February 27, 2009

We’ve had the better part of a dozen eggs sitting in the fridge all week, just waiting to be used. I was in the mood for something fast and easy tonight, after a draining afternoon of getting my hair cut and taking a nap, so I decided on breakfast for dinner.

Or, not exactly breakfast, because I eat oatmeal for breakfast. Every few weeks I’ll switch it up and eat someĀ  yogurt (with oats in it) just to keep things interesting. This is, however, something I would most definitely eat for brunch. So what we have here would be more aptly called brunch for dinner.



Now, I officially built this meal around eggs, but as I was cooking, I realized that it was really all about cheese. What’s new, right? But I tried to be a little more subtle this time, stretching a (generous) handful of Parm over three dishes: a broccoli and spinach frittata, cheesy grits (‘polenta’ if you’re feeling fancy), and a side salad with lemon and olive oil dressing.

And what brunch is complete without beer?



This was a new one and it was tasty. I like dark beers and porters are at the top of my favorites list, so this was right up my alley. Plus, who doesn’t like vanilla? I split this with Matt and then we balanced things out by splitting a cocoa porter after we finished this one.

Up next: one of these awesome cookies my boss brought me today.

oatmeal/golden raisin/chocolate chip

oatmeal/golden raisin/chocolate chip

I sampled one earlier and I’m really looking forward to eating the rest of them in about five minutes. Plus: they’re oatmeal, so it’s like having breakfast for dessert after brunch for dinner.

We’re (hopefully) going out of town for the weekend, so I’ll be back in a few days.


Bulgurrito bol

February 26, 2009

You knew it was coming.

I don’t eat at Chipotle anymore because I once got violently ill after eating there and I can never go back. Not a huge loss for me, as I rarely ate there, but I did enjoy a burrio bol every now and again.

I accidentally worked later than I meant to, so it was a perfect night for something fast. Matt requested bulgurritos and dinner was decided. But on the way home, I was thinking about the cake I had as an afternoon snack and realized it might be a good night to lighten things up and get a few extra servings of veggies in, so I decided to deconstruct my bulgurrito and have the filling over some spring mix that was on its last legs. Good call, really, because I could justify eating more cheese this way.

allow me to introduce... the bulgurrito bol

allow me to introduce... the bulgurrito bol

You can’t really see the filling, but it was super simple: I sauteed about 2 cups of broccoli florets until they brightened up a little bit, then added 2 cups of cooked bulgur, a little less than a cup of frozen corn, a can of “chili beans” (pinto beans plus stuff) with the liquid drained, and cooked over medium until heated through. Then I served it over some spring mix and dumped some cheese on top. Done in fifteen minutes.

And now I’m just trying to motivate myself to get up off the couch to pack my lunch for tomorrow but I’m just so tired and disappointed with the results of Top Chef, which I just watched. So I really don’t see that happening.

It’s been way too long since I made brussels sprouts

February 25, 2009

Okay, Mark Bittman has officially redeemed himself in my eyes. This Bittman-inspired stir-fry was almost perfect:

"stir fry" with brussels sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes, and chickpeas

"stir-fry" with brussels sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes, and chickpeas

What made this recipe less than perfect? The chickpeas were a little undercooked. What made this recipe awesome? Absolutely everything else.

These beans (like the ones that were in the disaster patties) are some that I quick-soaked and cooked on Sunday afternoon. I have approximately zero experience with this, so I don’t know for sure that I did it right. The chickpeas were tender at first, but then maybe I took them off the heat too early because they shrunk back up and got a little hard. Ideas? Thoughts?

Anyway, I qualify the stir-fry title with quotes because I actually used a lot more liquid than the recipe called for (and more than I would usually use in a stir-fry, too). This is because I really hate gummy dried tomatoes and I wanted them to plump up more (I firmly believe that gummy textures should be reserved for candy). So it was more like a stir-hard-simmer than a stir-fry. But, you get the idea. Good mix of textures and colors, and, extra firm chickpeas aside, the whole thing just melded really nicely.

Also, I love brussels sprouts so much it almost hurts.

We had another awesome meal on Monday, which was much-needed after Sunday night’s failure. I hesitate to show you this totally blurry and weird picture, but I had to take it really fast because the camera was dying and SOMEBODY unplugged the battery charger after about five seconds and never plugged it back in. MATT.

shrimp fra diavolo

shrimp fra diavolo

This was my first shrimp fra diavolo, and I don’t know where it’s been all my life. I made it extra special by serving it over quinoa, which the recipe I used (from Clean Eating) called for. This initially disappointed Matt, who expected pasta, or whatever. This followed soon after he realized that we don’t eat poultry anymore. He puts up with a lot, really. Good thing this tasted so good that he forgot about all the other stuff.

Last night, I was so super exhausted and exhilarated from two days of teaching that I kind of fell into the door frame when I came home. Matt made the executive decision that we would go out to eat and he promptly remedied his poultry deficit with some enchiladas suizas. I opted for the vegetarian fajitas, which, interestingly enough, also had a few pieces of chicken in them. Funny how that works. Luckily, Matt took them off my hands.

On an unrelated note, it was so nice here that I walked to and from work. I also walked to get coffee at lunch and actually felt… warm. It was so foreign.

File under: fail

February 22, 2009

Ugh, tonight’s dinner literally fell apart, and I have no one to blame for it but Mark Bittman.

Okay, not really, but if I wasn’t reading his newest book and getting all fired up about it, I never would have thought that it would be a good idea to make bean and grain burgers after a very long Sunday, right before a very long week. I mean, really, I only started cooking the pot of beans at 3:30 and suddenly I was hungry and I had to soak the bulgur and mash the chickpeas and mix in the egg and then it was just crazy and my hands were super gross and eggy and I still couldn’t get the stupid things to form into patties. What did I do wrong? I had to omit the onion because, even though I went through all the trouble of dicing and grating it, it was too membraney and really kind of mushy and overly moist for me to use without feeling like I wanted to vomit. I tried to dress one up a little for the picture, but if you look carefully you might be able to tell that it’s broken in three pieces.

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

Matt’s sweet potato fries were good, at least. And, actually, the patties were fine, but only about half of them stayed together. A few also got a little extra crispy because I convinced myself that cooking them longer would make them stay together better. This did not turn out to be true. The recipe can also be made as a loaf, so I may try that next time. When I do this not on a Sunday.

On the bright side, I did a lot of food prep for this week – we’re currently worth our weight in bulgur and chickpeas.

Oh, and I actually cooked Friday and Saturday nights as well, against all odds.

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

I usually hate peas, but they were actually pretty good here. Or, it was 9pm and I was really hungry.

baked penne with asparagus

baked penne with asparagus

The market has had fresh asparagus pretty early this year for $1.99 a pound, so I’ve been trying to take advantage. It was good with the pasta. And, of course, so was all the cheese.

And now, I’m exhausted, so it’s time to clean the kitchen and get ready for my crazy week. I think I’m going to need a cupcake bowl.

Black and white and red all over

February 19, 2009

Did you miss me?

I know you did, because I got so many comments about my absence.

OH WAIT. No I didn’t.

But that’s okay, I had a busy week, too.

This morning was cold, the coldest it’s been in a few weeks, and I felt like my feet were actually frozen by the time I made it from my car to work, so I started thinking about chili at about 8:25am. Which is early even for me.

Also, according to my very careful records (this blog), we haven’t had chili since December 21, and that’s kind of remarkable in this household.

triple bean and toasted barley chili

triple bean and toasted barley chili

Say that three times fast.

I put this together on the fly, but I think it went something like this:

  1. Heat ~1t olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add 1/2 cup quick cooking barley and toast, stirring frequently, for two minutes.
  3. Add 1 diced green pepper and 1 diced onion, along with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne to taste. I actually had a cumin accident at this point and I’m sure there’s at least 1/4 cup in this dish. Cook, stirring often, until peppers and onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a fairly serious boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. The barley should be tender and the whole thing should look really thick. Or “dank,” as Matt would say.
  5. Add 2 more cups of broth, 1 cup of water, more spices, and 1 can of each of the following beans: dark red kidney, black, and garbanzo. Or any firm beans. Whatever.
  6. Stir and bring back to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  7. Uncover and continue to simmer until it thickens up a bit.

This makes at least 5 or 6 meals, and it tasted great. I didn’t use any tomatoes, so it had more of a white chili feel.

Many days ago, we also had this pizza, which is notable because of Matt’s inspired addition:

how do you like them apples?

how do you like them apples?

That’s right, he chopped up some gala apples to put on it, along with the mushrooms, red peppers, and broccoli that I selected (most of the broccoli fell off, sadly). I was skeptical at first, but I have to admit that he was right: the apples were awesome.

I’m cooking at least our next three dinners, so I should be back soon. I’m committing in this public forum, so I kind of have to, right?

Dinner and a Movie: Eagle vs. Shark

February 15, 2009

I’ve decided that this blog is not gimmicky enough. So here’s a gimmick: dinner and a movie. Last night I made dinner specifically to complementĀ  the movie we were planning to watch. And it was fun. Plus, Matt assures me that it’s plenty gimmicky, so I think I’ll do it again sometime.

I’ve been wanting to see Eagle vs. Shark since I saw a preview for it in 2007, but somehow I never pushed it to the top of the Netflix queue. Matt, thoughtful partner that he is, moved it up this week so that we could enjoy it for Valentine’s Day. So, the “movie” part of the whole thing was already planned, but that left me with the other half: dinner.

It’s hard to theme a meal based on a film you’ve never seen, so I took the easy route with this one and planned a meal based strictly on geography. Eagle vs. Shark takes place in New Zealand, so dinner would just be something inspired by the cuisine of New Zealand. Easy, right?

Except that I didn’t know anything about New Zealand, save for what I learned from this other movie. Which basically just taught me that sheep are to be feared, and didn’t give me much help in the way of menu planning. So, I had to do research.

After a few failed Google searches (seriously, I cannot even comprehend how many lamb recipes there are in existence), I managed to remember that I work in a library, and I found a pretty awesome series of cookbooks with a few examples of meals from basically every country in the world. And thus a dinner was born: asparagus soup and baked fish steaks.

Sounds good, right?

I bet it would have been, but I didn’t exactly make it. I was too tired after a long and exciting Valentine’s day of tacos and cookies and Valentine’s tea gifts from Adagio and basketball to bother with a soup that required actual attention, so instead we had baked fish steaks and asparagus. A fine compromise.

baked salmon, roasted asparagus, and brown rice a la New Zealand

baked salmon, roasted asparagus, and brown rice a la New Zealand

This fish recipe pretty much rocked my face off. I was nervous at first, because the salmon had to be marinated in milk, which I’d never heard of. Apparently it’s normal and it’s meant to take some of the fishy taste out of it, and it worked beautifully for these salmon steaks. After they marinate in milk for an hour, you transfer them to a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, throw on some bread crumbs, and put them in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Something else I might try would be to use a white fish of some sort with crushed pecans and some olive oil instead of bread crumbs.

I also had a gigantic frosted heart-shaped sugar cookie and some ice cream for dessert, but that’s unrelated to New Zealand.

As for the movie, I really liked it. It was quirky and funny and sweet. Actually, for the first twenty or thirty minutes, I was convinced that it was going to be the best comedy I’d ever seen, but then I had beef with some of the subsequent events.

The See Food family’s totally unbiased and very scientific ratings on a scale of five:

Dinner: 5 stars (it’s the milk, people)
Movie: 4 stars

And now I’m off to tackle a monstrous to do list and hopefully get some yoga in because I think I’m addicted to it now, which is probably a good thing because I may or may not also be addicted to stress, and they seem to balance each other out to some extent.

Also, I think it’s making me stronger because I went to this insane class at the gym the other night that involved torture instruments like jump ropes and step benches, but during the push up and plank portion of the class, which lasted for five minutes or hours or something, I only thought about crying once.

Why do I do this?

February 13, 2009

I guess I accidentally took the week off blogging, too. I was busy, and tired, and boring, but here’s some food:

pasta with cauliflower

pasta with cauliflower

Okay, so, the main problem with forgetting to post to your cooking blog is that you forget the details of the cooking. I’m fairly sure that what I did here was to cook a bunch of cauliflower in boiling water and then throw it into a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Then I cooked some penne and threw it in there as well, with some crushed red pepper and maybe some vegetable broth? And then a bunch of parm and some breadcrumbs went on top and I broiled it for a few minutes. Broiling may have been ill-advised, as the breadcrumbs got a little too crispy. Or, burned. I still plan to do this again next time I have random leftover vegetables and a half a box of pasta lying around. So, you know, tomorrow.

And then there was some stir fry with peanut sauce (peanut butter, soy sauce, a splash of rice vinegar, crushed red pepper, and a little hot water to thin it, all in varying proportions that I can in no way recreate because I honestly have no idea).

brown rice and broccoli/red pepper/carrot/tofu stir fry

brown rice and broccoli/red pepper/carrot/tofu stir fry

Next time I’ll try to measure the sauce ingredients, because this one was good.

And that brings us to today, where I ruined my appetite eating brownies and trail mix and ended up making this soup at 9:00 because I felt like I needed something to eat that had a color and some nutrients.

collard green, potato, and black-eyed pea stew

collard green, potato, and black-eyed pea stew

This was from my newest issue of Clean Eating, and it was awesome. This is why I like magazines. I don’t know that I ever would have thought to put these foods together and make a soup out of them.

Also, magazines are shiny.

The only issue I really ran into was with the collards I bought. Apparently “organic” also means “totally sucky” because these were the best I could find, but they still required some seriously careful inspection and butchering to slice out the gross parts. So, while the recipe called for 8 cups of chopped collards, I probably ended up with about 2. But at least I’ll live to tell about it rather, you know?

Also, Matt has made me several cupcake bowls over the course of the week – bowls of vanilla ice cream with cupcakes on top.

You want one now, don’t you?