Mat and Cassie’s Master Chef Cook-off Round 1: Red River Boat

My awesome friend Mat and I are having a foodie competition like no other… Or maybe a lot like Master Chef, but, that’s beside the point. Anyway, we are cooking for atleast three rounds to win the ultimate title: “The Winner.” Here’s how our competition works, we come up with a challenge for each round. Then we cook a meal for each other that corresponds with the challenge. We then rate the meals as unbiased as possible by 1) Nutrition: 10 pts 2) Creativity: 10 pts 3) Presentation: 10 pts. and 4) Flavor: 10 pts for a total high score of 40 points. We are inspired by our lovely little town Athens, OH and the amazing farmers market we have every Saturday. All of our meals will be vegetarian and use as much locally grown produce as possible. Let the games begin!

This challenge is called Red River Boat. The main color of the dish must be red and resemble a boat. Remember to use as much locally grown produce as possible, nutrition is key!

Chef: Cassie 

Meal: Red Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Here’s her recipe:

Ingredients:red quinoa stuffed peppers

2 bell peppers

1 1/2 cups diced medley tomatoes

2 carrots, shredded

1/2 white onion, diced

2 cups spinach 

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup red quinoa

1/2 cup uncooked black beans

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tsp. of salt

1/2 tsp. of black pepper

topping: optional but oh-so-good

1 cup finely shredded montery jack cheese


1. In a small pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add raw black beans and reduce to medium simmer for 20-25 minutes or until black beans are cooked through. Drain and rinse.

2. While black beans are cooking, start red quinoa on another burner. Bring 2 cups of water + 1 tbsp. olive oil to a boil. Reduce to low heat, add in quinoa, let cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tails appear.

3. While both black beans and quinoa are cooking, start chopping veggies. Cut 2 bell peppers in half and partially gut out seeds (I like to keep the stems on for presentation). Cut up onion, garlic, medley tomatoes. Shred carrots.

4. In a large deep pan, add 2 tbsp. olive oil and garlic. Let garlic simmer on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add onions and carrots, and spinach for 5 minutes. Then add medley tomatoes for 2 minutes. By this time, black beans and spinach should be completely cooked. Add in black beans first, then quinoa. Let cook together (you may need to add a bit more oil) for about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and cumin.

5. Preheat oven to 375. Take the mix off heat. Then gently stuff each half pepper with the mix. place in baking pan with 1 inch water. Top the peppers with shredded monetery jack cheese, you can’t have too much. Then cover the pan with foil.

6. Cook at 375 for 20 minutes. Then remove foil and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

7. Serve and enjoy.


Chef: Mat

Meal: Veg-Chana Masala

Here’s his recipe:

Ingredients: IMG_7707
1 can pre-cooked garbanzo beans

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. dried parsely

1 tsp. dried basil 

5 medium-sized tomatoes

Curry powder (combination of cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper)

1 clove garlic, minced

Dash of ginger, fresh or powder

4 servings broccoli

1 onion

1 zucchini


1. In a pan, add pre-cooked garbanzo beans, 1 tbsp. olive oil and a combination sprinkling of dried parsley and basil.

2. Simmer on low while you dice 5 medium-sized tomatoes.

3. Add tomatoes, a good helping of curry powder (turmeric, salt and pepper with a dash of cumin), fresh garlic, and ginger (fresh or powder); continue to simmer on low-medium heat for 20-30 min.

4. During the full simmer, sauté broccoli in a separate pan for 3 minutes. Add sliced onions, diced garlic and zucchini and cook for 6 minutes or until soft throughout.

5. Add vegetable sauté to the tomato/chickpea combination and simmer for a final 5 min on low.

6. Add curry combination to cooked rice and enjoy!

Cassie’s final score was 32.5, Mat was close behind with a 31.5. Cassie wins round 1! She tends to be a “sore-winner,” the type who makes everyone feel bad that she won. But, Mat is not discouraged. Both are excited for round 2! Leave challenge ideas in the comments section below!

A Simple Chickweed Salad for One

Have I mentioned how much I love the farmers market in Athens, OH? Well, I’m saying it now! This place is amazing for fresh, organic, family-farmed produce! The farmers are all so friendly and willing to talk about their goods. Have you thought about where your food comes from? Anyway, my good friend Greg Howard from Gibson Ridge Farms gave me some chickweed last weekend and I decided to experiment! I came up with this simple, easy to make, delicious salad! Don’t eat too much though. Chickweed is a diuretic, and too much can make your stomach upset. It is jam-packed with nutrition and has many natural health benefits! Anyway, I could talk all day, here’s the recipe!


3 ounces of chickweed (1 cup-ish)

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp honey

1/4 tsp minced garlic

pinch of salt and pepper

2 tbsp. of feta cheese


1. Wash the chickweed thoroughly.

2. To make the dressing, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper until well blended.

3. Pour the feta and the dressing over the chickweed. Voila!


BONUS RECIPE: Chickweed tea, great for seasonal allergies and asmtha (my roommate says it really did the trick).


1 cup water

1 ounce chickweed

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tsp LOCAL honey for sweetener


Bring water, chickweed, and lemon juice to a boil then turn the heat down to medium and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the chickweed from the water into a cup and add honey for sweetener.


Let me know if you have any chickweed recipes or have any suggestions for other out-of-the-ordinary foods I can make recipes with! 🙂