Recipes from Sunday’s Type One Nation Workshop!

This past Sunday, I attended the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, although “Juvenile Diabetes” isn’t really a term used much anymore) Type One Nation Summit in Anaheim…as a PRESENTER!

My mom is on the JDRF board in Orange County, and around the end of last year, she asked if I would be interested in leading a workshop for the teens and tweens about healthy snacks. I said, “of course!” and over the last few weekends, I brainstormed recipes and tested everything out.

setting up shop before the tweens and teens arrive!

“Healthy Carb-Friendly Snacks” was all about making tweaks to some of the usual snack food ideas, and trying to create a better balance with the carbs, protein, and fat content. Keep reading for the recipes (you’ll have to use your imagination that they’re on the handout I made for the workshop)…

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Cauliflower Cheesy Breadsticks

Continuing on the cheese theme here…I was heading to a friend’s party and needed to bring a dish to contribute. I typically offer to make something because of my dietary needs – and it was Passover, so I was (semi-)trying to observe by not eating bread or grain, but I didn’t know if anyone else was observing, either. What could I bring that would satisfy all of these requirements, but still go over well with the bread-eating crowd?

Enter: cauliflower cheesy bread! You get some of your veggies, and they’re full of salty, gooey cheese with a little bit of an Italian herby kick. What’s not to like?

Read on for the steps to make them…

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Cheese Horoscopes

Now THIS is my kind of horoscope…a delicious, melty, cheesy horoscope…instead of finding out whether you’ll fall in love or get a promotion on a certain day of the month based on where the sun and moon were aligned on the day you were born, this horoscope tells you which cheese you should eat in April! No judgment here if you decide to celebrate big and try all of them. ūüėČ

(I’m also going to stop overpromising and underdelivering on this here blog, but I realize that too sounds like a promise I’m yet to keep. But I do promise I have a fun project or two coming up soon that I’m looking forward to sharing here!)

Until then, behold, cheese-o-scopes from Bon Appetit.

Tangy AAA (Apricot-Apple Cider-Applesauce) Crockpot Pork* (*or Chicken)

We meet again! I am realizing it’s so easy to get sidetracked from writing and then it’s a slippery slope – if you miss one day, you don’t mind missing two, then a whole weekend goes by…plus I’ve been dealing with some health things and my sister was in the hospital for 3 1/2 weeks (she’s home now, yay!), so my mind has been everywhere but the blog.

I am going to post some recipes for comfort food because I think we could all use it right now: we’ve been having crazy rain here in SoCal (but it brought us out of our 5-year drought finally, hurray!) and everything on the news is scary, so we could all use a little extra warmth and coziness in our bowls and in our bellies, right?

This is the recipe I submitted along with my interview for Cooking Light Magazine last year – it was actually inspired by my best friend, Mary. She and I were on the phone one night and naturally, I asked what she’d made for dinner. What she told me sounded AWESOME: “Pork roast in the Crockpot, with applesauce and dried apricots.”

I mean, “pork chops and applesauce” is a classic combo…so of course, I had to tinker with it and add just a little more tang and savoriness – because I like the tart, and she sometimes goes more for sweet. (And I think that’s probably a good metaphor for our friendship, too!)

Tangy AAA (Applesauce/Apple Cider Vinegar/Apricot) Crockpot Pork*

*or Chicken

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My Cooking Light Facebook Live Video!

I did it! Here’s the video, in full: Tuscan Chicken with White Beans and Kale

It is kind of long, 26 minutes – but we were cooking in real time! The recipe says 22 minutes, but I don’t think that accounts for chopping the veggies. It’s probably closer to 45 minutes from start to finish, depending on¬†your knife skills.

Visiting the Time, Inc. test kitchens was so much fun! I wish I could spend all day playing in them and testing out new recipes Рthey have such a cool job! The kitchens are enormous and I could probably fit my whole studio apartment inside.

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2017 is already off to the races!

I mean…we can all pretty much agree that 2016 was a doozy, right?

I went through a lot of personal ups and downs: breakups, bedbugs, my dad and my sister in the hospital – twice each – at different times, all tied together with a nice anxiety bow. But I also had some great new starts: a promotion earlier in the year, the first apartment of my own, a new relationship, my first (sorta) solo vacation, and oh yeah – I won a little competition from a major food magazine.

That’s right: I can finally share the exciting news that I won the Cooking Light Family Dinner Hero contest! I was so thrilled to find out, and had to keep it under wraps for a couple of months while we signed the release forms and everything and worked out all of the prize details.

Now, onto the prize: this coming Monday, January 9, I’m going to be coming to you LIVE at noon CST from the Time Inc. food studios test kitchens in Birmingham, Alabama, with one of the Cooking Light magazine editors! We’re going to make a recipe from the January/February issue, and I’m actually not sure how many other details I can divulge yet, so I’ll share more after the fact! But if you want to tune in live, click here to watch: Cooking Light’s Facebook Page

Also, I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from my trip to Washington, D.C. this past November – they’re not of the White House or the Library of Congress, or any of the monuments (though they were all wonderful), no, I’m talking about the Food in America exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

They had Julia Child’s actual kitchen setup on display! And it was while I was poring over this time capsule and her legacy that I found inspiration and realized something that maybe I had in common with Julia Child…

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Southwestern Stuffed Peppers – A Deceptively Easy Dinner

I think at this point, we can all agree that meal prep is important, but it’s not always the most practiced skill. I don’t always make a pot of rice or quinoa and chop my veggies Sunday evenings before the work week¬†– and even if I did, I might not get through it all, because I live alone.

So, I look to my freezer. I like to freeze bits of leftover whatever, because they add up, and along with some pantry staples I can usually throw things together into a quick and tasty meal (and sometimes get leftovers out of it, too!). Or, in this case, I freeze what I don’t use for later.

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Rosh Hashanah Traditions, Part 2: Noodle Kugel and Tzimmes

The impetus for all that cooking was hosting¬†dinner at my 300 square foot studio for 8 of my girlfriends as¬†a Rosh Hashanah “orphans dinner.” In true Jessica style, I managed to only take one photo right before we dug into the food – you can see the lit candles and the spread spreading out onto my dresser-turned-buffet/sideboard!

I asked everyone else to bring something, too, because I spent Sunday afternoon doing the potatoes and two kugels (one gluten-free, one regular), and then ran off to a Dolly Parton concert at the Hollywood Bowl with my friend Lauren in the evening. Thankfully, the girls brought wine, salad and veggies, challah, and dessert. I also bought two rotisserie chickens at the grocery store on my way home from work, because I didn’t have the space in my kitchen – or the time to make a main on top of all of the carbs!

However, I got up early Monday morning to make tzimmes. ¬†I did have to take it out of the oven early so I’d get to work on time, and then put it back in the oven after work; close enough. I tried this method with the take & bake GF challah I bought, too, but it didn’t really turn out right. I still strive to make one of my own from scratch! Until then, homemade kugel and tzimmes will have to do.

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Traditions, Chapter 1: Bubby’s Potatoes for Rosh Hashana

These babies deserve their own post. I mean, look at how pretty and crispy they are.

(I know we are almost THREE months past Rosh Hashanah already – I started this post a month ago on the plane home from D.C, but misplaced my photos – but since we’re well into the holiday season¬†now, we might as well talk family traditions.)

I was having a craving to both cook gobs of “holiday food” and to host people at my new apartment. I think I was also missing my Bubby, and I know that a lot of my Jewish friends are transplants to LA and can’t get home to spend the high holidays with their families, so I decided to make an open invitation for¬†an “orphans dinner” at my house on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. If I’m going to make potatoes and kugel – and make the effort to get the Cuisinart out to make tzimmes – I might as well have people over to share with me!

Our main family tradition for all Jewish holiday dinners (Hanukkah excepted, because latkes) is making Bubby’s Potatoes.¬†The potatoes are twice-cooked, which means the first time they are par-boiled in their skins (sometimes mostly boiled, depending on how carefully you watch the pot), then peeled, rolled in oil and spices, and roasted in a hot oven. They come out with this amazing, salty, crispy brown crust and are soft and creamy on the inside.

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Asian-style Turkey Lettuce Wraps for Manic Mondays

To me, cooking is creative, collaborative, and most of the¬†time, calming. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had my moments of panic when a pot is bubbling over and the thing in the oven needs to be stirred at the same time – or just last week when I, ahem, *tested out* my smoke alarm when browning some chicken (it works, whew!). But usually, there’s nothing more soothing to my anxious mind than to focus on a recipe and get in the zone: the mise en place of ingredients just so, the chop-chop-chopping repetition, the way your heightened senses take over: sight, smell, taste, even hearing and touch. It’s my happy place.

So, after a whirlwind weekend and then a busy Monday at work, what’s a girl to do to unwind? Why, whip up a batch of delicious and healthy Asian-inspired turkey lettuce wraps!

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