Meet The Author

Contributing Writer

Elana is a recent transplant to the Indianapolis area. A former attorney from Washington D.C., she is looking forward to her new adventure as a Midwestern home executive. She lives with her husband and four kids, ages seven to almost two. Hobbies include, being stressed, drinking too much wine, eating too much food, and spending money she doesn’t have

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Indian Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Recipe of the Week

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Indian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Sometimes I want an easy lunch with a bit of a bite.  These lettuce wraps are great because I add a little siracha directly to my portion and the kids get the normal spiced version.  Even better, these have my kids reaching for the lettuce and fighting over who gets the largest leaf.

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Pork Egg Roll In A Bowl: Recipe of the Week

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I try to mix things up a little for the family.  I don’t follow the paleo diet, but I kept hearing people talk about “crack slaw” and was intrigued.  This recipe is based on a crack slaw recipe.  It struck me as a neat idea, although my family was skeptical. My husband was pretty sure that the best part of the egg roll had to be the crunchy wrapper, but I thought otherwise and the family inhaled this one (no leftovers).

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Why I Chose to Get Bariatric Surgery

I’d like to begin at the very end of the beginning.  On December 28, 2016, I traveled with my husband to Tijuana, Mexico and underwent bariatric surgery.  The procedure I chose was the Vertical Gastric Sleeve.  It is an endoscopic procedure in which 80% of the stomach is cut away, leaving a long thin sleeve in it’s place.  The purpose of the surgery is to cause restriction and limit the amount of food one can consume.  There are also other benefits, that are largely unexplained, like a loss of hunger, and a change to tastebuds (which favors nutritious foods and makes sweets less palatable).

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Spiced Pecans: Recipe of the Week

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Shhhh… I have a secret!  

The holidays may be over, but there is no reason not to enjoy these delicious spiced pecans year round. You may be asking why this is a secret, it’s because of my husband.  Aaron loves these pecans.  During the first holiday Costco run of the season, Aaron proudly presents me with three 2 lb bags of pecans and an adorable smile.These pecans are an indulgence, and if I made them for Aaron year round, he might put on an extra hundred pounds.  In short, Aaron knows these as our spiced Christmas nuts, the rest of you now know the truth.

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Mediterranean Turkey Breast: Recipe of the Week
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Mediterranean Turkey Breast
I love Thanksgiving, I love cooking, I do not love cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  As the head chef of a pescaterian household, I rarely cook poultry or meat, other than a bbq or two in the summer.  So the notoriously difficult to cook Turkey has always been a challenge.  How to make the skin crisp while keeping the white meat moist and making sure the dark meat is cooked through?  A couple of years ago I hit upon a crock pot recipe that has saved my hide.
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Ricotta Toast: Recipe of the Week
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Ricotta Toast
I had planned on sharing my delicious easy banana bread this week, but my husband threw out my bananas.  I’d like to say something pithy here but…
Instead I bring you a delicious trendy treat, toast. 
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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers: Recipe of the Week
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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Sometimes life gets hectic.  Well, life is always hectic with kids.  So let’s just say, sometimes chaos gains more ground than I am comfortable with.  When that happens, I battle back with the help of my slow cooker.  I generally have the most time in the late morning, mid-afternoon.  The older kids are off to school and the younger ones are fed and not yet trying to kill each other.  What better time to make dinner?
My slow cooker rules are minimal.  No prep other than slicing vegetables, and set it and forget it.  For some reason I was always intimidated by stuffed peppers, but honestly, this was as easy as it gets.  The recipe below yields 6 stuffed peppers, but i discovered that we really didn’t need the many.  The littles easily split a single pepper between the two of them.  Also, I chose three different colors of pepper for presentation.  This created a ridiculous amount of squabbling over food the kids were hesitant to even try.  Once they actually tried, they liked them and asked me to save the leftovers.
Ingredients:
6 bell peppers (the red are sweeter and have great color)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can black beans
1 can refried beans
1 8oz can of enchilada sauce (I went mild)
1 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I did Mexican blend)
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Directions:
Wash the peppers, cut the tops off, and remove seeds and ribbing. To make the stuffing: rinse quinoa and put in bowl.  Rinse and drain black beans, add to bowl.  Add refried beans, enchilada sauce and 1 cup on cheese.  Mix well.  Add 1/4 cup of water to the slow cooker.  Stuff peppers and place inside slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3.  With 10 minutes left, add the last 1/4 cup of cheese to the tops of the peppers.
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Ricotta, Asparagus, and Egg Pizza: Recipe of the Week
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Ricotta Asparagus and Egg Pizza
My kids love pizza night.  Sometimes we go the make your own route and use english muffins, and sometimes we just buy a pre-made crust and make a large pie to share.  Occasionally, I get tired of pepperoni and red sauce and try to class things up.  As you can see by the Desitin on the kitchen counter in the pictures below, I am the epitome of class…
Again I offer you a simple recipe where I utilize mostly prepared ingredients. I can’t really recommend brands because I think the crust is the weakest part of this recipe.  However, I stink at rolling out dough and have never been able to make a proper pizza crust.  Also, as I am cheap, I buy the prepared crust that comes two to a package.
Ingredients:
Pre-made or home made crust
olive oil spray
2/3 cup part skim ricotta
garlic (to taste)
2 tsp olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
4 eggs
parmesan and salt and pepper (to taste)
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Preheat oven to 500F.  Spray crust with olive oil spray.  Combine ricotta and garlic in a bowl and mix.  Because I am super lazy and love garlic, I buy this squeeze bottle of diced garlic.  I use a generous amount and add a pinch of sea salt as well.  Spread mixture over crust.  In another bowl combine the asparagus, cut into 1 inch strips with 2 tsp of olive oil.  Press the asparagus into the cheese mixture.  Place in oven for five minutes.  Now comes the difficult part, without removing the pizza from the oven (I just pull the rack halfway out), crack 4 eggs over the pizza.  As you can see, even an amateur chef like myself can find this step challenging.  I went 50% and broke two yolks.  Put back in the oven for 4-5 minutes or until the whites set. Top with shredded parmesan and pepper.  I think this would be awesome with sriracha but haven’t tried it.
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If you try this, please let me know what crust you go with.  I suspect a pizza stone might be a game changer.
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Gnocchi with Corn & Arugula: Recipe of the Week
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Easy, easy, easy… Sometimes we show our super mommy powers and chop fresh vegetables and create homemade masterpieces.  Then, there are other days when we want healthy food that takes minimal effort.  Since the latter is my wheelhouse, I will dazzle you with this recipe that uses pre-made gnocchi, canned or frozen corn, and pre-cut arugula.  
You will need
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 pound shelf stable gnocchi  (an example is shown, no dried pasta).
3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
3 oz cream cheese, cut up
1/2 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, and dried oregano
3 cups arugula
and pepper or crushed red pepper to taste.
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Follow the directions on the gnocchi for cooking, you’ll know it’s done when the gnocchi floats to the top.  Add corn when the first few start floating up and cook for 5 more minutes.  Drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Do not rinse. Put directly in a big bowl.
Meanwhile in a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the dairy and spices cook stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Add the pasta water and voila.
Add the cream sauce and arugula to the bowl with the pasta and corn and mix thoroughly.
My picky four year old won't eat the greens but everyone else gobbles it up.  I often double the recipe for my family of six.

 

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Crispy Glazed Tofu Bok Choy: Recipe of the Week
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There are many things I would like to take credit for.  Most I cannot, like this recipe, totally stolen and only slightly modified. However, I can take credit for finding a recipe that had all four kids asking for seconds of tofu and bok choy.  This is delicious, and if you cringe at the thought of tofu, consider substituting diced chicken. After all, the secret is in the sauce.
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Ingredients for the tofu:
14 oz package go extra firm tofu
1/4 cup plum sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp soy sauce (we use low sodium)
1 Tbsp rice wine or cooking wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
If you have never worked with tofu before, there are a few things you must do: 
1. Open and drain the package
2. Take the tofu out and lay it on a plate or a cutting board with a paper towel under it
3. Place another towel on top of it, and then put something solid on it, like two plates or a pan, and squeeze
That’s it, easy peasy.  Just let the water squeeze out until you are ready to use it.  15-30 minutes.
In the meantime, add all the ingredients other than the oil to a bowl and whisk together.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat until it shimmers.  It’s time to cube your tofu!  This is truly one of the most satisfying and calming kitchen chopping routines you can do.  I can’t explain it…
Add tofu to the pan in a single layer.  Do not stir for three minutes in order to get a nice brown crust, then go to town.  Stir frequently for the next 6-8 minutes until tofu is browned on all sides.  Add the sauce and stir well, cooking for 2-3 minutes.  You want everything covered and caramelized.
Ingredients for the bok choy:
*you may want to follow the recipe in the link, but I do a simple preparation
2tsp sesame oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 baby bok choy
Chop the bok choy in half length wise.  Coat a skillet over medium high heat with the oil.  Sauté the garlic and then add the bok choy.  Cook for 3 minutes until wilted and bright green.  Add chicken broth and cover.  Steam until tender.
That’s it!  I did add toasted sesame seeds because I was feeling ambitious and I already had some.  Enjoy!
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