Toots & Kakes Explore Post-Grad Boredom

Culinary Adventures by Amateur Chefs

Posts tagged veggies

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Artichokes with Roasted Garlic and Lemon Butter Dip

I have fond memories as a child having artichoke night. These nights were rare on occasion, only eating them once or twice a year. The tradition may be reason for my nostalgia and why I felt the need to have an artichoke night in my west coast studio. My parents prepared the artichokes simply by steaming them, microwaving a bit of butter, and scooping some mayo for a dipping sauce. They were perfect combinations. But regardless of their perfection, I wanted to jazz up the recipe for some extra goodness.

Indredients: For two! 


  • 2 artichokes
  • 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled  

Roasted Garlic and Lemon Butter Dip 

  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, roasted and smashed  
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed 

Preheat oven to 450 degree.

Cut the bottom stems off. If there are any prickly thorns at the end of the leaves cut those off and discard. 

Add the artichokes, lemon, and garlic clove to about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil then lower to  a simmer and let artichokes steam for about 20 minutes. Check to see if the artichokes need more or less time by poking a fork into the center. The fork should come out clean and easy. Also, carefully try to pull of a leaf towards the center. If the leaf has any resistance keep steaming. Once steamed, let cool and set aside until butter sauce is ready.

Meanwhile, once the oven is preheated cut the garlic bulb in halve horizontally and transfer to a baking pan placed on dash of olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes or until squishy. Make sure not to burn the garlic or remove any brown parts and discard. Not very tasty. Let garlic bulb cool enough to handle and squish out the cloves and discard the skin. Mash cloves with a fork until pasty. 

In a small sauce pan add the butter and melt. Add in the garlic and lemon juice. Mix and let flavors combine then enjoy with the artichoke leaves.

Love and team toothpick,

Toots and Kakes 

Filed under veggies artichokes dinner food recipe garlic

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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Most of you know the story. I (Kakes) packed a suitcase full of useless clothes, hopped in a car with my boyfriend, and drove cross country to the Golden State. After arriving we took a month to get settled and found ourselves with a lease for an unfurnished studio. Yikes! We were broke and had nothing but a cheap bed off craigslist. Starving artists you might say. Our life has been filled with thrift shopping and Ikea trips. We lucked out when my daddy came to visit and brought a suitcase full of kitchen essentials. So our kitchen and studio are finally feeling more like a home and less like the opposite. 

In the kitchen I am still working with minimal cooking and baking ingredients and am still on a tight budget.  So my dinners and cooking have to incorporate the little that I have. But as a foodie I am in the land of plenty and have found a sweet herbal tea and spice shop in Berkley where I can get all my essential cooking spices for dirt cheap. Another reason why I dig the bay area is the abundance of local produce. There is a farmers market just down the block from where I live that I get to indulge myself in every Sunday. The produce is cheap, but, even better, the flavors are sensational.

On to the food. 

For my first night of cooking I made these caramelized brussels sprouts as a side and paired it with a Balsamic Butter Tilapia and Thyme Mashed Potatoes. I must admit I did a little shopping for this meal, but the extra dollar was well worth it! 


  • Dash olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped 
  • 14 large brussels sprouts, sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add in the brussels sprouts and let cook about 5 minutes or until tender and bright green. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the toasted pecans and brown sugar. Toss and cook until brussels sprouts start to brown (I love a bit of crispy). 

Love and necessary skype dates, 

Toots and Kakes 

Recipe from Eat, Live, Run 

Filed under food sides brussels sprouts veggies vegetables cooking

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Flatbread Pizzas

Next time you are craving pizza we suggest you try this recipe since it takes less time and money than ordering from ANY neighboring pizza place (even from the greasy late night college “pizza” place).  We took our simple herb flatbread recipe (see rosemary thyme flatbread post) and took whatever toppings we could find in our houses and made some amazing pizzas!  We topped our pizza with a simple spinach, arugula and avocado salad dressed in a lemon vinaigrette for a crisp, acidic addition.  The beauty of these pizzas is you can literally throw on any toppings and it will be good!  Well maybe not bananas…yeah definitely no bananas.    


For Pizza:

  • Rosemary Thyme flatbread (see archived recipe)
  • Base Sauce of choice (we used both garlic alfredo sauce and a simple red pasta sauce)
  • Assorted Toppings (we used sweet vidalia onions, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, zucchini, red bell pepper, red onion)
  • 3 Garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmigiano cheese

For Salad topping:

  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

We decided to make two different veggie combos and saute them separately.  To do this heat two pans with a splash of olive oil.  In one pan saute sliced red onions until translucent, add diced zucchini and sliced red onion.  Once the other veggies are tender add the minced garlic and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Let flavors mix by sauteing a few minutes more. 

In the other pan saute the sweet vidalia onions until translucent.  Add minced garlic and halved cherry tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and definitely red pepper flakes. Cook about 5 minutes until tomatoes release their juices and wither. Take off the heat and add halved kalamata olives. 

In the meantime prepare the salad. Combine spinach, arugula and diced avocado. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice in a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Toss dressing with salad when pizzas come out of the oven.

Time to assemble the pizzas! Spread the sauce of choice, layer with mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses and top with the veggie mixtures. 

For our pizzas we ended up spreading one with red pasta sauce and then topped it with the zucchini and red pepper veggie mix. On the next flatbread we spread garlic alfredo sauce as a base and topped it with the cherry tomato and kalamata olive mixture. On the last flatbread, we went all out. We spread garlic alfredo sauce as a base on the flatbread and topped with both veggies mixtures.

Cook the pizzas until cheese has melted about 20 minutes. 

Top the pizza of your choice with the spinach and arugula salad, we put ours on the last flatbread topped with both veggie mixtures…this was our favorite!  Pair with a glass of wine and toast to good eats. 

Love and overly emotional lunch ladies,

Toots and Kakes

Filed under pizza veggies