Redemption Trail Mix + Cooking Mishaps

The very first time I ‘cooked’ for my family was an absolute disaster.

I’m not sure quite how old I was, but I’m guessing around 7 or 8 years old. I remember having watched my mom prepare dinner for us almost every night and my grandparents host impressively large meals for our giant extended family whenever everyone was in town. It was always such a nice feeling, sitting around together eating food. And so I thought to myself, “I wanna make something my family can have fun eating together!”

Ohhhhh, ohohoho, little Molly. I mean you tried, right?

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Let’s think about this situation briefly. I was seven and roughly the height of our kitchen counter. I had no idea how to cook. So I did the obvious thing and mixed together all of my favorite snack foods at the time, creating the most horribly well-intentioned trail mix in history.

It had everything you’ve never wanted in your trail mix, and more:

-Bits of torn up white bread
-Crushed Pringles
-Goldfish crackers
-Pretzel twists
-Rustic pieces of broken pretzel rods

(Yep, two types of pretzel. For that textural difference, am I right?)

Long story short, it was awful, and I was super proud as I distributed my masterpiece among three plastic bowls decorated with cartoon animals to serve to my mom, dad, and sister.

They were so nice about it, the sweethearts. I remember them smiling while taking small bites and mmm-ing and ahh-ing over how yummy it was. And I was just there like, “Ok ya that’s great, fam, but like why is there still so much left in your bowls?”

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Then I tried it, a bite with a fragment of white bread and a Pringle shard, and I understood.

I really love this story because it shows that no one is a hopeless cook. Anyone can learn. Sometimes people compliment my cooking and then say they wish they could cook. And I just think about how I began by making trail mix with ravaged white bread… You can cook!!!

I have so many stories about cooking mishaps like this, most of them embarrassingly dumb. But it’s ok because they’re hilarious, and I learn from them and keep going.

Like, this one time I was making these microwave French fries—I kid you not, they were these frozen, microwaveable French fries by Ore-Ida that I used to eat…USED TO–and listen to how simple it was to prepare them. You adjust the packaging a little bit by pressing in one side of the box so it lies flat against the fries, and stick the whole thing in the microwave for a few minutes, and BAM. Crispy fries. I know there are a lot of things wrong with this, but that’s not the point right now.

The point is that one time I managed to burn every single fry in the box to an absolute crisp. Black as coal, all of ’em. The whole house smelled awful. The smoke detector went off. I was home alone and confused and deeply ashamed. I think this happened early on in high school? I’m telling you, anyone can cook.

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Here’s one more, from the first time I made bread. The directions said “rotate the bread halfway through baking.” So what did I do? I didn’t turn the pan around. No, I left that where it was, and I literally flipped the loaf of bread upside down on the pan.

I’m so serious, friends. That’s how I interpreted the directions, and I deflated my first ever loaf of bread. I remember telling my mom what I’d done and the look in her eyes said, “How do you think to do things like this??!”

So please, if I can rally from things like this, never doubt that you can cook.

Today I’m sharing a recipe for redemption trail mix. It still has snacks I like—chocolate, dried cherries, almonds, cinnamon chex—but it actually tastes good, I promise! I tried some before I gave it to anyone else this time. 😉

Do you have any cooking failures you’d like to share? Or a general memory including food? Tell me about it, anonymously or not, by clicking here!

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix

Ingredients
4 cups cinnamon chex cereal (or any chex cereal of your choice)
2 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
½ cup roasted, unsalted almonds
½ cup dark chocolate chunks, plus more for the drizzle
½ cup dried cherries

Method
1. Line a large baking tray with wax paper and set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium-low heat until smooth. Gently stir in the chex cereal and almonds and continue cooking until cereal and almonds are coated, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
3. Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared tray. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks and dried cherries over the cereal mixture.
4. In a microwave safe bowl, heat about 2 tbsp. chocolate chunks in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring the chocolate after each 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Drizzle evenly over the trail mix with a fork. Let cool until the chocolate drizzle hardens completely, then break up the trail mix and enjoy. Store in an airtight container.

Crispy Baked Falafel

Welcome to the first ever food memory post with memories other than mine woooooo! (I am accepting food memory submissions to share on memo2munch that will inspire the recipes. Click here for info on submitting.)

Today’s memory takes place in Vienna, Austria and comes from one of my most precious friends, my roommate Tori. You may know her from triumphs such as her handmade prop in this post, and as my supplier of authentic chai spices direct from India, in this recipe.

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

As the chai spices may have indicated, Tori is an impressive traveler. We both studied abroad in Europe last semester (I was in Bologna, and she was in Rouen, France, a small town about an hour outside of Paris), but when I say Tori studied abroad I mean she, like, S T U D I E D  A B R O A D.

“Over the course of that half-year, I somehow managed to visit 22 countries in Europe and North Africa, an undertaking that I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around,” Tori told me. YOU GO GIRL.

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

In March, we had a reunion of epic proportions in Rome, somehow managing to swing a weekend together with our other roommate who was studying in Germany, plus two of our close friends who were in the midst of a Eurotrip of their own.

It was like some wonderful, strange, sitcom mashup of The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Roman Holiday. But I digress.

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

Roman reunions aside, Tori did much travelling alone, effectively making her the Planning & Coordination Queen™. Exposure to so many new places and cultures taught her lots of useful skills…

“As a solo traveler, bopping from city to city as much as I did, you pretty quickly learn the ins and outs of European markets.”

Successful Encounters with Feisty European Markets 101:

“Learning how to leisurely browse, avoid eye contact, efficiently make purchases, politely refuse aggressive vendors, and exploit any and every opportunity for a free sample, all at the same time, is a skill acquired only with much patience and practice.”

So here’s a Top Secret Market Trick—->“Find a bulk sweets stand where you have to pay by weight, and ask if you can have two dark chocolate covered almonds.” Tori discovered you can often get them for freeeeee

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

The food memory Tori shared with me is a perfect example of a European market encounter of the best kind. She was exploring a lively marketplace in Vienna:

“I was on the lookout for grab-and-go lunch to take with me as I walked from the center of the city out to Schönbrunn Palace. Already I had been snacking on some dried mango slices, and scored some free chocolate! Anyway, I stumbled upon a bustling falafel stall offering falafel for just 1€ each! When I asked for just one, the boisterous man behind the counter swiftly scooped up one of the warm, crispy delicacies, dipped it in a fresh batch of hummus, and extended his arm towards me in a single swooping motion.

‘“For you,” he said, and when I held up a euro coin he shook his head and smiled. Surprised and delighted, I expressed my genuine thanks and continued on my way, biting into perhaps the best falafel I’d ever tasted (until earlier this week that is). In the end, I went back to the same stand to order a falafel pita for my walking lunch, and enjoyed every chickpea/cucumber/lettuce/tomato/cabbage/hummus/tzatziki-filled bite.”

The very pita and its glorious falafel:

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

Ahhhhhh I want to be there, don’t you?! How about this, we tuck into some of our own homemade falafel and google pictures of strudel while Mozart plays in the background. Done.

(Also I didn’t even bribe her to subtly compliment my falafel, ain’t she the sweetest?)

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

Crispy Baked Falafel
(adapted from Mark Bittman)
Makes: about 21 falafel

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups DRIED chickpeas (they will need to soak for minimum 12 hours, so plan ahead)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
Scant tsp cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt, more as needed
½ tsp. black pepper, more as needed
½ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. olive oil
To serve:
Chopped cucumber and tomatoes
Hummus
Pita

Method

1. The night before: thoroughly rinse the chickpeas in a strainer and then place them in a large bowl (they will triple in size as they soak). Pour water over the chickpeas until they are covered by 3-4 inches of water. Let soak overnight, or for up to 24 hours.

2. The next day, discard the soaking water and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly with new water. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C and line a large baking sheet with foil.

3. Place the chickpeas in the body of a food processor along with all of the remaining ingredients except the oil. Pulse until everything is minced but not pureed. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add a bit of water if the machine is having a lot of trouble. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

4. Grease the lined baking sheet with 2 Tbsp. of the oil. Roll the chickpea mixture into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter and place them evenly on the sheet. Gently press the tops of each to form thick patties. Brush with the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Bake 10-15 minutes on each side until golden all over.

5. To serve, spread each pita generously with hummus. Top with 2-3 falafel and the chopped cucumber and tomatoes. Fold and enjoy!

Easy No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts

This summer I’ve been living at home with my parents. They both work during the day, so I have a lot of alone time to think (or sleep), cook (or eat), work on my summer class (or be on the internet), and other productive things of the sort.

(Lol.)

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

But seriously, I’ve been doing a little thinking. During one such adventure, I realized that it’s been about two years since I’ve been home for this long!

I know spending less time at home is a symptom of getting older, but it’s still a bit strange. By now my room feels like my room again. I’ve even christened a Chair of Doom where I pile all the clothes that “I’ll fold and put away later.” Not that that’s a habit…

Yup, I’m settled in.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

Anyway, being home has got me all nostalgic. Sometimes I’ll talk with my parents about super random memories I have from when I was little. For someone with a terrible memory I have kind of a lot of them!

Such as the superman pajamas I had with a detachable velcro cape. #neverforget

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

Many memories are connected to food, of course. Like when I would go grocery shopping with my mom, and she would let me get a donut out of the case in the bakery section to eat while we shopped. (Evidently being in a store full of food without eating any of it was too much for little Molly to handle.)

I’d hold on to the—now empty—plastic bag that had temporarily contained a donut until it was time to pay, and we’d tell the cashier, “Well, there used to be a donut in here.”

Good times.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

I bring this up because from the same bakery section of that grocery store we used to get these fantastic fruit tarts. They were fairly small but always decorated beautifully, colorfully dotted with berries and slices of kiwi and mandarin orange. I was just talking with my mom about them. She remembers how sometimes the woman who made the tarts would spread a layer of chocolate between the shortbread crust and the creamy filling so the crust wouldn’t get soggy. Genius.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

Today’s tarts are a little ode to those tarts of days past. They’re revamped to include exciting things I’ve been wanting to experiment with, like TWO INGREDIENT date crusts (no added sugar!) and vegan pastry cream. But I think it’s fun to take foods deeply rooted in our memories and emotions and tweak them to match your life today. They still keep their meaning, but you also get to exercise your imagination!

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

What memories do you have connected to food? Have you tried to recreate anything you’ve eaten in the past? I’m contemplating doing a series of recipes for foods that have strong memories. Like you guys could tell me a food memory you have, and then I’d share it on my blog along with a recipe for the food… I don’t know, thoughts are flying around.

OK LET’S EAT TARTS.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts
(makes approx. 3 five-inch tarts)

Ingredients

Crust:
1.5 c. pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
1.5 c. mix of pecans and almonds, or just one type

Cream Filling:
¼ cup all-purpose flour*
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut)
¼ c. sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:
Assorted fruit of your choice!

Method

1. Make the crust: In the body of a food processor, pulse the dates and nuts together until a large ball forms and the nuts are broken up into bits. Some small pieces of nut are normal. If you want a finer texture, process a bit more. Line your tart pans with wax paper and press the date crust into the pans. (Wetting your fingers slightly with water will help the dough not stick to you.) Refrigerate.

2. Make the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and ¼ cup of the milk until no clumps of flour remain. Place flour mixture, the remaining milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until mixture becomes thick, 5-10 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla extract and cook for 1 more minute, still stirring.

Remove from heat and transfer cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming on the top. Place cream in the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour.

3. Assembly: Once your cream filling has cooled, take the crusts and filling out of the fridge. Distribute the pastry cream evenly between the tarts. Top with desired fruit and keep the tarts in the fridge until ready to serve.

*If you’re gluten-free, 2 tbsp. corn starch should work fine instead.

Spicy Roasted Chickpea Pita

Have we talked about how awesome chickpeas are?

Cuz if not then I think we need to address that at this point in our friendship.

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwiches | memo2munch

I mean, what’s not to love? They’re versatile and packed with protein. They make salads next level. You can puree them into hummus. Or fry them into falafel. Or, as I have now discovered, roast them to spicy perfection?!?!?

I’m a fan. Are you a fan? Is that the underlying reason why we get along?

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Actually, I’m eating chickpeas while I write this, in their hummus form! But back to that whole ~spicy perfection~ thing.

I used about the same spice blend as in my shakshuka recipe to create a similarly satisfying flavor in a (pita) setting that’s a bit more summer-y. Pop the spiced chickpeas in the oven for less than half an hour, and all that’s left to do is assemble your sandwich!

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

It’s literally the easiest thing ever, and if chickpeas weren’t so delicious in falafel form I would be kicking myself for not having roasted them and stuffed them into pita before.

Instead I’m kicking myself for not having left the house at all today. Ugh, it’s really so unfortunate to be this lazy. I keep getting phone calls from unknown numbers, too. I haven’t answered for fear that they’ll lecture me about the beautiful weather I’m missing out on or something equally as bad like which candidate I should vote for.

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Anywho, I’m going to end this here and get out in the open air! Promise.

PS you should make this for dinner. Promise?

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich
(Adapted from Minimalist Baker)
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

Chickpeas:
1 15-ounce (425g) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and gently patted dry
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. each ground cumin and garlic powder
½ tsp. each sea salt, black pepper, and paprika
¼ tsp. ground red pepper/cayenne (optional)

To serve:
Pita (or gf bread if needed)
Hummus
Diced tomato
Sliced red onion
Romaine lettuce, chopped,
Tahini (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C and line a large baking sheet with foil.

2. Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Place rinsed and dried chickpeas in a mixing bowl and toss with the oil to coat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chickpeas and stir until the chickpeas are evenly coated. Spread in a single, spacious layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.

3. To serve, warm the pitas in a microwave for 15-30 seconds or in the still-warm oven. Spread a generous amount of hummus in the center of each pita and top with chickpeas, tomato, lettuce, onion, and tahini if desired. Fold and enjoy!

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes & Alchemy

Cooking is alchemy, don’t you think?

Take pancakes, for example (don’t mind if I do).

You start with a mixture of things that you would never eat as is (read: flour, baking powder, oil, eggs), and things that are “eh” as is (sugar, milk), which you then turn into something that I would argue is better than gold. Chocolate chips, of course, are an exception to the whole “eh” rule, but they’re an add-in, so you get what I’m saying.

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

Sometimes when I cook I feel like a mad scientist. And like any good mad scientist would, I start wondering if this way is the only way to do things. If I could get just as good a result using other ingredients or tweaking things here and there.

I got reaaaaal mad scientist-y when I found out about my dairy allergy. I grabbed a lab coat, some goggles, and experimented with baking using non-dairy milk and butter. I had some major successes, like dairy-free cinnamon rolls and vegan buttermilk biscuits. And they STILL made me take chemistry in college. Can you believe it?

The thing about this type of baking, though, is that you’re substituting an ingredient with something similar, something intended to be a substitute for that specific ingredient. Almond milk is made to replace cow’s milk.

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

So the question becomes: can you substitute an ingredient with something completely different and unique?

YEAH YOU CAN, YOU ALCHEMIST, YOU.

I made these delish—and I do mean delish—pancakes vegan by using one mashed banana in place of an egg. It works because the properties of each result in the same function.

Why are there eggs in pancakes anyway? To bind things together. Eggs keep your pancakes from crumbling apart. But if you don’t want to use eggs to hold your pancakes together, you have to use something else that acts as a binder in its place. Mashed banana has the same binding effect as eggs, not to mention is vegan, and adds sweetness and a light banana flavor. And the fluffiness factor we all love about pancakes is entirely unaffected. Alchemy.

It’s like your favorite banana bread… in a pancake. With chocolate. *Bows*

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

If you’re vegan or just curious about other egg replacements, each of the following will replace 1 egg:
– 1 tbsp. ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp. water, let sit for 30 min. to thicken
– 1 tbsp. chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp. water, let sit for 30 min. to thicken
– ¼ c. pureed silken tofu
– ¼ c. dairy-free yogurt

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

Easy Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes
(makes 10-12 5in. pancakes)

Ingredients
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (or any flour, such as gf)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 medium bananas, mashed
2 cups (470 mL) dairy-free milk or mix with 2 tbsp. lemon juice (for vegan buttermilk)
3 tbsp. oil, plus more to grease pan
vegan chocolate chips (I like using mini)
Maple syrup, sliced banana, or melted white chocolate, for serving (optional)

Method
1. In a large bowl, mix the dairy-free milk with the lemon juice and let stand until thickened. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

2. Mash the bananas with a fork until smooth and add to the bowl with the milk mixture. Add the oil as well and mix until evenly combined. Pour the flour mixture into the liquids and gently mix with a spatula just until no large lumps remain. (Small lumps are fine).

3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Grease lightly with oil and ladle the pancakes into the pan in disks 4-5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the pancakes in the pan. At this point you can lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until bubbles appear in the center of the pancakes and the edges begin to look dry, then flip. Cook for 1 minute on the other side. Serve as is or with any of the topping choices listed in the ingredients. (If you want melted white chocolate—–it’s good!—–you can melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set atop a pot of boiling water, or by microwaving in 30 seconds increments and stirring after each.)

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt

Ah, I remember what a magical moment it was when I learned you could bring food through airport security! (Two reasons why I remember so vividly: a) it was a momentous discovery, and b) it happened, like, 2 years ago.)

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

I really had no idea until that point. I didn’t have occasion to fly all that often growing up because I’m from smack-dab in the middle of nowhere the US, so basically everywhere we went was drivable. I do have one memory related to food and airport security, though. It involves 13-year-old me trying to bring a wrapped, unopened jar of apple butter in my carry-on as a gift for some friends I was going to visit. And having to unwrap said jar of apple butter for security to look at. And being told that jars of apple butter on planes are a no-no. And having to say goodbye to an entire, giant jar of delicious, unblemished apple butter.

It was a veritable tragedy.

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

I guess I just figured after that experience that all food would be taken from me at the airport. Not that I think the TSA was wrong for taking my apple butter—I know they were just doing their job. But smack-dab in the middle of nowhere the US, they make some gooood apple butter. So mourning its loss was necessary.

Anyway, the whole point of this story was to tell you that now that I know I can bring food on airplanes, my travel snack of choice are these chocolate covered almonds with turbinado sugar and sea salt from Trader Joe’s. They’re delish. I had them with me when I flew here to Bologna in January, and they kept me company during all 60 bajillion of the flight cancellations and delays. <3 Comfort food <3

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

The only problem is I’ve since finished that box, and there is no Trader Joe’s in Bologna for me to replenish my supply. Luckily, they’re super easy to make yourself and just as yummy. Only 4 ingredients!

Still love Trader Joe’s, of course, but it’s nice to know that in times of emergency there are some other options out there. 😉

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt

200g. (about 1.5 cups) roasted almonds
Two 4-oz. bars quality dark chocolate
Sea salt, to taste
Turbinado sugar, to taste

1. Find a tray that will fit in your fridge and line it with wax paper. Set aside.

2. Fill a medium pot half-way with water. Start heating on the stove over medium-high heat. In a glass bowl that you can rest on top of the pot but won’t fall into the pot, place 1.5 of the bars of chocolate. Set the bowl on top of the heating pot. The steam from the boiling water will melt the chocolate. Congrats, you just created a double boiler!*

3. While the chocolate is melting, finely grate the remaining chocolate into a bowl, stopping every now and then to stir the chocolate that is melting so it doesn’t burn. Mix a couple teaspoons of turbinado sugar into the grated chocolate.

4. One the chocolate in the double boiler has completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the almonds. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste, then leave for about 10 minutes to cool off.

5. Use a fork to place the almonds one by one or in small groups onto the lined tray. (You don’t want them all stuck together once they harden.) Sprinkle heavily with the grated chocolate/turbinado sugar. Leave in the fridge until completely set, about an hour.

*Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave by heating it in spurts of 30 seconds and stirring until it melts completely.

Shakshuka!!

Right now I’m bundled up in my big, green, elf sweater (like, cool woodland elf, not north pole elf), listening to the Beatles and dreaming about shakshuka. And everything is perfect because it’s 2pm, and I haven’t left the house yet. ~FRIDAZE~

Unfortunately, there is lots of work to be done before the end of the semester, so I guess I shouldn’t spend allllll day doing what I’m doing. *Cue side-eye at anatomy*

shakshuka | memo2munch

How was your Thanksgiving?! Mine was great and oh-so yum. Hope yours was, too. I helped my grandpa make the turkey and stuffing, and since cooking is a serious matter, we wore serious outfits to boot:

IMG_9986

Our group of eleven sat around a huge dining room table, ate, talked, and had a grand old time, passing dishes toppling with delicious food back and forth until we were full of nutriment and gratitude. Those are nice things to be filled with. 🙂

shakshuka | memo2munch

When the air outside is uber chilly, and we have to wait another year to be filled with Thanksgiving food again (but not gratitude!), some comfort food is certainly in order. But you’ve been around, and you know there must be more to comfort food than mac n’ cheese and potatoes in any form. Enter: shakshuka!!! I just can’t type it without the exclamation points. It’s too exciting. We’re talking spices, aromatic tomato sauce, runny yolks –> warming you from the inside out! <3

Plus it’s fun to say. (And healthy—shhhh!)

shakshuka | memo2munch

shakshuka | memo2munch

Shakshuka is a North African dish in origin, and it’s often eaten in Isreal for breakfast. As a girl who believes breakfast food is anytime food, I’m planning to make this whenever the heck I want. So, basically, way too often. Give it a try the next time you’re looking for a meal you want to dive right into!

shakshuka | memo2munch

Shakshuka

(Adapted from the New York Times)

Ingredients
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
1 (28-ounce) can chopped plum tomatoes with juices
3/4 tsp. salt, more as needed
1/4 tsp. black pepper, more as needed
5-6 large eggs
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Pita or other bread, for serving

Method
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. On the stove in a large cast iron or other oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes until tender. Add cumin, paprika, and cayenne and stir. Pour in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer about 10 minutes until tomatoes have thickened.
3. Gently crack the eggs into the skillet over tomatoes. Season each egg with salt and pepper. Using an oven mitt or pad, transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, round 7 to 10 minutes. Toast bread while shakshuka is in the oven.
4. After the shakshuka has been removed from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with a slice of toasted bread.

30 Minute Hearty & Healing Stew

You know how sometimes you’ll be doing something and then all of a sudden you’ll be hit by an idea for how you could have done said thing better?

But you’re already at the point of no return, so then you’re just like

Dang.

30 Minute Hearty & Healing Stew | memo2munch

I’m there, friends. In the words of Eunice from She’s the Man (which I have zero shame in admitting I watched last weekend), “I’m so there it’s insane.”

[Aside: Eunice is clearly my spirit animal. See below]

Eunice

Anyway, I can’t speak for Eunice, but the reason I’m so there it’s insane is because I made this k-i-l-l-e-r stew and THEN thought about how epic it would be if I had roasted acorn squash halves and served the soup inside them.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

30 Minute Hearty & Healing Stew | memo2munch

Sink in like the broth would have sunk into the acorn squash, flavoring it with tomato and warm hints of turmeric and ginger.

UGH, I still feel the tingles of regret and opportunities lost.

However, we are now two acorn squash from the farmer’s market richer, and so another soup can yet be made. Redemption is nigh!

30 Minute Hearty & Healing Stew | memo2munch

As the weather gets chillier and the sweaters more worn, a nourishing stew can do us all a world of good. This one comes together in only 30 minutes, and is filled to the brim with the most comforting veggies, legumes, and spices.

Put on your pajamas and curl up with a bowl for dinner tonight. And so help me, I WILL make squash bowls next time! (PS Thank you Ellie for being my soup model u r fabulous.)

30 Minute Hearty & Healing Stew | memo2munch

30 Minute Hearty & Healing Stew
(adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)

Ingredients
1 tbsp cold pressed coconut oil or olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or 1 tsp ground
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper or more to taste
3.5 cups canned plum tomatoes
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed
2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 tsp sea salt
1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces*
2 zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces*
1 handful asparagus or green beans*
1 cup canned chickpeas
goat cheese, for serving (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan and add chopped onion and garlic. Lower the heat and cook for a few minutes until the onions have softened. Add ginger, turmeric, cayenne and stir, ensuring that they do not burn. When the spices smell fragrant, add tomatoes, lentils, water and salt. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in all the vegetables and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Add the chickpeas toward the end of the cooking time. Serve in bowls with crumbled goat cheese if desired.

*You really can use any vegetables you have on hand! Just keep in mind that harder vegetables like carrots might need to cook longer.

Crisp Autumn Salad

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

“Salad?” I can hear you scoffing from all the way over here. “It’s the first day of October, which everyone knows is the REAL beginning of fall, and you give me a salad?”

Well, all of that is indeed true. I know you’re ready for apple crisp and pumpkin bread and anything with maple syrup involved, but see, here’s the thing. I think salad has been underrepresented on this blog. So I’m giving it a lil spotlight today.

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

It also helps that this salad might possibly be the BEST salad of my twenty years of existence. We’re talking big stuff, here.

Oh, and did I mention this salad is SATISFYING? In my opinion, it is this characteristic (or lack thereof, typically) which gives salad a kinda bad rep.

And yeah, it makes sense. I don’t expect anyone to eat a bowl of paper-thin leaves and come away from that experience feeling full and satisfied. (It just can’t be done) But you know what is satisfying?
-snappy raw green beans (our farmer’s market has fantastic ones right now)
-juicy grapes
-chewy pumpkin seeds
-crunchy almonds
-a smooth coating of olive oil

It’s a matter of texture! Give your mouth some variety, not only in the flavor of ingredients but in shape and bite, too. You’ll never have another boring salad.

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

I love adding whole grains to my salads, like brown rice or quinoa. They add a great chew to salads, and some pretty awesome nutrients, too. You CAN have it all.

So enjoy this nummy salad this week, and next week I PROMISE I will have some scrumptious fall carbs for you. Scout’s honor.

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

Crisp Autumn Salad | memo2munch

Crisp Autumn Salad

Ingredients
2-3 large handfuls greens
2 tbsp. sliced almonds
2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
¼ c. red grapes, sliced in half
¼ c. raw green beans, cut into 1-2 inch sections
2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste, optional
Chevre or feta to taste, optional

Method
1. Place greens in a bowl. Top with almonds, pumpkin seeds, grapes, and green beans. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if using. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with chevre, if desired.

Muesli

Here, let me introduce you to muesli.

Or as its friends like to call it, lazy granola.

Ooh yeah, I saw those ears perk up.

Muesli | memo2munch

Because sometimes (all the time) you don’t want to wait around forever for granola to toast in the oven, but you also don’t want to spend your life savings + an arm on little bags of overpriced granola consisting of ingredients you can buy IN BULK from Kroger for the same amount or less TOTAL. I know.

Muesli | memo2munch

muesli3'5

Muesli is the exact same thing as granola, only it’s not toasted or just slightly toasted. If you decide not to toast it, you literally just have to throw things in a bowl and stir them around. Done.

It’s the most college thing ever, but it makes you look hipster-foodie as all get out.

And saves you a lotta money.

And gives you a lotta fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol (byeeee, LDL) and keeps you full.

Muesli | memo2munch

“What did I do today? Oh, well I woke up early, biked to my favorite coffee shop–you know, that one next to that old record store I love–made a batch of muesli, saved a kitten, detangled my flower crown from my hair, and watched all of Wes Anderson’s films and it’s only 2pm.” <—- YOU

Muesli | memo2munch

Just like granola, muesli is super customizable. You can sub in all different kinds of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, or add some cinnamon for a little extra kick. As long as you stick with the basic formula, your ratios will turn out right.

I like to eat my muesli with coconut milk and so much fruit that you can’t even see the muesli underneath. Aka like this:

Muesli | memo2munch

You could also eat your muesli sprinkled over yogurt or in parfait form, mixed with water and heated up to make oatmeal, or however you so desire. It will be delicious, I promise.

Experiment with some muesli this week!!

Muesli | memo2munch

Muesli
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups rolled oats (certified GF if celiac)
  2. 1 cup nuts
  3. 1 cup seeds
  4. 1 cup dried fruit
  5. 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
Instructions
  1. If toasting muesli: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, and seeds. Stir in honey or maple syrup. Spread evenly on pan and toast for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely before mixing in fruit. Store in an airtight container.
  2. If not toasting muesli: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Store in an airtight container.
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