Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let them eat it...

Yesterday was my birthday (and Ken Burns').  It was full of true friends and great food like gazpacho, spumoni, and saag paneer (not eaten simultaneously).  Also, Yoga Girl, a pipe cleaner person made by my friend Aaron, made an appearance at the dinner table and wowed us with her sweet skills and flexibility.  I hope to feature Yoga Girl on this blog in the near future.
One of the highlights of the big day was the cake my hubby made for me.  He used my recipe and a carton full of my favorite icing (props!).  We ate cake before dinner just to make sure we had enough room for dessert...we tend to gorge at Sitar.

Don't Grab My Bundt Cake
This is the easiest, most delicious chocolate cake you will ever barely stir!

2 c flour (use whole wheat!)
1 c sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c cocoa powder
2 c applesauce
1 tbsp vanilla**
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bundt pan with cookie spray and dust with flour.

Sift together dry ingredients into large bowl.  Add applesauce and vanilla.  Using wooden spoon, mix until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 - 35 min or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for about 10 min in the pan, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling.

**There's plenty of room for substitutions here.  Instead of vanilla, you can use 2 tbsp of spiced rum or 1/4 tsp of cinnamon (sift cinnamon with dry ingredients).  Get crazy, the sky's the limit!

Travis used my favorite rainbow chip frosting for this special occasion.  Normally when I make this cake, however, I make my own:

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted
2-4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c cocoa powder, sifted

Add ingredients to mixing bowl in the order they're listed above, waiting to add the next ingredient until the previous are combined.  How much powdered sugar you add depends on how sweet and how stiff you want the frosting (the more powdered sugar the easier it is to pipe).  If you added rum to the cake, you can also add 1 tbsp rum to the frosting.

What do you like to eat on your birthday?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Say Brushetta, You Say Brusketta

Our apartment smells like apple cider vinegar.  We have three bowls of it strategically placed throughout our small kitchen in an effort to corral the sizeable herd of fruit flies that have set up camp there.  I personally think the fruit flies have evolved and gained intelligence regarding our current campaign against them.  Normally they love that little vinegar and sugar concoction we set out for them; perhaps they're currently on a diet.

As for our defensive tactics, we had to use up or put away all our fresh produce that cannot be refrigerated (namely: tomatoes).  Clearly the only thing to do with an abundance of fresh produce is to roast it and eat it!  Here's two dishes we had this weekend in an effort to starve the little buggers out.

Bigger is Betta Roasted Veg Bruschetta
Normally bruschetta is served as an appetizer, but not at our house. 

3 medium tomatoes in various colors
2 zucchini
1 lb asparagus, hard bottoms snapped off
1 small red onion
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little more
1/2 tsp rosemary
Salt & pepper
creamy goat cheese
hearty/rustic bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coarsely chop the tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus, and red onion.  Mix together and toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper (to taste).  Spread evenly onto baking sheet.  Roast for 30 min, stirring half way through.

Cut the bread into 1/2 inch slices.  Arrange on another baking sheet and brush tops with olive oil.  Broil until lightly toasted on top (depending on how close your rack is to the broiler, this could take anywhere from 2 - 5 min; just to be safe, check it often).

Spread a generous portion of goat cheese on each slice of toast and top with roasted vegetables.  Enjoy with your favorite glass of red wine.

Eggs Kevin
We still had some tomatoes left over after the bruschetta, so this morning I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart Living.  This would also be great if you topped off the eggs with leftover roasted vegetables from last night.

Slice up some colorful tomatoes and lightly sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.  Place under broiler until cheese is golden brown, a little bubbly.

Meanwhile, cook two eggs however you like them best.  When the eggs are done spread with more of the goat cheese you used for the bruschetta last night.  Top with the cheesy tomatoes and salt & pepper to taste.  Mimosas anyone?

Don't forget that this Tuesday at 7:45pm is your LAST CHANCE to attend Balancing Flow as a donation-based class!  It's going to be tons of fun!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Essence of Bread Crust

When you were a kid did you used to put up a fuss about eating your bread crusts?  I certainly did.  My dad provided a compelling argument for eating the crust:  he said it would put hair on my chest.  Being an intelligent kid, I knew that girls didn't typically have or want hairy chests; this gave me a leg up in the debate.  Then, just yesterday, during a period of deep philosophical introspection, I realized that the bread and the crust are both made of the same thing.  The crust is just darker because it's exposed to the heat of the oven or the sides of the pan.  Alas, despite these ontological contemplations, I learned the crust really is good for you.

As a result of my bread crust musings and our gloomy weekend--cloudy skies, drizzles, chilly air--we enjoyed my Best Tomato Soup paired with grilled cheese sandwiches.  Campbell's may be Mmm Mmm Good, but this soup is Om Om Good.  It's quick, inexpensive, packed full of phytonutrients, and doesn't have high fructose corn syrup (if you're buying canned tomato soup, make sure you read the label, most are sweetened).  The red wine adds depth while the Greek yogurt makes it creamy without all the fat of using heavy cream--save that fat for the sandwich!  The avocado mixed with the sharp cheddar achieves a buttery taste with the added punch of omega3s (perfect for a gloomy weekend, omega3s are known mood-boosters!).  We enjoyed this meal not once, but twice this weekend!

Best Tomato Soup
You can enjoy this soup hot or cold, so it's good on gloomy days & air quality alert days!

1/2 onion, chunked
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp rosemary
6oz can tomato paste
12oz water
1-15oz can crushed tomatoes
1-15oz can diced tomatoes in juice (check for no salt added)
Splash of red wine
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
Salt & pepper

In a food processor or blender, puree onion & garlic (If you don't have access to either of these, you can finely chop the garlic & onion; this will obviously change the texture of the soup).

In a large pot, heat oil and add onion puree and rosemary.  Cook 1-2 min or until fragrant.  Add tomato puree.  Fill the 6oz can with water twice and mix well to combine.  Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and red wine.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 min.

Remove from heat.  Add Greek yogurt and mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Cheese
Warning:  this is an extremely rich and filling sandwich; you may become full quite quickly.

Whole wheat bread
Sharp cheddar cheese (2 slices per sandwich)
Avocado, evenly sliced (1/2 an avocado per sandwich)
Roma tomato, evenly sliced (about 4 slices per sandwich)
Your favorite buttery spread (we use Earth Balance)

Sandwich blueprint:  Buttered bread (butter side down) / Slice of cheese / tomato slices / avocado slices / Slice of cheese / Buttered bread (butter side up)

Cook on medium heat for 1 1/2 - 2 min per side (or until bread is golden brown).  Take care that your tomato & avocado slices are relatively flat so the whole flipping part doesn't turn into some sort of flying avocado ordeal.

Shameless Plug:  Only two more weeks to take advantage of Karma Month at the Glowing Body.  Come check out Balancing Flow on Tuesday at 7:45pm!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tut Tut Chin Up

Shameless Plug:  I know that all of you have just been dying to try out one of my yoga classes.  Now's your chance.  July is Karma Month at the Glowing Body--that means my Tuesday evening Balancing Flow Class (7:45pm) is donation based, pay what you can.

Speaking of yoga (nice segue), my practice has made me more aware of 'trends' in my body.  It has also made me more inclined to explore metaphysical reasons as to why these trends manifest.  (Stop being so esoteric and speak English.)  Okay, example, over the past few months, it has come to my attention that I am constantly sticking my chin out.  Sometimes this is caused by poor posture at the computer, but other times it's just plain unusual.  Last night while laying in bed, I woke up and felt my chin sticking straight up in the air.  I told my husband about it the next morning and he noticed that I was doing the same thing when he came to bed a few nights before.  As you can imagine, this round the clock chin reaching has caused quite a bit of neck pain.  A massage therapist friend and I named one of my more persnickety muscle knots Big Bertha.  The realization of this trend in my body has led me to ask/conclude/free write...
  1. What am I reaching for? 
  2. What is holding me back?
  3. Is this the only thing I have in common with my dad's dog?  (Harley is one of those dogs you fear may break his neck while straining against his leash.) 
  4. When standing on tip toes in the deep end of the pool, you stick your chin up to keep your head above water.
  5. Lieutenant Dan told Bubba to tuck in his lip or he would get it caught on a trip wire.  Am I going to catch my chin on trip wire? 
  6. 'Chin up' is what people say when they're encouraging you to keep going (sometimes they think you have no reason to be glum and they preface it with a 'tut tut,' and they usually have a British accent).
  7. My husband brought home Ode the other day; he said it's a magazine for people like me (tagline is: Intelligent Optimists).  
I suppose in a fit of optimism, I also decided to re-encounter the glazed carrot.  When you hear 'glazed carrot' you may think of sugary mush or have terrifying flashbacks to your elementary school cafeteria/Great Aunt Mildred's house.  That's certainly what I think of (although I do not know of anyone in my family named Mildred).  Needless to say, I've never been a fan of assaulting vegetables with brown sugar so I chose to approach the situation more gingerly....

Spiced Glazed Carrots
I used the honey drip station at Three Rivers--best honey you'll ever taste and more potent than the stuff in those little plastic bears.

2 lbs carrots, peeled
1 1/2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (use your cheese grater!)
1 tbsp really good honey
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bias-cut the carrots in 1/2" rounds.  Whisk remaining ingredients together and mix with carrots until well coated.  Place carrots in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet.  Bake for 20 min, stirring halfway through.  Take a picture and compose a blog post about it (optional).

So I'm just dying to know...How do you feel about glazed carrots and your Great Aunt Mildred?  What do your boddities mean? (sound it out folks, it's like body-oddities)  Are your creaky knees signaling the coming apocalypse (aka severe thunderstorms in Knoxville)?    I also expect to see you all on Tuesday at 7:45pm (except Heidi because she doesn't live here). 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beer Chili

I've decided to come in from the sun for two reasons (a) I can never tell how much sun I've gotten until I allow the rays to soak in for a bit; and (b) I can't leave my faithful readers in the lurch.  Some of you have been telling me that you're reading the blog and loving the blog and that warms my heart!  Some of you have been telling me that you've started using the cookbooks we made for you last Christmas...and that makes me smile a strawberry seed-filled grin!  Keep reading, keep cooking and start commenting.

I was recently back in my hometown for a visit and was sharing this blog with my mom.  She was touched when she saw the name of the blog in the URL, which she interpreted as 'O Mom Good.'  Even though I corrected her, she has since begun commenting quite regularly (thanks mom!).  Maybe you'll see your name mysteriously in my URL and start joining the conversation...

Which today revolves around chili, but not just any chili--beer chili.  What makes it beer chili?  You put a beer in it and drink a beer while you make it.  Dark beers work best:  Newcastle (my fav), 1554, Becks Dark, etc.  I adapted this from another Vegetarian Times recipe, which calls for two bottles of beer and two chipotle peppers---two too many in my opinion.

Beer Chili
This chili cooks down quite a bit and usually makes five or six large servings.

1/2 - 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (depends on your palate)
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 15oz cans of bean (tri-bean blend or black beans), rinsed and drained
1 15oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup frozen corn
1 bottle of dark beer
1-2 tbsp cornstarch
A bit of water

1.  In a large pot combine chipotle pepper, oil, and cumin.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 min.  Add onions and cook another 1-2 min.  Add bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook 6-7 min, or until pepper is tender.
2.  Add beans, tomatoes, corn, and beer.  Bring chili to a boil.
3.  Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 45 min.
4.  If your chili didn't thicken after all that (mine didn't), make a slurry by combining 1 tbsp cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve it.  Stir into the chili.  Wait about 30 sec and check the consistency again.  If it's still not thick enough, make another slurry using the other tbsp of cornstarch.  Remember the chili will continue to thicken as it cools, so you may not want to add more than 2 tbsp.

This goes so well with Hearty Whole Grain Cornbread Muffins and a little bit more of the same beer you put in the pot!  If you want to use the rest of the adobo sauce in your can of peppers, try these Adobo Peanuts.

Hopefully we'll have pictures again soon...working out the necessary technical accoutrements!
Happy Fourth y'all!