WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

My entire family is either vegetarian or vegan; meat hasn’t made an appearance in my parents’ house since, like, maybe 2010. This makes mealtimes and restaurant choices extremely easy. Holiday menus that revolve almost exclusively around a giant bird that wasn’t lucky enough to receive a presidential pardon, though? Not so much.

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VEGAN BLACK BEAN SWEET POTATO QUESADILLAS

I successfully made it through 5 years of living in New York without a mouse problem. Sure, there were the pantry moths and that teeny-tiny roach infestation in my building and a rogue “what the FUCK IS THAT” every once in a while, but as far as I knew, I had gone through my life here without a single Mickey or Minnie in sight.

Until last week.

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CRISPY KALE, BRUSSELS SPROUTS + POTATO HASH

Shopping at Trader Joe’s is a dangerous game. You could be perusing the frozen foods section, looking for some fruit to improve your smoothie game when suddenly it catches your eye - the chocolate covered something that you’ve been trying to avoid but your willpower is simply not strong enough.

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BREAKFAST [SANDWICH] OF CHAMPIONS

Guys, I watched this movie on Netflix last night based on a YA novel and I absolutely loved. Don't you dare judge me - I have absolutely no shame in saying I'm a sucker for a good rom-com, especially a teen romcom. It's been a while since one of these graced our screens. I mean, What a Girl Wants? Chasing Liberty? The Princess Diaries? Those are some classics that I still enjoy even to this day! Who says an excellent movie has to be a pretentious foreign film with French subtitles and lots of weird artsy nudity? 

So maybe To All The Boys I Loved Before isn't going to win any Oscars (and a damn shame because Aiden Shaw  was flawless in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and is next-level genius in this one. But it was a heartwarming, relatable story with cute actors, a lovely set and some pretty fantastic editing. It's only fault was how poorly it portrayed winter, really. 

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MEJADRA

Being a book publicist is so similar to dating in New York City it scares me sometimes.

There's that blind period, waiting for the other person to respond. There's the game of either making them sweat it out or scrambling to make sure your window of opportunity doesn't slam shut. You have to reach out, wait, reach out again, get frustrated, use interest from somewhere else to get interest from the place you really want. Read and re-read email drafts. Force yourself to push send. Get anxiety. Put it off. Distract yourself. Go bother a coworker who's doing the same exact thing for her author. Return to your desk. Radio silence. Until *ding* that dopamine hits. With each incoming email, you hold your breath hoping it's the producer or editor saying they're interested in your author. And then, if you're lucky enough, you're in. You do a little happy dance in your chair. If not, you bang your head on the desk and try to take calming breaths. I've had it both ways.

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VEGAN RAINBOW VEGGIE SANDWICH

Guys, it's been a while. And we're real sorry about that. Life has a way of sucking you in and we were two serious victims of that. But we've made it through to the other side! Hair a bit windblown, but otherwise we've made it. 

Spring is finally here and we couldn't more thrilled. Unlike the cheat we got this past fall, summer seems to be holding its full-force self at bay and letting us enjoy the cool breezes and quiet rains of spring. Finally, a real season - no half-assed snow dusting or color change accompanied by full-blown humidity. And what's a better way to celebrate spring than with something colorful and fresh?

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SWEET PATATAS BRAVAS WITH CRISPY EGG

It should come as a surprise to no one that Ann Arbor's been on my mind lately. Committing four years of your life somewhere will do that to you. But while my time at Michigan was filled with adventure and my first real heartbreak, there was one thing that Ann Arbor never lacked in. And that's food. 

Living in New York, I'm truly spoiled by the over-abundance of world-class restaurants at my disposal. I mean you could essentially close your eyes, spin around and point your finger at anywhere on a map and you're bound to find somewhere wonderful to tickle your palate. But Ann Arbor really brought it's A game. Of course, you have the super-famous Zingerman's deli - everyone's favorite sandwich-spot, but there were quite a few others that popped over over my four years. Mani Osteria had the wood-burning oven pizza down and I still dream about Isalita's steak nachos. But one restaurant I never got around to visiting was Aventura, owned by the same woman who ran Sava's, another Ann Arbor favorite of mine.

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PASSOVER-FRIENDLY EGGPLANT PARMESAN

Talk about a case of the Mondays! Yesterday was one for the books, let me tell you. It was one of those days where a lot of little things added up to yield a pretty mediocre day. Nothing a hot shower, hearty dinner and episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch couldn't fix. Thank you late 90's nostalgia!

All in all, it wasn't a truly awful day, I mean, I've had worse. I just have to give myself a little credit, take a deep breath and stay positive. I mean, Michigan did win Saturday night's game with a mind-blowingly magical buzzer beater. So, there are things to cheer about. I pride myself in my realistic optimism - instead of having my head in the clouds, I turn my face towards the sun while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground. But sometimes, even the sunniest of personalities require a little brooding. Mondays suck for everyone, so don't beat yourself up. 

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VEGETARIAN CHILI CHEESE FRIES

During my senior year of college, I noticed that I was peeing all of the time. Like, all of the time - upwards of 20 times a day. I couldn't sleep through the night without getting up to pee, and having to go up and down a lofted bed made it a whole ordeal. I drink a lot of water so I thought that was why, but something seemed amiss. I went to the doctor to get a check-up for my summer job and mentioned my issue. He sent me to a urologist, who sent me to get an ultrasound. It came back abnormal, so off to outpatient surgery I went.

To make a very long story short, it turned out there were cysts in my bladder. And they weren't even paying rent to live in there! The doctors had never seen anything like it before, which made me very special, but also made me very scared. When I woke up from the anesthesia I was crying because of how freaked out I was. I couldn't really see, so I can't picture this part very well, but one of the nurses gave me a bag of cheez-its to eat post-surgery, either because I asked for them or she intuited it because nurses are SAINTS, but then I started crying more because my mouth was so dry that I couldn't eat the cheez-its. It was a rough day.

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VEGETARIAN BARBECUE "CHICKEN" PIZZA

There was only one kosher pizza place in all of metro Detroit, and though I never kept kosher, a lot of my friends did. Jerusalem Pizza opened a second location my junior year of high school right in the lobby of the JCC, which also happened to house my high school. The number of times I visited that place with friends to order sub-par-borderline disgusting food was countless, and while I tried to remain open minded, there was one dish I refused to order - the BBQ "chicken" pizza. 

What can I say? As the token meat eater of this partnership, fake meat makes me skeptical! But like most other skeptical food judgements I have, Rina managed to change my mind. With this pizza.

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ROASTED SWEET POTATO + CARAMELIZED LEEK PAPPARDELLE

My year in Jerusalem was...interesting, to say the least. When I look back on that year I think of terrorist attacks, freezing cold buildings (it's as if the entire city forgets that winter is a thing that happens every. single. year) and the beginning of what would be a very long, very intense journey ending with leaving rabbinical school. There was also the boyfriend who thought I would be happy in a California suburb with our three children, but that's another story.

So, yeah. Especially compared to my year in Tel Aviv, I kind of hated living in Jerusalem. I do have to credit that year with one thing, though: my love of experimenting in the kitchen.

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TAILOR-MADE MEXICAN TORTA

Whole Foods has unreal prepared foods. It should be known that this post is the opposite of sponsored - we spend so much money there (silly millenials!). But seriously, they make killer food . One of my absolute favorite things used to be their take on a torta, a Mexican sandwich that's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but edible. Their torta was vegetarian, with cheese, veggies and a killer chipotle sauce. I say it used to be one of my favorite things on the menu because they no longer sell it at their sandwich counter. Trés tragique, I know.

Anyway, it fell upon me to re-create the sandwich of my dreams, so I decided to do some research on this hefty sandwich. I am a food nerd, through and through.

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HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZEL GRILLED CHEESE

Yesterday, I found out that one of my kickball team's favorite bars closed. It was a pretty tragic revelation for our whole group, to be honest. We had spent many evenings there - from rained-out kickball games to Saturday night skee-ball matches - and, despite the beer towers and stronger-than-words Moscow Mules, we always returned for one thing - the soft pretzels. 

Now, these pretzels were hardly what you're thinking - they didn't come from a heated glass box, spinning on a mindless rotisserie, drying out by the minute. No, these pretzels bigger than your head, fluffy and flavorful, full of thick, bread-like texture and accompanied by an out-of-this-world honey mustard dipping sauce. Exactly what you need before (or after!) a night of drinking with great friends. 

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VEGAN NACHOS WITH ROASTED CORN GUACAMOLE + SALSA VERDE

Here at Gateau | Gato, we love nachos. LOVE them. When we're together, if we aren't cooking, photographing, writing or editing, there's a pretty good chance we're drinking beer and wine, respectively, eating nachos and talking about the scorched dessert that is the New York dating scene. What is it about nachos that makes them such happy food? How did we get so lucky, to have this amazing dish on offer at most bars with a happy hour? Do they come from the heavens with the angels and scary babies and whatnot?

Not exactly, but their history is still pretty cool!

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VEGAN POKE BOWLS

Do you guys ever have those days where you just need a reset? I'm talking about a did-I-really-drink-that-much-beer-and-then-drunk-eat-late-night-pizza-with-my-friends night followed by a concession stand dilemma between M&Ms and Butterfinger bites where your brother tells you to "just get both." By Monday, my body was screaming for something healthy to fuel me for my work outs (I'm looking at you, row class), nourish me past the 2 o'clock slump (keep me away from those vending machines!!) and just get back on the wagon. 

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SIMPLE LEMON LINGUINE

Sometimes I like to cook lavish meals for friends - I'll spend hours in the kitchen making multiple courses with ingredients I definitely spent too much money on. I'll experiment with flavors and try new things, and feel like a total mad kitchen scientist.

Other times, I truly cannot be bothered.

Sometimes Shabbat dinner ends up being sushi or pizza delivered by very nice Seamless people. Other times, we pull an Olivia Pope and eat popcorn and have a bottle of wine each. These meals are eaten in leggings, sweatpants and amorphous sweaters. It is actually frowned upon to show up to a meal like this wearing pants with a button or zipper.

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SHAKSHUKA

The year before I moved to Tel Aviv, I spent a summer volunteering as a first-responder with Magen David Adom, the Israeli ambulance service. You might envision me delivering babies and reattaching limbs, but legally first-responders were allowed to take blood pressure and pulse and that's about. I did get to check the blood sugar of a man who had taken 8 Valium, though. My ambulance driver was pretty rebellious.

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SABICH SANDWICH

I bet you'd never guess eggplant, mango and hard-boiled eggs go well together. But I'm here to tell you they absolutely do.

Culminating a three day virtual street-food journey through Israel, I'd like to introduce Sabich. Everyone knows about falafel and shwarma. You hardly need to hound the streets of Manahttan for one of these tasty sandwiches –they’re sold on every corner. But this extra-special sandwich, found only in Israel, has made a home for itself at the top of my favorite street eats list. In fact, I'll go as far as saying this is my favorite G | G recipe made to date. 

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ORANGE CAULIFLOWER

When I was growing up, my family kept pretty strict kosher. This meant separate dishes for milk and meat, bringing PB&J sandwiches to birthday parties where non-kosher pizza was served, and eating in exclusively kosher restaurants. The first time I ate at a non-kosher place was when I was sixteen-years-old. It was Panera. I got a bagel. It was very exciting.

Why am I telling you this? Well, besides the fact that it completely shaped how I eat, and is largely the reason why I became a vegetarian, it means that I have no idea what the majority of chain restaurants are. Like, what is PF Changs? Why are people so obsessed with Taco Bell? What the hell is a Whopper? I seriously have no idea.

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