WIAW: Almost Sick

‘Ello eaters!

Yesterday was a doozy.

There’s usually about one day during the end of each semester when I start feeling sick and my body starts subconsciously pushing me towards curling up in bed in the fetal position, but I can’t so I keep plodding along all the while thinking about my bed and rest and relaxation.

Isn’t the life of a college student so wild and exciting?!

Anyway, yesterday was that day. So I pulled out all the stops to keep myself moving, as happy as possible, and as healthy as possible.


Breakfast #1:

Half an apple with pb.

Oh look, it’s an apple with pb. How surprising!

Crossfit:

I wasn’t feeling too sick yesterday morning, so I got up for the 6:30am session. I figured the endorphins would be good for me. And I always feel really productive after an early morning Crossfit session.

This one was a bit of a doozy. What you don’t see is that the warm up was running a mile (gah!) plus 3 rounds of 10 push ups and 10 toes-to-bar, and then the skill work was 10 rounds of 10 strict overhead presses.

So much pressing in this WOD.

So by the time we got to the WOD, I was a little gassed.

Oh well, I still got a new push press max of 65lbs!

Homework:

I’m doing a project for my Photoshop class that requires me to bake a pie. Not bad, right?

Well it meant that I ran home, got the kitchen photography-quality clean, and started baking by 8am so I wouldn’t lose the good light.

Breakfast #2:

Eggs poached in marinara sauce and topped with cheddar cheese.

While the pie dough was chilling I ate breakfast. I crave weird foods when I’m sick. Proof: I’m eating pie with cream, bacon, and cheddar cheese for breakfast this morning.

So while I really wanted pizza for breakfast, I settled for something a little healthies.

Medicine:

At this point I was still on the verge of being sick, so I thought I could keep it at bay with some home remedies I read on Brittany’s blog a while back. I drank a few cups of “tea” — 1 ½ T apple cider vinegar, ½ T honey, and hot water — and sucked on a few cloves of garlic.

Half a garlic clove for each cheek.

Oh, and I slammed vitamin C pills by the handful.

All of this stuff was helping, but something popped up and I ended up having to dash out and abandon my efforts.

Lunch:

Once I’d dashed back in, I was starving and had very little time before class. So I ate the slice of pie that I photographed.

A slice of apple cranberry galette.

Because if you see photos of food where one serving is plated, just assume that I ate that serving 5 minutes after taking the picture.

The last couple of bites of an andouille sausage.

But pie doesn’t count as lunch, so I cooked up a sausage.

Dinner:

Pasta carbonara with Brussels sprouts.

This was my attempt at a quickt, somewhat nutritious dinner.

And as you can see, my meals weren’t exactly the most Zone-friendly in the world. I was good up until breakfast #2. And lunch probably wasn’t far off considering there was only 1 c flour and 1 T sugar in the whole pie, and that sausage was huge.

But I’m not too broken up about it. I went to Crossfit and reaaaaally pushed myself. I drank 2.5L of water, which is 0.5L over my goal. And I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t a whole, real food.

So I’ll take it and try to do better today.

Your turn, eaters:

For all you food bloggers, do you eat the food you use as a model as soon as your done or does it go back into the dish for later?

Got any cold remedies you want to pass on?

Later eaters!

Purple Pasta With Sausage

Hi eaters!

I know I told you yesterday that I would tell you all about my chiropractor appointment tonight, but it didn’t go as planned. I really don’t want to talk about it much until I know more tomorrow (because I might cry like a big ole baby), but I definitely wasn’t dancing out of the office and right into Crossfit like I had planned.

But upward and onward, at least for tonight.

I finally completed a recipe that I’ve been thinking about for years on Friday night.

Ya see eaters, a couple of years ago I remember my stepmom making a pasta dish that was shells with wilted radicchio, sausage, and butter. I thought it was a brilliant use of radicchio and really enjoyed it overall.

But at the same time, I knew I could improve upon it somehow.

Fast forward at least two years, when Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats posted her recipe for Sausage, Grape, and Pasta Skillet.

Reading that recipe was a total lightening bolt for me — shells, sausage, radicchio, grapes, onions, cheese.

Pre-oven.

Adding the grapes totally sealed it. But not just any grapes would do.

This called for roasted grapes.

Post-oven. Try not to roast yours quite as long as mine.

Now before you freak out or, worse, think of just leaving the roasted grapes out, here me out — the idea of roasted grapes used to skeeve me out, too. But when you really think about it, they are a lot like warm, plump raisins.

Considerably less skeevey now, right?

Right.

Purple Pasta with Sausage

I was going to call this Mediterranean Pasta because all these ingredients feel vaguely Mediterranean to me, but I’ve bastardized enough cultures.

2 c red grapes, halved

2 T oil

½ t dried thyme

2 mild Italian sausages, sliced

1/3 red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 c (whole wheat) pasta shells with cooking water

½ c chicken broth

2/3 c radicchio, chopped

2/3 c grated parmesan cheese

2 T balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper, to taste

Toss the grape halves in the oil, thyme, salt and pepper before spreading evenly on a baking sheet and baking in a 425F oven for 20 minutes.

Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

While the grapes are cooking, heat a pan to medium heat. Add the sliced sausages and cook, tossing occasionally until browned. Next add the onion and garlic. You may need to add a bit of oil to the pan, depending on how fatty the sausages were.

(At about this point the pasta water should be boiling, so add your shells and cook according to the package directions, though I suggest stopping just a hair short of al dente since it will cook a bit more in the pan with everything later.)

When everything is fragrant, add the radicchio, cheese, vinegar, and chicken broth. Stir everything together and taste for salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally.

Once the grapes are done add them to the pan and cook for ~5 minutes, until the grapes have had a chance to plump up a bit and the sauce has reduced down to more on the saucy side than the broth side of consistency. Add you cooked and drained pasta to the pan, give it a few good stirs over a couple of minutes, and then serve.

Probably with more cheese and pepper.

This recipe may have been years in the making, but it was, without a doubt, worth it.

The grapes and vinegar give everything an almost wine-y flavor, while the sausage stands out herby and savory, and the bitter radicchio gives it all a nice base to stand on.


Now do you see why this feels Mediterranean to me?

Well Mediterranean or not, I really did love this dish. So much so that I ate it for breakfast the next day.

And that’s as much of a ringing endorsement as you’ll get from me.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you have any big ideas quietly brewing in your head?

How do you feel about roasted grapes?

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!

Anti-Label Mac N’Cheese

Hello eaters!

Aside from a last minute doctor visit (because my leg stitches/wound is healing weird), this weekend has been lovely.

And I have tomorrow off, so my weekend is still going.

What more could you ask for from a weekend, really?

Nothing. Well, maybe except some of these leftovers.

Mac n'cheese.

Yup, I’m at it again — making unseasonal recipes.

And not only is this unseasonal, it’s not vegan, paleo, Zone-friendly, gluten-free, low fat, soy-free, low carb, or raw.

There has been so freaking much talk around the blogosphere lately about Paleo this and low carb that. Every recipe (and person!) seems to need to have a half dozen labels attached. And then if — deities forbid — they change something in some way they have to go all out and explain why suddenly they’re eating meat or eating less bread.

And then there’s the “loyalty” that people have for other people that share their labels and how quickly that loyalty fades when those labels change.

It’s tiring — keeping up with it all, figuring out your labels. And frankly, I’m getting beyond sick of it.

This may seem like a weighty topic to breach with a mac n’cheese recipe, but really, I think it’s very fitting. Because this recipe is so label-free — so almost anti-label, if you will — that I bet a bunch of people aren’t going to read this post after seeing the above picture.

But for those people that are brave enough to venture outside their labels and keep reading despite the carb-tastic, dairy-filled, visible protein source-free picture above, they will be rewarded.

With mac n’cheese.

Almost Dairy-Free, Anti-Paleo Mac N’Cheese

4 c (~1/2 lbs) whole wheat mini pasta shells, spirals, or elbows (plus water)

8 oz silken tofu

8 oz SHARP cheddar cheese*

¼ c nutritional yeast

2 cloves garlic

~1/2 T whole peppercorns

½ leek, chopped**

1 ½ c broccoli, chopped**

~2 T almond meal/bread crumbs***

salt, to taste

oil

*This is the only cheese you’re adding, so you don’t want to go weak on the flavor. Sharp is the only way to go.

**You can really use any green vegetable you want. I love leeks and broccoli, so that’s what I went with, but choose as you wish. Anything covered in cheese is good, right?

***This is for sprinkling on top if you want to bake it for a few minutes. You can leave this off if you don’t intend to bake it.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and then add the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, add the tofu, cheese, nutritional yeast, garlic, and peppercorns to a food processor. Pulse until everything is well combined and there are no visible large chunks of garlic or pepper. Taste and add salt, if needed.

A few minutes before the pasta is al dente add the broccoli directly to the pot. Once the pasta is done, drain it off in a colander.

Leave the pasta and broccoli in the colander for a few minutes while you drizzle a little oil in the bottom of the pasta pot. Once the oil is warm add the leeks and sauté for just a couple of minutes. Once the leeks are soft add the pasta and broccoli back into the pot.

Dump the cheese sauce into the pot and stir until everything is coated in delicious, creamy, cheesy, goodness. If you’re going to bake the mac, scoop it into a pan, sprinkle with almond meal/bread crumbs, and bake it in a 350F oven for 5-15 minutes, depending on how baked you like things.

Leftovers!

If you’re not going to bake the mac, dig in.

I sure as heck did.

And I enjoyed every label-less bite. Don’t even pretend you wouldn’t.

Your turn, eaters:

What labels do you use to define yourself?

Do you like baked or non-baked mac n’cheese?

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!

WIAW: Snacks and Side Notes

Hi eaters!

I’m short on small talk tonight. I had a doctor’s appointment today that left lots to be desired.

I might talk more about that tomorrow.

I probably will, actually. So I’ll spare you the details tonight.

Moving right along…

I think it’s so brilliant that the theme for WIAW this month is snacking. I’m a snacker from way back, ya know, before snacking was a legitimate type of diet. So fitting into the theme this month is going to be a heck of a lot easier than when the theme was “eat more vegetables” or other crazy things.

Breakfast:

Funny story about this breakfast is that it was supposed to be peaches and pb on toast with nutmeg.

Toasted Ezekiel bread with Dubliner cheddar and pb with cinnamon, a peach, a hard-boiled egg, and coffee.

But then the peach would not come off the pit.

And then I read Kath’s post featuring some really tasty looking hard boiled eggs.

And then I wanted cheese.

Lunch:

A special kind of manacatti, recipe to come.

Not only are leftovers more difficult without a microwave, but they now often result in burning my fingers.

This pasta was worth it, though.

Snack:

Pineapple, a hard-boiled egg, Triscuits, and Laughing Cow.

I needed something to refuel me after running around applying for jobs (someone please hire me!) and to fuel me through some puppy playtime and class. I wanted straight sugar, but I read somewhere that craving sugar means you need protein because you’re lacking in energy (or something like that). So a snack plate was born.

Side note — Laughing Cow cheese is gross. I’ve now had it twice and didn’t like it either time. I bought a package for a recipe, but now I’m left with 4 slices of gross fake cream cheese. What should I do?!?!

Dinner:

Grilled chicken, "German" potato salad, and steamed string beans.

This may not look like much, but it was extraordinary! Leon has this fantastic marinade that’s great on just about everything and keeps grilled chicken supah moist.

Another side note — “moist” is a gross word.

Other things:

I drank 2 liters of water. And went out for a couple of beers with m’friends. And throughout the day I ate this Luna bar.

S'mmmmmmores.

Final side note — I have a weird, probably excessive love for bars, especially Cliff-brand bars (Luna, Cliff bars, Halo, etc). I often prefer them to actual baked goods and there was once a time in my life where I was eating at least three a day. Now I can usually restrict myself to one a day, but I so rarely buy them to avoid temptation.

And that’s it.

As you can see, yesterday was a snackier than usual day, but I think it was a pretty well balanced snack day, which are the best days in my opinion.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you like little snacks, like an apple or a couple of crackers, or big, almost meal-like snacks?

What food do you have a weird, probably excessive love for?

G’night eaters!

Anchovy-Enough Pasta

G’day eaters!

Ya know how the other day I posted about a milestone I overcame when I cooked fish for the first time?

Well, here’s another fishy milestone for you — I cooked with anchovies!

Well, sort of.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I found this recipe for purple sprouting broccoli and chilli and anchovy pasta while searching easily de-gluten-able recipes for work. I didn’t think much of it, but then…I got curious.

I love a good cruciferous vegetable.

I love spicy things.

I love veg-packed pasta.

I love that I can get free gluten-free pasta from my office.

The only thing I didn’t love about this recipe was the anchovies. But really, it’s been years since I wrinkled my nose at the smell of them on my grandpa’s pizza (BTW — it’s his 80th birthday today!) and I’ve since become such a little pesca-lover that anchovies couldn’t be that scary, right?

Wrong!

The second I got to the grocery store and saw the packs of little slimy fish I got scared. I thought I could handle the ones in the tin, since I didn’t actually have to look at them in my cabinet for days (and they were cheaper), but that didn’t prove to be the case.

So, I kind of wimped out and just bought the paste. BUT, it’s still ground up little slimy fish, so I don’t consider it a total wimp out.

Maybe? Eh? Just give it to me, please.

And in exchange, I’ll give you…

Anchovy-Enough Pasta

~2 c Brussels sprouts, chopped

1/3 c oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 chilies, chopped and de-seeded

½ onion, diced

~2 c (gluten free) pasta spirals

3 T anchovy paste

salt and pepper, to taste

water for pasta

Mix the Brussels sprouts, ~1 T oil, and salt and pepper in a bowl and then dump into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 200C/400F for 15-20 minutes, until at desired roasted-ness.

Put the pasta water on to boil.

In a pan heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and chilies and stir to coat. Continue stirring occasionally until the chilies and garlic are fragrant, lowering the heat if necessary to avoid burning. Add in the onion, stir to coat, and sauté until soft.

At this point, the pasta water should be boiling so add in the pasta, stir, and leave to cook.

After a few minutes, taste the pasta to check doneness (pay extra close attention if you’re using GF pasta). If the spirals aren’t quite done, continue cooking for a couple more minutes.

Spoon a few spoonfuls (equally about ¼ c) into the pan with the garlic, chilies, and onion. Give everything a good stir and then add the anchovy paste. Stir until it is evenly incorporated.

At this point, the pasta should definitely be done, so drain off the water. Return the pasta to the pot with the roasted Brussels and chili mixture. Give everything a good stir and add salt and pepper, as necessary.

To me, this is the kind of dish that you can eat whenever.

It’s relatively quick and easy. It’s not too heavy or comfort food-y, so you don’t need to wait for a rainy day or a special occasion.

The chilies give it enough kick, and the anchovy paste gives it enough salty bite, that this isn’t overwhelmingly carby.

Oh, and the gluten free pasta was pretty great. It had stayed more al dente and had more flavor then even whole wheat pasta.

So whether you’re gluten-free or gluten-heavy, whether you’re a fish lover, a fish lover in training, or terrified of anchovies, whether you’re craving a big bowl or pasta or a light lunch, this dish covers all the bases.

Maybe anchovies aren’t so scary afterall.

What do you think, eaters:

What’s a food you wish you could overcome your fear of?

Is pasta an everyday meal or strictly comfort food for you?

G’night eaters!

WIAW: Rushin’ Like a Russian

‘Ello most lovely eaters!

While some people may have chocolate and champagne hangovers from yesterday, I am still happily love drunk.

Because I love love, I love being in love.

Oh and I love vegetables, though you still can’t totally tell from what I ate yesterday.

Breakfast:

Seedy WFs bread, kale sauteed with Bragg's amino acids, two fried eggs, and plenty of hot sauce.

Does this count as variety? Please say yes, because this is about as much variety as I’m capable of.

And on the side I had a cup of coffee x2 (this whole me owning a coffee maker is dangerous) and vitamins x2.

I finally found soymilk that doesn't get funky in coffee. It's pretty rawesome.

M’mate Cate has been sick for a couple of weeks now. I’m starting to feel a little under the weather. At home in the states I have a whole arsenal of vitamins to take when I start feeling a little cruddy (all thanks to VG), but for some reason when packing my suitcases I decided that another pair of Toms was more important than vitamins. So I’m slamming vitamin C with rose hips like it’s cool.

FYI — Vitamins aren’t really cool, but sometimes they’re helpful.

Veg servings: 1

Lunch:

I didn’t know I was living in Russia, but it seems I am because I’m always rushin’.

Get it? Get it? Yeah, Cate and I aren’t funny.

What I’m trying to say is that I was too rushed to take a picture of my vegetable soup, seedy bread from WFs, and an apple.

Veg servings: 2

Snack:

PB, seedy WFs bread, and a spoon.

Speed walking to class, running up to the fourth floor, and speed walking home worked up an appetite. Or maybe my lunch was just lacking satiating fats.

Either way, this was necessary.

Dinner:

Cate and I decided to get all fancy and go out for dinner. We ended up in a little Italian restaurant in Camden. And when in RomeCamden drink lots of wine, right?

There's only two sizes of wine here — small and large.

Knowing that pasta was on the agenda, I decided to start my meal off on the right foot.

A simple salad with greens, fennel, bell pepper, cucumbers, and artichokes.

And then followed it up with a giant plate of pasta.

This wasn’t the best parpadelle I’ve ever had (it wasn’t made that day), but the sauce-y, vegetable-y parts were so freaking delicious that it totally made up for day-old pasta.

Parppadelle with broccoli, tomatoes, anchovies, and buttery bread crumbs.

And it just so happens that the restaurant was pretty well known in the neighborhood for having extraordinary gelato, so of course Cate and I had to be all romantic and split a couple of scoops.

Pistachio and tiramisu gelato.

Veg servings: 2 ½

The day ended with some really wonderful Skype time with my everyday Valentine, manly friend, and a couple of bites of cheese. And it couldn’t have been better.

Oh, and my veg servings for the day came out to about 5 1/2, which isn’t half bad for me.

Your turn:

When going out for Italian do you order pasta or something meaty?

What are your go-to gelato/ice cream/fro yo/sorbet flavors?

Later eaters!

Brussels Sprouts Pasta Carbonara

‘Ello eaters!

Today has been another lovely day in my neck of the woods. How about for you?

Are you getting a little thirsty? Or just keeping your head down until tomorrow at 5?

I really hope you’re not just waiting for the weekend. That just seems like such a ho hum way to go through life.

And speaking of ho hum lives, let’s talk dinner.

I always hear talk of people lamenting having to make dinner at night. Or people forgetting to eat or just eating cheese. Or people who just eat take out night after night after night.

And believe me, I understand. There have been more than a few nights where I’ve eaten cheese or an apple and pb or crackers. And now that I’m cooking for other people — meaning I can’t cook whenever or whatever I want — making dinner is getting to be more of a hassle.

But with how much I’ve been eating out lately (more on that next week), I desperately need to eat flatcooked meals.

And really, when going to the market is this lovely (and I don’t ever have class past 4pm), I have no excuse to not cook.

So the other night I rolled up my sleeves and started making magic in the kitchen.

And by magic I mean…

Brussels Sprout Pasta Carbonara

~2/3 lbs bacon

~2 ½ c (whole wheat) pasta

salted pasta water

1 bunch Brussels sprouts, shredded

3 egg yolks

2/3 c parmesan cheese

a lot of fresh cracked pepper

Slice the bacon into little bits before adding it to a medium-hot pan. Cook the bacon until it’s crisp, stirring occasionally to cook evenly.

While the bacon is cooking, bring the pasta water to a boil and add a heavy sprinkle of salt.

Once the bacon is done remove it from the pan, saving a couple of tablespoons of the grease in the pan, and set it aside. By this point your pasta water should be boiling so toss in your pasta.

Lower the heat of the pan to medium and drop in the shredded Brussels sprouts. Toss everything to coat and stir occasionally as the sprouts cook.

Does it get any better than brussels sprouts cooked in bacon grease? I think not.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cheese, and as many cracks of pepper as your little hands can handle. T

his will yield a thick sauce. It’s not necessary, but highly recommended, that you add in about a ladle worth (~1/3 c) of pasta water. Whisk this together, along with the bacon.

Once the pasta is done, drain off the water and return it to the hot pot. Add in the soft sprouts and the sauce. Toss everything until it is all evenly coated. And then serve, preferably with another couple of cracks of pepper on top.

Now, it did take me a minute or two to whip up this dinner, but I blame that entirely on the painfully dull knife (I say painfully because it’s more a blunt object than a razor sharp precision instrument) and the fact that I had to do some amateur butchering on my very fresh, very au natural bacon.

Were it not for those two hang-ups, though, this dinner would have taken barely longer than it takes to cook pasta.

Oh, and it’s beyond delicious. Even my vegetable-averse ‘mates liked it.

Your turn:

How often do you cook dinner?

Do you have a weeknight cooking time limit? Like 30-minute meals or as long as it takes to cook a pizza.

G’night eaters!

PS- I think I should stop saying “g’night” because while it is night for me, it’s probably the middle of the afternoon for you guys.

Gentle Nutrition: Apple n’ Cheese

‘Ello eaters!

It’s been another long day. Another very long day. My brain is fried. But I’m happy. Oh so happy.

That reminds me eaters, have I told you why I’ve been so blissful this week?

A couple of reasons: 1) My PT is progressing really well. There haven’t been stellar improvements or anything, but it feels good to be doing something about it. I’ll be doing another post about it soon once we have decided if the new thing we’re trying works. 2) Manly friend is coming back on Saturday. I’ll get to spend some quality time with m’dude before helping him move in with Will on Monday.

Yeah, both of those things make me smile.

Oh, and the second apple-tastic recipe makes me smile. A lot.

Strange bedfellows.

Apple Mac n’ Cheese

3 c pasta and cooking water

2 T butter/Earth Balance

¼ c nutritional yeast

1 c milk-substance

1/3 lbs cheddar cheese, made into small pieces

2 apples

1 red bell pepper

cayenne, to taste

Set the pasta water on to boil.

Shells catch the most sauce.

Once it’s boiling add the shells. Cook them to al dente and then drain. The cooked shells can sit around as long as you need them to while you prepare everything else.

While that is all happening dice both the apples and pepper. There’s no need to peel the apples, the skin will give this dish extra texture and nutrients. Both are important.

Itty bitty pieces of produce.

Now heat a sauce pan on medium-low heat and add the butter-substance. Once that’s melted add in the nutritional yeast. You want to slowly cook these two together until it gets a little brown.

Faux-roux

This is kind of like a bastardized roux.

No, French/New Orleans eaters, I’m not actually calling this a roux. I wouldn’t do that to your cuisine.

Once the faux-roux is made, add the milk-substance and turn the heat up to medium. Toss in the cheese.

This is what happens when you use a dull knife.

Stir continuously until the cheese is melted. Then taste to figure out how much more nutritional yeast and cayenne you should add.

Note — dairy is a natural heat neutralizer, so because of the dairy here you can really ratchet up the cayenne so you can reap the benefits without setting your mouth on fire.

Stir regularly until the sauce thickens up just slightly.

At this point, mix the apples, peppers and shells in a large casserole dish. Make sure everything is somewhat evenly distributed. And now…pour on the cheese.

Oh yes!

The beautiful, golden cheese.

Right there!

It may not seem like a lot of cheese sauce. Because really, it’s not a lot. But go ahead and bake it in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes anyway.

This is just to warm everything through and thicken up the cheese a bit more.

A generous scoop will reveal that despite your doubts everything is evenly kissed by the oh so delicious cheese.

This is nothing like the mac n’ cheese you get from a box. This is nothing like the Southern mac n’ cheese Stepmother’s family makes.

This is a little bit lighter mac n’ cheese with a little bit of a new flare.

The apples and peppers don’t add much flavor, but they do add a very welcome bite of freshness with just the slightest little hint of sweetness when you least except it.

And that, eaters, should be music to the ears of everyone who’s looking to up their nutrition value in a gentle way.

Oh and by the way, eaters, the ample amount of nutritional yeast ups the nutritional value, too.

Yeah, I am looking out for you. I do it because I care. And because I like to eat healthy, too.

G’night eaters!