“Empty Calories, Bursting Soul,” or “Where Have I Been All My Life [since April]?”

WHOA. You know those times in your life, those weeks or months or years that seem to fly by because they’ve been so incredibly PACKED with activity? Yeah, just logged six of those months.

What’s been keeping me away from my cup-of-coffee-and-Wordpress Saturday mornings? Everything. I’m in the home stretch with school. We’ve traveled to (and have eaten very well in) Spain! California! NYC! Florida! Tennessee! Virginia! All over the Midwest! Weekends have been packed to the gills with studying and/or travel. Weeks have been packed with hard work and concerts and driving and, occasionally, sleep. Click here for a nostalgic Flipagram of food we’ve been scarfing!

This morning, I noticed a metaphor for my 2015 culinary life set up bewitchingly on my office’s pig-out table, glazes gleaming and cocoa tails switching. Thousands upon thousands of of quick-energy, empty calories ready for the grabbing, all sugary Halloween promise and no sign of the crash they deliver ten minutes later. A reminder to STOP and THINK about what the consequences of fast decisions can be.

desserts

“Well, I’ll eat it,” said Alice.

Confession: I have eaten at Panera roughly 55784348742 times since I last posted in April, have had cereal for dinner many nights, and have reached for convenience foods and snacks between study sessions and on the road more than I’d like to admit (shoutout to Twizzlers Niiiibs). I’ve also tried the Whole30 (meh) and given up meat (hooray), so not every month has been a total, prepackaged loss. The dessert table was a reminder to prioritize cooking and healthful eating habits the same way I have to prioritize workouts and homework if I want them to get done. Also, a reminder of this:

So, this post is an announcement of sorts: I’M TAKING MY TALENTS TO SOUTH BEACH THE KITCHEN! Expect posts involving lots of veggies, fish and shellfish, and soups. And, of course, sweet potatoes.

Good to be back and looking forward to sharing!!

-Lauren

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Moment: Brekkie

Moment: Brekkie

Spotted at my desk: smoked wild salmon, eggs, avocado, arugula. Raspberries. Office china. DELICIOUS made-at-work 2 minute meal (yep, scramble those bad boys in a mug in the microwave). Think outside of the breakfast boredom box and get a good-for-you … Continue reading

Brown & Wild Rice with Caremelized Onions, Creminis, and Greens (gf, v)

What a whirlwind this winter has been! Geez! Work, school, weddings, visits with family and friends, freezing cold weather, sweaty hot weather vacation, back to work and school. And somehow it is March! And 60 degrees in Missouri, which is very, very welcome and much appreciated… but I still can’t figure out where February and January went. Do you know? They must have blown by me in a wintry blur.

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50 shades of plane

Throughout the Jan-Feb blur I sustained myself on sad  things like Foods Sold By Panera Bread, cereal, canned beans and frozen brown rice, kimchi and pickles delivered fork-to-mouth from the jar, and frozen Ghirardelli chocolate. YUM. My poor husband was left to fend for himself (shout out to the Whole Foods hot bar). I managed to cook a couple of times in February; here’s a recipe I chose for a day when my body was screaming at me for much-needed veggies and grains already, woman! Put down the chocolate!

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BROWN  WILD RICE WITH CAREMELIZED ONIONS, CREMINIS, AND GREENS 

Ingredients:FullSizeRender (1)

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 2/3 cup water or stock
  • 1 tsp veggie base or bullion if using water
  • 1 tbsp butter (omit for vegan recipe)rice 1
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly into rings or half moons
  • 1 carton cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  •  a few sprigs thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 3+ garlic cloves, chopped
  • half bag spinach leaves
  • a few handsful broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Continue reading

allez! gourmet: 2014 In Review

Hello, hungry blogosphere! 2014 was a banner year for allez! gourmet. Over thirty thousand views, tens of thousands of Pinterest shares, and the enduring popularity of peanut butter & cinnamon Greek yogurt dip. Y’all love that stuff.

I appreciate every single click, share, and read. For more detailed stats on what was an a!g hit last year, click below. Thanks for stopping by and here’s to a delectable 2015!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Simple Roasted Eggplant Spread (gf, v)

Hello! Happy New Year! And brr. Is it cold where you are? It’s cold cold in St. Louis. To combat the low temps and up oureggplant 3 veggie intake après holiday indulgence, I whipped up this roasted spread to nosh on last night. This spread-slash-dip can be slathered onto hunks of crusty bread, dipped with crackers (we used wholesome and hearty  Mary’s Gone Cracker), spread on a sandwich, dolloped onto soups, tossed with olive oil on pasta or rice, and so on. Great stuff to have around on cold, winter nights and snowbound days.

eggplant 1The roasted peppers and onion give a big flavor kick; you’ll find the spread hard to put down, which is a great thing when it comes to vegetables, amiright? It was all I could do to not eat the whole batch in one sitting. I enjoyed it hot out of the oven, chilled the next day with lunch, on a baked potato the next day, and at room temp as a dip- all delicious and the room temp option makes this wonderful picnic and party fare.  Oscar party fare, perhaps? ‘Tis [almost] the season!

SIMPLE ROASTED EGGPLANT SPREAD

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, top discarded
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • minced garlic cloves, to taste (at least 3), or a tablespoon already-roasted garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher alt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/3 tbsp tomato paste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut the eggplant, red peppers, and red onion into large, 1-inch dice. In a large bowl, toss the veggies with the raw minced garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Turn out onto a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Your kitchen will smell freaking amazing.

imageWhen 45 minutes are up, add the veggie mix, tomato paste, and pre-roasted garlic, if using, to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until pretty well combined. You want to leave this with some texture, so don’t completely purée it.

The dip was my pre-workout snack before a girl’s night preview of Core3, a new fitness option in St. Louis. Terribly, terribly fun stuff. Core3 blends TRX, RealRyder indoor cycling (the bikes that move laterally), and Surfset indoor surfing. Yes, indoor surfing! My arms, legs, and abs all felt it today and I’m pretty sure I smiled throughout the entire workout. I highly recommend trying Core3- another exhilarating way to beat the bitter winter temps. #cowabunga

January, schmanuary

January, schmanuary

Winter Wonderland Salad (pes, gf, veg option)

Pinterest is by far the leading referrer to allez! gourmet. My peanut butter & cinnamon Greek yogurt dip has been a huge Pinterest hit- thank you to all readers who have shared it! Interestingly, my pollo guisado recipe has also taken off. This cracks me up- the Dominican woman and American woman in me have experienced Pinterest validation equality. Ha! Pinterest is truly a great resource for recipe sharing and I browse it for inspiration all the time. In fact, a solid Pinterest-browsing sesh inspired me to create this tasty winter salad.

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Another inspiration for the salad: My wonderful husband very kindly gifted allez! gourmet eight bottles of Vom Fass vinegars and olive oils for Christmas and I was eager to use them. Dave has always supported my little hobby blog and encourages me to keep it up- thank you to Dave for keeping me flush with love, encouragement, and olive oil.

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WINTER WONDERLAND SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 package organic baby arugula (I suggest organic girl)
  • 2 salmon filets, seasoned (leave out for veg/v option)
  • one large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 can sliced beets
  • goat cheese, torn into chunks
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • balsamic or red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400. In a 9×13 Pyrex pan or on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potato cubes with 2 tsp olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes until browned outside and soft inside, tossing once or twice so they don’t stick.

salad 1

As the sweet potatoes cook, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium and season the salmon. You could use good old s&p, fresh herbs, or your favorite seasoning mix. I used a seasoning called “Fisherman’s Wharf,” which conjures up the image of a filthy dock but was actually quite tasty.

Cook the salmon 3-5 minutes per side until medium well or well-done, your choice.

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Meanwhile, drain the can of beets and layer the slices between paper towels. If you’d like to toast your walnuts, do so over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, tossing until they’re fragrant. Toasting the walnuts will lend big flavor for little work.

When the salmon is done and the sweet potatoes are cooked through, dress a large handful of arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with the beet slices, torn goat cheese, walnuts, sweet potatoes, and salmon.

Pescatarian and vegetarian options, equally delish

Simple as that! The olive oil I used was lemon-flavored and the vinegar was aged and Spanish. The Antonio Banderas of vinegars, if you will. So! How will you dress your winter salad?

Party Popcorn! (veg, gf)

Brought this sweet, salty, spicy snack to a punch party last weekend. PunchPartySayWhaaa? Ya. PUNCH PARTY. A party where a very generous, very fun cocktail-minded couple serves several authentic, throw-back, boozy bowls of punch- fancy little punch cups and all.  God love ’em for doing it.

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I needed a quick recipe and wanted to use what I had in the cupboards. Hmm, can of pumpkin purée? Not exactly a crowd-pleaser…. Cat food? Better not…… Box of arborio rice? Too crunchy…. AHA! Popcorn kernels! Et voilà- a star was born. A thrifty, 5-minute party snack hit for the ages. The punch party patrons partook with pleasure. Please, prepare your own personal pot (insert When Harry Met Sally paprikash joke below).

PARTY POPCORN! EMOJI

Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

This recipe moves quickly, so set yourself up first. Grab a small saucepan for the glaze and a wide, lidded one for popping the popcorn. Ready a large bowl and a spatula for glazing the popcorn and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper to turn the finished product onto. In the wide pan, heat the tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels and shake the pan around like a madman/woman until all kernels are popped. This will happen fast- about a minute thirty or so.

Shake, shake, shake until the popping slows down. Remove the pan from heat and dump into the large bowl. On to the glaze! Add all remaining ingredients to the small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium, stirring constantly. Boil for about a minute, then remove from heat to cool for another minute.

Pour the glaze over the popcorn in the large bowl and toss to coat with the spatula. It will be hot, so watch those delicate digits! When the popcorn is coated, spread it out onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and let cool. Break up any large clumps and serve! Try not to eat the whole dish before your guests arrive…

popcorn3

Cut to tomorrow (ooh! time travel)!: I highly suggest nursing your next-day case of the zings with a jazz brunch, a proper bloody Mary, and a trip to your local art museum. Worked for me, but it was also 63 degrees outside- in December. Just the way I like it!

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Aformentioned WHMS joke, as promised. Oh, Nora.

Moment: Pretzels!

Moment: Pretzels!

You’ll be as surprised as I was to learn how easy pretzels are to make (very). Mix, rise, shape, boil, bake. EAT. How about I link to the foolproof recipe I used and let the clever and precise Alton Brown explain? Sound good? Good.