Colon Blow & Jicama Salad. MMM!

Colon Blow is what someone once deemed the only dish I would ever cook, many years ago. I never had a “blow-out” from it, and have always loved it. Maybe because it’s so chock-full of ruffage and goodness, it SHOULD have the effect of a colon blow? Anyway. Enough colon talk. I don’t want you to stop reading. πŸ™‚

Colon Blow is great hot AND cold. The longer leftovers are in the fridge, the more the flavors meld and pop for the next serving. This is a great dish to make a bunch of and something I love about it (and something I always love) is that you don’t really need to measure. You can literally toss in however much of whatever you want and it’s going to just be great. I measured for the purpose of creating a recipe…the basic concept is the more veggies you add, the more leftovers you’ll have!

Earlier in the day, I had cooked a mixture of 2 cups of brown rice & 1 cup of quinoa, together on the stovetop. This is what our Colon Blow will be served upon. Quinoa is the little squigly pieces in the rice piccie below, and this yummy stuff is FILLED with protein!

Cooking brown rice is EASY, just so you know…and you cook quinoa the same way. Just remember there’s a 2:1 ratio of water to rice. However much rice (or qunioa) you use, use twice that much water. Bring it all to a boil for about 2 minutes, then reduce to low and set a timer for 20 minutes. I don’t check on it at all until my timer DINGS and after that, I stay close by. I *ALWAYS* set a timer for things like rice, even if it’s just 2 more minutes. I really hate to burn food! Anyway. Keep simmering and keep re-setting your timer for just a couple minutes until all the water is absorbed. When the water is gone from the pot, you know you’re ready to eat your rice! TA-DA!

I love to use red cabbage for Colon Blow because it dyes all the other veggies purple, and, well, that’s just fun. There was a deal I couldn’t pass up on green cabbage at the grocery, however, so green it was.

I used 4 leaves and just chopped it all up. I like bite-size veggies in my Colon Blow. You can chop however you like. πŸ™‚

I heated 1 tbsp EVOO on low-medium and in went the cabbage. I put the cabbage in first so it would cook the longest…hopefully reducing any “blow” effects it might have otherwise (that’s my logic…no idea what science would say about that!).

I used an entire red onion in tonight’s meal…a lot more than in this photo, but this is just where the chopping stopped and the photography commenced.

“Ancient pepper” is at the top of my shopping list from my previous blog. This is evidently what an ancient pepper looks like..

I like these because they’re huge and sweet…much sweeter in my opinion than bell peppers. I chopped up an entire pepper and threw it in.

Doesn’t this look yummy & healthy already??

Now, time for our scrubber, broccoli! Because I buy broccoli florets, I don’t get the yummy stalks for dishes…if I had broccoli stalks, I’d use them. What, you’ve always thrown that part away??? Well, take a taste before you throw next time! Cut off the outer stalk “skin” and slice what’s left beneath for a tasty, crunchy treat! Anyway, enough broccoli talk, just chop it up and get it in!

Next came the squash. Nice & hearty. One each of yellow & zucchini squash. Wash it first, then CHOP CHOP CHOP and in it goes. You don’t have to be pretty about your chopping in this dish, just get it in there!

After all that was in the skillet, I added 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar. This is going to eat up the oil and give your veggies a little bit of a kick when it’s all said & done.

A good rule is not to add spices until you’re towards the end of your cooking…this way you don’t loose any of their UMPH. Colon Blow is different. It gets seasoned twice. A little now…a little more of the same in the end.

This is a photo of the spices I have ALWAYS used in colon blow, and aside from black pepper, these are my favorite spices to use in pretty much anything!

I used a pinch of salt, a couple grinds of coarse ground pepper, and a decent coating of the above spices (perhaps 1/4 tsp each for now): cayenne pepper, chili power, cajun seasoning & cumin.

The last veggie for tonight is bok choy (Chinese cabbage). Many times these huge, bulbous vegetables look a little intimidating. Well, sometimes you just gotta grab it and torture it and taste it and put spices on it until you understand what you have.

Bok choy is one of my FAVORITE veggies because it provides somewhat of a crunch and easily takes on flavors. I used 2 leaves and chopped it all up and tossed it in. It’s always a good idea to wipe off your bok choy stalks with a towel to make sure all the dirt is gone.

The last thing I’m gonna do before I lid our blow to simmer for a few is to add 1/2 tsp of sesame oil (for added flavor) and 1/4 c rice wine vinegar to once again make our flavors super-bold. Now, stick the lid on and turn your heat to low.

Now, on to our jicama salad.

Jicama, you say? WTF? Pronounced HICK-a-ma, I may have never known about this little treasure, had I not experienced it one evening at dinner on the isle of Grenada.

I decided to let Honey taste it, instead of describing the flavor to him, in fear that he may be repulsed. The only way I can think to describe it is a less-sweet apple with the texture of raw tater. Now does that sound appealing or what? :/ Always best to taste first and describe later! Here are our jicama salad ingredients (with another added later as an after-thought).

This was my first ever jicama purchase, just so you know. I knew I was going to shred its little body, but I just went with instinct to take its hide off. Out came the carrot peeler..

I used the large holes on my cheese grater to easily grate the jicama into perfectly thin strips. I decided I wanted a little more than I’d chopped off, and in doing so, discovered that the skin peeled off pretty easily..

See? Learning as I go! πŸ™‚

Next, I sliced the apple away from the core and used the big holes to shred it too. I left the skin on for color, but apple skin is a little messy to shred. It just wasn’t as pretty as the jicama shreds, but who cares! It’s certainly going to be TASTY! I squeezed half a lemon’s juice into the mixture of jicama & apple to give it a zest, but mostly to keep the apple from turning brown (which had already begun in the seconds after shredding).

While shredding the apple, I remembered I had just bought fresh dates from my local organic food store, The Good Shepherd. What a great way to top off this sweet salad! Medjool Dates! If you’ve never had one and the opportunity presents, PLEASE eat it. Everyone deserves a piece of sweet heaven on the palate, and fruits just don’t get much sweeter than Medjool dates.

After chopping up the dates, the only thing left is to gently hand-toss them in with the shredded jicama, apple & raisins. This dish was AMAZINGLY delicious. I may have to make it at least once per week. Honey loved it too and it was the perfect match for our spicy Colon Blow!

After another round of spices on the Colon Blow (no more salt, however), it’s ready to plate and enjoy!

Ingredients for tonight’s version of Colon Blow:

– brown rice/quinoa mixture (pre-cooked earlier in the day)

– 4 cabbage leaves

– 1 red onion

– 1 ancient pepper (bell pepper, poblano

– 2 cups broccoli florets

– 2 bok choy leaves

– 1 tbsp EVOO

– 1/2 tsp sesame oil

– 1/4 c red wine vinegar

– 1/4 c rice wine vinegar

*Use apple cidar vinegar if you don’t have the others. I have never bought or cooked with white vinegar, so it may work too, but I’m not familiar with it.

– pinch of salt

-1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cajun seasoning, & cumin

Ingredients for jicama salad:

– chunk of jicama

– 1 apple

– 1/2 c raisins

– 4 Medjool dates

– 1/2 juice of a lemon (to prevent apple from turning brown)

Directions for Colon Blow:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp EVOO in a good size skillet on low-medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Chop cabbage & add to the skillet. Stir everything around a little after the addition of every following ingredient.
  3. Chop onion & add to the skillet.
  4. Chop pepper & add to the skillet.
  5. Chop broccoli & add to the skillet.
  6. Chop squash & add to the skillet
  7. Pour 1/4 c red wine vinegar into the skillet.
  8. Season with a pinch of salt, 1/4 tsp coarse ground pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cajun seasoning, & cumin.
  9. Chop bok choy & add to the skillet.
  10. Drizzle veggies with 1/2 tsp sesame oil.
  11. Add 1/4 c rice wine vinegar to the skillet.
  12. Stir everything up and put a lid on it.
  13. Turn the heat to low and cook for 7 minutes.
  14. Take the lid off and add another 1/4 tsp of all spices, except salt.
  15. Cook for another 3 minutes with the lid off.
  16. Serve over brown rice/quinoa mixture and enjoy!

Directions for jicama salad:

  1. Chop off a chunk of jicama & use a carrot peeler to remove the husk (or just peel off if you can!).
  2. Use large holes of a grater to grate jicama.
  3. Chop apple meat from the core & use large holes of a grater to grate the apple (with skin).
  4. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon onto grated apple/jicama mixture.
  5. Chop 4 Medjool dates into small pieces.
  6. Add dates & 1/2 c raisins to apple/jicama mixture, gently hand-mix and enjoy!
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Grocery Shopping Fascist. Err, I mean GENIUS!

For the first time on my own, I am having to be careful what I spend at the grocery store now. I have been VERY fortunate in that respect in the past, and I have definitely done it up & eaten well! I certainly plan to continue to do so, but cost is one thing I feel like I have stamped across my forehead right now. I wasn’t really sure where I was going with this last night, but today while grocery shopping, the answer was in my hand. πŸ™‚

I am a recovering pack-rat (tendencies will always be there, but habits changed). One thing I do hang on to is receipts from groceries. Last night I gathered them together from June to present and began to go through them. I used Excel to create columns of what the item was, how much I bought, if it was bulk, the cost, where I bought it, and the date. Out to the side, I wrote the price changes and dates, as well as prices at other stores for the same item.

I felt relieved in some way when I was finished, but I wasn’t certain as to why. I was satisfied with my chart and that was that. I wanted to better track our food spending.

For health reasons, we are trending towards vegan/vegetarian for a little while longer, and as I can’t speak for Honey, but right now I would keep it up best I can. Two things about eating clean is that it is EXPENSIVE and TIME-CONSUMING. I’ve got time right now! We all know that! So, I need less expensive.

I keep a magnetic pad of paper on the fridge so Honey & I can write our food & otherwise needs on it when we think of it (kisses have been found on that list before!). Today I printed out the Excel spreadsheet I’d made and was able to just check the items from the fridge list onto the spreadsheet, and I added any extras not on the spreadsheet, on the side.

Let me tell you. I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS WHILE SHOPPING!!!!!! I kept texting Honey to tell him of my findings. I went to Kroger first (where all the tofu & veggie cheese is, and typically better-looking produce…more genetically modified? Meh.)…and then to Wal-Mart, and using my spreadsheet as a reference, I knew I could look at an item and be all whatEV!!! I’m not buying that here! For instance, sesame oil at Kroger was $4.49. I paid $2.50 at Wally’s for the SAME SIZE BOTTLE. WTF!OMG!BBQ!USA! Exactly! Very quickly I realized the tool I had in my hand and I was so excited about it!

I came home and prioritized putting away groceries and getting kisses, THEN I logged my new receipts, new products and prices. I feel all YAY! and like I’m on my way to being some grocery shopping genuis. Or, at the very least, I will hopefully get the best deal I can. πŸ™‚

I was certainly surprised at the barely-there, but still VERY THERE price increases on products from month to month. Ten cents here…8 cents there…they think they’re sneaky. NO MORE, I SAY! Well, I may not be able to talk Wal-Mart back down to their original price, but I will feel all 1-upped when I catch them with those mark-ups. I would have never realized or cared before. I do care a lot about food, however…and I am hoping this new system will just make itself right on at home. Wish me luck! πŸ˜‰

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Experimental Dinner: Vegetarian Wontons with Sweet Chili Sauce & Kale Chips.

I ended regular dining at Chinese buffet places about 4 years ago. One thing I have always missed was wontons. I would always get the cream cheese wontons and just eat the cream cheese parts, leaving the rest of the wonton behind. πŸ˜€ I saw some National Geographic program once about Aboriginees who eat honey ants. Basically, the ant abdomen is filled with food storage that they’d normally survive on, but people have different ideas…and literally suck their little honey-filled butts off. (Abdomen=butt in the ant world. Don’t ask me how I know these things.) My point is that whenever I’d eat just the cream cheese out of those wontons, I’d always feel like I was doing it the same way the natives would eat the honey ants. They discard the head…I discarded the rest of the wonton.

Anyone following me here?

Moving on.

I’d passed wonton wrappers for months at the grocery store. I picked them up once and my eyes bulged at the 160 calories per serving, and I quickly moved on. The next time I picked up the wrappers to see if the nutritional information had changed since the last time, my eyes bulged in excitement as I noted the serving was 8 wrappers! HA! I guess I hadn’t noticed that part before. Into the cart it went and my ideas started churning.

Kale chips are a true and trusted winner in our house. TOO simple to make and mega-delicious. More on this in a bit.

I used trusty FoodGawker for wonton cooking inspiration, since I’d never dealt with these little babies before. I was pleased to find instructions on steaming the wontons, as opposed to all-out frying. I’d remembered eating them steamed before and enjoying that texture a lot. The closer to anything doughy for me, the harder I’m going to love it.

So with cooking instructions and a mind of what I wanted them to taste like, the experiment began. Here’s what we started with tonight…knowing at the very least these items had made the cut: leftover brown rice/quinoa, tofu, cream cheese, and the wonton wraps.

Next, I started to create the filling. Cabbage sounded Asian-y to me, so I thought that would be a good base. You can’t tell in the photo, cause I photographed early, but I shredded this pretty finely, just by slicing thinly one way and then the other.

I love to stare into my fridge with the door open. This may be because I was reprimanded for it as a child. Not too long…just long enough for the food to speak to me. What? What’s that calling? Ahh…the red bell pepper that stayed hidden during Veggie Frittata Morning. Definitely. We needed something bright and cheery in the land of neutral-colored food at the moment.

I used just under half of the pepper. When I do this, I just cut the piece I want right from the pepper and leave the rest in tact. I hear that any veggie left with its stem on will last longer. I diced my piece up and in she went with the cabbage.

We love raw onion around here, but I didn’t want chunks tonight…just the essence. Oooohhh fancy! I sliced the onion paper thin & added it to the bowl. I hoped the light shining through the onion would show how thin it is. πŸ˜€

Having had no foresignt into tonight’s meal, I didn’t marinate the tofu like I normally would when using it. Sooo…more experimenting! After rinsing and gently pressing the tofu with paper towels, to get most of the moisture out, I tossed the pre-cubed pieces in a bowl with some chili powder, salt & pepper, and just a little fish sauce (no, this doesn’t taste like fish), just to make the seasoning stick to the tofu. I was pleased when this worked. πŸ™‚

I heated sesame oil in my skillet and tossed the tofu in to start to brown.

Before we get a little dirty in the kitchen with our wontons, it’s time to work on the kale chips.

Now. Kale. You usually see it as the unappetizing garnish on your plate when you order something meaty at a restaurant. I worked at Logan’s Roadhouse once upon a time and I garnished every plate with kale. Looking familiar? Looking appetizing? NO! Heck no.

Never once did I consider it to actually be edible, let alone tasty. Never once did I even try a piece then. Never once have I tried a piece un-kale-chippified at this point either, but I would! I found a kale chip recipe a couple years ago, and it was an instant hit with us.

After pre-heating to 350, I covered a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzled EVOO on it, using a pastry brush to evenly coat the pan. I sprinkled a little sea salt over the pan as well.

Next, I tore off bite-size pieces of kale and placed them into a bowl. I added 1 tbsp EVOO to hand-toss onto the pieces.

Next, all you do is arrange them on the baking tray so that they’re not overlapping and re-sprinkle with sea salt. Go lightly here. These things bake to be paper thin and a little salt goes a long way. Typically I also sprinkle shredded parmesan onto the kale…I just forgot tonight! πŸ˜€ They were delicious anyway. But if you have shredded parm, by all means, add it! Go lightly with the cheese too. Into the oven it goes for 15 minutes.

I gave some painstaking attention to the tofu at this point and used tongs to turn each little piece over in my skillet. The tofu sizzled on low-medium heat for about 6 minutes per side, browning just 2 sides.

Now! Time to get messy!

I wanted to re-created my honey-ant/cream-cheese dream, but I wanted a healthy-ish wonton tonight. I used half a package of Weight Watchers brand (cheapest brand at Wal-Mart), low-fat cream cheese and hand-squished it all into the veggie blend.

The sounds that emit from squeezing cream cheese by hand are…entertaining. This was fun and it certainly ensured the cream cheese was worked into all of the veggies. Honey took the photo of my hands before I scraped them clean and washed them off. Umm…make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before the squishing begins! I did. πŸ™‚

By now the tofu should be finished. Turn it off and remove tofu from the heat and onto another surface. I put the pieces on my cutting board.

Now, it’s time to put together the wonton. It was only when I began to open the wontons that I noted this on the package..

Instructions AND delicious recipes??? Well. It maybe could have saved me some research today, but right now, I didn’t have time to stop and ponder…just move forward! There were about 10,000 wonton wrappers in this package, which was $1.67…I took out half the package. Pretty lil things. My research also shows these wrappers are simple to make. Maybe next time!

I started to pile ingredients into the wrapper. These little guys seemed really small, suddenly…I had to play around with proportions so I could just get them closed. I started with a 1/2 tsp brown rice/quinoa leftovers.

Atop this went 1/2 tsp of our cream cheese/veggie concoction, and on top of that, two cubes of tofu. Literally, this was all that would fit.

I went ahead and heated 1 tbsp sesame oil in the skillet to await our wontons.

Egg white was recommended on the packaged instructions, but I used water instead and it worked what I am assuming is just as well, to aid closure when pinching together the corners of the wonton. I’m not sure I had any other option in closing these things…I would have had to use less filling, and that just wasn’t something I was willing to do. I wanted a hearty wonton!

I decided that 8 wontons at a time would be good to work with, and not overcrowd the skillet, so in they went for 3 minutes to brown on the bottom.

Yes, a couple of these were a little ugly. Good thing appearance is only a portion of taste! πŸ˜‰

After the 3 minutes, to steam these to perfect, I shielded myself (and the rest of the stove) with a lid while quickly pouring 1/4 c water into the skilled on the side & even more quickly lidding this while the water & oil popped & got crazy. I turned the heat to low. This was a brand new experience for me and the violent reaction in the skillet was a little unnerving!

After 6 minutes in this steam environment, these wontons were DONE! I love that shiny, steamed texture. YUMMM!

I removed them to a paper towel on a plate to try to de-grease just a little and started on the next batch. I believed I could eat 8, and Honey believed he could eat a lot more, so I made 2 more batches just for him. πŸ™‚ Honey doesn’t have to be mindful of calories. MUST BE NICE! Grr. πŸ˜‰

Sometime around now, the kale chips should be done. We pulled these amazing treats out and started chowing right away! You can’t just have one. I don’t care if you get sick just looking at veggies, you will LOVE kale chips. They are crispier than any potato chip I’ve ever had, and they just get paper thin and delicate. GAH!!! SO YUMMY!!!

Next I started on some sweet chili sauce. I’d had this with spring rolls at our local Thai restaurant and could literally drink a cup of it. I pulled this recipe off FoodGawker and although it was certainly tasty, I will make modifications for next time, namely less garlic & less crushed red pepper. We like hot food around this house, but 1 tbsp crushed red pepper and minced garlic was overkill. I’ll reduce both by half the next time…but the sauce was definitely tasty and I can’t wait to make it again! I also didn’t have any cooking sherry, or sherry otherwise, so that was left out. I’m not familiar with cooking the sherry…any insight into the flavor profile this addition would make would be appreciated! πŸ™‚

Since I was busy with putting wontons together (and also because it wasn’t my recipe), I didn’t take a bunch of sauce piccies. Here was everything together in the pot, simmering away for 10 minutes.

Around the time the sauce was done, so were the wontons. It was SOOO time to relax and enjoy this delicious meal!! Honey and I loved the wontons. I am thinking, however, that my next wonton experiment will have to be dessert. πŸ˜‰

The kale chips look a little greasy on the plate, but it’s just the shine from the EVOO! They are light, airy and delicimous!

Ingredients for wontons:

-wonton wrappers (however many you’re hungry for!)

-1 package tofu (I happened to have pre-cubed, which made things easy)

-2 leaves cabbage

-1/2 red bell pepper

-1/4 c red onion

-1/2 package cream cheese (I used low-fat to save calories)

-1 tbsp sesame oil for tofu + 1 tbsp for every batch of 8 wontons

-1 tsp chili powder

-pinch of salt & coarse ground pepper

-1 tsp fish sauce

-1 c cooked brown rice/quinoa (leftovers)

-1/4 c water

Ingredients for kale chips:

-3-4 stalks kale

-2 tbsp EVOO

-pinch of sea salt

-shredded parmesan if you have it!

Recipe/directions for sweet chili sauce: here

Directions for wontons:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil over low-medium heat in a skillet.
  2. Rinse and gently press tofu with paper towel to absorb as much water from the tofu as possible.
  3. Put tofu cubes in a lidded container and toss with chili poweder, salt, pepper, & fish sauce until well coated.
  4. Add tofu to the hot sesame oil and brown for 6 minutes on each side.
  5. While tofu is browning, begin on your wonton filling.
  6. Dice cabbage, red bell pepper & onion and put into a bowl.
  7. Check your tofu, and if the 6 minutes is up, carefully turn each piece over with tongs to brown on the opposite side for 6 more minutes.
  8. Hand-squish 1/2 package of cream cheese into your fresh cut veggies until thoroughly blended.
  9. Your tofu should be done by now. Take it off the heat and dump your tofu onto a heat-safe surface, like a cutting board.
  10. Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil on low-medium heat.
  11. Place 1/2 tsp brown rice/quinoa onto the center of the wonton wrapper, followed by 1/2 heaping tsp of your cream cheese/veggie mix, and 2 cubes of tofu.
  12. Using a dab of water on your fingertips, gently pinch opposite points of the tofu wrapper together until it appears relatively together in the middle (this took a little patience, but I realized that close enough would work!).
  13. In a large skillet, I placed 8 wontons at a time in for browning.
  14. Set your timer for 3 minutes.
  15. After your 3 minutes, and with your skillet lid as a shield for you, add 1/4 c water to the skillet and quickly put your lid on top.
  16. Turn your heat to low and set timer for 6 minutes and allow wontons to steam.
  17. After your 6 minutes, remove wontons from heat and enjoy!
  18. Repeat steps 13-17 for as many batches of wontons as you can eat. πŸ˜‰

Directions for kale chips:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil & coat with 1 tbsp EVOO and a pinch of salt.
  3. Tear off bite-size pieces of kale from 3-4 stalks and place into a bowl.
  4. Drizzle 1 tbsp EVOO over the kale chips and gently hand-toss until well-coated.
  5. Place kale pieces onto baking tray, making sure the pieces don’t overlap.
  6. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and shredded parmesan.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes and VOILA! Ready to eat!!!
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Experimental vegan dinner (aka tempeh salad & spaghetti squash).

Sometimes I get a hankerin’ for something and no matter what, that’s what’s for dinner. Here was last night’s hankerin’:

Right, so…anything come to mind? No? Me neither. I went to foodgawker & found no inspiration. That rarely happens. I’m lost wondering how to combine spaghetti squash & tempeh (and it also be tasty). So…I just stared slowly. Sometimes dinner just creates itself and that’s what happened with this. I started out with what I knew needed to be done. I needed to cook my squash and I needed to get my tempeh into a marinade.

A challenge with hard squash (for me) is cutting it. Just slightly under being hard as a rock…just soft enough for a knife-tip to penetrate it…and then you’re on your own. ALWAYS*ALWAYS*ALWAYS* with the blade facing AWAY from you, slowly stab the tip of your knife into the middle of your squash and just pressssss the tip down into the squash about half way. Then presssss the blade handle down, away from your other hand, which is holding the squash, down as far as it will go. Imagine my hand holding said squash on its left side..

Now, spin the squash and do it to the other side.

Flip the squash over and start again on the un-touched side. Be patient with this! It’s better than having to make an unexpected trip to the ER with your fingers on ice because you tried to cut your squash too fast. Just take your time! Eventually, you’ll be all

…which is the face of sweet success. My spaghetti squash is now in halves.

Now, scoop the seeds out. This is easily done with a spoon. Save your seeds! We’re going to roast those lil babies too.

I have never seasoned squash before roasting it and I have roasted oodles of squash…tonight I was feeling a little friskey (note, no whiskey sitting in piccies anywhere)…I just wanted to do things different all the way around.

I used my awesome silicone brush and spread drizzled EVOO onto each half of squash. I probably used 1/2 tbsp on each half. I sprinkled just a pinch of sea salt & coarse ground pepper on each half. Normally, I would go for some mother freakin butter, brown sugar & cinnamon, but in the spirit of vegan dinner I opted for savory. Yes, tonight EVOO + salt & pepper = savory. Writing this now, it has occurred to me that last night’s tub of buttery non-hydrogenated olive oil spread may very well be vegan. Anyway! Maybe next time.

Next, find your casserole dish and put about 1/2 c water in the bottom. Turn your squash FACE DOWN in the dish. The water will help to steam your squash. This is how I’ve always done it. Anywhere I look, I see it roasted face up…I’ve never tried it, so do as you please!

Now, cover your dish with saran wrap.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DON’T DO THAT!!! The saran wrap will melt & break away onto your dish! Just trust me here! I was thinking I was creating a steam environment to speed up the roasting. No. I may try foil next time if that’s what I want…no more saran. Hey, this was and experiment and I am half blonde. *grumble*

Anyway.

One good thing to do when using ANY casserole dish is to set it on a baking sheet. It just makes everything easier when it comes time to remove it!

The next thing we want to do it get our tempeh into a marinade ASAP. Even though this stuff is da bomb, it ain’t gonna taste great without some assistance. For what I was beginning to formulate in my mind for my tempeh dish, I wanted the flavor to really POP. No shyness tonight! Here’s everything I used in my marinade..

That bottle without a label is my extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). I buy in in bulk cause I go through it like a mo-fo, but I love my bottle with the handy little spout to pour it with. I eyeballed 3 tbsp EVOO, 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, and 1 tsp of everything else into a quart zip lock & in the tempeh went. MMM!!!

How did I choose my ingredients? I wish I knew. Everything that sounded yummy I chose…but the vinegar and agave nectar were already on my mind. I wanted a tang of vinegar to my end-concoction tonight to help bring the other flavors (keep reading!) together. The agave nectar was to compliment the vinegar so it wouldn’t get out of hand.

Give your tempeh a 180 every couple minutes to keep the marinade doing its job. Just flip the bag over.

Now, let’s work on those squash seeds.

I’ve always remembered roasting the seeds…any squash variety…even pumpkins at Halloween! I just love them.

Pull all your seeds out of its squash web and rinse them in a strainer. Pat dry.

NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DON’T DO THIS EITHER!!! Scrap washing the seeds. They’ll be fine. No patting dry. Don’t do anything but separate them out. Obviously they stuck to my paper towel and I had to pick almost every last one back off.

Now. Toss another 2 tbsp EVOO onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spice things up with a pinch of sea salt, coarse ground pepper & chili powder. Dump your seeds onto the sheet and stick in the oven with your squash. No, we didn’t re-season the other side of the seeds. It’s cool. It’ll work out.

Now we’re ready to continue with the rest of the tempeh dish. I decided to make a tempeh “salad”. I’m going to saute the tempeh when it’s ready and toss it with all of this:

YUMMY! The only missing ingredient for me was some cilantro. It just has looked pathetic my last few trips to the grocery. I guess I need to grow some! We love cilantro around here. On my side, this is genetic. Mom & I could eat cilantro sandwiches. If you don’t know what cilantro is, it’s the little green vegetative flecks that’s usually in your salsa or pico on Mexican food night out.

Okay. Now. I’m not thinking you can’t cut a veggie. I’ve always had my own way of slicing & dicing, but one night long ago I searched YouTube for a video on pepper prep. I knew there had to be a faster way, and there was. My previous YouTube link is to the video I watched…DO NOT SUE ME IF YOU SLICE YOUR FINGERS OFF!!! NEVER EVER cut towards your fingers! I like the video because it does show you how to properly hold a knife…a little overboard spending half the video showing you this from different angles, but whatEV. I cut her steps in half.

Here’s the first one. Cut the top off, rotating the pepper. You can carefully pull the top right out, complete with most of the seeds.

Then just give the pepper cup a little bit of a spanking, right on its rump and the rest of the seeds will fall out. I like to do this over the trash can. Pull the rest of the pepper off the seed clump to use. Cut through one side of your pepper cup and unroll it. Next, remove that fleshy white stuff. NOBODY LIKES YOU, FLESHY WHITE STUFF!

I must have not taken all the photos I thought I had. I had cute little prep bowls filled with my diced bell pepper, maters and avacado, but they are nowhere to be found. Well, you’ll just have to imagine them. K? K.

Go ahead and pull your seeds out of the oven. Use the tongs to flip them around, re-coating them with EVOO & spices already on the tray, and stick them back in the oven.

My mom recently showed me an easy trick to cutting avacado. I don’t know how you do it, but I had always cut those babies in half and pelled the skin off and THEN slice them. Err. Hey, I’ve been making it up as I go along. The easiest way to get it out is to hold the avacado in your palm and VERY CAREFULLY cut into it long-ways (and stop there if you want nice strips) and then again cross-ways. Then, run a spoon down into it and scoop out the avacado. SOOOO easy!

I have never felt comfortable stabbing an avacado pit with a knife to get it out. I don’t care how simple it’s supposed to be, I see an ER trip. My mom has had extensive hand pain and problems, due to mis-stabbing an avacado pit. Listen. if it’s just you and the fam, just get on in there and do it country style. That’s right, I’m not ashamed. I sink my teeth into that thing and pull it out. No, my mouth doesn’t touch the avacado and it wouldn’t matter if it did! Why? Because the only other person eating tonight’s meal kisses me already, AND beacuse I didn’t stab my hand! C’mon, we’re all friends here. Get your mouth on that pit!

Speaking of avacado pits, have you ever seen the inside of one? Tonight’s pit split right down the middle. So smooth. A nice big ball of food for that big seed! Maybe one day we’ll review how to get these things sprouted.

Keep your diced avacado, pepper, & tomato separate until the last minute. Nobody wants smushy, wet, tomatoey avacado.

Remember the tempeh from way back when? It’s time to cook that bad boy! I heated 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a skillet for a couple minutes on medium and then dumped the tempeh in, making sure it all had enough space to cook. I like a nice crust on my tempeh, so I I let it sit for a good 6 minutes on one side.

Now, take your skillet by the handle, lift if from the flame and give it a good healthy back and forth a few times to get the tempeh sliding across the skillet again. I used tongs to flip every piece to the other side. I wanted a guaranteed crust! Cook for 4-6 more minutes, depending on your desired level of crust and then turn off your flame.

Pretty soon, your squash buzzer should ding.

DING!!! Okay, great! Pull your squash and seeds both out of the oven and VERY CAREFULLY (with a spatula or something that is not your fingers) turn the squash over…this will help to cool it faster. After a couple minutes, you’ll be able to start forking your spaghetti squash. Ooh! That sounds fun! Spaghetti squash comes right out of the squash and turns into spaghetti. It’s a beautiful thing. Just lightly scrape with a fork. It’s easy!

The only thing left to do is to dump your tempeh, avacado, tomato & pepper into a bowl together and gently hand-mix. Next time, I’ll keep my diced avacado in the fridge until it’s time to use, just to keep it as firm as possible. Again, cilantro would be the bomb here. Now, you have tempeh salad!

The spaghetti squash was served on the side and I found a new liking to this as a savory meal.

What? What’s that you say? Cheese quotient? Psh. Like I’d forget!!!

You vegans out there, close your eyes.

The REAL finishing touches…a light sprinkling of feta, and topped with those roasted seeds! πŸ˜€

Ingredients for this meal:

1 spaghetti squash

1 tbsp EVOO + a pinch of sea salt & coarse ground pepper (to season squash)

1 tbsp sesame oil (for sauteeing tempeh)

1 package tempeh (Krogers is the only place I can find it where I live)

1 small tomato, or 4 REALLY small ones

1 avacado

1 bell pepper (any color)

Marinade for tempeh:

3 tbsp EVOO

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp worcestershire sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp buffalo sauce

1 tsp agave syrup

For roasting squash seeds:

2 tbsp EVOO + pinch of sea salt, coarse ground pepper & chili powder

Directions:

  1. Turn oven on to 350.
  2. Wash and slice your squash.
  3. Use 1/2 tbsp EVOO on each squash half, and a brush (or your fingers) to coat. Sprinkle a pinch of salt & pepper to the halves.
  4. Pour 1/2 c water into the bottom of a casserole dish.
  5. Place your squash halves face down into the dish and put into your oven for 1 hour.
  6. Cut tempeh block into cubes.
  7. Make your marinade by dumping all of the marinade ingredients into a quart zip-lock bag, and then add your tempeh. Flip the bag over every few minutes to assist the marinade process.
  8. Separate your squash seeds and prepare your baking sheet for them with parchment paper, EVOO & spices. Toss your seeds onto the sheet and put them in the oven.
  9. Dice your peppers, tomatos & avacado & store in the fridge until ready to use.
  10. Pull the seeds out of the oven and use tongs to give them a toss on the baking tray to re-coat them in EVOO & spices, then put them back in the oven.
  11. When there’s about 15 minutes left on your oven timer, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a skillet for a couple minutes.
  12. Dump tempeh into your skillet and let brown for 6 minutes, then give your skillet a good shake to help re-coat the tempeh in sesame oil and use tongs to turn your pieces over to the opposite side for another browning.
  13. Turn your skillet off after another 4-6 minutes of browning.
  14. When your oven timer dings, pull out your squash & seeds both and turn the oven off.
  15. Allow the squash to cool for a couple minutes and then use a fork to gently scrape your spaghetti right out of your squash! Generally, it scrapes from side-to-side, as opposed to lengthwise.
  16. Combine tempeh with diced tomatos, avacado, bell pepper & about 1 tbsp fresh cilantro if you have it!
  17. Serve and enjoy!
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Italian Chicken Crockpot Night.

Tonight’s dinner is super-fun because there are so many variations you can have! I wanted something comforting, yet healthy, of course. I flipped through my homemade recipe book (3-ring binder with an index & loose-leaf notebook pages of recipes I have created that have WORKED) and decided what I wanted to make.

This recipe is great if you want something flavorful and with that cooked-all-day taste, but you don’t really want to work for it. You literally get to do whatever you want while your dinner is made. It’s basically like you have a personal chef tonight. Yes please.

After pulling out the frozen chicken and waiting about 30 minutes, I realized I could wait through the rest of the night and into most of tomorrow for my chicken to thaw, or I could speed things up and actually eat tonight, using an alternate ingredient, so…for the first time with this dish, I experimented with something other than raw chicken. I used cooked, canned chicken. Under raw chicken circumstances, dinner would take 2 hours in the crockpot.

Everything else I used (except water), is pictured below. The Jamesons on the rocks was for me again tonight, and not for the meal. πŸ™‚ My ingredients were defiantly set out upon the rock hard package of frozen chicken.

I also went ahead and turned my crockpot on high, since there’s not much prep going into this.

I don’t know about your place, but here at the petting zoo, the dogs earn their keep! Part of their duties involve the pre-wash dishwasher cycle, before the real dishwasher washing takes place. As a reward, most nights, they get toppins’ of some sort for their kibble. Tonight’s toppin was the juice from the all natural chicken breast cans, cut with water & a little drizzled EVOO on top after mixing the kibble with the chicken juice.

MMM! Doesn’t chicken juice look yummy? Yeah, me neither. The beasts think it does, though. They began to crowd me as I was pouring it from the cans, and the cats began to yowl.

The next part is my absolute favorite. Dumping everything into the crockpot!

This is also where you can start to add variety. For example…my original recipe called for mushrooms. Well, we used them last night with the stuffed shrooms, so that was out of the question. We have plenty of broccoli & red onion on hand — two of our faves anyway, so there it was!

If you like smushy, cooked-to-death veggies, then I recommend adding them to the crockpot now. If you like veggies with a little texture leftover and full of taste, then add your veggies later.

Either way, add your chicken to the crockpot now. My cans were pretty big at 13 oz, so if yours are the size of regular tuna cans, use 4, instead of 2. This will allow for leftoveres!

Cream of chicken (COC) or Cream of mushroom (COM) soups can be interchanged here, I think. I created my recipe with COC, and tonight it’s all I had anyway. HAD I had COM soup, I would have used it, since I was out of shrooms. But anyway. I buy the reduced fat type, simply for the reduced fat part. Use the original kind if you like! Fat it up!!

You can also make this MUCH more creamy & cream cheesey by using the entire package of cream cheese. Wonder how I know this?? Yeah, that’s right, I went there once. It was wonderful. Reality calls for half-a-pack, for calorie’s sake. Again, here’s a spot for an option.

Another option here is adding more of the ranch seasoning. I used 2 tbsp, because I just wasn’t in the mood for INTENSE ranch flavor…honestly, I’m not much of a ranch girl, or a dressing girl for that matter, but the dry ranch dressing packets do make for a zesty flavor now and then. Add the entire packet if you need some extra zest in your mouth! It will happen.

Slop everything into your crockpot and make sure it’s on high. Give it a little stir. Maybe like 5 times around, then lid it. It’s not going to mix up just yet, so don’t even try. Set your timer for 15 minutes.

(*If I were using raw chicken tonight, I’d set the timer for 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes) and not come back until then. I would also add 1/2 c water to begin with.)

DING!!! Take your lid off and stir around about 5 more times, then put the lid back on and set your timer for another 15.

Now is the perfect time to get to work on your veggie prep. I used half a red onion and about 1 1/2 cups of broccoli. Again, more variety here! Use whatever veggies strike your fancy, and that you think would taste awesome with creamy chicken. Try shrooms for sure sometime, or along with another veggie. If I had had shrooms tonight, I would have still likely added the broccoli & onion.

I like this photo because I get to show off my veggie cleaver. I love you, veggie cleaver. I wish you were 4 times bigger with no extra weight!

DING!!! Okay, great! Another 15 minutes of your life has passed and it is heralding the addition of your fresh veggies to the crockpot. FRESH, I said. Please don’t use frozen, unless flash-frozen. Even then…wouldn’t it be mushy? Anyway. Put it all in. Gorgeous! Add another 1/4 c water.

Now, give it about 10 whirls of a stir, get your veggies coated with your soup. Set your timer for another 15.

Now is also a good time to boil your water for your pasta. As you can see, it’s gluten-free tonight!

I do salt my water and I also add 1 tbsp EVOO to my water. That’s right, I do it up all the way. Gluten-free pasta has a nasty habit of sticking together, so the EVOO really is important. With the brand I used tonight, I have found it can be a little bitter-tasting after cooking…odd. Thus, the salt. Just a pinch!

DING!!! TIMER!!! Stir, stir, stir that crockpot concoction, make sure everything is nice and coated. Cover and set for another 15!

*smack*smack*smacking his hand* HONEY!!!

In the 15 minutes left, we decided we needed garlic toast too. A nice toasting, a spread of OO stuff, a shake of garlic powder, and a dash of garlic salt. Perfecto!

DING!!! OMG! It’s ready!!! That’s it! Turn that pot off and get some pasta or rice in your bowl ASAP!!! Top with a couple heaping scoops of your creation and get ready to be satisfied in your mouth AND your stomach.

We added a pinch of shredded parmesan to the top as the final step to meeting today’s cheese quotient. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Italian Chicken Crockpot Night:

– 4-6 raw chicken breasts (or like tonight, 2 13oz. cans), cut into chunks

– 1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup (I use low-fat)

– 1/2 box cream cheese (again, I use low-fat)

– 2 tbsp dry ranch dressing mix (tonight I used spicy ranch mix)

– 2 tsp coarse ground pepper

*Use whatever veggies you like, or whatever you happen to have handy.

– 1 1/2 c sliced mushrooms (stems removed)

– 1/2 red onion, chopped

– 1 1/2 c broccoli florets, separated into small pieces

– 3/4-1 c water

– 1 pinch salt (for pasta water)

– 1 tbsp EVOO (for pasta water)

– 1 box pasta (gluten-free for us!) or also great served over brown rice.

– pinch of shredded Parmesan (to top dish)

Preparation instructions:

  1. Turn the crockpot on high and add chicken.
  2. Add soup, cream cheese, dry ranch, pepper, and 1/4 c water.
  3. Stir around 5 times or so and put the lid on.
  4. Set timer for 15 minutes and amuse yourself otherwise until your timer goes off! (If starting with raw chicken, add another 1/4 c water & set timer for 75 minutes.)
  5. After your ding, remove the lid and stir around about 5 times.
  6. Set timer for another 15 minutes.
  7. Prep your veggies, then find something else to do until your timer goes off.
  8. After you hear the ding, remove the lid, add veggies to the crockpot and stir a few times to coat them in the liquid.
  9. Add another 1/4 c water and stir again.
  10. Put the lid back on and set your timer for 15 more minutes
  11. Put your pasta water on to boil. Add a pinch of salt & 1 tbsp EVOO to your water.
  12. After bringing to a boil, cook your pasta. I prefer slightly al dente. πŸ˜‰
  13. Strain your pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in.
  14. After your timer goes off, stir about 10 times and set for another 15 minutes. Go play, but come back to stir every couple minutes this time!
  15. Make garlic bread if you want some!
  16. This time, when your timer goes off, you’re done! Turn off your crockpot & unplug if for good measure.
  17. Put your pasta or rice if you’ve made that into your bowl and top with a couple scoops of your chicken dish.
  18. Use a pinch of shredded parmesan to top things off and ENJOY!!!
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Gluten-Free Biscuit Morning.

Gluten-free biscuit mornings have, for awhile now, been exciting times. There were many-a-morning, not so exciting, during my beginner gluten-free experimentation days. Gluten-free was inspired by my Honey, who had a rather severe intolerance when we met. After it was under control through diet, he’s done okay most days with a light, glutenous meal, but at home pretty often, we strive for freedom of the glorious, sticky goodness.

In getting to know gluten-free baking, I’ve experimented with many types of gluten-free flours like Masa, brown & white rice flour, tapioca, soy, coconut, buckwheat, millet, and on and on. It was out of sheer necessity after trying the gluten-free loafs of brand-name rock-hard, crumbly, tasteless terrors. There really was NOTHING like horrid gluten-free bread from any store shelf I pulled it from. I believed in my heart there had to be something better!

After weeks of experimentation, I finally found a combination of flours and other ingredients that made a yummy, chewy, gluten-imposter biscuit. I shouted with joy when I broke it open and it didn’t crumble…and it stuck to the roof of my mouth as I ate it. The advent of delicimous gluten-free baking had arrived. πŸ˜‰

An ingredient I had used in perfecting my biscuit is a little pricey, so my goal this morning was to try a new gluten-free flour concoction that was less expensive, and yet still didn’t crumble, or almost as bad — have the texture of cornbread (happens a lot using rice flours).

Turns out I was successful! I am going to make an adjustment next time and hope for just a little better. Also, for the first time I lightly rolled the dough into balls and pressedΒ  a bit on the baking sheet. I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen, as I didn’t have enough baking powder in there to make anything rise. Next time I’ll go with the old-reliable drop-biscuit style, instead of this. But! It was still super-yummy and I met my goals of more cost-effective, non-crumbly, and not corn-bread texture.

I sift all of my flours to keep things as light & airy as possible. Nothing like a heavy gluten-free rock. I know this because many biscuits before these came out that way.

Part of my nose-dive into being creatively unemployed is to DO something with my gluten-free biscuit recipe. I’ll keep you posted. I need a snazzy name for these melt-in-your-mouth puppies.

A little salt…a little sugar…I find in gluten-free baking it’s better to use than to not. Everything always gets baking powder too. It’s the only way to get a rise out of your dough, that I’ve found. I have many more experiments ahead, however. I’ve always wanted yeast to actually WORK. I can’t seem to buy any that is still active, despite the labeling.

We’re fans of Stonybrook reduced fat organic milk around here. Dairy and me are tight and it’s my favorite. Also, It had 5 stars, as opposed to my other Wal-Mart option, Horizon Organic (2 stars) on a cruelty scale I saw once. I realize NO milk is cruelty-free. Yes, some days I do actually abstain from dairy because I can’t take the guilt. I’ve tried soy and rice milk countless times, people. I just can’t deal. I *do* use non-fat, powdered milk in many creations, and I believe my next biscuit morning will involve that, as opposed to the real thing — just to see.

Never again! What was wrong with me? My only control in my life now is forming biscuit dough into little patted-down circles? No. These biscuits are much more fun and airy when they are DROPPED. Next time, biscuit. Next time.

Viola! Cookies! Err, I mean BISCUITS!!!

They do look a little like cookies in this form…I liked how they broke open on top. Seriously, though. Drop biscuits.

MMM! This was my plate. One of my favorite breakfasts my entire life has been eggs over easy with toast. Today, it was with a gluten-free biscuit & turkey bacon! Below is an action-photo of yolk running out of my egg where I broke it with a piece of biscuit. πŸ˜€

An additional warning about me is that I have always hated matching. I don’t wear 2-piece clothing things that come together at the store…I don’t like matching accessories…I don’t like sets of dishes that match. I love the plates I have, and yes they are a mishmash of here and there. I am realizing that what I grab off the shelf may not be *THE* most spectacular or thought-out dish for photographing my food…hopefully I’ll think of that at some point and get the hang of it too. Those stripes above are just washing out my dang biscuit colors.

Below is Honey’s plate. He chose to butter & honey (the bee kind) his biscuits. Honey also prefers his eggs scrambled, so I typically do mine and then do his in my hot egg-over-easy pan so they’re fresh & warm when they reach his mouth. πŸ™‚

If you have any biscuit brand name contributions, hit me up! Let me know!

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Firsts.

Firsts.

Well, in the past 24 hours, I have become unemployed, joined FaceBook after years of refusing, and started this blog…with a lot of other things in between. I am moving forward and exploring my creative outlets while I have this β€œtime”…this transitional period. Positive thoughts, hard work and some creativity are what I see ahead. I hope I can have a little fun on the side sharing yummy things here since cooking and food has become a passion for me, and a way to relax.

As I pulled things out to begin making dinner tonight, I thought of all the times I wanted to photograph what I was making and archive it or share it and hadn’t. Tonight I figured I was on no deadline, so I took my time and took some photographs. I’ll upload dinner tomorrow at some point, as well as food fun from tomorrow. It’s getting late tonight. πŸ™‚

Happy eating everyone!

Love, Alexis

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Vegan to Vegetarian Over Dinner.

Cooking dinner on the night I was “non-retained” from my employment, my brain had already auto-kicked into frugal mode. I looked around the frigde & pantry & as usual, took stock of my items and sat down at the computer with my homepage foodgawker.com. I enjoy searching out ingredients that I have and scrolling through photos of meals created with those items and then somehow blend what I see into that meal’s “expermiment”. πŸ™‚

Tonight sounded like a good night for something brawny and filling, yet I wanted it to be as healthy as possible. I decided on quinoa burgers! I’ve made turkey burgers twice now, and Nature’s Burger a time or two, but never a vegan burger. I knew I had my handy Cuisinart and I knew that somehow I needed my idea to literally stick together so I could pull this off.

I began by cooking my quinoa and wild rice together. Under non-tummygrowling circumstances, I would have cooked brown rice, but 20 minutes was more up my alley tonight for waiting to make these little wonders, and I knew the spice in the store-bought wild rice mix would be plenty of added flavor for my idea. I added 1 tbsp of EVOO (what, I still like that term) to the cooking quinoa & rice. The brown stuff in the little glass is Jamesons’s on the rocks. A little whiskey on unemployment night never hurt nobody. The big chef’s knife is my favorite for everything, even pearing and fine detail work. I feel powerful when I hold it.

I decided to have yet ANOTHER go at making baked fries tonight. I *NEVER* order french fries when eating out (although I tried TGI Friday’s sweet potato fries while on vaca a couple weeks ago…ummm…YUMMY.)…I have enjoyed trying my hand at experimenting at home. Previously, I’ve been deflated at my baked fry attempts. I understand it can’t be as delicimous as the real thing, but dang-it, I want it to be! This night, I discovered that my missing ingredient had been a not-hot-enough oven. Every experiment before had been at 400 degrees…tonight I was feeling a little riled, probably from the whiskey, and shot my hot box up to 475.

I sliced 2 Russet taters into home-style shapes and had my Honey line a pan with parchment paper and spread 4 tbsp of EVOO around on there with some sea salt, fresh-ground pepper, paprika & chili powder. The taters got shaken with 1 tbsp of peanut oil in a gallon freezer bag until well coated, rubbing them individually within the bag. I do love to pet my food. I also measured out a cup and a half of fresh broccoli & spinach to add to the burgers, you know, to make them super-healthy & to give a bit of extra wetness & stick-to.

*side note, I don’t always take blurry photos. This was another whiskey side-effect. πŸ™‚

After the quinoa & wild rice finished cooking & cooled for a few minutes, I dished it into the Cuisinart along with the broccoli, spinach, & 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed (for extra nutrition & the binding factor).

Yes, I grind my flaxseed in my coffee grinder.

Your reaction to this next photo may be just like my Honey’s face when I told him what we were having for dinner. But seriously…don’t you feel healthier just looking at this? MMM…don’t forget, itΒ  has the spice of that wild rice mix.

I scooped out the warm mixture and began to shape it into burgers. If something makes it to patty-shape, it’s a burger, in my opinion.

I used 1 tbsp of sesame oil over low-medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Our little vegan burgers got a sizzle on each side for about 8 minutes to make a satisfactory crust. With about 3 minutes left on the 2nd side, I added small slices of baby swiss & muenster cheese to melt and revert from vegan to vegetarian. Hey, it was nice while it lasted, but one ingredient you’ll gain weight from looking at so much here is cheese. It’s one of my favorite foods and I try to meet a cheese quotient in my daily diet. All of those around me, eating the food I make must as well.

Lactose intolerant??? There are supplements for that. Eat my cheese.

Did I mention we made stuffed shrooms as an appetizer? Well, Honey did with very little instruction from me. It was his first time. A tiny bit of low-fat Weight-Watcher’s brand cream cheese in the bottom, topped with sea salt & coarse ground pepper, a pinch of mozzerela & a pinch of shredded parmesan on top, slid into the oven with the roasting taters for 15 minutes & viola…a decadent, scrumptuous appetizer as we await our burgers.

I love a lot of raw, red onion. Mmm. You better love it too, if you’re the one kissing on me, and thankfully Honey does. A bit of sliced tomato sounded good too…

As you can see, we don’t have burger buns around the house. I’ve yet to try my hand at some gluten-free versions (if I bake, it’s typically gluten-free). So, we toasted our 9-grain bread and worked with it. No, I don’t like bites of just bread…but they were worth it to get to the burger. MMMMM!!!! I will definitely make these again. They were SO delicious! I put the remaining un-browned burger patties in the fridge for later use. My baked fries turned out great for the first time ever too! What a great night for eating πŸ™‚ (Homemade pickles courtesy of mom. Thanks, mom!)

Ingredients for vegan quinoa burgers:

– 1/2 c qunioa

– 1 box Rice a Roni wild rice

– 2 1/2 c water (for cooking quinoa & wild rice together)

– 1 tbsp EVOO (added to the quinoa & rice while cooking)

– 1 1/2 c fresh broccoli florets

– 1 1/2 c fresh spinach

– 2 tbsp flax seed

– 1 tbsp sesame oil f(or browning burgers)

Ingredients for making your vegan burgers vegetarian:

– 2 slices each baby swiss & muenster, cut from corner to corner into triangles

Burger toppins’:

– fresh sliced raw red onion & tomato, low-fat Miracle Whip, stone ground mustard & mom’s dill pickles, all held between 2 pieces of toasted 9-grain bread.

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Add rinsed quinoa & wild rice to water, along with EVOO, and bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce to low to simmer for about 20 minutes (until all water is absorbed).
  2. Add pot of quinoa & rice to the Cuisinart, along with broccoli, spinach and ground flaxseed and just turn it on until it looks blended. I think it took around 1 minute for mine to look blended.
  3. Add 1 tbsp sesame oil to your non-stick skillet and heat for a couple minutes on low-medium heat. If may start to smoke a little. MMM, that’s okay! The burgers will taste great! πŸ˜‰ Form whatever size burger patties you want with your mixture and flatten slightly. I cooked 4 at a time in my pan and set my timer for 8 minutes, flipping when the timer went off and browning for another 8 minutes on the other side. At 3 minutes, I topped the burgers with the cheese slices and let them melt for the remaining 3 minutes. Turn off skillet, add toppings & enjoy between bread slices, burger buns or just by itself!

Oven-baked fries ingredients:

– 2 large Russet baking potatos, cut into home-fry shapes

– 4 tbsp EVOO (to spread around baking sheet)

– 1 tbsp peanut oil

– parchment paper to line your baking sheet…your fries will NOT stick!

– gallon freezer bag for coating taters in peanut oil

All spices optional:

– 1 tsp sea salt

– 1 tsp cracked ground pepper

– 1 tsp paprika

– 1 tsp chili powder

Preparation instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 475
  2. Add sliced, raw potatos and peanut oil to freezer bag and shake well, rubbing the tater slices with the oil to ensure they are well-coated.
  3. Line your baking tray with parchment paper.
  4. Use a pastry brush or clean fingers to smear your EVOO and half of your spices around on your baking tray.
  5. Dump your peanut-oiled tater slices onto your baking tray and arrange neatly. Or not. Arrange sloppily if you like, just make sure they are not over-lapping if possible.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of your spices on top of your taters.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and put into the oven to bake for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove aluminum foil after 5 minutes and let your taters bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove taters and use tongs to gently flip each tater onto its backside for another few minutes of baking.
  10. If you like your fries a little soft in the middle, remove them in 10 more minutes. If you like them crispy, leave in for 15…if you’re somewhere in between, then take it out in 13!
  11. Turn oven off & remove tater slices to a paper towel to let some of the oil be absorbed.
  12. Serve and enjoy! I eat mine with ketchup and Honey enjoyed his with BBQ sauce.

Stuffed shroom ingredients:

– As many shrooms as you want to eat!

– 1/8 tbsp low-fat cream cheese for each shroom

– 1 tsp shredded mozzerela (or whatever cheese you like!) for each shroom

– 1 pinch shredded parmesan to top with

– pinch of sea salt (optional) for each shroom

– pinch of coarse ground pepper for each shroom

Preparation instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 475.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil & spray lightly with a non-stick spray. We used a very light spray of canola oil
  3. Remove stems from your shrooms & gently wipe them clean with a paper towel.
  4. Line shrooms up on your baking tray, hole-side up, and put your cream cheese in the bottom of each.
  5. Add salt & pepper on top of the cream cheese.
  6. Add mozzerela to each shroom.
  7. Top each shroom with parmesan.
  8. Bake in hot oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned on top.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 3 minutes or until it doesn’t burn your mouth!
  10. Serve & enjoy!
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