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Archive for June, 2011

I was on a quest for a good quinoa recipe for awhile. Nothing really looked like it would meet my needs. Maybe I was being picky, but maybe I was waiting for this recipe to come into my life.

But boy howdy, it did.

Mark Bittman’s Spicy Chipotle Quinoa with Corn and Black Beans

You can find the recipe here, but I’m fairly positive this was from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. I think he uses a regular onion, which I would recommend.

If you like this recipe (you will, you will!) you should consider buying it or checking it out from your library. I’ve made a few other recipes from it that were everything I love in food – simple, healthy, and flavorful.

Back to the quinoa at hand… this meal is a treat.

Pillowy quinoas, meaty beans, sweet corn (I use frozen), and all with a chipotle kick (don’t use too much of the adobo sauce. really. a little goes way too far)

We eat this as a main course, but it would be a great potluck offering, and if I said I’d never made a double recipe so we could eat it cold,  out of the tupperware, on a long car-ride?

Well, that would be a bald-faced lie.

Might I also recommend a side salad as well? I’m getting back in the swing of homemade salad dressing. This champagne vinaigrette knocks my socks off. If I said I’d never licked it off my fingers….

well, you know where this is going.

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Saturday marked the first day in my summer farmshare! This is my second year of veggies from Stillman’s Farm CSA program. I paid in February (with my student loan $$$, natch) for a weekly half-share of fresh fruits and veggies that I pick up each week from the end of June to the middle of October.

Brilliant.

I was a newbie last year, which meant quite a bit of tossed food. Tragic, I know. This year, though, I am putting a priority on Eating Everything In That GD Box.

Even the beets.

I thought it might be fun to use this space to share what I got in my magic box and what I plan to do with each tasty veggie. Fun for you because who doesn’t love 700 Way to Make Kale Your Bitch, fun for me because I’ll forget what’s in my fridge otherwise.

Week One: June 18 – June 24

Saturday – Wilted some spinach into my Green Goddess Pasta, shredded a little lettuce for a side salad.

Sunday – Trying out some peasant beets alongside some of Jamie Oliver’s cauliflower mac & cheese. Recipe calls for chard as well. (And fancy cheese… and 3 tbspns of butter… to make the whole experience more palatable)

Monday – I work late, so I will probably just eat some lettuce with my lunch, or leftovers of beets if they don’t make me gag. Also, I’m thinking about doing this thing where I eat kale for breakfast. We’ll see if I get up the gumption.

Tuesday – Baked ziti with spinach. No recipe – just throw cooked pasta, marinara, ricotta, and spinach in a casserole dish, top with mozz and bake!

Wednesday – See Monday.

Thursday – Eggs in a nest, a la Barbara Kingsolver. More chard! A quick meal before heading out to some free happy hour thing The Boy won, which coincides with his last day of school for the year.

Friday – Homemade pizza with mozz, parm,  goat cheese, and the rest of the spinach. Also a good day to heat up that kale that I will supposedly be eating for breakfast (but maybe won’t want to eat so early in the a.m.)

All Week – A little half pint of fresh, local strawberries for munching. Maybe I’ll throw next week’s in a salad or a dessert, but I really can’t resist fresh berries all by themselves. Best part of the summer! I’m already dreaming about the blueberries….

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Ever since I moved out of my parents’ house and into my own pad, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to truly be an adult. There’s a lot of self-sufficient things one can do, but some of them are deceptively childish, in my own, highly subjective opinion.

Some examples:

Adult Activity: getting a credit card

Child Activity: sinking yourself into credit card debt

Adult Activity: Inviting some friends over for drinks

Child Activity: Inviting some friends over for drinks in your messy apartment, but not having enough food/drink/ice/potential sleeping arrangements available.

Adult Activity: Opening a 401k and contributing the max your employer will match

Child Activity: Letting your money languish there after you leave your job… for two years and counting :-/ (oops)

Feeding oneself, I believe, is a big factor in one’s relative adulthood. This isn’t to diss anyone else’s choices, but for me, if I’m being a responsible grown up, that means I am subsisting primarily on real foods that will nourish my body, increase my health and well being, and taste good. This has evolved as I’ve grown older: in college, all I was aiming for is Having Enough Food When I Needed It Where I Needed It, when I first moved here I was mostly concerned with Having Enough To Eat On A Small Budget. But I’ve gained confidence in the kitchen, become more grocery-savvy, and changed some of my values since then, so while I’d still like to have enough to eat when I want it and for a low price, that doesn’t mean I have to eat marinara and noodles for dinner or sip Slimfasts anymore.

I’ve already talked some about how meal planning is a Big Fat Adult Thing To Do. It is. It sucks. It’s hard and complicated and while I think I’m getting much better at it, I still mess it up. See: midweek, over-budget shopping trip because I ran out of non-dinner food on Tuesday. TUESDAY!

But there’s more to Feeding Yourself than planning an expert meal plan and matching grocery list. Adulthood can also be measured in what you do when your Adult System fails.

Child Activity: When your friends come over with little notice, just shrug and laugh off your disgusting living habits.

Adult Activity: At least attempting to pick up a little make sure you clear off the futon and wipe the bathroom sink.

Child Activity: When you know you’re going to come home late from work and not have enough time to cook, just order takeout!

Adult Activity: Learn to cook some things that are as wholesome as they are delicious that you can cook in no time flat.

Jessica’s Pesto Mushroom Sandwiches

I started making these sandwiches, actually, to replicate a favorite panini I like to order at one of our local delis, The Real Deal.

It’s not quite as good, of course, but it stands up against the competition, and save for the mushrooms, it is mostly made of ingredients that I have lying around my house on the average day.

Ingredients:

Whole grain bread

Butter or olive oil

One package of mushrooms, white or baby bella (or probably any kind of mushroom you like! I buy them whole and slice them myself, but do what you wish. Presliced shrooms are better than a Big Mac)

One normal-sized onion

Salt & Pepper

Balsamic vinegar

Shredded Cheese (I always have sharp cheddar, but I could see this working with Swiss or Provolone or Mozzerella or something creamy and delish. Don’t get it pre-shredded though. Yuck.)

Mayo

Pesto

Step One: Slice up onion and mushrooms. I like to slice the onions into long pieces (fajita-style?) and the mushrooms pretty thin so my sandwich doesn’t get too fat.

Step Two: In a sauce pan or skillet, heat a little olive oil or butter on low-medium- enough  to saute the onions. Then… saute the onions.

Step Three: When the onions are soft, add the mushrooms. Stir and then cover the pan and let cook until the mushrooms let out their liquid and look soft and tasty – a few minutes. Then remove lid and let some of the liquid evaporate – another few minutes. Season with salt and pepper while you wait and toast your bread to get prepared.

Step Four: When the mushroom juice is almost gone, add a splash of balsamic vinegar – not too much, a mid-sized splash goes a long way! Cook until most of that liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are at a good consistency to put on bread.

Step Five: Spoon mushrooms onto toast. Sprinkle cheese on top to melt a little bit. Spread mayo and pesto on the other piece of bread.

Step Six: Unite two pieces of bread into a SANDWICH. Eat. Revel in your ability to feed yourself.

I don’t always plan ahead, I don’t always take the high road, and sometimes when I have perfectly good planned meals ready to make, I answer the siren song of Indian delivery or Anything-to-Go. But I’m also slowly gathering an arsenal of recipes good for different occasions… and I think the Too Busy To Cook occasion is probably a more frequent event than a dinner party or other event.

Simple, tasty meals that don’t take long or require too many ingredients: to me, that’s the fuel for a real adult.

P.S. Full Disclosure: the pesto mushroom sandwich, although delicious, is not TRULY an emergency food… unless you are one to keep your fridge constantly stocked with mushrooms.

When I’m really trapped at home without a meal on the horizon and no time to dream something up, this adult chooses something quintessentially childish:

Boxed Mac & Cheese with frozen peas.

Pro-tip! Throw the peas into the simmering water a few minutes before the noodles are done cooking. They will defrost quickly, the frosty-freezer ice will melt into the water and drain out, and it all ends up in the same strainer anyway!

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About a year before my boyfriend and I moved to Boston, we got hit by a bug called ican’teatenoughindianfooditis.

You see, there’s this little place in Flint called Grill of India. It’s a bit of a hole-in-the-wall hole-in-a-strip-mall on Linden Road, but a weekly favorite of the Vegan Musicians who were my boyfriend’s classmates at U of M Flint. Neither of us had tried Indian before, but we spent many weekends during 2009 doing our part to keep this little treasure in business.

That is a classy way of saying “gorging ourselves on the weekend lunch buffet.”

But then we moved. Sad story. But there’s a twist! Our new ‘hood came equipped with not one, but TWO rival Indian restaurants with buffets! That are, inexplicably, two storefronts away from one another.

When we arrived, we favored Ghazal for its lower buffet prices and roomier digs.

However, Bukhara has been making a play for our affections lately….

Ghazal

Pros:

As I mentioned, Ghazal’s buffet price is a WHOLE DOLLAR cheaper than its rivals. Ooooooooh….

– Slightly superior naan.

– A bigger variety of both vegetarian and meat entrees.

– Less crowded.

– Tastier gulab jamun & kheer (aka DESSERTS)

– You can snag coupons on Restaurants.com

Cons:

Naan is not included in the price of your meal. Sad face.

– No samosas during the week.

– Obvious usage of those bags of frozen mixed veggies.

A typical plate. Looks like Channa Masala, Vegetable Pakora, Saag Paneer, and something with chicken.

Bukhara

Pros:

– They have a email list that occasionally inundates me with coupons.

– GIANT pieces of FRESH veggies in the vegetable korma. Mmmm….

– You can get this riDICulous amount of dinner delivered for 20 bucks. Two “mini” entrees, rice, naan, soup, a cup of coffee (?), a samosa, a salad, and a scoop of homemade coconut ice cream. Mmmmm….

Cons:

They are part of a little Indian-dining Conglomerate in the Boston area that has been reported for refusing to pay its workers or something. Fishy.

– Creamy dishes are MUCH too rich for more than a few bites.

– Weekend buffet can get a little crazy-packed.

This wasn’t the buffet, but we had to use up those coupons! I had vegetable korma and Lance had something green, I can’t remember what.

So, Who has the best Indian food in JP?

I don’t know. Everyone I talk to has a very legit reason for preferring their preference, or some just only bother to go to one because it’s so good you don’t bother shopping around.

I suspect we will flip our alliance back and forth until we move away.

Maybe we’ll move somewhere with THREE Indian joints!!

Wouldn’t that be something!

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FRIENDS!

It’s been awhile, eh? Since the last time I was here, a lot has happened!

1. FINALS HAPPENED!

Culinarily speaking, I spent a few weeks subsisting on cafeteria lunches, cafeteria lunches, and bottles of wine after 9 p.m.

I was also introduced to this beauty

Hello, mocha coconut Frappucino!

The stars aligned and Starbucks held a week of Frappucino Happy Hours to celebrate the MoCo’s arrival during finals… and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t indulge a few too many times than advisable for most consumers.

I’m going to end up suing Starbucks for making me obese/caffeine-crazed, like those chicks did to McDonalds.

2. I roasted a chicken!!

Pictures to come. If I took any. Blog Secret: I CAN’T EVER REMEMBER TO TAKE PICTURES OF MY FOOD BEFORE I EAT IT, I get too hungry.

But yes, Miss Kind-of-Vegetarian bought a whole chicken, prepared it, cooked it to near-perfect doneness, and turned its leftovers into chicken salad and chicken stock for soup.

Just slap an apron on me and call me Betty Crocker.

3. I spent a week in Michigan!!!

This would usually have nothing to do with food…. buuuuut my little sister was graduating from high school. There was a graduation party. I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday purchasing, handling, and eating food.

The theme: Mexican Fiesta

The menu: Make-your-own tacos & nachos and desserts

THE TWIST! Graduating sister is vegan. Other sister is gluten-free and allergic to garlic.

HOLY CROCK POTS!

4. I started using Pinterest to keep track of my recipes.

Pinterest is so overwhelmingly addicting, but in a kind of useful way. Like Facebook. Easy to lose an hour or so, but you don’t want to give it up because it actually helps your life somewhat?

It’s basically a way to store a bunch of links, but with a picture for each. This makes meal planning a little more appealing, like having your own personal cookbook with those big glossy pictures to entice you.

You can peek at what I’m cooking this month here.

5. I made this really awesome quinoa salad.

I got this recipe from Eat, Live, Run. It’s a variation on that favorite summer salad: black beans, corn, red onion, and tomatoes with a citrus-olive oil vinaigrette. This version adds red peppers for crunch, avocado for bliss, quinoa for heft, and grapefruit for an unexpected zing.

And isn’t it gorgeous?


Oh, wait. That’s not my citrus salad. It’s Jenna’s.

This is my citrus salad:

Mixed in with a bowl of defrosted frozen berries.

As I was walking out the door.

Yes that is my angry fist.

Anyway! My trusty roommates helped me clean up (read: cleaned it up while I washed my messy foot and cried in the bathroom)

It feels good to be back. Hi Lindsey!

First order of business: go home and take the photos off my camera and look for food pics to share with you!

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My love of beer is well-documented. And by that I mean a quick scan of my Facebook photos show that in my electronically chronicled time on this planet, I frequently have a beer in my hand.

Like here, for instance.

It’s a good thing employers can’t get at my Facebook, although of course this blog is Google-able, so they might find out this way. We only take pictures at parties and ballgames, guys! I can’t help it!

I like plenty of beers, from the cheapy cheap stuff I used to swill at Schuberg’s in Big Rapids to the fine microbrews of Shorts Brewery, my favorite in all the land, to the Natty Bohs I enjoy at local dives now. But I’ve found a better way to enjoy all those carbs: ADD MORE CARBS.

That’s right, I’m makin’ beer bread.

This is really easy, and I made two loaves this weekend that are already out of the house, used as collateral for a swap for homemade strawberry jam. The basic ingredients for beer bread, or 3-2-1 bread, are as follows.

You’ll need:

3 C self-rising flour (or, alternately, 3 C regular flour with 3 tsp baking powder and 1.5 tsp salt)

2 Tbsp sugar

1 can/bottle of beer (I used a Sam Adams Boston Lager in honor of my co-blogger Jessica and also a sale at Giant)

Mix all these together. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 for an hour.

That’s seriously it. Of course, you can dress it up a bit. To one loaf I added fresh basil. To another I added cinnamon, walnuts and a little vanilla. You can go crazy with this. I recommend pouring butter or a butter-like substance over the top about ten minutes before you stop baking, but go crazy and do what tastes right.

And of course, have one on me.

This picture is three pairs of glasses old.

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