I fixed your kale salad

At a brewery / ‘gastropub’ last week I ordered a kale salad, because it had some of my favorite things in it: roasted brussels sprouts, and roasted cauliflower. C’mon.

The salad was fine and all, but it had very little of my favorite things. A lot of kale that kept me busy chewing, some fluffy bitter greens that took up space, none of the nuts it promised, and maybe two sprouts and a couple tiny florets of cauliflower.

So here.

I fixed your kale salad. I wish I could fix your beer, but I haven’t learned how to do that. YET.

Yummy Kale Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Pecans and Cheddar

Quadruple the number of roasted veggies – as in, an entire head of cauliflower and maybe a pound of sprouts. (I added shallots with the b-sprouts and cali. Just roast in 350 degree oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for 20-30 min.)

Add some spinach (easier to chew!) and kale. Purple kale is pretty here.

Throw in some toasted pecans and chunks of sharp white cheddar.

Mix up a simple apple cider vinaigrette. (I used this recipe, but without the garlic and mustard, and with maple syrup instead of honey.)

All better now.

fixed-salad-sprouts

 

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Almost Martha’s Chocolate Beet Cake Cup Cakes

Well. I got it into my head that I need to eat beets. They are supposed to be good for anemia. But I really don’t know what to do with beets. Pickled beets gross me out, and other than that, I just don’t see them cooked that often. Somehow I came across a beet cake recipe that claimed it was like zucchini bread, but with beets. This intrigued me, but then in the comments I read that the taste of beets was obvious. Which brought me to Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Beet Cake recipe. Since the beets are pureed instead of grated, and disguised further with sugar and cocoa powder, it seemed like I’d be less likely to notice them.

beets-rawI roasted the beets instead of boiling them. It only took two, so now I have a whole roasted beet to eat in a respectable, non-cake method. Fuck. I’m glad I didn’t blend it up, though – wtf does one do with extra pureed beets, Martha? Pray tell.

Here’s how I f-d up Martha Stewart’s recipe:

*Roasted instead of boiled the beets (it sounded easier, but have no proof that it was).

*Used avocado oil instead of safflower oil, because that’s what I had. Might be healthier?

*Added chocolate chips – because damn, the beets smelled really kinda gross and dirt-like when they were roasted, and I didn’t want gross dirt cake. CHOCOLATE CHIPS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER.

beet-cake-batter*Skipped the glaze. FASTER.

*Baked the cake batter as cupcakes. I don’t have a 9″ round cake pan, and even if I did, I wasn’t going to fucking cut a perfect parchment paper circle to fit the pan, then trim the cake to make it flat. Fuck that. Cupcakes bake twice as fast, too! FASTER.

The results were delicious. Basically, chocolate cake with a slight difference. Next time, I think I’ll use coffee or almond milk instead of water. And yes, I know eating cupcakes doesn’t count as eating vegetables. I’m just hoping whatever beet-ness I ingest suggests to my system to seek out more beets.

It could happen.

 

Massaman curry recipe hack

Last night, I wanted massaman curry and I wanted it bad. I love making Thai curries, but I do it the fast way, using curry paste. I love red curry with chicken and pineapple, or green with zucchini and tofu. My local grocery doesn’t stock massaman. My local Thai restaurant is run by great people, but I feel they don’t cook their curries long enough – crunchy potatoes or pumpkins kind of ruin the experience. Homemade is better. Especially since curries take under 30 minutes to make!

So, armed with red curry paste, Google, and blind faith, I hacked a massaman curry recipe that turned out shockingly well. The leap of faith was adding the spices listed in massaman recipes. It didn’t seem like they could be combined in a way that would taste good. Cardamom and cinnamon are for desserts, right? I associate cumin with Mexican food, although it is key to most Indian dishes. Massaman means Muslim, did you know? Massaman curry comes from Muslim people moving from India into Thailand and bringing their tastes in food with them. Turns out you can’t confine a spice to one type of cooking without missing out on some true deliciousness. America, there’s a lesson here.

The picture isn’t pretty (get used to it). But the taste was fucking awesome.

massaman-curry-homemadeMassaman Curry Made with Red Curry Paste and Extra Spices

I wrote in measurements, but really, I just eyeball amounts. Use your judgement and taste!

Thai curry basics:

Red curry paste – store bought. 1 tablespoon.

Coconut milk –  1 can. full fat, always

Broth or water (cooking the potatoes reduces the liquid, otherwise I don’t normally add extra liquid to my curries)

 

Additions to make the red curry taste like massuman:

Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp

Cardamom – 1/4 tsp

Tumeric – 1 tsp, or more

Cumin – 1/4 tsp

 

Peanut butter – 1 tablespoon. natural chunky.

 

The main ingredients:

1/2 sweet onion, sliced

Waxy potatoes – the smaller the pieces, the faster they cook. About a cup and a half, total.

A carrot, sliced thin

Protein of choice – I used pre-cut stew meat. 1/2 pound or so.

 

 

Finishing touches:

Lime juice – half a lime

Brown sugar – teaspoon

Fish sauce – tablespoon

 

Process:

Cook the curry paste, onion and additional spices over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet till the aroma is released and the onions are coated with spices. Add coconut milk a bit at a time and simmer, stirring to mix well. Add the peanut butter. When it is all stirred together, add the potatoes and a little broth or water. The potatoes should be submerged. Simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked – 5-10 min, depending on size – and add carrot and protein. Simmer until everything is cooked through. Stir and sip some wine. Add a little brown sugar, fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. Stir.

Serve with Thai jasmine rice. YUM.

 

traditional breakfast

I read something on NPR recently that there was a study that claimed certain health outcomes based on what people ate, even though the people in this study were asked to remember and report what they’d eaten as far back as high school. The researchers said that most people don’t change their eating habits very much, so they felt confident in their data (i.e. the participants could remember what they ate 20 years ago because it was the nearly the same as what they ate yesterday).

Uh, no. I couldn’t create an exact menu, but I know my diet today is NOTHING like it was back in the day when I thought fruit snacks were a reasonable substitute for fruit
(they have vitamin C!) or when I’d have a bagel with cream cheese and a Coke for lunch.

I’ve changed. And given how stubborn I was – (ok, am) – I’m pretty sure what I ate for breakfast today would give both of my parents heart attacks.

  1. Vegetables. I was the kid who ate nothing green, who ate nearly nothing period. I ate, but only a very few foods. Sugar was a staple. My mom wouldn’t buy sugary cereals, so I’d pour a good quarter-inch layer of granulated white sugar on my bowl of Cheerios.
  2. Bacon and eggs. My father eats fried eggs and some type of processed breakfast meat, along with potatoes or toast, every day. My mom, more of an oatmeal fan, decided early on that, although she did all the rest of the cooking and housework, dad was in charge of preparing his own breakfast. I grew up rather grossed out by all the grease his cooking created.

So now, so many years later, an adult who buys groceries and cooks, I fed myself this.

traditional-breakfast

Bacon and eggs.

They are there. Under all the squash and asparagus.

Is this a healthy breakfast? Depends on who you ask. About half the world (of nutrition experts, that is) is convinced that bacon is deadly. The other half is sure that it is the answer to everything. I don’t really trust either side. My guide is how I feel. And I feel pretty darn good.

So there.

 

Cindy’s Special – Spinach, bacon & egg tacos with avocado

My latest breakfast of champions.

2 slices of bacon

1/4 c red onion, diced

3 cups baby spinach

2 eggs, scrambled with a little cream and salt & pepper

2 corn tortillas

1/4 avocado

Fry the bacon. Remove from skillet and cook the spinach and red onion in the bacon fat. Add eggs and stir until cooked through.

Split between two tortillas, add avocado and chow down tacos for breakfast.

cindys-special-breakfast

Chicken soup with bok choy, ginger & wild rice

I’m not a huge soup fan, but I had a cold, was avoiding noodles, and love ginger. This turned out better than expected. Before I made it, I Googled soup recipes…there is something about seeing that at some point, someone, somewhere has put the same general ingredients together with edible results that gives me courage in the kitchen, even if I almost always tweak what I find. I wasn’t sure about bok choy in soup, but it is really quite nice…and unlike the standard celery, is something I actually buy!

Ingredients

1 qt chicken broth

2 cups water

1 lb chicken breast, diced (I had boneless, skinless…must easier to cut up when mostly frozen.)

1/2 cup wild rice (whoa – I know! carbs! I’m going low, not no)

Baby bok choy, sliced crosswise (I used one package from Trader Joe’s, but could easily have added more)

Fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into little sticks (to taste – a couple inches?)

Garlic, sliced thin (3-5 cloves, again to taste)

—-

Fish sauce – a few splashes for a little more salty/unami flavor.

Rice vinegar – a few splashes. Lime juice would have worked too.

Sesame oil – a drizzle to finish.

chicken-bok-choy-soup

Method:

Heat up the broth in a medium to large pot. Add all the ingredients (except the last 3 – save those till the end to season to taste) and simmer until the rice is done. Flavor it up with the fish sauce, rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil as desired.

*On my first attempt, I cooked just the rice in the broth before adding the chicken and bok choy stems, etc., saving the bok choy leaves for last – but after making it again I really don’t think those extra steps added anything.

Notes for next time: add more bok choy and maybe some mushrooms. Shiitake!

Veggie Scramble #1

veggie-scramble-1Serves 1.

Ingredients

One small yellow squash, diced

Five Brussels sprouts, ends cut off then sliced thinly

1/4 c red onion, diced small

1 tbsp olive oil

two large eggs

1 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1/2 tbsp butter

1/4 avocado, sliced

Chili sauce (optional)

Process

Saute squash, sprouts and onion in olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until desired doneness, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with a little salt. I like the veggies to brown and caramelize a bit. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the cream and a bit of salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium low, scoot the veggies to one side of the pan and add the butter to the empty side. When the butter melts, pour in the eggs. Tilt the pan slightly so the eggs stay on their side. Stir slowly to form lumps. When the eggs are almost cooked through (still a tad shiny) stir the vegetables into them.

Serve with avocado and chili sauce on top. Green + red = Christmas everyday. It is a beautiful yummy mess.