Cooking (un)Inspiration

My menu of meals has been pretty blah lately. Today for lunch I had a tuna sandwich with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes on the side. Healthy, yes – creative, no. I can’t even claim that I “cooked” it – I just opened the can and cut up some veggies!

Needless to say, my cooking creativity has been pretty low for the past few weeks. The winter weather is getting to me and it seems all I want to do is order in and catch up on my DVR. This is the time of year where I usually rely on a stockpile of frozen soups and pre-made breakfast sandwiches, but my supplies are low. Instead, I’ve found myself drawn towards easy to prep meals and quick to grab snacks. Luckily there was a sale on Odwalla granola bars at the grocery store this week and they’re getting me through the week.

I started to break through the my creativity block with this meal I concocted after getting home late last night: sweet potatoes and chopped asparagus sautéed in olive oil with an egg cooked over the top. YUM. It was created from ingredients in my fridge leftover from other meals. As I recently learned from this TED Talk (Phil Hansen: Embrace the Shake), sometimes it takes a little bit of restriction to get the creativity juices flowing again. The need to create something with the few items left in my fridge created a creativity challenge.

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I hope to get out of this rut and have new recipes to share next week. Any advice? What do you do when you’re in a creativity rut? I’m off to Houston, Texas for work next week and hoping the change of scenery (and weather) will speed up my creative process!

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Crispy Pepperoni Pasta

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It took me a while to decide what to post for my first official recipe on Cook Like Kayla. There’s a lot of (self-inflicted) pressure involved with writing a blog. I wanted my first post to be meaningful – but also interesting and true to what I hope to share with all of you here in the future – simple, healthy recipes. It’s all about a good first impression, right? I also didn’t want to write a “welcome-to-cook-like-kayla” post or a “this-is-my-first-post” post without sharing a recipe.

When it dawned upon me that I should share my Pepperoni Pasta recipe, there was no looking back. It was an a-ha moment; after all, pepperoni pasta was my first original dish, concocted over 10 years ago in the cafeteria of my elementary school. It was quite different when I first made it at 12 years old, but it – like me – has changed over time.

I am so extremely excited to launch Cook Like Kayla with this delicious recipe. Enjoy!

Prepare veggie marinara sauce (recipe below) or your favorite pasta sauce. Cook ½ pound angel hair pasta according to package directions. Sauté 15 slices turkey pepperoni in medium pan on medium heat, about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Heat 1.5 cups sauce and pasta over low heat in medium saucepan. Add 3 cups chopped spinach and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Top with pepperoni and 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Yield: 3 servings. Per Serving: $1.96, 336 calories, 7g fat, 58g carbs, 15g protein.

Veggie Marinara Sauce – Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice 1 medium eggplant and 1 medium zucchini in half lengthwise. Pierce 3-4 holes in 1 red bell pepper with a knife. Cut the top off of 1 head of garlic. Brush vegetables and garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Wrap the garlic in tin foil and place the vegetables on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, flipping once halfway through. Let cool and cut vegetables into 2 inch pieces, removing the seeds and stem from the bell pepper. Remove garlic cloves from head by squeezing. Saute 1 cup diced onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add vegetables, garlic cloves, 1 can (14 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth and 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes. Cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes, over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and blend to desired consistency. Yield: 20 servings. Serving size: ½ cup. Per Serving: $0.69, 46 calories, 2g fat, 8g carbs, 1g protein.