Tag Archives: Dinner

Vegan Chickpea Chili Over Rice


I have a new project that I’m working on that I’m SO excited about but can’t talk about quite yet (don’t worry, mom, I told you already). In the meantime, I can tell you it involves this: delicious food. And that’s all you really care about anyway, isn’t it?

This chili should come with a warning: contains colon cleansers. Get my drift? Don’t eat more than one heaping bowl if you’re like, going on a date or something and you prefer not to asphyxiate said date with vicious flatulence.

Do you guys read other food blogs that talk about flatulence? No? Well then I win!

On the menu:
Vegan chickpea chili over rice
Serves 5

2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups water
Salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder (chipotle chili powder if you can find it)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Fresh ground black pepper
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained

In a medium pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, the chopped onion, and the red pepper and sautee until the vegetables soften, around 10 – 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the cumin, and the chili powder and stir to combine. Let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

While the tomatoes are simmering, make the rice according to the package.

Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add chickpeas and kidney beans and cook over low/medium heat until beans are heated through, around 15 – 18 minutes. Put rice in bowls and serve chili over the top.

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Red Rooster Harlem

I feel this post doesn’t need a giant intro. Simply put, this was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Let’s dive in.

Red Rooster Harlem 310 Lenox Ave, Harlem, NY. Red Rooster Harlem is the brain child of Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson on 125th Street and Lenox Avenue in the heart of Harlem. The restaurant features an upscale, but still low-key, experience with a menu filled with Ethiopian-influenced soul food.

Bunny Chow: lamb stew with ricotta and fried egg

On the menu:
Disclaimer: I did NOT eat all of this myself. But I did taste every single plate…
Earl of Harlem cocktail (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Early Gray tea, spiced coriander syrup)
Crab cakes
Jerk bacon and egg
Corn bread with honey butter and tomato jam
Collard greens
Bunny chow (lamb stew on a roll topped with fried egg and ricotta)
Berbere roast chicken (Ethiopian spiced chicken with rainbow chard, asparagus, and peanut slaw)
Catfish and grits
Fried Yard Bird (fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, and bread & butter pickles)
Sweet potato donuts
Lemon bread pudding
Kahlua truffles

Jerk Bacon and Egg

Verdict: Did I not already mention this was one of the best meals of my entire life? This is going to be one of my less informative restaurant reviews because how many times can I use the words “AMAZING” and “DELICIOUS” and “PERFECTION”? The spices blended, the sweet wasn’t too sweet and the spicy wasn’t too spicy, the crunch was crunchy enough, the portion sizes were enough but not too much, and the staff was attentive and friendly but never annoying. The restaurant itself is comfortable and our table was loud and jovial and no one seemed to mind. By the time we left the restaurant I had that warm, sleepy, happy feeling you only get after a truly incredible meal. I can’t say enough good things about Red Rooster Harlem and insist you try it for yourself. It’s on the pricier side, but it won’t break the bank, either. And for a special night out, I can’t think of anything better.

Earl of Harlem

Photos: c/o of Meagan Drillinger

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Roasted sausage with garlic and cherry tomatoes


This meal requires such little preparation, I will probably make it every week from now until I start to smell like sausage. Remember, I’m trying to find a job so I don’t want to smell like a sausage factory when I walk into interviews…

… do I?

In any case, this takes an hour to roast but about 5 minutes to prepare. All you need is a roasting pan or an ovenproof skillet and you’re good to go.

On the menu:
Sausage with garlic and cherry tomatoes
Serves 2 – 3

1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, washed
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup small pasta (such as orzo) or white beans or wilted greens to serve the dish over, cooked according to box directions

Preheat oven to 425. Prick each sauce a few times on each side with a sharp knife or toothpick.

Add sausage, cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, and spices to a roasting pan or ovensafe skillet. Pour over olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Using your hands*, toss until the herbs are distributed and everything is coated in olive and vinegar. Make sure everything is in one solid layer in your pan or skillet. Bake for 30 minutes. Flip sausage and roast for another 30 minutes. Serve over small pasta or beans or wilted greens. Splash a tiny bit more balsamic if desired.

*Do not use a spoon and deprive yourself of the slippery, crazy-cool feeling of tossing all this together with your hands. You’re giggling thinking about tossing slippery sausage with oil (hardy har har) but sexual undertones aside, it just feels so dang cool! Seriously. Okay, you’re still laughing. Fine fine, the cheese stands alone.

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Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce

When I was a single girl, living in a single world, I did my grocery shopping whenever I needed to. If I felt like cooking I’d pick up necessities on my way home from work because if I did weekly shopping then things went to waste (you know, because of those nights when you’re like, hmm this chocolate cake and red wine looks like dinner to me). But now that I am living with a S.O. (that’s significant other for you laypeople) we do our grocery shopping once a week. Not only does that mean that I have to plan nightly meals for a whole week, but it means that when single-Lauren would’ve eaten red wine and cake because she lacked the energy to grocery shop, S.O.’ed-Lauren tries to make due with what’s in the cupboard.

This is a sauce that you can put on pasta, pour over roasted vegetables, or even use as a pizza sauce beneath toppings like prosciutto or zucchini, and it’s a sauce that can be made with things you probably already have in your cupboard. As long as you’re a nice Italian girl, that is.

On the menu:
Garlic parmesan cream sauce
Serves 2

3 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped)

In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the flour and stir into a paste. Add milk and cream and cook for around 5 – 6 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the parmesan cheese and the basil and cook until desired thickness, around 5 – 6 more minutes. Toss with pasta and serve.

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Rosemary’s: A Restaurant Review

Small plates to start

My birthday dinner was the cause of much discussion. My parents were in town, so the place had to be vegetarian-friendly (it’s no fun eating out with a vegetarian who is forced to order the side salad at every meal), have a celebratory atmosphere, and not be so over-the-top expensive that I’d be apologizing for suggesting it for years to come. I took to NYMag.com for suggestions and found a really cool spot that had just opened: Rosemary’s. It’s rustic Italian food (always veg-friendly), they source a lot of their produce from their rooftop garden (enviro-friendly), and it JUST opened in a trendy neighborhood (savvy-food-writing-birthday-girl-friendly). Win. Win.

Rosemary’s 18 Greenwich Avenue (near West 10th St), New York, NY. Rosemary’s is located in the West Village, on a corner, and in the summer months all the windows and doors are open to give a truly open-air feel. The menu is divided into 10 sections and all wine is served by the bottle for $40 or by the glass for $10* (the menu is wine and beer only). It should be noted that Rosemary’s does NOT currently take reservations, so if you show up around dinner time you should be prepared to wait at least an hour for a table. My party put our names down and then went next door for a cocktail while we waited two hours for our table. It definitely did not mar our evening in the slightest, but we knew what we were in for ahead of time.

On the menu:
Small vegetable plates: cabbages, pecorino, chilies, and almonds; beets, dandelion, and hazelnuts; zucchini crudo
Small seafood plate: octopus with basil
Focacce: caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil)
Entree: pork tenderloin with mustard and fennel
Dessert: olive oil cake with fresh cream and blueberries

Verdict: Delicious! Was this the best meal I’ve ever had in New York? No. My mom ordered a mint pasta that was overwhelmingly flavored, the lamb my dad ordered was a bit flavorless, and then there’s that epic wait for a table. But this meal was just what I wanted for my birthday. The small plates were incredibly delicious: spicy, crunchy, brightly flavored, and gone in seconds. The pork tenderloin was juicy and tender and the cake was perfectly “dry” as only olive oil cake can be. Rosemary’s is still working out the kinks as far as service goes (we had a plethora of waitstaff taking care of us and the host was visibly frazzled at the crowds of people waiting to get in), and I was curious as to why they have a rooftop garden but no tables up there. But for all the little bits to work out (and I’m sure they will) Rosemary’s is definitely a spot to hit in the summer while the weather is fine.

*I love, love, love that all the wines are the same price. I don’t know wine very well and always want to ask for recommendations at restaurants, but I’m very aware that waitstaff will most often recommend a more expensive glass. The across-the-board pricing allowed me to give the sommelier my preferences and then have him give me an honest suggestion back. Well done, Rosemary’s. Also, sorry for the terrible photo. I didn’t want to be that annoying girl at the table taking brightly-lit-flash photos of every dish.

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Sesame Crusted Tuna

This meal is my idea of a pleasant surprise, meaning I had set aside an hour to cook dinner on Sunday and SURPRISE it took me 15 minutes. Also in my list of pleasant surprises: finding out my new sky-high heels are actually comfortable, and realizing I did not, in fact, drink all the wine in the house when I’m dying for a glass at 11am 5pm on a Saturday.

On the menu:
Sesame crusted tuna over arugula with ginger soy dressing
Serves 2

2 tuna steaks (around 1/2 pound each)
4 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of arugula (this is the bed if greens for your tuna so use as much as you like)

Dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger (or 1/4 tsp fresh ginger root, minced)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp water

With a paper towel, pat tuna steaks dry of any residual moisture. In a flat, shallow dish, pour sesame seeds in an even layer. Add salt and combine. Dredge tuna steaks in the sesame seeds so the steaks are coated on both broad sides AND the edges. In a medium sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sear each steak for around 60 seconds on each side, including the edges (use tongs for this part). Remove from heat and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes before serving (yes, the inside will be raw and no, you won’t get sick from it).

Whisk all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute so the honey melts a bit. Whisk again. Plate arugula over 2 plates, pour half the dressing over the greens, plate the tuna on top of the greens, and then top with remaining dressing.

NOTE: This recipe takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, a tiny bit longer if you’re slow in mincing the ingredients for the dressing. The clean up is minimal, the presentation is impressive, and the leftovers (should you have any…) are divine. Eat it cold so you’re not the smelly office girl.

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Vegetarian Week: Zucchini Quiche


When it came to choosing the focal point of the meal I knew I did not want to serve pasta. If you are a vegetarian or know any vegetarians, you know that 75% of vegetarian entrees involve pasta in one way shape or form. Ignoring the fact that a steady diet of pasta is diabetes waiting to happen, how boring is that? Pasta with vegetables 24/7. Womp womp.

This dish is not ground breaking or even particularly new but it had even the meat eaters at the table going in for seconds. It’s hearty, it’s filling, it is by no means healthy, but it fits the bill of main dish quite nicely in this vegetarian meal.

On the menu:
Zucchini quiche
Serves 4

1 pre-made pie crust or use this recipe for homemade
2 Tbsp butter
2 large zucchini, sliced into 1/8 inch thick rounds
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup half and half
3 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of pepper
Paprika

Bake pie crust as directed. If you’re using homemade pie crust, roll out the dough in your pie or tart pan, prick the bottom with a fork, and bake until lightly brown. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, sautee zucchini in butter until slices are softened. Drain the zucchini of all moisture (NOTE: this is important, as zucchini has a surprising amount of water in it and if you don’t cook it down and drain it, your quiche will be a soggy mess).

Fill your cooled pie crust with half the zucchini. Top with mozzarella cheese. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs together. Add salt, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and pepper and whisk until completely combined. Add ricotta cheese and half and half, and whisk until combined. Pour egg mixture into the pie tin and spread so it’s evenly distributed. Top with remaining zucchini slices in an aesthetically pleasing pattern. Top with a sprinkle of paprika.

Bake the quiche for 45 minutes or until firm. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

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