Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Bell Peppers

A few months back, I was on a business trip in Los Angeles where I ate Shakshouka at the La Brea Bakery Cafe. It was delicious, comforting, and seemed easy enough to make at home and for the Meatless Mondays vegetarian blog posts.

Shakshouka is originally a North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.

I took some liberties with this Shakshouka recipe, mainly because I only had roasted red bell peppers rather than plain and I didn’t want to go to the grocery.

Additionally, I added feta, because I have read that is sometimes done and I’m always looking for an excuse to sprinkle cheese on things.

I should also mention that I did not even pretend I was going to feed this to the kids. My daughter doesn’t eat eggs “EVER” and my son had fallen asleep on the couch at 4:30 because he refused to nap at 2. He was still sleeping at dinner time and there was no way he was going to feel adventurous about food when he finally woke up to eat something. My husband, however, loved it.

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Print Recipe
Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Bell Peppers
Eggs cooked in a savory tomato, onion, and roasted bell pepper sauce and baked with feta cheese. Served over mixed grains our couscous.
Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers
  1. preheat your oven to 375. Prepare this entire dish in a large cast iron skillet if you have one.
  2. Chop or roughly process the whole tomatoes combined with your roasted red bell peppers. Mine came from a jar but freshly roasted bell peppers work as well.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  3. Thinly slice the onion and garlic and saute in the skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil until their are very soft and beginning to brown. You may also thinly slice your bell pepper and add it at this stage if you prefer that over the food processor.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  4. Add your tomatoes and peppers from the food processor. Add the spices including the salt and pepper and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  5. Add the feta and stir to combine
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  6. Create small wells in the sauce using a spoon and crack an egg into each one being careful not to get any shells in there. Then place the skillet in the oven and cook for 7-10 minutes more.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  7. Garnish and serve.
    Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Recipe Notes

We served this over mixed grains, but I think technically, shakshouka is meant to be served with bread. Either way, it is an easy, delicious, and healthy meatless Monday option.

Quinoa-Farro Cherry Salad

The inspiration for this recipe came from a vegan cookbook called PLUM: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro. I changed so much about the original recipe that it is no longer gluten, soy, or dairy-free–oops. It is, however, still a protein rich vegetarian salad that we use as a main course or side dish at our house.

1/2 cup Farro ( or pearled farro)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 chopped almonds
8 oz fresh cherries, pitted, quartered
1/4 small red onion
1 lime
1/4 fresh parsley
3 mint leaves

Here’s how to make it:

Quinoa and farro have very different cooking times. So, really, you should cook them separately according to their individual cooking instructions. However, I am lazy, so I use pearled farro, which cooks faster, and I soak it for an hour or so before I mix it with the rinsed quinoa and cook it together. That gets their cooking times closer. So make that major life decision and while your grains cook, take care of your chopping.
Pit and cut your cherries. Chop your other ingredients. Toast your almonds in a dry skillet for a few minutes to activate their flavor. Then let them cool before you use them. I go light on the red onion because it seems to stay with me for days, but feel free to increase the amount and use a finer dice. You do you.

Put it all together:
Fluff you grains and let them cook a bit before you put them together with your chopped ingredients. Then, toss it all together, season with salt and pepper, squeeze lemon juice liberally, and garnish with mint. We serve this over a bed of mixed greens, but it works on its own too.

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Meatless Meatballs Recipe: Deliscious and a complete pain in the ass.


A few days ago, I posted this photo to my instagram feed. It is a picture of meatless meatballs for which I found the recipe in the New York Times Cooking section. I said I would try them and report back as I wasn’t sure how they could be tasty or even pretend to be meatballs given what was in them.

Here is a simple Q and A to help you decide if these meatless meatballs are for you:

Q: How did they taste?
A:  Just like meatballs, so great.

Q:  Are they easy to make?
A:  Absolutely not.

Q:  Did the kids eat them?
A:  No way.

Q:  Would you make them again?
A:  Yes, but I would chop the mushrooms smaller or run the whole business through the food processor. I would double the batch while I was at it since they are time consuming and a little bit messy. I would freeze the extra batch for a future date when I needed meatless meatballs but didn’t want to go through the production of making them.

Q:  How did you serve them?
A: On homemade fettuccine noodles with red sauce and salad. Also, because the kids wouldn’t eat them and the batch was huge, my husband and I ate them on salads all week.

Q:  Where can I find the recipe?
A:  Right here,  Veggie Balls Recipe – NYT Cooking


Pistachio Pesto Pasta: Our most requested recipe

I’m finally getting around to writing up our most requested recipe. This is a recipe for Pistachio Pesto Pasta otherwise known simply as “Green Pasta” at our house. I can’t claim this recipe as my own because my husband tore it out of Bicycle Magazine sometime last year and asked that we try to make it. We did, and now it is a staple in our menu rotation at home.

Here is the link to the article if you want to read about how awesome pistachios are as an energy source or if you like to read about bikes and people who ride them. Otherwise, follow the instructions below.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta Recipe

1 cup salted, shelled pistachios
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt to taste

Add the pistachios to the bowl of your food processor and pulse them approximately 20 times, then STOP. Do not over process at this point or you will have pistachio butter when you are finished.
Add all the other ingredients to the pistachios in the bowl of your food processor and process until all the ingredients are well incorporate but you still have a few small pistachio chunks.
Combine your pesto with warm pasta. A few notes here: this pistachio pesto is THICK and works best when mixed into short pastas like penne, macaroni, or whatever I have shown in the picture. Also, it mixes better when the pasta is still hot.
And here you are–Green Pasta. Gram for gram, pistachios have more muscle building protein than beef and because this recipe is packed with spinach, there is no need for you to harass your kids about eating their salad and you don’t have to make one, so everybody wins with this recipe.

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Spiced Chickpea Wraps

Here is another excellent recipe from the ThugKitchen Cookbook. Let’s do this!


Tahini Dressing
1/4 cup tahini*
3 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
Spiced Chickpeas
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups cooked chickpeas**
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 large wraps
Cucumber sticks
Carrot sticks







*This is like peanut butter but made out of sesame seeds. It will be near the nut butters or falafel mix at the store
**Two 15-ounce cans if you aren’t simmering that shit yourself

1–To make the dressing, mix all that shit together a small glass until it is smooth and creamy. Set it in the fridge.

2–Now get the chickpeas going. Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chickpeas and fry them until they start to turn gold and pop around a bit. You’ll see what the fuck we mean. This will take 3 to 5 minutes. In a small glass, mix together the lemon juice, maple syrup, and soy sauce. When the chickpeas are looking right, pour the lemon juice mixture over them and stir. Let that shit evaporate for about 30 seconds and then add all the spices. Stir and let them all fry together for another 30 seconds and then turn off the heat.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) ready to be wrapped.

3–Serve these spiced sons of bitches in a wrap with some spinach leaves and thinly sliced carrot and cucumber sticks. Drizzle some dressing over it and wrap that shit up.

HEAT YOUR WRAP!!! I made the first one without heating the wrap and really regretted it.


I like butter, a lot. So when I heard I could make butter healthier and still keep the deliciousness, I was pretty sure I was being punk’d. And off I went to the test kitchen (aka my kitchen).

Ghee is not a secret if you are a yogi or a cross fitter or desperately lactose intolerant; it has been around for thousands of years. But if, like me, you are a native midwesterner who was raised on a daily three squares of meat and dairy, than ghee is a bit of a mystery to you.

Here is the deal, ghee is similar to clarified butter (like for crab legs). It is butter from grass fed-and also sacred-cows that has been cooked to remove the milk solids (lactose, whey, and casein) and the water. Ghee  originated in India and is still commonly used in South Asian, Iranian and Arabic cuisines, Ayurvedic medicine, and religious rituals.

Nutritionally, ghee is a more concentrated source of fat than butter since the moisture and the milk solids are removed during its preparation. One tablespoon of ghee has 13 g of fat and 117 calories versus butter, which has 11 g fat and 100 calories per tablespoon.

Why ghee in your kitchen?

  1. Ghee has a higher smoke point than many other “healthy” oils so it is good for frying and sautéing.
  2. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a shelf life of up to 3 months.
  3. It can replace butter for those who are lactose intolerant because the milk solids have been removed.

Why ghee in your body?

  1. It is high in butyrate which is a short-chain fatty acid essential to the colon and the intestinal ecosystem.
  2. Ghee can reduce inflammation when applied to the skin and is used to treat burns in auyrvedic medicine. It can also be used as a skin moisturizer.
  3. This oil is rich in fat soluable vitamins A, D, E, and K.

There are some studies that show this delicious oil may reduce the risks of cancer, lower your cholesterol and support weight loss. But let’s not go crazy here. Keep in mind that it is butter, not magic, and still contains the saturated fats that should be kept to a minimum.

You can buy ghee at most well stocked grocery stores, but I suggest making your own because:

  1. it is easy
  2. if you are thinking about ghee, you have already gone all-in on the health food thing, so you might as well take it to an extremely unnecessary level. That’s how we like to do it around here.

Let’s Make Ghee

Start with  unsalted butter from grass fed cows. Try not to eat this butter before you turn it into ghee; it is amazing on a spiritual level, as the Hindus already know (even though technically, the butter in the photo is Irish. But whatever). 8 oz of butter makes about 6 oz of ghee when all is said and done.


Line a sieve with two layers of cheese cloth and strain the oil into a small container. The milk solids will catch in the cheese cloth and the strainer and you should be left with only the oil. If it looks like maybe you still have some milk solids in there (white cloudiness or graininess) strain it again, I did.
I strained mine twice and then put it into the refrigerator to firm up, but you can leave it on the counter or in your pantry, too.


Veggie Burgers You Actually Want to Eat

Even before I became a vegetarian, hamburgers and cheese burgers were never about the meat for me. They were about the fixins and the buns. Loading a burger with mayo, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese was the only reason I would consider eating one.

So when I went veggie, I took a brief tour through the pre-made veggie patty market and found a few that were okay but looked weird and had strange ingredients and consistencies. Not to mention the fact that they were the definition of processed and pre-packaged food.

I had heard that people were doing great things in the non-meat burger world with black beans so I did a search for some recipes and tried a few with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. Some tasted terrible and some didn’t have the right consistency to act like a burger patty.

That is why I am happy to offer you the following recipe. After several weeks of very scientific ingredient combinations and experiments in our test kitchen (okay, my kitchen), I finally came up with something that looks, holds together, and even tastes like a burger.

Olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup barley
2 (15 oz) cans of low sodium black beans (drained)
1 egg
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 cups bread crumbs ( or more if needed)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Step #1: In 1 tablespoons of olive oil, saute 1/2 c of chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and fresh herbs until soft and translucent; about 5 minutes on medium heat.IMG_1600

Step #2: Rinse and boil 1/2 cup of pearled barley until tender. Drain the barley well, and set aside.IMG_1603

Step #3: In a food processor, combine 1 can of the black beans (drained), the sauted onions, garlic, herbs, and the drained barley. Add the egg. Pulse the mixture, scraping down the sides as needed, until well combined but sill slightly chunky.IMG_1604

Step #4: Transfer the mixture in the food processor to a large mixing bowl. Add a second can of black beans (also drained), chia seeds, 1 cup of bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Stir by hand until well mixed and evenly combined.IMG_1607

Step #5: Let the burger mixture rest for 15 minutes to allow the bread crumbs and chia seeds to absorb excess moisture and bind the burger mixture together.

Step #6: Once your mixture has set, test its consistency. Form it into a ball or a test burger patty. Does it stay together without sticking to your hands? If so, you are doing great. If the mixture is gooey, sticks to your hands, and won’t form a patty, add breadcrumbs until you get the consistency you need. I make my patties from 1/2 cup of mixture each, which yields six to seven patties.IMG_1616.jpg

Step #7: Black bean burgers can be cooked in an oiled skillet (which is how I typically do it) or on a BBQ grill.

For the skillet cooking method: Preheat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Sear the burgers for 2-3 minutes on each side and then reduce the heat to medium low and cook until heated through, about 5-10 minutes more. If you are adding cheese, now is the time!

For the grill cooking method: Make sure your grill grates are very clean and well oiled with olive or another vegetable oil as your burgers will want to stick. Preheat your BBQ grill as you normally would. If you can determine the temperature of your grill, aim for a temperature in the 400-450 degree range. Oil the grill grates once more before placing your burgers on the grill. Cook for 3 minutes on each side and then gently move them to a part of the grill with no direct heat. If you are adding cheese, add it now and allow the cheese to melt and the burgers to heat through.

Once the black bean burgers are cooked, you can treat them just like any other burger. Dress them up with a bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.

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