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Super Fast Pasta, Food (B)log, and Progress

18 Jun

Hello, all. Top o’the early, early  morning to you. I’m a little extra peppy at this rather late hour due to a late night P90X session that didn’t end until 11! At least I got it in, and didn’t flake like I did last night when I decided to take a 3.5-hour nap after work. Today’s 2-hour nap was much more accommodating to my g-s-d (getting sh*t done) mantra of late. What can I say, I need my sleep. So let’s get to it. Onward and upward.

Easy Peasy Work-Week Pasta

Ingredients:

2 small cans of diced tomatoes or one large can (you could also use two cartons of grape tomatoes, halved)

1/4 red onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 can of cannellini beans

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

handful of brown rice fettucini

Step One (we’ll have lots of fun)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions (mine only took seven minutes).

2. While you’re waiting on your water to boil and your pasta to cook, heat the oil in a large pan (the biggest you’ve got) over medium heat.

3. Get chopping! Chop the onion and mince the garlic. If you want to use fresh tomatoes, then chop those, too.

4. Cook the onion and garlic until they start to soften (3-5 minutes), then add the tomatoes and herbs.

5. Drain and rinse the beans, and add those to the pan – if you didn’t use a big pan, you’re probably starting to panic right about now.

6. Cook for another 3 minutes or until tomatoes and beans are heated through, which should be about the time your pasta is ready.

7. Drain the pasta, and add it to the pan.

8. Mix everything together, and serve as is or topped with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese.

I’ve gotten about four meals out of this batch of pasta, and some included a second bowl. This is quickly becoming my go-to mid-week meal.

Speaking of meals, I left off my last post with Monday’s food (b)log so let’s finish up the week!

Tuesday

Breakfast (10:30 am): Rice Chex, banana, almond milk, 1/2 glass oj

Snack (post-work out 3:00): chocolate smoothie

Lunch (4:20 pm): stir-fry, 1 chocolate-avocado ball

Snack (pre-work 5:40 pm): 1/4 cup granola, blueberries almond milk

Dinner (10:30): pasta

(Check out those tomatoes! I took these pictures outside, and it made such a difference. The colors are sooooo much better. Note to self, start making dinner earlier so food can be photographed outside in natural light.)

Wednesday

Breakfast (10:40 am): 1/2 cup granola, blueberries, almond milk, 1/2 glass oj

Lunch (3:00 pm): pasta, 1 chocolate-avocado ball

Snack (4:50 pm): 1/2 cup granola, banana, almond milk

Dinner (10:10 pm): stir-fry, can of Coke, 2 chocolate-avocado balls

Thursday

Breakfast (8:30 am): 1/2 cup granola, blueberries, almond milk, 1/2 glass oj

Snack (11:30 am): apple with 2 tbsp nut butters

Lunch (1:50 pm): Pasta

Dinner (8:00 pm): Salad with black bean-corn salsa, peppers, salsa, cheese, Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, 2 chocolate-avocado balls

Friday

Breakfast (8:30 am): 1/2 cup granola, mixed berries, almond milk, 1/2 glass oj

Snack (11:30 am): apple with 2 tbsp nut butters

Lunch (1:40 pm): stir-fry

Dinner (4:30 pm): Salad with black bean-corn salsa, peppers, salsa, cheese, Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, 2 chocolate-avocado balls

Snack (7:00 pm): 1 chocolate-avocado ball

Snack (post-workout 11:00 pm): chocolate smoothie

There you have it. One week of food (b)logging complete. I have definitely been eating more rounded meals and getting more protein at every meal, which were two of my goals. I also haven’t been craving junk as much. I’m not sure exactly why that is. I think it’s a combination of working out regularly and having lots of healthy stuff ready to go. I’ve also been paying more attention to what my body needs. You may notice a big gap in my eating on Thursday. That’s because I came home from work around 4:15 and slept until nearly 8. I was supposed to do the Legs and Back and Ab Ripper X dvd that night, but I decided that I was way too tired to do that, and if I had attempted it, I would have been up until 2 (like I am tonight, but I can sleep in tomorrow), then have to get up early for work again. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that I started on Monday night when I stayed up until 2 to finish reading a book for my dissertation. I put a little too much pressure on myself to finish it that night. I really wanted to check it off my to-do list and be done with it, but that wasn’t the best decision. By staying up an extra two hours, I messed up my sleep schedule for the rest of the week. Now, it is entirely possible that I would have taken a marathon nap Thursday after work anyway. I had closed at my other job for the past three nights, which definitely took a toll, but I made it a whole lot worse for myself by not listening to my body on Monday and accepting my limitations. As I mentioned here, this is something that I constantly struggle with. I know that I’m not alone – I had a much needed talk with one of my brothers who has similar sleep needs and habits, which really helped me deal with my feelings of inadequacy – but it gets hard not to compare myself to other people who can get by on five or six hours (or less).

In other news, I got around to doing the Legs and Back and Ab Ripper X dvd tonight. It was crazy – one-legged wall squats! Are you kidding me?! But I did everything (and completed most of the reps) and enjoyed it. I felt really strong after I finished. And, call me crazy, but I think I might be starting to see some results. Granted, it’s likely a combination of my healthier eating habits, running for the last couple of weeks, and the P90X, but I’ll take it. My belt was definitely looser yesterday. Not dramatically, but noticeably. Also, and this is probably the biggest news of all, I went bathing suit shopping tonight. I have an exciting wine and cheese tasting/kayaking adventure planned with a friend tomorrow so I needed a suit in the likely event that I capsize or trip and fall in the lake, dam, or whatever it technically is. So there I was in the TJ Maxx dressing room with six bathing suits, one large mirror, and some pretty unflattering lighting (though not as bad as other stores, way to go TJs), and I began to try them on, starting with a one-piece. The first two were okay, but not quite right. Then the dreaded bikini – not the tankini, mind you. And I liked what I saw. Can you believe that?! I was pretty stunned. I tried on the last three suits (two bikinis and one one piece). The other bikinis were okay, but not quite as good as the first one, which has a really cute geometric print in teal, brown, white, and coral. The last one piece was pretty cute, too, with a modern fifties feel: halter zebra print with a little ruching at the sides, and a small ruffle at the bottom. I ended up getting both the first bikini and the zebra-print one-piece because I look damn good in both of them. How’s that for progress?

Nachos Redux

8 Jun

Nachos are quickly moving up the list to my favorite food. I reworked the steak nachos from Girls’ Night into a quick vegetarian version for a super satisfying supper. After a day of tennis with Tess, I definitely needed a hearty dinner. [That was a lot of alliteration.] I still had some of the steak leftover, but I don’t know. Maybe it comes from being a vegetarian for so many years, but there is something about meat – cooked or raw – that still kind of skeeves me out. I’ve also been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma lately so that could also have contributed to my aversion.

Really, the only reason that I made the steak (which I just typed as stake…that probably says something about my stance on meat) was that I had bought it when I had a coupon – grass-fed organic beef ain’t cheap – and I needed to use it. I’ve been debating eating animal products for about a month now –  approximately the amount of time that I’ve been reading this book (I read it during my lunch at work, which may not be the ideal time to be reading a book about the source of my food and the ins and outs of its production). I’ve also read Veganist and Quantum Wellness in the last two months in addition to having Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals out from the library. I’ve been sort of obsessed, I guess.

    

[And, yeah, Kathy Freston looks a little deranged on the cover of the Veganist, but she did her research. I think Foer’s book is the best written of these three, but not everyone can be a brilliant novelist. If Kathy is good enough for Oprah, she’s good enough for me…or something like that. Ya-ya.]

Basically, I’ve become more conscientious about where my food, especially animal products, come from and more careful about what I’m eating – the third of a Hershey bar and slushie I had earlier aside, of course – nobody’s perfect. And I don’t know, something about the appearance of meat is kind of a turn off. Also, I’ve noticed that my tummy really doesn’t enjoy when I eat animal products, especially beef and pork; they all seem to irritate it to some degree, though (that damn psychic in NYC, who among many other things noted that my stomach was not happy with me (and it certainly wasn’t on that trip – I had to spend half of it in bed in agony) and although I didn’t need to adopt a completely vegan diet, I should lean (to use a Freston term) into it). Now, I’m not about to make a major life decision based on one palm reading – I would need several to make an informed decision [to be read in a sarcastic tone, obvi] – but I have noticed my tummy issue increase when I eat meat. Therefore, while I’m not abstaining completely, I am making an effort to eat humanely raised and killed meat and limit my consumption of it in general.

Thus, what I’ve been very longwindedly getting at is the über lecker vegetarian nachos that I concocted last night. These are even quicker and less work to assemble than the steak version from Friday.

What You’ll Need:

1 can of spicy fat-free refried beans (you could also mash a can of pinto beans with some cumin and chili pepper or even add one or two ancho chiles in adobo sauce)

1 can of black beans

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 tomato, diced

shredded cheese (I used monterey jack and sharp cheddar again.)

tortilla chips

salsa, guac, sour cream for topping

Step by Step, ooh, Baby:

1. Dice your veggies and shred your cheese. While your doing that, let your oven heat up to 350.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I cannot stress how much easier this will make your life. And you’ll get to dive face-first into your nachos even sooner when you don’t have to scrape and pry your cheesy nachos off of aluminum foil or the baking sheet.

3. Load up the parchment paper with tortilla chips – one or two handfuls.

3. Scoop and spread (as best you can) spoonfuls of the refried beans on top of the chips. Then, add on black beans, peppers, and onions. Top the whole thing with cheese.

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

5. Finish the nachos with tomatoes, guac, salsa, sour cream…whatever your little heart desires.

6. Stuff your face. You should have enough toppings to make this for about six people.

My eyes were about twice the size of my stomach. I had to pack up the rest and eat it for lunch today after my run. Did I say eat? I meant inhaled. It absolutely didn’t matter that the chips were completely soggy. Everything else tasted good. However, even if it didn’t, I’m pretty sure I would have hoovered it anyway. After Jillian Michaels kicking my ass and running just over a mile and a half, I needed to refuel. Stat. And I have enough veggies and beans to make this about four more times.

Girls’ Night

5 Jun

Friday night, my friend, Tess, graced me with her presence for a much needed girls’ night. We drank daiquiris, ate nachos and “healthy” mini chocolate tortes, talked about boys, and watched some truly bad movies. It was awesome, and provided the distraction that I needed.

The nachos were super easy and delicious. The slow cooker did most of the work while I was at out, leaving just some chopping and shredding for me to do when I got home.

Steak Nachos

Ingredients:

steak or meat of choice

2 quarts (1 container) of beef broth

1 jar of salsa verde

2 bell peppers (I used a green and a red)

1 red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

tortilla chips

nacho toppings of choice (I used romaine, tomatoes, guac, sour cream, monterey jack cheese, and sharp cheddar cheese)

Directions:

1. Put your meat in the slow cooker with the broth, salsa verde, and salt and pepper to taste. Set it to low, and let it go for the afternoon. I left mine on low for about ten hours before we ate. The meat was super juicy and tender (as it should have been after cooking for nearly half a day).

2. About a half an hour before you’re ready to eat, pre-heat the oven to 350, and chop the peppers and onion. I sliced the peppers into long strips and the onions into rings, which gave the nachos a fajita feel. For ease of eating, I would cut the strips in half next time – it was a lot of pepper for one chip and my small mouth.

3. Put the peppers and onions on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Let the veggies roast for 20-25 minutes until they’re just a little charred at the edges.

4. While the veggies are in the oven, chop and shred the rest of your ingredients. By the time the veggies were done, you’ll be ready to assemble your nachos.

5. Line a baking sheet with another sheet of parchment paper, and load it up with tortilla chips and and cheese. Parchment paper works much, much better for this than aluminum foil. The nachos will slide off remarkably well. You can also add some peppers, onions, and meat on there, too if you’d like. Pop it into the oven (at 350) for 5 to 10  minutes, or until the cheese melts.

6. Slide your nachos onto a large plate, and load them up with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guac, etc., and enjoy.

For dessert, I made mini chocolate tortes using with avocados and pecan crust. Check out the recipe over at Oh She Glows. The longer you keep them in the freezer, the less you can taste the avocado (the taste is very subtle otherwise). You could also increase the amount of chocolate a little, too. They were a perfect complement to the nachos and a couple of terrible chick flicks.

Tomorrow marks my first day of working out since my gym membership expired on Thursday. I plan to run outside for the first time in a very long time (not counting my soccer games from the spring). I have my playlist ready to go and my route mapped out. I really hope it doesn’t rain!

Um, hi, my name is Kim, and I’m a terrible blogger…

30 May

…but I’m really trying to get better. Things have been pretty busy – working, reading, applying for jobs, hanging with bf before he leaves for NOLA for the summer – but the real problem is I’ve gotten lazy. I’ve been making a lot of very quick, very unexciting meals. I’ve also been building up the whole posting process: taking and editing pictures, writing down recipes, coming with clever things to say to you all. Which is to really say that I’ve been a little overwhelmed and a lot lazy (with the blog at least). However, I am back with a kick ass black bean-sweet potato burgers, guac, and gluten-free naan bun recipes, a meager peace offering.

Black Bean – Sweet Potato Burgers

1 15.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ 15 oz. can of sweet potato puree (or other pureed veggie)

¼ red onion roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup walnuts

2 tbsp flax meal

salt and pepper to taste – I used about a tsp of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the black beans, sweet potato puree, onion, garlic, flax meal, a little salt and peper, and ¼ each of the rolled oats and walnuts in a food processor. You’re going to need at least a 7 cup one to fit it all in there; if you aren’t lucky enough to have a roommate with top-notch kitchen equipment, you may have to do this in two or three batches. Mix until smooth-ish (thirty seconds to one minute). Add another ¼ cup of oats and walnuts. Mix for twenty to thirty seconds. Repeat until you have added all of the oats and walnuts.
  3. At this point you should have a thick, soft mixture. Give the mix a little taste (the beauty of vegan cooking – you can taste-test at any point in the process without worrying about dying). Adjust seasoning as needed.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grab a small handful of the mixture. Be brave, and reach in there. It will be squishy, but you should be able to form a 3-4 inch patty without too much trouble (don’t worry if some sticks to your hands; it’s all part of the process). Patty out the mixture. I got eight patties out it, which filled my baking sheet. You may notice that I didn’t tell you to add any oil or coat the patties with oil. You can do this if it makes you feel better (I’m looking at you, Mom), but I didn’t find it necessary. The burgers were moist on the inside and crisp on the outside – pretty much perfect as far as I’m concerned. But do what you need to do.
  5. Bake the patties for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip, and cook for fifteen more minutes.

While the burgers are baking, get started on the toppings and buns. That’s right – you’re making your own buns. Yummy, gluten-free naan buns. But first the guac. It is ridiculously easy to make and super tastey. You may want to double the recipe, especially if you’re having friends over for margaritas.

Guac

1 ripe avocado (it should give slightly under pressure)

1/8 or 2 tbsp of onion – red or yellow will work

1 clove of garlic

juice of ½ a lime or 2 tbsp of bottled lime juice

1 small vine ripe tomato or about 5 cherry tomatoes

salt to taste

  1. Cut the avocado in half long-ways, scoop out the inside, and mash with a fork or potato masher in a bowl.
  2. Add lime juice right away to keep the avocado from browning.
  3. Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and seed and cube the tomato (seeding is not necessary if you’re using cherry tomatoes). Throw them into the bowl.
  4. Salt and stir.

By this point, you’ll be feeling pretty good about yourself. You’ve made veggie burgers that could rival anything Amy cooks up and guac that will have your guests fighting over the last bit and licking the bowl. But I’ve got one more trick up my sleeve: buns. Finding gluten-free buns has been a pain in my bum so I gave up and made them myself. They’re pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. The naan buns are inspired by a 5-Minute Naan recipe from Neverhomemaker. The only real changes I made to the recipe were adjusting the flour measurement for gluten-free flour and salting the bread as soon as I flipped and removed it from the pan.

5-Minute Naan Buns

adapted from neverhomemaker

1 ¾ cup to 2 cups of gluten-free all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

2/3 cup water

salt to taste

  1. Heat a pancake griddle on medium-high heat with a little olive oil (about a teaspoon).
  2. Start with 1 ¾ cups of flour and the rest your ingredients in a small bowl. Mix it all together. Your dough should be a only slightly sticky and hold together. Slowly add the rest of the flour until you reach this point.
  3. By this time your dough is mixed, your pan should be hot and ready to go. I got about six small dough balls, which works out to three buns from this mixture. Flatten each ball a little in your hand. Place it in the pan and finish flattening until it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of four inches in diameter. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take much work, and you will not burn your fingers. Just be careful. I tried to roll out the ball on the counter, but to no avail. Hand-flattening was much, much easier.
  4. Cook each bun for three to four minutes a side. Flip when you see the bottom getting golden brown. Swish the oil around when flipping. Salt the cooked side while it’s still hot and has some oil on it.
  5. When the second side is golden, remove it from the heat and lightly salt that side.

For burger buns, I thought these worked really well. They were sturdy enough to hold up to my massive dressing of the burger and some serious squishing as all my fillings oozed out (mostly onto my plate). I’m not sure that I would eat these buns on their own. The taste of the flour comes through a little too much for my liking – hence the salting on each side, which I thought helped immensely. If I were to make these as a flatbread for sandwiches – the thought of sandwiches seriously makes me giddy, sometimes being gluten-free is a little sad – I would definitely use a flour mixture (I’m generally not a big fan of the all-purpose flour on its own, but I was in a hurry and super hungry) and add some herbs (rosemary is my go-to bread/pizza crust herb). All in all, I was super please with my first attempt at homemade buns.

I dressed my burger with some romaine, a slice of tomato, a ring of red onion, a slathering of guac, and a glug of ketchup. Oh, yeeeaaaah. This completely vegan, gluten-free dinner was a-mazing. I added some Terra Chips, baked beans, and a cold glass of organic lemonade (on sale at Wegman’s, woot woot) to round out the meal, but I could hardly eat the sides. The burger was super filling and delicious. I also had some Terra Chips and lemonade while cooking (I was seriously hungry; applying for jobs and dissertating all afternoon will do that to a girl), which could have possibly added to my fullness. One caveat: this is a very, very messy burger…when you are as fanatical about the guac and ketchup as I am. Definitely not first date food. It would, however, be the perfect sploshing food if you’re into that sort of thing. I won’t judge.

And a little something to kick off the official start to summer:

Almond Eggplant Enchiladas

20 Mar

As the main course of the birthday dinner, I served almond eggplant enchiladas with guac (recipe forthcoming) and chips. The enchilada recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook. The cookbook is amazing, and almost everything I’ve made from it has been a hit. The only downside to it is the amount of fat in many of the recipes. To make this recipe a little healthier, I sprayed a little olive oil on a pan and browned the tortillas instead of deep frying them. I’ve made them both ways, and I definitely prefer this method. The oil comes through a little too much for my liking in deep frying. This way you still manage to prevent sogginess without oil overkill. I also upped the amount of veggies to get more crunch, and the boat-load of black pepper provides a surprising amount of heat. Guac is a perennial favorite, though it rarely lasts long enough to photograph so you’ll just have to wait until the next batch, which will probably be made very soon. We paired the meal with a bottle of Sangre de Toro, partly because it tastes good, but mainly because it comes with a toy (see above). That’s the best way to choose a wine, right?

Almond Eggplant Enchiladas ~ yields 10 enchiladas

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant cut into small cubes

1 small onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green pepper, chopped

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted in a skillet until fragrant

1-2 tsp black pepper (I used 12 grinds on my pepper mill, but I would probably give it a few more next time)

salt to taste

10 corn torillas

1 ½ tbsp olive oil

2 cans of red enchilada sauce

1 cup Monterey jack cheese for sprinkling on top

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 ½ tbsp olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and garlic. Stir frequently, and add salt. Cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
  2. Toss in the eggplant. Stir to combine. Cover and cook until soft (10-15 minutes depending on the size of your cubes). Stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks.
  3. While the eggplant is cooking, sprtiz another pan with olive oil – I used my Misto, but you could also use a brush to lightly coat the bottom of the pan with oil. When the pan is hot, brown up the corn torillas one by one. They only need about 20-30 seconds per side. You want them to begin to turn golden but not get too crispy. As you finish the tortillas, stack them on a plate with a piece of paper towel separating them.
  4. By the time you’re almost finished with the torillas, you will need to add the green pepper, almonds, and black pepper to the vegetable mixture. Stir and cook for five minutes.
  5. Assemble the enchiladas by scooping a ¼ cup of the filling into a corn tortilla, roll it up, and place it seam-side down in a baking dish, ideally one the width of the tortilla. I fit five enchiladas per baking dish.
  6. Top the enchiladas with the red enchilada sauce (or you could use green, if you so desire), and top with cheese.
  7. Cover baking dishes with foil, and bake in a 350-degree oven for twenty minutes. Remove the foil after about 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler for a couple minutes if you like your cheese golden brown.
  8. Serve topped with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Super Easy and Tasty Spicy Bean Dip

5 Mar

This is one of my favorite dips to make for a fiesta with friends or a glutinous evening of movie watching. It’s incredibly quick and easy to make, which is saying a lot for me since I have the knack for transforming a 10-minute task into a 30-minute endeavor.

Spicy Bean Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 can spicy refried beans (or refried bean of choice)
  • 1/2 jar of pineapple salsa, medium heat
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of low-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • handful of shredded cheese of choice (I usually opt for Mexican or taco mix)

Process:

1. Pour the refried beans and salsa into a 6 x 8 inch glass dish, or whatever you have on hand. Stir to combine. Flatten the mixture into your first layer.

2. Add the sour cream and smooth to form your second layer.

3. Top with shredded cheese.

4. Eat with your favorite chips; I like lime-flavored tortilla chips. Try not to devour entire dish in one sitting.