WIAW: Eat Your Pantry

Hi eaters!

It’s been a long day and I’m fading fast.

Yes, I realize it’s not even dinner yet. Don’t judge, I’m in college.

Anywhoo, I’m going to skip the chitchat tonight and get right to the good stuff (read: where I talk about trying to eat all my food before I move out).

Breakfast:

Rustic cornbread with (not my) homemade blueberry jam and two scrambled eggs.

Look! I changed it up. And let me tell you, this was a hearty breakfast. Now I’m craving more cornbread.

Snack:

Black licorice.

Licorice is quite possibly my biggest weakness. A bag won’t last more then a couple of days around me.

Proof: triple the amount in that picture and you’ll see what I ate yesterday.

Exercise:

I did 45 minutes of a hodgepodge of cardio machines. After some time incline treadmill walking, ellipticalling, and on the stationary bike I was pretty successfully sweaty.

Lunch:

Comforting Beta Carotene Soup with Crazy Easy Crackers.

This meal didn’t come until 3pm so I was starving.

I nibbled on a few more crackers while everything was heating up.

Then I ate my soup out of the Tupperware because hand washing extra dishes is lame.

Afternoon:

I hunkered down at Starbucks for a few hours to study for an exam I have tomorrow. While there I drank my usual tall coffee with cold soy.

FYI — I’m probably never going to drink a fancy latte. It’s just not my style.

Dinner:

M’friend Peach and I went out for $1 tacos last night. I didn’t have my camera, so please enjoy these pictures I’m recycling from one of this summer’s $1 taco dinners.

Everything was the same except we sat outside and it wasn’t still light out.

Two "Mexican style" black bean tacos.

Oh, and there was queso dip. Because sometimes you just need queso.

Fun times:

After a quick visit to Harris Teeter, Peach and I hung out at her place, drank beer, and watched “Elf.”

I drank Sweet Water IPA and continuously pointed out the plot holes in the movie.

Ex: Why doesn’t Buddy ever try to find his mother?

Don’t I sound like a fun movie friend?

So all in all, a pretty damn good day of eats, but not a wildly successful day of eating up my food.

Oh well, sometimes you just need tacos and beer.

What about you, eaters:

Do you get fancy queso or guacamole dips when you go out for tacos or are you happy with salsa?

And what’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Are there Hanukah movies like there are Christmas movies?

G’night eaters!

Rustic Cornbread

‘Ello eaters!

It’s Tuesday, right?

Yes, I’m still forgetting what day it is. With little to no structure to my days they all blend together. And since I have finals tomorrow and Thursday the days blending together it extra bad because at least three times today I’m freaked the eff out thinking that I’m missing something important.

Woe is me, is right.

But enough crazy talk, let’s talk about some wonderful.

Have I ever told you that I love cornbread?

Probably not, because it has probably never come up. My love for cornbread also hadn’t come up with manly friend until yesterday morning.

Ya see eaters, according to manly friend, I put weird things in my oats. I won’t get into all the things I’ve put in oats that he considers weird (pureed spinach and an egg make the list), but yesterday morning when I came back with a big bowl of oats and two spoons (isn’t that disgustingly cute?), he asked me, per usual, what weird thing I put in the oats this time.

“Cornmeal.”

This got us talking about how much we both love cornbread and then we decided to have chili and cornbread for dinner.

Obviously, this was some blog-worthy bonding time.

So fast forward to yesterday afternoon and there was a big pot of chili bubbling away on the stove.

Don't worry, eaters, this chili got doctored up a bit.

Note — If you can distinctly see each different color of your chili ingredients, then you’ve done something wrong. Chili should be a pretty consistent shade of red.

Once the chili was doctored up a bit and had another couple of hours to slowly simmer, it was time to make the donuts cornbread.

Rustic Cornbread

Adapted from the NYTimes, because their recipes rarely do me wrong.

1 ½ c cornmeal

½ c whole wheat pastry flour

½ t salt

1 ½ t baking powder

2 eggs

1 ¼ c milk

3 T honey

2 T butter

Put the butter in an 8”/9” round baking dish and place that in the oven while it preheats to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Form a large well in the middle of your dry ingredients and dump in the wet ingredients.

Note — Most recipes say to mix these two groups separately and then combine, but because there is so little gluten in this batter (which is what gets tough when you over mix) I find that combining the ingredients like this works perfectly fine AND leaves you with one less dirty dish.

Stir everything together until the batter is consistent and there aren’t any noticeably dry clumps.

By this point the butter should have melted in your baking dish. When this happens remove the dish from the oven and pour in the batter. Butter will probably rise up with the batter and cover the edges of the top.

Don’t worry, those will be the good parts once it’s baked.

Now bake the dish for 25-30 minutes, until the edges have pulled away from the dish and a fork comes out completely clean.

Then cut up into big wedges and serve.

I call this cornbread rustic because it’s nothing like the Jiffy mix muffins that I grew up with. The cornmeal is coarser and it doesn’t taste like a corn cupcake. It’s a bit on the dry side, but not on the crumbly side, which makes it perfect for dipping.

Oh, and remember those “good parts” I promised you?

Yeah, that golden, crusty edge is full of delicious buttery flavor without being greasy or soggy.

Doesn't that chili look much better than before?

We served our hearty wedges along side chili and beer.

Note — If you’re going through the trouble to slowly simmer chili all day and make cornbread from scratch, pleasepleasePLEASE take the time to shred your own cheese. It really is so much better then pre-shredded bags.

What about you, eaters:

What dishes do you like more rustic and less polished/processed?

And do you eat your cornbread separate from your chili, dunk it in, or crumble it on top?

G’night eaters!

A Weekend Without a Camera

Hi eaters!

So I abandoned you last night. I realize this. I actually realized this right as I was heading out for some fun times last night.

And I was going to post after I got home, but I was tired and I didn’t have my camera.

Actually, not having my camera means you won’t see a lot of my weekend.

Like, you won’t get to see the delicious dinner of mussels in a white wine butter sauce over linguine that manly friend made me for dinner last night.

It was my first time eating mussels. Verdict: I think I still have sand in my teeth.

You won’t get to see the lovely walk manly friend and I took on the back trails of my favorite park.

You won’t get to see my seriously rawesome Cosby sweater that I wore to my friends and my going away/birthday party on Saturday. You also won’t get to see how I could fit my entire body into it.

You won’t get to see any shots from the show I went to last night, where my friend’s band was playing. That means you won’t get to see the hardcore kids doing ballet-style spin kicks (seriously, when did hardcore kids stop two-stepping and start spinning?) and the faux fight that almost took place in the parking lot.

But, I did have my camera for Friday night, so I’ll show you that.

Manly friend and I went out for dinner as Kiosco, a Mexican restaurant on Spring Garden St (for any of you cool Triad/Greensboro eaters who want to check it out).

I wanted to try Kiosco for a hot minute because it looked significantly better then Mexico Restaurant, which is where we normally get Mexican food.

Yes eaters, a Mexican restaurant called Mexico Restaurant. The creative flare is not lost on me.

Overall, Kiosco lived up to my expectation of being better then what I was used to.

Granted, the chips and salsa were bland.

And the service wasn’t too hot either. There were too many people who’s sole job was to either refill water or refill chips and salsa, and they kept pushing a bus boy/garbage cart through the dinning room.

But the food was delicious!

Chunks of beef prepared in red chile sauce.

I ordered Chile Colorado and swapped the refried beans for black beans.

For days I’d had a serious craving for red meat and this satisfied it.

The intersection of awesomeness.

And the Colorado sauce on the rice was super tasty. The beans were so-so, but I didn’t mind.

M’handsome date ordered Bistec a la Mexicana.

It was a steak covered in sizzling peppers and onions. But this wasn’t fajitas by any stretch.

A sizzling skillet of beef steak cooked with banana peppers, green peppers and onions.

It was down right ah-maze-ing!

Granted, I only ate the peppers and onions, but it was still pretty fantastic.

In the future, though, I think we’ll order take-out from Kiosco rather then being pestered about our not quite full water glasses.

So that’s all I’ve got for you.

Yes eaters, I realize this was probably a let down. But considered I forgot at least a dozen times that today was Monday, I think I’m doing pretty good.

Your turn:

What did you do this weekend?

Did you eat anything noteworthy?

G’night eaters!

Introducing: Spaghetti Squash

Hiya eaters!

So I didn’t end up going out last night. All my friends were buried in work so I had a quiet evening in.

BUT tonight I’m actually going out. I might even put on more then just mascara.

Before I start getting social, though, I’ve got something important to talk to you about: spaghetti squash.

I see this oddly fibrous squash all over the blogosphere. People rave about how great it is and what a wonder noodle substitute it can be.

And for a long time I ignored all of them.

The only experiences I’d had with spaghetti squash were watery piles of stringy mush. With no seasonings. Not even salt.

Not pleasant, right?

Well, I probably shouldn’t have based my opinion of this gourd on dining hall experiences, but whatever.

Moral of the story: I had no interest in trying spaghetti squash, let alone wasting my time and money on cooking a whole one for myself.

That is, until I stumbled upon a video from Kath.

Not only did she give a simple way of cooking the squash, but in the video the stringy meat didn’t look watery at all. It looked…duh duh duhhh…soft and fluffy.

Well, as fluffy as squash strands can look.

So when I was making my EF list this past Sunday and couldn’t think of another vegetable to buy, I decided to take a chance on spaghetti squash.

I followed Kath’s instructions and cut the squash in half and then placed it cut-side down on a baking dish. Then I added enough water to come about ½” up the squash and baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes, until the meat is nicely tender.

From there I spooned out the seeds and guts, and got to forking out the good stuff.

I scraped everything until the skin was clean and was left with a hefty serving of strands.

Then, I scraped the other half.

From here you have a ton of possibilities.

I went the traditional route and topped it with a sauce.

(Side note — This sauce recipe is one I’m testing. The version you see wasn’t good. But I think I know how to fix it so you should be seeing it once I get home to my food processor.)

I’ll be honest, though, this will never pass as faux-noodles for me.

I’ve seen it in casseroles, but I think that would just turn into a mushy mess.

I would love to try it in stir-fries, though. Maybe Definitely tacos, too.

So new moral of the story: Spaghetti squash is delicious. And you shouldn’t be afraid to re-try foods you thought you didn’t like.

Your turn:

What foods have you changed your mind about?

And how do you want me to see spaghetti squash? I’m up for just about anything.

G’night eaters!

WIAW: Cookies FTW

‘Ello eaters!

Today was my last day of classes for the semester. I remembered this as soon as I turned my alarm off this morning.

The last time I’ll have to wake up for an 8:30 class? Woohoo!

But then I remembered I have an 8:30 exam next week. Less whoohoo.

Even though I’ll have to get up early at least one more time this semester, today was an exciting day. So exciting, in fact, that I’m in the process of getting dolled up (read: putting on mascara) to hit up the bars.

I might even break my 3-drink rule.

Yes eaters, I do know how to party hard.

But before I party it up at the bars, let’s get to my other regular Wednesday party.

Breakfast:

I didn’t even bother taking a picture of my breakfast. You know I ate eggs. To be specific, I ate two scrambled eggs with beet greens, salsa, and a bit of cheese.

But to satisfy your need for visuals, here’s a picture of a pink egg I found on Pinterest, because the veins in the beet greens gave my eggs a pretty pink hue.

Unpictured morning things:

I went to Starbucks to do some work (read: get out of my apartment because everyone around me is drowning in finals work and I’m not so I’m bored) and ordered my usual Tall coffee with cold soy.

Hooray for having a registered Starbucks card because I get free soy!

And hooray for presentation groups that bring in snacks.

During class, I ate a few of those frosted and sprinkled animal crackers.

You know the ones I’m talking about, right?

Yeah, they’re tasty.

Workout:

An intense 30 minutes of treadmill intervals, a less intense 15 minutes on the elliptical, and not (read: not enough) stretching.

Lunch:

SP Squared Chili with TVP.

All hail freezer food!

Really, if you don’t already, start freezing a couple of servings of some of the soups and stews you make. Then simply heat and eat. It’s as convenient as canned soup, but far healthier.

Lunch dessert:

Thumbprint cookies.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these little pie bite cookies are delicious.

Proof: I had double this amount throughout the afternoon. Because I really needed more cookies.

Mmmm, Christmas cookies FTW! (Which means “for the win.” I didn’t know that for a long time.)

Dinner:

Spaghetti squash with a hummus BBQ sauce and raw rolled oats.

It was just one of those nights where I was tired and things got weird.

I probably would make this sauce again, but the spaghetti squash was phenomenal. I’ll post about that tomorrow.

Dessert:

I knew my meals were on the produce-heavy, protein-light side all day. So a filling dessert was in order.

And this was damn tangy and delicious.

There was also an unpictured glass of wine.

And speaking of wine, it’s about time for me to hit the town.

Your turn:

What was the best thing you ate yesterday?

What are you doing tonight?

Later eaters!

Gentle Nutrition: Beet Crisp

G’evening eaters!

I don’t have much to report today. It’s been an uneventful day and I’m a little tired.

But I’m currently pumping myself full of the holiday spirit in the form of watching “The Santa Clause 2” (Netflix doesn’t have the first movie on Instant Watch), so all is good in my world.

And all will be even better in my world when it comes time for dessert tonight.

What’s on the menu, you ask?

Beet crisp!

What the hell is a “beet crisp”?

Well eaters, it’s just like an apple crisp, except made with beets.

Ya see eaters, I mentioned the other day that I’m taking a pretty relaxed approach to holiday weight gain this year. I have really grown in my relationship with food this year and trust myself not to stuff my face with cookies like a pre-hibernation bear.

But a relaxed approach doesn’t mean that I’m throwing all caution to the wind.

Oh no, eaters!

I’ve still got health and nutrition on my mind. But it’s not militant nutrition. It’s gentle.

Enter: beets, a vegetable that not enough eaters eat.

Note — The pictures below are from the first recipe I made on Sunday. I have since tweaked things a bit, but didn’t retake the pictures. So the final product will look a little different then what you see below.

Beet Crisp

3 medium beets, ~4.5 c when cut

~1 c milk

3 T brown sugar, divided

3 T butter, divided

¼ c honey

~1 t cinnamon, divided

1 c rolled oats

¼ c coconut oil, melted

2 T (whole wheat pastry) flour

~1/3 c pomegranate arils, optional

Clean and peel the beets and then cut into thin slices, about 1/4 “ thick.

Add the beets and milk to a medium pot over low-medium heat.

Note — I say roughly 1 c milk because it depends on how big your pot is. You want the beets to be at least mostly covered.

Stir in 2 T butter, 1 T brown sugar, and ½ t cinnamon. Bring the milk to a simmer while occasionally stirring everything around. After about 5 or so minutes, when the beets begin to get soft, remove the pot from the heat and drain the liquid.

Mix the beets with a couple of dashes of cinnamon and honey and pour into the bottom of a glass baking dish.

Now make the topping by combining the oats, coconut oil, flour, 2 T brown sugar, and another dash or so of cinnamon in a bowl.

Tip — Coconut oil solidifies below 76 degrees. Most kitchens aren’t that warm this time of year. So whenever I use coconut oil I also use a glass bowl so I can turn a stove burner on super low and put the bowl on it. It keeps everything just warm enough to keep the oil liquefied.

When everything is mixed up, it’s time to get a little fancy.

First, sprinkle a handful or two of pomegranate arils (another powerful plant people don’t eat nearly enough) over the beets.

Then, evenly distribute the oat topping over the beets.

And if you want to get fancier still (and really, who doesn’t?), cut up about a tablespoon of butter and spread the chunks over the oats.

Bake the dish in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is golden and a knife slides into the beets smoothly.

This is no apple crisp.

No eaters, this is something far better. This is something far more festive.

The absolutely gorgeous crimson from the beets simply glow with holiday spirit.

And don’t try to tell me that your family and friends could refuse a big, warm helping of this golden-topped dessert.

Speaking of that golden topping — it’s pretty crumbly. But that doesn’t do a damn thing to take away from this sweet, toasty, top. It just means that you can have a bit in every bite.

Like I said, it’s better then apple crisp (though I wouldn’t refuse some of that either).

What do you think:

Would you ever try sweet beets?

What are you doing to bring some gentle nutrition to your holidays?

G’night eaters!

A Humble Little Thumbprint

Helloooo eaters!

M’gosh, it’s been a day. Well, not really.

Most of the day was lovely. I wasn’t rushed or overly busy. I spent plenty of time playing in the gym and the ceramics studio.

But tonight was a doozy.

I had an hour-long job interview where I was grilled by 10 of my co-workers. It went about as well as it could, with only a couple of surprises.

As in, “Surprise, I’m watching everything you write online and taking notes.”

But even without this little hiccup, an hour-long job interview is stressful. So stressful, that all I could think about when I got done was a glass of wine and a cookie.

Wine? Check. Cookies?

Buttery Thumbprint Cookies

1 c + 2 T whole wheat pastry flour

½ t baking powder

1 dash salt

½ c butter, softened

1/3 c sugar

1 egg

2 T milk

1 T vanilla

1 T apple cider vinegar

~1/4 c jam

pomegranate arils and/or carob chips, optional

Preheat the oven to 350.

In one bowl mix together flour, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl mix together butter, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla, and vinegar. Then mix the two mixtures together.

Scoop out a little less then 2 T worth of dough and roll into a ball. Place that on a cookie sheet and make an indention with your thumb.

Note — It’s best to cut your fingernails before doing this.

Another note — Make the indentions as big as you want. The bigger the indention, the more jammy goodness. In hindsight, I would have made bigger indentions.

Fill each indention with a small spoonful of whatever kind of jam you want (I used blackberry). Then, if you’re feeling frisky like I was, put a little surprise in the middle.

For half, I put in a carob chip.

For the other half, I put in a pomegranate aril.

Then I baked them for 18-20 minutes.

After a little time cooling, these cute little cookies were more then ready for eating.

The cookie itself is crumbly and buttery, which is more then a little reminiscent of pie crust.

And while some eaters may baulk at this and call these cookies a crumbly flop, I say just think of these jammy little gems as bite-sized pies.

But really, whatever way you stack them, they are delicious.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the carob chip centers were the clear winners. The earthiness of the carob played so well off the sweet jam and buttery cookie.

I was full of festive bliss from these cookies all night last night. And I’m full of loosening stress knots enjoyment tonight from them.

What more could you ask for from a humble little thumbprint cookie?

Your turn:

What’s your jam flavor of choice?

What kind of Christmas cookie would you like to see next?

G’night eaters!

NOT Holiday Related

Hiya eaters!

Another weekend has come and gone, which means another weekend of shopping is behind us.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Secular Gift-Giving Day (I made that one up), or something else, you now have less time to stalk the malls and deck the halls.

I didn’t do a damn holiday-related thing this weekend, though. Instead, I headed up to man mountain for some relaxing time with manly friend.

Our version of relaxing includes manly friend using my recipe to make pizza dough.

Then we compromised with both vegetables and meat.

Oh, and an egg on my half.

Manly friend was violently opposed to the egg.

There was also lots of lying around, reading, and TV.

Oh, and manly friend taught me how to play cribbage, which seems to be the official game of his family.

I didn’t totally suck.

And when I returned today I held off on the holiday spirit through homework and some time easily spinning away on the elliptical.

The spirit finally started to creep in when I was making my list for EF.

Loot:

Genesis bread, organic spaghetti squash, Pop chips, Justin’s chocolate pb, Cliff Z Bars, organic free range eggs, Chobani yogurt, conventional orange bell peppers, Earth Balance, chipotle salsa, organic red pears, whole wheat pastry flour, organic carob chips, and a pomegranate.

This week may be pretty light on the produce front, but I have a good bit left over from last week so I won’t get scurvy.

But really, who needs produce when you have a pound of butter and carob chips?

Exactly!

I’ve got to be running along now, though, because I went a little crazy in the kitchen this evening.

And that’s left me with a lot of dishes and a Marisa to take care of.

The latter, though, is much more entertaining.

Keep an eye out for some festive recipes this week. I’ve got two winners to toss your way.

What about you:

Did you do anything holiday related this weekend?

And what holiday do you celebrate? (I’m always up for trying not to bastardize another culture’s food.)

G’night eaters!

Workout Challenges!

Hiya eaters!

So after I posted last night I went out to da bars (said like “daaaa bears”) and lived it up a little. That translated into me waking up with a half eaten sub on my nightstand and a headache.

Don’t pretend you’re not jealous of my cool college life.

Unfortunately, those weren’t the only things I woke up with this morning. I also woke up with absolutely no desire to workout.

That’s what happens when I’m hungover. So pretty much every Thursday and Saturday occasionally I skip a workout.

And I was very tempted to do what I normally do — the bare minimum for school and then lay in bed and snack all day.

But luckily, during the little bit of time that I did lay in bed I immersed myself in some awesome blogs. And this time of year there’s no shortage of inspiring “get yo lazy ass to the gym” posts and challenges.

The one that I had in mind when I finally dragged my ass out of my oh so comfortable bed was (Kristin) Iowa Girl Eats’ 20 Day Holiday Workout Challenge.

”IowaGirlEats”

She figured out that (at the time she posted it) there are 20 weekdays left until Christmas. And since no one likes to workout on the weekend, she’s challenging everyone to workout every one of those 20 days.

Not being one to give up a challenge easily, I got to the gym. My workout wasn’t stellar. It wasn’t one for the record books. It certainly wasn’t fun. But it was 35 minutes on the elliptical that I couldn’t have gotten if I’d stayed in bed.

AND I even ran walked some errands.

Then, this afternoon I was reading more awesome blogs and came across (Janetha) Meals and Moves’ Dedicated December.

Now I’m not as hardcore as Janetha (I’m not working out on Christmas unless you count the Feats of Strength that Brother and I will undoubtedly battle over), but I’ll take any motivation I can get.

Oh, and the possibility of prizes for working out isn’t too bad either.

This year I have decided to take a more relaxed approach to holiday weight gain. I’m not going to freak out and live off celery between parties (I really don’t like celery). Nor am I going to kill myself in the gym.

I’m going to eat mindfully (a few more fruits and veggies each week) and make sure I don’t skip cardio. So I’m not going over board with these challenges, but I will win everything who couldn’t use a little extra motivation, right?

Especially on the days when it’s so cold that I have to wear pajama pants over my shorts to the gym.

I made a lot of friends that day.

What about you:

What’s your approach to staying healthy during the holidays?

Do you like challenges?

G’night eaters!