Smashed Chickpea Sandwich


Little known fact: I wrote most of my cookbook at Starbucks.  We were on vacation for some of the process, and occasionally I would stay up late and get things done with the TV on mute (and wine in hand), but ultimately, I found I was most productive at a coffee shop.  Prior to the writing portion of the book, I designed a small office space in my house and was psyched to use it.  However, every time I sat down, I'd find something else to do...like color coordinate my bookshelf or update my calendar.  Occasionally, I would find myself wandering downstairs to organize the tupperware drawer.  My point being, I could NOT focus at home, ever.  So, the nice baristas at Starbucks knew me, my drink, and I got to know all the other regulars who were there every day for whatever reason.  

THEN, a new coffee shop opened in town called For Five (I swear I'm getting to the sandwich part of this blog) and I haven't been back to Starbucks since.  I feel sort of badly about this.  Like I used all my new barista friends and then dumped them, high and dry.  Sure, I doubt they care, because after all they are Starbucks and serve millions of customers every day, but I still feel guilt because I always feel guilt.  Then, I add up all the money I spent on green tea lattes writing my book and that feeling dissolves.  STARBUCKS YOU OWE ME A THANK YOU CARD.  

Ok, so the sandwich.  At For Five, they make a Smashed Chickpea Sandwich that I was very excited to recreate at home.  It's essentially garbanzo beans, smashed, with greek yogurt, a little mayo, fresh squeezed lemon juice and some spices, served between toasted bread with whatever toppings you like (here: sprouts, cucumber and avocado).  It's a delicious lunch, and the beans provide a nice source of protein to a vegetarian dish.  Recipe below!  

*Side note: I find cucumbers completely worthless unless they are on a sandwich.  Sorry about it.        

Smashed Chickpea Sandwich
Makes: 4 

1 15oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained
2 Tbsp greek yogurt
1 Tbsp mayonaise
Juice of half a lemon 
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted bread
Optional toppings: avocado, sprouts, sliced cucumbers

In a bowl, smash garbanzo beans with a fork or masher until desired consistency is reached.  Add the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice and seasonings and stir, tasting and adding more spices if needed.  Serve on toasted bread with toppings of choice!

Brazilian Cheese Bread


Have you ever been to a Brazilian restaurant and had these bad boys?  Do I sound really cool and hip when I say things like "bad boys"?  Anyhoo (there I go again), they are light and fluffy balls of goodness filled with ooey, gooey cheese.  Cheese Balls.  Best part?  They are gluten-free.  Way bester part (because I enjoy gluten)?  They are SO EASY TO MAKE.

I know what you're thinking.  How is baking your own cheese bread easy?  Just trust me.

I mean, look at the ingredients...

I count 6, and two of those 6 ingredients are cheese (Mozzarella and Parmesan).  No kneading, no rising, no effort at all.  Just a quick mix until a sticky dough is formed, a plop onto a baking sheet (wet your hands while you do this for less mess), and a perfect roll will form in your oven.  

They are best eaten warm, but you can easily reheat them later or the next day (or the next).  Please make them this weekend and then we can all be cheese ball experts!  

Recipe I followed HERE.   

Veggie & Chickpea Tacos


A couple of weeks ago, I had two of my sisters over for dinner.  They are vegetarian, gluten-free and one doesn't eat sugar, onions or garlic.  To say the least, I had to think carefully about what I served them, especially because I happen to be a meat-eating, sugar-toothed gluten lover.  It was a Tuesday night and naturally I was craving tacos, so I thought... veggie tacos!  For some added protein, I threw chickpeas into the mix.  I used corn tortillas (gluten-free) and resisted the overwhelming urge to add garlic (however did end up making crispy onions to serve on the side).    

I loosely followed this recipe from the lovely Baker Chick for the chickpeas and slaw (using bagged broccoli slaw instead of cabbage).  Then, I roasted some julienned zucchini, sweet potatoes and yellow onions in the oven (olive oil, salt and pepper, 400 degrees, 20 minutes or so) and added those to the tacos.  Finally, I *lightly fried sliced leeks in veggie oil until they got brown and crispy, and I sprinkled those on top of everything.  Queso fresco, avocado, radishes, hot sauce... done.

*I enjoy saying "lightly fried" because it makes it sound healthier when, in fact, there is nothing "light" about it.  I'm frying food, period.

These were SO tasty, and also filling.  I didn't miss the meat or the gluten (but maybe the garlic, because I have a problem).    

Skinny Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Well my friends, now that it appears spring blizzards are finally behind us, it's safe to start thinking about swim suit season.  Although, is it ever safe to think about that?  I just went online to look at a few, and the ones I like are backordered until August.  Excuse me??  Was I supposed to shop for swimsuits in January?  While I was eating hearty stews and drinking goblets of wine??  No thanks.  I guess I'll just drape myself in a fitted sheet and call it a day.  

However, if YOU found yourself a fabulous new swimsuit seven months ago, then maybe you're working on getting fit for those selfies by the pool (bahahaha... hahahahaha... HA, who does that?).  I have found the perfect snack for you.  This Spinach and Artichoke Dip uses greek yogurt in place of sour cream and much less cheese than traditional dips, yet it's just as creamy and delicious and the perfect vessel for all sorts of vegetables.  See?  Swim suit approved.        

One-Pan Sausage, Shrimp & Veggies


Ironically, leading up to the release of my cookbook, I haven't been cooking!  Is that actual irony?  I never really know, Alanis has me all confused.  Whatever it is, I do find it amusing.  We've had more take-out and meals that friends have graciously cooked for us in the last few weeks than we've had in a long time!  I should probably go ahead and add the pizza delivery guys to my will.

The truth is, I've been so busy trying to share what this cookbook stands for - which is that cooking should be simple, fun and delicious - that I've abandoned my kitchen in the process!  My kitchen is mad at me!  It's saying, "Siri, come back, you belong here..." because my kitchen talks, doesn't yours?

Therefore, to appease my talking kitchen and my family, I finally cooked dinner the other night.  I cooked it up, cooked it up real good.  And, surprise, surprise, I went with a simple, approachable, delicious recipe!  Can you tell I've been promoting my cookbook for the last month?  

One-pan dinners are my jam, if I was the type of person who said things like "my jam" - which I'm not.  They are easy, the flavors all marinate together, and clean-up is a breeze.  Here, I chopped up some veggies, added sausage and shrimp and a bunch of spices and, voila, dinner is done.  Serve it over rice, quinoa or pasta and you've got a yummy week-night dinner that you didn't slave over.  Perfect for those busy times which are, let's face it, all of the times.  Recipe below...    

One-Pan Sausage, Shrimp & Veggies
Serves 4-6
Cooking Time: 30 minutes


1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, sliced
1/2 lb. shrimp (cleaned and deveined)
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a large sheet pan, add all veggies and sausage.  Place shrimp in a bowl.  In a smaller bowl, add spices and mix to combine.  Sprinkle 2 tbsp olive oil over sausage and veggies.  Add most of seasoning, reserving about a tsp.  Toss to make sure everything is evenly coated.  Add the remaining olive oil and remaining seasoning to shrimp, and toss to combine.  Place sheet pan in oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove and flip veggies and sausage.  Cook for another 10 minutes.  Remove, flip again and add shrimp.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  Serve over pasta or rice with freshly grated Parmesan.    

The Book is Out!!!


It's here!  It's here!  
I wrote a book and it's here!  
Check you local bookstore!!
Or, you can still find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble... 
(and I've always wanted to say this phrase)
"...or wherever books are sold!"

For a sneak peek, check out these videos.  I talk about the book, and I make some recipes from my favorite chapters... It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere and Sweet Treats (obviously).     

This process has been an insane, emotional journey and I'm full of gratitude for everyone that worked so hard to help make it happen... including YOU.  You are my favorite :)  

Book Signings!!


Now that March is almost over, the countdown is officially on for April 17th when... my cookbook is officially released!  Can I sign yours?  Pretty please, with chocolate chips on top??

Remember, you can pre-order now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

See below for my upcoming signings.  I would love to meet you!

Saturday, April 14th - 12PM
Williams Sonoma Columbus Circle

Thursday, April 19th - 10AM
NBC Studios Store at Rockefeller Plaza

Thursday, May 10th - 7PM
Magers & Quinn

Thursday, May 17th
An Evening of Wine and Roses 
Ticketed event, benefits Newton Medical Center

Sunday, May 20th - 1PM
Williams Sonoma Beverly Hills


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