2014 already?! Hard to believe. But I am fully determined to manifest the best.year.ever. Sparkly, bright, and new. And HAPPY! As Voltaire once wisely said, “I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health”. Mantra for 2014? Check.
Welcome to my family: with a grandmother hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, there was no escaping the obligatory good-luck meal for New Year’s day (not that I would want to escape it, it’s DELICIOUS). Black eyed peas+rice, cabbage with bacon [uncured and nitrate free, obviouslyyyy], and cornbread. All for good luck, though with different connotations: greens are for money, and cornbread for gold… and then I’m not entirely sure of the story behind the black eyed peas, but they’re lucky. Just accept it and move on.
It’s not New Years without some black eyed peas.
Why are they called peas? They’re obviously beans…
Despite the fact that I don’t drink, apparently I make good drinks: this one was even named after me!! Meet the HayBay! Kind of like a mimosa except not. A bit of bubbly, ginger liqueur, and ruby red grapefruit juice. Rather like me, I suppose… bubbly? Sassy? And maybe a little tart, ha.
Happy TwentyFourteen! Much joy, laughter, and happiness to you and yours in the new year. Go hug someone :)
New Year’s Cabbage with Bacon
I’m not even going to do this recipe-style… as far as I know I’ve never seen this recipe written down—all I know is that it comes from the southern side of the fambam. Technically I suppose this recipe is gluten free and paleo!
Cut up a big head of cabbage. Don’t worry about shredding it, just hack it into fork-sized, manageable chunks. After that’s done, slice up 5-6 stalks of celery.
Assuming you previously cooked up a good-sized skillet of [uncured, nitrate-free] baconony goodness (sorry, this is in no way, shape or form a vegetarian recipe. Sorry I’m not sorry, sometimes a girl’s gotta have bacon!), dump some of the leftover bacon grease into the largish soup pot you’re using for the cabbage. Sauté the cabbage and celery in the bacon fat unit it gets soft, but still has a crunch to it. Toss in diced bacon bits and salt, pepper, and hot sauce it up to suit your taste. We use Crystal hot sauce for this, since it’s a family tradition.
Serve hot, with black eyed peas cooked with more bacon (duh) and some cornbread (mine happened to be vegan… can’t get too far away from those contradictions, can we?!).
I sat on my exercise ball and studied bio until my eyes crossed.
I wanted soup.
And cornbread. We’ve been over this…. soup is just an excuse for carby sides. With BUTTER. Because, I ask you… what is better than butter?!
Anyway. I digress.
Soup. There’s a quick potato soup that I’m fond of. It happens to be vegan, comes together faster than you can say boomshakalaka! and is obviously also delicious. This is rather the route I was attempting to go tonight, except I kind of got maybe not even a third into the recipe before I realized I actually didn’t have half the ingredients I was supposed to. Whooops. Planning fail.
So I made soup anyway. Kind of jankily. With the butt ends of things found in the fridge, and minimal ingredients. And it was (emphasis on the past tense here) delicious. And… it’s GREEN! Obviously I love it. Green things rock.
I also decided to put sprouted quinoa flour in my cornbread. A wise decision and one I’m sure I’ll be repeating… and homg BUTTER! ON my cornbread. Obviously a decision that I a) never regret and b) why would you ever regret butter?!
So here you go! A nice, fridge-scrounging Thursday night recipe when your brain is fogged and you think you have more groceries than you apparently actually do.
Boomshakalaka Potato Soup!
Recipe from… the depths of my grey matter. And my fridge. Serves 3 for dinner, with leftovers for one. Beyond excellent with cornbread, hellooooooo obviously you need an excuse for butter. I like this recipe best! But this time I replaced 1/2 c whole wheat flour with 1/2 c sprouted quinoa flour. Delicious.
6-7 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato
5-6 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
a good glug of olive oil
1/2 a clove garlic
2 c low-sodium veggie stock
4 c raw spinach
heaping 1/4 c nutritional yeast
salt and pepper, to taste
optional: chopped cashews for a classy garnish
In a pot, bring some water to a boil, chuck in your chopped potatoes, and boil until they’re fork tender.
In a larger soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Toss in garlic clove and celery, and sauté until the celery is soft. Add spinach, and cover the pot until everything gets wiltified. Once the potatoes are done, drain them, then add them to the pot with all the other veggie biz. Add stock, then puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in nutritional yeast, salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you might like, this isn’t a recipe so much as a template..). Season to taste! Serve hot. Also delicious with some chopped cashews for a classy garnish.
It’s somehow very rewarding to encapsulate your dinner into a tidy little package. Or into a pepper, whatever. And it’s even better when there’s cornbread involved because seriously, when does cornbread NOT make things better?! Right, never, that’s what I thought.
But ick. Why do I always end up making things like this when it’s disgustingly hot outside? It’s like I’m hardwired to automatically want things that require baking as soon as it gets above 90. Because heating your oven to 425 on a day when it’s still over ninety after 5 pm is SUCH a great idea… not. I just love opening the oven door to be subjected to a massive blast of heat… not to mention sticking my face anywhere near it to check and see if things are done.
Ughhhh. Is it fall yet? Because I have an abundance of winter squashes that snuck into our garden and I need to use them. And they usually rudely require ovens. Or at least sometimes. But it’s also too hot for soup and I sadly don’t have an immersion blender (anyone have an extra they want to chuck my way? Anyone? Anyone? … Bueller?) which makes soup making messy.
Okay. Enough whining because I can’t do anything about the weather and these stuffed peppers were delicious!! Easy and healthy too, so obviously they should go at the top of your to-make list immediately. Maybe just wait until it’s not ninety in the shade…
Apparently I love veggies. Who knew?! I “discovered” this after I chopped up a metric ton very meticulously… there was a massive pile of greens in there too (natch) that didn’t make it into the picture (sneaky little suckers).
Bean and Green Stuffed Peppers with Cornbread
Serves 3, with leftover bean/green mixture and cornbread (mostly because I looooove leftovers). Recipe from… the inside of my slightly disorderly brain! The cornbread is my favorite recipe—SO FREAKING GOOD. A little crumbly but properly hydrated (we know how I hate the ‘m’ word), and slightly sweet. So delicious combined with the beans and greens, and crammed inside a pepper. Vegan, full o’ veggies, refined sugar free, and whole grain. Wheeee!
3 largeish bell peppers, de-seeded
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 c mixed greens (I used spinach, chard, kale)
1 zucchini, finely diced
bell pepper remnants from around the stems (waste not, want not!)
a handful of mushrooms, finely diced
a pinch of nutritional yeast
~1 tbsp tahini
salt and pepper to taste
For cornbread [lightly adapted from this bomb recipe, at Eat Well, Party Hard, here!] [refined sugar free, vegan]
1 c cornmeal*
1 c whole wheat pastry flour*
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax+6 tbsp water)*
1/4 c coconut oil, melted*
1/6 c maple syrup (1/4 if you like a sweeter bread)*
1 c non-dairy milk (I use rice milk usually)*
For the peppers, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, drop in peppers and cook until they’re soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from water and place in a casserole dish, and set aside.
For the cornbread: Make flax eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and rice milk. Add wet into dry, stir in flax eggs, and mix until just combined. Set batter aside temporarily.
Preheat oven to 425.
In a largeish sauté pan, heat a glug of olive oil over medium, and add diced zucchini, bell pepper remnants, and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes, then add greens and continue to let them cook (you may need to cover the pan to let the greens reduce in size a bit). Add more olive oil if needed. Stir in both types of beans, then nutritional yeast, tahini, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cook over low for 5-10 minutes, enough to let the oven finish preheating.
Fill the cooked peppers about 3/4 of the way with the bean mixture, then top with a layer of cornbread batter. I had leftover cornbread batter, so I baked it separately into my two 6″ cake pans. Use whatever pan you have on hand, or else bake it on top of the remaining beans (sans peppers). I let my peppers go for 17 minutes, until a tester came out clean from the cornbread layer. The cornbread usually bakes for 15 minutes in a dark pan, but these went a bit shorter as they were smaller volume. Test as you go! Mine took about 10-15 minutes total, as I put them in with the peppers at first.
Cornbread is a hot commodity in this house. Like, better eat it while you can, before it gets sucked down into someone’s stomach (perhaps the resident vacuum cleaner, Vati?!). And by this house, I mean home home! As in, not Salem. Someoneeeee is home for the holidays, hoorayyy! Time for hopefully epic holiday eating, which translates to epic holiday blog fodder. Everyone wins :]
Anyway. Where I was going with this whole cornbread biz. Last night, to accompany tree-decorating, we decided on chili and cornbread (Because one without the other is clearly sacrilege). Cornbread is the first thing I remember learning to make, so I have rather a fondness for it…and besides. It’s delicious. So I got busily to work on the cornbready goodness…measuring here, whisking there… and into the oven it went. Simple pimple, right?
Twenty minutes later, I took it out. There appeared to be a number of things wrong with it. It was brown. This is a crime. Cornbread should not be brown on the bottom. Lightly golden, yes. Brown? NO. Borderline burnt? Absolutely NOT. Strike one. Second. It didn’t SMELL like cornbread. Which is not necessarily a deal breaker, but tipped me off there might be something funky with this particular batch. Strike two. Thirdly. I tasted it.
Blandest, most boring cornbread everrrr. Apparently I left something out?! Because I’ve made this same recipe with the SAME ingredients before, and it was mega tasty. Oops. Strike mega-three. After mutti and vati also tasted it and we all decided that it was not a fit partner for chili, I decided to make another batch (different recipe—I was too irritated at the last one). I really didn’t want to compost the last batch though—it felt wasteful, and I’m obviously not one to throw out food. So instead… I had a brilliant (if I do say so) idea to make it into a sort of cornbread-bread pudding, like for a breakfasty type dish! Huzzah, for frugality! AND. I winged it. But it was super tasty—Vati the Vacuum (hehhe) had two slices for breakfast. It’s lightly sweet but not overly so, and nice and corny—tasty with a drizzly of maple syrup.
Besides, I was quite proud of neatly averting a cornbread crisis… with the creation of some awkward cornbread pudding!
Awkward Cornbread Pudding
Adapted from… the jungle of my brain. Makes one 8 by 8 pan.
For the cornbread: I used a failed version (obviously), but I’m sure normal cornbread would work too, you might just want to reduce the sugar. Mine was originally sweetened with a scant 1/4 c honey. Use your favorite, and adjust sweetness to taste. For a dessertier bread pudding-type, I would use cornbread that is already on the sweet side.
1 8 by 8 pan of cornbread, cut into 1/2″ chunks. Use mostly the soft middle, and some of the crust for texture
1.5 c 1% milk, or non-dairy sub of choice
a good slug of cinnamon
a few grinds of fresh nutmeg
brown sugar to taste (I used somewhere around a heaping tablespoon, perhaps a bit more)
1-2 tsp turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 350.
Place chunks of cornbread into a lightly greased 8 by 8 pan. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the liquid over the cornbread in the pan, making sure to even distribute it. Sprinkle your desired amount of brown sugar evenly over the surface of the cornbread, and then use a fork to turn it under, and completely saturate the cubes of bread in the milk mixture. Sprinkle turbinado over the top (creating a yummy crust-type thing). Bake for just about 25 minutes, until custard is set, and a tester comes out clean. You shouldn’t see too much really liquidy/mushy business in the pan, but it also shouldn’t be too dry (you don’t want dry custard, ewww). Keep in mind that it’ll set up a bit when it cools in the pan. Just about 25 minutes should do it.
Eat. Preferably for breakfast, with maple syrup. MMmmmm… And revel in your cleverly averted cornbread fail.
I’ve put myself on Christmas music lockdown. I have a really irrational urge to listen to it, but I’m resisting. December 1st is the acceptable time to start listening. Tell that to Pandora. Trying to sabotage my lockdown, yeeesh… But really, the Nutcracker is obviously not JUST Christmas music, teeheehee!
Anyway. Besides settling into holidayish time, I can feel myself going into hibernation mode. Not my fault, since Salem has decided that night will fall around 4:30 pm. Or maybe 4:10 today, as I look out the window… Winter weather makes me want to curl up and eat. All this cold weather and dark starts turning me into a bear. Wait. Do bears do yoga and pilates? Okay. Maybe not a bear. A troll? Yeah. Probably. Do trolls hibernate? Maybe they style their really cool hair during the winter months?
This is getting ridiculous. Apparently my brain has gone on holiday without notifying me. I’d be the last to know, I’m sure. I think all that theories studying has gone to my head… but at least the midterm is done and the paper is nearly there (assisted by copious amounts of the bread that this post features). Besides turning into a bear/troll in the winter, I start wanting things like soup. And baked goods. Ha. As if. In what season do I NOT want baked goods?! NONE. How silly life would be without tasty baked treats. Booooring. Besides, the gremlins would get antsy!
Let’s get on with the purpose of this post. Sorry for the long hiatus between posts… The eating last week wasn’t cooperating on photogenic levels.
This soup is immensely satisfying on a hibernating troll level. Or on anyone’s level, really… It’s creamy and thick–rich without being terrifyingly bad for you. It also pairs well with cornbread (what doesn’t?!). I’m sure it would also be deeeelicious with a baguette, were you to have one lurking around. The soup is fairly basic, and uses things typically found in your (ok, my) pantry. It has a pretty short ingredient list, which is a plus when you desperately want soup!
I also decided it was time for the world to see my “It’s Willamette, Damn it!” bowl… You see, people have penchant for mispronouncing the name of my school. In fact, it’s the most mispronounced in the contiguous United States. And it rhymes with damn it. So see? It’s an easy way to remember, for those of you who like to say “Will-uh-met”. NO. It’s Willamette, damn it!
Coconut Sweet Potato Soup (Bisque?)
Adapted from here! Serves… 3 girls. With leftovers.
Peruse your pantry, and acquire:
2 monster sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 cups of water, plus 1.5 tbsp
1 can of unsweetened light coconut milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, also to taste (spicy soup=cleared sinuses, hoorayy!)
Bring the water in a soooop pot to a boil. Add your sliced sweet potatoes, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, making sure the water doesn’t boil away. Mash the sweet potatoes in the pot (with that potato masher that you insisted that you didn’t need, but have subsequently used about 3 times. Thank you, mutti! And your mutti-skills, that decree that you are ALWAYS right), and add the can of coconut milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger. Simmer for about another 15 minutes, until it begins to thicken. In a small bowl, add cornstarch and remaining water, and stir into a thick paste. Add the cornstarch and red pepper flakes to the soup, and cook for another five-ish minutes. (I may have added a bit more cornstarch to get it to thicken faster… the soup was still delicious, and I was HUNGRY). Use a blender (or an immersion blender, if you’re one of THOSE lucky ducks), and puree the soup in batches. Return the soup to the pot, and season to taste with salt, pepper, or more spice or red pepper if desired. I’m sure it would be lovely with shredded coconut on top, but I wasn’t on the ball enough for that…
Eat with this!!
Given to me by an awesome lady who I used to work with (and who is now fully enjoying retirement!), this is a very tasty yogurt-based cornbread. I adapted it a bit from the original recipe, mostly to include whole wheat flour (as we know… I don’t have all-purpose!). I made a half batch of this for Abby, Kira, and I, but I’ll include the full recipe here.
8 oz lowfat plain yogurt (1 cup)
1/4 c olive or canola oil
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c cornmeal
scant 1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly grease an 8″ or 9″ pan.
Whisk together yogurt, egg, and oil. Combine dry ingredients, add wet to dry, and mix well. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for about 20 minutes.
If you halve the recipe, the batter fits into a 6.5″ pan, and is done a bit past 15 minutes. I occasionally have trouble with the center of cornbread being done all the way through in the small pans—check it to be sure.