Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hanging Out with a Healthy Supper and a Sweet Dog and a Cute Man

What more does one need, really? I'm off to watch several episodes of The Office on Netflix, then fall asleep.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scenes from the Cooking Process, and Incorporating More Raw Roods Into Our Diets

I would guess that at least half of our meals begin with caramelized onions.  Soups, sauces, rice dishes, etc. all seem to taste better with a base of onions that have become sweet and yummy.

I couldn't decide between eggplant parmesan (without the parmesan - I can't take any more cheese) and spaghetti squash, so I made both.
My co-worker, Jenn, shared some of her amazing eggplant parmesan with me last week.  I tried to re-create it, but I used wayyy to much sauce. Now I know, so next time I'll use two eggplants in the dish instead of one.
I've always thought you can never have enough marinara, because it is so delicious, but in this case I was wrong! The eggplant deserves center stage here.
Last night I watched this movie called Food Matters.  I highly recommend it. After watching it, I was reminded to incorporate more raw foods into our my diet.  It isn't as hard as it seems; sometimes I just forget that not everything must be cooked.  So for the spaghetti squash, I created a raw sauce made from red bell pepper, garlic, onion, basil, parsley, coriander seeds, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and a little olive oil.
Here's the eggplant parmesan-less out of the oven.
And, voila, Vitamin C and lycopene galore (can you believe that's squash, and not pasta? what an interesting vegetable)!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Instant Blah

Today, yesterday, and Sunday I have felt exhausted, drained, lethargic, achy, and sick to my stomach.  I will tell you why.

It’s because I ate shit unhealthy food this weekend. [sorry, I should try to cut down on my swearing]

Yes, I created an antipasti spread for a bachelor party (which I of course did not attend), and when the party was over I helped clean up, with my stomach.  I also ate lots of chocolate, and a cranberry crostata with enough Earth Balance butter in it to kill a cow (no pun intended).  (You see, this is what happens when you follow Ina Garten’s pastry instructions; I love her savory dishes but her pastry and pie crusts are overkill on the butter for me.)

I ate cheese.

Yes, cheese, which I haven’t had in almost a year.  I ate several of those gross little Vienna sausages that cook in a crockpot for hours with beer and ketchup and brown sugar.

I asked for it.  Take this gross food, add some cold rainy weather, and a pinch of PMS (okay, more like a gallon), and voila!  Instant Blah!

The good thing is, Blah is a reversible condition.  It requires lots of sleep, lots of green leafy vegetables, lots of water, and once you get past the worst part, you can add the exercise part back in, too.

I like this kitchen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vitamin Soup

I needed something healthy and detoxiful.

Soup tonight was made from spinach, swiss chard, parsley, basil, broccoliflower (only because Kroger was out of broccoli), potato and onion.

Texture was actually dead on, better than I expected, kind of silky and rich without having to add any tofu or cream... I think the potatoes and broccoliflower helped with that.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Bark With Apricots and Sea Salt

1. Melt some semisweet and bittersweet chocolate over a double broiler, then pour it onto wax paper and spread it out with a wooden spoon to the desired thickness.

2. Sprinkle generously with chopped dried fruit, nuts, and sea salt.

3. Let harden (depending on the humidity where you live, you may [probably] need to put it in the refrigerator).

4. Break into pieces, arrange on a plate, and impress party guests with a pretty treat.

Appetizer Party Fare... and an "I wish"

The more people who know about my blog, the more I feel the need to censor myself. But then, I lose what makes writing, and everything else, good - authenticity.

I tried starting another blog, a secret blog, where I could tell the truth about things, but I missed this little blog, which feels like home.  I'm sorry I abandoned you for a while, little blog!
Plus, if I stuck strictly to recipes, or tried to avoid alienating any readers I may have, then this blog would become something I never intended it to be.

Food was always secondary (to what, is difficult to articulate).
Some things I love: 1. Surprising people. 2. Cooking. 3. Feeding people. 4. Surprising people with food. 5. Color. 6. Natural light (not the beer, for God's sake). 7. Writing.

There are other things of course. Some People, and Certain Dogs.
As lucky as I feel, I cannot help but feel astonishingly emotional during certain times of the month, and today and yesterday I listened to Taylor Swift (thank you, Taylor, for understanding the eternal vulnerability that exists in even grown up girls) and felt lonely and sorry for myself.

I want things I don't have.

And that how you came to read this post.

Green and Black Bean Soft Tacos

I love when the colors of food compliment each other. A tangled mess of color is alright, but when you end up with just a couple of complimentary colors in a dish, it really stands out.  Such was the case with tonight's super quick dinner of black bean soft tacos, with fresh cilantro, avocado, and cucumber (plus some olives).

Green and Black Bean Soft Tacos
1. Heat a little oil between medium and med-low.  When it's hot, drop in a small diced onion, and don't touch it until it's good and burned brown on the bottom. That's when you give it a stir so the other side of the little onion pieces can caramelize, too.

2. Add one or two cloves of chopped garlic, some red pepper flakes, and dried oregano.  Let it cook for a minute, but don't let it burn!

3. Deglaze the pan with a good can of black beans and their juices.  I like Goya.  Season the beans with salt, garlic and onion powders, and cumin.  Let cook and thicken for a few minutes, using your wooden spoon to mash some of the beans.

4. Toss in a big handful of chopped cilantro.

5. Serve in a warm flour tortilla with sliced avocado, shredded lettuce and/or julienned cucumber, and some sliced olives. Simple, pretty, and tasty.

Brandon Wizenburg's Cabbage With Hot Sauce

I definitely messed this up.  Because it was nothing to write home about.  But the reason I know I messed it up is because this is my new favorite food blog, and the tomatoes filled with rice I made from it were delicious, and I trust its author, Molly, and if she says her husband Brandon's cabbage with hot sauce is a staple for them, I know it's good, when prepared properly! So I'll attempt it again sometime, and this time actually follow the recipe instead of being lazy and guessing.

We ate the cabbage along with steamed broccoli and roasted potato slices with cilantro pesto.

Friday, November 12, 2010

little kitchen window with fall outside.

Something about this little kitchen window with orange autumn leaves outside appeals to me.  I like things with character, and this window has it.  It makes me wonder where it is, who lives there, what the rest of the apartment looks like.  Really, what it does is inspire a story in my head.
Okay, maybe the window is pretty ordinary, in a way.  I still like it.

I can't live in the suburbs.

Not everyone understands this.  I deeply, profoundly, cannot survive in the suburbs.  I would whither away and I know it.  Do not try to make me.

Black Hummus (for a change)

If you get tired of regular-colored hummus, you can use black garbanzo beans (or chickpeas), follow this recipe, and make hummus that looks like wet beach sand, the color you find on St. Simon's Island, close to where I grew up.

So I guess it isn't really black, because the insides of the beans are cream-colored. Only their skins are black.  But I think it's an exotic little change.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Would Love

I would love to cook a simple but delicious breakfast for friends and family in this little kitchen, with my dog Meeks hanging out on the sofa watching.

Isn't it so cheerful and sweet?

Of course, soon it would need a Christmas tree and maybe a warm rug and some big red throw pillows and festive dish towels and candles to make it all cozy for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Roasted tomatoes filled with rice (and a side of sliced roasted potatoes)

Make this.  Just… make this (despite my bad photos).  Please.  You’ll be so glad.

You are like me, and right now you are thinking “oh, come on, how much flavor can come from a tomato and some Arborio rice and herbs and breadcrumbs?”
LOTS.  Oh, trust me, LOTS.  You will want to eat the whole pan, including the roast potato slices, which are crispy and salty on the outside, and melty soft on the inside.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes have roasted until their skins split, and you’ve got this delicious, creamy herbed risotto inside, topped with crispy breadcrumbs.
So go now, and make this recipe.  I made a couple of changes, and I’ll only tell you about the ones I recommend you make as well.

First, I season the potato slices pre-bake with chili powder, as well as salt and pepper.  I like the extra flavor and kick.

Second, I definitely suggest you deglaze the toasted risotto and onion pan with 1/3 cup of red wine, and leave out the 1/3 cup of water the recipe calls for.  Wine deepens the flavor of any dish, so deglaze with it as often as possible, is my advice!

Third, I seasoned my breadcrumbs (which are from homemade whole wheat bread I keep in the freezer) with garlic salt, herbs, and truffle oil.  Because seasoning each ingredient of every layer in a dish is the key to the most flavorful end result!

That’s it!

I truly hope you make this dish – its awesome!

Just an Idea

Why not have a Middle Eastern / Greek-Mediterranean-ish night?

Roast some eggplant in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil (if you have time, salt and press it first for at least 30 minutes to achieve a creamier and more caramelized end result, according to my Italian co-worker).

While the eggplant is roasting, make Ina Garten's perfect recipe for hummus (there's a secret ingredient!).

Chop up whatever vegetables you want. I used tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, parsley, kalamata olives, and those sweet and spicy papadu red peppers.

Layer it all on an open face toasted pita, tostada-style (now we've officially covered at least four food cultures in this post).

Make this when you want a meal with TONS of flavor, but nothing too heavy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spaghetti and Tempeh Meatballs with Sweet Simmered Marinara

I hate when it gets dark at 6:00pm.  I do not like working until six, Monday through Friday, and leaving work to step out into the dark. I would much prefer to get up super early, knock out my work, and have a couple of hours to enjoy the day time before going home.  It honestly makes me depressed and pissed off.

So I don't plan to do it forever.

For now, little things like spaghetti and meatballs are a nice thing to look forward to, and I can make them day or night.

This recipe is yummy and so full of all the satisfying flavor you want in an Italian-American dish.  Sweet, savory, succulent, yummy.

Meatballs (I don't steam the tempeh; there's no need).
Marinara (definitely skip the fresh tomatoes and use crushed canned; it makes the sauce richer)

Hope you make it and like it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegetable Soup and Jalapeño Cornbread

It was cold and cloudy, so I made soup and cornbread.

Vegetable soup, with cabbage and red potatoes and carrots and tomatoes and whatever else I had in the fridge.
The cornbread is a recipe I make all the time, with several modifications, but this time I wasn't thinking and I forgot to nix the flour (I HATE flour in cornbread! It is no longer cornbread, but a hush puppy, in my opinion) in favor of all cornmeal. So the cornbread didn't turn out.  But normally, it does.

Anyway, I like to add caramelized onions and fresh jalapeños and corn (sometimes cream corn, in which case I use less milk, other times frozen corn kernels).