be a $5 entry fee which will go into a PayPal pool that will be managed by a non-participating third party – namely Laura’s dear friend Rachel from Boston No Common.  You will need to track your veggie consumption and report back on a weekly basis.  Here’s how you play the game:

  1. Leave a comment here letting me know you want to participate in the Veggie-Off Competition.  You must sign up and submit the entry fee by 11:59 CST on March 31st.  (Once you comment I will email you the PayPal info you need.)
  2. Every Friday (starting April 8th) I will post a “check-in,” and you will need to post your veggie consumption for the week.  You can do this by creating a blog post (or a tracking page) and linking it on the “check-in” post or if you don’t have a blog, you can email me your veggie log for the week.
  3. Since the USDA now does their recommendations in terms of cups of veggies, that is how we will measure.  I will be posting more about this, including examples, next week.
  4. At the end of the month, I will post the tally of everyone’s veggie consumption and announce the winner(s).  (Depending on the number of participants we might have a winner, a winner and runner-up, or a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.  I’ll update about that once I know how many people are interested.)

Obviously this is on the honor system.  I like to think all my wonderful blogger friends out there are good, honest people; so please don’t shatter my hopes and dreams. 🙂