While cooking, listen to this: The Thrill is Gone by B.B. King

Ah, 2019. Hello there! You snuck up on us rather quickly. We had plans! We had goals! We had holiday-themed posts! And all of that got lost in the end-of-year, pre-holiday chaos.

But yet, here you are. So, we will try to make a comeback. For our own sanities. Because we’ve missed this blog so much.

I’m not really one for “new year” hype. Too much pressure, too much buzz, too many people at the gym. There is one thing, however, that I’m super excited about. It’s a book.

Yes, yes, I know I work in publishing so a book is the most predictable thing to get excited about. But while I love getting wrapped up in a good story, this is a different kind of book. It’s more of a journal, actually. Which is shocking since it’s well-established that I ironically hate journaling. But this is a different kind of journal - instead of being filled with blank pages, it’s filled with daily writing exercises. I know, I know, I’m a dork. But I’m really excited to flex my writing muscles as often as I can. The exercises are brief - just a page each - and range in topic and depth. It’s time to get back in the swing of things. It’s been too long.

Speaking of, here’s a recipe that’s been sitting in our archives for the better part of a month. Say hello to your new New Year’s to-cook recipe, matbucha.

You know us - we love making things with names that sound like sneezes. But we promise you it’s anything but sneezy. It’s rich and filling without the added calories. When Rina made this, I kept asking her if there was any dairy in it. Nope, she replied. Just a fuck ton of veggies. Ah, Rina.

Matbucha, in Arabic, actually means cooked salad. And cooked it is. Like anything worth having in life, this recipe requires a bit of waiting, so make sure you plan ahead. The mixture needs to thicken and simmer on the stove for a bit, so the total cook time is close to two hours. But TRUST ME, it’s worth it. When you’re done, you’ll have a sauce you can top pretty much anything with. Or just eat it by itself. With a fork. Or not. I don’t judge.

New year, new way to cook using a fuck-ton of vegetables. Ah, it’s good to be back.

xo, Alyssa


Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 5m | Active Cook Time: 15m if roasting on direct heat, 55m if in the oven | Inactive Cook Time: 1h 45m

Category: Sides, Snacks, Vegan, Gluten-Free

Source: Tori Avey


2 green bell peppers

1 medium jalapeno, or more to taste

56 ounces canned tomatoes (2 cans) OR 8 large tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons sugar, or less to taste

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

½ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon paprika


Roast the peppers, option 1: if you love fire as much as we do and have the right burners for it, use a pair of tongs to hold the peppers directly over a medium-high flame. Char each side, which should take about 10-20 minutes, depending on how close you want to get to the flames.

Roast the peppers, option 2: if you don’t like fire and/or don’t have the right oven burners, preheat your oven to 400F and place the peppers on a baking shee that has a bit of oil or cooking spray on it. Roast for 20 minutes, then flip, then roast for another 20. The pepper skin should have brown spots and the peppers themselves should be soft. If they aren’t there yet, roast in 5 minute increments until they’re nice and brown.

Dice em up: allow the peppers to cool, then deseed them and peel off the skin, and dice the peppers. Also deseed and dice your jalapeno - if you want extra spice, keep the seeds in and/or add more jalapeno. You can wear gloves for this step if you have sensitive skin or don’t want to scrub your hands for 15 minutes.

Cook the matbucha: in a medium saucepan add the diced tomatoes, diced bell peppers, jalapeno(s), garlic, sugar, chili flakes and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, just high enough to keep the matbuch at a constant simmer. Cook for 65-75 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes so that the matbucha doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. When most of the liquid has cooked out, you’re ready for the next step.

Make and add the oil: in a small bowl combine the olive oil and paprika. When your matbucha has simmered down, add the oil, stir in, and cook for 30 more minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to keep it from sticking. Taste to see if it needs anything else, then allow to cool completely before serving. It’s also pretty awesome cold. Serve with some fresh pita (make your own!), cut up veggies or your bear paws.

To keep: in a tightly sealed container, this will keep in the fridge for a few days.