everything in the pantry vegetarian chili

I pride myself on a fully stocked pantry at all times. It comes in handy when a friend unexpectedly stops by for some wine or when I am too lazy to come with a game plan for dinner.  Both of these happen several times a week.

A fully stocked pantry/fridge should include the following:

  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Beans – Kidney, Chickpea, Black, Refried
  • Tomatoes – Crushed, Diced, Paste
  • Plenty of Spices – Paprika, Cumin, Garam Masala oh and Salt and Pepper
  • Stock – Vegetarian, Chicken
  • Chipotles – for all the Mexican food you consume
  • Greek Yogurt- for all the Mexican food you consume part 2
  • Tortillas – for all the Mexican food you consume part 3
  • Hummus – for dipping while cooking
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Frozen Vegetables – Corn, Edamame, Mixed
  • Onions
  • Garlic

With these staple ingredients you can really come up with a lot of options to make on the fly: a pasta dinner, quesadillas, burritos, wraps, salads… the options are pretty endless including my amazing “everything in the pantry vegetarian chili”

Recipe serves about 6. Adapted from Rachel Ray.

  • 1 tablespoon of EVOO
  • 1 cup of frozen corn – I prefer Trader Joe’s charred corn
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 chipotle peppers (2 was just not enough)
  • 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 15 oz can of black beans
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • blue corn tortilla chips for garnish and then some for extra munching
  • one small container of 2% Greek Yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons of cilantro

1.)  Split the red pepper down the middle and remove seeds. Roast the pepper on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees. Remember to flip the pepper half way through for even cooking

2.) Chop zucchini, onion, garlic, and chipotle. Heat EVOO and cook vegetables for about 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and rinse both cans of beans. Add to the vegetables and stir until incorporated.

3.) Next add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock to the pot. Bring the soup to a bubble and then turn down the heat to medium. Season your chili with salt, pepper, and cumin.

4.) Remove skin from roasted pepper and chop. Add roasted red pepper and corn and continue to heat at medium for 15-20 minutes without lid until the chili thickens. Cook longer for desired thickness.

5.) Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt (healthier way to get the creaminess everyone loves from sour cream), a sprinkle of chopped cilantro leaves, and several blue corn tortillas chips. Have a bowl of chips on the table while serving.

vegetarian chili

What are your pantry staples? What types of meals have you made using what you have on hand at home?



kale greek salad: salute to the new “cool kid” in greens

Growing up, my mom exposed me to vegetables all the time in order to bring an end to my picky eater ways . Her persistence paid off as now I am a vegetable lover (Go Mom!). To this day, she visits the local farmer’s marketing in NJ and picks out new fruits and vegetables for us to try all the time.

My mom and I actually discovered kale, our focus for today’s recipe, back in the fall of 2011. I frequently visited the the salad bar at Whole Foods in Union Square for lunch and we re-created one of their staples, garlicky kale. That recipe used uncooked kale which was just too bitter and unappetizing for my taste buds. I knew I had to come up with something  that could be a quick and easy go-to weekday recipe AND give me all the nutrients I need to satisfy my post-workout hunger pains.

Kale has become the new “cool kid” in the world of green leafy vegetables (spinach was kicked to the curb).  It is part of the cabbage family and full of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium. It also helps prevent the growth of cancer cells, lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. Simply put, you should start eating it and there is no better way to start then with my Kale Greek Salad!

Kale Greek Salad

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of white beans (half of a can, rinsed)
  • 1/2  of cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, diced
  • Few sprinkles of crumbled feta cheese (to your liking)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (1/2 tablespoon for cooking the kale, 1 tablespoon for the dressing)
  • 2 tablespoons of champagne wine vinegar
  • 1 squirt of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.) Wash and remove the center ribs and stems from the kale. Chop these into small bite size pieces. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. In the meantime, finely chop your garlic. Saute garlic in olive oil for 1 minute. Once you start to smell the garlic and see it slowly browning, throw in your chopped kale and vegetable broth. Stir and then cover for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, if necessary, cook until all the broth has evaporated. This may take an additional 1-2 minutes. Once the broth has evaporated, place the kale with chopped garlic in a salad bowl to cool.



2.) Complete the preparation work for the rest of your vegetables – red onion, white beans, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. Once your kale has cooled, place all the veggies into your salad bow. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese based on your taste. If you are not a fan of one of the vegetables consider other add-ins like pine nuts, black olives, or chick peas.




3.) Make your dressing by combing your remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar, and squirt of honey. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and whisk together. Pour dressing over salad and toss.


4.) It is time to eat! Enjoy!


This batch left me with two entree servings for myself. After having my dinner, I packed it up for lunch. The salad with dressing became tastier over night so I highly recommend packing this for a homemade lunch to enjoy at work. This creation has left me officially in love with kale.

Do you have a favorite kale recipe? What is your favorite green leafy vegetable? How do you prepare it?


neighborhood exploration: hell’s kitchen and tapas

For a girl that lives on the east side, dinner on the west side is a rarity BUT for tapas, I will do anything…even take the bus!

Tapas are known as Spanish small plates. I love them because you have the opportunity to have a small taste of many different dishes and of course, share with the people you are enjoying your meal with. Because of the popularity tapas has received here in the U.S., non-Spanish restaurants have embraced the concept. You can find a tapas place in almost every type of cuisine very easily: Asian, Mexican, Italian…the list will go on.

With the company of a great friend, we set out on our very own mini tapas tour of two of the top-rated tapas bars, according to Yelp, in Hell’s Kitchen. These tapas bars were not traditional Spanish cuisine however, they were still tasty, overall.


Ardesia – 510 W 52nd St (Between 10th and 11th Ave.) http://ardesia-ny.com/

Casellula -401 W 52nd St (Between 9th and 10th Ave.) http://www.casellula.com/


The restaurant definitely has a romantic vibe going on but, it is also perfect if you are looking to have some tapas with a friend, coworker or family member. A versatile restaurant is important.. The host seated us in the lounge area which included comfortable couches and small tables to snack off of. We each ordered a glass of the Malbec. I recently started drinking red wine after years of being a white phanatic (haha a little Philly love for some of my readers!). What made me realize what I was missing ordering glass after glass of Riesling or Pinot Grigio? A trip to Spain (more about that later.).

The Malbec we ordered was from Argentina, where it has become their signature grape. Malbec is known for having a medium to full-body and high levels of tannin as well as ripe fruit flavors like plums, black cherry and blackberry. All you really need to know is that I loved it and I think you should order it. After some wine, it was onto the food. Since we anticipated going to another tapas place, we only ordered a few things. Here is what I thought:

Quail Egg Toast – It came with house-cured bacon, a perfectly fried quail egg, and a simple but wonderfully done, hollandaise. It was a taste of brunch at dinner. The quail egg was cooked with a runny yellow center which complimented the hollandaise. I highly recommend ordering this when you visit.

quail egg toast

Shrimp – It came with chorizo, garlic, and a white wine broth. They served with some of Amy’s Bread. This was a simple dish and tasty but, nothing you cannot find at any other tapas bar here in the city. The bread was phenomenal so I did a little more research to find out where I can get some in the future. Amy’s Bread has 3 locations in the city currently (Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea Market, and the Village). They have it all: cakes, pastries and of course, bread. Another place to check out that I have now added to my list.


Pulled Pork Sliders – When I saw this arrive at the table, I was not impressed visually. Instead of using a typical roll or bun, they decided to go with what reminded me of those sandwich thins you buy at the grocery store when you are trying be healthy. If I am drinking wine, I am not looking for sandwich thins. However, when I took my first bite, my opinion changed drastically. The pickled cipollini onions added a perfect crunch and the there was just enough sauce to keep the pulled pork soft and juicy. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this tapa but I did. Kudos to our waiter for recommending this dish to us.

pork sliders


After our initial tapas, we walked down the street to tapas bar #2 on our tour of Hell’s Kitchen. Casellula mimicked the same romantic vibe as Ardesia but you will find a lot of non-couples in the res truant as well. Since it was very busy, we decided to sit at the bar and I am glad we did. Sitting at a bar is sometimes even better than getting a table while dining out. You get to see the hustle and bustle of the kitchen and chat with the bartender. To stay consistent with our beverage choice, we ordered another glass of Malbec and again, I was left very happy. We got a little menu happy at this place and ordered more than we could eat (this tends to happen to me…) and ended up making it a very pork-filled meal. This was not our intention.

Bacon Butter Popcorn – Sounds pretty awesome, right? It was not. It came with bacon, sherry vinegar, and chives. Flavorless and oily is what we got. I reached for several handfuls hoping that it would miraculously taste better and it continued to leave me disappointed. Do not waste your time ordering this.


Mixed Green Salad – I love vegetables so I was in need of some so I ordered some greens. It was a standard salad with tomato, red onion, and Chèvre (goat cheese). The herb vinaigrette was perfect. Nothing special but it was definitely necessary after all the pork we ate.


Pig’s Ass Sandwich – The best thing on the menu. If we weren’t so full, we would have been able to devour the whole thing. The cheese provided the right amount of creaminess with the pork, the pickles gave the panini-like sandwich crunch and the chipotle aioli, a little kick. All around, the pig’s ass was a win.

pig sandwich

Mac and Cheese – I wasn’t impressed. Design having lardons, small cubes/stops of pork fat, there wasn’t enough salt. Seasoning is key.

mac and cheese

Do you have a favorite tapas bar in Hell’s Kitchen or another neighborhood in NYC? What is your go-to tapa to order? Please share your answers, thoughts, or questions in the comments area.