So, yes, I won the Anderson Cooper Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge! You can watch me on the show in the video below. It was an incredible experience, I met lots of amazing people, and I am excited to see what happens as a result of the competition. Anderson and his staff were simply awesome. I am not someone who is comfortable on camera at the outset; I need a few minutes to get into the groove, and they all helped so much and made me feel at home…although I am still very clearly nervous and, as a result, extremely dorky. That’s alright though. They knew what they were getting themselves into when they saw my audition tape. Anderson himself was super friendly and even played with my nerdy lightsaber during the break! You’ve got to love a fellow Star Wars fan. The cookies were a big hit and I felt very fancy being driven home back to Brooklyn in my own car by a guy named Frank who I talked to the entire way back about his mom’s house in Staten Island (she’s doing alright!) and his pet chihuahua. The whole day was a whirlwind and I wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t gotten the encouragement from you guys; you made me feel like I could do it, and I did! Now let’s just see if my cookies end up on grocery store shelves some time soon. Even if they don’t, I had a blast and I can still feel Anderson’s hand on my shoulder. Swoon.
I made this salad so Kramer could eat it for lunch throughout the week, but I will admit that I ended up eating some of it for dinner one night while he was at school alongside the filet of cod that I had fried up. It’s so delicious, with lots of different flavors and textures, that I know you’ll be sneaking spoonfuls of it from the fridge just like I was. It’s hard to come up with good, wholesome lunches. There’s always the trusty salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, etc. etc. but if you’re like me, you’ll get tired of that really fast. I’ve been trying to get more creative lately, and while this quinoa salad certainly isn’t revolutionary, it’s a nice change of pace from the usual packed lunch. The red quinoa is hearty and will fill you up without weighing you down, and the golden beets are fresh and sweet; you get the sensation of eating a potato without all the starch, which is helpful when you’re trying to save your calories for that dinner you’ve been looking forward to or for drinks later out with your coworkers. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to season this with, so I went with my go-to spice: curry powder. It’s just got a lovely, warming flavor that goes well with just about anything, in my opinion, this salad included. I added some red pepper flakes, too, because I like everything to be just a little bit spicy, but you can really add whatever you want to make this quinoa salad your own. I used grape tomatoes because I had them, but carrots, broccoli, or whatever else is on hand will be just as good, and good for you!
Anderson and me being huge dorks.
Fear not, young padawan.
- 2 cups red quinoa
- 4 cups water, plus more if needed
- 3 large golden or red beets
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for the beets
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Bring your water to a boil, then add in the quinoa. Cover, reduce to a simmer, then stir every 5 minutes or so, until the quinoa has released spirals and almost all of the water has been absorbed.
- While the quinoa cooks, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the beets, then cut off the stems, wrap them in foil, and drizzle with just a bit of olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until fork tender, then let the beets sit in the foil for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, rub the beets with paper towels – the skins should fall right off. Cut into cubes and set aside.
- Allow the quinoa to cool a bit, then add in your olive oil and lemon juice. Add in the cubed beets and the halved tomatoes, then the curry powder, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Toss to combine, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold. This salad will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up for 5 days. It makes for great lunches throughout the week!