Mixed Berry Breakfast Couscous

16 08 2012

Unfortunately for me, breakfast usually ends up being two sad fried eggs, a quickly devoured bowl of cereal, a piece of fruit, or nothing but a cup of coffee. As much as I want to be a morning person, I am not, so during my hectic work schedule, I’m either running late/shovelling something into my face, or sleeping in until lunch time, if the opportunity arises.

Which sucks! Because I love breakfast! I am completely dedicated to it. When I have the time, I love experimenting with things outside of the eggs and cereal comfort zone. I think my next activity is going to be attempting to re-create breakfasts from around the world; i.e. 50 of the World’s Best Breakfasts

This breakfast couscous is one of my new favorite work-week breakfasts. It’s easy to put together the night before, and it makes enough for like 5-6 morning meals. The cinnamon-scented, apple-infused couscous evokes feelings of fall, while the berries are all summertime; a nice August transitional breakfast. Served warm, smothered in Greek yogurt and maple syrup, it’s a soothing and healthy break from the breakfast norm.

Mixed Berry Breakfast Couscous
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

1 cup couscous
2 cups apple and cranberry juice (I used a blend)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsps. orange zest
2 cups raspberries
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups strawberries, halved
Greek yogurt (for serving)
Maple Syrup
Fresh mint (for garnish)

Pour the juice into a large saucepan and add the cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil then add the couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let simmer for 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the cinnamon stick.

Separate the couscous grains with a fork, then gently fold in the orange zest and most of the berries. Spoon the mixture into serving bowls and sprinkle with the remaining berries.

Top each bowl with a dollop of yogurt, then drizzle with syrup and garnish with the fresh mint.





Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

7 03 2012

I don’t get how some food bloggers update so frequently. Really, a post every day/every other day?? Is the Internet the only occupation you have in life? And you know what also pisses me off, food bloggers who update a lot with posts about baked goods. Where are all these baked goods going, you fat pig? If I want to blog about a cake, I have friggin’ cake sitting around all week. I don’t eat cake every day, unlike these people, these unemployed, cake-faced bastards.

So to all the other workin’-class food bloggers, I salute you for updating bi-weekly at best. We work a lot, and sometimes the last thing we want to do is cook, let alone take pictures of it, savor the complex flavors, and then write about it online. Especially if you work all damn day in a restaurant, like myself.

But yesterday, I was able to summon the energy to cook after work and made this luscious little risotto. It’s earthy and creamy; the perfect side to a winter meal, or a meal in itself, paired with a salad. I recommend using fresh sage, but if you don’t have it, a teaspoon of dried works too.

Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

5 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion, cut into thin half moons
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 2 cm. pieces
2 cups risotto rice (Arborio rice)
3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnishing
3 tbs. shredded sage
Salt and pepper

Pour the stock into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and keep at a gentle simmer.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the sweet potatoes and rice and stir until well-coated.

Add 1/2 cup of hot stock, stirring constantly over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding more stock, half cup at a time, stirring all the while for about 25 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed, the sweet potato is cooked and the rice is tender and creamy.

Stir in the Parmesan and most of the sage. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with the remaining sage and some shaved Parmesan.





Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta and Scallions

18 01 2012

My mother eats quinoa for dinner pretty much every day of the week. She’s one of those Dr. Oz health-conscious types; clinging to every word he says about wheat berries, fish oil, whatever it may be. Now I know these things are great for you, but I don’t need it indoctrinated into me by some television health guro who resembles a cross between grown-up Eddie Munster and a legit vampire.

Anyways. Quinoa. It’s a dinner staple for her. Quinoa with a green and a protein; the blandness meal on the planet. In truth, it has made me loathe quinoa. I think of it as the flavorless, boring mans meal. It tastes like air and it makes me envision myself being trapped in some cruel hell of having to eat the same food every day. I would rather be shark bait.

I came across this recipe while looking for a way to use up some leftover scallions and decided to give the ancient grain a chance, and ya know, I actually liked it! Quinoa adds a lot of body to the soup and I can imagine it adding it to pretty much any kind of veggie soup. The broth is flavored using just the quinoa cooking water, but emits a real smooth and earthy flavor, very similar to a chicken stock. The tangy feta and sweet pops of corn make every bite a flavorful surprise…in your mouth!

Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta and Scallions
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

3/4 cups quinoa, rinsed well
2 tbs. olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chili, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb. boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 bunches scallions, including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 lb. feta cheese, finely diced
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

Put the quinoa and 2 quarts water in a pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. While it’s cooking, dice the vegetables and cheese. Drain, saving the liquid. Measure the liquid and add water to make 6 cups if needed.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile. Cook for about 30 seconds, giving it a quick stir. Add the cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and the potatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t let the garlic brown. Add the quinoa water and half the scallions and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the quinoa, spinach, corn and remaining scallions and simmer for 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir in the feta. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the chopped egg and some more crumbled feta.





Rice with Chickpeas, Herbs, & Sun-dried Tomatoes

11 11 2010

A little bit off topic, but still relevant to vegetarianism and life in general, I think… Alternative menstrual products. I know, I know, not really the best subject to be going into on a food blog. I don’t care. One of the best investments I’ve made, and you should consider making too, are these re-usable menstrual cups, The Keeper being one of the more popular brands out there. There is really no good reason for anyone to stick to the traditional methods of Kotex and Always being shoved down our throats (up our hoochies). They create so much waste, don’t biodegrade,  releasing a shitload of dioxins into the environment. They pump you full of chlorinated bleach, over-absorb vaginal secretions, stuff you with rayon. Advertising tells you that you have to keep it a secret, that you’re unclean, and they also bankrupt you. A woman using tampons and pads spends an exorbitant amount of money on them in a lifetime.

So listen. There’s ways out. Make your own re-usable cloth pads. Fun and useful! Get some friends together and have a pad sewing party. Or just buy some Lunapads. Sea sponges. You can find these at a lot of stores now. And there’s nothing like grossing people out by squeezing out your full sponge into a public sink. Keep ’em clean! And like I mentioned before, The Keeper , DivaCup, or Lady Cup.

You gotta do more than just eating fancy meatless meals. But speaking of which, here’s another one!

I was stunned with how such a simple dish can produce such stunning flavors. It’s a great way to use up any fresh herbs you may have before winter. Pair it with a steamed veggie or salad, and it’s a great light lunch or dinner. So cook it up and contemplate your period heh. If you’re a dude, well it’s still good to be informed on how advertising is stickin’ it to us. Find alternatives for your dude things.

Rice with Chickpeas, Herbs, & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Adapted from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

2 tbs. butter
1 tb. olive oil
1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
2 tbs. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 cups cold cooked brown rice
2 tsps. fresh basil, minced; or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tb. of butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, and parsley. Cook for 3 minutes.

Add the rice, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and toss well. Sprinkle on 2 tbs. water. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

Cut the remaining 1 tb. butter into bits and mix into the rice. Add the Parmesan cheese, toss, and serve.





Lentil Loaf with Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

2 10 2010

 

I have a really hard time saying Lentil Loaf without laughing. I’ve been meaning to blog about this since last week. I’m still eating leftovers of it because this recipe made a shit ton. 4 cups of lentils to 2 cups water, really? That’s what the original recipe called for but there is no way that works, especially if you want some broth leftover. So adjust as you see fit. Besides that, I left out the carrots because I hate the carrots.

It’s a tad bit dry, but I found the perfect solution to that. Gravy. Boat loads of it. The gravy recipe from the Chicago Diner Cookbook is one of my favorite out there and is pretty much intrinsically created to make this dish craveable. Not to mention drinkable. Gravy gravy gravy, gravy the world. Go listen to some Gravy Train!!!! and bake this comfy dish up.

Got back from a trip out to Andover, MA a few days ago and picked up some new craft beers from one of the best liquor stores I’ve ever been too. Fabulous selection and they gave us free Octoberfest glasses! So yeah, time for my Friday night sampling of La Fin Du Monde’s triple fermented beer and the Williams Brothers Seaweed Ale!

Lentil Loaf
Adapted from The Chicago Diner Cookbook

Beans:
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
4 cups lentils (like I said before, this may need to be adjusted)

In a large pot, bring the water, bay leaf, and lentils to a boil. Cook on a low simmer until tender. Save 1 1/2 cups broth.

Grains:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bulghur

In a second pot, boil the water and add the bulghur. Stir, cover, and remove from heat.

Vegetables:
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup walnuts
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced celery
2 tbs. oil
2 tsps. sage
2 tsps. thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tb. parsley
1 tb. tamari
2 cups quick-cooking oats

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. On a sheet pan, toast the seeds & nuts until they become aromatic. Set aside. Increase oven temp to 350. In a large skillet, saute the veggies in the oil until soft. Add the herbs, except the parsley, and cook 10-12 minutes. Stir in the parsley and tamari. Add the toasted seeds & nuts, lentils, bulghur, and oats and stir well. The final mixture may need some of the saved broth if it’s too dry to hold together. Season to taste. Place the loaf in an oiled 4 x 7-in. bread pan (my version made enough for 2 of these), and bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Cover with foil and bake another 20-25 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Gravy
Adapted from The Chicago Diner Cookbook

Spice Mix:
2 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
1/3 cup dried parsley
1 1/2 tbs. salt
1 1/2 tbs. dried dill weed
2 1/2 tbs. celery seed
2 1/2 tbs. onion powder
2 tsps. each of basil, oregano, and thyme
1 tsp. rosemary

In a small dry bowl, mix all the ingredients well; store in a dry container.

Roux:
1/3 cup oil (not olive, thinkin canola or soybean)
1/3 cup unbleached flour

Heat the oil in a small saucepan. When hot, gently whisk in the flour, stirring constantly, until the flour develops a nutty aroma. Be careful of burning!! Set aside

Base:
4 cups water or veggie stock
1/3 cup tamari
1/4 cup Spice Mix

In a medium pot, bring all the base ingredients to a high simmer. Gradually whisk in the roux and cook to desired thickness. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.