Archive for the ‘menu staples’ Category

Hello! Did we all make it through last week’s super heavy but therapeutic (at least for me!) post? Good. Thanks for sticking around. I’m going to talk about my fridge.

It looks like this on the inside:


Not too shabby, right? Probably too much food for a single lady who lives alone, but whatever, it’s my money/house/body, I do/eat what I want! (That includes keeping tomatoes in the fridge, I know it’s a sin, sorry I’m not sorry.)

You’ve probably noticed a plethora of soup in there. I frickin’ love soup so much it hurts. My mom makes the best chicken noodle in the world, and as much as I whined about weeks’ worth of soup dinners as a kid, there is something comforting and easy about a soup lunch or dinner. I’ve been making the magic soup we made in December about once every seven to ten days or so, and then bringing it to work most days. I’m not even bored with it yet! I think there are two reasons for that:

  1. It reminds me of the Polish kitchens of my youth. Aww!
  2. I change it up every day.

Since the base of the soup is super simple (you’ll recall: garlic and onions, any green/crunchy veggies you’ve got around the house, whole cabbage, diced tomatoes) you can play around with it. I’ve been doing half of a spicy chicken andouille sausage some days. Rice every once in a while. I threw an avocado in there a couple of times and it was like tortilla soup without the tortillas! That was pretty great. In the leftovers bowl on the middle shelf there, I’ve got some ground beef (leftover from tonight’s attempt at homemade bibimbap; it was… not the most successful). With a little rice, it’s going to be my lazy woman’s version of golabki (pronounce this go-WUMP-kee), or stuffed cabbage.

You’ll also see a lot of juice in the fridge, left over from my weekend of perpetual sniffles and Patty and Selma voice. Part of my “clean livin'” attempts include healthy breakfasts, so I’ve been doing a smoothie on the way to work, then a small bowl of oatmeal or a Luna Bar once I get there. Don’t worry, I still go to town on Bagel Day at the office. My daily smoothie recipe: plop of yogurt (about half of a little cup or a big ol’ scoop of Greek yogurt, whatever), a handful of strawberries, one small banana, maybe some sorbet (I really like coconut because obviously that’s the least healthy option), and OJ. Blend with immersion blender. 

Also seen but unlabeled: Plum sauce that has been in the fridge since the week I moved into my apartment, sour cream that I only used for mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and prune juice that I haven’t been brave enough to open yet.

Not pictured: my fruit basket (holds mostly citrus and garlic), cabinet full of baking supplies and the multiple stashes of Gummy Tummies tucked around my kitchen and living room. I promise, real recipes will return at some point. I turn 27 this week so expect some sort of “almost 30!” crisis coming down the pike! I predict: more whoopie pies.



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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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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.


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.)



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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2010 brought us a lot of things. It brought Jessica and me both apartments with more than the combined 24 inches of counterspace we once had. It brought us my favorite Kanye West song to date, the end of my favorite otter blog and a moment when I didn’t hate a shellfish-type food, possibly because it was immediately followed by tzatziki sauce. I got to see the Queen of Butter in person. Overall, it was a pretty good year.

It also brought me to a realization: I can never betray my delicious Midwestern roots. I might think I’m highfalutin food bloggy city lady, but deep down, I just want to eat cheesy potatoes.

So I do.

You’ll need:

1 2-lb. bag of hash browns (you want the little cubes, not the little matchsticks)

1/2 C onion, grated

1 can cream of whatever soup (I use cream of mushroom for the least obtrusive flavor that is still vegetarian)

2 C cheddar cheese (I use a package of mild cheddar and a package of sharp cheddar, but this is up to you)

1 lb sour cream

1/4 C melted butter

1/2 tsp salt

Dump all of these things into a bowl, mix ’em up. Pour it all into a 9×13 pan and top with corn flakes. Bake at 350 for an hour or until everything looks sizzly (I made up this word; plenty of other people have done a lot worse in 2010) and you can’t wait anymore.

NOTE: The corn flakes are necessary! I cannot even tell you how important these guys are. CORN FLAKES, you guys.

The motion blur is for realism.

Listen, I can eat this for every meal or as a side dish. It’s a dish best enjoyed with a few other people avoiding the cold outdoors. Leftovers are phenomenal, but make sure you top with fresh corn flakes before you nuke ’em; they tend to get a little soggy in the fridge.

We’ll see you guys in 2011, when I promise to be adventurous in both the kitchen and the world.


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Can we talk for a minute about breakfast?

Easily my favorite meal of the day. I love waking up hungry and knowing there are yummy things waiting for me in the kitchen. I have always been a Breakfast Person. I’m talking about Everyday-Breakfasts right now – needless to say, a proper weekend brunch sends me into spontaneous cartwheeling bliss.

Past favorites, in semi-chronological order:

  • Pop-tarts (Brown Sugar, Strawberry, or S’mores… mmmm s’mores…)
  • Toaster strudels
  • The toaster strudels with egg and cheese that everyone else hates
  • Leftover desserts
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • English muffins with butter and honey
  • Cinnamon toast
  • Apples
  • This maple pecan coffee cake you can only buy in Mansfield, Ohio
  • Doughnuts from Hinkley’s Bakery in Jackson, Michigan.
  • Egg and cheese sandwiches, sometimes with bacon
  • Peanut butter and jelly toast
  • Banana & soymilk smoothies with espresso
  • Cinnamon roll bread from Trader Joe’s

And two years of 45 minute commutes left me with a few on-the-go favorites, as well:

  • Starbucks banana-chocolate Vivanno smoothies with added espresso
  • McDonalds Egg McMuffin
  • Panera breakfast sandwiches
  • Panera Cobblestone muffin (droooool….)

I would still enjoy any of these options, if I woke up hungry, but lately my breakfasts have consisted of three items, one from each of the following categories:

Something savory and egg-based

+ 2 fried eggs

+ goat cheese omelet

+ scrambled egg sandwich with American cheese

Something sweet with whole grains

+ Go-Lean Crunch with soy or rice milk

+ oatmeal

+ whole wheat cinnamon toast

+ homemade granola

Something caffeinated

+ Starbucks Doubleshot in a can (which I used to get from a magical vending machine)

+ Nonfat mocha

+ Diet Coke (not WITH breakfast, necessarily, but before lunch)

Anyway, since I’ve been monitoring my calories, I’ve been thinking a little more critically about my beloved breakfast. You see, despite taking in a HEARTY amount of food (especially compared to the average person who can’t bear to eat in the a.m.), I tend to get REALLY hungry at around… oh… 9 a.m. And I can’t eat any MORE food, otherwise I will just explode: I’m very full after breakfast, even if  get hungry again quickly.

So what’s something healthy, something tasty, something SUPER FILLING that I can eat for breakfast that will eliminate the need for morning snacking?

Enter: Steel-Cut Oats

Oh, buddy.

On the first day of my experiment, I made a double serving, assuming that like most breakfast choices, I needed to hedge my bets. Adapting the infinitely adaptable recipe from Kath Eats Real Food, I threw in some walnuts, dried fruit, and honey for good measure. The pile of oatmeal barely fit into my bowl, and barely into my stomach, but…

I didn’t want to eat anything until close to 2 p.m. This is unheard of!

Magic oatmeal, I tell you.

It takes a long time to cook, which sucks, and I get a little STARVED sitting around waiting for breakfast to be ready, but holy cats, I haven’t looked back yet. It’s just as delicious as a S’mores Pop Tart. Really!

While I was stuffed to the brim, I added up the calories for my particular dish: 700 calories.

Well no wonder I wasn’t hungry until 2!

Anyway, I usually make one serving now, but I throw in some add-ins to bulk it up, and it usually gets me clear through to noon. What a concept! I have even started dropping the egg component of my breakfast, because there’s only so much kitchen-cooking I can handle on a weekday, and this fills me up anyway.

Jessica’s Killer Oatmeal

(the not-so gut-busting version)

Makes a hearty single serving.

1) Boil 1+ cup of water in a small saucepan. (1 cup is standard, but I find that such a small portion of oatmeal dries up, so I add a little extra)

2) When it comes to a boil, add 1/4 cup of steel cut oats. Cook at a boil for 5 minutes, stirring a little. It will get thicker.

3) Turn heat down to low, cook uncovered for 25 minutes.

4) If the oatmeal is looking a little dry at any point, I add up to 1/8 cup vanilla rice milk.

4) Add 1/2 banana, sliced. As the banana cooks, stir the oatmeal vigorously to liquefy/incorporate the banana. It will disappear into the oatmeal!

5) Stir in 2 tbspn canned pumpkin and 1 tbspn flax meal. Cook until heated to desired temperature.

6) Dish into a bowl. Top with cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 tbspn almond butter.

7) Eat! Enjoy! Add whatever else sounds good, take out what doesn’t.

Stay tuned for more breakfast ramblings later this week!

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moving in miracle

Picture this:

You woke up at 5 a.m. Sat in a moving van with your anxiety-ridden cat until noon. Public transportation made you late for work, and on the way home, kicked you out over a mile from home. One sweaty, 95 degree walk later, you made it home only to spend the afternoon unpacking your moving van.

In the evening, everything (EVERYTHING) is inside, everything is still in a box, and everyone has left you.

So you unpack through the sore muscles and the fatigue and the stressful stomachache and the dread of knowing that you have to be up and at work at 9 the next morning.

And then it’s 8 p.m and you realize you haven’t eaten since that half of a sandwich you unwrapped at the bus stop like some kind of homeless vagrant.

There’s nothing in your fridge, because you had to throw it all out. There’s nothing in the cupboards because everything’s still in boxes. There are boxes stacked high on the kitchen floor.

There’s a boy who said he would come home and we’d all go out to eat, but it’s late, there’s traffic, and they found a Taco Bell.

But somehow.


You made dinner.

Tasty Oven Fries

* farm share potatoes

still in the farm share box, that sat in the back of the moving van all day

* olive oil

* kosher salt

unearthed from the cupboard boxes, miraculously

* ketchup

along with capers and mustard, the only items that made the trip from fridge to fridge

You will go to bed cursing your life for being so miserable and painful and complicated,

but at least

you are fed.

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Hip, hip, hooray! Lindsey is back!

I am back too. I took a real-life vacation, and then a little internet vacation, and then I just forgot to blog for awhile. Sorry.

But I am committing to two posts here a week now (committing! important!), even if they are both What Salad I Ate For Lunch.

Anywho. So let me tell you about my friend rice pudding.

I’d never made rice pudding until I moved to Boston. I’m not really sure why I made it in the first place, but living with Lance, I suddenly live in a House That Has Rice. I’m not a big rice fan myself – I’ll eat it, but I never wish for stir fries or curries – but now, it’s here. The rice. A lot of it. Always in my kitchen.

I love making desserts, and I especially love desserts with on-the-ready ingredients. If you too live in a House That Has Rice, then this delicious, delightful dessert that is delicious hot OR cold OR for breakfast OR whenever. Can you freeze it? Rice pudding pops? Is that disgusting?

Anyway. I found this particular recipe the way all great recipes are found: by Googling “rice pudding” and picking the top result.

But it’s great! I promise! And easy.

My tweaks:

– I always use basmati rice because… that’s the rice we have! It’s always tasty. I pretend it tastes as good as the stuff at the Indian buffet.

– Once we added chopped almonds. Again, pretending it tastes as good as the stuff at the Indian buffet.

– Sometimes, I use this recipe to use up leftover heavy cream or half & half. Oh, I’m terrible.

Watch out for:

– Letting your rice/milk mixture bubble over, which smells disgusting and is quite difficult to scrub off the top of the stove

– The small serving size! This is really a dainty recipe. Definitely double if you are cooking for company, or if you want rice pudding for more than 2 days.

Or 1 day. Who am I kidding.

Rice Pudding

Recipe from Simply Recipes


  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) of whole milk
  • 1/3 cup (66 grams) of uncooked short grain white rice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) raisins


1 In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk, rice and salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

2 In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg and brown sugar until well mixed. Add a half cup of the hot rice mixture to the egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time, vigorously whisking to incorporate.

3 Add egg mixture back into the saucepan of rice and milk and stir, on low heat, for 10 minutes or so, until thickened. Be careful not to have the mixture come to a boil at this point. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat and stir in the raisins and cinnamon.

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