Monthly Archives: November 2012

Healthy(ish) Banana Bread and Subsequent Muffin Attempting

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c Bob’s Red Mill 5 grain rolled hot cereal
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2.5 cups mashed overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 c crushed pecan halves
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder

nanabread2As in most baking recipes, combine all the dry stuff in one bowl and mix the wet stuff in another after creaming butter and sugar. Add mashed up bananas to the wet stuff, then mix it all together. Well, do this with everything but the cacao powder. That’ll be for the mini-muffins you’ll make with the overbatter.  Bake in a 350° oven for 45-60m (until a butter knife comes out of the middle clean).  The whole grain cereal you’re using includes whole grain red wheat, rye, barley, oats and flaxseed (if you’d read the bag more thoroughly before baking you might not have added that extra flax, but oh(mega) well), and using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose makes this banana bread feel more like breakfast without dampening the flavor (thank you, butter and sugar!). This bread came out more moist than many loaves I have before tasted, and earns 4 spoons for its combination of nutrients and flavor. What batter didn’t fit in my 7.5×3 loaf pan got mixed with some cacao powder and glopped into a mini-muffin pan. This needed to bake just as long as the loaf, but aren’t nearly as moist — just chewy. They only get 2 spoons, boo!

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Roasted Roots (ft. Cauliflower)

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 3 medium red potatoes
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • onions
  • garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 /2 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida

It’s cold and I felt like neither going to a grocery store nor like overcomplicating the already brisk atmosphere. What was already in the kitchen that I could toss in the oven? This one’s almost in no need of directions — just cut everything up, toss it with olive oil then with the blend of above seasonings (adjust anything to taste, of course). Roast in a 350 oven° for 40m (or so). 4 spoons!

Thanksgiving Black Bean Brownies

In my pantry today:
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tsp caramel extract
  • 1 tsp butter flavor extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

I was interested enough in the idea of baking brownies that used beans that I overlooked some of the obvious missteps in the recipe I found… at least, I personally stand by the belief that no pan of brownies needs a tablespoon of any extract no matter its fiber content nor will it bake to completion in 18 minutes. That being said, most of this stays true to its original inspiration. Go ahead and put the drained, rinsed beans in the food processor with the  softened butter and other wet ingredients, puree until smooth. Mix that into the large bowl wherein you’ve also mixed the dry ingredients, then pour into a parchment-paper lined 8×8 pan and top with pecans. Bake at 350 for 30-45m. These brownies were a dark-chocolately hit at the diabetic dessert table at Thanksgiving, but could stand to be a little richer in texture and moistness. 3 spoons.

Nutty Broccoli, Fried Rice and Chinese Food for Dogs

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c broccoli florets
  • 1 c dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 c blackberry preserves
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/4 c tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch

Broccoli is delicious and I wish I had not overcooked it — that, of course, is really my largest complaint of last night’s dinner, and one which only you can avoid in the future (or me, but lets not play a game of semantics here). It’s easy as sin to cook onion slices to near-sheer on ML then to add peanuts. Take the pan from the burner and let the nuts toast for a few minutes. While that sits, get another pan and start the broccoli cooking on MH. When it turns a full, bright green go ahead and add the peanut/onion mixture. Stir together all the other ingredients  (starting from blackberry preserves –> down) and toss your nuts. And the broccoli. And bring it to a low boil on M for the corn starch to thicken things up a little. In the pan from whence the onion/nut mixture came, there should be an oily enough residue to start the rice.

  • 3 c cooked, cold rice
  • 1/3 c frozen peas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

Scramble your egg and set aside. Add frozen peas and rice to hot pan , toss. Add the egg back in, squirt in some soy sauce and continue tossing until the rice is hot. Serve everything together and call it a night of order-in. 4 spoons!

Oh, and I’ve been making that dog food for a while now. It was referred to once as “Chinese Food” from its appearance in refrigerated clear Tupperware; the dogs love it, I love what it doesn’t have in it, but I don’t love how quickly it spoils. I’ve prepared in advance the meat/barley mixture to freeze and have ready on those days I feel tired enough to buy another can of rendered, rotten meat. Rice is something we usually keep on hand cooked so I can usually add it later, but that can obviously be mixed in and frozen with this mess.

  • 1 c cooked barley
  • 1/2 c cooked ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c cooked rice for mixing in after thawing

Mix the turmeric and cinnamon into the boiling water when you cook the barley, salt the turkey while it’s cooking. When both have cooked to completion and cooled enough to combine, add the flax and olive oil along with some cooked brown rice. I did forget to add a little bit of mixed vegetables to this batch… but that it won’t faze the animals. Freeze whatever you can’t use in 3 days.

 

7 Meals in 36 Hours (Or, “Driving Through Driving Through”)

In my pantry today:

  • 5 freezer and 2 “tonight’s” dinners

See I wasn’t really writing about what I was doing while I was doing it and the photographs are shameful afterthoughts to two days’ work and to several new recipes. I’ve been meaning without much forward momentum to make more meals to freeze and have on hand — while we could eat prepackaged dinners from the Indian grocery as if they’re going out of style (assuming they’ve ever been in it), there’s got to be a cheaper and more nutritious business to be had. It will all start painlessly enough:

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 1 medium bulb garlic
  • 1/3 c olive oil

Slice and mince the respective bulbs and put everything in the crock pot on H. Let cook until the onions begin to beckon translucence. Erstwhile, work on two meals worth of

Aloo Matar

  • 1 10 0z can whole white potatoes
  • 1 c peas
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 4 small-medium jalapeno peppers
  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp vegetable ghee
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 2-3 tbsp coriander
  • 3-4 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

Chunky slice the onion, garlic and chiles. I left the seeds in the peppers this time because the four I picked were pitiful in stature. Melt ghee and sprinkle in the mustard seeds. Cook on ML until the onions begin their wilt then crank the heat to M. The mustard seeds should be popping by the time you mix the turmeric, ginger-garlic paste and 2 tbsp each: coriander, cumin into a buttery paste. Transfer everything to a food processor, pour in a dollop of broth and pulse until as smooth as possible. Return to the pan, add tomatoes and broth. Stir and bring to a low boil on M. Reduce heat to L and let cook down for a few hours before adding additional seasonings, sliced potatoes and peas. It’s not exactly like the store-bought version I so love, but it is an adequate substitute full of good things. 4 spoons.

Now go back to the crock pot. Everything should be sizzling at a light boil. Strain out all the onion and garlic chunks and throw them in the food processor. Pulse until as smooth as possible, then divide 2/3 of the goop back into the crock pot and 1/3 to a new pot on the stove. In this pot, there will be some kind of completely inauthentic version of

Red Bean Makhani

  • 1/3 pulsed crock pot doins
  • 1 11 oz can red beans
  • 1 6 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 c half and half
  • 1/3 c vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida

Mix seasonings into the pot, making it even funkier a gunk. On heat rising to M, add in the tomato sauce, vegetable broth and cream. Throw in the beans and everything cook at a light boil on L for an hour or two. Then, return to the crock pot for marinarings. 5 spoons.

Crock Pot Marinara

  • 2/3 pulsed crock pot doins
  • 3 36oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 6oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 4 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Put all of that in the crock pot and cook on L overnight. 4 spoons.

There’s enough going on in the Aloo Matar pot before the potatoes and peas went in that 1c was taken out as a base for a

Creamy Corn Curry

  • 1 c that stuff in pan #1
  • 1 c corn
  • 1 c diced frozen spinach
  • 1 16 oz container 1% milk
  • 1 5 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

That little cardboard box of milk in the back of the cupboard? Empty it into a saucepan and bring it to a low boil, then keep it there for a couple hours. When it has thickened, skim off the skin and add the reserved stuff from pan #2. Stir cornstarch into the evaporated milk then thusly stir that into the milkpot. Add a little more almond milk to thin out any overthick attitude. Stir in corn and spinach, remove from heat. 4 spoons.

Five meals went into the freezer, and still there was enough marinara to make a

Cheesy Penne Bake

  • 3-4 c penne pasta, cooked
  • 2-3 c marinara
  • 1/3 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c mozzerella cheese
  • dusting of cayenne

Mix the pasta and sauce in a baking dish and sprinkle cheese atop. Bake in a 350 oven for 20m or until cheese is beginning to brown at the edges of the dish. This 5 spoon dish concludes a deeply satisfying almost-two-day-long act against the desire to hit a drive through at the end of a long day. I am so grateful to have had the ingredients and time to start taking care of this before the most hectic parts of the holiday season begin. Happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Hot [Crock] Pot Chili

In my pantry today:

  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 56oz/7c/3.5lb petite diced tomato
  • 1 c corn
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

This ended up being the finest batch of chili I have made to date — and it’s completely vegan. I say that because not only should it surprise you, but because it does so for me as well. It’s a tribute, really, to how little meat needs to do with flavor.

Start out with your onion and garlic pieces with oil in the crock pot on H. Walk away and halve your peppers, taking care to leave seeds out or in depending on your spice palate. Put them open-side down on a baking sheet and put them closely under the broiler until their skins begin to char, then remove them from the oven, remove the skins from their shoulders, and dice. Throw those into the crock pot with the garlic and onion, stir and leave on H for a few more minutes. Following enough of a break to begin some dishes or some such nonsense, add canned tomatoes with liquid and cooked beans, reduce crock pot to L and let simmer for several hours. Stir in all your seasonings a little while before dinner — it tasted so flavorful before I did any of that that I nearly didn’t add a single thing; the taco seasoning will get it from “a little too liquidy,” though, into proper chili territory. Despite — or maybe because of? — the lack of meat, this chili deserves 5 spoons.

Today’s Lentils, Tomorrow’s… Lentils.

In my pantry today:

  • 1-2c lentils (cooked)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 green jalapeno
  • 1 orange jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.5-2c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp safflower oil
  • 1 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp kala jeera
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida

This wasn’t going to be a freezer storage item, but life falls as it may and tonight was not its night (and tomorrow’s gonna be the night for what’s in the crock pot overnight now). I’m going to chalk it up to a preliminary success in my desire to have meals prepared ahead of time.

Start not-as-finely-chopped peppers (it is important right away to note that the jalapenos should have no seeds left), onion and garlic out on ML in a ghee/oil combo. Make sure the mustard seeds and kala jeera are in there too. Stir and sit back — when the mustard seeds commence to poppin’ turn off the heat. Spoon contents of the pan into a food processor, add curry powder, asafoetida, flax, tomato paste and 1c almond milk then puree everything into a single, succulent sauce. Spatula it back into the pan, add lentils and however much remaining almond milk you’d like. Heat everything to a near-boil and turn off the stove. When the sauce cools, either eat or freeze! I did taste this before it went on staycation in the icebox and I cannot wait until it gets to come back out — 4 spoons.

 

Cabbage Come a-Knockin (Or, “Pastabilities from Vegetable Grief”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 medium head red cabbage
  • 1 turkey kielbasa
  • 2 c cooked bowtie pasta
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 c broth
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • Parmesan cheese (topping)

I just began absentmindedly cooking the cabbage in a figurative wail of disappointment over the head of broccoli I had planned on using showing unexpected rot this morning. Isn’t that the normal reaction to vegetable grief? When reality brought itself back, I was left standing before a half-sauteed head of cabbage with onion in a small pool of butter. I looked at it like a sudden, unwelcome visitor then broke away to scan the freezer. I had in all earnesty planned on another vegetarian dinner tonight, but in the back of the ice box — covered in ice itself, but not burnt — was half a turkey kielbasa. I fell back into an old recipe for safety, but modified it just enough to prove to myself that I still had it.

So there’s there’s the head of cabbage, there. Toss in 1/4 c broth and cover it so it can steam on M where it’s been. Oh, and throw in all those seasonings (especially the asafoetida — this much cabbage definitely calls for “fart powder”). Next, brown medium-thin slices of kielbasa in the pot you’re about to boil pasta in. When the bottom of the pot (on M) starts to brown before those slices of turkeybits, scrape it up and toss the slices in those not-quite-burnt bits. Keep it together on M for another minute or two then add it to the cabbage. Bring 1/2 c of stock to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to L. Let it all simmer while you rinse out that sausage pot and ready the pasta. Cook according to instructions but make sure it’s al dente when you take it off the heat because it’s going in with the cabbage/kielbasa mix and will continue cooking. If you prefer mushier pasta (I know who some of you are, stop shielding your faces) go ahead and cook it to your preferred point. Mix everything together and top with Parmesan cheese. 4 spoons!

Comfort Soup (Or, “Three Animals Walked Into a Crock Pot…”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1/2 c lentils
  • 5oz canned chicken breast
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1c celery, sliced
  • 1c carrots, sliced
  • 3c kale, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp sausage grease
  • 1 large onion, thin-ish slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5c broth (I used vegetable despite the meaty base)
  • 1/2 c half and half
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

So it’s chilly, the wife is home sick and I’m not feeling too spunky, myself. It feels like soup time; not just any soup time, mind you — it’s comfort soup time. Start the onions and garlic out in the sausage grease… in the crock pot. Turn it on MH, stir and let sit for an hour or so. Turn off. Run those two godforsaken errands you don’t really want to have to drag your ass out of bed to do. Come back. Assemble!

Turn the crock pot back on to MH Stir in sliced carrots and celery. Cut potatoes into bite-size chunks and stir into the mess. And what the heck — drain that little can of chicken sitting in the cupboard and toss it in. Sprinkle on and stir in all the seasonings so that all of the soup bits are well-coated in the glory of flavor. Then enter your broth. After the first cup or two, stir in the lentils. Begin folding in little fistfuls of kale, alternating with the remainder of the broth. Bless the entire stew with half and half, cover, and let cook on M-MH until the potatoes are soft. All of the comfort of a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs soup with all of the vegetative nutrition of a salad bar — you’ll need all 5 spoons for this pot!

Mediterranean Asparagus… Burritos?

In my pantry today:

  • 1 lb asparagus, ends cut
  • 4-6 flour burrito-size tortillas
  • 1/2 c feta cheese
  • 1/4 c chevre
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

In the past, I have only gotten as creative with this vegetable as “asparagus oven fries” (yes, they are as easy as they sound) but today’s pantry suggested that other avenues would be available. Tortillas won the coin-toss, so what else goes into one to ensure that they won’t just be wrapped around those sweet, green stalks? I could do a whole shebang with beans, cilantro, chili powder… ooh, but look at the cheese drawer! The butt-ends of the above-mentioned cheeses called out to me. Concoction time!

Put your thinly-sliced garlic and onions in an olive oiled pan on ML, stirring occasionally, until the onions become naked. While that’s going on, combine those last five ingredients up there into a little sauce, set aside. When translucency is acquired in the onion pan, turn the heat up to MH. Wait for it to heat, then begin tossing asparagus. Spritz with lemon and toss, then pour in 1/4c water and cover the pan for a minute or two — the spears should come out a victorious green! Of course, continue cooking if’n you like a softer texture, but the crisp texture works well in a steamed tortilla spread with chevre and sprinkled with feta cheese. Make sure there are plenty of onions and garlic in each of the meal-wrappers alongside the asparagus.

I forgot to put the sauce on these at first, photographed the ‘rrito, then realized… but as the sauce rather obscures all of its inner deliciousness, I kept the first. Don’t be like me and forget before the final wrap to dab in just enough sauce so that each burrito is edible without making too much of an embarrassing mess. This seems like such a simple arrangement, but it triumphs a tasty new way to have a quarter-pounder for dinner — 4 spoons!