June 8, 2009

Ha! Right?

I’m really tired.

I have been having this internal struggle because I really want to go eat at La Fiesta but I know I shouldn’t because 1) I will feel gross 2) sometimes they sing there 3) we’re better off saving our money for more exciting, higher-quality meals in the next few weeks and 4) it’s right next to a liquor store where you can build your own six pack of delicious beers and that would just be more money spent. But sometimes you just really want that oily cheese that congeals like hard shell on the beans.

So, anyway, I was going to make enchiladas or burritos tonight, but when I came home and actually looked at the tortillas I had, I realized that they were way too small for any kind of wrapping or folding. So, I improvised and made a casserole out of it. Just as good and, bonus, Matt had a crown replaced today and was pretty pumped about eating some soft food.

If there’s anything the Moosewood Collective has taught me, it’s that black bean and sweet potato burritos are a wonderful thing. Maybe even better? Black bean and sweet potato enchilada casserole.

BBSPEC (serves 4)

you need:

  • 1-2 sweet potatoes
  • 1.5 cups (or 1 can, drained and rinsed) black beans
  • 8 smallish corn tortillas
  • spices to taste
  • red sauce – mine was 1/2 can of tomatoes, crushed red pepper, about 1/4 cup of diced onion, 3 cloves of garlic, all combined in a food processor for, I don’t know, a few seconds

and then you:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook the sweet potato(es). I did it the easy way and diced mine up and cooked them in the microwave for 6-7 minutes until they were easily speared with a fork.
  3. While they’re cooking, put some onions in a hot pan for the red sauce.
  4. When the sweet potatoes are done, mash them up with a potato masher. Not super smooth, still a chunk or two here and there. Think sweet potato casserole, not baby food.
  5. Make your red sauce (see above).
  6. Layer four tortillas on the bottom of a casserole dish.
  7. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes on top of the tortillas. You will need to use your hands unless you have some kind of magical sweet potato spreading instrument that I am not aware of. Which you might.
  8. Add a layer of black beans.
  9. Cover with another layer of tortillas.
  10. Spread red sauce on top. And an appropriate cheese if you have it. We didn’t. I was ashamed.
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes.
BBSPEC and rice

BBSPEC and rice

Obviously, I made some rice. I was starving while I cooked this, and I got really nervous that it wouldn’t be enough because it’s a fairly compact little casserole. So I made some short grain brown rice cooked partially in lime juice and spiced with cumin and chili powder. And topped with some mozzarella I found when I was foraging in the refrigerator. It didn’t really go but, hey. It’s cheese. It’s a good thing I went for the rice, because I basically put my face in this bowl and inhaled it. I think I saved just enough space for one of the freezer-burned lime popsicles I found last night when I was freezing a jillion tons of black beans, though.

the breakdown

2/3 package sprouted corn tortillas = $3.14 (an estimate, and on the high side, because I’ve had this bag of tortillas in the freezer for longer that I’d really like to think about; on the plus side, they are my new favorite)
1.5 cups black beans = $.63
.68 lb sweet potatoes @ .99/lb = $.67
1/2 can diced tomatoes = $.31
1/4 cup diced onion = $.10
1 cup short grain brown rice = $1.00
2T lime juice = $.10

grand total = $5.95

So that brings the price per serving to $1.49. Which now seems oddly expensive to me. Forcing yourself to do math after every dinner really changes you.


Titles are overrated

February 9, 2009

I accidentally took the weekend off from blogging. I blame my new doctor, who I met on Friday and who was sending electric currents through my limbs and sticking me with needles within mere moments of meeting me. Buy me a present first, you know what I mean?

Anyway, in the interim I made some food.

pasta with lentils

pasta with lentils

Recipe is here. I think I made some modifications, but I can’t remember for sure. I’m going to think about that while I take an ice cream break.

Nope, still nothing. It was good, though. And I did an experiment and froze some of the lentil ragout for a later date. We’ll see if I remember that in six weeks. That’s the real experiment.

Last night, I went to an inconveniently timed yoga class that ran until 8pm. I wasn’t hungry beforehand, so I didn’t start cooking until I came home (Matt did the prep while I was gone, though). We ended up eating around 9:15. Because of these special circumstances, I forced myself to stay awake until 10:15 to digest. Way past my bedtime.

We had Thai Coconut Corn Stew from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan.

mmmmmm. creamy.

mmmmmm. creamy.

It wasn’t the most visually appealing thing I’ve ever made, but it was really good. I think coconut milk has that effect on foods. We made several changes, including not using lemongrass because I don’t keep that kind of thing on hand, and not garnishing with the lime I bought not six days before, but which had already gone to the dark side. I don’t think I changed it up enough to feel comfortable posting it, but I do highly recommend this book, in case you haven’t noticed yet.

Tonight I took inspiration from a PDQ recipe and made something I’m actually shocked I haven’t done yet. I had my sister in mind as I was making this, so I hope she gives it a shot.

red beans and rice casserole

red beans and rice casserole

The red really refers to the whole deal, not just the beans. It’s pretty complicated and very gourmet, but I’ll try to remember to translate all of the fancy French words.

You need:

  • 2/3 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of no salt added diced tomatoes, drained slightly but still with most of their juices
  • chili powder to taste
  • cumin to taste
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded

And then you:

  1. Cook the rice according to package directions, quitting just a few minutes short of full cooking time.
  2. Stir beans, tomatoes, and spices into rice, cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  3. Transfer to a casserole dish. It should be pretty liquidy. It should seem like you’re doing it wrong.
  4. Cover tightly with foil and cook at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove foil. Cover evenly with cheese. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

Scroll down for the food

January 28, 2009

I never delivered on my promise to tell you about my fascinating knee treatment. For a few weeks, I’ve been having iontophoresis treatments on my left knee. It was weird and painful at first, and a little frightening when, before my physical therapist hooked me up to the little jumper cables (technical term) the first time, he had to ask another therapist which one was positive and which was negative. Which, if you’re wondering, did very little to inspire confidence. But anyway, the point is that I don’t know if it really worked, but I got discharged from physical therapy today anyway.

Throughout this whole ordeal, I’ve been on and off with my exercising, which means I’ve been up and down with my moods. I only started exercising in summer 2005, but I’m pretty sure I’m a lifer now, because when I can’t sweat out my stress I walk around like a cranky two year old that you woke up early from a nap. So it’s a challenge when I really just can’t do it. Last week was my most normal one in over a month, activity-wise, with four days of cardio at about 40 minutes a pop. But, in the end, I paid for it. IN BLOOD.

Not really blood. Just pain. COURSING THROUGH MY BLOOD. So I took a few days off, read some books during my exercise time, moped around, the usual. And then I decided I needed to make some changes. So, for the next few weeks, I’m cutting down my cardio and ramping up my other stuff, like yoga. I did a good class last night, which was 90 minutes of deep stretching, more or less, and while it probably didn’t burn off the six cookies I ate through the course of the evening, it did make me feel better, and it was good to remember that that’s really why I exercise in the first place. Tonight, in the spirit of Getting Out There And Doing Things, I tried tai chi for the first time. I hated it, but that’s okay. At least I tried. Basically, it was all about centering your mind, but all I could focus on was that I was in a room full of mirrors and I didn’t have a clue how to do what the teacher was doing. And the moves are called things like “stroking the horses mane” and I just couldn’t get into it. So instead of a centered mind, I had more of an “okay, I look like an ass and there’s college basketball on that I’m missing and I really just want to go home and make dinner” mind. Plus, my knee started hurting after the class, so I think I did it wrong.

See, I made you read through all of that just to get to the food.

Dinner made the whole failed tai chi experience seem like a distant memory:

baked quinoa

baked quinoa

This is pretty much the dish to which all of my previous quinoa experience has been leading. We loved it.

I did, however, spend the entire time I was preparing it thinking about how I could never get my immediate family to eat this, even if I paid them all. But hey, it’s their loss.

And now I’m off to enjoy some treats. Matt, in the mood for cookies and looking for a project, baked some chocolate chip cookies for us yesterday, and they’re delicious. To top that off, I had a visit from the chocolate fairy today, and came home to a box filled with these:



There was no note that we could find, so I spent some time this afternoon trying to figure out if it was possible that TCHO could have discovered my address in some secret way after reading about how much I love their products. For what it’s worth, Matt thinks I sent it to myself.

I plan to enjoy it, whomever it’s from, so thank you, silent benefactor!


They’re the only thing that will get me off the couch at this point.


January 26, 2009

I know we’ve been having soup a lot lately, but it has been freezing here. Just really, really cold, and all I want is warm food. Even eating a room temperature apple at lunch today was kind of pushing it. So last night I tried out a recipe that I saw a few weeks ago for lentil and vegetable barley soup.

soup, salad, english muffin

soup, salad, english muffin

Matt liked this soup, but I thought it was pretty bland. Hearty, yes. Filling, yes. Flavorful, no. So I made up for it with a generous serving of feta. And I threw some on the salad for good measure, too.

I liked tonight’s dinner a lot better. However, it was another lesson in “reading the recipe” because, while I had every intention of making this recipe, I came home from work ready to cook and, reading through it again, realized that I was supposed to put things in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours. This would already have been a challenge, as it would have had us eating between midnight and 2am. The challenge was intensified by the fact that we do not have a slow cooker. But, at that point, I was all hyped up to try this, so what I just took inspiration from the original and made it my own way.

vegetarian cassoulet + roasted broccoli

vegetarian cassoulet + roasted broccoli

Here’s what I used:

  • ~tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 3 cans of great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • ~1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • ~tsp dried thyme

And here’s what to do with it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add onions, saute for 2 minutes.
  4. Add carrots, parnsips, celery. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add beans and broth. Stir. Bring to a high simmer for about ten minutes.
  6. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
  7. Top with bread crumbs.
  8. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until browned.

This makes 4-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

The most exciting part of this experience for me was trying parsnips for the first time. They’re delicious.

I didn’t mess with using any meat substitutes, because I usually don’t like them and because the beans seemed like plenty. Plus, I’ve never had a real cassoulet, so, as far as I’m concerned, this is what they’re supposed to taste like. It was just plain good food, so I’m happy with how it turned out, even without the slow cooker.

Now I’m going to enjoy some cookies painstakingly baked for me by Girl Scouts. And maybe some hot chocolate. I think it’s still snowing, and that really calls for hot chocolate.

It’s just how I ‘role

January 18, 2009

Casserole, that is.

Get it?

Back in the dark days before I actually realized it was okay to cook more than three things in rotation, one of our stand-bys was a chicken and rice casserole that had chicken, rice, cream of chicken soup, and a lot of cheese. I did use brown rice, so it was, you know, healthy. Right? Apparently, Matt misses those days from time to time, and will speak wistfully of the food I used to cook. And, I must admit, sometimes I just really want a big plate of something with rice and cheese myself.

So, I took it upon myself to search the vast internet and find a vegetarian version of our old favorite, maybe toned down a little so that it would be a little healthier for us. Here’s what I came up with.

I made some modifications to the recipe, including using brown rice, throwing in a bunch of extra broccoli, and leaving out the water chestnuts, but I think I kept the spirit of it.



It was cheesy and delightful, even though it had much less cheese than our version of old, and because of the novel inclusion of vegetables, it had more vitamins and minerals and probably even antioxidants.

Best of all, it helped clear our palates from another recent casserole attempt, which I have to file as a total fail. I saw this recipe on Sarah’s blog, which I just discovered recently. It looked amazing and I love all of the ingredients, so it seemed like a perfect meal.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t know what happened, because, as I said, I love each individual component of this recipe: pasta, winter squash, rosemary, cheese, bread, even onions. But somehow it just didn’t come together and it was bland and gross at the same time. Not enough squash? Too much reserved pasta water? Who knows. Suffice to say we won’t be making this one again. But, for the record, here’s what it looked like:

at least the brussels sprouts were good

at least the brussels sprouts were good

Last night, while we watched a Carolina game, I whipped up our favorite basketball meal: burritos. I didn’t take a picture of the final product, as they just looked like burritos, but I was pretty happy with the stuffing, so here it is:

pinto beans, broccoli, corn, mushrooms

pinto beans, broccoli, corn, mushrooms

When I was making our meal plan for this week, I realized that this is reminiscent of something I’ve made before from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. And here I thought I’d come up with something brilliant on my own.

Now I’m off to clean up and read. I have the day off tomorrow, but I have to get up almost as early as usual to go to physical therapy. I’m not happy about it, but Matt keeps reminding me that some people aren’t so fortunate and still have to work tomorrow.

So, I’m pretty full

September 24, 2008

It took all of my willpower to make this meal. We had a bunch of errands to run after work today, and somehow we were suddenly standing in line at Taco Bell and I was thisclose to getting something that looked vaguely like a salad and had “border bowl” in its name, plus some cheesy potatoes, and some of those stale, yet mysteriously delightful crispy cinnamon things. But, as Matt was ordering his five bean burritos (I am not kidding; but he only ate three), I thought about all the effort I put into planning meals last weekend, and the zucchini in the fridge that has maybe a few hours of life left, and the fact that I’m having dinner out tomorrow night, and I decided to be strong.

Luckily, it was really, really good. I made it once last year, when I finally decided that eating the same three meals over and over again wasn’t terribly interesting, and it might be nice to branch out a bit. This time, it was even better than I remembered. Really, a casserole with pasta, zucchini, turkey sausage, feta, AND mozzarella can’t be bad.

To use up a few other things that were also on their way out, I whipped up salad with white beans, tomatoes, spinach, and red wine vinaigrette.

After this I had some dark chocolate because I bought a new kind to try and I wanted to hurry up and get through this Lindt 72% I’ve been nursing. I eat dark chocolate pretty much every day after dinner. I also had some peanut butter. I eat peanut butter pretty much every day after breathing.

My point is that I’m kind of proteined-out and I feel a little like I might explode, which I hope means that I will actually wake up at a decent hour and go to the gym instead of waking up at 3am with my stomach growling. Dare to dream, you know?

Catching up

June 23, 2008

I’m going to dispense with my usual witty commentary because I’m a little stressed and a lot tired and I’ve got to be up early for my lung tests. I’m also going to a conference later this week and I have about eleventy million things to do before I leave for sunny Southern California.

Saturday night, after a movie marathon, I used the rest of the bean salad to make a polenta casserole that turned out really well. I also made a salad, which I spun in our new salad spinner. We used our new dishes from Donna:

I also had cake.

Sunday, I went to a crazy hard class at the gym and came home starving for fajitas. And so:

Grilled chicken (in a Tapatio, honey, garlic, and paprika marinade), peppers, onions, and tomatoes. And some cheese. Mozzarella, which is not necessarily appropriate, but did not smell bad like the other cheese.

And I also had cake.

Tonight, after kickboxing, I made my first frittata in our brand new wedding skillet. Half of it got a little crispy on top. Crispy, not burned (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MATT).

I had more than this but I started small because I was nervous:

See the crispy? It was good. It had potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and feta. I made some Ezekiel 4:9 toast to round it out.

Oh, and I also had cake. And finally, I remembered to take a picture:

You can see the peanut butter and jelly layers! We still have a lot of cake left, which is not a problem for me. We may get to freeze even more of it to enjoy on our first anniversary. Oh, and that’s a little bit of Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream on the side. If you were wondering.

Posting may be sporadic for the next week (sorry, Mom). Matt’s taking me out for an early birthday dinner tomorrow, if I’m still standing after my tests. Wednesday I should be making some food, so I’ll try to post it.