Because sardines and brownies totally go together?! Uh. No. Just go with it.

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Food prep Sunday has returned in all it’s fridge-filling glory. And actually this week I literally went from empty empty fridge to stuffed fridge. Which is exactly how a Sunday night fridge should look, because Mondays are bad enough as it is without being irked by a lack of edible things.

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I do kind of love having an emptyish fridge — it forces me to get creative and use what I have. And it is definitely not a bad thing to cook down your fridge / freezer / pantry periodically. I had some epic meals at the end of last week, all full of new veggie combinations, as I was working with what I had. There was a deplorable lack of produce after Friday night though, so today I had a glorious Sunday of yoga, grocery shopping, and several hours of food prep. Ahhh. And then dinner and movie and dessert with the purring snugglepuss. Me-time doesn’t get much better than that!

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Also, yesterday was date day in Santa Cruz with E! AND OMG I DISCOVERED CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON!

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I mean, I’d had a bacon chocolate bar and have made bacon brownies… but a piece of bacon!!!! Covered in chocolate!!!! Amazing. And simple to make for myself… but let’s not. I would eat.it.all. But anyway, chocolate covered bacon. I highly recommend it.

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Back to what I was sort of talking about in a rambly fashion — food prep Sunday! Today I did a crockpot red lentil dal with ginger and curry, which will probably last me a week (I made a literal VAT), roasted radishes for later in the week, made a new batch of nut butter and cashew meal, baked a batch of vegan spelt brownies with a tahini-maple swirl (omg.save me from myself and the whole pan), and a sardine ragu over zucchini noodles and greens. Which, depending on your point of view, could be the best thing ever or the most disgusting. Obviously, I fall into the former camp, but hey. We can’t all be the same, or this would be one boring universe.

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But even if sardines straight out the can with a little mustard (and avo) isn’t your thing (ahem. not like I do that or anything), I’m advocating for you to give this ragu a shot.

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The sardines are simmered in red wine and tomato sauce, which tames their sardine-yness. I do love them, but I’ll admit they can be a little much sometimes (I really have to be in the mood for them). But in the sauce, they’re much milder. I served the sauce over some sautéed mushrooms and zucchini noodles with greens, and shredded a little goat cheddar over the top (Redwood Hill Farms is my favorite!! Their cheese is spectacular). Highly recommended, and in my lunch for work tomorrow (because this just gets better and better as the flavors do the leftover tango). This is reason number five billion why food prep days are so spectac: Lunches for at least the first half of the week, so I can be not hangry and cranky for the start of the week.

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Enough babble. It’s Sunday night and time for bed so I can be something less than a zombie come five am tomorrow. And this post is enough of a novel already, so on that note… recipeeeez!

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Vegan Spelt Brownies with Tahini Swirl

These brownies are much cakier than my usual brownies, so if cakey brownies are your jam, you’re in the right spot. I usually like mine fudgier, but these are great for a change. The maple tahini swirl is freaking fantastic as well, so if you like halva or just sesame in general, these are right up your alley. Vegan, refined sugar free, and delicious. Yield: one 8 by 8 pan, anywhere from 6 to 12 brownies, depending on what kind of day you’ve just had. Adapted from Love Me, Feed Me, here!

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  • 3/4 c whole spelt flour
  • 1/4 c + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • a very full 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/3 c unsweetened hemp milk
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease (or use parchment) an 8 by 8 pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together spelt flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, and baking soda. Add in vanilla, applesauce, maple, and avo oil. Stir to roughly combine. Add in hemp milk and chocolate chips, and mix until incorporated. Pour batter into the prepared pan. In a small bowl, stir together tahini and maple syrup. Practice your drizzle skills and make it look pretty as your pour it over the top of the batter… take a knife (or the spoon you’re currently using, if you’re lazy like me) and swirl it into the batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool completely, and store covered in the fridge.

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And now for something completely different….

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Sardine Ragu over Zucchini Noodles

Savory, perfectly textured, and full of healthy fats and lycopene. All good things! Gluten free, low lactose (with goat cheese), and high in antioxidants. If you can, try to eat this on subsequent days — I find that the flavor just gets better and better. Yield: 3-4 servings. Ish. Recipe inspired by Spoonshine blog, here!

  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, frozen or smooshed
  • 3 rainbow carrots, diced
  • 2 cans of sardines, packed in oil (I like Wild Planet brand)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 125 ml red wine
  • 500 ml freshly boiled water
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated cheese of choice, optional
  • spiralized zucchini + sautéed mushrooms and greens for serving, or your fave pasta

Heat the olive oil over medium in a sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, add in onions, and garlic with a few twists of sea salt and pepper, and saute until the onion is translucent. Add in diced carrots, sardines (Including their oil), tomato sauce and paste, oregano, thyme, and red wine. Bring to a boil and let cook for 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper, and add the freshly boiled water.

Keeping the sauce at a high simmer, let it cook, stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes. It should be reduced and thicker, like the consistency of a meat ragu. Once the sauce has reduced, taste and season accordingly — add the tbsp of balsamic, plus more oregano or thyme, or salt and pepper (or all four).

Serve over zucchini noodles or your noodle of choice, with a sprinkling of grated parmesan or goat cheese over the top.

Here’s a little ommm to take into your Monday:

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:)

Toast is really just like a ginormous canapé…

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Ughhh. Waaayyy too hot to cook, much less come up with interesting things that resemble food.

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So instead, you get a photo essay of sorts, of all kinds of interesting things I’ve eaten in the last few days.

High tea! With my maaaamaaaa because we’re awesome. And, well… because I’m OB.SESSED with lemon curd and high tea is an excuse to eat it on everythingggg.

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And beets. Just because beets are delicious.

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And a sort of recipe. I say sort of because really it’s a lazy girl’s dinner but I thought it was pretty, so I photographed it and, well… there you go (or as in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “and ze root of ze wort eez Greek. Zere you go”).

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Tuna in a can is so under appreciated. It’s like an instameal, just add veggies! And hopefully carbs. Because really, what is tuna without toast. And butter. Pleeease add butter, do yourself a favor. And while you’re at it, avo is excellent with your tuna and carbs and butter. Trust me, when it’s a million and one degrees in the shade and it’s 6 pm, the last thing I want to do is figure out dinner. Or stand in front of a stove and cook it. I pretty much just want a genie to appear magically out of my vat of olive oil and magically make my dinner appear.

Fat chance. Like there are any genies lurking about around here, I think they’ve all run off.

But!! This time something of the sort appeared  out of my tuna can… and then I smooshed it all over toast. With butter. And ate it. And loved it. Every. Single. Bite.

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It’s hot.

My brain is hot. Good luck getting anything sensible out of me, besides this:

1) Procure things.
2) Toast bread.
3) Open can of tuna. Ward off any lurking cats.
4) Mix tuna with a teeny teeny bit of plain yogurt…
5) and smash on buttered toast.
6) Top with avo.
7) Disregard forks. Silverware is overrated, eat with your fingers because toast is really just like a large canapé and it’s hot and who cares?

Hot weather calls for easy food. And easy food should be delicious, obviously!

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Sassy savories and other unphotogenic food items

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carpet picnic!

Woah woah woah.

Two savory posts in a row? Is she sick?

..

Nahh. Just inspired! You see… I do make savory food hugely often. Like, my mother says it’s impossible to keep me in vegetables. As in… I eat. Them. ALL. Alllll the time! (And applesauce, that too). Except that usually by dinner time, I have no interest in photographing my food because a) I’m hungry and b) by the time I’m finished photographing it’ll be cold and c) I’m lazy and d) … okay never mind there was no d. Whatever, suffice it to say this is the main list of reasons why I never get around to photographing savory dinners. Also because savory stuff can be kind of uncooperative on the photography front sometimes…. like it’s delicious but it’s freaking ugly. Or it sasses me and gets all unphotogenic when I think it’s going to cooperate. I hate when that happens! No one wants to look at ugly food, right?!

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Anyway… but this time things cooperated! Ish. And I’ve been keeping myself fully stocked in cookies, just so you know (I wouldn’t want you to get concerned, or anything). Besides, I need snacks for after my bodyrock and lifting sessions, durrrr. Sore and shaky definitely qualifies for a snack of a healthy cookie and kombucha…

This dish was a bit of an experiment, which happily turned out well. Gotta love that. It’s easy and comes together in a snap with pantry staples, which is also excellent. ANNDD I invented it! So you should doubly love it and go running to your kitchen, obviously.

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Salmon Primavera with Polenta

Recipe from.. me! The polenta is my favorite recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. The rest was inspired by the can of salmon lurking in the pantry. Serves 3, with a teeny bit of leftovers (though this does make enough polenta for another serving, there isn’t as much topping left).

  • 1.5  c polenta
  • 5 c water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 can of salmon, flaked and deboned (if necessary)
  • 1 zucchini, grated*
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 box of mushrooms (7-8ish), sliced
  • 3/4 c frozen peas, thawed
  • a good handful of fresh spinach
  • marjoram, basil, salt and pepper to taste**
  • grated parmesan, to garnish

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*I used whatever veggies we had, but any would be good. I like the sweetness of peas with salmon though, so try to have those at least (unless you hate them, of course)

**we grow fresh marjoram, so I used a few sprigs, and 2 frozen basil cubes. I salted the salmon a bit before use and then tossed in a bit later, and as for pepper, don’t use my family as an example as we’re pepper-nuts (read: we use an excessive amount on everything). Do what suits you!

In a saucepan, heat 4 cups of water to a a boil. Combine the polenta and salt with the other cup of water, stirring slightly (this prevents lumps). Once the water boils, toss in polenta and whisk constantly until the polenta thickens (for me, 11-12 minutes as I use a quicker cooking, not instant, polenta). Once thick (and you’ll know, as your arm will be about to fall off), remove from heat and stir in about a tablespoon of olive oil.

In a saute pan, heat a good glug of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add marjoram and basil, followed by grated zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Saute until veggies are fork tender and the mushrooms have released some juices. Toss in spinach, peas, and flaked salmon and saute a few minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve over hot polenta with plenty of cheese (obvs)!

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Long ago, somewhere deep in the jungle…

Ridiculously cold weather calls for ridiculously tasty meals. Especially dinners, when you don’t have to go anywhere and you can just curl up and eat peacefully, whilst watching the the emperor get his groove thrown off with your roomie. The entirety of which the two of you could basically quote, between the two of you. But that’s another story entirely. So. Since I am not currently residing in some steamy Mesoamerican jungle, like SOME lucky llamas, I am currently experiencing Salem’s tribute to November, which seems to be freezing fog and coooold weather. Don’t get me wrong, I do love snappy, cold fall days. I do not love wearing  my north face in class because the room is cold… although, that’s probably preferable to going to sleep in a too-warm room… hmm. Anyway. Let’s move ahead! (“Umm.. what’s with the chimp and the bug?!”)

Like I said in the last post, Kira and I have had a run of immensely satisfying dinners. This one unfortunately didn’t yield any leftovers to daydream about… *sigh*. oh well, Kira and I might have had to fight over them (they were that good!). And simple! Not only is this recipe simple to prepare, it’s also economical. Which is excellent, as we’re on a college budget over here. It’s simple, but immensely satisfying. Oh. AND it’s healthy! Pshhh, would I make anything else?! (well. yes. I would. But this is not it!) Like crab, but waaaaay better. Salmon is incredibly good for you—omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for cholesterol (and pretty skin and hair!). Besides, canned salmon is BOMB. It’s like fresh… but cheaper! And just as nutritious. Hooray!! Served with a salad and some crusty bread, this is a meal that is light on the stomach, yet incredibly satisfying. As Kuzko would say… “BOOM BAM, BABY! Let’s get to the grub! I am one huuungry king of the world!”

And no, this dish does not involve essence of llama in any form, thank goodness. My shoulder angels would be against that, I’m sure.

Salmon Cakes

Adapted from Self magazine (I think that’s where I got it!) Serves two. We were hungry.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet (or two, if you’re hungry and want to get this show on the road). While the oil is heating, combine:

  • 1 can of salmon (Alaskan wild, pleeeease!), drained, de-boned, de-gunked, and flaked
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 piece of whole wheat bread, torn into smallish breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Stir to combine all of this together, and then form into patties. We got about 6, probably about 1/4 cup salmon each. Plop into the hot skillet, and saute for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked though. Serve hot, with a side salad and some insanely good Moroccan olive crusty bread. Our salad tonight consisted of spinach, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, dried cranberries, and some chopped goat’s milk gouda (aka BEST CHEESE EVER). Props to Kira for always making super tasty salads! [Salatenmeisterinen?!] Mmmmmm. There’s a recipe to warm up with. See? I told you it was super simple. Eat. Gloat because you’re getting omgea-3s for cheap! Quote movie. Be happy :]

” A LLAMA?! He’s supposed to be DEAD!”… “Yeah… weird.”

Omgea-3s, for the Win!

artistically arranged foil, NOT.

Hoooooray for (Alaskan, wild caught) salmon! Effectively exploding with essential omega-3 fatty acids (which not only make your skin gorgeous, but also contribute to vital body processes like your clotting time) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (which are good for you, period). I LOVE salmon! Not just because it’s good for me, but because it’s super tasty!

I was admittedly a bit freaked out about cooking fish for the first time… I mean, not exactly the first time, but the first time ALONE. This is a BIG DEAL. Because there are no helpful parental types lurking around who you can pester to see if your fish has achieved the correct doneness. No. Instead you must rely on the power of your own fork-wielding hands and superb optical powers of visionary greatness (ok, 20/15 fighter pilot vision, you have to be good for something!) to determine if your fish is done. Happily, I apparently passed this test, as I’m a) sitting here typing this, and b) my fish passed the flake-test, and was super fab. Hooray!

Which was good. Because after spending 3.5 HOURS on the phone with various types of tech support, attempting to ascertain the problems arising from my computer/internet, I was about ready to either get really violent and start throwing things, or start climbing the walls. Or possibly both.

Which means it was a good thing that my dinner cooperated as planned, or we might have had a full-scale meltdown/wall-climbing/throwing-thing fit. Which is never good. Happily, all tech-type things are hopefully resolved (or at least they seem to be, thank goodness), and I didn’t have to throw anything. And my salmon was good.

I got the idea for this recipe from the bestie Julia, but I didn’t follow her recipe exactly. Instead I looked up one specifically for salmon, and used that. I think I’d make a few modifications if I did it again—I’ll try to note them below.

innards.

Salmon en Papillote (serves 1) Adapted from here

  • enough salmon to feed you!
  • assorted veggies (I used a smallish red bell pepper and 3 large mushrooms)
  • lemon slices
  • fresh herbs, to taste
  • salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Rinse your defrosted salmon with water and pat dry. Place each salmon fillet in the center of a largeish piece of parchment paper (or foil is fine. I used foil, I have no parchment paper at the moment!) and season with salt and pepper. Lay a few slices of lemon over the top of the salmon (I think I used 3).

Arrange sliced bell pepper and button mushrooms around the fish. Top it all with olive oil and 2 tbsp white wine if you have it (if not, water works just as well). The recipe calls for fresh thyme–If you like it, use it, but I’m not a huge fan, so I used fresh basil, which was also good.

Roll and crimp the edges of the foil or parchment to make a sealed packet, and place on a cookie sheet in the heated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, until your fishy flakes apart or you deem it done. Careful when opening the packets, since the steam is really hot.

I chased mine with some crazy chocolate cake (made with all applesauce, see recipe here!), which of course made the indignity of the last 3.5 hours seem a bit less offensive. And Voyager, which of course makes everything better.

“Dismissed. *pause* That’s a Starfleet expression that means GET OUT.” -Captain Kathryn Janeway to a very buggy Nelix