WIAW: Magical Mexican Soup

G’day eaters!

I want to start off by saying a big ole Congratulations to Jenn, the host of WIAW, for getting knocked up!

Everyone around me seems to be getting pregnant. It’s awesome and all, but…

I really hope it’s not contagious.


Pre Crossfit:

Half an apple. A lot of pb. A vanilla whey protein shake.

Crossfit:

#PROOF of my 105# floor press PR!

#PROOF of my 105# floor press PR!

PRs are my favorite.

Breakfast:

Scrambled eggs with bell pepper and avocado, and a pair of cuties.

Scrambled eggs with bell pepper and avocado, and a pair of cuties.

This is my new typical breakfast.

Yup, I’m still on the scrambled eggs and cooked veg breakfast.

Side note — these are the smallest, cutest clementines I’ve ever seen. I finally feel like I’m getting “cuties,” not like those small-ish oranges I’ve been calling “cuties” all these years.

Lunch:

A Cobb salad of sorts — bib lettuce (my favorite!), rotisserie chicken, bacon, bell pepper, cheddar, avocado, and balsamic dressing.

A Cobb salad of sorts — bib lettuce (my favorite!), rotisserie chicken, bacon, bell pepper, cheddar, avocado, and balsamic dressing.

Look! I did something “healthy living blogger”-like and made my lunch the night before while I was making breakfast. Let’s ignore the fact that I ate it at home.

Another pair of cuties.

Another pair of cuties.

Having it ready was still mighty handy.

Snack:

Let’s play the game where you don’t scold me for buying a giant bag of Twizzlers because it was $1 and I won’t pretend I only ate one serving.

Dinner:

This meal knocked my socks off! That’s real talk, eaters. Real talk.

A pork tamales and a pair of salsas, because I was indecisive.

A pork tamales and a pair of salsas, because I was indecisive.

First, I made the pork tamales over the weekend as part of my thesis. And while they were good on the day I made them, they were so much better a few days later when the exhaustion of making them had worn off.

Second, this soup was pure magic. I wanted to make some sort of lazy tortilla soup so I mixed a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and then leftover “broth” from the tamale meat (which was the pork cooking water pureed with cooked garlic and cooked onion). I added a little bit of spice and pureed the whole deal again.

The most magical of all Mexican soups, topped with cheddar and tortilla chip crumbles.

The most magical of all Mexican soups, topped with cheddar and tortilla chip crumbles.

And by the grace of the Mexican food gods (who I imagine have heads made out of grilled cheese sandwiches) it ab-so-freaking-lutely rocked!

The end.

Your turn, eaters:

What was the last winging-it meal that turned out magical for you?

What’s your favorite candy?

Later eaters!

Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

Hi eaters.

It’s been a long and slightly painful day, thanks to a visit to the chiropractor.

But Leon bought me pie for dinner dessert and now my dog is lying on top of my leg (yes, just the one leg) so I’m pretty happy.

Now let’s talk Thanksgiving, shall we?!

Dinner was set for 3pm on Saturday, so the cooking started on Thursday. And the bulk of it was done of Friday. But we still had plenty of cooking to do Saturday morning.

I'm in my cooking crevice.

So while Leon and I cooked, Mother set the table.

Light and airy, just like I like it.

As you can see, I kept it all very simple. I fell in love with the idea of butcher paper and crayons, so that’s exactly what we did.

Crayons in reused jars, because they're classier than the crayon box.

And then I went around and wrote everyone’s name above his or her plate. (Fyi, “his or her” is the proper pronoun here, not “their.” #WordNerd)

While everyone was mingling we snacked on a little appetizer plate of cheese and crackers and dips and a bowl of candied almonds that Leon made.

Three cheeses. Three spreads. Two crackers.

Please don’t confuse the three cheeses and three dips as any sort of pairing. The only thing that was even slightly paired was the goat’s milk brie and mixed berry jam.

And finally, after a long morning and one last frantic cooking spree, dinner was served.

The most beautiful bird I've ever seen.

On the menu:

Guinness roasted turkey, sausage and cornbread stuffing, Eureka Paprika split pea soup, mashed potatoes, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, wild mushroom and butternut squash risotto, cranberry chutney (a simpler version than the recipe I posted here), a massaged kale salad with roasted acorn squash, 1/3 whole wheat rolls, gravy, and maple butter.

Yes, that is our unused flat sheet used as a tablecloth.

I think that’s it. I’ll be posting recipes for a lot of those dishes this week, so stay tuned.

I piled my plate high and ate every bite. And surprisingly, I didn’t feel grossly full. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that everything save for the turkey, stuffing, and gravy was vegan.

So.Freaking.Good.

Mother’s boyfriend is vegan and I certainly don’t mind vegan food, obviously. And once Leon agreed to make mashed potatoes with Earth Balance and coconut milk we were set.

Anyway, everything turned out really, surprisingly well. The Brussels sprouts were a touch underdone, but that was the only glitch so I was beyond thrilled.

I was so thrilled by how well everything went that all day I was walking around punching the air and yelling “O’Doyles rule!” (Two points if you can tell me what movie that’s from.)

Everyone retired to the RV for a while (Did I mention that Mother and her boyfriend drove up in his giant RV?) to watch the NC State vs Clemson game. I took a little nap first. And then we had dessert.

Dippables.

I know I was talking in my earlier post about bourbon sweet potato casserole and vegan coconut nutmeg pudding. But when I thought about it, I really didn’t need another complicated thing to the list of things to cook. So I went easy. Really easy.

Thanks to this fondue, I've got a really awesome chocolate tip to post about.

And it doesn’t get easier than chocolate fondue in a crockpot, let me tell you.

The only problem with chocolate fondue is that there are no leftovers, hence the pie for dinner tonight.

Possibly the best part of the whole day, though, was that Mother did ALL the dishes. But then, Charlie’s bow tie is a close second.

Isn't he handsome?

What do you think, eaters:

Could you vegan-ize or mostly vegan-ize your Thanksgiving feast? What wouldn’t you compromise on?

What would be the best thing a house guest could give you/do for you?

G’night eaters!

PS — Seriously, get ready for as many Thanksgiving recipes as I can cram in before Thanksgiving.

Frittata Formula

G’day eaters!

Ya know how last week I said that I thought I was losing my blogging mojo?

Well, this week I realized it’s not that I’m losing my mojo. I just don’t have enough time for my mojo to flow.

I have been endlessly bombarded with homework all week. I have to clean the house in preparation for the family coming on Friday. I should probably wash some linens before Friday, too. I haven’t gone grocery shopping because I’m doing a big shop for Thanksgiving tomorrow and it appears that I’m just not capable of two shopping trips in one week. Oh, and I have Crossfit, work, class, and the chiropractor, too.

Oh, and Charlie ate my camera memory card and USB card reader so I need to find time to go buy new ones.

I think that’s it. Hell, I hope that’s it.

All of that stress is making blogging sound very unappealing, not to mention that I have nothing to blog about. It’s also making dinner my least favorite time of the day because, let’s be honest, in a situation like this take out ALWAYS sounds way better than scrounging for somehting in the fridge.

But in an effort to save money and my gut (because I’m trying to tighten up my eating just a hair to make up for my considerably scaled back Crossfit WODs), I do scrounge. I make meals that aren’t exactly thrilling and certainly aren’t blog recipe-worthy in an effort to scrape every possible penny out of my fridge food and not eat Chinese food every night. (Though a big box of Mongolian beef sounds so damn good right now.)

And on nights like this, frittatas are my best friend.

I’ve probably blogged about frittatas before. (And spelled them every which way before, too, because in this post alone I’ve spelled it three different ways.) Deities know I’ve made them often enough. So I’m not going to call this a recipe. Instead, it’s a formula.

Vegetables pre-saute plus HOMEMADE bacon.

Chop and saute whatever vegetables you have on had.

Whisk together 5 eggs with a bit of whatever seasonings you’re feeling.

We love smoked paprika in this house.

Spray the bottom of a pie pan or oven-safe pan with oil (if you didn’t saute the vegetables in the pan you’ll be using, because, oh yeah, that’s a good idea).

Bake it in a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the middle doesn’t jiggle.

1/3 of the frittata plus cheese and hot sauce.

And really and truly, eaters, that is it. Sometimes I serve it with a grain. Sometimes I just eat a little extra dessert to make sure I got enough carbs. Or sometimes, like tonight, I have a beer or two or three.

My beer on the right: Sweet Water Festival stout.

Because let’s be honest, eaters. I really freaking need a drink right now.

And a Guinness, because I love them so freaking much.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s an easy, formulaic recipe you fall back on a lot?

What’s the first life-thing to fall by the wayside when you’re stressed and busy?

G’night eaters!

PS — Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos. I JUST bought a new memory card and reader so Thursday’s post should be better (because I already took the photos for WIAW).

Honestly, Soup

Hi eaters!

It’s Tuesday, right? I have been so bad about days lately.

Anyway, I didn’t blog last night. I think I’m losing a bit of my blogging mojo because I had time to blog, I just didn’t have anything to blog about or any desire to pull something out of my ass. I was tempted to put up some stupid meme about how I was doing other things or just something funny, but then I realized that producing bad content dilutes the good content I produce.

So I didn’t.

Because I do occasionally write something really good and worth reading or worth making and when I do, I really want you to read it and enjoy it and be happy you spent those five minutes with me.

So, there’s my two cents. And like two actual pennies, it’s not worth much.

Upward and onward to…more honesty.

I once read a blog post somewhere about staging food for photos. Maybe it was an article, not a blog post.

But that’s irrelevant.

The relevant thing is that it said to set two places and make two plates of food because then the photos look like a real, inviting meal and if you want to get people to make your recipes you had to make them seem inviting rather than just you eating them alone in your pajamas.

That got me thinking. My first thought was “eff no” because that meant I not only had to own sets of matching dishes (something I certainly didn’t have then and barely have now), but that I then had to wash those extra dishes.

My second thought, though, was why did I need to fake eating meals with someone?

At the time, I was cooking solely for myself and generally eating by myself while watching TV (because all my friends had meal plans) or eating while hanging out with someone who wasn’t eating.

And now, I eat dinner with Leon. The other two meals of the day are still solo. And I sure as heck am not going to bust out fancy dishes and attempt lighting and make Leon wait while the food gets cold as I attempt to get all the right angles on a piece of chicken.

That all sounds like lunacy to me.

So, as you may have noticed over the past couple of months (if you’ve been reading that long), my photos have become significantly less staged. Sure, some things, like muffins or cookies or other tepid, non-time sensitive creations still get staged, but for the most part my pictures are taken on the big wooden cutting board that sits atop my yellow prep table that used to be a baby changing table. I try to get most of my pictures during the day because the light from the windows in my kitchen are lovely, but even that isn’t something I strive for.

I guess I strive for honesty.

So honestly, my recipes aren’t the greatest things in the world. Honestly, they are not in any war gourmet and I don’t even pretend I know what I’m doing. They probably won’t wow your friends at a dinner party (except maybe these crostinis) nor will they earn you any friends if you don’t already have some.

But honestly, they’re cheap and easy and don’t ever require more than two pans (because I only have two) or any extra funky ingredients or use big, hard to pronounce words.

And I can honestly say that while neither of us will be appearing on Top Chef anytime soon, my recipes do the trick. They feed you. They nourish you. They make me happy and hopefully they make you happy, too.

So, while half the country is cold and buried in water, I think we could all use a little soup. With bacon. And cheese.

Baked Potato Soup

¼ onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6-7 small-medium russet potatoes, skin on and cubed

3 c chicken/vegetable stock

3 T butter, dairy or non dairy

1 ½ c milk, dairy or non dairy

1 egg

salt and pepper, to taste

oil

water

toppings

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Sauté onion until fragrant and then add the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant pour in the stock, butter, and potatoes. Stir everything together, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and leave it to simmer for ~15 minutes.

Add plenty of salt and pepper, stir it all together, and then add the milk. Cover the pot and leave it to simmer again for ~10 minutes.

At this point the potatoes should be plenty soft and starting to break down. Once the soup is creamy stir in the egg. Continue stirring the soup for 5 minutes and then cover again for ~10. Stir some more.

The potatoes should almost all break down to leave a thick, chunky soup. Feel free to puree/smash some of the chunks to make a smoother soup. Add some water if it has gotten too thick.

Prepare your toppings, ladle up a few bowls, and top away.

Leon adding his cheese.

Leon and I went with bacon, cheddar, and sautéed asparagus because we had all those things on hand.

Jalapenos, salsa, sautéed greens, and the like would also make good toppings. But like I said, we used what we had on hand. No need to spend extra money to try to make you think this meal was actually planned or that we actually keep a thoroughly stocked fridge.

Left: His. Right: Hers.

Leon said this soup was “really good for a first time without a recipe,” which is how most of my recipes turn out. And let’s be honest, if I don’t have time to wash an extra dish do you really think I have time to remake and re-remake recipes all day?

Nope. And neither do you, so trust me when I say this is honestly a good soup.

What do you think, eaters:

What’s your favorite kind of soup?

Tell me something honest about yourself.

G’night eaters!

Peanut Butter Puppy!

‘Ello eates!

Yesterday I thought I was on such a roll with blogging and work and Crossfit and socializing since posting my Serenity Mantra. But then I had a glass of wine with dinner, fell asleep as soon as I laid down in bed to watch TV, and woke up sometime after 1am to Leon hitting me in his sleep because he was dreaming about protecting us in a post-Apocalyptic city. Thus, I didn’t blog.

But I have found serenity and am moving beyond it.

Breakfast #1:

I forgot to take a picture, but you know what a carrot dipped in pb and half a liter of water look like.

Crossfit:

We did Angie on Monday, so I was expecting something more towards heavy lifting yesterday. Nope, we got Fran.

My first Fran.

I did the thrusters with 50 lbs (RX for women is 65 lbs), and did a pull up that was half jumping, half kipping.

Time: 9:52.

I’ll take it!

Breakfast #2:

My Really Extra Awesome smoothie with spinach instead of kale and pb instead of avocado.

We were in need of groceries in a painful way, so I slurped this down while finalizing my meal plan. It actually held me off longer than the Original. And of course, I let Charlie, the pb-loving puppy, lick the dirty spoon.

Lunch:

Have I mentioned that I love leftovers? Yup, I do.

Leftover beef pho.

(Side note — We don’t have a microwave, which is something I never thought I would have been able to live without. For those of you that are maybe thinking of ditching your microwave, would you be interested in a how-to post?)

Snack:

String cheese and a pluot.

It’s so nice to have food in the house. It’s especially nice when that food was super cheap thanks to sales and coupons.

(The string cheese was originally $4.99 each, but were on sale 2/$7 and then I had a coupon for $3 off 2, so I got 2/$4, which was less than the price of one. Booyah!)

Dinner:

Despite freezing a bunch of squash and zucchini in various forms, we still have a good bit of fresh left to eat through. So I made a small pot of Bolognese sauce and covered some zucchini noodles in it. I would have taken pictures, but spaghetti and sauce isn’t terribly appealing looking.

Thank goodness Leon likes them.

Your turn, eaters:

Do you use coupons?

How often do you use your microwave?

Later eaters!

Summer Suspended

Hiya eaters!

Today has been a pretty great day! I had an awesome doctor visit, which made up for the bad one a few weeks ago, I got a lot done, and I dead lifting 110 lbs! I could have gone up to my body weight, but my Crossfit trainer didn’t want me to over do it.

Side note — I’ve been vaguely mentioning doctors for a couple of weeks now. Do you care? Are you curious? Or do you want me to shut up and give you food porn? I could go either way so it’s up to you, eaters.

But on the heels of this amazing day, I have some bad news.

You’re really going to hate me for saying this, but I must.

Gulp

One day, in a few months, summer is going to end.

Yes eaters, I know it’s sad, but we all have to face the facts. One day the farmers markets won’t be bursting with bright berries and perfectly firm squash. One day the sun will set earlier. One day giant cold, crispy salads won’t seem as appealing.

And when that day comes, I’ll be ready with dinner.

Suspended Summer Bowl

3 (Cajun seasoned) chicken sausage links, sliced into rounds

1 can diced tomatoes (preferably no salt)

1 T tomato pasta

1 bay leaf

1 t dried/ground thyme

~2 c frozen okra

2 kale leaves, roughly chopped

½ c polenta

2 c liquid*

oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Hot sauce, optional

*Vegetable stock, water, chicken stock, or any other liquid will do. Heck, I bet you could even make this with beer**.

**I totally just thought of the beer thing as I was writing this and now really want to try it. If you do, pleasepleasePLEASE let me know how it went.

These sausages were so good for packaged sausages.

In a pot, bring the liquid to a simmer and slowly pour in the polenta while whisking. Continue whisking for about 5 minutes, and then every minute or so until it has reached its desired consistency.

Add a small drizzle of oil to a pan over medium heat and then put in the sausage slices. Toss the sausage to coat. Continue tossing every minute or so until the slices have begun to brown.

At this point reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and herbs. Stir everything until the tomatoes have come up to temperature, and then add the okra. Stir the okra into the tomato mixture, add the kale, and then let it all cook over medium low heat until the okra has come up to temperature and the sauce is no longer watery.

Remove the bay leaf and serve atop of hearty hill of polenta.

So why do I call this summer suspended?

Dinner is served.

Because the tomatoes are sweet and vibrant and juicy, and the slime of the okra is masked by the creamy polenta.

Because if you’re the type of house-personwho likes to preserve their own food for the winter (or even if you’re not), you could be eating this warm, filling meal full of fresh from the garden summer flavors even on days when the sun sets at 5:30 and summer memories are more fleeting than your tan lines.

Can we once again admire these plates? I'm in love. Thanks again, Leon's parents!

So while eating canned and frozen vegetables felt a bit out of place when I made this last week, I know one day sooner than I’d like it’ll more than have its place at the dinner table.

What do you think, eaters:

What flavors of summer do you wish you could save for later?

What memories of summer do you wish you could save for later?

G’night eaters!

Almost Dairy-Free Manicotti

G’day eaters!

I hope you enjoyed my snapshots from the beach yesterday.

And while it was a much-needed vacation for both Leon and I, it’s definitely good to be back home. And…back to regular blog posting.

So who wants some pasta?

(Talk about a segue, huh?)

Pasta with marinara sauce is a go-to meal for so many people.

Add a side of steamed broccoli and you have a staple of my childhood. If the marinara isn’t too chunky you have a common restaurant kiddie meal. And as long as the sauce is meat (and dairy) free you have a simple vegetarian (or vegan) meal. The options go on.

And as I struggle to find ways to reduce the meat intake at dinner, I might be tempted to just boil some noodles and open a jar.

But really, what kind of a food blogger would I be if I did that?

No, I decided to pull out “the big guns,” and in this house “the big guns” means hidden tofu.

Not what you were expecting, huh?

But since Leon isn’t a huge fan of tofu and since I’m not a huge fan of solely tofu parading as something else, I relied on a little nutritional yeast and a few spoonfuls of cheese to hide the heavy artillery this pasta dish is packing.

And believe it or not, it worked!

But don’t just take my word for it…

Almost Dairy-Free Manicotti

Adapted from this recipe, which is adapted from these two.

1 block extra firm tofu, pressed

~1/4 c soft cheese*

3 T nutritional yeast

~2 T fresh rosemary

~1/4 c fresh parsley

2 T olive oil

1 handful fresh spinach/~1/2 c frozen spinach, chopped**

1 clove garlic

1 package manicotti shells***

1 jar marinara sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parmigianino cheese for garnish, optional

*I used 3 Laughing Cow cheese wedges, but goat cheese, ricotta, or something of the sort would work well, too.

**I REALLY recommend using fresh spinach.

***I didn’t end up using the whole package because I ran out of filling and space in my pan. Depending on how big your shells are (there isn’t a standard size) and how much you fill them, you may or may not use them all. Boil them all to be safe, because you can always use the leftovers for something else.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the shells. Give them a stir and then loosely cover for the package-designated cooking time. Drain the water and place the shells in a single layer on a (paper) towel to dry and cool.

Add to a food processor everything else except marinara sauce. Blend until everything is evenly distributed and there are no noticeable chunks of whole tofu. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or a quart-sized plastic bag.

Pour enough marinara sauce in the pan to just cover the bottom. If you’re using a plastic bag for the filling, snip off a corner. Grab a shell, insert the tip of the filling bag, and squeeze as you slowly pull the bag out. Turn the shell around and squeeze some filling into the other side. Place the shell in the pan and repeat with each shell, until you run out of filling.

Pour the rest of the marinara sauce evenly over the shells and bake at 350F for roughly 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the shells have been heated all the way through.

Garnish with some Parmigianino and dig in.

I like this recipe so much more than the original. That could be entirely because I hand mixed the tofu in the original instead of using a food processor.

Or it could be because the little bit of cheese gives this a much more authentic flavor, and makes it feel just that much more indulgent and comforting.

Or it could be because I had so much more fun stuffing shells than layering lasagna.

Whatever the reason, this recipe was a winner. (The original is a winner, too, if you really don’t want dairy.)

What do you think, eaters:

What are your culinary “big guns”?

Do you prefer manicotti, shells, or lasagna?

G’night eaters!

Compromising Your Diet

Hi eaters!

Let’s get down to real talk, shall we?

Alright.

Real talk topic of the day: Compromising your diet.

Now when I say “diet” I do now and always will mean your dietary choices. I don’t think I’ll ever talk about weight loss plans or the Zone or whatever else people follow to lose “those last ten pounds.”

No, today I want to talk about your dietary choices and when and why you choose to compromise them.

Ya see eaters, I may not be vegan or vegetarian anymore, but I still like to eat that way most of the time. Of course I enjoy a nice block of cheese or bacon-y treat, but I don’t like that to be my usual fare.

No, I’d be more than happy eating a vegetarian diet that’s dotted with meat, not the other way around.

Leon, on the other hand, loves meat.

I think that growing up his family, like most families in America, built their meals around a meaty center. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Meat is (usually) delicious and it’s easy to think of vegetables and the like as side dishes.

I mean, that seems to be how American cuisine works.

The problem, though, comes now that Leon and I are living together and planning our meals together.

I want the equivalent of Meatless Monday through Thursday and he doesn’t want a dinner of side dishes, as he calls a lot of vegetarian meals. Add on to that that I’ve gone from cooking 2-3 times a week and then eating lots of leftovers to cooking every night (and not having a microwave for easy leftover eating), and you can see how I’m a bit thrown for a loop here.

I’ve been trying my damndest to think of great, hearty, healthy vegetarian fare that will please my need for cheap meat-free meals and Leon’s need for a centered meal.

So, what else do I turn to other than…beans.

Yup, I love beans. Beans are amazing. Beans are versatile. Beans don’t make you fart (when cooked properly), despite what that 10 year old down the block says.

And did I mention that they’re cheap?

Yup, I love beans.

And with a little help from my food processor, I was able to turn this big pot of beans into a dinner that satisfied both of us in more ways then one.

This was 1 1/2 c dried chickpeas.

Baked Falafel

2.5 c chickpeas (roughly 1 1/3 cans)

½ lemon, juiced

¼ c olive oil, plus some

½ t tumeric

1 ½ t cumin

1 t graham masala

1 clove garlic

1 c parsley

salt and pepper, to taste

Put the chickpeas into a food processor and whirl until they form a chunky paste, scraping the sides as necessary.

Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until evenly combined.

Form the dough into ~1/4 c patties and place on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle a little bit of oil on the top of each patty, spread it around with your fingers (or a pastry brush, if you’re fancy), and place in the oven.

Bake the patties at 375 F for 25 minutes, flip, and then bake for another 5.

Let the patties cool slightly before serving.

Speaking of serving…

I kept it simple and whipped up a quick, half-assed sauce by mixing ~1/3 c plain yogurt and ~1/4 c chopped cucumber.

A dollop of that and a falafel patty wrapped in a piece of red leaf lettuce and we were ready to go.

For pennies on the dollar (whatever that means…no really, can someone explain it to me), I had a tasty, healthy, satiating center for a vegetarian meal.

I added a side of some quick, half-assed bhindi masala (which I’ll remake with at least ¾ assedness and post the recipe for) and this was a more than legit meal.

And maybe the best part was that this makes about three servings (a serving being three single patty wraps), so I had a hearty dose of vegetables waiting for me for lunch the next day.

Always strive for leftovers.

Now if only I had a microwave to reheat the falafel with.

Your turn, eaters:

When and why do you compromise your ideal diet?

What is your ideal diet? This means what, when, and how much you eat.

G’night eaters!

Juicing for Cheaper

Hiya eaters!

Today’s been a long day and my arms are dead after a pretty damn intense Crossfit session this morning.

But you don’t come here to hear me bitch. So let’s talk about something sunny and happy.

Does juice for cheap fit the bill?

So here’s what’s up, eaters: since unearthing my…ehemvintage juicer a month or so ago I’ve made a big glass of fresh juicer a more than weekly part of my life. I love the way it tastes, the way it makes me feel, and that I can then make cool things out of the pulp.

Let's call her retro.

But I don’t love how dang expensive it is!

For my standard 12 oz glass of juice, I could go through roughly 1apple/pear, 2-3 carrots, and ½ a beet. That may not seem like a lot, but when you use all or mostly organic like I do (because if I wanted to juice chemicals I’d cut out the middleman and drink some Round Up), it adds up quickly.

Not wanting to lose my shirt to my burgeoning juice addiction, I quickly developed a plan of attack.

Be warned: This does not necessarily produce the most delicious juices. This is also not a plan for someone who doesn’t juice 2-3 times a week. This is for the moderately die-hard juicers, or those looking to become that.

First, I ALWAYS have a bag of organic carrots (I loveloveLOVE Grimmway Farms carrots and only buy theirs) and either pears or apples. I really like the flavor of both of those juices, and generally their flavor is strong enough to save any less than palatable juice concoction.

Then, and here’s where the variation and potential for ewww comes in, I have my scrap bag.

What’s a scrap bag, you ask?

Well, to put it nicely, it’s a bag (or other sealable container) where I keep all the bits of produce that one would normally compost or throw away.

Example: the thick stems of kale, the core of an apple, the seedy pith of a bell pepper, the ends of zucchini or squash or green beans that you chop off, the tasteless end of a piece of lettuce that I don’t like in my salad.

You get the idea, right?

Well, as I go about my eating and cooking and whatnot, I take all of these odds and ends (pun!) and put them in my scrap bag.

For storage, I tie off the top of the bag and keep it in my vegetable crisper.

Then every couple of days — I try not to keep scraps for longer than four days, for mold/wilting reasons — I take out my scrap bag and dump it in my juicer.

Depending on what was in the bag — if I had more lettuce stems and bell pepper cores or more apple cores and random berries — I’ll usually add half to a whole apple and then a carrot or two.

As you can see, there’s a pretty big chance of getting a less than delicious juice. To lessen that chance I keep onions and hot peppers out of my scrap bag, cut off the rinds of citrus, and don’t juice anything that looks too old to eat, but there’s still a risk involved.

But thanks to my (oh so awesome, never sketchy Grimmway Farms) carrots and apples, I’ve never actually had a bad juice.

And that’s the trick — find the one or two juices that you always enjoy, that mix well with other flavors, and that last a while in your fridge, and add a bit of those fruits/vegetables to everything.

Mmmmmhealth.

Juicing still isn’t cheap, but it’s cheaper. And cheaper isn’t half bad when you think of all the benefits.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a scrap bag with a few summer squash ends and the core of a pineapple calling my name.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you have any tips for making healthy choices cheaper?

What is your go-to juicing fruit/veg?

G’night eaters!

Blueberry Blueberry Beer Bread

Hi eaters!!!!!

Lots of exclamation points today because I’m just plain happy!

The sun is shining. I got some new clothes from Dick’s. CharlieBaby (which is really what I call him, not just something cute for the blog) was perfectly well-behaved when I left him alone today. And tomorrow’s Friday (even though today is like Friday in summer school world)!

What’s not to be happy about?!

Quick: tell me something that you’re happy about right this very instant!

If you’re not happy about anything, let me give you something to be happy about.

Would it make you happy if I told you how to use up those gross flavored beers in your fridge?

Alrighty then.

So here’s the deal, eaters — Leon and I are variety pack people when it comes to beer. We both really enjoy beer. And while we each have our favorites (Sweet Water 420 IPA for me, and Black Hawk Stout for him), we like to mix to up. Usually, mixing it up comes in the form of a 12-pack variety box.

The only problem is that with summer in full swing, all of our beloved variety boxes are boasting…duh duh duuuh…fruity beers.

I hate fruity beers! They never taste like the fruit they claim to have. They never taste good. They’re just…ick.

Now if you like fruit beers, please come over and drink all mine. But until you do, I’ll just turn them into bread.

Blueberry Blueberry Beer Bread

Adapted from this recipe.

2 c whole wheat (pastry) flour

1 c AP flour

¼ c sugar

1 t salt

1 T baking powder

1 T chia seeds

1 bottle (Saranac) blueberry beer

~1/2 pint of blueberries

1 T lemon zest (or roughly ½ lemon, zested)

3 ½ T melted butter, divided

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients. In another bowl mix the berries, beer, lemon zest, and 2 T butter. Mix the wet into the dry.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bang the pan on the counter a few times to even it out and then pour the remaining melted butter over the top as evenly as possible.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for ~40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I’d never had beer bread (to my knowledge) before this loaf. And while this loaf is damn tasty, I don’t think I’ll be making any bread with my favorite beers.

Isn't she beautiful?

Ya see eaters, it doesn’t exactly taste like beer (which might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about beer). The beer gives this bread a lovely little fermented taste, almost like a mix between sourdough and a very light beer.

And what do you think of my pink dining room chairs?

It has a texture very similar to banana bread, or like a very dense blueberry muffin.

It’s not overly sweet, so while it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, it definitely qualifies as a breakfast food. Or a brunch food. Or a hangover brunch-that-really-happens-at-2pm food.

So in the end, this bread did exactly what it was supposed to do — gave me a pretty great way to use up the variety pack beers that I probably won’t drink on my own and gave me an excuse to buy (overpriced organic) blueberries.

What more can you ask for from a quick bread?

What do you think, eaters:

Do you like fruity beers?

What’s your summer drink of choice?

G’night eaters!

PS — If you swap the butter for Earth Balance or something of the sort, you’ve got a nice vegan bread.