Cran-apple oatmeal

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This picture looks just like what you’d find a cereal box. Enlarged to show texture, as they say.

I came back from a 3-day folk music and dance festival last night. It was really great, but dancing for 5-6 hours/day can really work up an appetite. During my return carpool, my fellow travelers and I started to talk about oatmeal. And this morning, surprise surprise, I was really craving a nice hot bowl. However, my fridge is missing several important items, like fresh/frozen berries and almond milk (my milk-like beverage of choice this month), that I usually use to make my oatmeal taste less like, well, just plain oats. So I scrounged a little and turned up a jar of applesauce and a bag of craisins (both items I try to keep in my pantry). I thought, well, if cran-apple juice is delicious, maybe cran-apple oatmeal won’t be so bad. I made a good decision, cran-apple oatmeal might be a new favorite.

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Tee-he-he, the craisins are on top of the apple sauce. Silly craisins.

Time to prepare (if oatmeal is already cooked): 5 minutes

Time to prepare if you have to cook the oatmeal: about 30 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal (I prefer steal-cut oats because they have a firmer texture, but any type will probably work)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/8 cup craisins (dried cranberries)

Instructions:

  1. Put oatmeal in a bowl
  2. Add brown sugar. I find that adding the sugar before the other ingredients helps the sugar to spread more evenly over the oatmeal.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir mixture.
  5. Eat.
  6. Adjust cran/apple/sugar ratio to desired taste.

A note on oatmeal: Believe it or not, cooked steel-cut oatmeal reheats really nicely in the microwave. I like to make a big pot on the weekends (about 2 cups of uncooked oats) and then store the oatmeal in a Tupperware in the fridge. On a Wednesday morning when I’m already feeling pretty down about the day, I scoop some oatmeal into a microwave safe bowl, heat it for 2 minutes, add some milk-like beverage, sugar, and fruit, and voilà, instant satisfaction. You’ll (probably) never go back to instant.

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Blizzards and Irish Soda Bread

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This weekend, the storm of the century pounded Boston with about 2 feet of snow. The entire city has been more or less shut down since Friday afternoon. So, what did I do with my free time? Work in a dish room for some extra cash, attempt to join the most epic snowball fight of all time only to find out it had already been broken up by the cops, and bake bread.

I really wanted to make a traditional loaf with all my spare time, but I don’t happen to possess any yeast. So, after a little internet research, I decided on this Irish soda bread recipe. It wasn’t too difficult- the toughest part was convincing the sticky dough it stay in a vaguely round shape. The results were unequivocally delicious. I brought what I had managed to not eat in the 6 hours between afternoon and evening to my friend J’s fondue potluck. There is only thing better than Irish soda bread: Irish soda bread dipped in melted cheese.

I couldn't even wait long enough to take a picture before I started eating this.

I got about 1/4 of the way through the loaf before I could stop eating long enough to take a picture.

Quick Chickpea Dinner

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Chickpeas (also known as garbanzos) are a killer combo of healthy, versatile, and delicious. This quick ‘n easy weeknight dinner will liven up any plate with the wonderful, classic combination of lemon and rosemary. You can easily adapt it to any combination of spices you have lying around (one of my favorites is paprika and garlic).

Serves: 2

Time to Prepare: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 wedges) + more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • salt (to taste)

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Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas until the foamy stuff at the top is all gone. This serves 2 purposes: it helps remove excess sodium and it helps you fart less. I could be wrong about this, but my mom always told me that the foamy stuff on the beans is what makes you fart. It seems to work for me, in any case.
  2. Heat oil in a medium to large skillet.
  3. Add chickpeas
  4. Add lemon and rosemary
  5. Cook until the chickpeas are hot, about 7-10 minutes. Then remove a chickpea for tasting and add lemon, rosemary and salt as needed. I recommend waiting to this point to add salt because the flavors can change slightly during the cooking process.
  6. Eat. I recommend removing the chickpeas from the pan first, but I understand this is not always a possibility. I take no responsibility if you burn yourself by eating them directly of of the pan.

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Marmaladin’ it

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So last week I bought a 5lb bag of clementines from Trader Joe’s. Normally, I love Trader Joe’s clementines, but this batch just wasn’t good. I can’t stand to waste food, but I didn’t want to eat these clementines raw, so I decided to make marmalade.

IMG_2528I found an absolutely excellent recipe online. I sterilized my motley crew of glass jars using the instructions on this website.

I made a few alterations to the recipe from Binny cooks. First, instead of using a tea bag for my lemon seeds, I put them in a coffee filter and tied the filter with a piece of thread.

Cute little packet of peptin rich lemon seeds.

Cute little packet of peptin rich lemon seeds.

I also didn’t have quite enough clementines (and they were the small ones from TJ’s), and they were too sweet for my taste, so I added about half a lemon extra.

Not enough clemies?

Not enough clemies?

I also didn’t have enough white sugar, so I used about 3/5 white sugar, 2/5 brown sugar. I don’t think it changed the taste much, but it gave the marmalade a dark caramel color.

Other than that, I just boiled the marmalade for about a million years, jarred it, and left it on the window sill to cool.

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Before

During

During

After

After

The only change I would make next time is I would chop up all of the peel and dump it in to add a little more bitterness.

Marmalading is pretty simple! And here I was thinking all these years that it was next to impossible.

Spagetti and Summer Vegetables in Yogurt White Wine Sauce

The other night I was craving pasta in white wine sauce, but I was also craving something creamy. After perusing the internet, I decided to add a few tablespoons of yogurt to my pasta dish. The result was surprisingly good. The creamy and tartness of the sauce beautifully compliments the texture of the whole wheat pasta and the red pepper flakes add just the right amount of bite. 

I used creamy European style yogurt for this dish because that’s what I had on hand. Probably any unsweetened yogurt will work.

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Time to make: about 30 min.

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small/medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (or more), minced
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup whole cherry tomatoes
  • 8 tablespoons non-fat plain creamy European style yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian spice
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-2 teaspoons roasted red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, flat-bottomed pan. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add yellow squash. Cook for 5 minutes or until squash is warmed through.
  4. Add white wine and peas, cover, and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until peas are thawed and hot.
  5. Add tomatoes and spices. Cook until the mixture is warmed through, about 3-5 min.
  6. Add sauce to pasta.
  7. Add yogurt and toss.
  8. If desired, garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Nommy nommy veggies!

Nommy nommy veggies!

This recipe is still needs some tweaking, but I’m too excited not to share it. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Frozen Banana Men

Aren't they just so cute? His little smile just makes me so happy.

Isn’t he  just cute? His little smile makes me so happy.

Frozen banana men are perfect for satisfying an ice cream craving, and their small size great for portion control. This dessert was inspired by my friend E and by a gingerbread-men mold that I found on clearance at K-mart after the holidays. It’s rubbery so it is easy to pop the little men out and maintain their shapes. Note that the dish can be made just as well in an ice-cube tray. Did I mention it’s ridiculously easy?

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Ingredients:

  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 Tbsp nutella
  • Note: this dish can be made vegan by using a vegan chocolate alternative for nutella, such as vegan chocolate chips. You can also substitute chocolate soy milk for plain, or omit the chocolate all together

Instructions

  • peel bananas into a bowl and mash them until they have a smooth and creamy texture and most of the lumps are gone.
  • Add soy milk.
  • Mix in nutella or vegan substitute. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more soy milk.
  • Pour mixture into mold or ice-cube tray, filling the compartments a little more than 3/4.
  • Freeze for 4+ hours

Told you it was easy.

To store the men more space-efficiently (or your ice-cube tray for something else), simply place men in a freezer proof Tupperware in layers, separating each layer with a piece of plastic wrap.

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Poached Egg Breakfast Sandwich

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Don’t be afraid to poach an egg. In spite of its fancy sounding name, a poached egg is relatively easy to make, and in my opinion even easier than an egg over-easy (which is not easy, no matter what the name says). This sandwich is perfect for brunch: it’s breakfast-y enough for breakfast and sandwich-y enough for lunch. It is one of my favorite weekend breakfasts, it may even beat out pancakes.
The instructions below describe how to poach an egg without an egg poacher. Note that vinegar is added to keep the yolk together while cooking in the water

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 wedge lemon
  • 1/2 fresh tomato (sliced) or about 5 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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Instructions:

  1. Toast bread. If desired, this is a good time to start the coffee.
  2. While bread is toasting, put about 1.5 inches of water in a small pan. Add vinegar. Bring to an almost boil (the water should just be starting to bubble) and then put on low.
  3. Add the egg to the water and cover. For runny yolk, cook for 5 minutes or until white has set.For a firmer yolk, cook for longer, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. While the egg is cooking, slice avocado and spread the slices over the toast. Add lemon juice to avocado. Then lay tomato slices over the avocado.
  5. Gently remove the egg from the water using a slotted spoon and place over avocado and tomato tower. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re feeling adventuress, you can add a little hot sauce, basil, or whatever seasoning suites your fancy.

poaching an egg

I recommend eating this with a knife and fork, the runny yolk can make eating this sandwich with your hands a little tricky.