Enchilada lasagna


Essentially, yum.
Meet the enchilada lasagna. It will become your new best friend.

This recipe is from simplyrealhealth.com – though it’s technically called a Black Bean Spinach Enchilada Bake, I think we can all accept that this is lasagna and it is beautiful.


It’s just layers of corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, spinach, beans, avocados, and cheese – and whatever the heck else you feel like throwing in there. We added some cooked ground beef with the enchilada sauce layer.

[sidenote: we had no enchilada sauce, so we used this Emeril Lagasse recipe & it worked out pretty darn well]


If you’re like me and prefer more uniform layers, I’d recommend you have more black beans (and possibly avocados) on hand. By the end of my layering, the beans were getting scarce.


It really is a super simple recipe, filling and fantastic for leftovers. You also don’t have to worry about the inherent heaviness of traditional lasagna – you can load this with as much vegetation as you’d like! Definitely give it a try.

Until next time, keep your boots in the stars and your heart in the trees.

Chocolate chip chia cookies

I’m always on the lookout for yummy, won’t-make-you-regret-it desserts. A lot of the time, there’s a disconnect – somebody, once upon a time, decreed that the standard is to taste pretty good, for being healthy.

I dunno about you, but that phrase has about 97% effectiveness for steering me away from trying the recipe. Sometimes healthy food isn’t meant to taste like its high-fat, high-carb, glycemic-spiking cousins – and that’s a good thing! Different times call for different munchies.

These cookies, however, are exactly what you want from a chocolate chip vehicle. So good that I’d go as far as saying I could eat them without the chocolate chips. Unprecedented, really.


Stellar food photography skills

The Ambitious Kitchen has some great in-depth nutritional analysis, but just know these cookies have hella omega-3s, fiber, and protein, making it a cookie that actually gives you something you need, instead of empty calories and sugar.

I used a mixture of cashews, walnuts, and pecans, because my mom has an almond sensitivity. I’m fairly certain you can sub in whatever nuts you want for the walnuts/almonds, as long as you keep the amount consistent. Same goes for the dried cherries – I used raisins.


I’d recommend you use slightly under 1/4 cup chocolate if you go the route I went, using Enjoy Life’s MEGA CHUNKS (I don’t know, it just seems like it needed emphasis).


These are actually a phenomenal chocolate chip option.

Anyway, these cookies have the official stamp of approval. Definitely try them out!

Until next time, keep your boots in the stars and your heart in the trees.

Cauliflower pizza

I took a slight hiatus during which time school completely exploded. The year’s over in two days, though, so here’s to a summer of travel and trying to get into college and cooking.

For right now, though? CAULI-FREAKING-FLOWER PIZZA.


This pizza is my new religion. I swear, if I had cauliflower on hand all the time, I’d make this once a day.

I used this recipe from Umami Holiday. Basically, if you’ve got cauliflower, cheese, and an egg, you’ve got creative license to do whatever the hell you want to your pizza – my kind of food.

You’re going to start by grinding your cauliflower in a food processor, ideally.


This is the consistency you're aiming for


I wasn’t sure how fine to go, so I processed the crap out of that cauliflower. The consistency worked out for me, though, so I’d aim for something like this.

After you cook your cauliflower comes the fun part – dehydrating it. What you’ll want to do is take a dish towel, clump the cauliflower in it, and squeeze it for far longer than you’d like to. I ended up going for about 8 minutes, by which point there was still a little water coming out but nowhere near the initial stream.

Once you’ve added your egg, spices, and cheese (I used half peccorino romano [sheep cheese] and half shredded taco blend), form your dough into a circle.


I did this just to show how big it’ll end up. Depending on your toppings, you’ll probably want about half a pizza per person, just because the crust is so thin.


We put on tomato sauce, spinach, chicken, and just a little bit more cheese.

I’d advise you not to add in any extra salt, just because the cheese brings a lot to begin with.


Parents tested, parents approved (ie we almost fought over the last piece). 10/10 would make again.

Until next time, keep your boots in the stars and your heart in the trees.

tex mex is the way to my heart

So during the last weekend of March, I flew down to Houston with my dad to visit Rice University (sidenote: one of the prettiest campuses in the United States). Our first day in the city, we ended up stopping for lunch at Chuy’s, which, let me tell you, was one of the best foodie decisions I’ve ever been a part of.


We gorged ourselves on chips, guac, salsa, & dip until we realised that we’d actually ordered a veritable shitload of food and no amount of hunger can handle such a feast.


I regret nothing.

The experience introduced me to a world of new sexy-tex-mexy flavors, like their tortilla soup – not a totally new concept, but the idea that you can put actual avocados in soup? Mindblowing.


And of course, we had to get some tacos. They didn’t disappoint. Nothing life-changing, but a good taco can go a long way.


There were also salads somewhere in there which were thoroughly on par for what you’d expect from a tex mex place with certain priorities.


But my main reason for finally writing this post wasn’t the soup, or the tacos, or the salad; it was the tres leches. This cake. This cake, sweet Jesus, this cake.


Tres leches cake is a traditional Mexican recipe – cake drenched in cream, this one topped with caramel glaze and strawberries. It was so rich, dense & nearly soggy with beautiful flavor.


These spoons are normal - sized and this cake is huge.

I was the fullest I’ve ever been in my life – and that was before this cake. We just couldn’t pass up the opportunity, though, and when our waiter recommended it, we adopted the why the hell not philosophy and just rolled with it.


All that was left after my dad and I split it

It took some serious self-control to leave even a crumb left, but I was heading towards food coma territory and decided to quit while I was ahead.

All in all, it was a good day. It was good cake. Chuy’s, I love you.

Until next time, keep your boots in the stars and your heart in the trees.

And tex mex in your stomach.

Standardized Aptitude Torture

Okay, real talk.

Standardized testing is the most concentrated source of stress in my life, and I’m not alone. For high schoolers looking to go to college, there’s always that vague air of dread at the cellular level: the twisting in your stomach when you wonder if you’re doing enough, if you’ll be jobless in 6 years with no way to pay off your tank full of debt. The tests, though, they concentrate that unapproachable panic into a concrete number, a label, and suddenly you’re questioning how much of yourself is represented in a shit essay and a Scantron.

It’s so easy to get caught up in those scores; when they’re released two and a half weeks later, the halls are a flurry of “what’d you get?” and “shit, I have to take it again” and “my parents are gonna kill me.”

It takes a lot to separate yourself from it. It’s hard to remember that you are not your score, regardless of how good or bad it is.

The test itself is arbitrary to the point of ridiculous – I can do college algebra, honors trigonometry, and calculus, but none of these disciplines prepared me for the effed up realm of College Board math. And who thinks testing on idioms is a good idea? Language is composed of made-up rules that don’t hold true everywhere (case in point: constructed of or constructed from? Nobody seems to know.) And why is it so important to be able to analyze irrelevant stories on a level so deep we’re venturing into the 9th circle of Hell? All questions I have for the people with the biggest monopoly on higher ed: College Board.

I’m not a fan of the huge price tags attached to making yourself a more attractive candidate for college admissions. In many cases, the only way to get a better score on the SAT is to invest in practice books, online courses, or tutors, putting kids who can’t afford it at a massive disadvantage.

And more than anything, I loathe the premise of it all. The SAT is a test on how well you can take a test. Some of the smartest people I know are, very simply, awful at testing. That’s not the way their brains work, so shoving them into a room with a bunch of sweaty teenagers and a strict timing system is their worst nightmare. The lucky ones are quick readers, bullshit artists that know their way around a #2 pencil; just because they’re lucky doesn’t mean they’re real-life, bona-fide geniuses.

That’s why the SAT really, truly sucks.

Also, 4+ hours of staring at a stupid booklet has you spelling “buttocks” with an “x” and adding 4 and 2 into 8 but that’s probably no big deal.

Until next time, keep your boots in the stars and your heart in the trees.

Fool’s Gold

Once upon a time, it was what you got when you assumed (foolishly), that you would find precious metals in California, 1849.

Post-1970s, though? It’s taken on a whole new meaning.


It almost looks innocent from this angle.

Meet the famed Fool’s Gold Sandwich, one of Elvis’ favorites and a supporting actor in the 2013 film What If.

It will literally kill you.

The following is a clip from the movie (starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan) that instructs you on how to create your very own culinary monster!

I had to try it.

A few friends and I are making a documentary on Elvis Presley (thus, the last novel of a post) for a school competition and figured what better way to pay tribute to the King than by eating one of his favorite meals?

I’m going to start this out with a warning: if you decide to make and consume this sandwich, you will be extremely uncomfortable for about two hours. Your stomach will berate you for forcing this terrifying food down, and you might even feel like you’re on the brink of death.

There’s something really unnatural that happens when peanut butter, jelly, bacon, and buttery bread combine in your mouth: it actually tastes pretty good.

The video provides all the instruction that you’re going to need, really, but here are some pictures of the journey to heartburn.


Scoop those bread guts out!


We didn’t end up using a full jar of peanut butter or jelly and the bacon might have been a few strips short of a pound, but I can’t imagine what it would have looked like if we’d stuck exactly to the script.


I’m getting phantom stomach pains just looking at it.

It was quite a lot of bacon.


Shoddy photos are all I have left of this beast.

We split the sandwich into fifths and about 15 minutes later, we were all groaning about how bad our stomachs hurt so seriously do not pull an Elvis Presley and eat the whole thing.

The best way to describe Fool’s Gold came from my friend, who, once she’d finished wiping the jelly off her face, set down her napkin and put what we were all thinking into words.

“This feels so wrong, but it tastes so right.”

Proceed with caution.

The heart of rock & roll

It’s been nearly 38 years.


In the decades that have passed, technology has grown exponentially – exploding into forms and purposes that were unimaginable even a quarter of a century ago. Skirts have shortened, pants have sagged, and elementary school math problems have become the equivalent of old-school college algebra. Things have changed.

The more astounding thing, though, something no one predicted, is our culture’s new fixation. What used to be obsolete has since been vintaged, hipsterified and recycled. For god’s sake, vinyls are making a comeback – or turn to China, where Samsung’s begun to sell flip phones again, due to an increasing desire to return to the good ol’ days.

It’s clear that old trends don’t stay old, especially in an interconnected world that can hook you up with novelties and antiques at the click of a button. It’s like the circle of lifestyles.

But while fashions and objects have a tendency of cycling around, social change seems to have stuck pretty soundly. The general pattern over the years has been heading toward openness and acceptance, with increasing tolerance for different groups and tastes. There’s been a pretty massive shift in public perception regarding previously hot button topics, of which sexuality and race are two of the most prominent.

Strange how 60 years ago, everything was buttoned-up and strict, whereas today we’ve got…well.


Thanks, Miley.

So what exactly was that cultural ignition in the late 1950s? It had to be something that changed the way we looked at life, something that affected a young population that would grow up with ideas incompatible with their parents’ outdated concerns. It would have broken social norms and crossed race and gender boundaries, not to mention geographic and regional divisions.

It had to be something huge, something that couldn’t be stopped once it started, like a boulder picking up speed down a hill.

It had to be rock and roll.

Picture this: thousands of screaming fans; female and male, black and white. We’re coming to the end of the 1950s, when suddenly teenagers are everyone’s target market. Companies are beginning to notice the generation’s buying power, a change due in large part to the influential figure gyrating on stage – because if he can make wads of dough off all those young people, then anyone can.

more elvis

One of the Jailhouse Rock promos.

Meet Elvis, the kid that had parents panicking and teens dancing. He was new, he was different, and, most importantly, he was cool. He epitomized the whole “girls want to be with him, guys want to be him” deal; after all, he was the King, the prince from another planet, the original Rock Star™.

toddler elvis & fam

The Presleys, circa 1937.

Elvis had a real rags-to-riches story – born into poverty and with plans to become a truck driver, he swung by a recording studio one day to presumably make a short record as a gift for his mother. Sam Phillips, producer at Sun Records, ended up hearing the kid sing and man, once Elvis started, he never stopped.

elvis is cute

Elvis was one of the first to bring the topic of sex to the stage. He didn’t mean to, he said, he was just dancing, because “if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it.”

And boy, did he move.

While we’re on the topic of sexual expression, Elvis was kind of a rare find. He was macho, no doubt, with his leather pants and slicked back hair; but juxtapose that with his pancake makeup and mascara and love of the color pink and suddenly, you’ve got a performer that transcends any rigid labels. He hung out with Liberace and collected cars; he had his own makeup line while he was sleeping his way through the continental United States. He was an enigma of sorts, and that unfaltering individuality is one of the reasons why nobody’s come close to imitating his reign.

The epic all-leather suit from his ’68 Comeback Special made for what looked like a sweaty – but amazing – performance.

Getting dolled up preshow. Elvis was always concerned with his appearance, which made his eventual weight gain hard for him to bear.

Elvis has long had the burden of being labeled a cultural thief; of stealing the music of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Ike Turner, Bo Diddley, and Fats Domino (among other greats) and using the sound to vault his way to fame. Elvis himself even once said that “the colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m doin’ now, man, for more years than I know.”

Though Elvis was always vehement that he “didn’t copy [his] style from anybody,” he did gain a musical education, from a very young age. In both Mississippi and Tennessee, Elvis found himself influenced by country, blues, and gospel music, more than anything. The economic and social situation in the 1940s was kind to neither African Americans nor the Presley’s, and so a young Elvis tended to live in places that were full of black culture, expressed through upbeat and swinging music that had the nerve to speak of raw, forthright topics – things the white music of the time skirted around at all cost. So when Elvis grew up and sang a new, syncretic music style that threaded that bluesy, soulful tone with the jaunty twang of the Deep South and the occasional church-house reverence, the connection was obvious.

Elvis and Liberace at a jam session.

There’s no doubt that Elvis’ obvious whiteness helped him make a name for himself; he was the original Eminem, the “white boy singing black music.” But what happened once Elvis Presley had infiltrated the record players of teens around the country was much more than what some overrated white dude should have been able to accomplish: people started listening to other records, too. Stores that had never before carried the records of black artists suddenly had to start buying them, because there was an incessant demand from teens everywhere. They wanted more, damn it, they wanted more of that funky music and they wanted it now. The door was opened and there was no coming back.

So let’s assume that he made his mark on race relations through music: what about the rest of his life?

Muhammad Ali, wearing the robe gifted to him by Elvis.

Elvis was close friends with and at one point even lived with boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who once described him as “the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you’d want to know.”

And though it’s well known that the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 struck a terrible blow to civil rights leaders and reformers everywhere, few people are aware of how it devastated Elvis. He later sang “If I Can Dream,” composed by Walter Earl Brown in tribute to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s got some of the rawest vocals Elvis recorded in his lengthy career and is honestly sort of transcendent, which is probably why it’s the song he used to wrap up his ’68 Comeback Special.

When I was little, my grandfather used to play Elvis CD’s while we were driving around. I hated them. I absolutely despised that stupid Hound Dog song, and every time I heard something about blue suede shoes, I slammed my hands over my ears and tried to block out every last note. For a long time, I thought Elvis was a hackneyed, overrated, fat white dude with gross sideburns and a stupid cape.

Seriously, who does that?

And for a short while, that was at least partially accurate; but what I didn’t realize when I was younger was that Elvis Presley left an unprecedented mark on the world and that sometimes, repurposed karate uniforms are sort of neat. Maybe.

If this irrelevant wallaby picture doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what will.

I’ve grown to love his music, too – there’s something infectious about those flippant vocals, something grooving about those bouncy shoulders. I find myself dancing to songs that are 50 years old just as easily as I move with songs that are a few months out of the studio, and like the teens of the Presleyan era, giving Elvis a chance has introduced me to some other awesome artists.

It’s been nearly 38 years since Elvis Presley died in 1977, an illustrious life cut short by prescription medication and, probably, by this sandwich.

The Fool’s Gold Sandwich. Unless you’re Elvis Presley or that guy on the Food Network that eats literally everything, you’ve met your match.

Elvis was clearly not perfect – not by a long shot; but it’s worth noting that – in his own words – “the image is one thing and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image, put it that way.”

elvis and the fans

He’s still everywhere – remember Lilo & Stitch (an Elvis tribute in true Disney form), or that movie about some dude running his way across America, or even as recently as the State Farm commercial with all the impersonators – caricatures, but Elvis, nonetheless. And though the Presley name is still associated with the gaudy image of a bejeweled hick with a “thank ya, thank ya very much” problem, I think it’s time to get over the glitz and celebrate the man, celebrate the music.

After all, if these glasses can come back in style, why can’t Elvis?

elvis in hawaii

Blubbery Muffins

When I was little, my family used to come together every once in a while for an epic camping trip. I don’t recall much of those days, but the parts that have stuck are some of my warmest thoughts.

There’s some faint memory of learning that a sprinkle of sugar on strawberries could heighten the flavor; of almost getting the hang of riding a bike without training wheels; of growing terrified of the creatures lurking below the surface of moonlit lakes [leeches, mostly]. It’s all glazed over with a sunny filter, the kind of nostalgia that feels like lemonade in August, like hot tea in January. Like mini blueberry muffins.

Breakfasts were usually a pretty informal affair – even as few as 10 years ago, we weren’t all that concerned about what we were eating. So a few boxes of mini powdered donuts, a few bags of Entenmann’s mini blueberry muffins, and we were set. I used to scarf those muffins down, bag by bag. I can’t even say they tasted good, but they were bite-sized and full of sugar and that was perfect for mini me.


my childhood in a bag

I haven’t had one of those muffins in years. Tonight, though? Tonight I had some pretty serious flashbacks.


Look at this thing. I’ve never made a muffin that shaped itself like this – the domed top, the straight sides – it took me on a trip down memory lane and let me tell you, those old crap muffins ain’t got nothin’ on these.

Once again, it’s Chocolate Covered Katie to the rescue, with her Healthy Blueberry Muffins. Serious yum factor.
I made my muffins with 2 cups of gf flour and 1 tsp of flaxseed (instead of xanthan gum); and since we’re currently in the middle of a glacial weather pattern, I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh. The juice tinted the muffins a slight grey, but the taste is still superb.


[They’re also quick & easy to make, so do it now. Right now. Middle of the night, whatever.]

So until next time, keep your boots in the stars and your heart in the trees.

Better than Schweddy Balls

Happy 40th to SNL!

I know no one can resist Pete’s Schweddy Balls, but these are pretty darn good, too.


The really awesome thing about energy bites like these is that you can put whatever you want into them and just alter the dry/wet ingredient ratio until it stays together nicely. So if you want to use a combination of nuts or seed butters, or a variety of dried fruits, go for it!

Some nut/seed options: peanuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

Dried fruit ideas: raisins, Craisins, dried apricots, dates, or just more chocolate chips

As for butters: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter

I ended up using 1/4 cup of pecans and cashews each, Craisins, and 1/4 cup of peanut butter and sunflower seed butter each, which worked out really well – sort of like a trail mix in a ball.


If you don’t have any protein powder, you can grind 1/4 cup of nuts or oats into a powder, but I’d really recommend getting your hands on some natural protein powder. Two of these balls can keep you full for 3+ hours, which is seriously helpful when you’re not supposed to eat in class (shout out to my high school).

Crazy Protein Balls


  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup protein powder
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup nut or seed butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  1. Pulse nuts and (if desired) dried fruit  in a food processor until pieces are small. Stop before anything gets powdery.
  2. Combine dry ingredients first, then add wet ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 20 minutes before shaping into 1-inch balls, or press into a pan for bars.

Yield: ~35, depending on the size.

Store your balls in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Chocolate Avocado Facials

I can’t stop feeling my face right now.
Like cashmere, like a chinchilla’s belly, like chocolate avocado pudding.
It looks pretty nasty, but 100% edible (and trust me, when you’ve had it under your nose for a few minutes, you’ll want to eat it).


For this particular face mask, you’ll need
-1/4 of an avocado
-1 tsp cacao powder
-1/2 tbsp honey

Mash the avocado up as finely as you can [my avocado was clearly not ripe, but look for a fairly squishy one to make a better cream]. Mix in the cacao powder and honey and then smush that lovely smelling gloop on your face (not too close to your eyes or hair!). You can also spread some down your neck, if you’d like. Leave it on for about 20 minutes – it should harden well enough that it won’t come off too easily if you touch it. When you’re done, just wash it off with water and a paper towel.


gratuitous chocolate selfie

You may also want to mix up 1/4 cup water and 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar and rub that onto your face. This will act as a sort of toner and seal in the moisture your skin just gained from the mask.

So why these particular foods?

Avocados are full of vitamin E and oleic acids, both of which act to moisturize and hydrate your skin. Oleic acid also works to reduce redness and regenerate damaged cells, so if you’ve got acne and scars like me, this will be a massive help.

The cacao powder also provides  hydration through a plethora of vitamins (A, B12, D, and E, among others) and increased blood flow & cell repair through its extreme antioxidant power.

And last but not least, the honey – naturally antibacterial, honey draws impurities out of your skin while trapping in moisture.

If you’d like to learn more about the above, check out these sites: