farro salad with chickpeas + leeks

farro finalI don’t know about you, but lunch is always the hardest meal for me to figure out each day. I know I’m on a slightly different schedule than most of you and am craving slightly different food, but I’ll venture a guess that we all want a few of the same things out of our high-noon (or 10 a.m., 2 p.m., whatever time) feeding.

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Food Bloggers Against Hunger: lemon rosemary veggie stack w/lentils + horseradish vinaigrette

final veggie stackThis is the most delicious dish I have ever made. From the freshness of the lemon rosemary, to the earthiness of the lentils, to the tang of the horseradish maple vinaigrette, my tastebuds were in heaven. I enjoyed the whole process of bringing this meal to fruition — grocery shopping, chopping and roasting, and eventually eating — and I’m so lucky for it. Why? Because like most of you reading this post, I always know where my next meal is coming from. Did you know that 50 million people in the United States — including one in four children — don’t? It is devastating, but also fixable.

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bibimbap in baltimore

final bibimbapLet me tell you about my friend Mindy: not only is she one of the funniest people I know, and now mom to one of the cutest babies I know (see little Jordy, below) but she is also a Master Chef. We had big plans for when B and I were coming to visit her in Baltimore last weekend. I invited two of our other close friends from college over; we were going to whip up this big meal — spring rolls I made a few weeks ago with Noah’s sweet chili drizzle, and her husband Matt’s all-time favorite dish: bibimbap. I found this recipe online and we talked groceries, chopping, plating strategies for days.

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stuffed veggie spring rolls

brian eating spring rollsWith huge risk comes huge reward. That’s what they say, right? Such was my first venture into the world of homemade spring rolls. As I told Grub Street last month, I never leave Whole Foods without picking up their delicious pre-made version from the sushi counter — so I was determined to create a similar version as an appetizer for my dinner party guests this past Saturday night. I was petrified, having never done this before and wondering how difficult it would be to handle the gelatinous papers. But guess what? The spring rolls were much easier to assemble than I expected, and B (and all of our friends) loved em! I know he doesn’t look thrilled in the photo, but trust me, he liked em.

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my baby bro’s veggie balls

finished balls“I didn’t know veggies could be so filling!”

That’s what Phil, one of my dinner guests, told me after scarfing down these delicious veggie balls. B said the same… and I was thrilled, because I definitely want to make these again soon. Next time, maybe I’ll try ‘em with pasta, in a sandwich, or over a salad. The best part is, they’re hearty enough to be a meal all their own. And they’re healthy! It’s lentils, veggies, herbs, walnuts and eggs.

So where did I find the recipe?

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where’s B? beets me.

leeks beets carrots final

Since B is at work writing his second Page One story in two days (I know, he’s somethin) I’m testing out  a new veggie recipe here in the lovenest. My mom cut this out of the Philadelphia Inquirer for me while I was home last week and I’ve been wanting to adapt it a bit — more veggies, more flavor — so tonight’s the night. If B were here, I would’ve cooked a piece of fish alongside this — any kind, really — so my man gets his protein. But it’s just me! No one else to worry about! So you know what that means, right? While he’s hunkered down writing a follow up to this Al Gore/Al Jazeera story [feign your intrigue here] it’s time for me to live on the edge. And what says wild, crazy, sexy more than a girl home alone, in her sweaty Lululemon, oven-braising some veggies? Exactly. Best part about this recipe is that you really can’t screw it up — it’s so simple — and so healthy, too.

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this sole’s got soul

final dover sole

I love spicy food — like, mouth-watering, tongue-tingling, ohmygod-I-need-water-NOW spicy. Though we all know water doesn’t help when your taste buds are on fire. But I digress. I am always on the search for spice and I had never made a curry before, but always wanted to try. So I did some googling, some label-reading, some experimenting and this — THIS — is what I came up with. I’m still training B to like things as hot as me, but if whomever you’re cooking for can handle it, try some habaneros or thai chili peppers. We’re working up to those in the lovenest. As B is famous for saying, “standby.”

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tilapia a la teigen

overhead laying fish

Even though she cooks meat 99% of the time (and I don’t cook or eat meat), one of my most favorite food bloggers is Chrissy Teigen. You may know her as the supermodel fiance of John Legend, but I know her as one of the most entertaining people I follow on Twitter. She’s gorgeous, she’s hilarious and homegirl can cook like a rockstar. Imagine my excitement when she finally – FINALLY – posted a fish recipe. It looked so delushious (as she says) that I had to try it. But while she made one large portion, I decided to make 8 individual portions for my best friends from overnight camp who were coming over with their husbands for dinner.

I served it alongside cauliflower mash, but you can try any kind of rice/grain/veggie. We already had greens for our first course — the brussels sprout salad — so decided to mix it up and serve a little mashed potato lookalike.

RECIPE tilapia teigen

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shaved brussels sprout salad

brussels salad final

This is the most delicious, most simple, most I-look-fancy-but-I’m-really-not salad.

And how gorgeous are those salad plates? This was our first time using them. I am so in love.

For the record I wasn’t going to serve bread of any kind at this meal, but since we already had a few drinks I called an audible and added a rando package of garlic croutons I had stashed in the cupboard — needed some carbs to soak up some of the tequila.

I’m going to make this another night as an entree, perhaps with a lovely piece of grilled fish on top.

RECIPE brussels salad