The Good and Simple Stuff

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Valentine’s Day February 14, 2010

Filed under: Baked Goods,Dessert — clairezee @ 10:09 pm
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me and chris

My boyfriend and I have a tradition of staying in and cooking a meal together for Valentine’s Day.  We decided to celebrate the Saturday night before Valentine’s Day this year.  I had a great menu planned.  I was going to splurge–seared salmon with green lentils and mashed potatoes.  For dessert?  Molten chocolate lava cakes.  Let’s just say things did not go as planned.  After following the recipe for cooking the lentils to a tee, they were very undercooked.  The mashed potatoes were fine, but how do you really mess those up anyway?  Then, just as I was starting to make the salmon, I burned my hand pretty bad.  I had to sit the rest of the meal out.  Luckily Chris salvaged the salmon and finished cooking our dinner and I managed to scarf it down with only the use of my left hand.  But it was missing lentils and I was in no condition to make the molten lava cakes.  So on actual Valentine’s Day, I was determined to make these cakes.  They are good and simple, but certainly not healthy.  But I figure Valentine’s Day is all about the love and I loved eating this dessert with my love, Chris. (more…)


I’m Baaaaack! January 24, 2010

Filed under: Entrées — clairezee @ 4:08 pm
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Wow, it has been a long time since I last posted.  But finding the extra time to take photos of what you’re cooking and then write a post about it kinda takes a while!  Nevertheless, my apologies for the delay.  I’m back with an amazing recipe though!  This dish is served at a restaurant in Chicago that I’ve been to a couple of times and both times I’ve had this.  It’s Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad from the Southport Grocery and Café.

It’s incredibly simple, healthy, and light—yet satisfying.  Also, this is my first recipe since getting a set of amazing new mixing bowls (thanks, Mom!).



Raspberry Blueberry Muffins December 8, 2009

Filed under: Baked Goods — clairezee @ 11:01 pm
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I know they aren’t in season, but I spotted the most delicious looking raspberries at Trader Joe’s and had to get them.  I normally just put raspberries on top of my cereal, in my yogurt, or in a smoothie, but I wanted to do something special with these.  I perused all of the raspberry recipes on and found this one.  I made a few changes with this recipe.  First, I omitted the banana (because someone I know does not like bananas).  Second, I didn’t have any vanilla yogurt around, so I used blueberry yogurt instead. Third, I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh.  The muffins turned out great—perfectly moist and fruity.  They can certainly be eaten for breakfast or any time of day, really.  Thanks to my cousin, Grace, for helping me put the berries into the muffin batter!



Using leftover Arugula November 30, 2009

Filed under: Entrées — clairezee @ 9:38 pm
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My most recent post was for a polenta dish that was topped with an arugula salad.  Well, I had a bit of arugula leftover and very quickly started brainstorming ways I could use it.  I really love arugula and have only started seeking it out in the past couple of years.  First, some quick information about arugula.  It is an annual plant and the leaves are usually what are eaten (although apparently the fruit is edible).  The leaves are characterized by their peppery taste and they are rich in vitamin C and potassium.

What a chose to make with my leftover arugula was an arugula pesto based off of how I usually make basil pesto.  I then took my arugula pesto and combined it with pasta and roasted cherry tomatoes for a quick and satisfying Sunday night dinner.

I was thrilled to share this dish with two of my favorite people:  my boyfriend, Chris and my cousin (and Loyola University freshman), Grace.



Roasted Delicata, Arugula and Parmesan Polenta November 20, 2009

Filed under: Entrées — clairezee @ 9:27 pm
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Wow, it has been a while since I last posted.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  The first is that my computer’s hard drive crashed and it was in the shop (thankfully it’s fixed now).  Second, work was insanely busy (but things are currently much calmer now that a large event I was helping organize is over).  So I was pretty eager to post a new recipe and I have one to share that is really really good.

I often visit a website called and that’s where I found this gem of a recipe.  It is filling, comforting, pretty healthy, and perfect on a chilly evening.  The recipe?  Roasted Delicata squash, Arugula and Parmesan Polenta.  What I love about polenta is that, not only is it delicious, it is so so so fool proof–you really can’t mess it up.  With this recipe, the polenta serves as the perfect backdrop for the combination of the peppery arugula and sweet squash.  The lentils give this dish a little punch of protein as well.

The original recipe calls for what I thought was entirely too much salt, so I’ve altered it accordingly.  Also important to note is that this recipe could probably serve about 6 people as an entree, so plan accordingly.



The Apple Series: Dish #2 November 1, 2009

Filed under: Baked Goods — clairezee @ 2:39 pm
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I have been sick for more than a week.  That’s the main thing that led me to make this next recipe in the Apple Series:  Whole Wheat Apple Muffins.  I don’t think I need to say anything more than these are moist, comforting and cinnamon-loaded.  Oh, and they are super easy to make even when you’re not feeling your best.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Adapted from smittenkitchen

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Use cooking spray to coat 12-18 muffin cups and set aside (I got 16 muffins out of this recipe).

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and mix well.  Gently mix in the buttermilk (as the original recipe states: if you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle).  Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on top.  Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes (or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean).  Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove them to cool some more.


The Apple Series: Recipe #1 October 27, 2009

Filed under: Soup — clairezee @ 4:42 pm
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100_1527Admittedly, apples take the back seat in this dish, but add a wonderful, slightly sweet flavor and definitely enhance the texture.  This recipe proves that apples can be quite versatile.  Also, I knew I couldn’t just make apple desserts  (I’m thinking cobbler, crisp, pie, turnovers) if I wanted to continue eating balanced meals.

A quick note about the original recipe—the original calls for the inclusion of  1/2 cup wild rice.  When I made the recipe for the first time, I made the wild rice but did not put it in the main batch of soup.  Instead, when I had my own bowl, I mixed a little of the wild rice with the soup.  I found that this soup is really amazing on its own and perhaps too thick with the addition of the wild rice.  So do what you wish and include the wild rice or not.

Either way, this recipe is straightforward, simple, delicious, and healthy.  It is a little time-consuming, so if you’re short on time and feel like it, go ahead and make this soup on the weekend.  It should keep in your refrigerator for several days.