Lemon-thyme quinoa risotto

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I have been trying to write this post for almost three weeks. Every time I sit down (err lay, all of my blog-writing is done in bed because I’m obviously super professional) to write…I suddenly have no words. Like, I just stare at the screen and the recipe below and NOTHING.

Also, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but there’s this thing called the internet? And…how do I put this? Well, it’s my life. So, sometimes I’ll be writing but then suddenly remember that season two of Friday Night Lights just isn’t going to watch itself!  Or, you know, realize YouTube doesn’t exist to just sit there ( because it actually exists to teach me how to put on eyeliner and curl my hair, duh). I mean, sometimes I just mosey over to the Modern Love section of The New York Times and lose hours reading those columns. I normally only come up for air when my heart literally can’t stand it anymore.

Actually, the same can be said for Friday Night Lights because that show makes me feel all the feelings. I cried so hard when (spoiler alert?) Smash got into A&M that I had to actually stand up as to not choke on my tears. And those were HAPPY TEARS, you guys. Please just imagine what happens to me when sad things go down.

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It’s a miracle I even made this dish at all because at the time I was in deep with both The Good Wife AND Orange is the New Black. And in case you guys were wondering, I do have an actual job. And I work pretty hard at my actual job. This leaves me with a limited amount of free hours to begin with, and as we’ve discussed before, I require sleep. As much of it as possible, really. What I’m saying is I devote most of my available, non-working hours to sitting in bed, watching shows on my little computer. This is when wine and popcorn for dinner comes in handy. But for those of you that need actual substance in the evening, this dish does the trick. Some dishes are just random thoughts that swirl around in my head until I decide I have an actual recipe, and this is definitely one of those.

I’ll be the first to admit that quinoa risotto is not the same as regular risotto. It just isn’t, and because you guys are my friends I’m not even going to sit here and try to pretend like it is. Regular risotto is a beautiful thing, but sometimes a little shake-up can be fun! I could try to go the “hey, it’s healthy for you!” route here, but you’ll notice the cream and cheese in the recipe so I’m not sure I can get away with that.

The tomatoes and shrimp are totally good for you though, right?! Super fresh, and I just love them both with the slightly heavy risotto. Of course, you don’t have to use tomatoes and shrimp here. Use whatever vegetable and/or meat you want! I’m pretty convinced this would be delicious with roasted vegetables and goat cheese, but I’m convinced a shoe would taste good with that combo so you might want to approach that carefully.

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Lemon thyme quinoa risotto

Serves 2 (as a meal), 4 (as a side)

Tomatoes

20 cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 sprig of thyme

Shrimp

1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and devined

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Quinoa risotto

1 cup dry quinoa

2 teaspoons oil

1/4 cup white wine

2-3 cups warm chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

Juice and zest from half a lemon

1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a small pan over high heat. When hot, add tomatoes, garlic and thyme (keep the sprig intact). quickly stir so tomatoes are all coated in oil. Reduce heat to medium/medium-high and allow tomatoes to char, shaking pan frequently to keep them moving. When garlic is browned, remove from pan (because nothing is worse than burned garlic). When tomatoes are charred and most have burst, cut the heat and set aside. Remove the thyme sprig and reserve for later.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and stir to coat. Toast, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until starts to take on a light, golden-brown color. Add wine and stir continuously until evaporated. Add stock 1/4 cup at a time, and stir continuously until liquid is completely absorbed before adding the next batch of liquid. You’ll probably use about 2-2 1/4 cups of stock, but I always suggest keeping more on hand just in case. Make sure to taste test as you go along as that’s the only way you’ll know the quinoa is cooked through. The pot will be thick (though not as thick as regular risotto). After you’ve added the last bit of liquid, give the pot one big stir and then cover and let sit for 5-6 minutes. Once time is up, turn off the heat, remove the lid and add your heavy cream, lemon juice, zest and crumbled cheese. Chop up the thyme from your tomatoes and sprinkle in. Mix everything together and allow cheese to melt.

While the risotto is finishing cooking, prepare your shrimp. Preheat your oven to 400. Arrange shrimp on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss gently with your hands to ensure each shrimp is coated. Bake for 7 minutes, until shrimp is just cooked through and pink.

To serve, divide risotto in bowls (or plates, whatever). Top with tomatoes and shrimp. Enjoy!

Roasted butternut squash and chickpea tacos with chipotle sour cream

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I really do apologize for the long recipe title here. Normally, I would prefer to keep it condensed but this time I just didn’t want to leave anything out. I also wanted to make sure I was able to grab everyone’s attention, and sometimes the person who likes squash isn’t the person who likes sour cream, you know? And sometimes the person who actually eats butternut squash on a regular basis isn’t the same person who wants ALL THE TACOS (all the time). But that taco person should probably consider being that butternut squash person once in a while because clothes don’t just randomly expand when you need them to. But don’t worry taco person, we’ve got sour cream for you. And squash person can just calm down because it’s not going to kill you to have a little (dairy) fun once in a while. Also, avocado! Healthy fat!

(Do you guys know where I’m going with this? I sure don’t.)

Um, anyway. The idea for these definitely came when I realized my local Safeway sells really convenient, already-cut, packages of squash. I’m nothing if not the laziest person you’ve ever met so we know I was ALL over that. And I know it’s not really the “right” time for butternut squash, but what was I supposed to do?! Someone had taken the time to cut a damn squash for me – they deserved a taco!

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Plus my life is not dictated by a seasonal Starbucks menu so squash in July (when I made these) seemed really normal to me. I’m aware that it was probably fake squash because they aren’t technically in season, but I still really don’t care. I’m sure you’ve already figured out that I just constantly do what I want, whenever I want. If I could get a damn pumpkin spice latte right now, please believe I would be drinking it. I also wear dark nail polish in the spring, watch TV shows years after everyone else, eat dinner for breakfast and frozen yogurt for dinner.

And if none of that is a good enough for you, also remember I live in a city that doesn’t believe in summer so it was definitely 50 degrees outside when this was all going down. (P.S. I love you San Francisco)

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I do most of my blog cooking on weekend mornings for time and natural light purposes. It’s also the time of day when I know I’ll have the kitchen to myself, and there have been multiple occasions where I’ve caused the entire apartment to smell like garlic and onions before my roommates have even woken up. But I make up for it by paying my rent on time and being an all-around charming person. Also, let’s be honest – there are definitely worse things then the smell of garlic and onions. Recently, I’ve been house-sitting so I didn’t need to worry about hogging a kitchen with these. Though I can sometimes be a creature of habit so I definitely found myself making tacos at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and more importantly, eating tacos by 9:00 a.m.

This is my life. Embrace it.

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Roasted butternut squash and chickpea tacos w/ chipotle sour cream

Serves 2 (6-8 small tacos)

1 lb butternut squash, cubed

1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup sour cream

1 chipotle in adobe + 2 teaspoons of the sauce

1/2 lime

1 ripe avacado

1/4-1/2 cup cheese (I used crumbled queso fresco, but I think mozzarella or even goat would work!)

6-8 small corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 400.

Lay squash on one side of a large baking sheet, and pour chickpeas (make sure they’ve been patted dry) on the other side. Drizzle squash and beans with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently with your hands, making sure to keep the squash and chickpeas fairly separate (alternatively, you could do this on two separate baking sheets). Sprinkle the cumin and red pepper flakes on the chickpeas only and toss again. Bake for 20 minutes, take out the pan, remove the chickpeas and set aside until everything else is ready. Flip the squash and then continue roasting those for another 15-20 minutes until it’s slightly caramelized and cooked through.

While those are roasting, chop the chipotle pepper into tiny pieces. Mix with sour cream, reserved chipotle sauce and lime juice. For a really smooth sauce you can do this in a food processor. Otherwise, a spoon and some elbow grease is just fine. This is also a good time to slice your avocado and crumble/shred your cheese.

When you’re ready to assemble, heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Heat each tortilla for 15-20 seconds on each side, until completely warmed through and you see a little blistering action happening. Immediately top tortilla with squash, chickpeas, cheese, avocado slices and chipotle sour cream. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over and enjoy!

 

July favorites

We’re halfway through August, but let’s go back in time and discuss July, shall we?  (P.S. How is it August and where is my life going. Somebody please explain.)

I know I say this every month, but this time I really forced myself to pick just a few (okay, more than a few) products. This won’t take long, I promise! Onto pretty thing!

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I have a lot of nonsense beauty stuff. We all know this. The reason why I have all this stuff? Because I’m a marketers DREAM. It’s takes very, very little to convince me that a product will change my life. Even if I have proof that something won’t work the way it promises to, if I see a picture of Beyonce wearing it there is a 60% chance I’m going to buy it. This lotion spray-thing was one of those purchases (minus the Beyonce aspect). It just screams “GIMMECKY” which obviously means it screamed my name as well. Much to my surprise though, I love this stuff! It comes out in a really fine mist so it’s not super moisturizing, but I actually like to put it over my regular lotion. Just for a little extra softness, because why not?

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I’m normally not a foundation girl. I’ve been pretty lucky so far, and feel pretty happy with myself sans-foundation. However, this past month I’ve had some weird stress-breakouts (yea, that happens) so I like to keep a foundation on-hand just in case I need it. I only wore this a handful of times the entire month, but I must say I really like this Revlon Nearly Naked foundation. It’s super light, but still evens out my skin tone. And with a little concealer, my breakouts are basically covered. I’ve tried different applications, and this brush is by far the best way for me to apply. It’s so soft and makes me feel like a legit makeup artist.

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Eyes! The Make Up For Ever cream shadow was a definite splurge for me, but it is really nice. I use this on days when I don’t want to spend a ton of time on makeup because it’s so easy to work with. Just swipe it on with my fingers and go (after a little liner and ALL the mascara, of course). Compared to the Maybelline Color Tattoo cream shadows, these are a little creamier, but those are completely amazing and I would recommend them if you’re not looking to spend too much. Speaking of color tattoos, Maybelline came out with pigments in that line AND OH MY GOD THEY ARE PERFECT. I love me some pigments and these are so pretty – naturally, I already own three and am just waiting for them to come out with new colors. Ugh, so good.

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I know I talked about this palette in last month’s favorites, but I’m still loving it! You’ll notice that it’s missing a few colors because it fell and a few of the shadows shattered (along with part of my heart), but one of my favorites stayed intact and I’ve been using it pretty frequently. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really shimmery (can one “feel” shimmery?), I’ll put some of the above pigment on top of this shadow. Sounds crazy because it is.

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If you’ve held off on judging me until now, I would suggest you just start. I have no business owning any of these lip glosses, yet here we are. The Revlon Super Lustrous line is my favorite line of glosses and has been for years. They recently repackaged them and came out with some new colors that I am loving – Kiss Me Coral, Super Natural and Fatal Apple are the ones up there. Glosses are one of those things that I pretty much always apply before I leave my place (over a stain or lipstick, normally) but nobody would ever know because it’s gone before I even make it to the BART station. I think because lip gloss was one of the first makeup items I was ever allowed to wear I just haven’t been able to let it go.

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This e.l.f.  highlighter cost $3 and I randomly found it when I was doing a little makeup reorganization. We know how I feel about highlighters, and while I still think I prefer a powder formula I really like this color. It’s a shimmery bronze and looks really pretty on top of the cheekbones. And if I’m feeling really sassy, I’ll sometimes mix this into the foundation above for a little extra glow.

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HAIR! Okay, so this CHI Silk stuff is just AMAZING. I’ve heard about it for years but never bought it because it’s a little pricey. Finally, I just couldn’t stand it anymore so I bought a small size to try out. I honestly don’t even know how to explain what this does to my hair. I do know that the only reason I can air dry my hair and go out in public is because of this is serum. I apply it to damp hair just from the ears down, and it keeps my thick, wavy hair from becoming a total pouf ball. You only need a tiny, tiny bit as too much can make you look a little greasy but if you have thick, hard to manage hair I would highly suggest. The weird, waxy stuff is a Got2B pomade I bought when my friend and I decided we wanted to try to make our own salt spray. The spray was okay, but I started to use this pomade since I had it lying around and grew to actually love it. Again, it works on my hair  type and just helps to define the waves and keep them in place.

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Can we please just discuss this nail polish?! I’m normally not a huge fan of nail art, but I bought this Sally Hansen “magnetic” polish years ago when it first came out, wore it maybe once and then promptly forgot about it. When I rediscovered it I immeditely put it on and then spent the next week obsessed with my nails. Even though I obviously screwed up (as evidenced by the polish on the cap), it’s super easy to use and fun if you’re looking for something a little different.

Aaaaaand we’re done. I’ll be back with food soon enough!