Friday, June 3, 2011

I Wear My Food On My Sleeve

And my pants, if my blog streamed live video (thank god it doesn't) right now you would be seeing me covered with melted chocolate and orange cheesiness, the typical aftermath of a good dinner.  I need to start wearing an apron!  It has been really nice to be back in the kitchen and not have any restrictions, I don't do well with restrictions or measuring and yet I blog food recipes, weird.  I had mentioned in my last post that I was doing a 2 week vegan trial and I am happy to say that it is over!  Don't get me wrong I am not hating on the vegan diet at all, I'm just stating that at this point in my life it's not for me.  I took  this opportunity to see how my body would react to the diet and to see how it made me feel, unfortunately I didn't feel that great and I was often left hungry even after just eating a meal.  I have a new found appreciation for the meat, dairy, and fish that I eat and my plan is to continue eating these high quality (organic, free range, pastured) foods in small amounts.  I also have a renewed love for tofu and the various ways that it can be cooked, I am going to continue using it as a staple in my non-vegan diet.

I broke my vegan diet with a massively meaty meal, something I don't usually partake in, but we spent Memorial Day in Napa with a group of friends and ended up having dinner at Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin' BBQ.  They are known for their Beer Can Chicken which is what I really wanted to try but disappointingly they were all out of it so Wren ordered us the BBQ Platter which came piled high with juicy mounds of shredded pork, brisket, and ribs.  There was so much food I got full just looking at our meal, but somehow we (Wren) finished it!  We had such a great time in Napa I can't believe it's only a short hour and a half drive from us, I plan on pounding lots of grape this summer : )

Back to my kitchen and my food splattered self, I decided to make my faux macaroni tonight because I was craving something warm (it's been kind of rainy and crappy in SF) and cheesy (because I love cheese and I have two weeks of cheese to catch up on ; )).  I love making this macaroni dish because it tastes awesome and is much healthier than the traditional version, you can also do all sorts of fun add-ins to mix it up.  Pasta isn't high up on my food list but who can say no to cheesey gooey macaroni!  There was a time in college when I was good friends with the blue box and a microwavable bowl, if we felt like making it "nice" we'd toss in a handful of frozen peas, we were a bunch of real classy ladies!  My new version takes advantage of pureed cooked squash to add creaminess and to slip in a dose of vegetables, if you want to be sneaky or pull a quick one on your kids, you don't even have to tell people there is squash in there because you can't taste it.  Just a note about my version, I do use a frozen squash puree for a couple of reasons but mainly because I am terrified about cutting off one of my fingers while trying to cut up a awkwardly shaped squash.  This is no joke, cutting large squash freaks me out, they are really hard to cut into and difficult to hold, if anyone out there has any tips for me I would love them!  A small list of other irrational fears things that creep me out:

-flossing (mainly seeing other people floss, eww!)
-chopping my finger off while cutting up squash
-being trapped in a car that is submerged in water
-sharing fingernail clippers

I might or might not have a huge fear of spiders that has gotten a bit out of control lately, luckily I know I'm not the only one out there (Linds I know you hear me on this one).  I even slept on the couch the other night after I found one in our bed!!  Hide in the corners or on the wall but NOT in my bed, not cool spiders not cool.  If you aren't a freak like me and squash is in season, feel free to use a homemade squash puree instead of the frozen stuff.

Faux Macaroni
Original Enjoyable Me recipe
-3 cups of macaroni noodles (I used corn ones)
-1 14 oz package of frozen squash puree, defrosted
-1/2 cup of greek yogurt (you could use regular yogurt or sour cream as well)
-1 cup of shredded cheese plus 1 tablespoon (I like to use sharp cheddar)
-1/4 bread crumbs
-2 tbsp hot sauce (depending on how hot you like things you can adjust this)
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large pot boil lightly salted water.  Once boiling add pasta, cook noodles as noted on package or until tender, drain.  In the same pot (emptied of pasta water) add noodles, squash, yogurt and shredded cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted and all of the ingredients are incorporated, add in your hot sauce, salt, and pepper.  Adjust the heat/seasoning to your liking.  Place pasta in a baking dish and if desired, sprinkle bread crumbs and remaining tablespoon of cheese on top.  Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.

For this batch I mixed in seasoned ground turkey.
Paired with a salad this dinner was a big winner, I thought I would roll with it and make some dessert.  We had a stash of old banans just laying around so I decided to throw together a banana bread and after finding a recipe in the yet unused Flour: Spectacular Recipes From Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe recipe book, I got to work.  I ended up making some changes to their recipe to "healthify" it a bit and I am glad I did because I like to eat my dessert and not feel bad about it.  My version went like this:
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
-1 cup of whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup of unbleached white flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp salt
-3/4 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3 very ripe bananas, mashed
-2 tbsp greek yogurt
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl mix the together the eggs and sugar (the original recipe calls for using a mixer but since I'm to lazy to pull mine out but strong enough to whip it on my own, I do this for a few minutes or until just before my arm is about to fall off).  Slowly drizzle the oil into the egg mixture while continuing to stir until fully incorporated.  Add in the bananas, yogurt, and vanilla.  Just before pouring the batter into the loaf pan, mix in the chocolate chips.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These pictures suck but I was in such a hurry to get this deliciousness into my mouth while it was still warm and the chocolate chips all gooey I didn't take the time to get any better shots but trust me it tastes way better than it looks!

I can't believe its almost the weekend, I've got a school module to complete and then I am ready to get my relax on!  Help me feel sane (or less crazy) and share with me some of your irrational fears : )

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