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Archive for the ‘Beans’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

Pure Barre-rrrrrrr

In Beans, Healthy Lifestyle, Quick Meal, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

Like I’ve said before, healthy eating and regular exercise are the key to a hot bod.  Over the years, my dedication to this cause has changed and evolved.  From low-carb to lunges, I’m always looking for a lil something to spice up my regime.  My newest obsession: Pure Barre.  Before I ever took a class, I was really skeptical – was everything I’ve heard just hype, or was there something to this workout craze?  A combination of Pilates, Ballet, and conditioning exercises, it’s like no other class I’ve ever taken.  I don’t know about other people, but I can attest to my experience, and it’s definitely yielded some great results.  I am in no way writing this post to advertise or sponsor Pure Barre, I just really love what it’s done for my mind and body.  From slenderized hips and thighs, to a tightened core, I physically feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.  After only a month of taking classes, I noticed serious changes.  Now 75+ classes later, everybody else can, too.  I’m no VS model, but I’m proud of my results thus far.

Before

Before

4 month in.

4 month in.

Abs!

Abs!

More Abs!

More Abs!

I regularly attend classes 4-5 times a week.  Between the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday early 5:45 am time slot (aka: momma gets up at the ass crack of dawn to work out without inconveniencing her family after already spending an exorbitant amount of money on said workout)  and a few weekend options, I manage to find an abundant amount of opportunities to get my LTB in every week.  That is, until Old Man Winter showed up to the rodeo.  Now, my schedule is dictated by the meteorology report.  Even today, class was cancelled due to snowy/icy conditions.  However, I made sure to put my work in this past weekend in anticipation, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about missing my usual Monday session.  The same preparedness can be said for stocking up my kitchen with healthy staples.  This came in handy when I saw a post on my studio’s Facebook page for a weather-worthy white bean soup.  On a frigid day like today, I was glad to have a recipe for another comforting soup.  I made a few adjustments, but it was really simple and easy, even a toddler could [help you] make it.

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Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup

Adapted from Pure Barre Oceanside

Makes 7-8 cup

1 tbl olive oil
1 large onion
2 (15 oz) cans of Cannellini or Great Northern Beans
1 head of garlic, roasted
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
4  cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

I had pre-roasted some garlic earlier in the day, knowing I wanted to use it for this soup.  The original recipe called for sautéing, but I really enjoy the flavor of roasted garlic.

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I did sauté the onions though, only using 1 tbsp of oil instead of the recommended 3.

Fitting in some thigh work while I sauté.  Nick tried to make me laugh, and it worked.

Fitting in some thigh work while I sauté. Nick tried to make me laugh, and it worked.

After a few minutes, I added the spices and sautéed another minute.  The original recipe called for basil instead of sage, but a) sage goes much better with white beans and b) I personally don’t like the taste of dried basil and I find it’s rather bitter.

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Instead of continuing to cook the soup in a pot, I opted to blend in my Vitamix for 6-7 minutes to combine with the rest of the ingredients and cook through.

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Before

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After

The soup came out really creamy.

Extreme close-up.

Extreme close-up.

Paired with some roasted broccoli, we had a yummy and nutritious meal to beat the brrrrrr.

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Being snowed in is no excuse to let your health slide.  With some planning, a repertoire of warm recipes and consistent workout routines, you’ll be sure feel the burn all winter long.

Mopping up Foods on a Snowy Evening

In Beans, CSA, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on January 29, 2015 at 5:03 pm

While writing about food is one of my passions, I haven’t always excelled in the literary arts.  I knew my multiplication tables at the age of 5, but reading comprehension, creative writing, and book reports turned me into a deer-in-headlights.  Even in college, I had to drop my extra minor the last semester of senior year because of one writing-intensive poetry class (which was also offered at a lower level with a smaller workload).  Had I kept registered in the upper level version of the class (which I needed for the minor), my grade would have prevented me from graduating summa cum laude.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  This class was like no other class I’d ever taken.  Millions of ways to interpret and dissect sentences, lines, capitalization, you name it.  Perhaps because I was a business major, that’s how I saw poetry: examining the situation, finding the formula, and deriving a solution.  This approach was far different from the roots of my poetic knowledge, which all started in the sixth grade.

With the exception of “Roses are Red…”, the first poem I learned to memorize was “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.  My sixth grade teacher made each of us in the class stand up at the front of the room and recite the poem.  Til this day, almost 20 years later, I still remember every line (with the exception of one that I JUST looked up a few minutes ago).  Each time I recall the lines in my mind, I get a sudden twinge of emotions: a mixture of nostalgia, sadness, and happiness.  At the time, I had a very shallow understanding of Mr. Frost’s work.  However, as I’ve grown older – and as my college poetry professor had taught me – there are layers upon layers of meaning one can peel away from this story.  I won’t delve too much into this piece, because that’s not really the point of this post.  For me, this poem symbolizes my journey in life, which is why I have such a great connection to it.  Going through the motions of the day-to-day, even when I think there really isn’t time to stop, sometimes it’s those precise pauses that invigorate me to continue.  And this week was no exception.

After returning from a wonderful week-long vacation in Cancun, I was back to my ever-growing to-do lists.  However, unlike a “typical” week, I had the added bonus of fever/congestion for Rocco, which quickly infected me.  Not only was I dealing with the shock of after-vacation bliss and all of the unpacking/laundry that accompanies the return home, I was taking care of a whiny, inconsolable toddler while feeling weak and miserable.  Oh, and an impending snow storm to boot.  I did what I had to do to prepare – stocked the kitchen, did the laundry, etc. and napped when I could.  Even though the naps took away from doing more work, I had to take care of myself.  Then came Wednesday.

On Wednesday, I kind of felt like that man with the little horse.  I was still congested, but feeling well enough to not allow myself to stop.  In the early afternoon, I was mostly caught up, so I got a jump start on dinner.  While I really didn’t want to cook, I didn’t have much of a choice.  After being inside for almost 3 days, it was one of those clean out the fridge kind of endeavors.  I was really in the mood for some soup, so I decided to try roasting whatever veggies I had, then finishing them off in the Vitamix for a few minutes with some broth. It came out much better than I anticipated.  Plus, the time it took to prepare the veggies allowed me the opportunity to quietly reflect on my progress in the smaller and larger scheme of the day/week/month/year/life.  That may sound a little far fetched, but it truly was how I felt at the time.  I think it’s just what soup does to me.

I’m sure you could swap in/out for whatever you have, but I’d recommend trying this anytime you want a bowl of existentialism.

Roasted Root Vegetable “Refrigerator” Soup

Makes 8 cups (4-6 Servings)

Appx. 6-7 cups chopped root veggies.  I used:
1.5 large carrots
2 small parsnips
3 small turnips
1 small daikon
3 medium red potatoes
2 celery centers
1 medium Kohlrabi
4 whole cloves garlic
3-4 tbsp EVOO
2 leeks
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper to tastes
Extra EVOO, butter, or margarine for garnish (optional)

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I preheated the oven to 425, lined two baking sheets with aluminum foil, and washed/peeled/chopped all the veggies.  With the exception of the leeks, I added all the veggies into a large bowl, and then mixed in the EVOO, S&P.

Freaky Leeky.

Freaky Leeky.

After 20 minutes of roasting, I took the sheets out, and then mixed in the leeks.

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Another 20 minutes of roasting, the veggies were cooked enough for the next step.

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I transfered all the veggies to the Vitamix, then added the quart of broth.  With the lid on nice and tight, I blended on high for about 7 minutes.

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Then tada! The soup was done!  No simmering in the pot, followed my emersion blending.  The cleanup is really simple – just rinse out, add water, and blend with dish soap for 30 seconds.  Plus, it came out so smooth, you’d think it was a jar of Gerber.

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To really guild the lily, I stirred in a tiny slab of butter.  To keep the recipe completely vegan, you could also use earth balance or another fat of choice (EVOO, coconut oil, etc).  I served the soup with a simple salad of mixed greens, walnuts, avocado, pinto beans, and lime juice (sorry, no picture).  There was just enough left for some lunch today.  Rocco enjoyed his in a sippy cup!

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The next time it snows, I might just whip up a comforting bowl of this soup to slow me down and rejuvenate my psyche for the long road ahead.  There may be “miles to go before I sleep”, but stopping to fuel my body and mind is what I really need if those promises I’ve made are to be kept.

Thanksgiving 2012

In American, Beans, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday, Vegan, Vegetables on December 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Although I haven’t been cooking as much lately, I managed to conjure up a few new dishes for Thanksgiving week.  To contribute to the family meal, I made both a main dish and a dessert.  I find it’s always challenging as a vegetarian to eat during this holiday (unless you are fortunate enough to attend a non-turkey table).  As a result, I try to bring a dish that will not only supply me with protein and/or veggies and/or whole grains, but will also provide the other guests with a new delicious combination of flavors and textures.

The past couple of year the New York Times has posted a gallery of vegetarian and vegan recipes to make for Thanksgiving.  Aside from a tofu/tempeh concoction, or a huge lentil soup, there were mostly veggie and grain sides.  I found one recipe for a Cajun cornbread casserole that had a filling of red beans and veggies, and is topped with a ground cornmeal crust.  Back when I ate meat, I would make something similar using chicken instead of beans, but either way they are both delicious and hearty.

Cajun Cornbread Casserole

Adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (commercial blend, or make your own)
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional)
3/4 cup nondairy milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Since I was making this at my in-laws, I had to pre-measure the cornbread ingredients.  The other ingredients were prepared on site.  First I chopped all the veggies.  Then I sauteed in a pan with water and the juice of the canned tomatoes.

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After a few minutes, I turned off the heat, added the tomatoes, beans, and seasoning.  Then I layered the filling into a pie dish.

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Just before hitting the oven, I mixed wet and dry cornbread ingredients.  Then I baked at 400 for 35-40 minutes.

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Leftovers, since I forgot to take pics day of.

I thought the casserole was really delicious.  The only qualm I had with it was that it didn’t really match the traditional flavors of stuffing, mash, and turkey/gravy.  It did, however, taste amazing with cranberry sauce.

For dessert, I made the pumpkin brownie from last year.  Earlier in the week, I made some amazing blueberry brownies from Veganomicon, but I didn’t bring those to dinner.  Half were in my belly, the other half pawned off on my coworkers.  I didn’t eat the entire half at once, just a brownie or two (or 4) each day.  It was a nice treat to have lying around.  I’ve been better lately about the quality of ingredients I’m consuming, so I actually eat fewer treats, sweets, and packaged products.  Especially with chocolate, since the majority of products not certified organic contain GMO soy (in soy lecithin), as well as HFCS, hydrogenated oils, or “natural flavors and colors”.

This recipe is also a great use-up for extra blueberries in the summer.  Although if you’re like me, you couldn’t bare to spare a single berry!  I made a slight variation by subbing unsweetened applesauce for half the oil.  I didn’t notice a difference, so hooray!

Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies

Adapted from Veganomicon

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 ounces blueberry preserves (spreadable fruit, smooth, no whole blueberries)
1/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberriesIMG_0364

I combined the blueberry preserves, almond milk, sugar, canola oil and extracts with my handheld mixer.

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Then I sifted in the flour, sugar, baking power/soda and salt.
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After feverishly mixing the wet and dry, the batter was ready for some melted chocolate chips.

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Mmmm, fudgy batter.  But oh wait, I still had to add more choc chips and blueberries.
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I spread the batter out in a 9 x 13 tin.
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While I let these babies bake at 325 for 45 mins, I had plenty of time to lick the bowl.  Bonus, no raw eggs so no problem!  Then it was time to take them out, and set to cool.
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Here’s one lonely brownie on a plate.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t lonely for long :).
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They were so moist and decadent.  I’d definitely recommend whipping up a batch if you want to impress someone.  Or just stuff your face with fudgy goodness.  Just another great thing for which to be thankful.

In Pursuit of Fruit, Part Deux

In Beans, CSA, Dessert, Fruit, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on August 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Here’s a follow up to my last fruit post.  Although there are so many ways to turn fruit into a meal,  there are even naughtier ways to enjoy them, too :).  I’ll begin with a good girl recipe, then talk a little bit about some indulgences.

Two weekends ago began my annual family summer vacation.  Trying to use up all the CSA veggies that week, I made a lot of what I called “juithies” – somewhere between a juice and a smoothie.  Since I would rather have a Vitamix blender over a juicer, I end up blending all the juice, pulp, skin, and fiber of my produce with some water.  I actually much prefer the sludge to an actual veggie/fruit juice because there is a smaller ratio of sugar and thus less headache/starvation as a result.  My new favorite combo is beet/carrot/cucumber/melon.

No matter how big the beets are, they seem to ensure the drink is always reddish purple.

Making these juithies with a little bit of fruit is the perfect start to my day!  I actually have been drinking them instead of my usual first cup of coffee! (don’t worry, I still have coffee at around noon)

Let’s say that this beverage gets an A on the health scale.  The next one I would consider somewhere in the C range; B if we’re just talking about dessert.  I get emails from healthy websites all the time that include recipes, and just before vacation I came across this gem: Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Banana FroYo.  With just four ingredients, it was super simple and delish to make!  It uses nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, so packed with protein and not too much sugar, and includes banana to sweeten it up some.

Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Banana FroYo

Adapted from self.com

  • 2 containers (6 oz each) nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, divided among ice cube tray sections and frozen
  • 2 small ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and frozen
  • 4 teaspoons natural peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons mini chocolate chips

Those ice cube trays are in the shape of lips.

I had frozen the yogurt and banana according to the recipe, then blended them together for a couple of minutes.

I added some peanut butter, blended a few seconds more, then mixed in chocolate chips.  Since my blender is super high-powered, it actually heated up the yogurt and it was kind of thin.

After tasting for quality control, I froze the rest in a container, and mixed it every 20 minutes for an hour to make sure it was freezing evenly.  Later that night I ate straight from my homemade pint!  It was amazing, and better/cheaper than the Stonyfield farm or B&J versions available.  According to the recipe, the nutrition information is rather figure friendly for FroYo:

159 calories per 1/2 cup, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 10 g protein

The only reason I’d rate this a C is because of the added sugar.  Ideally, I try not to add sugar to anything, but this is a better alternative to 16 handles or pinkberry.

The next “recipe” is definitely a D on the health scale.  As soon as we arrived at our beach condo, we took a quick dip in the pool, and then headed inside to prepare our family tradition: Sangria.  My father is obsessed with fruit, and thus even more obsessed with Sangria.  He’s not much of a drinker, so this is basically a spiked fruit salad for him.  We don’t really use an exact recipe, but basically 1 part fruit to 2 parts wine (see, I told you it’s a fruit salad).  We also add some simple syrup and triple sec.  Of course, I was put in charge of chopping all the fruit, which took nearly an hour!

Grapes and cherries! The bane of my pitting existence.

We used 3 kinds of grapes, 2 kind of cherries, 3 kinds of apples, 2 kinds of plums, a peach, a nectarine, an orange, and a grapefruit.  Lots and lots of variety!

3 gallon dispenser filled 1/3rd of the way with fruit. NBD.

We let the fruit, wine, and other liquid ingredients marinate for 24 hours before drinking.  Both the fruit and wine are in perfect balance then.  48 hours later will produce a better liquid, but soggier fruit.  We also topped it off with some Sierra Mist natural to give a little zing to it.  I think I had 3-4 glasses each night, although the second one seemed less alcoholic, probably because the fruit absorbs all the alcohol.  I wish I had pictures of the end product, but I was too busy drinking to remember to take any.

Those are my new fruit recipes!  I also experimented again with the dehydrator and dried my donut peaches from 2 weeks ago.  I set them to 115º for 24 hours, and they came out amazing!  Sweet and just chewy enough.  And they are truly “raw”, which is a nice bonus!

On the veggie front, I was able to pickup the CSA distribution before heading down for my trip, but I don’t have anything exceptional to report.  It included the basic zucchini, lettuce, corn, cukes, basil, cilantro, and some other things I can’t remember.  Most memorably it was the first week of tomatoes!  The only big recipe I made on vacation was a corn/black bean/avocado/tomato/cilantro salad/dip thing.  No pictures of course, because I always forgot to take them on vacation!  However, everyone loved it, even though it was competing with baby back ribs.  It could technically also be considered a fruit recipe, as corn, tomato, and avocados are all fruits.  I don’t know how I’d rate that recipe though, but it’s definitely less naughty than Sangria.

Say “Cheese”

In Beans, CSA, Italian, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I really love me some cheese, as do most people in the civilized world.  Whether it’s the mozzarella of Italy, the queso fresco of Mexico, brie of France, or paneer of India, many cultures showcase their love for cheese throughout their cuisine.  As an Italian-via-osmosis, I tend to gravitate more towards mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and pecorino for cooked dishes.  However, I enjoy all cheese in any form (except American cheese), and it was the hardest food to give up when I adapted a vegan diet.  Now that I have reintroduced dairy to my daily consumption, cheese is back in rotation!  I even ordered some through my CSA for the first time, and I’m super excited to try it this coming Saturday.  I try to limit the fattier varieties, opting for low fat cheddar or airy goat cheese.  However, a glass of wine or two will tend to loosen my rule’s grip.

Speaking of CSA, I’ll be gone for most of August and September’s distributions, so I swapped one August pickup with somebody’s alternating pickup this past Saturday.  One of the many reasons I was crazily using up all the lingering fruits from the prior week.  My swapee also had a flower/egg share, so I lucked out with some purty flowers this week.

There were tons of veggies:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 bulb fennel with frands
  • 1 stalk dill
  • 1 root basil/leaves
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch carrots (4 large)

Fruit included:

  • 1 pint blueberries (looks like those are almost over for the season:()
  • 2 lbs donut peaches (about 14)
  • Yellow melon (I think it’s Thai or Japanese – similar taste to honeydew)

I washed and put everything away rather quickly, so I didn’t take too many photos.

Red chard.

Yellow melon on top, beets in large container, chopped fennel in the small container, carrots/zucchini/cucumber in a ziplock.

I was really excited to get theses carrots because they had their greens attached.  I washed the greens, set to dry in a towel, and completely forgot about them as I went about my busy day!  I had a wedding that night, so I spent the day beautifying myself in preparation, followed by more liquid than solid food.  There was some cheese though :).

I think only 2 drinks in at this point.

Speaking of cheese, let’s get back to the subject at hand.  After a night of drinking, I crave cheesy carbs and gatorade.  The latter I consumed after running 6 miles in the morning.  I resisted a cheesy egg sandwich post-run and went with fruit, egg white/spinach/mushroom/onion omelet and whole wheat toast.  I slept off the rest of the hangover, but still had a hankering for some pizza or mac n cheese.  Instead of ordering overly cheesy mac, practically negating my run from earlier, I made a quick healthy(ish) version of baked macaroni and cheese.  It also allowed me to use up all the extra zucchini I liberated from last week’s distribution leftovers.  I would have made more, but then I could have possibly eaten more.

Spicy Baked Zucchini Mac

Serves 2-4

6 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
3 cups chopped zucchini
1/4 cup green onions, sliced thin
5 sundried tomatoes, diced
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red chili flake to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 egg whites
Nonstick Spray
3 oz fresh mozzarella
10 basil leaves

I cooked the pasta 1 minute shy of al dente while I chopped zucchini and preheated the oven to 375º.

When the pasta was done, I added the 1/2 cup pasta water to a large bowl, and combined all the other ingredients except mozzarella and basil.  I sprayed a square nonstick baking pan with nonstick EVOO spray and emptied out the mac mixture.

Then I topped the pasta with the mozzarella and basil, covering with tin foil to bake for 20 minutes covered.  Then I raised the temp to 425 to cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Before.

After.

I behaved and only had 1/4 of the tray.

It really helped satiate my craving for mac n cheese, and all without the regret and lbs I’d gain from ordering out.

Cheese doesn’t have to be the enemy.  It can also be an ally to veggies trying to win the war against diseases and free radicals.  All of the vitamins and minerals in vegetables provide you with the equipment to live a long and healthy life.  Take dark leafy greens for example.  Vitamins A, K, and C are abundant in greens, as well as calcium and iron.  However, not everyone LOVES the taste of greens.  Of all varieties, Nick can most tolerate Swiss chard, just as long as it’s properly prepared (preferably with tons of oil, garlic, and salt).  To avoid using a lot of oil and salt, I decided to use cheese to mask -I mean flavor – the chard from this week’s share.  I also had some leftover whole wheat pizza dough in the freezer, so I experimented and made some chard calzone.  Mmmmmmmm.

Swiss Chard Calzone

Makes 4

1 bunch Swiss chard (I used red)
3-4 cloves garlic
Nonstick EVOO Spray (or 1-2 tsp of regular EVOO)
8 oz whole wheat pizza dough (half lb)
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta
water for sealing
1 egg beaten

I preheated the oven to 425 and got to work.  Luckily I had pre-chopped the chard, so it was rather quick to cook.  I just tossed in some garlic and sauteed with some EVOO spray in a nonstick pan.

At the same time, I divided the dough into 4 equal(ish) parts, and rolled one part into as much of a circle as I could.  BTW, I suck as that.

Then I layered a quarter of the chard with 3 tbsp ricotta.  I forgot to salt both, but you should do that.

After wetting my fingers to surround the edge near the mixture, I folded over the other half of the dough and folded the bottom over the top.  Not sure if that makes sense, but this is how it looks.

I sprayed my pizza stone with some EVOO spray, arranged the calzones as I prepared them, and brushed on some egg wash.

15 minutes and 3 rotations later, they were done.

Normally, calzones are served with a side of marinara sauce.  In an attempt to use up even more zucchini, I made vegetable soup that was mostly zucchini based.  In Italy, vegetable soup usually has zucchini, carrot, onion, potato, and tomato.  Mine had all of that, but used canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh.   I didn’t use broth, just water.  Lots of water.  And lots of salt and pepper.

I also added some chickpeas.

3-4 hours later, the soup is perfect.

Fresh basil for good measure.

Paired with the calzone, it was perfect.

Soup. Calzone. Can you say dunking contest?

Seriously, could you imagine eating that many veggies and it tasting so delicious?  This dream can become a reality for you, too.  Just make sure to have some cheese on hand.

A Meal’s a Meal, but That’s Just Fruit

In Beans, Fruit, Mexican, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm

A few months ago, I went early to the express DMV to officially change my last name from maiden to married.  I had packed my lunch and afternoon snack to take along with me so I could go straight to work as soon as I was done.  On my way to the office, a delirious “homeless” man gave a spiel I could barely comprehend, although I did catch something about “cancer” in there.  At the end, he of course asked for money, but also mentioned food.  I never give money to people on the subway (did you know that some panhandler in Houston claimed to make $60k from begging?), but if somebody were to ask for food I would jump at the opportunity.  When that rare instance occurs, I never seem to have even a stick of gum with me.  This time, I was so excited to offer him my afternoon snack of an orange and raw almonds.  I would have given my actual lunch, but I’m sure it was some Tupperware filled with beans and rice and veggies.  When I offered the food to him, he said some more delirious nonsense, something about a fleece being $3, and I said “I don’t have a fleece, you asked for food.”  And you know what happened?  He all of the sudden started speaking “clearly” and said to me “A meal’s a meal, but that’s just fruit.”  Then he walked away from me.  I was shocked.  My $7/lb raw organic almonds weren’t worth his time; I guess only crack, booze, and McDonald’s met his requirements.  I had approached my stop to transfer, still shaking my head at my fellow straphangers, and I shouted “beggars can’t be choosers, ever hear that expression?”

I was infuriated for the rest of the day, which really was a waste of my energy.  What did I expect?  It makes me so sad that this idiot has to ruin charity for all those legitimately hungry people who would be grateful for any morsel of food.  Those thoughts usually run through my mind any time I throw away any scraps, which is why I try to use everything I buy.  Last week, I received lots of fruit from the CSA distribution, and it was more than I was used to using at once.  Fruit tends to ripen quickly and should be used within a couple of days – whether you eat it raw, dabble in some canning, or freeze for smoothies/baking.  Although I had frozen about half of the peaches and plums, I couldn’t manage to finish the remains at a steady pace.  Once Thursday arrived, I still had 3 peaches and about 15 sugar plums left.  Since Nick won’t touch either of those, it was all up to me to consume.  Luckily, he went to the movies with a friend on Thursday, so I had the opportunity to use the peaches for dinner.  I usually don’t like to eat fruit so late in the day, but since I had procrastinated my workout til almost 9(!), it was the perfect exception.

The workout I made up. I think I’m sick of all my usual DVDs (hence the procrastination), so this was a nice change.

I still had the head of cabbage left from Saturday, and some of the green onions, so I thought a slaw would be perfect!  The recipe is really simple, and could use any stone fruit or apples/pears you have on hand.

Peach Lime Coleslaw

Makes about 8 cups

1 small head cabbage, shredded
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 bell pepper, small dice
3 peaches, small dice
Juice of 3 limes
2 tbsp agave nectar
Salt to taste

I used my food processor to shred the cabbage, but you could use a box grater if you don’t have a processor.  You could also go the easy route and buy pre-shredded coleslaw mix :).

I combined all the ingredients except the lime juice and agave in a large bowl; I mixed the lime/agave in a small bowl just to make sure it was even.  Then I poured the juice over the veggies/fruit, mixed to combine, and let it sit in the fridge while I worked out.  I served the slaw with some black beans, cholula, and goat cheese, which was really yummy!  You could also add some brown rice, or stuff a tortilla with the slaw/beans/cheese to make a burrito.

Now onto the plums.  I really wanted to experiment with fruit drying.  Buying dried fruit is usually fine, but most of the time it’s full of sulfur and/or sugar.  We had added a dehydrator to our wedding registry, and luckily somebody had bought it for us.  Unfortunately, Nick decided to christen it first with beef jerky (boo).

After washing the trays several times since, I finally tested the fruit drying capabilities with the leftover sugar plums.

Following the direction booklet, I washed, halved, and pitted the fruit.

I set the dehydrated to the recommended 135º and waited almost 20 hours until the fruit was dried out.  I was slightly shocked at both the temperature and the time.  First of all, how do all these raw foodists dry their produce below 118º if the manufacture suggests 135?  Secondly, 20 hours seems like a really long time for drying – did I do something wrong?  Anyway, this is the end result:

The dried version tastes slightly more tart and less sweet than the fresh fruit.  It also had a slightly oniony-garlicky hint to it, which I think means the trays or bottom tray weren’t really cleaned thorough from jerked meat (which is super gross).  Next time, I think I will try the below-118º raw rule, as well as super disinfect the machine.  Not wanting to waste this experiment, I think I will use them as treats for my dog.  I could also carry them in my purse as an offering to any other “homeless” hungry beggars.  Who knows, maybe somebody else would consider this fruit a meal?

An Ode to Candle 79

In American, Beans, Indian, Moroccan, Rice, Vegan, Vegetables on July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

To some people, the word “vegan” conjures up feelings of hate, resentment, or misunderstanding.  Or as friends have said to me “being vegan is just weird.”  And you know what?  I was probably guilty of harboring those sentiments myself before adapting a vegan diet 2ish years ago.  I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, but back in September of 2010 I came across some of Alicia Silverstone’s recipes from her book The Kind Diet.  Peaking my interest, I checked the book out of the library, and read it cover-to-cover in one day.  Not sequentially, mind you; the pictures and recipes were scanned first.  However, reading all the information about health, environment, animal humanity, and overall well-being that can be attained through a plant-based diet, I just decided to go cold turkey.  Mid-day, Tuesday, October 5th (isn’t it weird that I remember that?).  At the time, I was still dating Nick, and he had been away on a business trip back when he was traveling a lot as a consultant.  I remember being so afraid to tell him my decision, and approached him like I was about to tell him I’m dying of some incurable disease.  To my surprise, he didn’t make fun of me or tell me I was crazy (although I’m sure he thought it).  He was happy to support me in every way, as long as he could still eat his meat and cheese.

Within days, I felt great!  I had tons of energy, no stomach issues, and kept my weight pretty low – eating mostly carbs mind you! (Spoiler alert – none of this is true anymore, as I developed soy intolerance and had to reintroduce dairy back into my life).  I was following a lot of the recipes in The Kind Diet, as well as checking out some other vegan cook books from the library.  However, as even the most seasoned chef knows, cooking every meal for yourself is hard.  And exhausting.  And sometimes boring.  Eating out is challenging enough if you have any dietary restrictions, but I swear if you say to a server “I’m vegan” there will probably be twice as much butter on your sandwich.  On the flip side, I would search high and low for vegan restaurants that had something for my meat-eating husband to enjoy, and he found himself eating the only non-seitan or tofu dish available.  He’d go because he loves me, but he never truly enjoyed it (the same way I’ll go to a steak house to please him and be left to eat mushrooms and steamed broccoli).  But I think I’ve finally find the one:  Candle 79.  I went there with a friend, and I ordered the Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake.  As soon as I tasted it, I said, “OMG, Nick would love this.”

My friend had ordered some special with seitan in it, which I would try a different time.

There was even chocolate molten cake.  Our favorite.

Those all look like dishes you could order at any gourmet restaurant.  I have yet to bring Nick there, as it’s all the way on the Upper East side, and he generally doesn’t go above 14th street.  In order to convince him, I decided to try and recreate the chickpea cake.  My brother-in-law got me the Candle 79 Cookbook for xmas this past year, and I finally put it to good use last night!  I’m not sure if the recipe in the book is 100% like the one used in the restaurant, but it was pretty darn close!  That orange sauce is an apricot chutney.  I’m not sure what the green sauce is, but the recipe in the book called for a roasted red pepper curry.  I didn’t have red peppers on hand, so I decided to adapt a recipe from The Kind Diet called Eggplant Chana Masala.  Basically, just like chana masala, but with eggplant in it (duh).  My version deconstructs the masala by placing the Candle Cake on the eggplant.

Some of the ingredients and both cook books.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake

Adapted from Candle 79 Cookbook

1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 tsp EVOO
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 can)
1/4 cup reserved chickpea liquid, or vegetable broth
2 tbsp flour (I used chickpea flour)
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Nonstick olive oil spray

Apricot Chutney

Adapted from Candle 79 Cookbook

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp EVOO
1.5 cups fresh apricots, chopped (about 4)
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 cup water

Eggplant Masala

Adapted from The Kind Diet

2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp EVOO
1 tbsp each cumin, curry powder, garam masala, and amchor powder (or lemon juice)
1 small eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), chopped into 1/4″ cubes
1 28-oz can tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt to taste

I didn’t cook these components in the order listed;  I started with chutney, then eggplant, and then cakes.  The chutney was really simple!  I sauteed the onion for a few minutes, and then added the apricots and garam masala (the recipe calls for fresh ginger, which I didn’t have).

Another minute later, I added everything else to simmer while everything else cooked.  In the end, it turned into this amazing jam-like syrup.

Next was the eggplant.  I like eggplant really well done, hence the tiny chop.  I sauteed the onion (both white and the green ones from my share) with all the spices.  I had actually only started with about 1 tsp each (as the recipe said), but it needed more flavor as I kept adding the other ingredients.  The onions took about 5 minutes

I added the eggplant, sauteing another 5 or so minutes until it was more tender and I could scrape off most of the brown bits.

I then added the tomatoes, broth, and salt.  After reaching a boil, I covered the pot and lowered to medium heat.  The dish needed about 40 minutes to reach the consistency I liked.

While the chutney and masala simmered, I worked on the cakes.  The recipe starts with dry peas, but you could use canned peas if you like.  I had planned on cooking a bunch of chickpeas anyway, so I had started that pot before the chutney.  I used about 1 3/4 cups worth for the patties.  I also sauteed the onion and celery for 5 minutes with a tsp of EVOO. I blended the peas in the food processor, and then combined the veggies, peas, and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Using a spoon, I mixed everything up to create the batter.

I divided the batter into 4 patties, and sauteed in a nonstick pan with EVOO spray for 4 minutes each side.  I probably could have used the several tbsps of oil the recipe called for, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My spatula was running through the dishwasher, so the patties kind of fell apart while flipping.

I served Nick his chickpea cake over the eggplant and some brown rice.

Mine was sans rice.

Even with my adaptations, I thought the cake was spot on.  Nick really liked the cake and chutney, but wasn’t a huge fan of the eggplant.  Next time I’ll try to make that red pepper sauce.  Or I could make a reservation at Candle 79.

Why I’m the Worst Photographer. Ever.

In American, Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Chinese, CSA, Dessert, Fish, Greek, Italian, Meat and Pultry, Oats, Pasta, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I’m a pretty awful photographer, both in skill and frequency.  Until I started this blog, my camera was used maybe 1-2 times a year on a vacation or for a grandparent’s birthday.  Even when I do take some photos of my food, I never edit them, nor organize them, because I just get too frustrated trying to learn the programs on my Mac Book.  I just don’t have it in me to constantly snap photos, which is really such a shame.    There have been plenty of missed opportunities to capture both amazing and ordinary moments in my life.  I’m not talking about kissy faces, popping bottles, or a circle of friends’ shoes.  Just the simple pleasures, like walking around my neighborhood or documenting my restaurant experiences.  A whole fun-filled weekend will pass, and I’ll have nothing to show for it.  That’s how I feel about this past weekend.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so looks like I have a lot of writing ahead of me….

Filling in the gaps with some CSA goodies.

Saturday was CSA distribution.  It was also my volunteer week.  There are two options: man the stand from 9-12ish during distribution, or drive the leftovers to a local church.  Since I have a car, this was definitely the better option.  I had planned on getting there at 10 to pick up my share to bring home, clean up, etc. before the drive.  However, my morning run took longer than anticipated.  Turns out, I didn’t have enough time, so I quickly made an oatmeal pancake when I got home, showered, and shoved my produce in the fridge.

As somewhat of a reward for volunteering, you can take a few extra items.  I grabbed some extra zucchini, cucumbers, and berries.  The original share included:

  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 huge stalks dill
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 5 small or 1 large zucchini
  • 3 sweet corn
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1 quart sugar plums
  • 12 peaches

This is the first time all season I felt a real value in the fruit share.  Don’t get me wrong, I love 3 pints of blueberries, but it’s nice to have some variety.    Since I had a fun filled weekend, I neglected my “put everything right away” rule and got around to cleaning up on Monday.

From left: Lettuce packed and washed, beets and greens separated, fruit in a bowl to ripen, cucumbers sliced and “pickling”, zucchini and cucumber cleaned, onions sliced, leftover dill cleaned

I froze most of the blueberries for smoothies, and half the peaches and plums as well.

But this was on Monday.  All weekend I had so much fun, mostly with my husband.  It was nice to have a summer weekend without appointments, social obligations, trips, or chores.  Like I said, reflecting back in my head I wish I had more photos to show you.  Perhaps I can borrow some from restaurant and shopping sites to give you a better picture.   Pun intended.

Friday

A newish restaurant opened in Park Slope near my office.  I’ve passed by it a couple of times on the rare occasions I take the subway to/from work and never thought anything of it.  Whenever I’d catch a glimpse of food, it was usually noodles or dumplings, so I just assumed it was East Asian, although the name was Talde.  Turns out, it was opened by former Top Cheftestant Dale Talde and is super popular.  I mentioned the place to my husband and in-laws, and we decided to get there at 5 on Friday to give it a try.  We sat at the bar for a few minutes to have a drink; I shared an Obama Punch with my F-I-L, and it was super yummy.  Then 15 minutes later we sat to eat.  The vacancy gap between 5:15 and 5:30 PM is non-existent.

Photo of Hawaiian Bread Buns from http://taldebrooklyn.com/food-photos/

I had heard a lot about the Hawaiian bread buns, so I got an order of the market veggie version (it was marinated shitaki mushroom).  It was so flavorful, even my meat-eating companions loved it.  They shared a wonton soup.  For my main, I got some chilled soba noodles and a side of green beans.  Both really full of umami.  Everyone else got the fried chicken, ribs, and shrimp fried rice to share.

For dessert, we shared Halo Halo, which was a mixture of ice, bubble tea, fruit, coconut milk, and captain crunch.  It was good, but I think I prefer chocolate cake more :).

Overall, I really great dining experience.  It was a nice change from our typical repertoire of Mexican, Italian, or bar appetizers.

Saturday

When my husband suggests a day of shopping, I never turn it down.  Hence my household negligence this Saturday.  After dropping off the veggies to charity, I went with Nick to get bagels for lunch, and then we were off to SoHo.  Nick’s initial goal was to get some new casual sneakers.  What he ended up getting was 3 pairs of work pants, 2 pairs of jeans, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I got 2 new dresses to wear for weddings and special occasions, one of which is for an upcoming event this Saturday.  It is super bodycon and has cutouts, so I haven’t eaten since Sunday.  Just kidding.

The next thing we knew, it was 7:30 and we were starving.  I mentioned another restaurant I’d been meaning to try in Chinatown called The Fat Radish, and figured it may be plausable to get a seat on a Summer Saturday.  Luckily, we were able to sit at the bar, which was actually kind of nice and intimate.  I say that because the seating there is comprised of a few long communal tables, whereas the bar has 6 seats.  Also, our bartender made awesome drinks and was really friendly.  I got seared tuna and the fat radish plate, which is basically a bed of rice topped with whatever veggies are at the markets that week and prepared in super flavorful ways.  Way up my alley.  Nick got crab gratin and the burger with truffle duck fat fries.  Way up his alley.

The mirror “board” where specials and fat radish plate are listed. From their site: http://snapwidget.com/view/?id=220874731547124849_54018704#.UA7Ga6Ahgeo

From there, we walked over to Little Italy to get some gelato from this placed called La Cremeria.  It’s the closest, most authentic Italian style gelato I’ve had this side of the Atlantic.  Mind you, I live in a heavily Italian neighborhood.  I got pistacchio and delirium, which was butter cookie flavor with chocolate chunks.  Nick got his usual combo of cioccolato and nocciola (chocolate and hazelnut).  And then we waddled to the subway to head home.

Sunday

I rose bright and early to bike over to TriBeCa to support a newly certified yoga teacher married to a childhood friend of Nick.  It was an intimate class, and I felt great all day after.  I only had 2 anxiety attacks on the bike ride back over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Next time, I’ll go out of my way to take the Manhattan Bridge.  When I got back, I showered and got all purty looking to get brunch.  I went with Nick to one of our usual spots, Prime Meats.  This is comical for 2 reasons: 1) a vegetarian loving brunch at a place with “meats” in the title, and 2) it is owned by the same people as Frankies 457, a restaurant I despise.  I know I digress, but I will take this one small opportunity to vent.  I don’t know why Frankies gets so much hype.  There is always a wait, and the food is AWFUL.  All these Manhattanites swear by it, saying how it’s better than all the other authentic Italian joints in the hood.  BS.  And the people who work there are so rude and elitist.  Now, I generally have a 3-strikes-you’re-out rule with restaurants; Frankies definitely struck out looking.  Backwards K style.  The pasta and gnocchi are watery with little bits of low-flavor sauce, the drinks are overpriced and weak, and the waitstaff refuses to acknowledge any complaints.  It’s really such a shame, because they’d be getting a lot more of my business.

Anyway, back to Prime Meats.  When they first opened, I was skeptical about going, primarily because of my Frankies experiences.  I was also slightly turned off by the forced dress code of suspenders and mandatory mustachery for all male staff.  However, their brunch is excellent.  They make excellent coffee, never burn their eggs, and their bread products are to die for (that’s coming from someone who usually has oats for breakfast).  They used to be a little bit more flexible with their menu, but the chef has made some stricter rules for substitutions.  You’d think that would keep me away, but I’ve found my new love:  Their avocado sandwich.  Multigrain bread with avocado, lettuce, sprouts, shallots, and spicy mayo.  They will happily keep the mayo on the side for me, and I can also add an egg to the sandwich.  Perfect.  And again, another example of the missing shutterbug gene.

The rest of the day, we just relaxed.  I took a nap and watched Game Change on cable.  Nick got busy cleaning up his mancave.  Then I made a simple dinner of dill pasta salad and a garden salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pepper, avocado, and chickpeas.  A simple end to a wonderfully eventful weekend.

Super long post.  Next time, I’ll save a few thousand words by using my camera.

Why are Men Obsessed with Grilling?

In American, Beans, Flexitarian, Italian, Lentils, Meat and Pultry, Pasta, Quinoa, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables on July 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Now that it’s summer time, the cavemen in all our guys materialize with slabs of flesh over charcoal or propane powered grills.  I really don’t understand this obsession with fire cooked meat, but it probably stems from our evolution from hunter-gatherer.  This past weekend, I took a lovely  beach trip to Fire Island with my husband and another couple.  In preparation of the trip, we went through a shopping list of what we’d bring with us to the beach cottage.  Let’s just say in this group, I’d definitely be the gatherer.  Their list included steak, chicken, sausage, burgers, etc.  Mine included pepper, zucchini, broccoli, and other veggies, as well as fruit, cheese, eggs, and milk.  I created a “menu plan” of some sort to figure out what to make as the veggie side to the meat at every meal.  This is really important, because having to drag extra weight through the dunes to our rental was not an option.  I don’t have many photos, because I tried to avoid my phone and purse as much as possible.  Here’s a recap:

Friday Dinner:

Burgers (I had a veggie burger)
Grilled veggies – zucchini, eggplant, pepper, mushroom.  I used some of the leftovers for an omelet the next day.

Saturday Lunch:

Sausage (I had chickpeas with feta and quinoa)
Israeli Salad – cucumber, tomato, pepper, red onion, lemon juice.  I actually got a picture of that…

I love Israeli salad in the summer!  It’s mostly water, so it’s super refreshing and hydrating on a hot summer day.

Saturday Dinner:

Steak (I had a homemade black bean patty)
Broccoli and green beans in garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes.  We actually made them on the grill in a vegetable basket, and they came out really well!

We ended up going out for lunch on Sunday, so I had some lettuce and peppers left over to take home. Otherwise, we pretty much used up everything (except the family pack of 6 lbs of chicken).  On Monday, I definitely wanted to make something non-grilled at home for dinner, so I used the leftover peppers to make a roasted pasta sauce.  The peppers were on sale at Fairway – 3 1-lb bags for 5 dollars!  Pretty good deal.

Roasted Pepper and Garlic Sauce

3 colored bell peppers
1 head garlic
1 tsp EVOO
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
Crushed red pepper, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to taste (I used a lot of red and black pepper)

I learned how to make this from watching my dad as a youngin.  I’ve made my own personal touches, but it’s pretty simple.  I turned the broiler on and lined a baking sheet with foil.  I placed the peppers directly under the fire.  I also sliced off the top of a head of garlic, dabbed a bit of oil, and covered it in foil to roast with the peppers.

Every 5-8 minutes, I rotated the peppers to evenly char them.

After removing from the oven, I placed the peppers on a cutting board to cool, and returned the garlic to continue roasting while I removed some of the pepper skins.  You don’t have to remove everything, just anything that is super black.

Then, I sliced the peppers in half and used a towel to remove the seeds.  Then I chopped them up.  So pretty and colorful!

I removed the garlic from the oven to cool.  Roasting garlic turns it sweet and soft.  Really delicious all on its own.

I opened up a can of San Marzano tomatoes.  The D.O.P. kind are the best for a sauce.

In a large pot, I emptied the can of tomatoes, and started to break them up with a wooden spoon.

You can make it as chunky or thin as you’d like.  I like a little bit of chunk.

Then I added the peppers and began to squeeze out the cloves of garlic.  It was still hot, so quite difficult.

Once all the garlic was added, I mixed in the spices.  I like it spicy, so I probably used 1-2 tsp of red pepper flakes.

I lowered the pot to simmer, and prepared some chicken for Nick.  I used the same spices as the sauce, but added some tomato paste and EVOO to create a rub.

I sauteed the chicken in a non-stick pan for about 7 minutes each side, then deglazed with some marsala wine.  At the same time, I was boiling pasta water and simmering lentils.  What a busy kitchen.

I was making pink lentils for myself, to serve as a base for the sauce.  I didn’t want to eat the pasta (or at least not too much of it), so I figured mashed lentils was kind of like having polenta.  Nick had his pasta (whole wheat elbow macarani) with sauce, grated truffle pecorino cheese, and his chicken on the side.


I had my bed of lentils, a couple of elbows, and tons of sauce with a sprinkle of cheese.  Mixed together, it reminded me a lot of polenta.

With that, I am left with 2 hearts of romaine, and 6 apricots from the beach shopping trip.  Looks like it’s time for me to go gather again.