Try, try again.

June 12, 2009

We caved. Again. We went out to eat last night, too. June is really sticking it to us.

I worked from home this afternoon, which has many advantages, one of which is that I had time to do some really quick prep work for dinner on my lunch break. Another bonus? No 1/8 mile round trip to the bathroom. That can really start to wear on you if, like me, you drink approximately a gallon of water every hour or two. At home, I think I’d have to take a few laps around the outside of the house to get in 1/8 mile. And that would require getting off the couch.

Anyway, during lunch, I mixed up a quick marinade (1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, garlic) for some sliced portobello mushrooms and put them in the refrigerator for a few hours. When it was time for dinner, I just seared them in a hot pan with a little more olive oil, and served them with quinoa and some double garlic swiss chard. Now I have room for more large-stemmed green vegetables, which is great because I saw some serious looking bok choy at the farmer’s market last Saturday, and I fully intend to get in on that action tomorrow.

this looks disturbingly like steak to me

this looks disturbingly like steak to me

the breakdown

.37 lbs portobello mushrooms @ $4.99/lb = $1.85
2/3 bunch swiss chard = $1.34
3/4 cup quinoa @ $4.43/lb = $1.66
and some pantry staples (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic)

grand total = $4.85

At 3 servings, this comes out at $1.62. Not bad. Not bad at all.


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?

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.

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!

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.

Pretty darn quick

January 23, 2009

I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but we stayed completely on track with our meal plan for this entire week. I can’t remember the last time that happened. It usually falls apart around, oh, Tuesday.

I think the trick to this week’s success was that I carefully planned a menu of dinners that were super quick. Cookbooks like Vegetarian Times Fast and Easy and The PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Vegetarian Cookbook pretty much did my planning for me.

Last night, we had the greatest food on earth.

quinoa and mushroom skillet

quinoa and mushroom skillet

The recipe can be found here, and I highly recommend that you make it immediately and then again every day from now on. I even took some leftovers for lunch today and I never interrupt my peanut butter sandwich / hummus sandwich rotation.

Tonight’s meal was from PDQ.

hearty minestrone

hearty minestrone

Part of the reason this was pretty darn quick was that it called for frozen peas and carrots. Well, I couldn’t find a bag of just plain peas and carrots, so I picked up one that had carrots, peas, green beans, corn, and limas. Basically: even better. Add vegetable broth, a can of red kidney beans, and some acini de pepe, and you’ve got a pot of soup that will last at least a few meals. Brilliant.

And now, as a reward for how well we’ve stayed on track this week, we’re bundling up and going out in the freezing cold for dessert. That’s how committed I am to cake.