I received my NY Magazine in the mail about a week ago, finally got around to reading it (I should probably just cancel it) and was overjoyed to see a slew of pages devoted to a new trend I happen to be really enamored with: the vegivore.
What is a vegivore, you ask? Its someone who eats vegetarian fare- not because of their aversion to eating animals (even though that can play into it) but because they love and appreciate the taste of vegetables.
Now I was never a vegetable lover, and I think that has lots to do with what I ate growing up. With an over-abundance of meats, rice, and fried treats, veggies were hardly on the table, and even when they were, weren’t my primary food of choice. And I don’t just blame it on my childhood- as soon as I went away to college I could have easily changed that pattern and immersed myself in lovely greens. But even then veggies only came into play in the occasional salad or as a small peek in my mainly carb and meaty meal.
That has changed. Over the past few years I’ve learned to love vegetables- not because of their health properties (even though those are great too) but also because they’re just tasty. A thinly sliced zucchini, oven roasted squash, the taste of that first cob of summer- it’s all so fresh and delicious.
In that vein, I recently wanted to try eating mainly vegetarian to give my body a break from the meat, but also add much needed veggies to my diet. Making the initial switch has been pretty easy- I barely miss meat in my dinners- but finding recipes has been a challenge at times. It’s really forced me to plan out my meals ahead of time and make the most of what I’ve got in my fridge and pantry. It’s also forced me to think a little outside the box and have some fun with my food.
Just last night I had wild rice stuffed acorn squash with oven roasted cayenne sweet potatoes with caramelized onions and toasted pecans. It was heavenly! So warm and comforting and the perfect fall recipe.

I’m hoping to try my hand at tofu soon. Wish me luck!!


Pesto Burgers

I’m not posting these because it’s Memorial Day or even because it’s National Hamburger Month. I’m posting these because I love this pesto and because I need to let you know how easy it is to make a plain burger really exciting.

Just for some background: just like Sunday Tomato Sauce and Pasta Tosses are my go-to in the Fall/Winter for creative but easy dinners, burgers and salads are my go-to in the Spring/Summer. I just love to have fun with them and try a million different options. And I always make my own burgers. I just love being in control of every single bite (and I know I say this a lot, but I mean it- it’s so easy!!). And- I love to have fun with tons of different toppings. I started off really basic this month but have so many plans to make a million different burgers before fall arrives (oh, the possibilities are endless).

This pesto burger just kind of happened. I wanted to make sliders and wanted each of them to be totally different. I had pesto on hand and used smoked mozzarella as the cheese. They turned out really great. The next day, I was so happy with them that I made chicken sliders for dinner and really enjoyed. Like I said, this pesto goes with everything- the possibilities really are endless!

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Even though my dreams of walking over to my fire escape, lifting the window, and picking a hefty bunch of fresh basil may not come true this summer (hey I’m not giving up- just being a little realistic) it doesn’t mean that I still don’t get to indulge in one of my summer favorites: pesto.

I think I’ve always loved pesto- simply because I can’t remember a time I didn’t like it (I remember all too well when I didn’t like mustard or cauliflower or…). I even remember it being the first meal my Aunt had when she arrived in Italy to visit me. My Aunt Liz loves Italian food so visiting me in Italy was like her going home in a way. She wanted to taste the best of the best and I brought her to my favorite Florentine restaurant: Il Contadino.

It was a tiny, hole on the wall kind of place. With a fixed price menu, awesome house wine, and super helpful staff, it was my diamond in the rough. One of my fave Florentine finds.

Doesn't she look a little skeptical?

Needless to say, Liz was not impressed. Liz wanted the fancy place, the restaurant people flew to eat at from all over the world. But that’s not what I wanted her to taste. Florence was a city of simple elegance. Like its food, the restaurant was no fuss but all substance.

Liz ordered the pesto and was dismayed when it came over fettuccine. Fettuccine? That is not how we serve it at home. But nonetheless she swirled that thick creamy sauce into the pasta and took a bite. I could tell from her face- she was in heaven. This may not have been her dream restaurant but the pesto was a winner.

And all pesto is not created equal. I spent all last summer dumping ingredients into my food processor, without caring for quantities, and coming out with a subpar pesto. This summer I learned my lesson. Find a simple recipe and follow.

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Homemade Herbs

I’m starting to notice that, little by little, I become more and more like my parents. More than I’d like to admit. I have my dad’s short temper and my mom’s dry sarcasm. So when I started to pick up some good habits, like my mom’s knack for finding great deals and my dad’s green thumb, I got very excited.

Now, about that green thumb, this isn’t something that’s coming with the greatest of ease for me. When I first moved into my teeny-tiny apartment, I decided to christen the place with my first plant. I wasn’t so great at first but, in time, this little plant has really grown into something meaningful- something I took care of and grew. That same summer I went to the Union Square Market and bought Basil plants and Parsley plants and they both kicked my butt. The parsley more than the basil- that thing just wouldn’t grow! But with what little I had of the basil I made the yummiest pesto. That was a great summer.

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Cheese Soufflé

I’ve been looking for a challenge- something to push me a little out of my comfort zone and this recipe just called out to me. I was getting bored of the pasta tosses and grilled sandwiches and wanted to do something different. So after receiving a Julia Child book from my Aunt Liz and the Julia and Jacque DVD’s from my Dad for christmas, I was inspired to try my hand at this soufflé. Julia has a way of talking about and explaining food that make you want to run into the kitchen and cook- pronto. And she makes it all sound so simple and elegant.

And I’ll be honest- it wasn’t perfect. It was pretty. And then I started eating it, and it was yummy! And then I looked up and it was shrinking- like magic- right before my very eyes. Is that supposed to happen? Julia and Jacque made their soufflés, took the towering and piping hot masterpiece out of the oven, and then they took a bite and the camera’s cut away. Did their soufflé’s shrink when the director yelled cut? Who knows- but it was still an awesome lunch!

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Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes, and More Pancakes!

I can easily get carried away. I sometimes don’t know how to do things in moderation. I feel like I’m at an obsessive’s anonymous meeting. My name is Christine and I don’t know when enough is enough.

So, with that said and out in the open, I can get on with this post. In the past month I’ve been obsessed with pancakes. And just like when I was obsessed with BLT’S, I have to try them everywhere and make them every which way I know how. I present to you: the banana nut pancake, the choc chip pancake, the sour cream pancake, and the pancake topped with fresh strawberry jam, with a recipe link and rated based on its yummy-ness:

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Fettuccine Alfredo

It’s been 4 years since I lived it Italy and first became aware of my love of cooking. I mean, I’d always known I had the capacity to cook, but never knew I could enjoy myself doing it and feel so accomplished after making every meal. I still remember the first meal I made in Italy that I was really proud of. It was Valentines Day, and after a long day of classes, I just wanted to treat myself. On the way home I picked up a big block of Parmigiano Reggiano, a large loaf of Italian bread, and a bottle of Chianti. I had printed out a simple recipe for fettuccine alfredo, but was nervous to make, what had been for such a long time, one of my favorite meals.

My aunt Liz, who I praise endlessly on this site, would make certain foods only a few times a year. She knew we loved it and knew we relished the few times she would make that one special dish: like her amazing tiramisu, her delicious cheesecake, her perfect lasagna, or my personal favorite, her decadent fettuccine alfredo. Every time I went to visit I always asked the same question: “Did you make fettuccine alfredo?” and on those rare occasions when she said yes I was overjoyed!

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