Foodie on the Half Shell: Cooking with wine

As pretty much anyone who knows me or reads my column knows; I love food. I love to try new recipes with interesting ingredients and different methods of cooking them. I love how food tastes, and I also love how it looks. I love everything about food (other than the large amounts of calories in things that I love, like butter). I also love drinks, though. I find it really important when I am describing my passion for the edible world that I include the words “food and drink.”

I bartended for a short time in my hometown, and I loved it almost more than I love to cook. There is a different feeling you get when you put a perfect martini in front of someone rather than a perfect bowl of noodles or a perfect sandwich. There is something a little naughty and fun about the whole interaction. We know that if it’s good enough they may even have another, which has the potential to be even more wickedly fun (or not so fun for some).

I don’t enjoy alcohol just because it has the potential to intoxicate me, nor do I just enjoy food because it nourishes me. What I love is the complexity of flavors different types of drinks hold. The best part of wines, spirits, and beer is the fact that they don’t always need to be drank to be enjoyed—they can also be cooked with! If you are someone who does not drink, this article is still for you because if you cook with alcoholic beverages, the alcohol itself is cooked out of it. Here are some really fun ways to incorporate your favorite adult beverage into your food.

Beer mussels: The ocean taste of mussels pairs well with just about any kind of beer. Want to dump some Pabst Blue Ribbon in the pot? Go for it! Seriously! You can also go for your favorite IPA to give the broth an awesome punch. Sauté garlic and onion in a pot and then dump in some water, a can or two of beer (depending on the amount of mussels), and maybe some tomato sauce and chili flakes to make it really delicious. Dump a bag or two of mussels in the pot and cover it with a lid. Cook until all of the mussels are open.

Red wine poached pears: This is perfect for a fancy looking dessert that is super simple. Place skinned whole pears in a pot and cover with red wine and a little sugar. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. For a little extra flavor, add a couple cloves and an orange peel. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Vodka tomato cream sauce: This is my family’s favorite sauce for their spaghetti, and it is so simple. Sautee some olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes in a pan till fragrant. Add about a half a cup of vodka in the pan (change depending on how much pasta and how much of the vodka you want to taste). A half cup of vodka is enough for sauce to serve about six people. Add the red sauce immediately, and let simmer for five to 10 minutes. At the end, add enough cream to make the sauce a dark pink color. Put the sauce on top of your favorite type of pasta.

Little Red Riding Vogue: An introduction to the wig theory

As someone who’s interested in fashion, I can’t overlook all of the different possibilities for fashion—all of the places where I can perfect my look. If I’m really trying to put something together, every detail matters. If I’m invested in a look, my accessories, hair, and makeup will communicate the look as well.

In high school I discovered the wonders of hair dye. My hair has been brown, black, a natural red, orange, fire-engine red, black with blond on the bottom, black with blue on the bottom, magenta, hot pink, blond, purple. And with every color I found a new piece of myself. It was like finishing a paint-by-number puzzle. As you get the puzzle together and paint the pieces, you can see more clearly what the picture is.

I developed what I called “The Wig Theory”—the idea that if I changed my hair, I could be someone else, the way and actress becomes a different character with different hair and makeup styling. It was so freeing and exhilarating. And as someone who changes their mind constantly, I found myself changing my hair on a monthly basis—if not weekly.

Unfortunately, as many of my fellow hair dye junkies can attest, there is a breaking point. If you dye and bleach your hair too much, you’ll kill it. When I had it blond, I had bleached it too quickly—leaving my hair falling out in chunks at the end. It felt like straw and it had to go.

I went back to a salon for the first time in about four years and got my hair trimmed into a short bob. I had it dyed back to my natural dark brown and got extensions. And I waited for it to grow back strong and healthy.

Fast forward a year and my hair had grown long enough that I could cut off the ends and have completely healthy virgin hair. It was so soft I could hardly believe it was my hair—the hair I’d grown used to being so rough and ugly. I never wanted to dye it again.

But soon, I found temptation nagging me and giving my bangs a trim wasn’t quite enough. I was losing my mind when I stumbled upon a fashion blog on Tumblr. The blogger wore different colored contacts and wigs every day to make each outfit unique. The incomprehensible amount of combinations knocked me off my feet. I was in love.

So I started doing research. I found places to get good, but cheap, colored contacts and circle lenses. I ordered a few high quality wigs and a bulk of cheap ones. When I posted a picture of myself suddenly having long auburn hair and blue eyes, no one even questioned it—they just all loved my new look. I felt empowered and excited.

I started changing it up more often—blond with green eyes, black and white hair with blue eyes, silver hair with brown eyes. Some people would ask about the thought process behind it all, but I never encountered anyone judging me to my face.

And my morning routine was so quick! I never had to worry about having a bad hair day! I would pull together an outfit, decide which color hair would look best with that color scheme, and coordinate my contacts with my makeup.

I was just starting out at Chatham, and no doubt I was confusing people during orientation, but people thought it was fun. They’d ask to see my wigs and try them on. And eventually, my natural hair grew longer and that was enough for me. I packed up my wigs and contacts and settled for brown hair and brown eyes. I was becoming more of a professional and it felt like a more professional look. Eventually I tried a subtle ombré and loved that as well.

But I was started to feel stuffy and boring—and getting a septum piercing just wasn’t enough. My tattoo artist told me her hair stylist was a wizard with color and I started looking up colorful hair. I settled on a red ombré and had it done over Spring Break.

Now here’s the deal. I’m sure people might look at the color of my hair and think I’m less professional than I really am. I have piercings, tattoos, and bright red hair. In some people’s minds, that means I’m not a professional. But I’ll never understand that. I would never judge someone’s skills by the color of their skin—so why would someone judge me by the color of my hair?

To be fair, no one has approached me about my hair yet, but this isn’t just about me. As the last print version of this column this year, I’m asking that we all look at the people around us and appreciate the way they look. Let us love each other’s scars and blemishes. Let us not judge people for their weight or their height. Let us not judge a book by its cover. I promise not to judge you if you can return the favor.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Five reasons why I won’t go gluten-free

If you read my column, you know that a lot of my focus is on health. I try out most new fad diets to see what I think about them, and some of them are great while others aren’t so much. I understand that we are all trying to figure out what the key to health and fitness is—I am too! I also know that the true answer is a well- rounded diet with exercise. But I would like to make one thing clear: gluten is a part of a well-rounded diet. I think flour products are some of the most divine edibles to be put on this earth. When I heard that a very large group of people were saying that gluten was evil…well I just about freaked out.

Gluten has been my friend for twenty-one years. It has never betrayed me, and I couldn’t believe that so many people had negative feelings toward it. I felt like I didn’t even know some of my best friends anymore. They were saying things like “Olivia, have you tried this quinoa pasta?” or “Yummm, cauliflower crusted pizza is better than that gluten infested stuff that the others eat.” I didn’t know what to do. I was hurt, confused, and angry. Most of all, I knew that I had to stick up for gluten. Here are five huge reasons why gluten is the best thing ever.

  1. Pizza. There is nothing that can replace a good pizza pie. Whether you’re in the mood for a crisp crust or a soft crust, gluten is there is for you. This whole idea of using other vessels like vegetables is just a joke. We all know it isn’t the same. Liking cauliflower crust doesn’t make people think you are hip. It makes us think that your judgment is poor.
  2. Spaghetti. Sofia Loren said it herself: “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” Now that is a woman after my own heart. Spaghetti makes you strong, smart, and beautiful. I have no facts to back that up, but I really believe it, and so should you guys.
  3. It goes with butter really well. Almost anything that contains gluten tastes amazing with a nice big smear of butter. You can make it even better by making a shallot and herb butter. Or spread some delicious stinky cheese on a crisp slice of bread.
  4. It makes you happy. Have you ever noticed that people who eat gluten seem to be so happy? Like me! I am looking forward to this weekend because I am going to eat spaghetti and garlic bread. You know the people who “don’t eat gluten” want it, though, and have their guilty pleasures. Me? I don’t like to limit myself to pretty much anything. Yes, I’m a pescetarian for the most part, but bacon is love.
  5. Sandwiches. There is just nothing like spicy capicola with provolone, lettuce, tomato, hot peppers, and some oil and vinegar between a freshly baked baguette. I am drooling just thinking about it.

So if you actually have celiac disease, then this probably doesn’t apply to you and you probably shouldn’t indulge if it will hurt you. Those of you who are pretending just to be cool, please stop. I want to eat pizza with my friends and not have to remember that they are sensitive to the food of gods. Psh.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Blissful bruschetta

I truly think that food can fix anything. From shedding tears over love lost or a failing grade to helping you feel energetic and motivated. Our mind and body are intertwined in a way that is abstract to think about for someone who may not know a lot about integrative medicine. I took an Intro to Integrative Medicine last semester, and I really enjoyed it because it made me think a lot about what we, as individuals, need to eat to be the best we can be.

The main focuses in integrative medicine are prevention of disease, non- invasive remedies of disease, and the mind body connection. Although I am a huge supporter of modern day medicine (go get your kids vaccinated, darn it!), I also am a supporter of a holistic way of looking at how I take care of my body. Now, my column isn’t about medicine and science, because that is truly not my forte. What it is about, though, is nourishment.

If we nourish our bodies with what they need, our minds (or spirits, whatever you prefer) will respond positively. Sometimes, we need to feed our minds and spirits, though! For the most part of day, I am eating to survive. For breakfast and lunch I eat strictly vegan. I eat a lot of vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like hummus and avocado. All of those foods are delicious, but there is truly nothing like creamy cheeses or heavy Italian meals. For dinner, I eat to enjoy, while still nourishing myself. It isn’t like I say, “Oh, to Hell with nutrition,” when it is dinner- time, but I do take the time to make something that I truly want to savor.

This bruschetta is a perfect appetizer or small dinner. It feeds your desire for breads and cheese but won’t make your diet crash and burn. By balancing it with a soft cheese, like chèvre, and roasted vegetables, you are getting what your body needs and wants. Tonight, I made this bruschetta to help my partner get ready for an exam tomorrow. When you are studying your butt off, you don’t want to have to think about making yourself food. Also, microwave dinner just won’t support your extreme mental endeavors. I have no idea when microwave meals are a good idea…anyone care to enlighten me?

Eating instructions include serving this on your coffee table while you sit on pillows and drink red wine sangria.

What you will need for two people:

About 6 slices of fresh crusty bread

1 small packet of goat cheese

2 red bell peppers

A package of asparagus

2 teaspoons of garlic salt

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Roast the bell peppers and asparagus with some olive oil at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are caramelized. When cool, chop up the vegetables into small pieces. Mix in the garlic salt and pepper into the vegetables.

Toast the bread with on a cookie sheet in the same oven for about 5-10 minutes with some olive oil drizzled on it.

Smother the goat cheese on the toast. Top with hefty spoonfuls of the vegetables and finish with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar.

Little Red Riding Vogue: Why I don’t watch shows like “Fashion Police”

As someone interested in fashion, I think a lot of people expect me to watch shows like “Fashion Police.” While I am prone to getting sucked into “America’s Next Top Model” and “Project Runway” marathons, I’ve never been interested in a show that aims to tear people down. One of my least favorite things about the fashion industry is its need to raise up some people while they destroy others. Why do things like “Who Wore it Better” even exist? Why can’t two people wear the same outfit and both be beautiful?

Well it seems I’m not the only one struggling with “Fashion Police.” Recently they’ve gotten a lot of flack for an atrocious comment made at the Oscars. The comment was made about Zendaya—an actress, singer, and dancer.

Zendaya emerged on the red carpet in a beautiful, sleek, ivory gown by Vivienne Westwood. In my opinion, she looked incredible—like what I imagine Greek goddesses to look like. She was dressed and carried herself with so much class. As someone previously unfamiliar with her work, I would have honestly assumed she was just a model or rock royalty. Even Vogue agreed. They said it best, stating, “Oh, what a difference a serious red-carpet moment can make! If you didn’t know who Zendaya was before tuning in to the 87th Annual Academy Awards tonight, well, you will now: The lissome and lovely Disney actress and pop singer caused a stir on the red carpet in a figure-hugging ivory-toned Vivienne Westwood slip of a goddess gown, replete with flowing dreadlocks: one part Lisa Bonet, one part Venus de Milo, and all very grown up (which is to say, all very un-Disney).” In brief, she was stunning.

However, the “Fashion Police” didn’t seem to agree. The show’s host, Giuliana Rancic decided that Zendaya’s look was worthy of racial profiling—due to her beautiful, dreadlocked hair. Rancic said clearly, “I feel that she smells like patchouli oil…or weed. Yeah, maybe weed.”

Many of the people on the show laughed. Notably though, Kelly Osbourne showed some discomfort and instead of laughing, put her hand to her head in shock. This comes as no surprise now that Osbourne has made it clear that she is leaving the show due to that comment. What began with a barrage of angry tweets aimed at the show (to clear her name and her stance on the situation with her fans), has now lead to an official statement.  Within her tweets, Osbourne explained that she and Zendaya were friends and that she does, “not condone racism.”

Since the airing of the show and the backlash, Rancic has tried backpedalling as much as possible. She began by saying she meant the comment as a critique of the “bohemian chic” style. Then she told “Access Hollywood” that she wasn’t even the one who wrote the joke.

Zendaya has since accepted this apology, stating that she hoped it would be, “a learning experience for [Rancic] and for the network.”

However, Zendaya’s first, immediate statement to the comments was without a doubt the strongest statement made during this debacle. In an image she posted on her various social media outlets, Zendaya stood up for herself and her dreadlocks. She listed many incredibly successful and intelligent people with dreadlocks and insisted that none of them smelled like patchouli oil or weed.

While I agree with Zendaya and hope that everyone involved learns from this, I don’t think there was enough coverage on the fact that Kylie Jenner recently got dreadlocks and her hair was described as edgy and cool. Not only does that support cultural appropriation, but it creates a double standard that if the originators of the style have it, it’s gross or dirty, but if cultural appropriators have it, it’s desirable or stylish. This is where I lose some interest in the fashion industry. It’s about time they wake up and fix this broken system.

Actress and activist Jamie Brewer makes history as the first model with Down syndrome to walk during NYFW

As many of you may have noticed from previous columns, I am a huge fan of “American Horror Story.” Without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite returning actresses is Jamie Brewer. She knocks it out of the park every season. Although she’s been given (and nailed) many different characters, she always gets some of the wittiest, punchiest lines of the season. She is the queen of sass and sarcasm, but her characters almost always have a heart of gold.

“American Horror Story” gave her a breakthrough role as Adelaide ‘Addie’ Langdon in season one. In season three, she returned as Nan the witch. Most recently, in season four, she plays Marjorie, the spirit of a ventriloquist dummy.

However, on Thursday, February 12, Brewer took a step away from acting to pursue another fantastic goal: modeling. Brewer made New York Fashion Week history by being the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway.

She tweeted two photos that morning, showing her palpable excitement as she got her hair and makeup done for the catwalk.

Brewer walked at Lightbox (a digital arts and events space in New York City) for designer Carrie Hammer’s “Role Models Not Runway Models” show which was meant to change model stereotypes. Hammer started “Role Models Not Runway Models” at last year’s Fashion Week and has been acclaimed for it.

With Brewer were other incredible women such as computer coders, bankers, CEOs, marketing executives, philanthropists, and more.

Besides being an actress, Brewer is also an activist, artist, and writer. When she was 19, Brewer was elected to the State of Texas ARC Board (an organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities). She also served on the ARC Governmental Affairs Committee for Texas.

Brewer was the last to walk in the show, wearing an original design–a black dress with a belt-cinched waist. Hammer was quoted as saying the look was inspired by the darkness of “American Horror Story.” The cinched waist was added to the design specifically to show off Brewer’s incredible, curvy figure.

As expected, she brought her familiar confidence and power from “American Horror Story” to the runway. Her red lips showed off her memorable smirk and her walk was as flawless as a more seasoned model.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier for Brewer. I’ve always been a fan of her acting, and now she’s tackled modeling. Beyond that, I also admire all the work she’s done as an activist, and I hope we see more of her on the runway.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Nutty for peanut noodles

I believe that peanut noodles should be a part of everyone’s diet. They are sweet and salty and sometimes spicy. You can do them in all different ways. You can add whatever kind of toppings you want to them such as bacon, radishes, or maybe some grilled fruit.

I make these noodles pretty often because they are cheap, very quick to make, and easy. If I am having a busy night, peanut noodles are always a reliable dish to make. The most fun thing about making them for other people is that they assume they are difficult to make because they sounds foreign and interesting. Actually it’s really easy to be good at making them.

Seriously, though, if you add peanut butter to anything it automatically becomes delicious. If you add it to something that is typically savory, then you are deemed inventive. Such as a peanut butter, pickle, and bacon sandwich (if you haven’t tried it, then change that). What does it say about someone if they eat that type of sandwich? Ah, yes they are creative and quirky.

It makes even some of the worst foods taste great, too. Like celery. If you are into cooking you know that celery is a part of the kitchen’s “holy trinity” (celery, onion, and carrots), but celery is the worst tasting vegetable out there. Its taste is comparable to licking the outside of a prenatal vitamin. I have no clue why we actually choose to eat it. It’s just an excuse to dump a quarter of a cup of ranch dressing into our mouths.

The key to this dish is the sauce. The sauce can be used for other types of things, though, not just noodles. I remember my first introduction to peanut sauce was dipping Morning Star vegetarian chicken nuggets in it as a kid. I still think that sounds delicious and all types of nostalgic. This recipe for the peanut sauce is my favorite that I have made, yet. It would be delicious in a chicken wrap with some cabbage and red onion or dipping any type of vessel into it, such a veggies or chicken (or Chik’n) nuggets. Feel free to play around with the proportions of the ingredients in the sauce to your own liking.

What you will need for two entrée sized portions:

½ lb of soba noodles

¼ cup of peanut butter

¼ cup of soy sauce

1 Tbs of honey

1 Tbs of garlic powder

1 tsp of ground ginger

2 tsps of cayenne pepper

¼ cup of water

Whatever you want to top the noodles with: crushed peanuts, bacon, fried scallions, radishes, etc.

Cook the soba noodles to al dente. Combine the rest of the ingredients till the sauce is smooth and not too thick. You don’t want it to be too watery either. Add the water slowly to make sure the consistency is correct. Stir the sauce into the noodles making sure they are consistently covered. I enjoy my peanut noodles cold with green peppers, radish, peanuts, and extra cayenne pepper.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Scrumptious seafood

Seafood is a group of food that I love for many reasons. Not only is it low in fat and high in protein, but it is also very accessible. I think seafood has this connotation that it is either really expensive and good, or it is cheap and you are sitting at the Golden Corral. Seafood can be expensive, but there are some tricks to sneak it into your diet on a budget in Pittsburgh.

First, be smart about where you are buying your seafood. Whole Foods has very high prices, but the fish isn’t any better than the fish at Wholey’s Seafood Market down in the Strip District. The Market District also has some amazing sales on things like crab legs. On Valentines Day, I got a couple pounds of King Crab Legs for less than $20. By going to an actual seafood market or a grocery store where they have a seafood counter, you are able to pick exactly how much fish you want, which saves you money. I almost always buy my shrimp frozen. I think that the quality stays the same, and it is cheaper than fresh shrimp. You can buy frozen shrimp almost anywhere, including Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s.

The un-fun thing about eating animal product is the sustainability factor. A great way to know what and what not to eat is to check out The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. You will be able to look up every type of seafood in the world and see what kind is okay to buy. The recipe I am sharing today is based on shrimp. Shrimp is versatile and a lot of people love it, even if it is dipped in ketchup and fried…which is delicious. The best type of shrimp to buy is wild from Alaska or Canada.

This recipe is so easy that literally anyone with working hands can make it. It takes no skill at all! Baked shrimp may not sound typical, but it is probably my favorite way to eat them when the grill is put away for the winter. Impress anyone with your seafood “talents,” and serve this with some white wine and crusty bread.

What you will need for about a dozen shrimp:

12 shrimp, deveined and thawed if frozen

½ of a white onion, sliced into thin rings

4 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 lemons, sliced thin.

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of minced rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Set the oven to 350 degrees. Place the slices of lemons, onion, and crushed garlic all over a cookie sheet creating a layer of those ingredients. Place your shrimp on top of this layer. Drizzle shrimp with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook for 15 minutes.

For the butter-wine sauce:

4 tablespoons of butter

Juice of half a lemon

¼ cup of white wine

Melt the butter and mix the other ingredients into it. Drizzle on top of the shrimp.

Little Red Riding Vogue: Fashion plagiarism

They taught you about it all through your academic career—if you’re going to take something from someone else, you have to cite it. Otherwise, it’s plagiarism. You can absolutely be inspired by someone’s work, but if you don’t give them credit for the inspiration, you’re in the wrong.

One upsetting thing in the fashion industry is fashion plagiarism. So often, I hear of small designers or makeup artists having their looks stolen by big designers. In some cases, when the original designers try to speak up and make a claim for their art, the big designers have them silenced. They ignore any messages, delete any comments—they do what they can to erase the small designer and hold onto the stolen design as their own.

Most recently, I saw a case of this with a favorite Instagrammer of mine. LA-based makeup artist Mykie (better known as Glam & Gore) creates incredible, fantastical looks with makeup. In my opinion, some of them are worthy of Syfy’s “Face Off.” Specifically, she did a look in December that blew me away. She did her makeup in a way to give her skin a reptilian look. But that wasn’t all. She also made a fake skin to go with the look—as if she was shedding her normal face for a snake one.

Her first posting of the look has over 19,900 likes on Instagram. On February 20, Mykie posted a collage on Instagram showing her look being replicated at New York Fashion Week. The problem is, she wasn’t credited at all. Mehron Makeup recreated the look for brother and sister designers Michael and Stephanie Costello without attributing Mykie as their inspiration.

Everyone was stunned by and smitten with a look they thought came from Mehron. Meanwhile, Mykie wasn’t getting any praise for the look she worked so hard to create. Granted, there were slight changes to the Costello makeup, but it was very clearly a copy of her work.

In Mykie’s post, she mentioned that she was grateful to be considered such a good artist that people would want to replicate her looks, but she felt it was unfair that the looks went unaccredited. Since then, both Mehron Makeup and the Costellos have posted apologies on their Instagrams, admitting that the look came from Mykie, and that they are sorry that they did not recognize her as the source originally.

Unfortunately, this is one of the best cases I’ve seen. One of the worst is the recurring theft of designer Jeremy Scott. I used to be a huge fan of his work until he presented his Barbie looks for Moschino in the fall. When I started looking up more information about them, I found that he was accused of stealing the look from independent designer Nikki Lipstick. When you look at the pictures comparing the two collections, it’s uncanny.

When she tried confronting Scott via his Facebook page, Lipstick’s comments were deleted. He even blocked her on all social media. And this isn’t the first time he’s been caught stealing art or phrases from other designers or artists. Most unfortunately, he hasn’t seen any huge repercussions for his latest actions. In the past, he did face a court trial for stealing art and had to pull the pieces that featured it—as the artist was well known and had very distinct illustrations. However, Nikki Lipstick is a smaller designer and more easily silenced. Apparently, if you’re the bigger guy in the fight, plagiarism is fine.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Fight the winter blues with warm food

I try not to complain about the weather, because I feel like it is a waste of energy and time for us all. In these frigid last couple months of winter, though, I’ve begun to understand the winter blues.

A great way to beat the blues is to cook and eat warm food. Cooking by the stove and oven keeps you nice and toasty, and so will moving around the kitchen. Being sedentary with a big box of Cheez-Its sounds great until the last episode of your favorite show is over on Netflix and you are still cold…and hungry.

This recipe will keep you warm and full for a while. It is inspired by a dish at Girasole in Shadyside. It consists of cannellini beans cooked in a well seasoned tomato sauce over pasta with garlic kale on top. It is quite hearty, but full of protein and carbs to give you a lot of energy and to keep you strong during these treacherous sub zero days.

I take a lot of short cuts in this recipe, such as canned beans instead of dried beans and store bought tomato sauce instead of homemade. To my defense, though, my tomatoes did not turn out well this year and I am still trying to figure out how to soak and cook dried beans properly.

If anyone has good advice, please let me know. I am really trying to switch over and avoid the toxic BPA in the cans! But alas, cans are so very handy. Especially for people with jobs, children, or school-work–which means the majority of us.

Enjoy this recipe with a good glass of red wine, a mood candle, and someone you love. This recipe is for big portions because you will want a lot of this stuff!

What you will need for 2-4 people (depending)

1 large bunch of kale roughly chopped

2 cloves of minced garlic

8 ounces of al dente pasta

1 can of cannellini beans

½ of a medium onion chopped finely

2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

1 Tbs of hot chili flakes (less if you don’t like a lot of spice)

1 Tbs of fresh basil

A lot of Parmesan to grate on top

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for cooking

For the kale, start the process by heating some garlic with some olive oil on low heat. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add in the kale in stages on medium heat. For each handful of kale, stir around and sprinkle a little salt so it will wilt. When all of the kale is added, be sure to stir it around the olive oil until it is all well coated. Add more olive oil, if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the beans and tomato sauce, start by heating up olive oil and tossing in the onion and garlic. When that is fragrant and the onions are translucent, add in your tomato sauce, basil, and pepper flakes. Let the sauce come to a boil and then turn down the heat. Add the cannellini beans and salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture simmer for about 15-20 minutes so the flavors can marry.

To put the dish together, top the bean and tomato sauce mixture on some of the pasta, and then layer the kale on top of the beans. Finish with good parmesan grated on top of everything.