Monthly Archives: February 2011

Lunch Time

I’m bad at lunch. I’m worse at breakfast, but that is a different story.

By bad at lunch, I mean bad at taking a break at work. I like to eat at my desk in order to get more stuff done so I can go home at a reasonable-ish hour. I sometimes feel taking a lunch break is a waste of time + I hate spending money on going out for lunch, unless it’s once a week or so.

I read this article last month and have been thinking about it ever since. So… during the month of March (tomorrow, can you believe it!?!)  I am going to attempt to take a guilt-free lunch break. I really shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a half hour or hour out of my day considering I get here an hour early almost every day. I’m hoping the weather gets better to talk a walk or eat with co-workers at one of our two tables at work. I’m even starting a day early with my resolution by blogging right now!

Sometimes the day gets away from me and I forget to eat until a little later than most people, but I’ll try to fix that in March too. I am, however, pretty good at lunch in that I tend to eat healthy. For example:

I had some Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper +Tomato Soup w/ some whole grain goldfish crackers, a string cheese and a not-so-ripe pear. It was all great. I like to leave a pack of string cheese and a box of TJ’s soup in the fridge at work for a quick lunch if I forget mine or don’t feel like my leftovers that day. I also like to hoard fruit at my desk, and my work also has a fruit bowl pretty much every day so I have some good options.

What about you? Do you take a lunch break? What did you have today?

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All the single ladies.

This post could be about my love of Beyonce songs, but I’ll spare you. Two or three nights a week, Brent goes to class or work and I’m left to fend for just myself in the dinner world. In my many years of pre-Brent, I would just eat a salad or nachos soup or something that involved very little time. Or sometimes my roommate and I would have popcorn and wine, which is what I was absolutely craving last night. But, I was sick for a few days so booze of any kind is out. And popcorn, while a good snack, is not a substitute for dinner. COMPROMISE TIME! Voila:

Cauliflower Popcorn
(adapted from this 101cookbooks.com recipe.)

My Ingredient List
1/2 medium head of cauliflower, washed
2-3 T breadcrumbs (panko works best)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T red pepper flakes
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions (again, adapted from here)

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Trim the cauliflower keeping only the florets and tiny stalks. You can save the rest for another dish if you want.

2. In a large bowl toss the cauliflower with a 1 teaspoon of olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic and red pepper flakes.


3. Pam a baking sheet and place the cauliflower mixture on top.  I like to put the little stalks face down so they get nice and roasty. (new word!)

face down!

4. Rotate each tree after about 10 minutes in the oven. Then bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower should be tender throughout and the breadcrumbs nicely toasted. Salt and serve to yourself immediately.

I added a salad and called it all a delicious dinner. I’ve heard these also taste good with some shredded parmesan and/or lemon juice. Probably tastes better when listening to Beyonce while you eat… I might try that next time.

Pasta Please.

I used to be anti-pasta. I think I overdosed on it especially during my undergraduate days- thanks mostly to my BFF turned roommate Jamie who enjoyed a giant bowl of pasta every night around midnight. Pasta began to bore me so I just quit buying it and seeking it out. Two years ago, another pal, Kate, wanted to make some post-yoga healthy food and printed out the most popular vegetarian recipe from Allrecipes.com.

This recipe renewed my faith in pasta. It also made me like mushrooms. It is very easy to make and really quite healthy. It is awesome. I recommend you drop everything you are doing and try this recipe right now. Or call me and I’ll make it for you. I’m serious.

Suki’s Spinach + Feta Pasta (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

The Ingredient List:

  • 8 oz package pasta (1/2 a box, any kind works but I like rotini, penne, butterfly or capatavi)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 8oz package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 4-5 cups fresh spinach leaves, packed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • 8 -10 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

1. Chop garlic, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms. This recipe makes about 6 pretty big portions so invite a sous-chef over or have your live-in-dummy chop for you since he has Fridays off. (Thanks Brent!) Also- my friend Kate has used 2 cans of diced tomatoes in place of fresh and said that works, but that fresh tomatoes taste better. I recommend fresh- but to save time/money you can for sure use canned.

so artsy!

2.Heat 1T olive oil in a large skillet (we used our electric wok- normal!) over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and cook until golden brown.

Garlic + Onion= not for Maebys.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente- I do one minute less than whatever the directions on the box says. I also only use whole grain, whole wheat or pasta plus these days. These pastas actually have some taste to them, and I prefer them now. Bonus: they are healthier. After your past is done cooking, drain it and set it aside.

3. Mix in tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. The original recipe calls for only 2 cups of spinach, but spinach is a superfood and we (even Maeby) can’t get enough of it. Season with a pinch of salt + pepper. Cook 5-7 minutes or until tomatoes are heated through and spinach is wilted.

spinach before

spinach after- probably should have added MORE!

4. Reduce heat to medium, stir in pasta, feta cheese, 1T red pepper flakes. I start with adding an 8 oz package of feta cheese and see if that coats the pasta enough. I will often add another once or two if it looks a little dry.

5. Cook for about 5 or until heated through/feta and veggies create a sauce.

You can add a full box of pasta if you want to stretch this recipe out, but I like vegetables a lot better than I like pasta, even after my pasta rebirth.

We ate and watched some DVR’d 30 Rock…which I also highly recommend. And, this might come as a shock, but we ate this with a salad. And I plan on eating any leftovers with one too. What would you eat this with?

Tricky Pot Pie.

A few weeks ago I lost in a Top Chef pool as my pick had to pack his knives and go. Boo.Hiss. However, what stuck with me more than Angelo taking all of my winnings with him on the way out the door was when Carla got Christmas-excited (new term, I just made it up) about making a chicken pot pie. I laughed at her enthusiasm but then felt a little left out… I couldn’t remember the last time I had a pot pie! Most frozen or restaurant pot pies are full of chicken and high in fat/calories so it has been off my radar for the last 15 or so years… but not for long.

I scoured the internet for recipes. They all seemed pretty complicated and high in fat, aka not for me. I then found what I thought was the mecca: a lower fat, vegetarian and a simpler recipe than the other’s I had found. I rallied the troop (just one troop, Brent) and went to the store to pick up the semi-long ingredient list to get started on the recipe.

Tricky Vegetable Pot Pie (adapted from Vegetarian Times)

All together. Don't worry, that wine was included in the recipe.

  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 cup thinly diced celery
  • 1 cup thinly diced carrot
  • 2/3 cup french-style frozen green beans
  • 1 small yukon gold potato
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup skim (or soy) milk
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

The original recipe calls for a cup of red pepper, but they were $4.50 at the grocery store, so I omitted them and bumped up the amounts of carrots and peas to replace the sweetness that the dish might lack due to the pepper being kicked out of the pot pie club. I will often omit an non-necessary ingredient if it is very expensive or not in season. I also added a small potato, diced. I added the potato because I recall potato being in a pot pie… am I wrong here?

Directions

1.Coat an 8-inch casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degree. Wash, chop and measure out all ingredients.

 

Step 2!

2.In a heavy saucepan, heat wine on  medium-high heat for about a minute. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add celery, potato, carrot, green beans and peas. If mixture begins to dry out, add 1/4 cup more wine. Cook, stirring often, for 3 more minutes. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

 

 

Spices make all the difference.

3. The tricky part #1: In glass measuring cup, combine milk or soy milk and 2 cups vegetable stock. Slowly add to vegetable mixture while whisking constantly. Sauce will start to thicken after about 15-20 minutes (unless you are a cooking genius and it thickens in the original recipe time of 10 minutes). Add parsley, salt, thyme, sage, pepper and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until filling is thickened.

 

 

Maeby: the real chef here?

If you stir for 15 minutes after you add the spices and it’s just not thickening, just add a tablespoon of cornstarch. I had to do this. I think real chefs scoff at cornstarch. Maeby didn’t, as you can see. Remove from heat, transfer mixture to prepared casserole and set aside.

 

My filling was still a bit thinner than I would have liked.

Basic Biscuit Crust time! (from the same VT recipe)

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached or whole wheat pastry flour* (I used 1 cup unbleached flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 T butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (soy milk)
  • 2 T honey

Directions

flour mixture

1. In large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut butter or margarine into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.

honey + buttermilk: so pretty.

2.In measuring cup, combine buttermilk or soy milk and honey. Add liquid to flour mixture, stirring with a fork to form a stiff dough. Add more buttermilk if dough is too dry.

dough ball ready for the rolling pin

3. Tricky Part #2 Knead lightly in bowl, 3 to 5 minutes, until dough is no longer sticky. I think if i had used pastry flour this would have been easier. Mine hardly got un-sticky. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Roll out into shape to cover casserole dish.

ready for the oven

 

4. Final Tricky Part: Lay biscuit topping lightly over filling. I could not make this look pretty to save my life. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.

side view of the finished product.

So, this tricky recipe turned out pretty good, the veggies were great and the cayenne gave this a heat that was awesome but no where near unbearable. The biscuit topping was a bit too heavy and I think next time I make this I might go with a store bought topping. The recipe also took a bit longer than I’d have liked to spend on a weeknight, but every once in awhile that’s fine by me.

single serving of deliciousness.

While you wait for this masterpiece to be done, I suggest making a simple side salad to go with this for some lettuce crunch. Get ready to be full.


Pizza Party*!

We almost ordered a pizza on Friday, but then got a text that our neighbor-pals wanted to go out. Then I missed a text (by 2 hours) that my friends were at a place with great pizza down the street. Ok, universe. I’ll make my own!

Getting/going out for pizza is fine sometimes, but once you make it at home – and I don’t mean frozen pizza- you won’t often go back. You can top your pizza with exactly what you. Want tomatoes but not a ton, fine, do it! Go get your dough and try it out.

I have tried lots of pre-made dough, and most are just fine, but the best one I’ve tried yet has been from Great Harvest. I love going there on the weekends and getting a sample of bread and picking up a dough ball. They sell both white and wheat, and the last time I  went with wheat. The wheat has more fiber, is better for you and tastes awesome.

Just like most of the dishes I make, this one contained pretty much what I had on hand:

My Ingredient List:

1 wheat dough ball
1/4 c. diced white onion
1/2 c. baby spinach
1/4 c. feta cheese
1/4 c. tomato
4 oz shredded mozzarella
5 artichoke hearts (chopped)
1 clove garlic
1 packet of pizza sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
flour to roll out the dough

To make this pizza extra perfect I would have loved to had some mushrooms, green pepper and basil to put on top but there will always be a next time.

To start, go by whatever the instructions on your dough say. I had to let my dough sit out for 2 hours, and then get to rolling in it into my desired shape.

Flour the table + rolling pin first, then roll!

Sometimes you have to stretch it a little by hand.

I then put the dough on an Pam-sprayed circular cookie sheet to rise for 10 minutes. After that, I popped it in a 350º oven for 15 minutes as per instructions. The entire house smelled like homemade bread baking… amazing.

I then sauced the pizza using a packet of Boboli sauce- I really like these because they are individually packaged to fit on a large pizza, nothing goes to waste. On top of the sauce I first add the chopped garlic, then the spinach, and then all of the other vegetables. I only put the artichoke hearts on half as my partner in pizza eating crime Brent doesn’t enjoy those.

I like the toppings under the cheese... for no reason.

After the toppings, put the mozzarella and feta on top, and sprinkle with dried oregano. Then, place into the already very pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. After everything looks done, I like to put my pizza under the broiler to brown the cheese a bit.

If I cook during the day, maybe I wont have to use my flash...

While that was cooking, I had to think up what I wanted to eat with this. While it is veggie-heavy, I needed something else. I really wanted to make a salad to go with this, but Brent found some carrots that only had a few days of life left. Since I hate wasting food, and the oven was already on so I decided to make some roasted carrots.

Take 4 or 5 carrots, peel them and then chop them into 1/4-1/2-inch wide by 3″ long sticks. (Or, however big you want them!) Put them on a Pam’d pan and sprinkle with salt + pepper and stick ’em in the oven at 350-400º for about 15 minutes. If you like these on the crispy side, broil them for a bit right at the end.

Ready for the oven.

Although carrots + pizza don’t sound like a typical combo, I’d have to recommend it. Try it.

*Ok, there wasn’t a party.

Very Very Easy Vegan Chili

It has been beautiful, spring-like weather here in Minneapolis the last few days… but I heard big bad winter is coming back next week. Sounds like a good time to make some delicious vegan chili for the week ahead. This is a little thinner than traditional chili, but I just can’t call it a “stoup” a la Rachael Ray.
This recipe will produce 7+ large servings so it is great to use when hosting a party, book club or if you are planning for a busy week ahead and want to freeze some single portions for dinner or lunch.
Very Very Easy Vegan Chili: The Recipe
1 acorn squash–peeled and cut up into 1″ pieces
1 potato– cut into 1″ pieces
1 bag (16oz) frozen corn (can use fresh or canned as well)
2 cans great northern/navy beans (same bean-has two different names)
1/2 white or yellow onion
entire box of vegetable broth (its good to use low sodium:)
3-5 fresh diced jalapeños (as spicy as you want it.)
dash Lawry’s season salt
salt + pepper
1.Saute the jalapeño & 1/2 an onion in olive oil ’til slightly wilted (not browned)
2. Just throw in the drained/rinsed cans of beans, corn, squash (not cooked first), whole box of broth, add some black pepper, a little salt and a little Lawry’s seasoned salt.
3.Low simmer for 2 -3 hours.

freeze for lunches or dinners later

This tastes great right when it’s done, but it really does taste better the next few days. It also tastes best with onion and tortilla chips or Fritos on top.

Are you craving cheese? Not feeling like being vegan this week? Some cheddar cheese taste great on top too. I won’t tell Oprah!

I’m here for the soy sauce.

Hello World.  Well last year my boyfriend and I apparently started a tradition; we don’t really have too many of those things. That tradition: getting fried rice on Valentine’s Day. As I mentioned, we don’t have too many traditions so we kind of half-broke it this year by making our own fried rice. It’s healthier, a lot cheaper, and if you are a vegetarian you don’t have to worry about any fish or oyster sauce sneaking in. And, I really have developed a strong liking for anything soy-sauce related and fried rice is full of it.

I typically prefer brown rice, but for fried rice it just doesn’t cut it. I highly recommend using the white stuff. The key to this recipe is to use day-old white rice. If you don’t have that lying around, make the rice and lay it out on a cookie sheet in the fridge or freezer until it is totally cooled off.

Here is what you need and the steps to make this very simple vegetarian dish:

Pictured but not needed: wine. It does make chopping a little more fun. Why not? You can pretty much add anything you want in your fried rice (other veggies, meats, etc), this is just what we like and had on hand.

Fried Rice: The Recipe

3 cups cooked rice

1 T Canola or vegetable oil

½ cup peas and carrots

1 bunch broccoli florets

1-2 tsp. sugar

¼ cup chopped onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, smashed or chopped

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger

3-4 T Soy Sauce

2 green onions, sliced (topping)

2 eggs, scrambled (optional)

2-3 springs cilantro

1.Heat up a wok or large pan if you don’t have a wok, add a bit of oil and add garlic, ginger and onion. Cook for a couple of minutes.

2.Add rice and soy sauce, stir around to coat. Add sugar to taste. When it is almost heated through, add the green onions and frozen peas and carrots and broccoli. Cook for about 5 minutes, and it’s ready.

3. I like to garnish with a little cilantro and mix it in right at the end, it makes the dish taste fresh. I also like to use tacky heart-shaped bowls once a year.

We also made some fresh spring rolls using glass noodles, cilantro and carrots. Tasty + Basic. (And another vehicle for delicious soy sauce.)

However, before we could start eating, it was our little puppy Maeby’s very first birthday. We had to spoil her everyday on her birthday so she got some veggies that we used in the fried rice and some chicken. (Take a look, that might be the last meat you see on this blog!)

She couldn’t figure out how to blow out the candle so we let her dig in… and we did too.