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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A little cheese with your vegan risotto?

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Stop the presses!

Something savory?! What the what?

But this was amazing, so I had to share. I totally made risotto in less than an hour (And then I made cookies. All within that same hour) And the risotto was vegan. And then I put cheese on it. Don’t judge me, I love me some cheese (Life would be soooo boring without cheese, no?).  All an excellent use of my Monday, I might add.

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I’m not feeling particularly wordy today, so a short post it is. But the recipe is fantastic and was very well received… sooooo since it’s dinner time in my part of the world, this is directed at those of you over here on the west coast with me: y’all should head to the kitchen with your laptop. Right…about…now! You know you want to…

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Vegan Cashew ‘Risotto’

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Whole Foods site, which is awesome as they have some bomb stuff! Served 4, with leftovers for 2-3. This came together really quickly, and is totally nutritious and sooo delicious. It’s economical too, with most ingredients being something you’d have on hand, or that is inexpensive.

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk (soy, rice, or dairy okay too)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 1.5 frozen cubes, each cube=1 clove)
  • 3/4 c low-sodium veggie broth
  • 20 oz frozen brown rice (which equated to one package. I used frozen as it’s precooked, lessening my cook time)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • ground cracked pepper, to taste

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Soak cashews in just enough water to cover, for a few hours or overnight (I left mine overnight).

Peel, seed, and slice the squash. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then add squash and boil until fork tender (4-5 minutes). Take out about a cup of squashlet cubes for later, and let the rest boil until very soft, about another five minutes. Remove squash from water and set aside.

Drain cashews, and add them to a blender (if you have a non-crap one, or a food processor like me if your blender is worthless) with the very soft squash, cinnamon, sea salt, and milk bev. Blenderize or process until smooth.

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Heat a large saute pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and onions once hot, and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are just beginning to brown. Add in broth, frozen rice, and reserved cup of squash cubes, and cook for another few minutes, still stirring (it’s risotto, after all…). Stir in blenderized mix still sitting in your blender*, followed by the minced sage and marjoram. I added just a wee bit more salt here, as well as pepper. Cook for several more minutes, until the sauce reduces a bit and the risotto thickens slightly (6 to 8 minutes more). Remove from heat and stir in more pepper, if desired.

*the original recipe called for 2.5 c of squash cubes. I definitely had waaaay more than that since I went ahead and used the whole (rather large) squash, so when I added the cashew mixture to the risotto, I didn’t use it all (probably about 3/4 of it). Any more and the risotto would have been too soupy—use your judgement based on how large your squash is, and how much liquid your rice absorbs. I love the sauce anyway, as it makes great dip for veggies or over a salad, so I was happy to have 1+ cups left over!

Garnish. Serve. Eat. Love!

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Lightning-fast mooching abilities and other skills

Mmm. Kebabs.

Why is it way more fun to eat things on sticks? Is it some kind of childish relapse I’m having? I doubt it, considering I hated (no wait, loathed is waaay more accurate) corndogs as a child. Which is like the quintessential kid-food-on-a-stick. Gross. I STILL think they’re gross. Probably even more now than I did. Anywayyy. There’s something about eating chicken on a skewer which makes it waaay more fun than just eating chicken. Boooring.

Besides, then when you’re finished, you can poke your dinner partners with your skewers. Muahahhaa.

Not that I would ever do such a thing…

You know what that makes me think of?! The Mooch Fork!!! I WANT one of these: they’re basically a telescoping fork that can be used for swiping choice bits of food off of your unsuspecting dinner companion’s plates!! What a genius idea. They take poaching to an entire new level. No longer will I have to do one of these: “WAIT! Ohmygosh there’s a METEOR outside, look look look!!” *semi-spastically points out the window while simultaneously gesticulating wildly and sneakily swiping bread or whatever while no one is looking*. Oh no. With a mooch fork, I could just telescope away. No one would able to stop my lightning speed mooching. It might also be useful in the grocery store around the holidays—perhaps to fend off those crazies who try to steal the last can of pumpkin (long range poking might come in handy, you never know…). Does anyone know where to get one of these?! Because I want one, pleaseandthankyou.

Anyway. Food on a stick.

These kebabs are deceptively simple. All they really require is a bit of advance planning and some time. But they make a fab change from everyday chicken…AND you get to play with your food! Winning all around.

uh huh. MOOCHING

Caribbean Chicken Skewers

My family usually makes 6 skewers, so 2 per person. We use wooden skewers that we soak for at least an hour beforehand (to prevent them from burning), with 4 sticks per person (if you use two sticks per kebab, the meat can be flipped evenly on the grill without sliding around…does that make sense?!). I’ll include the amount of food we use for 3 people, so adjust according to your needs.

The marinade recipe is from The Cooks Illustrated Guide to Grilling and BBQ, and is delicious. It makes more than we need, so we’ll usually save some.

Whatcha need:

  • enough skewers to feed your peeps
  • 2 large or 3 smallish chicken breasts, defrosted and cut into chunks
  • 2 large bell peppers (I used one red and one purple), cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, sliced into skewer-able pieces
  • 2 apples, cut into chunks
  • mushrooms, halved
  • zucchini is good too, if you have it!

Marinade:

  • 1/2 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

About an hour before, soak the skewers in water.

Heat the grill to about 500 (ish), enough to get a sear on the meat.

Defrost the chicken, and cut into smallish cubes. Let it sit in the marinade for at least a half an hour, preferably an hour for the best flavor (although that never happens around here). While meat is marinating, cut up veggies so you’re all ready for blastoff…

Once meat has sat for a bit, thread the meat and veggies onto the skewers, alternating so they look pretty! Use two skewers, as I said before, so that you can rotate the meat on the grill without it just spinning on the skewer. Grill for 2 minutes per side, uncovered, rotating the kebabs a quarter turn every 2 minutes, until meat is fully cooked and meat/veggies/fruit are lightly browned (about 8 minutes total for white meat). Remove when there is no pink at the center and the meat is opaque. Serve immediately! I like mine with a sweet potato and mo’ veggies on the side :)