Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shira-what? Part II

At first, I felt really bad for neglecting this blog for so long, but then I realized that practically no one reads it anyway, so whatevs!  *Shrugs*

Last week was essentially Hell Week for me (this week is finals week, which isn't much better).  I had to put together my Creative Writing portfolio (twenty pages), revise my plan book for my public relations class (50 pages), study for the oral exam in la clase de espaƱol, revise my final paper for yet another writing class ("Writing with Style"), and type up my final article for my journalism class.  In addition to the school-related chaos, I also had to contact all three of my places of work (the job fairy was most definitely on my side this spring!) and try my damndest to put together a schedule that does not, at any point during the week, require me to be at two or more places at once.  Whew!

By the way, the aforementioned schedule still hasn't materialized, but it's getting there.

Easter was simply eggcellent, if I do say so myself (See that?  I just made a pun!  You're supposed to laugh, silly!).  It was beautiful outside -- mostly sunny, high 50s, and a bit of  a breeze -- so I decided to go on my first outdoor run of the year. 

My shins are absolutely killing me right now.

 See, I've been on a treadmill all winter / spring, and my neighborhood is quite hilly...not to mention the fact that I ran more than twice as long as I usually do, simply because I didn't want to go inside...so yeah, I'm kinda hobbling right now.  But it was worth it.

My mother made the most amaaaazing salad for Easter dinner (I'm kinda glad I liked it so much, because it was the only dish I could / wanted to eat, aside from what I made)!  It consisted of blanched asparagus, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, and plenty of balsamic vinaigrette.  I had a huge plate of that, as well as a few of these:

Choco-Carrot Easter Muffins

Or, as Jim Gaffigan would say, bald cupcakes.  Tehe.  They were a tad healthier than cupcakes, though.  This recipe was actually based on a recipe created by my favorite food blogger in the world, who I will introduce to you (as well as my version of the recipe) next time!

Anyhoo, I have two more days of finals, two days to clean the apartment, and then I'm moving home for the summer.  ^_^

Oh hai -- remember the shirataki noodles from my last post?

I didn't end up doing anything particularly creative with them, pahaha.  Just sauteed them in some olive oil with some broccoli and onionsHowever, I was glad to see that they retained their chewy texture, so I definitely plan on using them in stir-fry again.

Gotta love Rubbermaid containers.  I've actually been eating out of them all semester -- would you believe that yours truly, out of all people, forgot to bring dishes to school?  Heh heh...

I just need some chopsticks now...

PS -- Are any of you tea-lovers, by chance?  I have a very healthy appreciation for tea -- it's probably flowing through my veins as we speak!  Well...we aren't really speaking, but you get the idea, right?  My friend and I got together for tea and a movie a few days before Easter, and she had some of that tea that comes with a dried flower -- a dried flower that "blooms" as soon as it's immersed in hot water.  'Twas bloody gorgeous!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Due to my lack of free time, money and, therefore, ingredients with which to cook, I've been essentially surviving off of soup.  =p  But I'm not sick of it just yet!  To be honest, I've been doing this for years -- when it comes to food, I have phases.  For example, when I was sixteen, I loooved bagels (this was back when I was still lacto-ovo-vedge).  So I had one every day.  For over a year.  And the crazy thing is, I never officially grew sick of the things.  I discovered at the beginning of the school year that the caf sold Big Apple bagels for fifty cents -- what a deal!  I mean, they were all piled haphazardly into the bagel case, so you would always end up with a bagel that tasted like a combination of garlic, cinnamon and blueberry, but I still enjoyed them.  I was a weird kid. 

Then there was the hummus phase last summer / fall.  Again, I never tired of the stuff.  I just became distracted by a very brief stir-fry phase during the winter (this was probably due to this very nommy, very pricey stir-fry sauce I bought before moving downstate for school), hehe.  Then I got my hands on some vedgie broth concentrate, and the soup phase started.  Look what I made at my parents' house last weekend:

 They were having a spinach / mushroom quiche for dinner, and I got a little jealous.  Always a good combination...I actually stir-fry-ified the spinach along with the mushrooms and onions, and it turned out quite well. 

Aaaand, here is the loveliest blog photo yet:

Pahaha.  ;)  Those white thingies are shirataki noodles

I've been hearing about shirataki noodles quite a bit, as of late, so I decided to pick some up when I was at Meijer earlier.  They're a type of gluten-free noodle (is it just me, or is there a sort of gluten-free craze going on right now?) made out of tofu and yam flour (wait...you can make flour from yams?  Mind.  Blown).  Unfortunately, since calcium sulfate is used to shape the noodles, these things stink!  Their odor somewhat resembles that of fish.  So, regardless of what you plan on doing with them (...they have absolutelypositively no flavor to them whatsoever, so you probably wouldn't want to eat them plain -- how boring!), you'll want to drain and rinse them pretty well!  As you can see, I decided to try adding them to soupHow predictable.

The verdict:  In terms of nutritional value, shirataki noodles are pretty...well, worthless.  They have a bit of fiber in them, but that's it.  So they would probably be better off as a side dish, or added to something healthier.  They definitely scored a 0 in the Taste and Appearance categories as well, pahaha. 

But!  I really do enjoy the texture of these noodles -- they're definitely unlike any noodle I've ever tried.  They're somewhat chewy, and rather...gelatinous?  I tend to purposely under-cook my pasta / rice noodles ("Al dente" is where it's at!), so you can imagine why I enjoyed these.  Also!  They are amazing at absorbing flavor -- even though they were sitting in the soup broth for no more than two minutes before I started eating it, they, ever-so-miraculously, acquired a very savory taste. 

It seems like these should be put in the same category as tofu, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, potatoes, etc -- they can taste amazing, or they can taste atrocious.  It all depends on how you prepare them!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gone bananas, back in five.

Srsly, I have.  I wrote a fourteen-page research paper the other night.  Fourteen pages.  By the time I had finished up my list of references, my eyes were twitching from staring at my computer screen for so long! 

Although, to be honest, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  It had to do with the career I hope to have in just a few short years, and the majority of the research I did was actually quite interesting.  But, still...I'm feeling a tad burnt out!  X_x

I'm at home this weekend!  ^_^  Living on campus without a car is rather sucky at times -- I was going a little stir-crazy.  But now I'm home...where I can drive, do my laundry for free, and have access to an endless supply of Morningstar stuff (thanks, mom!  Doubt I'll be able to eat all those vedgie burgers in one weekend...)!

Oh, right.  This blog is supposed to be about food, isn't it?

I used to loathe bananas.  Seriously, I just hated the things.  To me, they were nothing but slimy, stringy, smelly pieces of plant matter that, for whatever reason, were considered edible.  However, ever since I used a banana in lieu of eggs in a batch of sugar cookies a few months ago (the end product was quite nommy, if I do say so myself), I've been warming up to them.  Gradually.

Well, over the past few days, I've been chowing down on at least one on a daily basis!  What the heck is going on here?!

Here are a couple of the random creations I've put together over the past few days...

The first creation (I have yet to think of a name for this one) was inspired by bananas foster.  This stuff is booze-free, though.  ;)  The second one -- I think I shall call it Banana Creme -- makes for a lovely, energizing brekkie. 

Creation Numero Uno

You will need:
1 banana
dash of cinnamon
oil / butter / margarine / etc for frying

Cut your banana into thin-ish slices and fry on medium heat.  Sprinkle cinnamon over top.  Within about two minutes, the bananas should be brown and slightly mushy -- that means they're done!  I just ate them straight up, but they'd probably be pretty nommy over ice cream, yogurt, toast, or oatmeal.  Nommm...

Banana Creme

You will need:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used plain, but flavored would work just as well!)
1 medium-sized banana
Dash of cinnamon

Using a fork, mash the banana into a paste.  Then mix in your yogurt and cinnamon. 

I have yet to figure out what this banana obsession is all about, but hey, it could be a lot worse.  Bananas are a great source of fiber and potassium (this stuff maintains the water balance between your cells and bodily fluids), as well as a decent source of vitamin C. 

And, in the world of yogurt...Greeks just do it better!  Haha.  Greek yogurt is a very good source of calcium, and it also has twice the amount of protein that normal yogurt has.  Plus, it's thick and creamy, not runny and gloppy.  Regular yogurt was so yesterday.  ;)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sun butter on a cloudy, miserable day.

My gosh, why does the weather always have to be absolutely miserable every time I decide to go to the gym (the gym is on the other side of campus, and I don't have a car)?  Normally, I wouldn't mind the walk to and from the fieldhouse -- it's akin to a warm-up and cool-down power walk.  But seriously, I can literally hear the wind howling outside, and it's really pissing me off, because I really want to get a 20-30 minute run in before class!  Ugh.  Yesterday, it was spitting rain when I went into the gym...however, when I came back outside half an hour later, the ground was covered in hailstones!  Welcome to springtime in Michigan...

I find that the only way I can sit still / pay attention in class is if I use up all my energy beforehand.  So I think I'm gonna show Mother Nature who's boss after I finish typing this up and head over to the rec room.  Just had some coffee and a big bowl of Greek yogurt, so Imma ready to go. 

Has anyone ever tried Greek yogurt?  In the world of yogurt, it is my absolute favorite.  It's so thick and creamy (sometimes I make vedgie dip with it), and it has twice as much protein as regular yogurt.

Favorite brand.

Well, I made the best batch of butter yet yesterday!  Man, I feel like most of this blog is devoted to nut butters (I'm thinking about selling them in the not-so-distant future, but I'll need to perfect the recipes first)...I promise I'll have some recipes for real food up soon!  Bear with me, guys.

OHBUTWAIT -- this recipe actually isn't for a nut butter.  Can you guess what this is?

Hm.  Looks kinda disgusting, huh (I haven't had the patience to dress up my creations and take real foodie pictures, as of late)?...Kinda like every single other butter recipe of mine, you say?  Hai nao.

Would you believe that this butter is made from sunflower seeds?  It was so good!

Yes, sunflower seeds.  I was in one of the little convenience stores on campus when I spied the little bags of Kars trail mixes.  I saw the sunflower seeds, and then inspiration struck.

The roomie gave me a funny look when I walked into the apartment, plunked down four of these bags next to my food processor, and was like "Soooo, do you, by chance, enjoy sunflower seeds??  'Cause I'm trying something new tonight!"  I'm very thankful for how cooperative she is in her role as my official NutButterTasteTester; however, for the first time, I thought she might bail on me!  Haha.  But she didn't -- despite how much this stuff resembles...eh, let's not go there...we found out that sunflower seed butter is pretty darn tasty.

I thought that it kind of tasted like very smooooooth peanut butter.  Make yourself a batch and let me know what you think!

Sun Butter
You'll need:

12ish oz salted sunflower seeds (as I mentioned earlier, I used four little bags of Kars sunflower seeds)
1/4 cup oil (olive oil seemed to work)
1 scant tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup honey. 
[If you omit the last two ingredients, you end up with a really tasty, savory dip.  But I wanted something that would satisfy my sweet tooth!]

Blend together seeds, oil, and cinnamon -- if it gets all soupy, you're on the right track!  Nuke your honey for about fifteen seconds, then pour over butter and puree for 10-15 seconds.  Once it thickens, you're done!

Ended up freezing half the batch and making "sun fudge" -- it's melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Move Over, Soup-at-Hand [I'm in a bit of a rush, here!]

I swear, this blog is the ultimate procrastination tool.  The end of the semester is looming closer and closer, and there are job apps that need to be filled out, papers that need to be written...and here I am, rambling on about my latest kitchen experiments.  Too bad I'm not in culinary school (are there even accredited vegetarian culinary schools out there?).  Eh, I'll stick with the major I've been working toward for the past two semesters, thankyouverymuch!

I am currently in the process of tweaking yet another nut butter recipe.  Seriously starting to think I will never run out of nut butter ideas!  It would be pretty darn awesome if I could a) perfect all of the recipes, b) magically create some spare time, c) use additional magic to conjure up some money to buy all the ingredients I'll need, and d) sell some of this stuff!  However, with my current schedule, I don't foresee this happening anytime soon.  =(

Anyhoo, I made my first batch of pecan butter today.  Made two batches, actually -- "praline" and "turtle."  The first batch was a bit on the oily side, while the second batch had two problems:  a) I went a bit too heavy on the chocolate, and b) I also ran out of caramel at that point!  So it ended up being more like super-duper-dark-chocolate-pecan butter...not like there's anything wrong with that!  Hehe.  It just wasn't the flavor I was going for, you know?  I froze half of each batch, so per'ahps the roomie and I will have some pecan freezer fudge in a few hours!


Between various final papers / projects, I've been sort of pressed for time, as of late.  Been surviving off of those Simply Asia noodle bowls, as well as those Campbells Soup-at-Hand whatchamacallits.  The creamy tomato kind, specifically.  Because none of the other flavors are lacto-vedge.  Do you have any idea how sick I am of rice noodles and tomato soup??  Haha.  Yes, I know perfectly well that there are many other things I could make / microwave in just as little time...however, on these cold, windy / rainy / sleet-y (?) days (that's springtime in Michigan for you!), nothing hits the spot like a savory bowl of soup, filled with a plethora of chewy noodles (fun fact:  I purposely under-cook my noodles, so they'll be just a bit on the chewy side), fresh vedgies, and spices.

The other day, I decided to try making my own soup-at-hand.  Okay, so it took about 5-10 minutes to make altogether, but it was so worth it.

[Best.  Soup bowl.  Ever.]

Zesty Vedge Soup For One

You'll need:
10 oz water
2 tsp vedge broth concentrate
1 heaping tbsp dried cilantro (I just used a big handful of the fresh stuff, but it was probably the equivalent of this)
Dash of garlic powder
Oil for searing the vedgies
...and any vedgies your little heart desires!  In the soup above, I used a handful of red onion and a stalk of celery.  Had the same thing the next night, with the addition of broccoli.

Sear your vedgies for a couple minutes, and then heat up your water until it's very hot (but not boiling) -- our microwave's pretty lame, so it took nearly two minutes to heat my water.  Put the vedge broth concentrate, garlic powder, and cilantro in your soup bowl, and then add the vedgies.  Pour the water over top and stir well.

...Aaand that's all, folks!