Creamy (vegan!) Butternut Squash Linguine with Fried Sage

Creamy (vegan!) butternut squash linguine with fried sage -

Cookie and I have been visiting the vet three times a week lately. We don’t mind the excursion. The girls behind the desk are fun to be around and Cookie loves the attention. She has quickly become a staff favorite (of course!). It’s also a prime spot for people watching. I always feel like I’m experiencing that 101 Dalmations scene where all of the dogs match their owners, remember that one?

The manly men bring in their 80-pound manly-man breeds who shake their heads like lions. Eccentrically dressed older ladies wait with their dachshunds and shaggy little dogs. A beautiful, elegant blond woman picks up her equally elegant and blond mystery breed. The lady with a high-pitched voice and nervous laugh tells me about her rat terrier. I suppose Cookie and I match, too. I will shamelessly admit that we both have great hair and it doesn’t hurt that I’m always dressed in black or gray.

butternut and sage

During the more dull moments, I’ve spent a fair amount of time flipping through Instagram photos and glancing at the heart worm brochures on the side table. I grabbed the February issue of Bon Appetit before I left for our last appointment so I would have something to read while I waited. I’m glad I did, because I was reminded of the butternut squash carbonara that I had dog-eared earlier.

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Toasted Oatmeal with Strawberry Chia Jam and Coconut Whipped Cream

Toasted oatmeal with strawberry chia jam and coconut whipped cream -

Other potential titles for this post included, “Three of my favorite things” or “Recipes I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You About”. I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past week, but now that I can finally smell and taste properly again, I’m back to make up for my absence with three recipes in one. (A better blogger would have recipes on reserve for occasions like these, but then again, I have to be sufficiently excited about a recipe to post it and I could hardly stand to sit on a good one.)

Each component is delightful on its own, but they just so happen to combine marvelously well in one breakfast bowl. Nutty, fruity, creamy—yes, more, please.

stawberry chia jam

I’ll give you a rundown of each. The oatmeal cooking technique, which I discovered in Megan Gordan’s Whole-Grain Mornings cookbook, yields nutty and fluffy (not at all mushy) oatmeal.

The strawberry chia jam utilizes summer’s finest [frozen] strawberries, a dollop of natural sweetener and thickens with the help of “superfood” chia seeds. It cooks down in under thirty minutes and tastes much fresher and brighter than store-bought jams.

Lastly, coconut whipped cream has already taken the internet by storm, for good reason. I like it just as much, if not more than, freshly whipped cream. It’s better for you, too.

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Feed South Africa + Greek Salad with Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Greek salad with broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes -

Dear Friends, Cookie and I are struggling get our acts together over here. Cookie is sporting her new, larger “cone of shame”. Actually, I don’t like that term. Let’s pretend it’s an Elizabethan collar. Lady Cookie has been knocking around the house like a blind armadillo all weekend. Bang! Crash! Scrape!

As for me, I’m still wearing my pajamas. I’m competing for an Olympic medal in laundry avoidance and my to-do list is threatening to swallow me whole. The worst part is that I owe many of you emails and responses to your comments. I’m so sorry. I’m trying.

broccoli and dog

All that said, I’ve been content to put the to-do list aside and spend the morning typing up a new post. It’s what I love to do. I feel so spoiled that I get to do it for a living. Every time I sit down to eat a meal in this cozy new house with my dog by my side, I’m reminded that I have it good. For instance, it’s ten degrees outside and I’m warm. I have a belly full of nutritious salad. And I might not have any more clean socks, but I have unlimited access to clean water. Not everyone is so lucky.

Today, I’m donating this post and some dollars to The Lunchbox Fund, an organization that provides healthy meals to vulnerable South African students. Kids in South Africa are going hungry: 65 percent live in poverty and nearly 20 percent are orphans, with approximately 1.9 million orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS. As you can probably imagine, lack of food can diminish concentration and erode willpower. What I can’t imagine, however, is who I would be if I went hungry day after day.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Pepita Dip

Sweet potato and black bean tacos with avocado-pepita dip -

Thank you all so much for your concern about Cookie. If her graceful three-legged leaps off the couch and romps through the snow are any indication, she is on the mend. I’m incredibly thankful for the sweet friends who helped me move and brought brunch to me after the accident, as well as the kind strangers who have left encouraging advice (from as far away as Uruguay!). Makes me think I must be doing something right.

avocados and cilantro

Cookie’s accident has slowed us both down, but we are gradually getting settled in this new house. I’m feeling slightly less apprehensive after meeting with the behavioral specialist yesterday (more on that later) so I’m starting to allow myself to enjoy the amenities here. Did you all know that it is about one million times easier to keep a clean kitchen if you have a built-in dishwasher, disposal and ample counter space? It’s a whole new world over here. (I think they call it the First World.)

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My Top 10 Mexican Recipes (to share with friends)

Cookie dog

(I’ll get to the recipes in a minute.) Cookie got hurt this weekend. My worst fear about moving to this house came true when she raced out of my new front door toward the nearest busy street. When Cookie escapes, she doesn’t stop to smell the roses. My wild little dog shoots off like an arrow at 25 miles per hour. The following few and terrifying minutes ended with me abandoning my car in the middle of the road and racing to my injured baby like a crazed mama bear.

I think she’s going to be ok. The car hit one of her back legs, which is, miraculously, not broken. I took her back in yesterday to get her wounds stitched up and they discovered that the damage to her ankle is worse than we realized. Today, my bouncy circus dog’s back leg is bound in a polka-dotted purple cast and can’t jump onto the couch. She’s snoozing next to me now. Rest up, my sweet pup, because we have a million more miles to walk together.

I’ve spent the past few days watching Cookie’s chest rise and fall and feeling overwhelmingly thankful that she’s still here with me. Cookie is not “just a dog”. She’s my best friend. My sidekick. My chief crumb catcher and ornery assistant. My snuggle buddy and walking partner. Maybe you know what it’s like to love a dog so much.

I think that the only real positive outcome of this accident would be to prevent another accident. I have the name and number of one of the best animal behavior specialists around, so we’ll be working together on this. If you have experience with dogs that are flight risks, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Spare no expense.

In lieu of a new recipe today, I thought I’d create a little roundup of my favorite, seasonally appropriate Mexican recipes. Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner, and something about the Super Bowl makes us Americans crave spicy south-of-the-border snacks. (Maybe it’s all of the Tostito’s commercials?) As usual, I don’t even know who’s playing, but I hope to share the day with friends and fill my belly with a homemade meal. I’m about to polish off the last of a delivery pizza, so I surely need some home-cooked goodness.

Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado - recipe at
No. 1: Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado
Before we get any further, I should clarify that these meals are loosely inspired by my favorite Mexican meals. I have no idea if vegetarian chili is served anywhere in Mexico, but I do know that this chili has been a hit for those who have tried it. I’m also noting which recipes are vegan and gluten free (they’re all vegetarian) since diets become more important when you’re serving a crowd. (this one is vegan and gluten free)

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Peanut-Sesame Slaw with Soba Noodles

Peanut-sesame slaw with soba noodles -

True or false: this week has been a doozy. It has truly been a doozy for my circle of friends. I don’t know what is in the air or the stars, but the week has been oddly ripe for health procedures and boy drama. If you can say the same, take heart! You’re not alone. Cryptic messages aside, I’ve mostly been staying up late packing and frequenting the nearby liquor store for boxes. (My bar will be fully stocked at my new place. Party time!)

carrots, green onions, brussels sprouts and cabbage

Moving day is tomorrow and I am downright giddy about leaving this space. Every time my belongings fit neatly into their cardboard box, I feel a slight reaffirmation that I have made the right decision. I’m tired of driving around in circles looking for parking spots and cramming jars of olive oil back into my overcrowded kitchen cabinets. So tired.

I’m also beyond eager—like stomping my feet impatient—to see my new place come together. I cannot wait to wash my clothes in my own washer and dryer, bake cookies in a full-sized oven and let Cookie outside at night instead of donning my puffy coat. I’ll feel downright spoiled over there.

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