Thursday, September 22, 2011

doin-it-myself. terrariums!

i wanted to make a terrarium for a long time. i kept buying glassware from goodwill... it was becoming almost compulsory/an obsession, with nothing to show for it. so, one day, i finally did it. i made a terrarium. like most of my d-i-y projects, the quality and finish left something to be desired. but, it's actually quite easy so i'm game to keep trying until i get it right. 

blank slates.

add rocks.

add peat moss.

add soil and plants. (this is where it gets a bit messy)

my plant choices were poor, so i only made one. but on the upside, the plants in this terrarium are still alive

took the terrarium for a stroll...

these terrariums are  cuter than mine. something to inspire future terrariums....

Friday, August 19, 2011


we all know it's coming. the end of summer. maybe some of us are praying for an indian summer...which, in my case sounds something like this: c'mon weathermaker! this summer has been ridic. torrential downpours and hail storms, followed by smothering humidity and a billion degree weather, couldn't ya please just give us a break? and, let this beautiful weather stick around for another month... pretty please?! while i feel this is a respectful and fair demand, i'm not gonna get my hopes up. fall is imminent. and probably coming sooner than we think. so, i've been trying to get my summer fixes in while i can. this included a recent outdoor, do-it-myself, arts & craft day. my friend was inspired to make some wall art after gawking it on a design website, and i figured it sounded like fun, so i decided to help her. i actually planned on making some terrariums, but got side tracked at the store that day and didn't get all the necessary components. #easilydistracted.  thus, i ended up making one of these whatchamacalit things, too (see pic below).

we set things in motion for this project by hitting up the local home depot. now, math and lumber are not stereotypically a lady's strong suit; but, i'd say we fared rather well for ourselves. we got some fairly cheap paint samples, brushes, nails, and had a friendly gentleman cut up some wood for us (we bought six 1x4x8 pieces of lumber, and had six 14" pieces cut and the rest into 12"pieces) and we were ready to get after it. now, as you'll see from the finished project, the gentleman who cut our wood, while friendly, was not the most accurate with the hand saw, so note to self: if you want something done right (duh) do-it-yourself. meaning, that if we continue gettin' crafty with lumber in the future, we may have to invest in a table saw.

this project was super easy. we painted the wood pieces. let 'em dry. nailed the frame together and painted that too. then, we stuck the wood pieces in the frame once it was dry. problems we didn't foresee: the thing was uber-heavy and wasn't get nailed to anyone's wall. maybe, leaned up against a wall. but hung? definitely not. so, if you wish to attempt this, aside from making sure you get accurately cut wood, you'll want to pick lighter/thinner pieces than we did (which if i recall, was just your average type of wood, i know, real specific, right? imagine the guys' faces at home depot when they asked us what we needed, and we were like, ugh, some wood... cut like this- insert ambigous and conflicting hand gestures). also, when i referenced our math skills earlier and said we fared rather well, let's just say that we thought our measurements would enable us to make three of these things. but, alas, they only yielded two. #mathisformen? #pleasedon'ttakemetooseriously #yes,iknowidon'tknowhowtousehashtags.

and, voila! here is the finished project. a bit janky, yeah, we know. but, it was fun. and, it was a day spent not drinking or sitting around being lazy. so, i'd say the 18$ we spent to make the two of these things was well worth it. plus, we have left over brushes and paint (which, i hope to make use of at a bob ross party we plan on hosting in the very near future).

the whatchamacalit wood things...almost done. 

the whatchamacalit wood things. done.

Monday, July 18, 2011

the breakfast club...

is not just an amazing 80's movie. it's a way of life. too many folks skip breakfast. #dumdums
so, i dedicate this blog to the morning intelligentsia, to those who know how amazing breakfast is and can be. especially the brunchophiles out there. you are my people. and this post is for you.
so, you may have noticed that i have been on vacation from eat yr heart (out). --> see almost 3 month gap between now and my last post... where have i been you might (or, might not be) wondering? well, i've been staying at a lovely and popular destination of mine - procrastination station.

a while back, i optimistically started this blog hoping to rekindle my creative spirit, which had laid dormant for quite some time. for me, law school has never been an all consuming endeavor so i figured i'd be able to keep up with it. which, i did... for a time. and then finals hit. rocked me like a hurricane, and i barely recovered. and then summer beckoned, a bit late for my liking, but nevertheless, it was hot, exciting, and fun. and, i was seduced by it. no time for staying indoors and staring at computer screens. i had trivia and poker games to play, karaoke to sing, concerts to attend, and cabins to chill at. then, summer left as quickly as she came. in part, because i took a part-time job, a part-time research position, another part-time research position, started summer school (yup, part-time too), and met a gorgeous girl... ah, but i digress.

my point is that lately i feel like i'm trapped in a scott turrow novel (read '1L' to get the reference) or perhaps a beastie boys song (rock out to 'no sleep til brooklyn' to get where i'm coming from). then, on top of doing a nose dive into an abyss of endless busyness... my damn electric stove has basically chilled my desire to cook creative, mouth-watering meals, which normally would function as the muses who whisper to me and ignite my blogging inspiration. and that, simply was the final catalyst that led to me abandon this blog. (sorry blog.)

Yet, despite my disdain for a certain cooking appliance, that can go to a certain undesirable locale, and my ridiculously chaotic schedule, breakfast is something that i still love to make. hence, the topic i choose to write about for my first go round back in the blogosphere. personally, i think breakfast rocks because it requires very little effort to make something delicious and seemingly fancy. plus, it takes practically no time at all. lord knows i am short on free time these days, but i gotsta eat nonetheless. and, w/o breakfast, i would not make it through my 7:30 am class every morning. so... i'm sharing my love of the day's first meal with you. what it comes down to is that i'm back. so, please, let's eat our hearts (out), together again. ready, set, go! 

most of the breakfast foods i make are vegan or vegetarian, or can be. and, normally i can cook breakfast in under 15 minutes (from prep to table). add potatoes, which i almost always do (because they are my favorite food!) then breakfast may take 20-25 minutes, depending on how you like your potatoes.

 bagel sandwiches w/tofu. yum.

ingredients: mini wheat bagels, tofu, brewer's yeast, bragg's amino acid (a healthier soy sauce), havarti cheese, tofutti cream cheese, hot pepper jelly, seasoning of yr choosing.

DIY: the tofu is really the only thing that needs any attention in this recipe. sautee it up with some olive oil, splash it with bragg's and then sprinkle it w/the brewers yeast. flip and season to yr liking. i'm always experimenting with adding different spices (mostly from the spice house), like jamaican jerk seasoning, italian seasonings, paprika, or sweet curry powder. seriously, this breakfast sammie is so easy to make, and you can vary it in an infinite number of ways. Add roasted red pepper, make it vegan and take out the havarti, or add some fake bacon. Once the tofu is good and crispy, toast (or don't toast) your bagel, spread some toffutti cream cheese on one half, hot pepper jelly on the other, add tofu and cheese. and voila! 

vlt & taters. 

ingredients: potatoes (duh). bread, fake bacon, lettuce, cucumber, sriacha, TJ's reduced fat mayo (vegan), apple (optional)

DIY: this really doesn't need extensive explanation. slice and dice the veg. smear yr bread with sriacha & mayo (i like to mix em together first, so i don't blow my mouth out with spice because i added too much), sautee the fake bacon til crispy, and put it all together. if yr feeling fruity, add some apple slices (preferably granny smith). 

for delicious taters, i sautee em up with olive oil, some braggs, garlic-salt, paprika... and when they're almost done, i put em in the oven and bake at a high temp for 5-10. it gets rid of some of that greasiness and really crisps 'em up just right. 

"sausage"/"bacon"/arugula/pepper sammie

here's one more version of a delish morning sandwich. 
pretty much the same as the others, but i added roasted red peppers, arugula, provolone, and gimme lean sausage. still got the tofutti cream cheese, hot pepper jelly, and fake bacon. soo good. 

Ok, so i've mostly been on the savory kick for breakfast, but i do like it sweet every so often. when i'm craving sugary goodness in the morning, i make vegan stuffed french toast. (now, this picture doesn't do 'em justice but it's all i have for now... sorry. )

vegan stuffed french toast

ingredients, bread (usually sourdough works well), soy milk, bananas, cinnamon, vanilla, shredded coconut, honey, tofuttii cream cheese, raspberry (or whatever fruit floats yr boat) jelly, and raw sugar.

DIY: imagine yr making french toast, only instead of eggs and milk, your gonna mash up some bananas in soy milk (if yr high tech you could even do it up in a blender) and then just like regualr f/t, you add a dash of vanilla and cinnamon. i'm not big on measuring, so if i had to guesstimate, i usually use about 2 bananas and half a bowl (maybe more) of soy milk.

then for the filling, i mix up some fake cream cheese with honey (like a spoonful per tub of c.c.), a little raw sugar, and if i'm feeling fancy i add some chai seasoning (again, from the spice house. that place rocks... so, go there) i slice up the bread, add a generous portion of the filling between two pieces, and then dunk in my soy/banana mixture, til it's good and soaked. a tip: to keep the pieces together really douse the open sides with the soy/banana mix, making sure that banana pieces are really sealing it all together.

now for me, sauteeing the v/f/s/t has proved irksome at times. i use margarine and a little oil, and i basically have to keep tinkering with the amount as i go to get em just right. as you can see from the pic, my tendency is to over cook em. whoops. i think medium heat works best, wait to flip em for a couple minutes, but after that you have to flip em a lot because the banana/soy mix is slow to brown (yet surprisingly quick to blacken- or maybe that's just me). now, before i flip 'em the first time, i sprinkle raw sugar on top. i repeat that step when i flip em again, so that both sides get coated. and then usually the last time i flip em i sprinkle raw sugar on 'em one more time.  flipping em a lot and adding the sugar really helps to crisp up the outside. 

for a garnish, i add shredded coconut (unsweetened). sometimes, i add the coconut straight to the soy/banana mix, sometimes i do both! so crazy, i know. kiwi and blueberries also make for a delish garnish. and, of course, drizzle that shiser with yr favorite syrup before devouring. oh, and cinnamon of course. sometimes i add a little dashes as i'm cooking to get em extra extra yummy! 

well that's all i got for now.

check back for upcoming blog topics that will include a few of my favorite things: tattooze & booze, a tour of mke in search of the best bloody mary, and cuisine of the asian persuasion! 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

get baked.


vegan devil's food cakes. 

it's no secret that i am a terrible baker. i hate being told what to do, so it follows that i hate following directions/instructions/recipes etc. i like to feel creative and spontaneous, especially when i'm cooking. unfortunately, there is little room for that in the world of dessert making. still, my disdain for failure forces me to try my hand at baking every now and then. so, i made these vegan mini-devil's food cakes. partially, because i was procrastinating doing my homework, and partially, because the next day was my friend gina's 26th bday. gina, if yr reading this, i was motivated mostly by the latter.

anyway, i got some cheap devil's food cake mix at aldis. i noticed it was vegan, so i figured might as well keep 'em that way. i used banana and egg-replacer (which i bought like a billion years ago at whole foods, and it just keeps going, and going. so for 5 bucks a box, it was definitely a good investment) instead of eggs. then the recipe called for vegetable oil and water. i suppose coconut oil may have been a healthier choice, but i didn't have any. thinking outside the box, i added a spoonful of fake sour cream, to make it richer. i also jazzed up the cakes with some sliced almonds. finally, half-way through baking i topped 'em off with some shredded coconut. and, voila. i was told they were pretty tasty. i would confirm, but i am always my own worst critic, and i think i overcooked them, just slightly. but, practice makes perfect, and i'm determined to get baked. and by that i mean, get good at this baking shisa. in my own way too, because i refuse to be boxed in by any recipe.

the backstory:
for the record. i am not vegan. once upon a time, a long, long time ago, i was.  to the dismay of my wisconsinite family, i abstained from all meat, dairy, and cheese for almost five years. but, let me repeat, i am not a "vegan." i always find it funny how strongly people react to the idea of veganism. like it's a direct attack on their own, personal eating habits. don't get me wrong, i know where this instinct comes from. i have met some extreme, peta-subscribing, teva-wearing, crunchy-granola eating, vegans. and, i know that they often insist on snobbily commenting on yr carnivorous dining choices, and for that, i'd like to apologize. in my early 20's, i might have even resembled one of them. i said might. however, for me, eating vegan is about eating healthily. it's a personal choice. and, i could care less what you eat. to each her own.

my fall from the good graces of veganism happened in st. croix. i worked in a fancy restaurant, where fresh fish made their way into our kitchen daily, courtesy of the local fishermen. as gross as it was for me to see our chefs (whom we affectionately called, "dreads" and "guam") clean/gut/break down a fish, i felt connected to the process. enough that one day i decided, if i was ever going to eat fish, now was the time. and of course, the way dreads and guam would masterfully transform those fish into something so amazing, also tipped the scales towards falling off the (vegan) wagon. it was all over after my first (guilty) bite of a panko-crusted, ricotta-stuffed wahoo in a pear butter sauce. i fell hard. from there i rediscovered my love of fancy cheeses, and then some not so fancy cheeses. until one day in the not so distant past, i found myself stuffing my face full of buffalo chicken strips dipped in ranch, in a douchy sports bar in chicago.

these days, i'm all about moderation. i mostly eat vegan, and i almost always cook that way. it's not a political thing, but, if it has some positive socio-political consequences, so be it. i try to eat this way, honestly, because i have no portion control, and eating this way ensures that i won't get fat. of course, i have no scientific data to back up this 'eating vegan means i won't get fat' theory. but, if you happen to meet a fat vegan, please feel free to dispel my optimism and let me know.

these days, when asked if i am vegan, i simply respond, nope. just picky. and it's true. i am picky.
don't like eggs. don't like milk. don't like most meat. don't like tomatoes, unless they are in the form of ketchup, salsa, or pan con tomate. don't like soda, unless it's club and mixed with some booze. and the list could go on. but this blog is about what i love, not what i don't.
so here's some visual insight into what i love. (and yes, they are mostly vegan.)

 thai red curry with tofu. (vegan)

tempeh/broccoli/pepper/onion/mushroom scrambler with roasted potatoes. (vegan)

"huevos" rancheros with red & yellow pepper slaw
(almost vegan. i subbed tofu for eggs, but added shredded cheddar. what? it's the wisco in me.)

vegan doughnuts. 
you can get these bad boys at voodoo doughnuts in portland, or.
(well, mostly vegan, those with a keen eye, may notice their famous maple-bacon doughnut in the background.)

friday night fish fry @ lake front brewery, mke, wi. 
(sooo good. and sooo not vegan.)

Monday, March 28, 2011


so, my favorite band of the moment is the naked and famous. if mgmt, passion pit, and (insert cool girl singer here) ____ had a baby, this band would be their baby. see for yrself.
this song is called punching in a dream.

you may notice a theme in this week's "mixtape," in that i seem to be digging heavily on the electro-pop scene. what can i say? i just wanna dance. and this music moves me. hope it moves you, too.
so, without further ado, my musical mix-mastery for the week:

faux fir - baggage claim

fm belfast - frequency

ratatat - neckbrace
mgmt - flash delirium 
yoko ono & john lennon- every man has a woman who loves him

talking heads- i feel it in my heart
al green- keep me crying
the gossip- are you that somebody (aaliyah cover)
yacht- psychic city

electrelane- cut and run
tobacco- fresh hex (feat. beck)

glass candy - beautific
discovery - can you discover?

* sidenote: for all us lucky milwaukee inhabitants, both ra ra riot & yacht will be rocking our fine city very soon (April 13th & May 6th)! both shows are under 15 bones @ turner hall, and are going to be awesome. so, obviously, you will want to be there!

feast (for) yr eyes...

my favorite salad.

this salad has been the star of my latest dinner parties. so simple. so refreshing. perfect for summer. which, i'm assured, will make it to wisconsin. eventually. 

a labor of love. the ingredients to my favorite salad.

you can check out my first post ("for starters") if you want the basic gist of how to do it yrself. 

a lunchbox lunch, sans the lunchbox.

simple. vegan. delicious. a "turkey" sando, w/ Trader Joe's reduced fat mayo (which is dairy-free), mustard, lettuce, and cucumber on multi-grain. Vegan Slaw = broccoli slaw (prepackaged makes it easy. but, you can chop up some broccoli, red cabbage, and carrots, if yr feeling ambitious), cranberries, walnuts, pinch of raw sugar, pinch of salt n peppa, dash of white balsamic vinegar, and a dollop of TJ's reduced fat mayo. Sweet Potato Chips. everything on this plate came from Stanley's, which is located in Chicago, and is one of my favorite places for super cheap, yet quality produce.

the "everything but the kitchen sink" salad.

from my fridge: red seedless grapes, baby yellow peppers, and green lettuce. from my freezer: grilled "chicken" strips. from my cupboard: spice house's jamaican jerk seasoning (for the "chicken"), "bacon" bits, and fried onions. for the dressing: green goddess herbs (also from the spice house), white balsamic, olive oil, and a little TJ's reduced fat mayo- all mixed together... dressing needs some work, i'm not gonna lie. but, this salad isn't destined for top chef, it's utilitarian in nature- fill yr belly & clean out yr fridge.

crunchy southern eats.
 i titled this photo, crunchy southern eats, because my latest tryst to chicago reintroduced some long lost lingo back into my vocabulary. for example, crunchy, as in hippie, as in vegetarian. so, my latest dinner was southern veg (an oxymoron of sorts, i'm aware). and, it featured these rock stars: bbq tempeh, ginger-sweet potato mash, brussel sprouts and pea shoots (lightly sauteed in olive oil, finished with lemon juice, and a a pinch of cumin and garlic seasoning). 

red peppers in a white bowl.

my next dinner will feature these bad boys, as stuffed peppers. stay tuned.

Monday, March 21, 2011

a ham for hamm's.

i've never been called classy. well, i have. but, only sarcastically.
however, i have been called a beer snob, very sincerely. and, i would be the first to agree. maybe it's from working at a brewery for a few years, or living in portland, oregon - where delicious microbrews seem to grow on trees; or, maybe it's because as soon as a shitty beer hits my lips, my stomach winces. on the other hand, i love me a good ipa or hoppy red ale. gimme a gumball head or a fixed gear please, because i just can't drink shitty, cheap beer. well, save for one. there's a weakness in my heart for hamm's. it is the one and only low brow beer that my stomach can stomach. no joke.

so this is my ode to hamm's, an american classic, born in the land of sky blue waters, and bearing the words "made in milw, wi." yes, it's very much akin to drinking water, but, what shitty beer isn't? at least it's like drinking deliciously pure and refreshing water. also, it's cheap. never more than 13$ for a 30 pack. hard to beat that, eh?
on top of being tasty and easy on the wallet, i also love how it tends to accompany a shot of jame-o(h!) for around 5 bucks in just about every major u.s. city. just ask for the "hipster special"
yes, my snobby heart goes a flutter for a fancy beer; but, if i had to choose only one beer to drink for the rest of my life, i would choose hamm's.

i highly recommend getting yr daily dose of vitamin h to anyone reading this. well, maybe not recovering alcoholics or under(r)agers (now that my baby brother is reading this blog too).  but, the rest of you are fair game. can you hear that? i'm popping one open right now.
i told you i was a ham for hamm's.

mixtape monday(ze)

so, last night i had one too many at a new (well, new to me) bar in riverwest. on what is normally a sleepy and slow sunday at the bremen cafe, margaret, the cute and hipstery bartender, has come up with a rather refreshing idea of how to get folks to come see her. she calls it 'local love,' and only plays music made in wisco or by wisconsinites.  now here's the backstory, ever since a crackhead shot the cafe up over a year ago, after getting his wi-fi access cut off because he never bought anything, i have avoided that place like the plague. i mean, he shot up an empty bar, so fortunately, no one got hurt. but, he missed his target, and you just never know with that kind of crazy. however, enough time had passed (i hoped), and i was intrigued to see if one could fill an entire night with only locally grown music. i was even more curious to hear what such a mix would sound like. you know what? it sounded pretty damn good. i heard some jail, faux fir, juiceboxx (love it!), celebrated workingman, bon iver (i questioned this one, and turns out that justin vernon is from bumblefuck, wi. like i said, i had one too many, so i don't recall the exact town, might have been la crosse?). and, of course, the wildbirds were on that mix, too (some of whom were also at the bar, playing words with friends on their smart phones i might add, in games against each other. like true nerds. and don't worry, i'm not talking shit, i said this to their faces as well). but, i digress.

so, here's the point, after getting my live music fix with the cold war kids recently, and then discovering/re-discovering how awesome wisconsin musicians are, i wanted to spread my musical bliss around. thus, in my slighlty hazy and hungover condition, mixtape monday(ze) are born.

*sidenote: there was also a drunken idea thrown around last night, about tossing in a hater moment or two in this blog, despite my mission statement of it being about things i love, and i believe the first hater moment was to be sponsored by terrible jeans. in the light of day, the whole hating on terrible jeans was a terrible idea, but it was so terribly awful, i felt compelled to share. now, without further ado...

here's what my mix for the moment looks like (i added a few links so you can hear what is sounds like too):

kid cudi-mojo so dope
ratatat & kanye- diamonds
chromeo- needy girl
mumford & sons- roll away your stone
radiohead- little by little
yeasayer - one
fm belfast- vhs
the gossip- love long distance
neon indian- deadbeat summer
empire of the sun- walking on a dream
kid cudi ft. cage & st. vincent- maniac
the heavy- short change hero
cold war kids - finally begin
the naked and famous - young blood
the wildbirds - when i'm with my friends (see a video of this song at
al green & jay-z- can't knock the hustle (this is from the green album, which remixes al green's music with hip hop classics- you need this! and you can download it here -->

Sunday, March 20, 2011

music to my ears.

i can still hear nathan willet’s soulful voice in my head. i was craving live music like a junkie in need of her next fix. yes, the situation was that dire, and my need was that great. and now, after seeing the cold war kids at the rave last (last) saturday, i can happily say that i am sated. if you don’t know who the cold war kids are, do yourself a favor and check them out! i'm addicted to their latest album, mine is yours. here’s a little taste of them live. (unfortunately, i’m still finessing how to film and dance at the same time, so if you’re prone to motion sickness, you may want to close yr eyes and just listen).


Thursday, March 10, 2011

for starters.

what better place to start than at the beginning.
like most adults scavenging their pasts to locate themselves in the present, i've come to a clichee and all too common conclusion. i blame my mother, for, well, just about everything. okay, not everything. but, i do blame her for my inability to censor myself or to control the volume of my voice. i blame her for my crazy, my spontaneity, my incurable desire to keep it moving, to never stop dancing, laughing, or loving.
but, most of all, i blame her for my insatiable appetite.
partially, because she has always told me i could have anything i wanted, do anything i wanted, be anything - you know, the classic mother spiel. but moreso, it is because she is the most amazing cook.

on any given night, atop her blazing, fire-engine red, oversized, dining room table, the most lavish, extravagant feasts just seem to materialize out of thin air. it doesn’t matter if it’s for two people or a large entourage of family and friends- which is more often than not the case. it’s all the same to her. sometimes for my mother, cooking is an all day love affair. sometimes, it takes her no time at all. what is so absolutely amazing is that the quality of the meal is always the same; no matter what the cuisine, it is always delicious. it is always genuinely rich, full of flavor and love, and she seems to do it effortlessly.

on the occasions when i am lucky enough to find myself seated at her ridiculously large red table, i tend to find myself in a food coma by the end of the night. this is because i ignore my body’s pleas to put the fork down, for the love of god, just put it down. other times it's because upon receiving her dinner invitation, i will say - why no i haven’t eaten yet, i’ll be right over- all the while shamefully staring at what is now destined to be my first dinner of the night.
portion control has never been my strong suit.

and so, i eat.
i cook.
i love to eat.
and, i love to cook. 

even more than these things though, i love to feed other people. hosting dinner parties is one of my absolute favorite things to do in life. sure, gratitude and praise is not such terrible motivation. especially, when i get everything just right and i feel it is deserved. but, there’s something so rewarding about nourishing others, whether the job is thankless or thankful.
this, i know i inherited from my mother, and for which i especially blame her. (sidenote: please feel free to go back and substitute the the word 'thank' for each blame, just in case my sarcasm was lost on you the first time).

so, eat my heart, because that is my intention here, to share my perpetual hunger for all that i love and cannot get enough of. mostly, that will be food. 
but, i have been called capricious once or twice before, and my love, while not fleeting, is constantly evolving. so, feast until your full, and then feast some more.
eat yr heart (out). 

i will leave you with a few pictures of my recent (food)loves:

this first picture is from Cafe Gitane in NYC, a french and mediterranean fusion restaurant in Soho.  I'm a firm believer in stealing recipes and improving upon them, although this recipe needed very little improving upon.  i make it all the time now, and it's a hit at dinner parties. it's such a refreshing salad, and so easy to make.
just combine shaved fennel, fresh mint, oranges, avocado, hearts of palm, and arugula. for the dressing, simply mix up some olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. 
and voila, perfection. 

this second picture features two of my favorite things: my beautiful friend, Dasha, known affectionately among our friends as the "russian destruction," and the inside of my favorite chi-town restaurant, Lula's Cafe. Featured on our table is their chickpea and sweet potato tagine with arugula, cinnamon, harissa, and couscous, a side of olive-oil and dill marinated beets, and my personal favorite/star of many a dinner parties i've hosted, pasta yia-yia. i love this recipe for its simplicity, all you need is butter, brown sugar, garlic, feta, cinnamon, and bucatini pasta. 
cook the pasta, melt some butter (well a lot of butter actually, sometimes i kind of halve the butter needed and add olive-oil, just so i can stave off my impending heart attack for a few more years. i mean, i love this recipe, but it is by no means good for you, like a lot of the foods i love. but, i digress) then sautee the garlic (in the butter or oil) until you get the awesome garlic aroma filling up your kitchen and it's starting to brown, add dashes of brown or raw sugar to taste, add in the feta and let it melt a bit. when the sauce is ready, toss it with the cooked pasta, and then garnish with some cinnamon sprinkled on top and some more feta. and voila, perfection. 

this picture is celebrating brussel sprouts. they are probably the least appreciated, most loathed vegetable. but i am their number one fan. dressed up or down, these bad boys are delish. i'm pretty sure they are good for me, too. like asparagus, or spinach, a tiny bit of olive oil (or butter for the less healthy minded), lemon juice, salt & peppa, and they are ready to go (hot or cold). love 'em. 

now, this last picture while not the most aesthetically pleasing, embodies the most direct route to my heart: 
CARBS. especially, potatoes. i'm like that guy from forest gump who loves shrimp so much, only my shrimp are potatoes. seriously. so, this picture was taken on an especially hungover day at Hamburger King's in Chicago (known as Chester's to the regulars). the place is run by a korean woman named, Sonia, who has a pimp's limp and a warm smile. she also gives off the vibe that she is a woman not to be messed with, maybe it's the limp...  but, i digress. this place is a chicago classic, serving asian fare alongside your standard greasy spoon type stuff. they are known for their rice and gravy, and a few other asian dishes i can neither spell nor pronounce, so i will not even try. needless to say, if you find yourself hungover in chi-town, and near wrigleyville, find this place. go there. and, eat a lot.