I said I was going to keep it simple for the 4th of July: less people, less prep work, less stuff made by me.IMG_0984 (1280x853)

But then I just happened to enter “couscous” into the Pinterest search and, well, I just happened to be inspired.IMG_0972 (1280x853)

The original recipe involved strawberries, corn, and avocado. I didn’t have (more) strawberries or corn, but I did have blueberries and cucumber.IMG_0955 (1280x853)

A cucumber, I might add, I didn’t even realize was growing–I’m not much good at weeding–until I looked down that morning while picking tomatoes and saw its giant green back staring up at me.IMG_0981 (1280x853)

I also happened to have an avocado, a random green onion, some wilting cilantro, and an “open garden” policy with a neighbor growing every herb imaginable, including mint MUCH prettier and tastier than mine.IMG_0934 (1280x850)

Exactly one cup of couscous in the bag? Seemed like fate, no?IMG_0964 (1280x853)

So, there you go.IMG_0997 (1280x853)

I added a smidge of vanilla to the vinaigrette just for intrigue, and sweetened it with stevia, but only because I found that before the agave (and, well, why not?)IMG_0941 (853x1280)

The dressing alone is delicious, but the whole mess together is even better.IMG_0988 (1280x852)

If you think about it, I’m still keeping it simple (stupid), right?IMG_1013 (1280x853)

Blueberry Avocado & Cucumber Couscous with Vanilla Lime Vinaigrette

(Inspired by Damn Delicious)

  • 1 recipe Vanilla Lime Vinaigrette (below)
  • 1 cup whole wheat Israeli pearl couscous
  • 1 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1 cup avocado, chopped (about 1 Hass avocado)
  • 2 Tbsp. green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup combination of fresh mint and cilantro, chopped
  1. Prepare Vanilla Lime Vinaigrette. Set aside.
  2. Combine blueberries, cucumber, avocado, herbs, and onion in a mixing bowl.
  3. Bring 1 1/4 cups salted water to a boil. Add couscous and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 20 minutes, or until liquid has cooked away and/or been absorbed.
  4. Add couscous to the mixing bowl.
  5. Stir well to combine.
  6. Garnish with more chopped mint or cilantro, if desired.
    IMG_1001 (1280x853)

Vanilla Lime Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp, lime juice
  • lime zest (however much you like…I find it impossible to measure)
  • 3 drops liquid Stevia* (or 1 Tbsp. agave)

*I use NuNaturals.

Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake or stir well.


I received free samples from Bumble Bee Seafoods that are mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Bumble Bee Seafoods and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.IMG_0687 (1280x853)


Although I practically always try to vegetarianize meat or poultry recipes I  find, the conversion to an eater of all things from the sea was an easy one for me, and I continue to consume any and all fish or crustaceans I can find, with relish.*

*Both the verb AND the noun (if that should be an option).IMG_0882 (1280x853)

So, when I found out that the latest Recipe Redux Contest/Challenge involved Bumblebee Canned Albacore Tuna, I was, needless to say, thrilled.reciperedux_bumblebee

We know, of course, that seafood very well may be “the single most important food one can consume for good health”–at least if we believe researchers at Harvard–and that the health benefits of the DHA and EPA omega-2 fatty acids are innumerable. Should we also discuss the Vitamins B6 and B10, selenium, and niacin found in canned tuna? Dietary guidelines promote consuming fish at least twice a week (and I, personally, aim for 5!) and one of the best ways to do that is with canned fish.IMG_0691 (1280x854)

Bumblebee would say that canned seafood is convenient, affordable, nutritious, and delicious, and I would simply say that it is like a blank canvas for creativity, easily adding protein to soups or salads, and always tasting fresh and light.*

*Although I guess that depends on preparation. IMG_0831 (1280x853)

This version of tuna salad was inspired by the fact that I am always the “special request” customer at restaurants.IMG_0846 (1280x853)

But, well, what does Avenue Pub expect if they offer a burger with Strawberry Sriracha Sauce on it? The fish eaters of the world are going to reject that beef straightaway but demand the sauce for their fish-topped salad.IMG_0837 (1280x852)

And then recreate the flavor profile at home.IMG_0865 (1280x853)

You can leave the yogurt out…IMG_0851 (1280x853)

…or not.IMG_0863 (1280x853)

But with a salad that is equal parts sweet, spicy, savory, AND summer…you can’t go wrong.IMG_0872 (1280x853)

Strawberry Sriracha Tuna Salad

  • 1 5-0z. can Bumblebee Solid White Albacore Tuna (in water), drained of excess water
  • 2/3 cup strawberries, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. green onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped cashews
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. plain yogurt (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp. sriracha (adjust as needed)
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, except cashews.
  2. Using a fork, mix and mash everything until well incorporated.
  3. Just before serving, sprinkle on cashews.*

*They will get soggy otherwise!



It must be a holdover from when I was a much “better” vegetarian (and one time “hard core” vegan), or perhaps just a natural inclination towards veggie-based meals, but when I see recipes in magazines for meat or poultry, I almost always immediately think about how I can make them vegetarian.Mustard & Molasses Baked Tempeh with Balsamic Blackberry Sauce from The Smart Kitchen (2)

Like these Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Blackberry Honey-Mustard Sauce from the May 2015 issue of Southern Living.

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Obviously the same seasonings used to flavor the pork could (should?!) be used to flavor tempeh.IMG_0307 (1280x853)


I have to say, this was a winner. Of course, I’ve got no other tastebuds to testify to this, because although I’ve successfully snuck (sneaked?) tempeh into The Professor, it was very well hidden.IMG_0328 (1280x853)

And this…well this is tempeh in all it’s Gavin DeGraw “I Don’t Wanna Me Anything Other Than (Not) Me Meat” gloryIMG_0334 (1280x853)

Not that that’s a bad thing.Mustard & Molasses Baked Tempeh with Balsamic Blackberry Sauce from The Smart Kitchen

(I got lazy with the blackberry sauce, but a vanilla balsamic blackberry smash worked just fine.)

Mustard & Molasses Baked Tempeh

  • 1 block tempeh
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  1. Cut tempeh in half cross-wise, then slice those halves lengthwise down the middle (cutting from the side)  into flat rectangles.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
  3. Coat tempeh evenly with sauce (on both sides).
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  5. Serve warm, on greens with blackberry sauce.*

*Warmed, well-mashed (perhaps previously frozen) blackberries with a dash of vanilla extract, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt.Mustard & Molasses Baked Tempeh with Balsamic Blackberry Sauce from The Smart Kitchen_2


Honey Sriracha Squash Pickles

by Sarah on June 29, 2015 · 0 comments

A story of recipe obsession: told in pictures.*

*Until the end.
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Honey Sriracha Squash Pickles

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 2 small zucchini (3/4 lb.), very thinly sliced
  • 2 small yellow summer squash (3/4 lb.), very thinly sliced
  • salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 4 green onions, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 2″ fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-2 Tbsp. sriracha
  1. Place (a) wire rack(s) on a rimmed baking sheet(s).
  2. Lay zucchini and squash slices on rack(s) and sprinkle liberally with salt.
  3. Allow to rest 30 minutes or so.
  4. Rinse squash VERY well.
  5. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine squash and onions.
  6. Combine water, vinegar, honey, sriracha, and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir well until honey is dissolved.
  7. Pour mixture over squash and onions.
  8. Stir, cover, and allow to chill for at least 2 hours.

“I’m glad y’all can come tonight. I’m also glad to know you’re a vegetarian, because I’m testing a new veggie burger recipe! But, well, the thing about veggie burgers is–“

“The taste is always better than the texture?”IMG_0666 (1280x853)

And that response made the husband of a member of my yoga ‘crew’ (also one of The Professor’s coworkers) my friend for life.

IMG_0658 (1280x853)

Because he has–as I wish we all could (myself included)– made his peace with the fact that a homemade veggie burger will likely always be slightly soft, probably fall apart, and even though it still tastes so good you will think, “Next time…NEXT time I’ll get it!” you know that’s really a pipe dream.

IMG_0550 (1280x853)

Instead, we should all accept the fact that we can’t get the texture of a mass produced burger at home…at least we know what’s in them?IMG_0560 (1280x853)

And what’s in THESE is a combination of brown rice, sweet potato, and, yes, my dear chickadees, SMOKED almonds.*

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*While The Professor bought these home–in a strangely similar parallel to the behavior of Papa Smart and HIS smoked almond obsession–he will likely never eat a veggie burger again. His one and only was probably when we were still in the early stages of dating and he was trying to impress me.IMG_0531 (1280x852)


Insane.IMG_0595 (1280x853)


A bit like a hash brown, maybe?IMG_0671 (1280x853)

Veggie burger success?

I’d say the fact that even non-vegetarians ate them and there were requests to take extras home from the party signifies YES.IMG_0642 (1280x853)

Smoked Almond & Sweet Potato Jamaican Jerk Veggie Burgers*

[Makes 8 patties]

  • 1/3 cup smoked almonds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup shallot or sweet onion, very finely chopped [I used the food chopper.]
  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice (day old, cold, works best)
  • 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato
  • 1 15.5-oz can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp. sriracha
  • 2 tsp. Jamaican Jerk seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika or cumin (optional)
  • salt + pepper (to taste)
  1. In a food processor or small chopper, process almonds and cilantro until a coarse meal forms.
  2. Put mixture into a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl.
  4. Using a fork, mash all ingredients together so that everything is well incorporated, but still chunky.
  5. Form 8 patties and  place on a baking sheet coated with baking spray.
  6. At this point, you may choose to refrigerate the patties until time for cooking.
  7. Bake patties at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until browned and slightly crispy.

*Recipe adapted from Healthy, Happy Life’s veggie burger collection


Thai Pineapple & Cucumber Salad

by Sarah on June 23, 2015 · 0 comments

It was like Kylie Minogue was on a constant loop in my brain, because I kept pulling up the recipe for Thai Watermelon Salad I found through Pinterest: I can’t could NOT get you it outta my head.

And yet…wouldn’t pineapple make so much more sense?IMG_0605 (1280x853)

So I riffed on the original and made something I think might taste even better.IMG_0625 (1280x853)

As for my fears that 1) I would eat it all before our Summer Solstice Shindig guests arrived…summersolsticeinvite

…and 2) it would be a little too adventurous for them?IMG_20150620_192832_722 (1280x721)


(Although a close call on #1)IMG_0614 (1280x853)

In fact, I heard the magical words every hostess (and potluck contributor) hopes for, at least in some form or fashion:

What was in that small dish? That pineapple stuff? That was amazing!IMG_0610 (1280x852)

[Even the pairing of fish sauce and fruit didn’t deter them.]

Thai Pineapple & Cucumber Salad

(Adapted from Scaling Back Blog’s Thai Watermelon Salad)

  • 6 cups pineapple, diced
  • 4 cups cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced, then quartered
  • 1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced (try for small ones, not the giant green onions)
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce (or more, if you like)
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • salt + pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sriracha (just drizzle as much as you like)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients except herbs in a mixing bowl.
  2. Stir well to combine.
  3. Chill a few hours before serving (if possible) to let the flavor develop.
  4. Just before serving, sprinkle on fresh herbs and stir a few times.
  5. Top with peanuts, if using.
  6. Enjoy!

It’s June 20, 2015, and a number of important things are happening today:IMG_0285 (1280x853)
It’s the first day of summer.
It’s Father’s Day.
And it’s time for Recipe ReduxTheme? Pie.reciperedux_pie
What better way to celebrate all of this than with a cool, refreshing smoothie inspired by Papa Smart’s favorite pie (or at least the pie he specially requested me to make one time a gazillion years ago…but the memory stuck).IMG_0271 (1280x853)
Technically this Chocolate Pecan Pie business is supposed to be a Derby Pie, featuring Kentucky Bourbon and eaten on a special day in May. pecan_pie2
But instead, I’ve turned it into a chocolate pecan protein smoothie that is a WHOLE lot better for you–flax! pecans! protein!–but still tastes like chocolate pecan pie.*
*You know, not so much like pecans as sticky, sweet, sugary, buttery, deliciousness with a few crunches of pecan nuttiness just so we can all it pecan pie?

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Mighty appe-PIE-zing, no?IMG_0291 (1280x853)
Chocolate Pecan Pie Smoothie
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder*
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla butter nut extract (or butter extract, or vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. golden flax seed meal
  1. In a blender, combine protein powder, almond milk, extract, and ice.
  2. Blend until smooth and thick.
  3. Add dates to the blender.
  4. Process until chopped and evenly distributed.
  5. Add ground flax seed and 3 Tbsp. pecans. Pulse just until incorporated.
  6. Pour smoothie into glass and sprinkle with remaining pecans.
 *I used Growing Naturals Chocolate Power rice protein.


Hoisin & Ginger Stir Fry Sauce

by Sarah on June 18, 2015 · 3 comments

When you buy a new ingredient for a recipe, you can either let it languish in the back of the cabinet only to be discovered months (years?) later in a state of near death that renders it unusable*…OR you can immediately fixate focus on trying to creatively incorporate it into new (or any) dish.

*I’m so sorry, still, dear tamarind paste.IMG_0230 (1280x853)

Hoisin in the fridge?

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Well, I don’t think my sudden, incredible need for stir fry was a coincidence.


[OK, this whole “I only want to eat Asian food” thing is not really any sort of sudden occurence. I’m fairly certain I should just retitle ALL of my Pinterest boards “Asian foods for various seasons and in varying levels of ‘could maybe convince The Professor to eat them’]IMG_20150615_194011_915 (1280x720)

I consulted a number of basic sauce recipes (and some I want to try as written later…) and came up with something that I find to be fairly basic, and a good “starter sauce” to which you could add more heat–SRIRACHA!–garlic, peanut butter (!), or even some five spice or something.IMG_0238 (1280x853)

Warning/Note: After delightedly dishing out a generous portion of a dinner entirely comprised of vegetables and brown rice, The Professor issued one of those tentative, “So what’s in the sauce?” comments. As there was nothing offensive or weird–at least after I explained what hoisin was–we could only come to the conclusion that The Professor’s “ginger tolerance”is much lower than mine. I could hardly taste it, even with adding fresh ginger to the pan…so you may need to adjust based on taste preferences in your house.

Hoisin & Ginger Stir Fry Sauce

(Makes 2 cups)

  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 Tbsp. hoisin
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chili paste (sambal oolek)
  • 1/4 tsp. fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar (or other vessel).
  2. Whisk extremely well!
  3. Add to stir-fried veggies as you would any other stir fry sauce. (And perhaps save a bit warmed to drizzle extra on your rice!)

The only time I remember The Professor telling me I made something of Italian origin better than he could was last year’s pesto experiment, during which even my “Oops, I forgot the oil!” concoction proved to be slightly more delicious than his later attempt.IMG_0205 (1280x853)

(Not last summer’s pesto.)IMG_0208 (1280x853)

Granted, The Professor makes some darn good pasta (and pizza), but I also like to try my hand at it every now and then.*

*Especially when it is so cute!IMG_0213 (853x1280)

Yet,while I’m sure he trusted in my pesto making abilities, the hawk-eyed surveillance of the pasta cooking was evident to all parties in the kitchen (me, and our dinner guests).IMG_0218 (1280x853)

But guess who even had seconds?

[Pesto Pasta by Miss Pember for the win.]IMG_0221 (1280x851)

The desire to use cashews came from the fact that 1) I had them and 2) they are less expensive than pine nuts. Also, they cashews make their own sort of oil and creaminess that sticks well to pasta, reducing the amount of oil you need (if any). I worked mainly with this recipe as a guide–mostly because it didn’t require any soaking of cashews* or initial time investment and I wanted pesto…and I wanted it NOW.

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And no, he didn’t notice I used cashews. :)

Lemon Cashew Pesto Pasta [with Bay Scallops & Summer Squash]

(Serves 4-6)

  • 1/2 recipe Lemon Cashew Pesto (below)
  • 12 oz. trottole or other bite-sized pasta
  • 12 oz. bay scallops, thawed, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large yellow summer squash, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • fresh basil, for serving
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese, for serving (optional)
  1. Roast zucchini, squash, and onion at 375 degrees until tender (about 30 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your chop).
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  3. While pasta is cooking, pour a thin layer of olive oil into a frying pan and get searing hot.
  4. When there are about 3 minutes left of pasta cooking time, put bay scallops into the pan.
  5. Remove pasta from stove, drain, and return to the pot.
  6. Stir in pesto, then the squash mixture.
  7. Once scallops are cooked (translucent), about 4 minutes or so, add to the pan or serving dish.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh basil and cheese!

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Lemon Cashew Pesto

(Adapted from Kevin Is Cooking)

  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • juice of half a lemon (or more)
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 3 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 2-4 Tbsp. water or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  1. Combine pesto, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Process until a coarse meal forms.
  2. Add basil and Parmesan to the food processor, processing well.
  3. Adjust seasoning and water/broth to taste and consistency desires.
  4. Remove pesto from food processor and stir in olive oil.
  5. Store VERY tightly covered (even with plastic wrap pressed into it) to reduce oxidation.

One Pot Thai Veggie Pasta

by Sarah on June 12, 2015 · 2 comments

False advertising it was.IMG_9967 (1280x853)

“Effortless”?  I think not.


Easy? Absolutely.IMG_9903 (1280x853)

But it required some time.

And some energy.

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And Time x Energy = Effort.IMG_9931 (1280x853)

However, it (in a Miss Smart-erized form of course) was also the best thing I ever made.

(At least in the past few weeks.)IMG_9975 (1280x853)

Mountains of pasta consumed upon immediate creation? Uh huh.

Mountains of pasta consumed cold, while standing over the sink, perhaps with my fingers, while contemplating whether to actually reheat the leftovers? Thai and stop me.IMG_9948 (1280x853)

One Pot Thai Veggie Pasta

(Adapted from Produce on Parades‘ Effortless Thai Pasta)

  • 12 oz. dry fettuccine (or bucatini, linguini, spaghetti)
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup zucchini, julienned
  • 1 cup yellow squash, julienned
  • 4 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly (reserve dark green parts for garnish)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter or 2 Tbsp. peanut butter powder + 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. ground chili paste (sambal oolek)
  • 1/2 lime, sliced, for garnish
  • crushed peanuts, for garnish
  • chopped cilantro , for garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients except veggies, pasta, and garnishes in a large stock pot. Stir very well.
  2. Add vegetables and pasta to the pot. (Don’t worry that it is sticking out of the liquid.)
  3. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring consistently until pasta wilts into the water.
  4. Continue to stir regularly, cooking 10-12 minutes.
  5. When sauce has thickened (keeping in mind it will continue to do so as it cools), you are ready to eat!