warm butternut and chickpea salad with tahini dressing

Some days you make dinner, finish eating it, and just want to yell, "I WIN!!" because it tastes so damn good. Come on, you know you've felt it. This recipe made me not only want to yell, I actually raised my fists in the air and cheered for it. So good.
Warm Butternut & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

For salad:
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice (I skip this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

we meet again

Why hello, old friend ramen. We meet again. I have to be honest, I had hoped we would not re-cross paths so soon. And yet look where we are, back together for a 2009 'Year of the Poor' reunion.

At least you had the decency to dress up in grown-up ingredients like spinach, peas, and green onions. And at least I have the decency to no longer own a beer bong. My how we've grown.


crispy black bean tacos

I made these tacos last night. They were ridiculously fast, easy, and delicious. Also, all the ingredients costed around $8 total. I think this may be a meal I make weekly for a while.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw
(from February's Bon Appetit)

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 white or yellow corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bottled chipotle hot sauce or other hot sauce

Place beans and cumin in small bowl; partially mash. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw. Pass hot sauce alongside.


some days are diamonds

Some days working from home is great. It's cold out, I have good food here and all my appliances to make it with. Today for lunch I toasted a piece of whole grain bread, then added a layer of spinach leaves topped with melted leek & morel jack cheese, and finally a poached egg and some green onions to seal the deal.


messing with dressing

I've decided to start making my own salad dressing. Store bought ones are expensive and are filled with too many things I probably shouldn't put into my body. Yesterday was my first attempt. I minced a shallot and soaked it in some apple cider vinegar. Then I added olive oil, salt, pepper, and some dried thyme and whisked it all together.

Then I made a ridiculous salad. Spinach, walnuts, red onion, (canned) tomatoes, and shaved parmesan.

An open letter to the recession

Dear Recession,

What gives? I'm nice. My friends are nice. Why you got to pick on us like this? I was under the impression my mid (ok, getting into late) twenties were a time for frolicking and stupid jobs. For switching these stupid jobs willy-nilly while we find our 'true selves' or maybe just give up or something. Instead you're forcing us to stay in horrible jobs, to take pay cuts at dumb ones, and to fight our way into positions we don't even want in the first place. My friend applied for a part-time gig at a coffee shop the other day- there were close to 500 other applicants. Really? Come on, Recession, that's just not cool.

I thought I had finally reached a point in my life where I could afford to drink Stella, that PBR was just for when I wanted to be ironic or whimsical. 'Look at me! Aren't I funny with my cheap beer! Ha ha ha!' Ha? No one's laughing anymore, Recession. I have cans (CANS!?) of PBR in my fridge now. You put them there.

And that impulse Kraft macaroni & cheese 18 pack from Costco? It sat idle in my cupboards for close to six months. Guess what? Yeah, it's almost gone now. You're making me eat processed cheese powder?! You are one sick bastard.

So really, if you could, could you just leave us alone for a bit? I mean, me and my friends, we were already hovering right above the poverty line, putting our toes in the water a little bit, you really don't need to push us in.

Yours truly,
Mary-Claire Runchey


yummy yummy yummy

One of the best ways to get me out of bed is to put yummy left-overs in the fridge!

Last night my good friend Jen and I went out for our Christmas-is-too-busy-let's-push-it-back-to-Valentine's-Day dinner. I thought I was being all nice when I embroidered her a mermaid dishtowel, but then she pulled out my gift- tickets to the opera. One of us is looking like an asshole here, and if you know Jen you know it's not her. I am, however, super excited to pretend that I'm fancy for the night! And Jen will now have drier dishes than before. So there.

We happened to be in Logan Square, so I suggested we go to one of my favorite restaurants ever (EVER!), Lula Cafe. For starters we had a feta cheese plate. The cheese was warm and delicious and swimming in a green pool of subtle jalapeno-infused olive oil. On the sides were tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, sprouts, and four slices of delicious homemade bread. This course alone made me want to cry. Both of us, at different times while eating this dish, looked at the other one and sighed, "I'm so happy. I want to eat this forever." Really we could have stopped there.

But that's not our style! I had the chickpea and sweet potato tagine with arugula and couscous, while Jen ordered the peanut satay noodles with pickled vegetables, tofu, and a side of chicken breast. Both were amazing. Lucky for me, Jen is a lighter eater and doesn't like left-overs so I got to experience the whole thing again this morning... and let's face it, probably for lunch if they last that long.

using your noodle

I've been kind of sick lately. Not full-blown, but the achy, can't think about anything, sort of want to cry about it kind of sick. So, like any sane person, I've made it a priority to treat myself nice. Yesterday for lunch I warmed up left-over spaghetti noodles in a pan with butter and peas, then shredded a large amount of asiago cheese on top. I paired it with the Chicago Reader crossword (one of my all-time favorite things) and by the end I wanted to cry with joy instead of from whiny-ness.


so cheap and juicy

Hey guess what? I like tangerines. They're incredibly hard to eat, but so juicy.

thanks costco

Costco gave me an amazing gift last week. Leek and morrell jack cheese. As of today I have eaten exactly half of this circle of magic. So good!

dip withdrawal

After the Super Bowl I had to ween myself off dip. For a couple of days there I would make bastard dips for a snack. FYI- sour cream, mayo, and some green salsa isn't as bad as you may think.


operation furniture

I got my first issue of Bon Appetit in the mail yesterday. It was my Christmas present to myself, and after looking through it I'm feeling pretty inspired. I have at least three recipes dog-eared to make. Hopefully they will be delicious and we can finally tip the post scales to yummy instead of ones that mention barf or acid farts (keepin' it classy in '09).

Hosting a dinner party has been on my mind a lot lately. No one has any money to go out, and I feel like with the frigid weather I never see my friends anymore. Last night, all lit up on food magazine bliss and a glass of wine, I started planning a menu. I actually got pretty far (written invitations or phone calls? place mats or tablecloth?) before it occurred to me that I only have two chairs. Damn. So I guess furniture should probably move to the top of my list. Move over lemon curd.

While I'm working on that, here are some blogs I have internet crushes on:


the most super of bowls

I had a small Super Bowl party yesterday. I made guacamole (of course) and this amazing caramelized onion and blue cheese dip. I don't mean to brag, but there was talk of it being the finest dip around.

Here's the recipe (via Epicurious):

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 4 ounces) [I used red onion and it tasted fine]
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
4 ounces blue cheese, room temperature

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots. Cover and cook until shallots are deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool.
Whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream in medium bowl to blend. Add blue cheese. Using rubber spatula, mash mixture until smooth. Stir in caramelized shallots. Season dip to taste with salt and pepper. Cover dip and refrigerate until flavors blend, about 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Serve dip chilled or at room temperature.

bagel sandwich

Breakfast magic I tell you. Breakfast magic.

gimmie s'more

Reason #145 that it's good to date someone who works in a bakery- free s'mores pie. Homemade marshmallow? Yes please!

driving it into the ground

Last poached egg post. I promise. I just wanted you to know I've got it now, and it's a delicious skill. Thanks Mom, for making sure I stuck with it. And thanks mayo, for just being you.