Thursday, July 26, 2018

Quick Martha & Marley Spoon update.

I made the second meal from my Martha & Marley Spoon delivery subscription and it was really tasty.  A steak and Chimichurri with couscous-snap pea salad, pretty fancy for my kitchen.  Not as fantastic as the pork burgers but really still a good and wholesome meal.  The steak was grass fed beef, and the herbaceous chimichurri sauce  really brightened the meal up.  I would have to say that I give Martha & Marley Spoon my full recommendation to those who are looking for really quick and simple meals.  The fun thing about these delivery services is picking up new cooking skills you may not have known before.  The service claims that the meals only take 30 minutes to prepare and I took a few minutes longer but hey, no complaints, it was worth it.  Here are a few snapshots I took from dinner tonight.

Anyone else incredibly surprised that this is my second post in two days?  Because I am. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Things have changed and a follow-up.

I wonder if a 30 second recap of my absence about why I have completely abandoned my blog will suffice?

     Well, in January of 2016 I began studying to become a nurse, it was a extremely difficult program and it totally consumed my life.  So much, that I had to let everything that wasn't nursing school related take a backseat to my education, one of those things happened to be my blog.  As of May 2018, I graduated from my BSN program, then went on to pass my boards and now am training to become a ICU nurse at an incredible institution.  There it is.

     Now that I am back and thinking of exactly where I want to take the direction of the blog, I have ideas.  Too many ideas.  So many ideas that I am overwhelmed.  There are some key things regarding the blog that will not change, I am still by nature a vegetable enthusiast so the blog will still be centered around my love of veggies.  I may include some gardening tutorials, demonstrating urban gardening challenges that I face in my area.  I have had thoughts of only posting recipes centered around only cooking from my garden.  Possibly showing how I use or preserve my harvests.  Some things that have changed, I eat meat now, all the meats.  I know that is a touchy subject for some, but it is what it is.  So the direction of the blog will definitely be different and will definitely be targeting a more omnivorous audience.  I still eat vegetarian and vegan meals here and there but, this blog will be a mix of it all.  I am open to some suggestions if you so feel inclined.  But let's just be real here, before this post I have a whopping 8 blog posts.  8.  I really feel like that means I have no true audience yet, so I totally have the flexibility and opportunity to really mix things up here.

     So for now I am going to start where I left off.  Home ingredient delivery meal services....

    I really love them.  They offer a sense of experiment and convenience that is really just easy fun.  Three of the four services I have purchased were just fantastic.  I won't go into too much detail about the one that was terrible, I mean just truly terrible.  You can, by elimination, figure out the service from this and my last post about meal services.  Lets just say, I threw all three of the meals provided out, deleted the preparation pictures and discontinued my subscription because food was essentially inedible.
     I saved some of the pictures from my February 2015 Hello Fresh Box.  I wish I had the third meal to show you, because I remember it being really tasty yummy freshly made potstickers but I digress.  Here are the pictures the two meals I did remember to save pictures of.  Keep in mind though that these meals were prepared over three years ago I have no clue what they were named or how I prepared them.  The first two pictures are of a roasted potato and beet salad on top of a bed of arugula with goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette.  It was incredible.

The second two pictures are of a garlic and shallot risotto with shaved zucchini slices drizzled in a lemon butter.  Again, incredible.

     I think that brings us up to 2018 😁 where I have recently subscribed to a newly offered subscription of Martha & Marley Spoon.  I have only prepared one of the two meals I ordered but it was delicious enough to inspire me to make this post.  Oh yes, that delicious.  Bring you out of three years of blog hibernation delicious.  Should I say delicious one more time?  I got a screaming deal that included two meals that amounted to less than five bucks a serving.  Not bad for great ingredient delivered right to your door, eh?  Tonight's dinner was Kimchi spiced pork burgers with coleslaw on the side.  Yummmm.  The pork patties were moist and flavorful, placed on a grilled potato bun.  The slaw was not mayonnaise based, which was nice change to regular coleslaw.  I used a cast iron grill pan to cook the patties on, which provided the beautiful grill lines to the pork burgers.
   I have a real quick confession, I just love Martha Stewart.  Always have.  Any recipe I ever made with her name on it has always been great. 

  I will update you on tomorrow nights meal in a couple of days, or a couple years.  Whatever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tangy Purple Coleslaw

     I have a never ending problem in my refrigerator, its called a purple head of cabbage.  It seems like I always have a partial head of purple cabbage in the crisper.  Mainly because I am constantly making these....


.....and you should too, or at least give them a try.  Both of these salads are refreshing mid-winter treats.  I've definitely been on a salad kick lately, I think it's that period of winter where you start to crave summer fresh recipes again.

     Now back to the issue at hand, this purple cabbage thing.  I always end up with a leftover hunk of cabbage when I make these salads.  I can make both of the salads from one head of cabbage and still have about half of a head left over.  I could always just throw it in the compost bin but I really don't like wasting food.  So I thought I would try to come up with some way to use it.  And sometimes when the culinary stars align, ideas turn into recipes effortlessly.   

Tangy Purple Coleslaw

Ingredient List

5-6 cups finely chopped purple cabbage
2 medium carrots, shredded
3/4 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup vegenaise, mayo or miracle whip (whatever you like)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey or other liquid sweetner such as pure maple syrup
S&P to taste (I went heavy on both)

  1. Process cabbage in food processor by pulsing until finely chopped.  
  2. Shred carrots in food processor and add to bowl of cabbage.
  3. Roughly chop onion and add to cabbage and carrot mixture.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey and S&P.
  5. Combine dressing and slaw mix until thoroughly coated. 
  6. Set in fridge for at least 15 minutes before serving.    

     I served this coleslaw with my GranMa's famous fried catfish recipe.  I am lucky enough to have watched her make her catfish enough to come really close to perfecting her technique.  It is seriously the most amazing catfish in the whole wide world.  It's crispy on the outside, moist & flaky on the inside, perfecty seasoned and uuuggghhh it's so freaking amazing.  And of course no southern catfish plate is complete without a slice of non-nutritious plain ole' white bread.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Plated Box Review

     Hey y'all, I'm back!!!  I've been away spending some time trying to decide what diet category I fit into.  I didn't feel good about writing a completely vegan blog when I had switched from eating a totally vegan diet.  Lately I've been eating a mainly pescetarian diet and have been really comfortable with that.  I still eat a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes, I just throw some fish in every once in a while.  

     So, lets get to it. I have I have recently signed up for a few subscriptions to home ingredient delivery services.  They include Plated, Home Chef and Hello Fresh.  What all of these services have in common is that they deliver fresh ingredients and recipes to your door every week with the option of how many servings per recipe and how many dishes you order.  All you need beyond cookware is a cooking oil & S&P.

   This week I received my fist box from Plated and was very impressed.  Every recipe I made was really tasty and I would totally make again.  From their menu selection I chose a miso rice bowl with roasted red fish and fried parsley (pescetarian), creamy orzo with roasted mushrooms and spinach (vegetarian), and tofu, cashew and snow pea stir-fry (vegan).  The ingredients come seperated by recipe and pre measured so there is very little prep work to do.  Also, the quality of ingredients was excellent. I appreciated that the fish came with a little card telling me where it came from and that the company uses sustainable practices, the tofu was gmo-free and organic.  Those are things that makes this lady happy.

The box comes well packaged, the fish was at a proper temperature, the vegetables as well.  I just transferred it all in the fridge until I was ready to cook.

     The first night I received my box I decided to go ahead and cook the fish dish because it was probably the most perishable of all the ingredients and I knew that the next night I wouldn't be cooking because of the SuperBowl.

The Miso Rice Bowl with Roasted Red Fish and Fried Parsley 

Let my start off by saying that I am in no way a fan of miso, miso soup, or miso related anything.  I wasn't sure about how I was going to receive the miso rice but surprisingly I couldn't get enough of it.  It was wonderfully paired with the roasted redfish and quick pickled cucumbers.   One of the things I liked best about the plated experience was learning new cooking techniques, life frying parsley.  I would have never thought that frying a herb could add so much flavor to a dish, but it really brought the entire dish together.  I will be experimenting more with fried herbs in the very near future.

The Creamy Orzo with Roasted Mushrooms and Spinach
(I wish I'd gotten a better picture of this dish, you can't tell how yummy it is by the photo below)

  The creamy orzo dish was really yummy, and reheated very well.  My only issue with it was there was way too much of it, I felt like the portion size was out of control.  

The Tofu, Cashew and Snow Pea Stir-Fry
(The tofu is missing from this pic, I had already started pressing it when I snapped this picture)

     My favorite dish was hands down the tofu stir-fry, it was heaviest on the veggies and the sauce was perfect....I just wish there was more of it(the sauce).  I did think the portion was too generous though, as with the creamy orzo.  I could have easily divided both of those meals into three portions.

     The people at Plated made the entire process super simple, grab the bag labeled for that recipe, the recipe card, read through the complete list of directions and then start cooking.  I found that the estimated cooking time was generally spot on. 
      I definitely saw more pros than cons with this service.  The pros being how easy it is to place your order, the convenience of the pre-measured ingredients being delivered right to your front door, the step by step (with pictures!!) detailed recipes that all ended by really good.  The few cons I noticed were the higher calories of some of the dishes, the distorted portion sizes and the amount of trash the box generated.  I threw away at minimum 15 plastic bags, plastic wrapped foam plus plastic bottles and plastic cups with lids.  I reused what I could and what I couldn't I composted, including the box and some packaging materials labeled compostable.    Overall I was more than satisfied with the quality and attention to detail that Plated served up.  I will definitely be ordering more boxes in the future, I just hope they find a way to be more environmentally conscious about their packaging.

Check back next week for my review on the Home Chef box I received this week!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Veggie Pizza Boats

Its been a whirlwind couple of weeks for me and now that things are settling down I can finally sit down to do a post.  I have been eating out frequently and cooking here and there, so I am really glad to be back to a normal schedule where I can cook every night.  I have been really doing good about brown bagging it at work, but when I get home it seems that I just opt for ordering out.  Now that I am back in my groove I wanted to post something simple and scrumptious that make the bridge to getting back on track easy for you too!

So one day when I was feeling down my best friend. Caity, invited me over for dinner to cheer me up.   And she did.  She made vegan pizza boats.  And they were awesome.  I loved pizza boats as a kid, and completely had forgotten about them.  She always knows how to get me feeling back to normal.  This is her recipe and I just had to share it with y'all.  These pizza boats are so easy and quick that you can throw them together in 20 minutes.

She made them a couple times for me and used different toppings every time,  so they are versatile and you can use whatever veggies or other toppings that you want!  The first time she used a easy vegan cheeze sauce made with nutritional yeast, the second time she topped them with avocado and nutritional yeast.  My version tonight uses raw veggies instead of her sautéed version(which is equally awesome) sprinkled with just nutritional yeast, because I can be a lazy vegan.

Feel free to judge me.

I gave this recipe a try last night...and the night before.... just to make sure I could duplicate it and make it as yummy as hers.

      Veggie Pizza Boats:
1 loaf fresh Italian bread
1 zucchini
4 baby bella mushrooms
2 teaspoons chopped onion
pizza sauce (I used organic Delallo)
1 clove fresh garlic
cherry tomatoes
nutritional yeast
fresh basil
4 tbsp. olive oil
fresh spinach
coarse salt
Italian seasoning
fresh ground pepper

Cut loaf into four pieces, so that you have boat like quarters.  Mix seasonings (Italian seasoning, S&P and minced garlic clove) in olive oil.

Spread oil and herb mixture onto bread.  (If you have a silicon brush, now is the time to use it, I don't have one, so I used a teaspoon.)  Then bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes to toast bread.  This is an important step, so that your boats don't become soggy. 

Spread pizza sauce onto boats, then cover with spinach leaves and then cover in toppings.

Bake boats for an additional 10 minutes.

Top with nutritional yeast and broil for an additional 2 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped basil, I bought my tiny organic basil plant at Whole Foods for $3.99.

Serves two hungry vegans.

Monday, November 4, 2013

5 Ingredients or less: Veggie Fried Brown Rice

     Being a Veg means that sometimes we make recipes with a pretty hearty ingredient list.  I honestly don't mind, the flavor pay off is more than worth it to me.  Saying that, some people (vegans included) can be turned off by long ingredient lists.  I can completely understand why, throwing a handful of ingredients together is considerably less time consuming than assembling a recipe comparable to a build your own rocket kit.

    My Aunt Audrey, who is very encouraging and supportive, mentioned that my previous post Spicy Vegan Quinoa Chili contained an extensive recipe list.  I realized that just like an overwhelming recipe with 15 or more ingredients, the concept of being vegan is overwhelming.  Its a lot to take in.    She inspired me to try and create recipes with only a handful of ingredients to simplify veganism and make it more accessible to everyone.  In my head I imagine these recipes to be pantry friendly, wholesome, healthy and inexpensive.  The task is challenging but somehow, I find it strangely fun.  In fact, I'm such a food geek, and enjoyed the challenge so much I plan on attempting this once a month.

     These recipes will not necessarily be main courses, I will try to switch it up between breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks.  Of course, since I am not Martha Stewart's evil vegan twin, so extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, cooking sauces and S&P will not be included in the ingredient count. 

     The first trial did not go so well.  Okay it was pretty terrible.  Really terrible.  I grabbed dinner from Whole Food's bar a few weeks ago and got way to much per usual.  One of the dishes I tried was a potato and pea curry.  Woah!  It was so tasty!!  I thought that I would be a no brainer to recreate, right?  Umm,  Not so easy.

This is not over.  We will meet again evil curry.

Or meet again again, because I had to eat it for lunch the next day, I have a hard time throwing perfectly good food out.

I did redeem myself tonight with this fried rice.  It is all of the things you never thought 5 little ingredients could be.  Wholesome, nutritious, healthy and inexpensive. 

It is a good idea to cook you brown rice the night before you plan on cooking this or even the morning of would be okay.  For best results the rice should be refrigerated before frying. Cold rice fries up better than freshly cooked rice, it tends to not become as mushy. 

To cook brown rice add two parts water: to one part rinsed brown rice.  In a medium sized pot bring water and rice to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 40 min.  Remove from heat and fluff rice with a fork.

Veggie Fried Brown Rice

1.)  2 c. Brown Rice (cooked)
2.)  1 lg. carrot (cubed)
3.)  1/3 c. frozen peas
4.)  1 c. baby bella mushrooms (quartered, I used organic)
5.)  1 lg. zucchini (cut in sticks)

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons e.v. olive oil on medium high heat.  Cook 1/3 cup onion and 1 large clove of garlic for a few minutes.  Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes more.  Then add peas and scoot onion, carrots and peas to one side of the pan.  Add quartered mushrooms on the unoccupied side of the pan and give them a bit of room, they don't like to be crowded (they are finicky because they are delicious and they can be). 

Once the mushrooms are cooked through, add them to the peas and carrots.  Then add the zucchini and give them a nice color. 

Turn down the heat to medium.  Then go once around the pan with Bragg's amino liquid, then twice around the pan with Tamari.

Now add the cold brown rice, mix it all up and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.  Garnish with green onions and serve with edamame.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spicy Vegan Quinoa Chili

     Don't you just love fall?  Next to spring, it is my favorite time of year.  I think fall aroma's might just might be my favorite thing about the season.  I mean the smell of apple, cinnamon, pumpkin, and spice are just so comforting.  What are some of your favorite things about fall?

     Soups and stews come in a close second on the favorite list for fall things.  My GranMa Ernestine makes some of the best soups and stews I have ever had.  But now that I have crossed over to the dark side, I am exploring some cruelty free recipes that bring me as much happiness as her cooking once did.  That is exactly what the chili recipe does, it is delicious!!!  Just in time for cooling temperatures and shorter days.

     Being that I work full time and attend school part time cooking healthy vegan meals daily can be more than challenging.  Due to being too busy throughout the week to cook, I generally end up eating out for days or weeks at a time.  Eating out like this makes my body and my wallet really unhappy.  Making a big batch of chili that fills my freezer and body with home cooked veggie packed deliciousness is a perfect solution to my time constraints.  By the way, this chili freezes really well.

     I like to pair this chili with cornbread or atop a pile of macaroni noodles to make chili mac.  Tonight, I used avocado and green onion as a garnish, and they really kicked up the flavor. A few weeks back I took this chili(mac) with me on a camping trip with a group of omnivores and everyone was really surprised with how tasty it was.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

     I modified this chili recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.  I changed up some of the tomato varieties, bean proportions, upped the heat level and increased the veggies.  I also omitted the zucchini and added in some corn kernels.  The link to the original recipe is here: Vegetarian Quinoa Chili.

     I also forgot to soak my beans the night before, so I ended up quick soaking them the night of making this recipe.  The method I use to quick soak my dried beans is to add 3 parts water: 1 parts bean, in a big pot uncovered and bring it up to a boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and cover pot with a lid, then soak for one hour.  After an hour, rinse the beans in a colander, add them back to the pot with fresh water and boil for 30 minutes.  Then simply drain and add to your recipe!

Spicy Vegan Quinoa Chili

2 medium carrots (chopped)
3 stalk celery        (chopped)
3 tbsp.  extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno             (finely chopped)
1 green bell pepper(chopped)
1 red bell pepper   (chopped)
1 medium onion    (chopped)
3 garlic cloves        (minced)
1 16oz can diced tomatoes
1 10oz can diced tomatoes w/ chili's
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup of water or veggie broth
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 c. cooked quinoa
2 c. cooked black beans
3 c. cooked kidney beans
1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
3 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
avocado and green onion for garnish

1.) Heat oil until it ripples.  Add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.  Add spices and S&P
2.) Add celery, carrots and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add all peppers and corn then cook for an additional 3 minutes.
3.)  Add tomato paste, mix thouroughly and cook for 3 minutes.  Add water and all tomatoes, bring to boil.  After a few minutes, break up stewed tomatoes into bite sized pieces if desired.  Next add beans and quinoa, lower heat to simmer for an additional 30-45 minutes and season to taste.
4.) Cool.  Serve with cornbread, macaroni or vegan saltine crackers.  Eat your heart out.