Rochester native Miranda “Mir” Leo is taking the concept of home cook by storm. We sat with the Instagram foodie to discuss the inspiration behind her bright, beautiful, delicious dishes perfect for a summer evening in!
“For me, cooking is a way I can bring those I love together,” Miranda said in her small galley kitchen. The apartment serves as a multi-purpose experimental kitchen, workspace, and studio all in one. “I have loved cooking and food for as long as I can remember, starting with fresh baked pastries at my Nonna and Papa’s house.”
Keen on trying new recipes and spearheading the family’s grocery list after school, Miranda was all about sharing her love of new foods. While wrapping up a fourteen-year figure skating career, Miranda admits she became increasingly focused on food, and not in a healthy way.
“I became acutely aware of everything I was eating, and it turned all-consuming. Having discreetly battled eating disorders for years, I fell more in love with cooking because it was a way to put my mind at ease while nourishing myself as well as possible,” Miranda said. “I was able to turn the ship around and make my health—physical and mental—a priority. I spent hours in the kitchen relearning how to eat, cook, and build a positive relationship with food.”
For Miranda, the creation of @EatsWithMir was dual purposed: a means of holding herself accountable to stay healthy and to connect with others in similar situations.
“With my page, I have been fortunate to connect with people near and far. I can try new recipes, share my creations, and tap into the creativity of others from around the world,” Miranda said, proudly showcasing her array of cooking utensils and collection of cocktail ingredients.
In the years since battling her eating disorders, she has also developed several food allergies, which, rather than limit her cooking, have inspired her to think outside of the box. Each of her recipes includes substitutions that best benefit her health, and she also encourages her followers to personalize them to their liking and dietary needs.
“One of my favorite things is buying foods that I know I can build a few recipes from, which ensures I waste as little as possible!” Miranda said, stirring together a mix of kale and roasted chicken from the night before. A local farmers market is her favorite go-to for locally grown, in-season produce. “A lot of ingredients—vegetables, meats, spices—are versatile, and the possibilities are endless. Cooking should focus on incorporating ingredients you love, and, more importantly, that make you feel good!”
Tuscan-Style Lemon and Tomato Chicken
1 lb. linguine
1 lb. skinless, boneless
chicken breasts or tenders
Salt and pepper
1 cup flour
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. basil, dry
1 tsp. oregano, dry
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. butter
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ cup dry white wine (I prefer a buttery chardonnay or sauvignon blanc!)
3 sprigs of thyme, fresh
½ cup basil, fresh
Heat a large stock pot with water and cook pasta according to instructions on box.
If you are using chicken breasts, cut lengthwise to butterfly. Pound each piece of chicken so they are ½” thick. (Disregard if using tenders.) Place chicken on a paper towel lined plate and pat dry. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
In a shallow bowl, combine flour, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper. Creating an assembly line, place seasoned chicken in the flour bowl, making sure the entire breast is covered in flour. Shake off excess flour and transfer to a clean plate. Continue until all chicken has been floured.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and canola oil. When oil is hot, add chicken, making sure not to overcrowd pan. If needed, cook chicken in 2 batches. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side before transferring to a plate. (If you’re using chicken tenders, cook for 2-3 minutes per side.)
Add butter to the pot. While the butter melts, slice one lemon and add it to the pot. Let the lemon caramelize for a minute or two before transferring to a plate; add remaining olive oil to the skillet and add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes or until tomatoes begin to burst and omit their juices.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the wine and lemon juice and zest of remaining two lemons. Add chicken back into the skillet and let everything cook for 10-12 minutes, or until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165ºF and the lemon wine sauce has begun to thicken.
Serve chicken and burst tomatoes with cooked pasta. Top with caramelized lemons and fresh basil. Ladle the lemon wine sauce over the chicken and pasta.
Mir’s Olive Oil Cake
1 ½ cup flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill baking flour; use any flour of your choice!)
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup olive oil
½ cup heavy cream (you can use 2% or whole milk, but the fattier the milk, the better the cake will taste in my opinion!)
Whipped cream & your favorite jam!
Preheat oven to 350ºF and prepare an 8” round baking pan with parchment paper on the bottom.
In a standing mixer (or in bowl with regular mixer!), beat eggs and sugar on high until light and fluffy.
Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in olive oil. Mix until combined and repeat with the heavy cream and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk until mixture has become infiltrated with air (will help cake become a little lighter and fluffier).
Slowly mix in flour mixture on LOW. Scrape sides and do NOT over-mix!
Pour batter in prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through. If it’s not, add 3 minutes at a time to avoid over-baking! After baking, let cake come down to room temperature before transferring to a cake platter.
Using a sifter or other shaker, top with powder sugar. Serve topped with jam and whipped cream!
3 oz. Tequila of preference (I prefer Blanco!)
2 ½ oz. Patron orange liqueur
3 oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. agave
½ jalapeño, sliced
Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Salt
Mix tequila, liqueur, lime juice, agave, jalapeño, and ice in a cocktail shaker.
Using a lime wedge, coat the rim of your glass with lime juice and sprinkle the Chile Lime Salt around the rim. Shake the glass to remove excess salt.
Fill cup with ice and pour margarita. Top with lime wedges and jalapeño slices!