Behind Brown Eyes

21st century flogger. That's food-blogger, fyi. Now if it were the 17th century...
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Posts tagged "food"

I love the blogosphere. Helloooo blanket Gen-Y statement. But really. It’s amazing. It’s such a great way to share anything and everything—food, friends, fitness, thoughts, ideas, passion, ambition, motivation, inspiration, innovation, interests, anecdotes…you name it!

Oh, and how could I forget, RECIPES! :) I’m enthused when I hear back from my followers, or see people liking and re-blogging my kitchen creations. The truth is, we can all learn from and teach one another when it comes to culinary. And the great thing about it? There’s always more than one way to do something. Yes, baking is the science, cooking is the art. Yes, yes, I know. But can you not substitute Buttermilk with skim milk and distilled white vinegar? You can! See what I mean? Always more than one way. And that’s a wonderful thing. So, as I teach you—my wonderful followers—I hope you’ll be inspired to teach me, too. Be it food or fitness, tidbit or technique. Let’s share it all.

With that being said, Trainer Jack was loving my home-made Ratatouille pictures, so I promised I’d share the recipe. Another great thing about this recipe in particular, is that veggies are versatile. You don’t have to only use squash and zucchini. If you like broccoli, or cauliflower—dare to dabble ‘em! Think about colors, taste and textures, and let it guide your veggie variety. That’s why I chose to add cauliflower this time; different color, different texture. And I loved the turnout!

Remember, no veg is a bad veg—except mushrooms or eggplant. They may change the taste and I would advise to proceed with caution if you decide to go there. But again, be adventurous. I advocate creative cooking!

For my most recent variation, follow the recipe below. If you try other combinations, please let me know how it turns out! Jack—this is for you! :)


  • EVOO
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 5 zucchini, sliced
  • Cauliflower (about 1/2 head, chopped into florets)
  • 1 can (28 oz.) Pastene Chunky Kitchen Ready Tomatoes*
  • 1/2 package Polly-O Part-Skim Mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • Seasonings: Oregano, crushed black pepper, Kosher salt (to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a non-stick electric frying pan to 350 degrees. Pour enough EVOO to coat the bottom of the pan (a few tablespoons). Add sliced onion and pressed garlic; sauté until onions are wilted and aromatic.
  3. Add all vegetables to pan; season generously with oregano, crushed black pepper, and a little bit of Kosher salt. Add a bit more EVOO if all liquid is absorbed. Cover and steam the vegetables until al dente. (You do not want to cook them completely because the dish will ultimately bake in the oven). Stir often to blend the flavors.
  4. Add sauce to pan. Rinse can with a little cold water to extract the rest of the sauce and add to vegetable/sauce mixture; cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes. Stir several times to avoid burning. Season as needed.
  5. Transfer mixture to a large Pyrex baking dish. Top with a single layer of thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle top with oregano.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and slightly burnt. (Like the best part of pizza!) For an extra bit of crisp, broil on high for a few minutes at the very end.

I prefer to serve it with 1/2c steel cut oats, but we also enjoy it with whole grain pasta! Or, insert your whole grain of choice here. :)

*This was the first time I made my Ratatouille using this new, chunky tomato variety. I loved the chunky-ness of the dish, but wish I had a bit more liquid/tomato. Next time I would use 1 can chunky, plus 1/2 to 1 can of Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes.

Note: Normally, we use just 1 can of the Kitchen Ready Tomatoes—and if you have a fair amount of vegetables (typically we use 4-5 medium zucchini and 4-5 yellow squash), the 1 can of Kitchen Ready works great!


Making Ratatouille in Maw Maw’s homey, Texas kitchen. (1/21/2010)

Today’s Tragic Tuna Tale…

Kentucky state

So my dad came to me one night and told me that he had a few thousand points from flying that we could use for magazine subscriptions. Let’s be frank: I don’t read. So, magazines are a stretch. But recently at an airport in Kentucky, I stood in one of those little airport stores with candy and a wall with a vast array of magazines. And mulled over the decisions before me. Decisions. Just too many decisions. The pressure was building up as a scanned row by row, column by column, like I was intently looking at an Excel spreadsheet—an all too familiar aspect of my 9-5 (well, 8-4, technically…but you get me). 

Airport MagazinesNeedless to say, I was standing there saying “sorry” every five seconds to the guys who were trying to do the magazine inventory and re-stock the neatly cluttered shelves. Because clearly I was in the way. Ya know, just pulling this magazine down and looking at that one. Not committing to buying any, naturally. Just taking multiple pictures on my iPhone of recipes and things that intrigued me. Oh Lord am I a product of 21st century living, or what?

Ah, yes, my point! So anyway, the idea of finding THE single most perfect magazine to subscribe to has been as my mind as of late. My primary interest—and requirements for the mag—being fitness, exercise, nutrition, healthy living, “clean” eats and recipes, and hey, maybe even some design and crafty type of things too! Is that asking too much? Apparently. At the end of my 20 minute pit-stop in the airport store, sans purchase, I vaguely concluded that Shape magazine was the closest—fit. Ha.

McDonald's $1 Coffee AdCircling back—and yes, I pulled a Kenny G for being circular, but admittedly I like to add a bit of backstory for my readers’ (hopefully) enjoyment—my dad had a list of magazines I could subscribe to. So I took a look. Of course Shape was not an option. So, being overzealous when it comes to free offers, I subscribed for everything closest to it—and then some. I maxed out and signed up to receive as many free magazines as I could. Because I secretly have this theory that I’m gonna scam them for their money. I mean seriously, how many times do we get scammed into all this crap? So you know what, YES McDonald’s. Whether I do or do not drink every last sip of coffee in my cup, I’m gonna GET my $1 LARGE coffee to spite you. Take advantage of your offer. And mooch the most I possibly can out of your deal.

So that lead me to subscribe to a health/fitness magazine of some sort and stumble upon an incredible, 98 calories per 1 cup serving soup! I love soups. I love low cal. I love veggies. And I love immersion blending.

Sign. Me. Up.

I first followed the “Broccoli Leek Soup” recipe to a “T” (Note: I’m having a really hard time with the spelling of that phrase. So if you know whether it’s “tea,” which would make no sense, “tee,” or the letter “T,” please do tell! I’m going with my gut, per the above). And don’t get me wrong—loved the broccoli. What’s honestly not to love?

Zucchini Leek SoupBut then during a trip to BJ’s and a past cooking experience, and newly learned tip from Ang, I decided to dabble with two clutch substitutes: zucchini for broccoli, and EVOO for Canola oil. Oh em gee. #flawless

So just try this. I promise you won’t regret it. And Murph, it’s totally worth your vegetarian while, assuming you sub the chicken broth (or just use the dang broth because I don’t really agree that chicken broth is “meat”—since the physical chicken is not present in the final packaged product. But some could argue against me). Alright here goes.

Recipe: Zucchini Leek Soup


  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced leek rounds, white and pale-green parts only (heaping measurements)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic (press about two large, fresh cloves)
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed white potato (1 potato)
  • 5 zucchini, diced (yields about 7 1/2 cups)
  • 6 cups chicken stock (1 box low sodium chicken broth, 2 packages Herb-Ox instant, sodium-free chicken broth/bouillon)
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until softened (3-4 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Add potato cubes and zucchini; cook, stirring, until potatoes begin to soften (3-4 minutes).
  2. Pour in stock and black pepper, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until zucchini is tender (20-25 minutes).
  3. Turn off the heat. Puree using an immersion blender. Warm through on low heat until ready to serve (2-3 minutes).

Makes around 8-10 one-cup servings, 98 calories each. It yielded more than the original recipe because I used more vegetables. Enjoy hot or cold!

I’m posting the original recipe below. I actually never realized it called for vegetable stock but I’m sure it’d be delicious! (I just instinctively reach for chicken).

Original Recipe: Broccoli Leek Soup

Read More

Chili Close-Up

Well, if yesterday wasn’t indication enough of the absolute most perfect day for making chili, let today be a reminder and a call to action. On the stove, I’ve got a new culinary concoction working, inspired by a fleeting decision to try a healthier vegetarian dish, fabulous fall weather, and an impending craving for home-made chili. Needed. To. Satisfy.

With some inspiriation from Epicurious, I’ve adapted their Spicy Two-Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe from Bon Appetit, hoping my twist will bring their 3.5 fork review up to a solid 4 forks.

Edit: Oh, indeed it did. For a 4-fork recipe, see Krystina’s variation below. (Ingredients, directions, recommendations and notes below all updated on 1/20/13). 


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (Berio EVOO)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 cup celery, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 4 large jalapeño peppers (chilies), mostly seeded, minced (i.e., finely chopped)
  • 1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes
  • 3 cups water (pour water into empty tomato sauce can to get the remaining tomato out!)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can Del Monte (No Salt Added) diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained
  • 1 large yellow squash, diced into cubes
  • 1 large zucchini, diced into cubes
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 5 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (heaping measurement)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander (heaping measurement)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • To taste: A little bit of kosher salt, crushed black peppercorns, coarse ground pepper, sprinkle of ground red pepper (cayenne) and red pepper flakes, generous sprinkle of chili powder. And in your own bowl, top with red pepper flakes, if you like some extra heat.


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat (5-6 heat on gas stove). Add onion, about 3 minutes, to slightly soften and flavor the oil.
  2. Add carrots, celery, red bell pepper, and jalapeños; sauté until onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add peeled and diced tomatoes, 3 cups water, beans, squash, zucchini, quinoa, white wine vinegar, garlic, and spices. Bring to boil (covered).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-high (4 heat) and cook, uncovered, until quinoa is tender and mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
  5. Check chili. Reduce heat (3-4 heat), and cook another 20-25 minutes, if desired.
  6. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Tried and True Recommendations

  • Perfect Heat Technique: Using four jalapeños, along with some of the seeds, created the perfect heat!
  • Quinoa over Bulgar Wheat: I tried the recipe with bulgar wheat (like the original called for) and much prefer the quinoa. I love the subtle nuttiness and crunch that the quinoa adds to the chili—not to mention it’s a very nutritious carb and great source of protein!
  • Keep it Vegetarian: I made the chili with one pound of Nature’s Promise 99% lean, organic ground turkey breast. I browned the meat in the oil, onions and garlic and then followed the rest of the recipe as usual. The verdict? This chili is perfect meatless; keep it simple, “clean” and vegetarian.
  • Chickpeas over Cannelloni Beans: If you prefer the “mushy” texture of beans over a mild “crunch,” substitute the can of chickpeas, for a can of Cannelloni beans. Krystina tested, Krystina approved…but Krystina prefers—Chickpeas.
Notes & Alternate Ideas
  • Here is a link to the original Spicy Two-Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe from Epicurious.
  • New ideas for adding heat: half of a habanero pepper, one ghost pepper, or maybe even dried ancho chilis for a smokier taste—and then fish them out at the end, before serving.
  • Goya now has Low Sodium varieties of a lot of their beans. Use these when possible!
  • Serve with Ryvita Crispbreads. (Lots of flavors that are low carb-cal-sugar-fat-salt and a very high in whole grains—about 95% depending on the variety. I like dark rye!)
  • Serve with this new, “Low Calorie Easy Cornbread" recipe I found from Cooking Done Light’s blog. (Note: I used 1/2 cup regular whole wheat flour, 1 cup sweetened almond milk, and 1/4 cup of mom’s home-made applesauce, which is sweetened with a little cinnamon and sugar. I baked it in a 9-inch deep dish pie pan for 25 minutes total and cut it into 8 wedges. That, combined with my almond milk for skim swap made it less than 80 calories per slice! Top with a dab of Land O’Lakes Light Butter with Canola Oil for a touch more sweet and definitely serve warm. Chili and Cornbread? #nomnomnom).
You know how people are always in search of the perfect chili recipe? Well, from a vegetarian view, this variation promises lend-me-another-ladle taste, colorful veggie variety and a lovely medely of textures, from the softness of the beans, to the crunch of the quinoa! If you try it, please comment and let me know how you made it and how it came! :)
Spicy Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

The best, most satisfying lunch ever—Jamaican style #nofilter. A big thank you to my amazing co-worker Taisha. Can I please come to your house every night for dinner?! :)

  • Me: "Dad, you just don't have a complex enough palette to really appreciate the way I season my cooking. And how could you say you're a 'purist' when it comes to flavor, when you mask naturally good flavor with condiments? Your idea of tunafish is mayonnaise with a little bit of tuna. Or gravy smothered on turkey, ketchup on eggs..."
  • Dad: "Ok, you're right. I like more 'mucky.' But turkey is dry, and I like a lot of ketchup. I can see it on my gravestone now, 'Complex man, with a non-complex palette...'"
  • Me: "Never found 'umami'..."
  • Dad: "Only"
  • Me: (Laughing) "That was great."

Yogurt Marinated Tandoori Chicken Thighs were on tonight’s menu. Another Cuisine magazine inspired recipe. Don’t be shy; top these babies with some red pepper flakes too. Who doesn’t love dark meat with a little heat? I, for one, say it can’t be beat! (Taken with Instagram)

Help! My boyfriend and I have recently move in together and I want to get better... In the kitchen ;-) i need some easy and simple recipes ideas for dinner!
krystinalynne krystinalynne Said:

Hi my little fudge muffin! Well first I’d like to say congratulations on the big move. I’m super excited for you and jealous of the interior decorating you get to do. And also that you have your very own kitchen to cook and bake in! I can’t wait to come see it, and I owe you a “family dinner” as requested (and promised via Twitter).

So. We know Marc’s a “meat and potatoes” guy, you’re a healthy gal, and that you have some basic pantry staples and condiments. That’s a great start! And with a little of the basics and not a lot of time, I hope to offer some simple suggestions to help you spice it up in the kitchen.

Today I’m going to give you my spin on spuds. And you’ll see none of my recipes are mashed. Mashed is a no-fail, go-to option. (Though I prefer smashed over mashed any day). Quick, simple, creamy. But to me, a potato provides great texture without getting a high-speed hand mixer involved. The spice and seasoning combos below are similar, but the different cooking techniques promise great flavor and variety.

White/Red Potatoes:

  1. Quick and clean: Bake potato (Idaho/Red) in the microwave. Cut in half and mist inside with olive oil spray. Top with crushed black pepper. (I use lots of pepper, and omit salt). Optional seasonings: dill or parsley. (I prefer dill, but try either! Fresh is best). If you have more time, you can dice and par boil* potatoes. Sauté onions in olive oil, then add the potatoes, s&p, and fresh parsley. My grandma’s favorite!
  2. Oven Roasted Red Potatoes: (My personal favorite). Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set aside a large, disposable aluminum baking pan. Par boil whole red potatoes with the skin on. Drain and cut the potatoes into decent size chunks (think thick—potato salad) and place them in the pan. On the stove, sauté onions in a frying pan with olive oil, s&p, oregano, and paprika. Add sautéed mixture to the pan of potatoes and toss to coat. Bake in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until the potatoes are crisp on the outside. This can also be prepared a day ahead, so all you have to do is bake them come dinner-time. For Marc: Leave the ketchup on the table.

Yams/Sweet Potatoes:

(My mom always buys yams, so I often refer to them as such).
  1. Simple and sweet: Bake potato (yam/sweet) in the microwave. Cut in half and top lightly with a drop of sugar-free maple syrup and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
  2. Yam Sticks: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut 1-2 yams in half; lay flat-side down and cut length-wise into < 1/2 inch thick slices; then cut again into smaller sticks, like french fries. Throw the “sticks” into a ziplock bag; add < 1 tbsp. olive oil (enough to lightly coat them—I’d say 1 tsp/potato), a pinch of salt (optional), and crushed black pepper. Shake and mix them all up in the bag; spread the sticks out onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake 30-45 minutes depending on amount of potatoes and desired texture. I like them softer on the inside (they’ll be that pretty orange inside like when you microwave ‘em) but a little crispy on the edges (like this). Optional seasonings: Add chopped, fresh rosemary or thyme to your s&p and olive oil mixture for some extra spice. For Marc: Leave the ketchup on the table for his healthy fries.
  3. Candied Yams: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set aside a large, disposable aluminum baking pan. Par boil yams. Peel off the skin after boiling, and cut into thick, 1/2 inch slices. Place sliced yams in pan with a little bit of water. Sprinkle with brown sugar and a few tbsp. of unsalted butter; use your hands to pinch apart the butter and spread pieces evenly across the top of the yams. (If you fill up a whole pan with about 6 large yams, you’d use about 4 tbsp. of butter). Bake about 45 minutes, until sugar and butter caramelize.
*Par boil: Almost cooked all the way through; you should be able to stick a fork in the potato without having it fall apart.

(Wo)manning the grill. Feeling empowered with these tongs and our mini hibachi table. Don’t really know if we’re supposed to cook the meat ourselves—but as two lone white girls among a crowd of Asian regulars, I’d say we’re pretty much past caring about what anyone else thinks. #Yolo…and Korean BBQ, I will be seeing a whole lot more of you in this lifetime.

  • Dad: "Lynner. I thought of a great name for a restaurant."
  • Me: (looking up from my phone) "Ok. What is it?"
  • Dad: "OcCAJUNally. Patent it, patent it. All Cajun-style food. Cajun chicken, cajun fish......get it?"
  • Me: (plainly) "Well, OBVIously...and are your customers supposed to only go there ocCAJUNally too?"
  • Dad: (laughs) "Well, that's what my critics would say."