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Friday, January 24, 2014

Quick! Make it in 30 Min or Less!

Because time is of the essence!

I don't have any new recipes this week.  I cooked on Tuesday, but it didn't turn out at all how I had hoped.  In fact, it was pretty bland and boring.  How disappointing!  And since it seems like I just posted a screw-up recipe, I decided to hide my shame and instead, post a collection of recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.  Because it's my blog and I can do what I want.

Doesn't it seem like we're always in a hurry?  In my life, my schedule revolves around going to school, going to work, doing homework, eating (sometimes), sleeping (very little), spending time with The Man, and then somehow, inexplicably, losing several hours a day playing around on the Internet.  [I can't even imagine how this whole "life" thing works for those of you with children!  So many more responsibilities!!!]  Then you have to factor in things like grocery shopping and cooking, and it's amazing we can ever get it all accomplished!

I am very guilty of turning to cans of soup or frozen dinners when I'm out of time (and food) to cook.  But that's not my favorite thing to do.  I have plenty of recipes in my repertoire that take 30 minutes or less to prepare, make more food than the one serving I would get out of a prepared meal, and are healthier and tastier than what I would buy otherwise!  Taste of Home  is hosting a contest for recipes that take 10, 20, or 30 minutes to prepare, so that got me thinking: As I go through the recipes on this blog that I will submit to the contest, why not put together a handy little list as a reference for you fine folks?  I'm just so thoughtful like that.

[As a side note, the majority of my recipes are 30 min or less; however, the contest rules limit the ingredient list to 12 items or less.  So I'm posting those recipes that follow those guidelines.]

Gluten-free Popeye Pasta

Italian Arborio Rice and White Bean Soup

Vegan Goulash

Cheddar-Jalapeno Black Bean Burgers

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Fajita-style Veggies

Balsamic-soaked Apples with Arugula

Pumpkin and Cauliflower Curry

So anyhow, this is a good start.  30 minutes is all it takes, folks.  Use the time wisely.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Maple and Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Tofu

Because I need to start eating healthier!

The first of the year brings so many changes.  Back to school with a new schedule, juggling homework and work-work, those bothersome resolutions lingering in the back of my mind.  Now, to be honest, I didn't officially make any New Year's resolutions, but a new year encourages a new start.  For me, that's to get back into a regular exercise routine, and to eat more greens!!!

You would think that, as a vegetarian, I eat plenty of veggies.  And I do.  But sometimes it's in the form of a can of soup or a frozen dinner, because I've been too busy to prepare real food.  But I can do better than that!  And I'm getting a little fluffy around the middle, so the time has come to make a conscious effort to make food that heals, not just comforts (sorry, hot tempeh sandwiches, your time is over).

This week's edition of "Way Healthier Food" features Brussels sprouts.  I realize that not everyone loves B-sprouts, but they're just so good for you!  Cruciferous veggies have anti-cancer properties, among all the other amazing nutritional content.  And when you roast them, they sweeten a little, getting rid of that pesky bitter flavor they may have otherwise.  I used maple syrup in the sauce to add to the sweetness, sesame seed oil to enhance the umami flavor, and red pepper flakes for some pizazz.  And it was pretty fantastic.  Even the (supposed)  B-sprout hating roomie and the first-time B-sprout eating boyfriend were in love.  This is a keeper.

1 large sweet onion, diced
1 cup sliced carrots
6 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 lb Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut in half
 Salt and pepper
14 oz firm tofu, water pressed out, and cut into cubes
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp molasses
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (less, if you don't want as much of a kick)

Pre-heat oven to 375.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish or casserole dish with cooking spray.  Toss in all of the chopped veggies.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Throw in the tofu.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the syrup, sesame oil, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes until well combined.  Pour the sauce over the veggies and stir until all veggies and tofu are covered.  Bake for 35 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so.  It's done when the B-sprouts and carrots are soft, but not mushy.

 We need more light in this apartment, you think?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Pancakes?

Because sometimes you have to post recipes that didn't quite go as planned...

Mmmm, peanut butter.  It makes everything better, don't you think?  Well, maybe you don't think so, but there is a certain someone in my life who absolutely adores the stuff.  And since I fully subscribe to the notion that "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach," I've made it my mission to supply my man of interest with all the PB recipes his heart (or stomach) desires.  So, for New Year's day, I planned a slam-bang brunch for us, including what would have been some delectable peanut butter cup pancakes!  Except, that's not exactly how it happened...

In my world, pancakes fall under the category of baking.  Not because they're baked in an oven, but because they involve the same ingredients as baked goods, and you can't just make that sh*t up!  So I attempted to modify a pancake recipe I pulled from the internet.  My plan was to add in chocolate chips and swirl in peanut butter while the batter was in the pan.  And it worked!  Um, kind of...

OK, so here's what happened.  First, I had the burner up too high, so the chocolate in the first 'cake burned.  Bummer, dude.  Also, the pan I was using wasn't nonstick, so the pancake wasn't happy about leaving in one piece.  Switch pans, reduce heat.  Next try!

OK, this time, the peanut butter stuck to the pan, resulting in a fall-aparty pancake.  Dang it.

Solution!  After swirling PB in the batter, PUT MORE BATTER OVER IT.

It's a little embarrassing that it took me several failed pancakes to reach this conclusion.  BUT! at least we each got to enjoy one pancake a piece mostly how I had envisioned them to be.  I may try this again some other time.  However, if you are feeling up to the challenge, and are way better at pancake-making than I am, I'll post the recipe below.  [Adapted from this recipe.]

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 cups non-dairy milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seed whisked with 3 Tbsp water
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Peanut butter (I have no idea how much I used, maybe 1/4 cup???)
Peanut butter cups for garnish, optional

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, stirring to mix well.  Add in milk and flax/water mix and stir until well combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Heat a non-stick skillet pan on medium heat.  Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan.  Using a small spoon or knife, swirl approx 1 Tbsp peanut butter into the batter.  Top with additional batter (I would guess about 2-3 Tbsp, or until the PB is mostly covered).  Flip pancake when the top is bubbly and edges are starting to look dry (I didn't time this, maybe 4 minutes?).  When the second side is cooked, remove from pan.  Repeat with remaining batter and PB.  I think we got about 6 pancakes out of this.
Top with a peanut butter cup, to make it look cute.  Serve as is, unless you feel like you need the sugar shock of adding maple syrup.  Look, I'm not here to tell you what to do.  They're your pancakes.  Enjoy them how you please.  I won't judge.