Because, BEETS!!!

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I’m having a moment.

Like, RIGHT NOW.

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Because I just took a bite of my lunch and my insides kind of exploded, it was so good. BEST LUNCH EVER! Okay. Not really, probably, but extremely delicious at this particular point in my life and too good not to share. Because, lunch. Which can unfortunately be extremely boring and sad, if not given the proper attention. I know for me it goes something like this: “going about my day lalala… shmaybe some jazzercise, oooh I think I’ll bake bread! And clean things! And OMG I’M STARVING how is it already noon?? Wander wander into the kitchen, yank open fridge and… ugh. Nothing exciting and I am too starving to seriously consider making something interesting. So… eggs. AGAIN. For the elevendy billionth time. Someone save me from the inevitable scrambled eggs!!!” And then no one does so I eat them anyway. Laaaaame.

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BUT!! Today. Today was different.

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Because there were BEETS in the fridge!!! And I looooove beets [Probably excessively. I have never met a beet salad I didn’t like]. Alas, no goat cheese… but that forced me to improvise with cute my beet-lets. And so. Have you ever shredded a beet with cheese grater?? It’s actually quite fun, they’re easier than carrots and don’t fly everywhere like zucchini. No, I don’t spend ALL of my time grating different vegetables. Just kind of… a lot of it, apparently, enough to make me an expert on inadvertant grated vegetable projectiles. Ahem. Moving on.

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This bowl.

A perfect balance of sweet, savory, chewy, crunchy, eggy, nutty, beety. What more could you want out of your normally marginalized midday meal? Give your lunch (and indirectly, yourself) some love and make it delicious. I promise it makes your day ten billion times better! But seriously. This is super fast, easy and delicious… AND full of whole foods just doin’ all kinds of fab things for your bod.

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Red Beet, Roasted Corn and Zucchini Hash, with Egg and Avo

A Wait.. Are those.. Cookies original! Straight from my brain box, don’t say I didn’t warn you. But seriously… make it! Gluten free, full of antioxidants, and vegetarian. Serves 1 [adapt amounts as needed! It’s ridiculously forgiving]. This could also be a really good breakfast, if you’re weird like me and crave veggies in the am. Super fast as well, provided you’re using precooked beets.

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  • 4 steamed and peeled beets, shredded on the large holes of a grater
  • 1/2 a large zucchini, shredded
  • small handful of fire roasted corn
  • small glug of good quality olive oil
  • 4-5 pecans, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 of a perfectly ripe avocado, cubed
  • salt+pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, toss in shredded beets, zucchini, and corn. Sauté for a few minutes, until the veggies soften but are still just a bit crunchy. Season with salt and pepper, and toss in chopped pecans. Turn off heat and let sit for a second. Make your egg (simultaneously, in separate skillet if you’re a talented multitasker) however you like (I like a runny yolk for this but mine broke, so it cooked through. Wah). Top beet hash with egg, cubed avo, and more salt and pepper. Devour like no one’s watching, it’s that good! Or maybe I was just super in the mood for beets. Either way, enjoy your lunch!

Oh… one last thing. Obligatory New Year’s Day eating: cabbage with BACON (!!!), black eyed peas with BACON (!!!) and hot sauce. All my southern heritage in one bowl.

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Two for the price of one: Squashlets AND cookies!

coooookies!

There is an influx of baby squashlets in the garden! And not just zucchini, ohhh no.

So somehow we ended up growing acorn squash in our back garden…. which is odd considering we never planted anything of the sort. I’m guessing some little entrepreneurial seed got excited when we put it out in the compost and decided to become …a plant? Which is awesome, considering I just ate squash for dinner last night and lunch five seconds ago. TWO kinds of squash: acorn aaand zucchini, yesss. And if you’ve been following me for awhile (or at least since last fall), you’ll know that I am madly, head over heels in love with squash. You name it, I’ll eat it. Fact. I am still the Queen of Orange!

Which means that I got creative last night and invented another stuffed squash recipe (and actually did the same for lunch today, such an inspired idea). Both variations are easily adaptable to whatever you have, and are delicious.

squash-lunchlet

Anyway. So besides the squashy excitement, I also made cookies! Um. Why do you look so surprised?!

more adorable mushroom pottery

Because I love graham crackers. And vegan things. And cookies. And as I was searching for recipes, up popped one for vegan graham cracker cookies!! Whaaaat. This is what went through my brain: “cookies!! cookies cookies cookies hmm we haven’t had any cookies around here for the last day or so, clearly time to make more… these have graham crackers and cinnamon oooh”, at which point I was already preheating the oven and squashing the graham crackers into a pulp. Or rather crumbs, I suppose. Anyway. These cookies are fantastic: chewy (although be sure to store them in plastic if you want them to stay that way, not glass), graham-y, and full of cinnamon.

textural appreciation

 

And this way my dad and I don’t have to fight each other for the last few graham crackers, as SOMEONE likes to eat an entire sleeve with milk and call it lunch. Harumph. Vaccuum Vati strikes again. I, on the other hand, like to spread mine with peanut butter (oh really?! Surprise surprise) or mash it into ice cream. This way we can share the crackers aaand the cookies, like normal people. A perfect compromise, if you ask me.

balancing acts are fun with cookies

Vegan Graham Cracker Cookies

Very slightly adapted from Quiche-A-Week, here! This recipe is fab. Just do yourself a favor and make it, nowwww. I got about 20 cookies.

  • 9 sheets of graham crackers (I use Erewhorn Organics), divided
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 c organic peanut butter (mine was creamy this time)
  • 1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • chocolate chippies, optional

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In  small bowl, combine flaxseed and water and let sit. In a plastic baggie, mash 7 graham crackers into a fine powder (or use a food processor, but seriously–smashing them with a rolling pin is wwaaaay more fun). In a largeish bowl, sift together graham cracker crumbs, flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, cream together peanut butter and sugars. I opted to skip the electric mixer and get a bicep workout, but that part’s up to you. Add in flax ‘egg’ and mix. Toss in applesauce and vanilla. Mix again. Toss wet into dry, and mix again, until just incorporated. Break up the last two graham cracker sheets into smallish pieces, and stir into the batter. Add chocolate chippies if you want—I added them to about half the batch, by sticking them into the tops of the cookies.

While the oven is heating, stick the cookie sheet into the freezer—the dough is sticky, so this makes it easier to deal with. Drop cookies onto the cookie sheet by spoonful, flattening slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until slightly firm to the touch. Cool for a few on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.

Eat with a milk-type bev and pretend you’re a child. Works like a charm, every time.

mmm

Southwestern-ish Stuffed Acorn Squash

Recipe by… me! Serves 4. This makes enough filling for 3 squashes (squashi?), so I used the leftover half for lunch today, and stuffed it with zucchini, corn, and egg, topped with a teeny bit of parmesan. Also delicious, do what suits you!

lunch, when it ended up being almost better than dinner!
  • 2 acorn squashlets
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 zucchinis, ideally warm from the sun in your garden
  • a handful or two of frozen corn, defrosted
  • a bit of fresh spinach (this is terribly specific, I know…)
  • cinnamon and curry powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 c shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/3 c grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 425.

Wrestle the squashes to the ground and somehow attempt to cut them in half. I always seem to struggle with this… Once the squashlets are halved, brush the cut side with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place cut side down onto a cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender.

In a saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil and pepper. When hot, add zucchini and saute until tender. Add in black beans, corn, and spinach, and continue to saute. Toss in desired amount of cinnamon and curry powder, and stir to combine. When veggies are done, stir in monterey jack cheese before turning off the heat. Spoon the filling into the cut halves of the squash, and top with cheddar cheese. Eat whilst hot :)

Like I said above, this recipe is infinitely adaptable. Use whatever you have on hand—beans, eggs, any veggies, whatever cheese. Decidedly satisfying in any form!

this was dinner, hurriedly photographed when I decided it actually looked tasty

Close encounters of the Leek-kind

I think Salem might finally be getting out of its RIDICULOUSLY cold weather funk, hooray! I’ve scraped ice off my car before class for the last three days, but it’s lookin’ like a squeegee (that is such a great word) might suffice today. Thankfully. I mean, as much as I like treating ice scraping as a bonus early-morning workout, I’d really rather pass, thanks. Because ice in the uggs is no fun. And because when I’m trying to listen to the radio on  my way to class and the antenna is trapped in its little frozen antenna house, due to sub-artic conditions of 29 degrees, I am not a very happy camper. Although it did make me giggle, I have to say, when I heard this weird noise and turned around to see the antenna trying to fight its way up to the light and majorly struggling. We got there in the end, thankfully… Toots and I ventured out into the freezing fog, and my heater kicked in just as I was pulling into the parking lot at school. Psh. Fail.

Whatever. All this cold weather makes me want to stay inside and cook tasty things (not like I really need an excuse for this, do I?! I think I cook more than I do homework) (But a girl has to eat, RIGHT?! At least I’m doing something productive). When Kira and I were at Trader Joe’s on Sunday, we encountered LEEKS! Which is awesome. Leek is such a funny name for a veggie. I just like the way the word looks, leek leek leek leeeeeek! It’s just fun. Call me crazy, but whatever. Besides, they’re really a hilariously awkward looking veggie. I’ve never dealt with a leek up close and personal, but I’ve eaten them in soup. Which is delicious. But since we had soup at the end of last week, I wasn’t feeling super soupy… AND there was an abundance of quinoa lurking in the cabinet, clamoring to be eaten.

Close encounters of the leek-kind

So now, I can cross dealing with leeks off my to-do list (because you know it was on there, right?!)… thanks to these quinoa-leek cakes! Kira and I had them with salad for din din last night, and they were leekily delicious.

Quinoa Cakes with Leeks and Corn

Loosely adapted from Annie’s Eats, kind of. Makes 13 small cakes, about 3″ in diameter. Or you could make enormous patties…

Procure:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked
  • 1 leek! Cleaned, with the green bit removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread, made into crumbs
  • Frozen corn (or fresh, if you’re lucky)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic hunk (equal to one clove, I use the frozen ones from TJ’s, because they’re mess free and awesome)
  • pepper to taste

To start… Cook the quinoa! Combine 1 cup of quinoa and and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, clean the leeks! Cut off the root end and the really green bits (those are bitter and woody, you don’t want them), and then slice and dice the leeks into little bitty pieces. Put them in a bowl full of water and swish them around, to get all the grime out (this is also why you buy organic!), then drain them through a collander. Kira and I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil, and the garlic clove. Set aside until cool.

When quinoa and leeks are cool: In a large bowl, combine quinoa, leeks, eggs (lightly beaten), parmesan, corn, salt, pepper, and the crumbled slice of whole wheat bread. Form into patties, and cook until they are browned and hold together, about 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with extra parmesan, and with a side salad :)

***Note: We both found these to be a bit on the bland side. Next time I make them (and believe me, there WILL be a next time, they were super tasty), I think I might experiment with adding some spice of some sort, like cumin (pairs well with parmesan), or something of that sort. At least more salt needs to happen, but I also think they could use a bit more flavor. We also did half our batch with corn, and loved it—next time corn is going in the whole shebang. Kira and I were also postulating that the addition of chicken sausage would be good—it would provide the saltiness/flavor that these lacked.

Quinoa up close and personal
this is what happens when you're hungry and your food is hot. steamy lens!