Southwestern Kale Power Salad with Sweet Potato, Quinoa & Avocado Sauce

Healthy and hearty Southwestern kale power salad recipe - cookieandkate.com

Don’t you hate it when your brilliant ideas don’t pan out? I’ve spent the week in the kitchen and I don’t have much to show for it. It’s maddening, I tell you. But, if anyone is going to end up with lackluster homemade meals, let it be me. I don’t want any precious avocados or maple syrup going to waste in your kitchens on my behalf.

sweet potato and kale

Ali and I were both in sour moods on Tuesday after spending the afternoon sharing pans and sighing at our resulting recipes. We were so frustrated that we almost decided to stay in and watch more of The Blacklist on Netflix, but! We reminded each other that our evenings in Austin are dwindling. I traded my yoga pants and sandals for skinny jeans and booties and we headed out.

Dinner was pretty good. I just ordered a salad. Our waiter surprised me with a free dessert (griddled cornbread and bourbon ice cream!) and the night got better from there.

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Parmesan-Crusted Cauliflower Steaks with Marinara

Parmesan crusted, roasted cauliflower "steak" on spaghetti with marinara. This is a super simple, healthy weeknight dinner! cookieandkate.com

Growing up, my younger brothers and I didn’t make dinner easy for our mom. We could agree on a very short list of menu items, including pizza, pasta and peanut butter sandwiches (white bread, hold the crust!). We ate more spaghetti with marinara sauce for dinner than anything else. It was the meal I made for myself when Mom made something I didn’t like (cough cough, steak).

cauliflower and spaghetti

This cauliflower and spaghetti dish is a throwback to my childhood dinners. These days, I opt for whole grain pasta because it keeps me feeling full for so much longer, and I like to add as much vegetables as pasta. I’ve been really into roasted cauliflower this winter and it’s the perfect, hearty and healthy addition to this classic comfort meal.

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13 Healthy Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes

13 healthy make-ahead breakfast recipes - cookieandkate.com

Who here eats breakfast every morning? I do! It’s really not an option for me. I’ll turn into a shaking, starving, mumbling mess a few hours into the day if I skip it. Since my breakfast is mandatory (and I don’t like cereal, I know I know), I’ve found quite a few staple grab-and-go breakfasts over the years.

I’ve learned that breakfast “sweets” are not all created equally. Simple carbohydrates like all-purpose flour pancakes and pastries give me the shakes. Whole grains like oats keep me going for hours, especially when combined with nuts (or nut butter), yogurt and/or eggs. You’ll find a variety of healthy options below, and you can view all of my breakfast recipes here. What are your favorite make-ahead breakfast recipes?

Before I go, here are some notes on storage and reheating: Muffins, pancakes, waffles and granola all freeze well. Just let them cool and transfer them to freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as reasonably possible before sealing them up. I reheat my muffins and pancakes in the microwave (don’t overdo it, or they’ll get tough). If you have the foresight to let them defrost at room temperature or in the refrigerator, you can warm them in a low temperature oven. I reheat my frozen waffles in the toaster (again, don’t overdo it or you’ll burn your waffles). Granola doesn’t require any defrosting.

Morning glory oatmeal - cookieandkate.com

No. 1: Megan’s Morning Glory Oatmeal
Gluten free and vegan

Creamy, steel-cut oatmeal is a fantastic make-ahead option. Just make a big batch and store it in the refrigerator for later. Gently reheat it in the microwave or on the stove with a splash of milk (almond milk is great). I like to serve mine with a dollop of plain yogurt to up the creamy factor and protein content.

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Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup

This healthy, Mediterranean-flavored lentil soup is made with (mostly) pantry ingredients! Vegan and gluten free. cookieandkate.com

This soup recipe has been a long time coming! Over the years, I’ve made some lackluster lentil soups that never saw the light of day on this website. No vegetarian food blog would be complete without a proper lentil soup, though, so I’ve been perfecting one of my own lately.

Here it is. My lentil soup is made with mostly pantry ingredients but includes hearty greens and a squeeze of lemon for bright, fresh flavor. It’s seasoned with a few of my favorite spices and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Honestly, it’s the best lentil soup I’ve ever had.

carrots and lentils

I’ve seriously overindulged over the past couple of weeks here in Austin, Texas. This much-needed soup is helping me balance out all the tacos and tequila (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). It’s the best.

I have to remind myself that it’s still February when I look out the window and see only sunshine and green cactus. I heard there’s snow on the ground elsewhere and it’s below freezing back home in Kansas City, though. Hope you can warm up with this soup over the weekend. Spring is near, I promise! If you need more hot soups to hold you over, check out all my soup and stew recipes here!

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Ashley’s Sun-Dried Tomato Caesar Salad

Sun-dried tomato Caesar salad recipe from Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez - cookieandkate.com

I have quite a cookbook collection. They’ve overflowed my bookcases and spilled over to both coffee tables. They’re stacked on my desk and sometimes they accompany me to bed. Flipping through the best cookbooks sends my mind into a tizzy and leaves me feeling sort of desperately, overwhelmingly inspired. I want to make everything and it kills me that I don’t have time for all of them.

bread for croutons

I watched my mom self-publish a few books when I was young, so I know how much effort and care goes into the making of a book. I’m in awe of all the authors who come up with a concept and carry it through to execution. It’s truly a labor of love.

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Lemony Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

Baked cauliflower risotto recipe (risotto doesn't get easier than this!) - cookieandkate.com

We’re seven days into our month away in Austin. So far, our daily routine has been moving at a more relaxed pace. I love it. Cookie and I are soaking up the sunshine and enjoying our walks around our eclectic neighborhood. I’ve learned how to get to the grocery store and Jeanine and Jack‘s place without the help of my phone, so I think I’m pretty much set! I’m going to do my best not to talk about this city non-stop for the next few weeks, but needless to say, I’m inspired.

brown arborio rice and cauliflower

This risotto is a riff on my mushroom risotto, which is one of my favorites. I used the same cooking method, which requires only minimal stirring. Brown rice offers more nutrients and fiber than white rice and offers more flavor (the more flavor, the better!). Both the rice and the cauliflower bake in the oven at the same time, so you’ll have plenty of downtime to sip on leftover white wine while you wait.

I know there are still plenty of cauliflower haters out there. Ali is one of them and she even liked this lemony risotto! Roasted cauliflower is really another animal. When it’s properly roasted, it’s tender on the inside, crispy on the edges and nutty in flavor. It really shines in this peppery, lemony, texture-rich risotto.

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