Grilling in

May 25, 2009

Even if Memorial Day wasn’t the unofficial start of summer, the fact that it was 88 degrees in our apartment at 7:00 this morning would have tipped me off to the change in seasons. Over the past few nights, I’ve learned my lesson about seasonally inappropriate cooking. First, it is not the most awesome idea to make a spinach ricotta quiche when it is 90+ in the kitchen, however delightful it ended up being.

And  then there was this black bean soup and sauteed asparagus with cilantro pesto and lime cream…

delicious, if ill-advised

delicious, if ill-advised

It’s just too hot for soup now. It’s time for me to get real with my menu planning.

Last night’s curried beans and greens were a little better, as they required only some stovetop simmering.

basically everything I like to eat in a single bowl.

basically everything I like to eat in a single bowl.

Tonight, in honor of the holiday, we grilled in. We don’t grill out because 1) we don’t have a grill, 2) we don’t have a yard or really even anything resembling one (as much as I’d love to call the alley next to us a yard, it’s just not realistic) and 3) I’m really more of an indoors person.

What we do have is the will to grill. Also, a grill pan, a stove, and a bulk bag of bamboo skewers. Bring it.

These were pretty basic extra firm tofu, pepper, and mushrooms skewers, marinated for a few hours in a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and sriracha. Apparently the reason I’m constantly disappointed by tofu is that I’ve been buying that silken stuff, which is the only kind they usually have at Dillon’s. When they have tofu at all. I got this at the coop and it’s like a new world of tofu. Substantial tofu. Now I know why restaurant tofu always tastes better than mine. Because it is.

on the grill

on the grill

In the grill pan over medium for 2 minutes or so per side.

all done

all done

And what’s a cook-in without slaw? I made a mix of broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, mixed bean sprouts, and a dressing of rice vinegar, honey, ginger, and oil.

and I never even had to leave the house.

and I never even had to leave the house.

Okay, I’m off to sit in the sweat lodge that is my living room.


We’re keen on quinoa

March 8, 2009

I bet I’ve used this title before, but I’m too lazy to check.

I got an email from my ten year old niece the other day, expressing concern about my eating habits. Specifically, she wanted to let me know that I eat too much quinoa and couscous. She’s had quinoa and isn’t much of a fan, but I keep telling her she just hasn’t had it in the right dish yet. Maybe if I made her these quinoa-stuffed peppers, she’d be a convert.

who could resist that?

who could resist that?

Hahahaha. NO. She’d hate them. They include no fewer than six foods she doesn’t like, but maybe someday. After all, I only liked vegetables in the form of canned Green Giant Kitchen-Sliced Green Beans for about, oh, I don’t know, twenty years?

And look at me now! I like all kinds of food, including (but not limited to): peppers, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, black beans, onions, cheese, and quinoa, all of which are in this dish. These were from the February issue of Vegetarian Times, and while they turned out stellar, I had some beef with the recipe (get it? BEEF! With a vegetarian recipe!). For one thing, I didn’t read it carefully and somehow missed the fact that the cooking time for the whole thing adds up to almost two hours. I guess that one is technically my fault. For another, they tell you to use a saucepan to make the filling without mentioning that you need the world’s largest “saucepan” because somehow you will need to fit a diced onion, two cans of diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, a ten ounce bag of frozen spinach, some other vegetables, 3/4 cup of quinoa, and two cups of water in it. Seriously. I didn’t even use the celery and carrots they called for and the pot came dangerously close to overflowing. So, if you make it, please do yourself a favor and use a dutch oven.

all's well that ends well

all's well that ends well

Also not a good idea? Accidentally making an incredibly time-intensive meal like this one on a Friday night when you are exhausted and your RA is flaring up and you’ve been up since 4:50am.

I learned that lesson for you, okay?

Late winter is a bad time for me, fatigue-wise, as my body doesn’t do the best job adjusting to weather changes, especially now that I live in a place with really drastic swings from cold to warm and back again. So, what better time to… spring forward!

I tried to make up for some of that lost hour by subbing in a regular old pasta dinner for the baked pasta I promised Matt I’d make.

lemony pasta and asparagus

lemony pasta with asparagus

I used up some random handfuls of pasta (macaroni and some penne) in this. I just cooked ~3 cups of pasta, adding asparagus near the end (woody stems removed, chopped into 1 inch pieces), draining, and making an impromptu lemony sauce with 1/2 T unsalted butter, a big handful of parm, 2 T lemon juice, and a few generous shakes of pepper. The pasta was still hot, so I added the butter, parm, lemon juice, and pepper, and stirred and stirred and stirred until it was all coated with cheesy, lemony goodness. This is probably about 4 servings, give or take.

And now, unfairly, it’s almost 9:30. Even though it’s only been dark for two hours.

I’m leaving for a conference on Wednesday, and Matt’s coming with me, so the next couple of nights should be really exciting, food-wise, as I try to figure out what we have to use so it doesn’t go bad while we’re gone.

Stay tuned!

I survived Anaheim.

July 2, 2008

But just barely.

No, not really, it’s nothing that dramatic. I’m just recovering from four and a half packed days of librarianliness. And a month or so of very little sleep.

Southern California is just like on TV. Palm trees everywhere, really terrible traffic, sunshine all the time. I took my running shoes and workout clothes like I do to every single conference I attend, but this time I actually used them, which was novel. It was so nice outside that it was hard not to go running (not my usual problem). That, coupled with the fact that I pretty much lived on energy bars, trail mix, Kashi crackers, and instant oatmeal, meant that I came home feeling normal instead of bloated and gross. Though, I was ready to kill someone for a vegetable. Or some peanut butter. I didn’t have to, but I was ready.

I am now 25, by the way, and that means that I am more insightful and responsible. That came in handy when I almost had to rent a car since I booked my return flight from San Diego. Which, in case you’re as unfamiliar with Southern California geography as I was, is not that close to Anaheim. I was too worried about the honking drivers and the carpool lanes and the no space between cars, though, so I signed my soul away to take a shuttle. And when I finally got home, after that shuttle, a flight, and a two hour drive back from the airport here, I was exhausted. Luckily, I was greeted by this when I opened the front door:

Presents! Matt got me three of my favorite cookbooks to own (Eat, Drink, and be Vegan; The Food You Crave; and Veganomicon). And his mom got me many things, several of which were food-related, including dried cherries and fancy granola. Thanks, Matt and Debbie! I also opened cards from my family. Thanks, family!

Matt took me out to dinner last night, so no pictures of that. We are leaving again on Friday morning, so I didn’t want to buy food. I had a Greek salad with no olives (because they’re gross) and a few of Matt’s french fries. And maybe a beer? I can’t remember. Like I said, exhausted.

Today I had a surprise birthday cake at work. Here’s an artistic representation of it, captured with my MacBook.

It turned my mouth blue. Also, my nose, but that was unintended.

Tonight I made a quick dinner before Matt left with a few random things I knew we had in the house.

Whole wheat pasta with roasted red peppers, spinach, feta, and a light lemon vinaigrette. Delicious. Looks just like what we ate last Wednesday, but tasted different.

When Matt left for work, I immediately fell asleep and I just woke up a few minutes ago. I was planning to go to the gym, because I’ve broken my no cardio = no dessert rule two days in a row, but I think I have too many things to do around here. Read: I am going to attempt to unpack my suitcase and then fall asleep again soon. Also, I’m planning to milk this birthday thing for all it’s worth.

I may have some more cake first. Yoga was pretty tough today.

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.

Crispy, Crunchy, Peanut Buttery…

June 18, 2008

…stir fry.

This was good. Tofu, rice noodles, carrots, peppers, snap peas, cauliflower, and mushrooms. In peanut sauce.

It looks gross, but it wasn’t. I promise.

I feel like I say that a lot. Hmmm.

I took the afternoon off, and I think I’m more tired than I would have been if I’d just stayed at work. We went to the laundromat, got our announcements printed, got food for dinner, and came home to cook and eat. Oh, I also did noon yoga, which is my new favorite thing. Crane pose, I will conquer you!


Maybe not. It actually reminds me of the “tripod” that we did in dance class when I was five, which I couldn’t do and which haunted me for years.

After dinner, some friends came over and we practiced wedding hair and played a little Wii. My head looks funny right now. But it looked nice before. So, we’ll see.

Two great tastes that taste great together

May 20, 2008

Peanut butter and noodles are two of the greatest foods on earth. Tonight I finally took the plunge and married the two. Here’s a really unappetizing picture of soba noodles with chicken and vegetables in peanut sauce.

This was so good. Like, almost barley risotto levels of good. Sometimes I think back to the food I was eating when I was trying lose weight and it makes me want to cry a little bit. Lean Cuisines, ONE CUP of pasta, Special K, carrot sticks. I think I ruined carrot sticks for myself forever. And Special K. Actually, that stuff is good, especially the one with the dehydrated berries? Yeah, maybe I’ll pick some up.

Anyway, enough about me (AS IF!). This doesn’t look super but the peanut sauce was so good and it really made the recipe. It was just 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 2 tbsp hot water, whisked together. Then I added 2 tbsp of rice vinegar and just under 2 tbsp of soy sauce. That was for four servings (8oz of soba noodles and a pan of vegetables that actually overflowed). It went really nicely with the broccoli, green peppers (the recipe called for red, but these are hard times and we don’t have 1.89 to spend on a single red pepper), and bok choy. This was my first time preparing or eating bok choy, and I’m a fan. I was so excited to see it at the farmer’s market last week that I knew I needed to do something with it, stat.

See, Kansas farms are so much more than beef. And other cow things. They even have fancy chinese cabbage!

Okay, it’s almost 10 and that means it’s time for me to take a Benadryl and slip into sweet oblivion. Our bedroom was 89 degrees last night, so I’m really looking forward to that. Hey, people pay dozens of dollars for Bikram yoga classes, right? This is the basically the same thing. Just free.

Stuffed up

May 18, 2008

I’m changing my middle name to efficiency. My middle initial is already E, so it should be a relatively seamless transition. Our wedding is now 98% planned. We have a date, a judge, a dinner reservation, rings, plane tickets to North Carolina, and, at this time tomorrow, we’ll be licensed to marry. Oh, and I have a dress. Now I just need shoes. THE HARDEST PART.

Most of that has happened since Friday afternoon, which explains the lack of posting. On Friday, we shared a delicious Mexican dinner with Donna and Ellen. Mexican used to stress me out because I would always weigh myself in the morning and have a few extra pounds of taco weight to process. Things have changed significantly since I discovered fajitas. It’s hard to make yourself too sick when your plate is basically the equivalent of one gigantic onion, a quarter of a chicken breast, and some peppers thrown in there for luck. The chips, though. They still conquer me.

Last night, we went to a party, where there was insanely amazing food like a mushroom/tomato/artichoke heart marinade, a goat cheese cake, fancy chips, fruit, and the greatest coconut cake of all time. There was also an impressive array of beer. It’s good to be an adult finally be several years removed from parties that center on tepid cans of Coors Light, and, if you’re lucky, a bag of chips that someone brought. Now food is the real focus, and I’m pleased. I like food. And something about having good food makes people bring good beer, too.

Tonight, I finally made the stuffed peppers I’ve been planning to make for about 9 days. I had the ingredients, but not the will to bake them. Something about having the oven on for over an hour when it’s 90 degrees outside and even hotter in our apartment. Now I really understand why the top chefs are always so shiny. It’s sweat. It’s not (just) that they don’t shower.

So, this may have been the last time I will turn on the real oven until October, but it was worth it.

These are adapted from another Ellie Krieger recipe for Greek Stuffed Peppers. I changed it up by using ground turkey breast instead of ground beef and by forgetting the spinach entirely. To make up for it, I had a spinach salad with walnuts and honey lemon vinaigrette.

I think I need to take some kind of a photography class. If I’m going to enrich myself, I’d really rather take something tough like boxing. Or yogilates. But there’s got to be a better photographer in me somewhere.

Now my face hurts from being all congested and my throat hurts from who knows what and I just finished one of those Edy’s All Fruit bars which helped for about .02 seconds, so I think I’ll mope around until I feel like I’ve reached a proper bedtime. Like 8:45.