I know what you’re thinking. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could tell you something new about a chain restaurant like California Pizza Kitchen either. I don’t write about a lot of chains mostly because NYC has so much variety. That’s not a knock on chains, but I personally feel like you come to NYC to try all those quaint, unique places that make the city so exciting to experience. But when I was invited to check out CPK’s new menu, and it really did exceed my expectations, mostly because this time I tried dishes beyond just their pizza.
[Just FYI: Veestro is providing a special discount code for BATF readers at the end!]
I’m so used to cooking practically all my meals now but I was totally game to hang up my cooking utensils for a week to try Veestro, a gourmet, plant-based, organic meal service. I’m not a vegetarian but I’ve cut my meat consumption a LOT, so the thing that attracted me most to Veestro was that they use all-natural ingredients with no preservatives or animal products. You can buy them by meal or by meal-plan depending on your focus (high protein, gluten-free, weight-loss, etc.)
Veestro asked if I’d try a 5-day meal plan (15 meals) to see what I thought. They sent me some info about the perks of a plant-based diet. Besides promoting long term sustainable weight loss, they’re low in saturated fats, high in fiber, and reduce excess cholesterol intake. Not to mention, they’re rich in antioxidants, plant sterols, phytochemicals, and potassium, which are all thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. Of course, there’s a lot that rides on the quality of the plant-based and non-meat products you’re eating — if you’re not eating meat but eating an excess of processed foods, for example, you’re still taking in a lot of calories.
I’ve been getting up extra early lately to make breakfast since I’ve realized how much better my days are going when I do (especially the more stressful ones with work). I know it sounds crazy, but I think even trying new recipes and getting creative with it has been giving me more reason to jump out of bed. This was a creation from this past week:
I needed to use the avocado I had since it was getting bad, so after slicing and peeling one, I squeezed half a lemon over it (to keep it from oxidizing more and for flavor), and put a little salt and pepper over it. I also used halves of Arnold Sandwich Thins to spread farmer’s cheese over it, then the avocado on top of that, and then added some organic pomegranate kernels that I found in the freezer aisle (I couldn’t find fresh pomegranate in the store, so ended up buying it frozen). It was such a good, healthy meal.
The other half of my meal was just two eggs I cooked with some of my favorite ingredients: thyme, chopped onions, jalapeños, sun dried tomato, and cilantro. What have you been making for breakfast lately? Share, and maybe I’ll try it next week
Sooooo I guess some people noticed how obsessed I am with anything truffle-related (has it been that obvious? ), so I was inevitably tagged me to an Instagram post that displayed a delicious combo of soft boiled eggs and thyme. I’ve been craving it since so I made my own version of it, very slightly altered, but man, you have to try it if you feel the same feels about truffle as I do.
Toast a wheat toast, and top with low fat cottage cheese. Add sliced hard boiled eggs, and season with sea salt, crushed red pepper, fresh thyme, and drizzle a little truffle oil over it. On that note, my friend Shazeen introduced me to The Truffleist‘s truffle oil.
It smells like HEAVEN and is so incredibly delicious. You should check him out and try his stuff — you won’t be disappointed!
Ok so the last time I made cauliflower, it sounded a lot more promising than it actually turned out (see the maple-sriracha roasted cauliflower). The flavor was a little weak. But this is legitimately delicious. I made some tweaks to the original recipe that I’ll note below. I guess what I’m learning is whereas before I used to be so by-the-book when it comes to trying something new, now I don’t freak out if I’m missing an ingredient. I’m sure all real chefs know this already, but there’s usually a way around it…like, for example, if you don’t have bread crumbs but DO have crushed pumpkin seeds from the recipe you did the day before. Just think about making it your own :).
Cauliflower with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large head or 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and fresh ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons soft tofu (I used feta instead since I didn’t have tofu at home)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (I used crushed pumpkin seeds instead because I didn’t have breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower florets and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the cauliflower begins to brown and soften, about 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
To roast the red pepper, I put it in a tray drizzled with olive oil in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning it over once each side browns. Remove and let cool.
While the cauliflower is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute until softened, 1 minute. Add the roasted red pepper and saute for another few minutes, until heated through. Transfer to a blender or mini-chopper and blend. Add the tofu (or feta cheese in my case) and some salt and pepper and puree until smooth.
Anyone else watch the cooking channel while they’re on the treadmill? No? Well you should, because A) it makes an hour fly, and B) you will likely come across a new dish you’d want to try, like I did when I saw one from Damaris Phillips. She had an episode based on a recent visit to Mexico and she came back to make a three-course meal inspired by her trip. The appetizer she made looked just too good not to try: seared lima beans with roasted pumpkin seeds. I feel like I’ve been OD’ing on my favorite ingredients (mushrooms, avocados, quinoa, and that variety), so thought it would be nice to try something new. Never thought I’d crave lima beans so hard. It has a nice, nutty flavor and makes a good, light veggie side dish for a meal.
Seared Lima Beans with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
[Makes 4 servings]
1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
3 to 4 tablespoons coconut oil
16 ounces frozen large lima beans, thawed
5 small green onions, greens parts only, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread out the pepitas on a baking sheet; transfer to the oven and roast until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Let cool to room temperature, then grind the pepitas in a food processor to a coarse-milled consistency.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and heat until very hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lima beans and sear on one side until light golden brown, 3 minutes. Add the green onions, parsley, roasted pepitas and the lemon zest. Stir, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and season with salt to taste.