Category: Cooking

Fun with Blenders: Boozy Milkshakes

It’s still a little chilly out to be eating ice cream, but a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone. Maybe this strawberry banana milkshake with a splash of rum will make some nice warm weather arrive a little faster. Confession: I whipped up this boozy shake twice in 3 days, first for a movie night with an old friend over the weekend, and then just because it was Monday. (Both reasonable occasions, IMO.) I did us a real service, though, because at least now there’s no more ice cream in the house…

mmmmilkshake

My lack of photography skills makes this look like a gross Ensure shake or whatever, but I assure you: it’s ice cream, rum, and rainbows.

Boozy Strawberry Banana Milkshake

Basically serves 2, but if you want a mega serving like you’d get when ordering a milkshake at a diner, feel free to drink the whole thing by yourself. I won’t judge. Much.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 pint strawberry ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • 8-10 fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • *Optional* 2-3 oz rum (or more, ya lushes)

Steps

  1. Place all ingredients in blender.
  2. Blend for about 30 seconds.
  3. Imbibe, and then please leave me a tipsy comment about how much you loved this milkshake.

magical daniel day-lewis

Eating our vegetables: Spicy Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This weekend I realized that I’ve pretty much fallen off the wagon when it comes to eating healthy foods. I’ve been averaging about 0 to 0.5 servings of produce each day, which is not great, since I really enjoy being alive. Um. Anyway, in an effort to not be such a nutrition fail, we decided to cook up some leafy greens with our dinner tonight, in the form of roasted Brussels sprouts.

Like every other yuppie couple around, Boyfriend and I have recently discovered an ardent love for these cruciferous orbs of delight. We’ve made them a few times at home in the past with middling results– they’ve been edible but haven’t come close to being restaurant-caliber. However, that all changed tonight when I devised an extremely lazy version of this wonderful-sounding dish from TakePart. The original recipe looked great and all, but I had neither a shallot nor a fresh chile pepper, and I wasn’t about to go in search of either one. That would require grocery shopping!

Seriously though, don’t worry if you don’t have a shallot or a chile either. Who needs a classy recipe that uses fresh ingredients? Well, we all do. But whatever, because these Brussels sprouts, seasoned entirely with stuff that already happened to be in my pantry, were awesome. We tore through the whole pan’s worth in about 5 minutes; Boyfriend, ever the chivalrous gentleman, showed remarkable restraint and let me have the last one. (I tried to pretend like I didn’t really care about it that much, but OMG gimme.)

They taste 10,000 times better than they look.

Right before we attacked…

Spicy Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts for Lazy People

Ingredients

  • Brussels sprouts, preferably fresh. Our supermarket sells ’em in a 10 oz package, or about 15 sprouts, which is perfect as a side dish for two or as the main course for a lonely vegetarian.

 I can’t really give you quantities for the rest of the ingredients because I didn’t measure anything. I just poured what looked like the right amount of oil and seasoned it all to taste. So… happy guessing. Sorry!

  • Extra virgin olive oil — I refuse to call it EVOO — enough to make a base to roll all y’alls brussels sprouts in
  • Maple syrup — the real stuff, not Aunt Jemima! — to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Garlic powder — and/or a minced clove of garlic, if you have it around — to taste
  • Red chili pepper flakes, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Mix all non-Brussels sprout ingredients in a small bowl; I actually used a ramekin.
  3. Remove stems and outer leaves from each Brussels sprout. Cut sprout in half; cut the monster ones into quarters if so desired. We did.
  4. Roll each sprout piece in the olive oil/maple syrup/spices mix until it’s thoroughly coated with delicious oily goodness. You can coat stray leaves in the stuff, too.
  5. Arrange sprouts flat-side down on baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15-20 mins (longer, if you’ve got a ton of sprouts), flipping halfway through.
  7. Put all of the brussels sprouts in your face.
  8. Try not to be too sad when it’s all over.
No more Brussels sprouts.

The aftermath.

Bad at planning, but pretty okay at smoothies.

A spate of less-than-frigid weather, combined with our latest FreshDirect delivery of goodies, has made me more amenable to whipping up some smoothies this week.

Tonight I fully intended to make a blueberry-banana smoothie with some spinach thrown in for good measure, but I didn’t realize that the bananas were already eaten until I’d dumped half of the ingredients into the blender! I knew I still wanted to add a little sweetness and creaminess to the smoothie. My options were to either add some vanilla rice milk, or use half of an avocado. I opted for the former (since I know Boyfriend is itching to turn the avocados into guacamole sometime soon).

Blueberry-spinach yum yum smoothie.

Not too sweet, and not too thick. A just-right blender creation.

Forgive my fugly food photography, please! In person, the smoothie is a lovely dark amethyst hue and is tasting mighty good alongside leftover Thai curry and quinoa.

Anyway, I present to you…

The “Crap, I ran out of bananas!” Healthy Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients
5 ice cubes
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup vanilla rice/hemp/almond milk (only after you realize the bananas are gone; otherwise, 1/2 or 1 banana)
1/4 cup orange juice

Directions
1. Put ingredients in blender.
2. Blend until smooth. (There will probably still be little pieces of spinach that won’t completely dissolve. I hope we can all be okay with that.)
3. Drink that bitch!

Squash pudding?? (Uh, yes!)

 

We got a giant hulking hokkaido squash in our farm box a while ago, and for weeks it sat on our countertop looking very fat, green, and intimidating. I wasn’t really sure what it was or what to do with it, what it would be good with, what it would taste like, etc. until I did a little research that said this kind of squash is even sweeter than butternut and works well in soups and pies. Pies! What! I’ve never had squash pie in my life so I was immediately intrigued. However, now that I’m trying to eat gluten-free, in order to make squash pie I would also need to either make or acquire a GF pie crust. And both of those options seemed like altogether too much effort last night.

Instead, I found a recipe for butternut squash pudding— “butternutscotch,” as the recipe I used calls it. The recipe is gluten-free, but definitely not dairy-free. I didn’t want to risk using soy milk with this recipe, either, since I’m not sure how one would replace heavy cream with a non-dairy substitute. Will have to do some research on that.

No, it's not cake batter, it's squash pudding!

This is what it looked like right before I attacked it with a spoon.

Of course, because I’m me, I didn’t quite cook the squash long enough, and I didn’t read the instructions correctly, so instead of mashing the roasted squash with a fork and then mixing it all up with the other ingredients I spooned the squash flesh (ew, flesh) into the blender and put it on pulse. It was really thick and after a few seconds it looked like nothing was happening. I was really afraid I broke the blender. That was not the case; the squash was just so plentiful and homogenous in the blender that I couldn’t see it mixing around. Everything else mixed up just fine with it. Phew.

Other stuff that I should have done differently: half of the squash was way more than 1 cup, so I added an extra egg, multiplied the dry ingredients by 1.5, and used 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I should’ve used just 1 teaspoon, though, since it’s so strong! I also messed up my sugar situation as the recipe called for brown sugar and I used half brown and half white, and I went a little overboard with upping the amount of sugar for my pseudo-doubling of the recipe. For all of you would be pudding-makers out there, BE YE NOT SO FOOLISH.

Anyway, although it’s a tad too sweet and the vanilla extract comes through a LOT, it’s still tasty enough that Boyfriend deemed it “delicious.” We’re psyched to eat this for dessert/snacks/really irresponsible breakfast(?) in the days to come.

Source: Butternut Squash Pudding @ Pinch My Salt

Breakfast for dinner

Tonight I got home and wanted to eat anything BUT the delicious roasted root vegetable stew I made two nights ago (recipe forthcoming), so instead I made some breakfast for dinner– always a good thing! I paired cheesy, garlicky scrambled eggs with some leftover mashed sweet potatoes and a honeycrisp apple for a filling pre-yoga class meal.

Scrambled eggs with gorgonzola

Looks like vomit, tastes like heaven…

Scrambled Eggs with Gorgonzola

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, or your choice of pan-greaser
  • 2 large eggs — I like brown, omega-3 fortified eggs, but that’s just me
  • 2 tbsp gorgonzola cheese — although I probably used more…
  • Splash of skim milk (optional)…wow, I was really giving the finger to my lactose-intolerant side tonight.
  • Garlic powder, black pepper, and sea salt to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in pan.
  2. Whisk eggs in a bowl, then add milk (if desired) and seasonings.
  3. Add eggs to hot pan; stir/flip/scramble with spatula so you don’t end up with a weird omelette thing.
  4. When eggs are nearly cooked, add gorgonzola.
  5. When gorgonzola is nice and melty, remove from heat.
  6. NOM NOM NOM

Staying warm with veggie soup

After a decadent, spendy summer– full of exercise, mind you– Boyfriend and I found ourselves back in the kitchen with a new resolve to improve our cooking skills and preserve our bank accounts.On a chilly fall night a few weeks ago I realized we had some butternut squash and garnet yams on the verge of going bad, so I decided that the best thing to do was toss everything into a pot, then puree it all in the blender. (I have been loving my Breville Hemisphere Control ever since I got it this summer, and although it makes quick work of fruits and veggies for smoothies this was my first time using it for a creamy soup…luckily, it worked like a champ!)

This soup fed us for a whole week and never ceased to be delicious. And it couldn’t be easier!

Butternut squash-yam-apple soup

Yum! 

Easy Fall Mélange Soup, aka Vegan, Gluten-Free, Butternut Squash-Yam-Apple Mashup

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash – peeled and cubed
  • 3 garnet yams -peeled and cubed
  • 1 large apple (I like honeycrisp) – cored, peeled, and quartered
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • To taste: Ground ginger, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot or saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Let simmer until veggies are tender and soft, i.e. easily pierced/smashed with a fork– took about 45 minutes for us.
  3. Remove from heat and ladle pot contents into blender (in whatever size batches your blender can handle).
  4. BLEND!
  5. Re-season, if necessary.
  6. ENJOY!

Ode to the strawberry

strawberry strawberry strawberry

Photo by Sanchom

Strawberries– sweet, tart, little red ovoids of joy– have been one of my very favorite fruits ever since I was a tiny kid, so I’m super-happy that they’re coming into season. Now that they’ve been marked as one of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen, I’m only trying to buy organic, but they’re so delicious that I’m more than willing to shell out the big bucks for them.

Boyfriend and I recently plowed our way through 16oz of organic strawberries that were so ripe and fresh that nearly every bite elicited some kind of yelp/exclamation/food-pleasure-noise from us. YES, THEY WERE THAT GOOD.

Fun fact: Strawberries are actually a “false fruit.” I know this because I wrote a research paper on the domestication of the strawberry for a college bio class. You see, a fruit is basically defined as the plant’s ovary (gross, and also a gross oversimplification, but deal with it). An in the case of the strawberry, the delicious squishy red part that we like to eat is actually just a carrier for the true fruit…which is what we see as the strawberry’s seeds. So the seeds are the real fruits. And inside each of the fake seeds/real fruits is a real seed. They’re like matryoshka dolls in fruit form. Damn, strawberries. Why so complicated?

If you don’t believe me, Wikipedia backs me up. Congratulations! Your mind has officially been blown.

And what can you do with this abundance of strawberry goodness? Hell, what can’t you do? Here are a few easy recipes I’m dying to try out this berry season:

Happy berry-eating (and drinking)!

Twenty. And a belated home-cooking writeup.

20 weeks of workouts

It continues! I was greeted with this message as I checked into my dance class last night. If weeks were years, my exercise streak would be declaring a major (and changing its mind a week later), whining about running out of meal plan points, and making assorted terrible life decisions.

OH, ALSO: A week or so ago, Boyfriend and I baked some salmon with a ginger-chili-soy glaze and served it with stir-fried baby bok choy, bell pepper, and onion, but forgot to document it here.

Voila. It was delicious.

Random bonus: the sliced-off bulb ends of baby bok choy looked like little green roses:

We used this recipe for the stir-fried bok choy and bell pepper and did a modified version of this Asian-style baked salmon with sesame, soy, and ginger from the BBC (seriously!), substituting green onion and coriander powder for chives and ‘fresh coriander’. Incidentally, I only just learned that coriander = cilantro plant seeds. They’re brothers from the SAME mother. Also, now I’m pretty sure that by fresh coriander, the recipe meant cilantro. Oops.

This meal was definitely one to revisit. The bok choy was delicate and tasty, we got a nice helping of omega-3s, AND the kitchen smelled like sesame oil/a Chinese restaurant for the rest of the night! (That is a good thing in my book.)

Baking for Many: Dual-Chocolate Chip Cookie Edition

Dual-Chocolate Chip Cookies ready for their closeup

My department at work does a weekly rotating snacktime, and when my number came up, my co-snack-bringer and I agreed to bake cookies. After briefly considering buying prepackaged cookies or slice-and-bake dough, I decided to sack up and break out my recently acquired hand-mixer for some chocolate chip cookie goodness. While in the grocery store I was overcome with the urge to get weird and buy both white and semisweet chocolate chips. As a result, my cookies ended up being extra awesome tonight.

I modified the classic Nestle Toll House recipe slightly to include an extra egg yolk. I think that the cookies came out fluffier and chewier as a result. I also omitted the walnuts, because I forgot to buy them. Finally, I changed the brown-to-white sugar ratio because I thought I remembered reading about that somewhere.

Sugar in mixing bowl

Brown sugar reminds me of wet sand.

After taste-testing, Boyfriend said “we should keep 3 dozen of them,” which is a good sign– hopefully my colleagues won’t hate these babies!

Recipe and more photos after the jump.

Continue reading

Meals I have made that have not given us food poisoning

Between 2007 and 2009 I subsisted on a near-constant stream of pizza, Lean Cuisine, chicken nuggets, and Annie Chun’s noodle bowls for dinner– and those were on the nights that I “cooked at home.” However, I luckily ended up with two great cooks for roommates while I was getting my master’s degree, both of whom were far healthier than me. It was while living with them that I explored the wonders of winter squash, went vegan for a month, and cooked vegetarian chili for the first time. My next roommate was also far more skilled than me in the kitchen. Now that I don’t have roommates to mooch food from anymore, I’m slowly becoming more brave in the kitchen.

While attempting to cook our way to Sweden, Boyfriend and I have been trying our hands at several dishes, most of them new to us. They all rank super-low on the difficulty scale, but pretty high on the “nom” scale. They include:

There are others, but those were the best of the best. Boyfriend and I are often paranoid that we’re going to accidentally undercook our food or ruin it in some other way, and attempts at these dishes have resulted in high fives all around.

The best thing to come from making an honest effort to cook more is that I’m becoming less reliant on takeout. And Lean Cuisine-type meals are officially a thing of the past for me.

We're not friends anymore.

GO BACK FROM WHENCE YOU CAME