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one-pot wonder

21 June 2011

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, when it feels like everything you touch somehow manages to go horribly, horribly wrong, until you’re sitting on your kitchen floor staring at a missed puddle of spilt suntea and crying over your Target trash can’s broken spring-lid? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Today . . . let’s just say that today was one of those days.

In fact, I was just about to call it quits, throw in the towel, what have you, and retreat to bed before even my newly embraced inner old lady would approve. But then I made dinner, and somehow everything was magically ok again.

sweet n spicy rice n peas

also, loving this thrift-store find: only one dish to wash!

There was no planning involved here. Given my mental state at the time, that’s probably a good thing. I just grabbed some things — most of which were selected at random from my fridge with a shrug and a “why not?” — threw ’em in a pot, stirred ’em around, and let ’em do their thing for about 10 minutes. Some of the ingredients may make you question my sanity, but do yourself a favor and go with it. The result is seriously delicious.

Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Rice ‘n’ Peas

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp strawberry jam
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce

Dump everything except the frozen peas in a pot and stir to combine. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces and the rice and chickpeas are heated through — about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the frozen peas, stirring until they thaw and absorb some sauce. That’s it. Really.

I made myself take this outside, and eat it slowly, and think about each mouthful. So what if the temperature’s still 102 at 6:30, who cares if ozone levels here have reached alarming highs recently: hands down most enjoyable meal of my recent life, and for once it actually took me longer to eat my dinner than to make it.


perfect single-serve popcorn

20 June 2011

I feel a little silly posting a recipe for popcorn when any ol’ web search can tell you how it’s done. However, this recipe is perfect for making one serving of popcorn in a one-quart pot — so, you know, if you’re me — which is something I couldn’t find on google.


I love this new bowl, and I broke it today. sigh.

I’ve done this twice now (why oh why have I waited so long?), and both times the result was popcorn perfection: not burnt, not too oily, no unpopped kernels at the bottom.

Perfect Stovetop Popcorn for One

1/2 tbsp olive oil*
2 tbsp unpopped popcorn kernels
toppings of choice

Add oil and 2 or 3 of your popcorn kernels to a one-quart pot on medium heat. Swirl around a bit, cover, and wait. When they pop, quickly pour in the rest of the kernels and cover, shaking the pot so that the oil’s evenly distributed. Cook over medium heat, shaking frequently, until the rate of popping slows considerably and you can’t hear any kernels rattling around at the bottom. Top with yumminess of choice and devour, all alone, whilst watching hulu. Or something.

*Ideally you’d use coconut or another high-heat oil, but this is all I had. Mmm, trans fats.

The first time I made this I topped it with salt and nutritional yeast; last night I had it with a drizzle of agave, salt, and cinnamon. Possibilities are endless.

Other recent yumminess:

breakfast bake

yesterday's breakfast oat bake: oats, oat flour, oat bran, applesauce, rice milk, chia seeds, brown sugar

bagged beans

present from daddy, all the way from Spain! I'm gonna try sprouting those mung beans....


leftover stuff-in-a-pan, in a pot!

This is going to be an interesting week, project-simplify-wise: cut up a huge watermelon today, plus I’ve got two grapefruits, so I’ll be ok on fruit; but I ate the last of my cabbage today and tomorrow will be the last of my veggie-ful stuff-in-a-pan, which means that for the rest of the week I’ll have to make do with half a bag of frozen corn for veg. Hopefully this will result in creativity rather than malnourishment, but only time will tell!

cacao “brownies” — or, um, something

19 June 2011

Today was a very productive day in the kitchen. Started out with a delicious breakfast oat bake; also managed to cook up a batch of dried garbanzos that had been soaking overnight, cook up a week’s worth of brown rice, use some of that rice to make rice milk (kept it simple this time: 1/2 cup rice + one pitted date + 2 cups water), brew a pitcher of vanilla sun tea, oh and read an entire book on modeling complexity; but all that’s going to have to wait. I’m even going to have to postpone the post on popcorn that I was so excited about because, oh em gee. You guys. These brownies.


br-uffins? things?

I woke up to find this recipe in my google reader, and for some reason knew I had to make them ASAP, despite the fact that my most recent attempt to make “healthy brownies” was so disastrous that I foreswore the enterprise altogether. There’d have to be some modifications to Angela’s recipe, of course (and not just because I seem to be incapable of following recipes as printed anyway): unsurprisingly, I don’t have any teff flour; perhaps surprisingly, I loathe bananas more than any other food; and . . . I’m out of cocoa powder.

But! I did have half a bag of raw cacao nibs that have been in my pantry forever, so I decided I could probably grind them into something like cacao powder. Threw the rest of the bag in the vitamix but must’ve gone a little too vita-happy because I ended up with this:

cacao powder/butter

That is, something in between cacao powder and cacao butter. Ah well, no matter, that’ll work; measured some out and stuck the rest in the fridge to await future inspiration. (I’m pretty excited about this stuff’s potential, actually. Stay tuned.)

Anyway, quite a lot of modifications later, I’m not sure I can say these bear any significant resemblance to their inspiration. I can, however, say they are delicious.

Cacao “brownies”
(inspired by Oh She Glows)

4 pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
5 drops stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground cacao nibs
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup oat flour
1 tsp espresso powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dates and applesauce in a food processor/vitamix; add the rest of the liquid ingredients and process until smooth. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. (If you’re using ground cacao nibs, like I did, combine with the wet ingredients; if you’re using actual cacao/cocoa powder, whisk with the dry.) Add wet to dry and mix until just combined.

I halved the original recipe and baked these in individual muffin cups (yielded 10 brownie-muffin-things); feel free to double this recipe and bake in a parchment-lined 8×8 pan, if you’re planning to share. Let cool for longer than you can stand before serving; the freezer helps.

Again, I’m not sure I can honestly call them “brownies,” because where a good brownie is basically a dense and intensely chocolate punch in the stomach, these are far more nuanced. A pleasant bitterness from the cacao+espresso, a subtle sweetness from the dates+brown rice syrup, a bit of crunch from the almond meal . . . all together magic happens. Fudgey in the center with that subtle chewy crispiness on top that I thought only unmentionable quantities of butter and/or oil could produce, though kind of cake-like at the edges.


whatever you call them, make them now!

While I can’t in good conscience call them brownies, I can say that they are without doubt the best thing I’ve baked in a long, long time, if not ever. Plus, full of only whole ‘n’ wholesome ingredients, and gluten-free (if you use certified oats)!

stuff-in-a-pan + tofu scramble

18 June 2011

Sometimes, when I’m feeling hungry/lazy/not particularly inspired, I throw together one of these easy veggie/rice/bean bakes, which I’ve taken to calling, um, “stuff-in-a-pan.” (I think I originally got the idea to do something like this from Averie’s blog.) Easiest thing ever: mince some garlic (I used one ginormous clove) and seeded jalapenos (I used two); mix with 1 tbsp taco seasoning in a tinfoil-lined pan; add a can of diced tomatoes, a canful of water, 1/2 cup brown/wild rice mix, 1 can white beans (any beans would do; ordinarily I use 1/2 cup lentils instead, but I’m out; if I’d planned in advance, I would’ve cooked some of my dry pinto beans and used those, but clearly this isn’t the sort of meal one plans ahead for, so the last of my canned beans it was), and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. Bake at 375 for 45 min or so, or until the rice is done (check on it toward the end and add more water if necessary). I mixed in about a cup of frozen peas and a cup of frozen corn at the end, so that they just thawed. Really any kind of veggie/grain/legume/spice combo would work here, depending on what you have: my go-to combo used to be sweet potato + red onion + brown rice + lentils. Impossibly easy, surprisingly delicious considering effort input (and, um, appearance — thus the lack of photo), and makes lots of leftovers. Perfect.

Those leftovers are good on their own, of course, but they’re even better like this:

tofu scramble

ooh, a blurry action shot!

Awesome tofu scramble consisting of 1 block pressed extra-firm tofu (found in my friends’ fridge, just a few days expired, no harm done, right?), salt, pepper, turmeric, nutritional yeast, fresh basil leaves, and about a cup of the leftover stuff-in-a-pan. Probably my best tofu scramble to date.

Perfect after a long exhausting morning at the barn. . . .

tofue scramble


when life hands you disappointing muffins

16 June 2011

. . . make bread pudding?

Remember those gluten-free disasters muffins from a few days weeks ago? No? Well, I didn’t either. Or, at least, I didn’t seem to want to: there they were, taking up valuable space in my very small cozy freezer, but they never really appealed when snack time rolled around, and yet I obviously couldn’t throw them away. So, what’s the natural thing to do when you’ve got some texturally challenged muffins and a half quart of soy milk that may or may not be passed/nearly passing its expiration date courtesy of friends leaving the country?

bread pudding

that's right; I'm incapable of waiting to taste things, regardless of burnt tongue and/or botched photos

Oh, guess I already answered that question.

Anyway, this bread pudding managed to transform mediocre muffins into cool, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth bliss. In my experience, there’s something of a spectrum of textures along which bread puddings fall; this one’s definitely on the “pudding” end, thanks to the soft-n-crumbly muffins I used. Expect a more bread-like pudding if you use the traditional french bread. I’d also recommend adjusting the sugar depending on your bread of choice, since the muffins were already on the sweeter side.

bread pudding

ohh yeah

Almond-Cardamom Bread Pudding

7 muffins, or the equivalent amount of bread of choice (enough to half-fill a 9×5 loaf pan), cut into 1″ cubes
1 tbsp egg replacer + 3 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups soy milk (or non-dairy milk of choice — almond milk would be ideal!)
1/4 cup sugar*
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cardamom

Cut your muffins/bread into 1″ cubes and press into a 9×5 loaf pan. Whisk together egg replacer and water and let sit; add soy milk, sugar, almond extract, and cardamom. Whisk until combined, then pour over bread. Top with oats if you feel like it (I did); or, even better, top with an oat+brown sugar+melted earth balance streusel. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Can serve warm or chilled.

I think the almond and cardamom made this recipe really special, although feel free to adjust flavors to taste!

And now, time for my second helping of the day. . . .


15 June 2011

What’s that? Did somebody mention a bandwagon? Hold up so I can grab my kale chips and jump on it!

(Yeah, that’s right; first I’m [badly] food-blogging and now I’m What-I-Ate-Wednesday-ing.)

Fortunately for me (and you nonexistent readers, I s’pose), today was the first day in a few I managed to shake myself out of my cooking slump. I seem to go through alternating phases of spending every waking moment in the kitchen, and not being bothered to cook/eat anything other than oatmeal or my go-to super-cheap-n-boring salad (cabbage, balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast, done).

Woke up at 5:30 and went for a quick morning run (while it’s still nighttime 73-degrees rather than daytime 106 down here); spent the entirety dreaming of oatmeal. You see, I’m borrowing my friends’ pot while they’re away for the summer, which means that oatmeal and I have rekindled our romance. Let’s just say there have been too many oatmeal-for-breakfast-and-dinner days recently to be entirely socially acceptable.

I didn’t photograph my oatmeal, partially because it’s not actually as beautiful as it tastes, but mostly because I couldn’t let a silly thing like photography stand in the way of true love. 1/2 cup oats cooked in 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt until beautifully thick ‘n’ creamy; add almond milk snagged from my absent friends’ fridge + 5 drops of stevia + lots and lots of cinnamon and cardamom. Simple; perfect.

Worked outside for a few hours until the heat became unbearable, then inside for a big bowl of my new favorite snack:

granola, blueberries, almond milk

frozen blueberries, homemade granola, almond milk

Attempted to work for a while longer, but the kitchen bug had bitten; eventually gave up and made bread pudding. While it cooled, I went outside for some yard yoga. (My Bikram class card finally expired, and a new one certainly won’t be in my price range anytime in the near future. The good thing about 106-degree daytime highs, though, is that all you need is a recording and a mat+towel and you can have your own practice in the comfort of your own yard. Awesome.)

Time for lunch:

asian salad

colorful Asian salad

I’d been dreaming about this salad all. Day. Leftover brown rice mixed with rice vinegar and a dash of agave, purple cabbage, edamame, black sesame seeds, tamari, sriracha. In my dreams there were also raw zucchini slivers, but I must’ve forgotten about them in post-Bikram/-sun-exposure delirium.

asian salad

all mixed up!

Followed by some bread pudding, of course (recipe coming soon!):

bread pudding


Um. There may or may not have been more in that bowl before I managed to take a picture.

Had to buy more cat food, and on the way hit up a thrift store: I am now the proud owner of an actual salad bowl. Which means I don’t have to eat out of my huge ugly plastic mixing bowl! Yay! Also, a cute little $.50 placemat.

Which also means more varied photos for you lovely people, as evidenced by dinner:

zucchini bowl

still no fork, though. oops.

Shredded purple cabbage, caramelized red onion, barely sauteed zucchini slivers, dried basil, balsamic vinegar. This. Was. So. Good. I should’ve taken a picture of it all mixed in so you could see all the gorgeously vibrant cabbage underneath, but honestly once I started eating it nothing could’ve dragged me away.

And . . . that’s it! Although, let’s be honest here, there will almost definitely be another bowl of bread pudding for dessert. Or maybe some oatmeal.

pinchin’ pennies, and . . . pancakes!

13 June 2011

I’ve been on a bit of a pancake kick recently.


cinnamon-oat pancakes

“But wait,” I imagine you wondering, “I thought you were out of flour?”

Too true, my friend, too true. (That is, I’ve still got a bit of sorghum and quinoa flour kicking around, but truth be told I’m not particularly fond of either of them alone.)

“So, that’s it? You’ve given up on project simplify already?”

(No, I don’t talk to myself, now that I live alone; I talk to my cat and my blog’s imaginary readers. There’s a difference!)

hewwo. I would like for you to pet me plz.

Anyway, the second penny-pinching thing I’ve done recently is make my own flour: oat flour, to be precise. Which is the easiest thing in the world and merely involved blending oats into a flour-like consistency. (I used the old blender, because apparently grinding flours might scuff the inside of my beautiful flawless vitamix.)

I adapted Angela’s recipe and made up enough dry mix for a few servings of pancakes, which I’ve been dipping into every morning rather consistently. With the oat flour + oat bran, it’s almost like eating oatmeal in pancake-form, which if you ask me is about as perfect as breakfast can get.

Single-serving Oatmeal Pancakes
(adapted from Oh She Glows)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp oat flour
2 tbsp oat bran (or just use 1/2 cup oat flour)
1/2 t cinnamon
tiny pinch sea salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 c non-dairy milk

Dry ingredients can be mixed together and stored until ready to make pancakes. You can even store several batches of dry mix so that you’re always prepared for a pancake emergency! Fry in a bit of oil or Earth Balance (if your budget allows) or cooking spray, flipping when bubbles start to form in the center. Top with something yummy, if you’re into that kind of thing.

The second time I made these, I added the last of my flax meal (about 1 tbsp) to the dry mix on a whim and 1/2 tsp cider vinegar to the milk to make “buttermilk.” Most recently, I used my cinnamon brown rice milk for horchata pancakes. Honestly, they’re delicious every which way!