It’s too hot for a title.

June 23, 2009

It is so hot here. We’re under some kind of “it is so hot you might die or you might prefer dying to living” warning until Thursday night, but yesterday was the worst. I came home all lightheaded and pounded glasses of water until I kind of felt like I was swimming. Usually when it’s over 105 I require that we go out to eat, but last night it was hot enough outside that even staying in our little oven of an apartment seemed like a better solution than getting back in the car.

Still, I have various heat-related cooking restrictions, so I had to make something for dinner that required less than 15 minutes of stovetop cooking. I revisited Heidi Swanson’s Lemon-Scented Quinoa, and it was really a perfect summer dinner. Even with a heat index hovering near 110.

acceptable hot weather dinner

acceptable hot weather dinner

My main modification to the recipe was the dressing. We didn’t have tahini and I wasn’t going to pay 10 dollars for a jar of it that would eventually get shoved to the back of the refrigerator and expire before I remembered that we had some, so I just did yogurt/lemon juice/salt/minced garlic. Creamy, tangy, light. Almost sweet. I think I like it even better than the real one.

the breakdown

1 cup of quinoa @ $4.43/lb = $2.22 (it’s an expensive habit)
1 cup of chickpeas (cooked from dried @ $2.68/lb) = $.45
1/2 red onion @ $.99/lb = $.38
2oz plain yogurt @ $2.09/32oz = $.13
lemon juice = $.10

grand total = $3.28

At 4 servings, that’s $.82 per serving. Let’s add $.50 to mine, since I had it over spinach. I just can’t get enough of food with high water content during this heat wave. I actually feel kind of sick from all the fruit I’ve had over the last few days.

So, only one more week left in June, which means only one more week left of kitchen math. We’ve actually saved a surprising amount of money this month, even with a few unplanned dinners out (like tonight’s pizza and beer outing that was overpriced but oh so necessary) and the money we’ve budgeted for our birthday meals. And cutting down to $40 a week on groceries hasn’t hurt as much as I expected it to, though we do tend to go over, so it’s really more like $50. Still, it makes me less likely to be distracted by shiny things at the grocery store, like “family size” bags of peppermint patties. And, hey, we aren’t in the red anymore.

Although some peppermint patties do sound pretty refreshing right now.


We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging.

June 17, 2009

I’m taking a brief break to deal with my life/work/health. I plan to be back soon with more cheap eats. And, as usual, to drop some math.

The end of roasting season

May 28, 2009

I’ve had this weird stomachache since yesterday, potentially aggravated by the piece of cake I had at work, followed by the basket of tater tots and bourbon chocolate pecan pie I had for dinner last night. But whatever.

Anyway, I needed food tonight that wasn’t going to make me feel like puking, so I went for something simple that wouldn’t need any spicing up.


roasted brussels and chickpeas over quinoa

I roasted the brussels and chickpeas at 400 for about 30 minutes. I thought of it as my last hurrah with the big oven for a little while at least. And what a way to go out. It was like eating popcorn for dinner. But with extra nutrients.

I think my stomach may be recovered enough to eat a brownie now?

Spring, without the pollen

May 21, 2009

This week has been kind of intense, so I’ve gotten a little backed up.

On Monday, I went to Lawrence, and got to enjoy one of the many delightful restaurants they have to offer, Zen Zero. Because of some scheduling intricacies, we ended up eating dinner at the early bird time of 4pm. I was all full of catered cookies and brownies and such, so I really wanted something light. Like soup and spring rolls. But, when I asked if they could make the spring rolls vegetarian, the waiter revealed that they couldn’t because they come pre-made. Having worked in the restaurant industry, I realize that lots of food comes pre-made to some extent. However, I prefer to have these realities hidden from me as a customer. So, even though I could have eaten the crab, I refused. On principle.

Or, I changed my mind. I don’t know, it’s been a few days.

Instead, I had some kind of tofu thing with broccoli and peanut sauce that was pretty much the exact opposite of “something light.” It was like they dumped a jar of peanut butter over the dish and maybe threw something spicy in there. So, pretty much, perfect.

But I still wanted some spring rolls, so I made my own.

not pre-made

not pre-made

I found them surprisingly easy. And delicious. I just washed some broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, and some mixed bean sprouts, had Matt slice up an avocado, and went to town. The weirdest part is dipping the spring roll wrapper into water, because it feels a little strange. That might be partially because we don’t have a bowl wide enough to accommodate the diameter of the wrappers, so I had to do a little magic. All’s well that ends well, right? I learned pretty quickly that you shouldn’t wrap from the center, but from one side or the other. It gave me a whole new perspective on burrito-wrapping.

Legume experiment #2: beans on a pizza?

May 13, 2009

My mom is a really solid cookbook and recipe spotter, and a few weeks ago, she sent me a recipe for white bean and spinach pizza.

Do I love pizza? Yes. Are beans my only source of protein? Pretty much. And so, I made it tonight, when I was looking for an easy meal to cook because I’ve done something to make my back spasm out of control. Like I don’t have enough problems.

I didn’t have any pre-baked crust, and I wasn’t about to make any from scratch, so I went the easiest way I know: the way of the pita.

Here’s how it happened.

1 can of cannellini beans + 3 cloves of garlic
1 can of cannellini beans + 3 cloves of garlic
became this, which takes the place of tomato sauce
became this, which takes the place of tomato sauce
three pitas, sliced in half so that one pita looks like two (the pitas I buy are too thick to make a decent pizza crust)
three pitas, sliced in half so that one pita looks like two (the pitas I buy are too thick to make a decent pizza crust)
all dressed up with the bean paste, spinach, rehydrated dried tomatoes, and mozzarella, baked for 9 minutes at
all dressed up with the bean paste, spinach, rehydrated dried tomatoes, and mozzarella, baked for 9 minutes at 350

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.

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.