Tortellini soup

April 30, 2009
where have you been all my life?

where have you been all my life?

Apparently I have a number of repressed food-related memories. For instance, I have no recollection of what I ate during the four years I spent in college. I have one vague memory of burning a pot of Mahatma yellow rice from one of those foil packets and setting off the smoke detector in one of my apartments. I also sort of remember using the waffle iron in the dining hall to make a waffle ice cream sandwich for breakfast. Maybe every single day (but who can remember?). And there were maybe some Pokey Stix from Gumby’s Pizza but I only remember those making me sick.

I have also apparently glossed over in my mind an entire period of our lives during which we lived off of tortellini. As I was making tonight’s dinner, I had some kind of body memory of pulling down a box of dried DaVinci tortellini from the cabinet in an apartment we lived in a few years ago, probably when I was in grad school. I’m putting the pieces together – I now know that we ate chili, chimichangas, cheesy rice casserole, and tortellini for the two years I spent in graduate school. Oh wait, another one’s coming to me… Those Voila frozen dinners. Can’t forget those. They’re amazing because, despite the careful flavor selection you make, standing in the freezer section, overwhelmed by your options, they all end up tasting like water.

Anyway, this was a little more substantial and interesting and – dare I say? – sophisticated than the dump store brand jarred pasta sauce over cooked tortellini and call it dinner three nights in a row method I used to employ.

This was another recipe that my mom sent me. We’re two for two on these, with both the quinoa burritos and the tortellini soup being winners. I have to say, though, Matt was a little disappointed when he realized that I wasn’t just mispronouncing tortilla soup when I told him what we were having for dinner. The final product didn’t disappoint, and the whole thing ended up tasting really rich and pretty amazing for something so simple. You really just bring some vegetable broth and water to a boil, throw in some tortellini, simmer, add chopped vegetables (carrots and celery), simmer more, add some tomatoes (I used a can of diced tomatoes with their juices and I think it added more dimension to the broth), and add some spinach. I threw some goat cheese on at the end and stirred it in to thicken things up. And to be delicious.

A word about vegetable broth: my favorite grocery store splurge (besides soy cream) is Imagine brand No-Chicken Broth. At Dillon’s, it costs $3.99 for 32 ounces, which would not be in my price range if it wasn’t so delightful. Most vegetable broths are a little too in your face, flavor-wise, for my liking. This vegetarian version of chicken broth, however, is mild and subtle and pretty amazing. I try to stock up when it goes on sale, but that’s kind of rare, so I’m looking for alternatives. I’ve seen no-chicken broth base at the natural foods store, but it’s a little pricey as well (though cheaper in the long run), so I’m kind of afraid to try it and be stuck with a whole bottle. Any ideas? I’m trying to stretch the grocery budget these days, so maybe making my own vegetable stock would be the best way? But how would I get the lovely flavor without making it too bold?

I have so many questions.

Okay, I have to leave the room now. Apparently my being in here is causing some kind of phenomenon that leads already too long NBA games to go on for about a million years and forever prevent me from watching my stories on the DVR.

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As it turns out

April 29, 2009

I’m just not so good at blogging. I blame the fact that I’ve been mainly living off white beans and pasta lately. Which, while delicious, isn’t super interesting to photograph after about 800 times.

Last night, though, I made some quinoa and red bean burritos using a recipe that my mom sent me a few weeks ago. They were delicious, and a bonus was that I managed to use up some of that chipotle puree from last week.

quinoarritos - not quite the same ring as bulgurritos

quinoarritos - not quite the same ring as bulgurritos

I love these. The quinoa gets really soft and they remind me of these baked chicken chimichangas I used to make. Plus, the recipe made 8 and we’ll probably be eating them for the next several days.

I’m sorry I’m so boring. I’ll try to bring some sparkle back into the blog over the next few days. I’m doing the Arthritis Walk on Saturday so that’s something to get you all pumped up. Am I right? Or am I right?

I’m right.


Dal-lightful

April 21, 2009

Ugh, I know. Terrible.

Let’s catch up. Since I last wrote, I’ve made macaroni and cheese, chickpea dal, a number of peanut butter sandwiches, some coffee, and lots of oatmeal. I’ve also eaten basically half a dozen of these cookies:

cookies!

cookies!

If not more. That chocolate one in the top right? Solid gold. And I usually don’t like chocolate cookies. I only got them this time because I needed to hit a dozen. If you look carefully behind the sugar cookies, you can see the butter stains they left on the box. That’s how you know they’re really good.

I don’t think I mentioned this, but we watched the original Terminator on Friday, and I really liked it. I haven’t seen any of the Terminator movies, except for bits and pieces of T2, but we’re on a strict plan to get through the first three before we go see the fourth one at the movies. If you haven’t seen the previews for it, it’s called Terminator: Christian Bale. Or something like that.

Anyway, since we watched it, I’ve caught myself a few times wondering what I’d want to be doing if the Terminator came to, well, terminate me. Like if he went through the phone book looking for See Food and I was the first on the list.

I think I’d want to be eating.

Maybe one of the meals I’ve made since Saturday.

mmmmmac and cheese

mmmmmac and cheese

This is from Clean Eating and it’s supposed to be “very low fat.” It probably wasn’t, because I ignored all instructions related to the purchase and use of reduced fat cheeses. Because, really. Come on. Still, it’s cleaned up because I used whole wheat pasta and whole wheat flour for the roux. Which maybe wasn’t really a roux at all because there wasn’t much fat to speak of until I added the cheese. Anyway, the recipe called for something really fancy pants like “stone ground brown rice flour,” which I’m not buying for 1/4 cup worth when I already have a variety of whole grain flours on hand. I don’t think it hurt the dish at all. I mean, with three cheeses (swiss, sharp cheddar, parm), pasta, and breadcrumbs, I’m not sure you can go wrong.

Last night after kickboxing, I made chickpea dal.

chickpea dal with brown basmati rice

chickpea dal with brown basmati rice

I made a few changes from the recipe, namely using crushed tomatoes instead of fresh, not busting out the food processor because I just used it to make that chipotle paste and I did not want to have to hear Matt complain about cleaning it again, and some curry paste instead of curry powder.

This was crazy good. It got me a (completely unsolicited) “This is awesome!” from Matt. So, I think this is what I’d want to be eating if I was about to meet the T-man. Especially if I was going to have to fight him and run and things, because protein is important in those types of situations. In my experience.

I also want to get a dog now. Excellent Terminator spotters.


Suffering succotash

April 19, 2009

This week was a little too heavy on the pain and fatigue for my taste, but I’m pretty proud of myself for actually managing to cook some easy meals that were healthy, too. It’s easy for me to lose focus when I’m fatigued, to go out to eat (usually not something balanced or even healthy) or to just eat peanut butter and ice cream for dinner because it’s so easy (and, let’s face it, delicious). But I try to remind myself that eating real meals with actual vegetables and proteins and  grains is almost guaranteed to make me feel better, even if it takes effort.

orzo succotash

orzo succotash salad

The “succotash” is kind of controversial because I used black beans instead of limas, but, what can I say? I like to think outside the box. And we didn’t have limas. And I wanted it to be kind of Mexican themed. I made this Wednesday night, which was probably the peak of my fatigue, when I came home and sat down and didn’t think I’d be able to get up again, ever. There may have been some tears of frustration. But I’m strong-willed, so I pushed myself up and made this dinner in about 7 minutes. All I did was cook 1/2 cup of orzo and then add it to a can of black beans, a can of corn (both drained and rinsed), and a half a pint of grape tomatoes, which I quartered. I wanted to make a nice lime dressing for it, but the bottled lime juice I had is past its date. So I tried to just spice it up with some cumin and cayenne, but it was still bland  and emotionally unfulfilling. I had to follow it up with a bowl of cereal.

stir fry salad

stir fry salad

This one was inspired by a wakame rice salad recipe from Clean Eating. But that one takes two hours, and requires wakame. This one took about 20 minutes and required whatever I had on hand. Basically just brown rice mixed with stir fried tofu and veggies (peppers, onions, carrots, mushrooms) and dressed with a tasty soy sauce/rice vinegar/oil/ginger combo, the only part of the recipe I actually followed.

Last night we got ice cream at the campus dairy bar at 5:30 and when I was finally hungry again, all I wanted were sweet potatoes, so dinner ended up being peppermint ice cream, roasted sweet potatoes, and some random roasted tomatoes. Very fancy.

Tonight, I made something else from the Tropical Vegan Kitchen.

spicy bolivian-style lentils over quinoa

spicy bolivian-style lentils over quinoa

It was supposed to be over rice, but, as you know, we just had rice. And I like to shake things up.

This meal took a little longer, but I had some energy from the gym so I went for it. Totally worth it. What makes the lentils “Bolivian-style”? Chipotle puree! This was so easy. All you do is take a 7 oz can of chipotles in adobo and puree them in the food processor until smooth. I only used a teaspoon of puree here, but it was enough to add a ton of awesome flavor and smokiness to the whole dish. And I have a ziploc bag full of it in the refrigerator, so I need to brainstorm other uses. Any ideas?

We hit up the Tulip Festival in Wamego today, so I think I’m going to go enjoy some of the cookies and wine we brought back. Dessert of champions.


Tuesday night is pasta night

April 14, 2009

Actually, Tuesday night is yoga night, but that means it’s also pasta night (yoga is long and pasta is fast). Plus, once when I was visiting, my mom checked out this cookbook for me and I thought the title was snappy.

So, tonight while I was at my (awesome) 90 minute yoga class, Matt cooked dinner. I gave him strict instructions for one of our favorites, pasta with white beans and greens. His version was better than any of mine, so I guess he’s now officially our pasta chef. Also, he speaks Italian, so it seems natural.

pasta e fagioli

pasta e fagioli

We had an extra long svasana tonight at yoga, so I’m too lazy to type up the recipe. Instead, look at this pretty frittata I made yesterday.

easter eggs (one day late)

easter eggs (one day late)

This one had caramelized yellow onion, red bell pepper, spinach, and goat cheese. Oh, and the eggs. All served with a generous helping of Gilmore Girls (season four; before Rory turned to the dark side).


Easter soup

April 12, 2009

Um. So. Yeah. Let’s just call last week my spring break from blogging. Because, honestly, I can’t remember if I cooked anything. There was the whole Carolina winning the national championship thing, and that called for pizza, and then I had a really stressful week, which triggered my fatigue, which called for going out to eat a few times, and then we had to do laundry, and we went to see Adventureland, and then yesterday was Saturday and so I obviously had to lie around and read and eat pizza.

Enough excuses. The good news is that I actually cooked tonight, and I even made up the recipe.

curried vegetable and lentil soup

curried vegetable and lentil soup

I came up with this in a state of semi-consciousness as I was waking up from a nap. I had a ton of vegetables to use up, and some curry paste in the cupboard, so I came up with this.

Indgredients:

  • Glug of olive or other vegetable oi
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 T mild curry paste
  • 2 1/2 cups water, separated
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 head worth of cauliflower florets (thumbnail-sized)
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 4 oz frozen cut spinach

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Toss in onion and carrot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add 1 1/2 T mild curry paste (I used Patak’s) and 2 cups of water, broth, and can of tomatoes. Heat through, about 2 minutes
  4. Rinse lentils and add to the pot. Crank up the heat to medium-high until the whole thing comes to a low boil. Cover and reduce heat to a hard simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Uncover and add 1/2 cup water, green beans, and spinach. Let the pot get back to a simmer and then stir in cauliflower. Cover and cook over medium-low for about 10 minutes.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more curry paste if needed.

I think it probably made 6 or 7 small bowls worth of soup. I had 2. They were delicious.

I also found this picture in the camera, proving that I did cook at one point last week.

barley salad with roasted cauliflower and asparagus

barley salad with roasted cauliflower and asparagus

I threw this together after the gym on Friday night. I just roasted the veggies at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, shaking once. While the veggies were roasting, I cooked some quick barley, and then when everything was done, I made a red wine vinaigrette, and then tossed everything together. I liked it, but I guess it was a little bland for Matt’s taste. I think what he said was, “Maybe there’s so much flavor, that my brain is registering it as no flavor.” Shaky logic, there.


Same difference

April 4, 2009

Have you ever noticed that 85% of the meals I cook look the same?

Be honest.

This is not an exception, but it still tasted pretty good.

Bengali-style black-eyed peas with mushrooms and rice

Bengali-style black-eyed peas with mushrooms and rice

I have no idea what makes this “Bengali-style,” but I’m assuming it was the spices. If you can’t tell from the yellow, I went a little turmeric-happy. Mostly because I wanted to balance out the ground cumin, which I accidentally dumped in the pot in a moment of confusion between the sifting side and the pouring side of the bottle. Oops. The recipe also called for cinnamon, which was an interesting addition. It warmed it up without spicing it up.

This was from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, the most recent Donna Klein (of PDQ fame) cookbook that I checked out from the library. For the first time ever, I actually preserved the vegan-ness of a vegan recipe, though it was only because cheese didn’t seem like it would taste right with it (I know) and I’m out of plain Greek yogurt, which would have been the perfect addition to balance out the spice overload.

I’m sorry for the lack of posting. I’ve been doing a horrible job of sticking to my “don’t eat out during the week” rule for the past few weeks. Or months.

Okay, time to focus my attention on basketball.