Skillet-Poached Eggs with Braised Peppers and Onions

If you ask anybody what the worst standard interview question is, I'm pretty sure most people would say it's, "What's your greatest weakness?" Ugh, that question sucks. Most people try to come up with an answer that's really a strength (see: "I'm a perfectionist") and it just never works out well. But if you were to ask me, "What's your greatest weakness as a cook?", I have an honest answer for that one. It's impatience.

Let's be real, by the time 7 or 8 o'clock rolls around and I've been working all day and it's time to cook dinner, I am a hungry hungry hippo. I've been known to shave a few minutes off of recipes here and there in the interest of getting food into my stomach faster. Once in a while, though, this approach works out better than expected. Take this skillet-poached egg recipe (which is delicious, by the way): I was feeling super impatient so I took the eggs out of the skillet even though I was sure they weren't done enough. Lo and behold, they ended up being done perfectly -- runny but not too runny, just right for dipping hunks of bread into. Yum.

Skillet-Poached Eggs with Braised Peppers and Onions
From Real Simple
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika if you're feeling crazy)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Country bread or baguette, for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and onions and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 6 to 8 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes (with their juices), paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper to the skillet. Cover and simmer until the liquid has thickened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and season again as necessary.

Using a spoon, make 8 shallow wells in the vegetables and crack an egg into each. Season each egg with a pinch of salt and a twist of the pepper grinder. Cover and cook over medium heat until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the bread.

Asian Slaw with Warm Ginger-Lime Dressing

I love it when I make something new and immediately know that it's so good it's getting added to the regular rotation. That's what happened with this totally amazing warm Asian slaw. After reading the recipe, even before I actually made it, I could just imagine how the ginger, lime, and soy would combine into total deliciousness. Served over brown rice with some sauteed tofu cubes, this is a great weeknight meal -- quick, easy, and satisfying. It's especially speedy if you use bagged slaw mix from the supermarket.

Asian Slaw with Warm Ginger-Lime Dressing
From Vegetarian Times
  • 4 cups thinly sliced savoy cabbage
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored, and cut into matchsticks
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts (optional)
Combine cabbages, carrots, and apple in a large heat-proof bowl. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons water, and brown sugar in a small bowl.

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt, and cook 7 to 8 minutes, or until onions are browned and bottom of pan has brown bits. Add ginger, and cook 30 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture to deglaze, and cook 15 to 25 seconds, using spatula or spoon to scrape up brown bits. Remove from heat, and spread onion mixture over cabbage mixture. Toss with tongs until slaw is well combined and cabbages begin to wilt.

Add cilantro leaves, and toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes, then serve garnished with peanuts, if using.

Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread

If you're a vegetarian or have ever dabbled in meatless eating to any degree whatsoever, it's more than likely that you've had your fair share of falafel. (If you aren't in the know, falafel is a Middle Eastern street-food delicacy of mashed chickpeas shaped into balls or patties and fried, usually served in pita with tahini sauce.) Every vegetarian can tell you where and when they ate the best falafel they've ever had. Randomly, Joe and I both had the best-ever falafel in Zurich, Switzerland -- but not together. I've also had great falafel in Arequipa, Peru and of course, right here in D.C.

Falafel isn't always the healthiest vegetarian meal, but it's easy enough to lighten up and it's a great source of protein and fiber. This version is one of my very favorites and puts a Southwestern twist on traditional falafel. Instead of chickpeas, the base is pinto beans. The patties also have Monterey Jack cheese and crushed tortilla chips mixed in for lots of extra flavor. And instead of your typical tahini, it's got a guacamole-ish spread that's oh so creamy and delicious.

Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread
From Cooking Light
  • Patties:
    • 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • 1/4 cup finely crushed tortilla chips (baked chips if you're feeling extra healthy)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
    • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
    • Big pinch of ground cumin
    • Egg white
    • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • Spread:
    • Half an avocado, mashed
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
    • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
    • Salt to taste
  • Remaining ingredients:
    • Two six-inch whole wheat pitas, cut in half crosswise
    • Thin red onion slices
    • Microgreens or sprouts
To prepare patties, place pinto beans in a medium bowl; partially mash with a fork. Add cheese and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir until well combined. Shape bean mixture into 8 small round patties.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until patties are browned and thoroughly heated.

To prepare spread, combine avocado and next 5 ingredients (through salt), stirring well. Place 2 patties in each pita half. Spread about 2 tablespoons avocado spread over patty in each pita half; top with onions and greens/sprouts.

Gingery Asparagus, Corn, and Tofu Stir-Fry

I've never really considered myself an Asian stir-fry kind of person. I don't know why; they just usually don't get me all that excited. But this one I like so much that I've made it twice now (and recipes don't often get repeated in my house). It's got a great combination of veggies, chewy browned tofu cubes, and a really easy yet super aromatic sauce. And it's the perfect weeknight meal because it takes less than a half-hour to prepare.

Gingery Asparagus, Corn, and Tofu Stir-Fry
From Cooking Light
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 10 oz extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 julienne-cut red bell pepper
  • 6 oz asparagus, steamed and cut into 1-inch pieces (you can skip the steaming if you have super-thin asparagus)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups hot cooked short-grain rice
  • 2 scallions, sliced, for garnish
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add tofu and saute for 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove tofu from pan with a slotted spoon; wipe pan dry with a paper towl. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pan; swirl to coat. Add corn and next 4 ingredients (through bell pepper) and stir-fry 5 minutes. Add reserved tofu, asparagus, and next 4 ingredients (through crushed red pepper). Stir-fry 1 minute or until asparagus and tofu are heated. Divide the rice evenly among 4 plates. Spoon about 1 cup stir-fry mixture over rice, and top evenly with scallions.

Caraway-Spiced Chickpea Stew with Mint Yogurt

Why is it that food always tastes better when someone else cooks it for you? Last night after work I wasn't feeling well, so Joe made dinner for us (and even did the dishes afterwards) (now do you understand why I'm marrying this guy?). I'd been hanging onto this recipe for a while, waiting until the weather turned a little cooler. Well, yesterday it was a rainy 60-degree day. It felt like fall was finally approaching, so a light stew was just what the doctor ordered.

Caraway-Spiced Chickpea Stew with Mint Yogurt
Adapted from Food & Wine
  • Two 14-oz cans of chickpeas
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped finely)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Reserve 1/4 cup of the chickpeas' can liquid and then rinse and drain the chickpeas.

Spread the carrots on a rimmed baking sheet, toss with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, until barely tender.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and caraway and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chard leaves and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, chickpeas, reserved chickpea liquid, and 1/4 cup water; simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the mint and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the stew to bowls and garnish with the cilantro. Pass the mint yogurt at the table.