Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vegan Option!

I'd love to say I came up with this recipe purely to go vegan and improve my life and animal's lives all over the world, however.... I accidentally threw this together out of leftover abundance and laziness.  I really need meat.  There's a lot of argument over that, but I do have a metabolic disorder that complicates my system and proteins simply help the absorption of nutrients and slow the effect of sugar way better than veggies or complex carbs.  So, to have a vegan recipe in my house, is basically unheard of.

However, last night we had tacos: beef, black beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, hot sauce, sour cream, chives.  It was delicious.  When we finished dinner, I found I had a LOT of black beans left.  Normally, the kids will have these for lunch, heating them up with some cheese and sometimes dipping corn chips.  Today, I went to the freezer to see what meat to thaw, when I realized, it's going to take hours to thaw the chicken or beef or whatever, but there were black beans.  I was thinking a chicken quinoa soup, as I've been meaning to get back to soups and hopefully help heal my body a little (recently realized there's some struggles with solid foods...? what is this, regression?)  The thing is, I didn't want to wait for the chicken to thaw.  I really have been craving some veggies.  So, when I saw the massive bag of quinoa in the freezer (I'll explain,) then I was very excited.   I grabbed some open bags of frozen vegetables that looked as if they were going to get frost bite faster than they were going to be eaten and I set up to throw together an amazing meal.

*Note:  I keep oats, flours - garbanzo, coconut, etc, quinoa, and other such dry goods in the freezer due to a problem a few years ago.   I found an infestation of moths in one of my cans of almonds.  I cleaned those out and the whole cabinet and later found them in a sealed box of flour (which I had long since stopped using.)  One by one, the dry goods in my pantry became contaminated with these tiny bugs that would just not stop.  I cleaned out everything.  Any dry good that came into my house, went into the deep freeze after that.  It just must be that way for now, until I can trust the vermin with my food.   No, I'm not talking about the children....

So, today's recipe is 100% vegan (with the option of adding meat if you need/want to.)  It's also extremely nutritious, protein packed, and delicious!

Hot Veggie Quinoa

2 cups uncooked (but washed quinoa - any type)
2 tBsp vegetable soup base  (non vegan can use chicken soup base if you like)
1/2 small onion chopped (or 4-5 green onions chopped)
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tBsp coconut oil   (non vegan can use butter if you like)
1 can or 10 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables, your choice - I used a couple 1/2 full bags of edamame, mixed and green beans

1/2 cup vegan shredded white "cheese"  for topping (non vegan - shredded parmesan)
2 chopped chicken breasts/ meat if wanting to add meat

The usual ratio of quinoa to water is 1:2.  If you have one cup of quinoa, you need 2 cups of water.  I used 2 cups of quinoa and 4.5 cups of water, maybe even a splash or two more.  I used a little extra water just to give it a smoother texture when I added the vegetables.  Heat large pot over medium heat with coconut oil, garlic and onion in it.  Cook until light brown about 5 minutes.  Add 2.5 cups water and add soup base mixing well until everything is swirled together in the water.  Bring the water to a light boil and add your quinoa.  Turn down the heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until the quinoa crack open and get al dente.  Add in the frozen veggies and black beans (and meat if you choose to have meat with this) and stir over low/med heat until hot all the way through.

Salt and pepper to taste and top with vegan cheese (or parm or nothing at all!) and ENJOY!!  This is very simple, quick, gluten free, appropriate for vegan, vegetarian or those avoiding meats and is still very delicious and healthy with a warm, comfort food appeal.

This recipe will easily feed 6-8, however, no guarantee there will be enough left for seconds or leftovers!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Perfection! Or lack thereof....

I follow a lot of blogs, and a lot of them are food blogs.  Some are just funny to be funny, others random things.  I like gamer stuff, techie, humor.  Mostly humor.  I can have a very dry sense of humor sometimes or just goofy but no matter what I like to read what other people have to say.  With the food blogs, I love to see the ideas people come up with and before you know it, I'm whipping something up in my kitchen and thinking, "OOOH, this is going on my blog when I'm done!"

Well, sometimes, no... many times, I have some delusions of grandeur.  I know I do well around the kitchen (no "America's Next Top Chef") but definitely can shake up some pots.  However, after trying some new recipes from some of these websites, I get a little discouraged.  My shots aren't very clear or bright, my food didn't turn out looking as delicious, or didn't turn out at all.  And these days have a bit of a down effect on me.  I look around, think, maybe I missed my calling with eating and talking....

HAH!  Yeah right!   Eventually I snap out of it.  I love food.  Some days are better than others but nobody's perfect.  That's what I'm getting at today.  You can try some crazy recipes and if it's not as good as it looks on the other website, who cares!?  It's time and effort you did!  That's what counts.  We all have our talents, mine is goofing off in the kitchen until I find something that tastes delicious!  Even if that means ruining every other recipe I find, first.

Today's fun recipe is actually pretty simple.  I'm going to give my modifications but the original recipe is just absolutely delectable!   Forgive the not so great (imperfect!) pictures as I took them with my new Nexus 4 and since my Galaxy died (thanks a lot Samsung....) I had to get something else, unfortunately, this camera isn't quite as good, but it's not bad either.  I need to start saving for an SLR!

This recipe belongs to "Smitten Kitchen."   I have modified it, but of course, her recipe is fine as written.

Spinach Cream Pesto Linguine

4 Servings of  cooked gluten free linguine (al dente)
1/2 lb of washed/dried spinach (you can do this in a salad spinner)
1 tBsp butter
1/4 tsp chicken stock soup base (vegetarian - use veggie soup stock!)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tBsp heavy cream
fresh ground black pepper or pinch of red pepper flakes.
1/2 cup shred parmesan for serving
salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and cook onions and garlic thoroughly about 8 minutes.  Add in fresh spinach, and cook quickly about 3 minutes until wilted and dark green.  Careful not to overcook.  Pour the cream over the mixture, add soup base and red pepper flakes and stir about 30 seconds more.  Transfer everything from the skillet into a food processor and pulse until you have a creamy sauce.

Place pasta into a pot and pour the green sauce to cover, mixing well.  Serve hot, sprinkled with parm.

EASY!  You can do it!

(See?  In order to show you perfection is not the goal, I found too late, that I had no linguine or spaghetti, or broccoli.  This recipe was born from elbow macaroni and spinach being the few food items left in my house. Everything worked just fine!)

P.S. -  HI READERS FROM RUSSIA!!  Good to have you all hanging out with me.  Again this week you were the country with the most readers/page views and I'm super excited to have you all over here!  I hope you're finding some great things or at least having a good laugh!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kix and Coldplay

I thought this was supposed to be some sort of healthy eating food blog... what is this nonsense about Kix?  Isn't that against the law in low carb eating?  Well, yeah, but after a long day, sometimes all you need is a little Kix and some Coldplay.  Or, well, lol, maybe not.  "Nobody said it was eeeeeeeeeeaaaaasssyyyyyy" may not be the most inspirational post-midnight ballad ever written.  Just possibly.  Milk has protein right?   Hey, who died and made me expert?  There has to be a point where you can just stop and turn around and say, "OK LIFE,  ENOUGH OF YOUR CR@P!  I NEED TO GET SOME THINGS DONE HERE!"

But maybe it's just not like that.   What is it about Christ Martin's voice though in that song (there's a link!  go check it out!) that makes a person want to melt into nothing but still cry like a baby?   So, if you're looking for the super smart and healthy version of this recipe just know that for what I can tell, Kix doesn't have any really bad additives that will make my kids turn any weirder than they already are.  I have a couple gallons of organic milk, and even some organic almond milk in the fridge.  I'm doing something right here.  The bowl is of course hand crafted pottery, made in the USA, with no lead.  It's a winning streak!   The spoon I can't really vouch for, except to say that it was given to me from my grandmother, and I know it has some real silver in it, but your guess is as good as mine for what percentage is real.   Bowl + cereal + milk + spoon + Coldplay = careful not to cry into your milk but at least you'll have some food in you like I do now, after a while of having trouble eating.

At least we'll have a fun project coming up with the rose water I bought.  No guarantees, but I think this one will be lots of fun, especially if you're a fan (as much as I am) of coconut shakes.  I have not found anywhere locally that makes coconut shakes.  So, in my ever expanding waistline, erm, kitchen repertoire, there is now the ability to make a really awesome coconut shake.  Now, with kick!  Keep checking back, we're headed that direction!  Oh, and in case anyone here is a fan of SmittenKitchen, I'll be showing you one of her awesome recipes that I tried, that needs absolutely NO fixing but I can give you some alternatives!  It's a great meal!  Careful heading over there!! She's addictive, awesome and not always gluten/sugar free, but don't let that deter you.  Totally worth the drool in your keyboard!

This below picture was taken in Canada, many years ago, in front of the home of an amazing W.o.W. pvp player and old friend.  I'm almost shocked at how good the quality is, considering the camera I had at the time.
See you back here soon!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fuzzy Slippers

For people with chronic illness (and mostly everyone who has to deal with a harsh reality,) there is a certain point that you hit, which signals, "stop, drop, and roll - before you detonate like a bomb."   There's only so much people can take; life is stressful and can be overly demanding.  So, when I called in for sushi takeout tonight, and showed up in my fuzzy house slippers, it didn't bother me one bit.   Mostly.  Today was filled with doctor issues and back and forth of a crazy schedule.  I was exhausted by 3p.m.  Everyone has those kinds of days.  Last week I had three different people tell me that life's been complicated and some of the recipes I have here seem equally so.

I have a couple things for you.  One, don't try a new recipe on a day that you're working late, driving the kids to practice all over town, or fried from a bad health day.  If it looks interesting and you'd like to try it, put the ingredients on a list, make sure you have all of them, and then on a day when you're inspired, give it a go.  If not, no worries.  There are plenty of other things (like takeout sushi) to eat for dinner.

In the spirit of simplicity, tiredness, and stressed out, today's recipe is a GREAT snack, very easy, takes 5 steps (not counting the ones to get to the kitchen) and then you're good for a while in front of the tv, Starcraft, or pretending to work with your head firmly planted on your desk.   Also, because I've been writing posts EVERY DAY in my head, but not here, I have some catching up to do.  You see, there were CONCERTS recently and do you think THIS fan is going to miss that?  OOOH NO!  LOL - I stood in 40 degree weather for 3 hours to watch some live Goo.  I have NO pictures!  Yes, I'm fine!  No, I didn't freeze.  Yes, my camera works.  I did get American Girl on video with my Galaxy but that was it.  Just jumped up and down until my pants fell off and screamed and waved and clapped until my hands and voice went numb.   I'll fill you in later.

Today is Bon Jovi's album release, and if you haven't heard it you should.  I'm not a huge fan, but this is GREAT stuff!


Baked Chickpeas 
(anyone else seeing a glassy eyed, half lidded, pothead chickpea?  No?  Ok, movingon...)

1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed well, until no bubbles form
2 tsp rosemary
1 tBsp sea salt
1-2 tBsp olive oil/coconut oil of your choice (melted/liquid)

Preheat oven to 400.  Get a baking pan/cookie sheet, line with tin foil - shiny side up.  Pour your rinsed chickpeas into a zip bag with the oil, salt and rosemary.   Give it a few good shakes, pour out onto the pan.  Pop in the oven for 35-45 min.

YES there is a BIG time discrepancy here... I'll tell you why.  The first time I made them they were crispy on the outside and kinda not so much on the inside.  It tasted great all the same.  Then later, I forgot when I made them again, left them in the oven and they got a little DARK brown for my taste BUT this caused them to be crispy all the way through.

So, if you want them MORE brown and crsipy, leave them in longer.  If not, well take them out when they are just barely golden.

Here's "Because We Can"!
(and a pic of these yummy snacks... noooo...NOT the band...)