Carrot Oatmeal Cookies (V)

I have made these twice now, and they might be my favorite cookie–not too sweet, vegan, and totally gluten-free if you choose (I used gluten-free oats and gluten-free baking mix; these are both readily available many places now). Here is the recipe from my go-to food blog, 101 Cookbooks.

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20130324-162557.jpgYou can press the cookies down a bit if you don’t want the round shape.  I used a coffee scoop–it’s the perfect size.  I used pecans today, and added a dash of cinnamon.  I also didn’t use the maple syrup, but instead used raw honey and agave.  They are SO good.  Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato and garlic soup (v)

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The tomato does not get enough credit!  I’ve been sick for the last few days, and this is the first time I have felt like getting up and making something, and even though it was a lovely 75 today in San Diego, the fog likes to roll in early on days like this, and so I thought soup was the right choice. 20130313-172644.jpg

And what is better with tomato soup but grilled cheese?  Well, grilled “cheese” is:)  All vegan people, all vegan.  The bread too!20130313-172957.jpg

Added some olive oil, additional seasoning, soy-free earth balance (you could use almond or coconut milk, but I am fresh out–except for the vanilla kind), some pinenuts…a little fresh basil would be nice, too.20130313-173632.jpg

Topped it with some organic bean sprouts…20130313-173754.jpg

Golden Globe Dresses, or Who Looked Stunning and Who Looked Awful

I DID cook, but my Quinoa with Shitakes, Garlic, Broccoli, and Almonds is NOT the topic of conversation tonight. (I’ll post the recipe tomorrow, and bonus!, I am making soup, too.)

So, on with the show.  I love awards shows.  Mostly for the dresses, but I still like watching them.

And who doesn’t appreciate some gorgeous gowns?  I grew up reading Vogue magazine, so my love of fashion is rooted in classic, couture, high fashion.  Here are a few of my favorites tonight:

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I am leading with Garner because red is my least favorite color, but she really does look good in this dress.  She just looks good, period.

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Julianne!  I have to say, this is probably the most age-appropriate, elegant look I saw all night.  Now, don’t take age-appropriate for “dowdy” or “boring.”  Not at all.  She really is very pretty, and I love this on her.

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Emily!  I need to borrow this, call me!

Shoulders!  She pulls this off like gangbusters.  CLASSIC.

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Naomi, not sure the color is EXACTLY right, but you wear it well (the whole thing, that is).  Nice keyhole–not too much showing, very classy.

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Jessica might win the evening because this color is PERFECT for her.  She looks stunning–the hair, lipstick, that NECKLACE.  Killer, girl.

Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery makes the grade mostly because Downton Abbey might be one of the best shows on TV (PBS!).  This shoulder look is killer–I seriously love it.  I love the high necks.  I almost wish the bottom wasn’t white, but the gold is OFF THE CHAIN.  Well done!

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Adele knows how to dress. Maybe because she’s a Brit, maybe because she knows what looks good on her body, I don’t know.  She looks fantastic tonight.  Really nice.

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I can’t leave Kate Hudson out because she is just so cute.  However, something isn’t jiving for me with this dress.  I love the shoulder and the long sleeves.  Obvi.  I don’t know if the combo keyhole/gladiator belt is too much, or what, but let’s just say HONORABLE MENTION for this look.  Almost, Kate.  Almost.

And, the worst of the night: well, it’s a tie.  I couldn’t decide who looked stupider.  So, here are the picks for “My Five-Year Old Niece Could Have Picked a Better Dress. Blindfolded.”

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Lucy.  Oh. My. GOODNESS.  The Palace at Versailles called, and they want the Queen’s drapes back.  Someone please remind Ms. Liu that it’s 2013!

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Jennifer, Jennifer.  NO.  Just, no.  I saw you on stage, and you couldn’t even WALK in this monstrosity.  We get it, it’s an illusion…you’re not really naked under that lace.  And your boyfriend is like 18 years old.  WE GET IT.  Stop trying so hard!

AND just because I want to, here is a picture of Amy Adams (who looked so-so tonight in a peachy/nude colored strapless number) from the 2011 Oscars.  This is an Oscar de la Renta, and it is hands down my favorite color/look ever.

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See you tomorrow…with some food posts:)

It’s COLD Outside Quick and Easy Asian Egg Drop Soup (OV)

Um, California, ahem!, San DIEGO, why you gotta be so cold?

This is no lie, people.  It was 36 degrees last night!  36! Sunday night it is supposed to be 32!

This is NOT what I signed up for.

Did you know I worked out practically all day yesterday IN TWO JACKETS so as not to be cold?  And the wind…geez!

I know, we Californians are wimps.  But low-to-mid- 50s in the daytime and into the 30s at night is just not right.  I had to actually close my bedroom window which I leave open 365 days a year because this ultra-cold weather nonsense just doesn’t happen by the beach.

So, last night after getting back from HOT yoga (105 degrees, thank GOODNESS), I made a fire in the living room (we don’t have central air or heat here because, WHY?  Our average temps are between 65-72!), but I was still chilly.

A quick soup, perhaps?  Why, yes.  That sounds lovely!

Quick Asian-y Egg Drop Soup

I say Asian-y with all due respect.  I am not an authority on Asian food, but I understand flavors, so I thought, why not try my hand at this VERY quick little soup?

1 bag of Tofu noodles (or rice noodles are ok, too)

Water (or veg. broth)

Soy or Teriyaki sauce

1 lime wedge

1 egg, beaten

handful baby spinach

red pepper to taste

salt/pepper to taste (though, if you use soy, maybe lay off extra salt

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One egg, beaten

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A little lime

Rinse out the tofu noodles.  If you have never seen these before, they are usually in the refrigerated section with the other tofu products in your store.  I only shop at Sprouts (formerly Henry’s), so I have no idea if you can get them at more mainstream grocery chains like Vons or Ralph’s.  They are kind of amazing, though.  I think the whole bag has about 12 calories.  Anyway, rinse these well, and put in your saucepan with enough water or veg. broth to more than cover them (just eyeball it, maybe 2 cups–a nice amount for a broth soup).  Put this on the stove over med-high heat.

Next, add your soy and teriyaki sauces (I would do a couple splashes of soy, and maybe a 1/4 cup of teriyaki)

Add a handful of spinach and some red pepper. Squeeze in the wedge of lime.

All in

All in

Bring to a boil for a few mins, then turn down to med-low.

Have your egg beaten, and in a small bowl ready to go.

With a steady hand, SLOWLY drizzle the egg as you stir the soup as to create egg ribbons.

Ready to serve

Ready to serve

Once this is done, SERVE.

It was pretty tasty, if I do say so.  And I needed that hot soup in this freakishly cold weather!

Five-minute soup!

Five-minute soup!

Stay warm:)

Pesto in THREE Minutes (V)

That’s right, people.  And it costs almost nothing to make.

I just whipped up a batch because I just happened to have a lot of greens on hand.

Most people think basil when they hear pesto.  Pesto is traditionally these things: basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and garlic.

However, I think the word has taken on a more general definition lately because I see all sorts of “pestos” these days.  Spinach with walnut, kale pesto, etc.

Keeping that in mind, I used parsley, basil, AND spinach.  I happen to always have pine nuts and parsley on hand.  And who doesn’t have olive oil and garlic around?  STAPLES, people.  HAVE THEM.

So anyway, get your food processor out and be prepared for some awesomeness.

In the bowl of the processor add the ingredients listed.

Mixed Herb/Greens Pesto

Note: omit the cheese to make this vegan

One large handful of baby spinach

One bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley

One bunch of basil

1/4 cup pine nuts

a teaspoon each of kosher salt, and pepper

2/3 cup of olive oil (you will add this once the processor starts)

1/4 cup parm. cheese

Put everything in the food processor cleaned and dry, except the oil. It should fill the bowl.

Turn it on, and slowly pour the oil in until it is about as thick as a gaspacho or slightly thin smoothie.  If you like it a little thicker, then just check the consistency.

Here’s what you will get:

After the blend

After the blend

Keep in a glass jar, preferably, and use generously.  I will be putting it on some flatbread pizzas tonight.  Maybe I will even post a picture.

The jar

The jar

Sweet Potatoes and Eggs, Awesome Style (OV)

BREAKFAST.  This has to be one of the best words in the English language.

I love breakfast. So muuuuuch.

And, since I am unemployed at the moment, I usually eat breakfast around 9:30-10:00 a.m., which means I eat two meals a day most days.  And I like a BIG breakfast.

Since I know all 11 of you who read this blog were dying to know if I ever use leftovers, I do.  In fact, I used the chicken from the crockpot recipe on the sweet potato recipe for my roommate the other day.  Today, I found a way to use the sweet potatoes (I had two halves left), along with my homemade bread.

So THERE. I can be resourceful.

I always have eggs in the house, because if society didn’t frown on it, I would probably eat a dozen a day.  I just love eggs–cooked any way.

A STRAIGHT DOZEN.

Anyway, you want a quick, ridiculously good breakfast?  Here it is!

Sweet Potatoes and Eggs, Awesome Style

three eggs (or just two, if you are a normal person, not a freak like me)

half of a cooked sweet potato

half of an avocado

cilantro, finely diced

one green onion stalk

bread to toast

olive oil/canola spray

Love of my life

Love of my life

First, dice the cilantro and green onion, cube the avocado.  Set aside.  If you don’t have avocado, no worries.  Use a little red or green pepper (if you have jarred and marinated, those will work too).  I am lucky that in So. California, we have avocados coming out of our ears.

I actually grew up next door to a family that had a whole grove.  I mean, you came home with guacamole all over your feet.  It was pretty sweet.  Plus, we had a maniacally overproductive apricot tree, so there was always a trade going on between the families.

Sorry, I love stories.

Basically, the eggs are the only thing that need to be cooked, but the potatoes need a little life.  Put a little olive oil in a hot, medium-sized skillet to brown and heat with the green onion.  This only takes 5-6 minutes.  Push them all over to one side, spray a little canola oil on the empty side, crack the eggs (on a flat surface, since it will save you from getting shell in the pan) on the other side.

With the eggs

Step one

Without the eggs

I break the yolks and just start mixing.  Don’t worry, it’s gonna taste good, it doesn’t have to look like it came out of Vogue magazine.

Throw the avo in there at the last minute, plate, and sprinkle the cilantro on top.  Toast your bread, and eat this monster up!

EAT

EAT

Use your favorite hot sauce (come onnnnnnn, you know I love red pepper, so of course I LOVE all hot sauces).

By the way, it was really good:)

Midnight in the Pasta Garden of Vegetables and Shrimp

My friend Angie sent me a text tonight asking to have dinner, and she offered to grab a few groceries on the way over!  So, as she put it, it was “science experiment time.”

I don’t know that it was really much of a science experiment, but with what she brought, and a few little things in my fridge, we made it work.

Here’s the stash:

Quinoa Polenta, whhhhhaaaat?

Quinoa Polenta, whhhhhaaaat?

It's a grab bag!

It’s a grab bag!

In the brown paper is some shrimp, and I used that instead of the bag in the foreground.  She’ll take that home.  There was one yellow squash, one zucchini, one eggplant (not pictured), baby tomatoes, organic pasta, and organic quinoa polenta (I have never seen that before).  Anyway, I added to the mix one green onion stalk, some fresh parsley, capers, lemon juice, and olive oil.

And here we go.

Midnight in the Pasta Garden of Vegetables and Shrimp

(serves 4)

1/2 pound of capellini (if you use a wider cut, like linguini or fettucini, use the whole package)

1/4 polenta log (skip this if you don’t have polenta in this form)

1 medium eggplant

1 yellow squash

1 zucchini

handful + of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut or whole

handful baby spinach

3/4 pound 16-20 shrimp

1 tbsp capers

3 tbsp lemon juice

pinch of red pepper (or more, you know…)

black pepper and salt to taste (I ended up putting a little finishing salt on it because I almost never cook with it)

green onion, finely chopped

fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil to fry polenta

olive oil to saute vegetables in (again, you may end up adding a little more because eggplant sucks that stuff up)

First, remove the skin from the eggplant, dice into quarter-sized pieces, and soak in salt water.  This will help with the bitterness.  You can prep everything else while this soaks.

Next, chop the parsley and green onion.

Parsley and green onion

Parsley and green onion

I hope you started boiling the water for the pasta…

Yeah, ok.  I know, I forgot, too.

So go do that.

In a small or medium saute pan, heat some vegetable oil for your fried polenta bits.  If skipping this, then, well…skip this.

In a large saute pan, add some olive oil and red pepper.  You can add the squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and eggplant all at the same time.  Throw in the salt and pepper, too.  Once that cooks for about 3-4 minutes, toss it around, and let cook some more.

Here for the party!

Next, add the spinach on top with the green onion, and check the moisture level.  If the squash mixture seems to be too brown or dry, add a little later to deglaze and help with steaming.  Throw the lid on.

Add the spinach and green onion

Add the spinach and green onion

Turn off the heat for a few minutes.

Your water should be boiling, or it already was, and you added your pasta (please, for the love of my dead Italian grandmother, do not add oil to your pasta water.  Just, please, it makes me so sad).

SALT your water, and drain pasta when it is al dente.  No one likes soggy pasta.  Not even your dog.

If frying the polenta, crumble it into the hot vegetable oil, and fry for a few minutes.  Remove onto a paper towel to drain.

Crispy!

Crispy!

Throw the pasta, shrimp, and capers in the saute pan with all the veggies, re-season, turn heat back on.  Cook for a few more minutes to heat the shrimp through.  If your shrimp is raw, put it in with the spinach.

All together

All together

I know you’ve been dying to see ME actually cooking, so since Angie was here, she took some nice action shots for you.

Don’t worry, I made sure to look SUPER PRETTY for you tonight.

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Food pusher

I have no words...

I have no words…

And I truly wear an apron, you guys.  I can’t even think about getting my yoga pants (yeah, I’ve been wearing them alllllll day) dirty!  For shame!

After a few minutes, you should be ready to plate.  You can sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top, or add some more red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  If you friend the polenta, put that on top. Whatever you’d like.  ENJOY!

The finished product

The finished product

And of course you want to see Angie enjoying the food while watching Breaking Bad!

Foodie

Foodie

Have a great night, folks.  Check you tomorrowwwwwsssss.

Sweet Potato Madness! (V) And Bread! (V)

So, I made this loaf of bread earlier, but since I am in the trial/error phase of this new little hobby, I am here to report to you that it was an absolute brick.  A wheat, uncooked-in-the-middle, brick.

I’m not taking the trash out.

I attempted to use half white and half wheat flour.  Except I didn’t account for the difference in the two (at least, that’s what I am assuming was my problem), and thus, the wheat brick masterpiece was half-baked in my oven.

Scratch that one.

Time for a new plan.  I looked online for a good while to check out recipes for bread, because it is, in fact, one of the few things I cannot “wing.”

Baking sucks.  YOU HAVE TO MEASURE STUFF, YOU GUYS.  LIKE, PRECISELY.

Anyway, victory was had: I stuck to the white flour, found a new ratio, added some fresh garlic and basil, and a really good loaf of bread was baked where its brother previously gave his life.

Tada!

Glorious, glorious homemade bread

Glorious, glorious homemade bread

Oh, I eat butter like it’s going out of style.

Here’s the rundown: there was flour, salt, warm water, yeast, a little bit of olive oil.  I drizzled some more oil and sprinkled sea salt on top, and baked it at 425 until I thought it looked pretty good.  You see, I can make baking awesome.  I just told you EXACTLY how to make bread!

It's alive!

It’s alive!

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Beautiful!

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It’s like a REALLY hot sauna in there…

Once that all got straightened out, I wanted to put dinner together.  I say that because tonight’s meal was prepped early, then just put together when it was time to serve.

Here’s what I did:

First, I made some lentils.  I LOVE lentils.  I put diced fennel, cumin, a little cinnamon, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, and a little olive oil in with the lentils and water.  I usually use a little more water than a 2:1 ratio calls for.

So, once that’s done, you can just set them aside.  Also, you can bake your sweet potatoes ahead of time.  I just halve mine, wrap in foil, and bake at 400 for…well, a while.  You know, until they are soft.  Just squeeze ‘em.

Finished sweet potato

Finished sweet potato

And yes, sweet potatoes are this color.  Google it.

Ok, now that’s done.  Easy.

Cook up a little spinach (I soak mine for a while, because even if you buy clean spinach, I still feel like it’s a little gritty).  Soak it for a few hours, again, this is something you can just keep on the counter until you are ready to cook.

I cook my spinach with a little olive oil, a lot of lemon juice, and black pepper.  It’s like a 3-minute deal.

You don’t need instructions on how to do this

Next, it’s time to build the dinner!

Take out your plate and cut open your sweet potatoes.  You can put a little butter or Earth Balance, to keep it vegan, or not.  Put some lentils on that bad boy.  Mmmmm.  I can taste it all over again.  Wait, that’s not good…

Step whatever

Step whatever

Great, you’re up to speed!

Next, layer on the spinach, sprinkle with red pepper (I know, I can never get enough), drizzle with a little olive oil, and fennel frawns, for a super fancy look.

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You just died, huh? I KNOW.

For my carnie (short for carnivorous, not carnival) roommate, I added a little of that Crockpot Chicken I made the other day, a small amount of grated organic white cheddar, and then the spinach.  She kinda liked it.

JUST KIDDING.  She ate it all because it was soooooo yums.

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Carnie version

Enjoy.  And if yours look totally different, or you use kale instead of spinach, or cannellini beans instead of lentils, go for it.  THAT’S the joy of cooking!

Vanilla and Nutmeg Chia Pudding (V)

Oh, the chia seed.  So strange, yet so AWESOME.  Chias are ridiculous.  Soak ‘em in water, blend them up in your smoothie, whatever, and they seriously KILL IT in your body.

I’m sure your first thought when these came into vogue recently was, “are we talking about Chia Pets, like, ch-ch-ch-chia?”  That chia?

Um, yeahssssss.  Same one.  Except, they didn’t serve much purpose in the 1980s sitting in a ceramic animal-shaped “plant” that, let’s face it, was kinda freaky looking.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and whoa!, people became aware that WE COULD EAT THESE CREEPY LITTLE SEEDS!

Ok, they’re not that creepy.  But when you put them in liquid, they almost grow, and become gelatinous.  They lend themselves well to being in softer foods like oatmeal, any other cooked grain cereal, smoothies or other healthful drinks, and puddings and jams.

Whole Chia Seed contains 2282 mg of Omega 3 and contains 752 mg of Omega 6.  That’s RAD.

Alright, on with the show. I had this idea driving the other day, and didn’t really know if it’d work, so I Googled “chia seed pudding” and got about 948,038 results.  YOU MEAN OTHER PEOPLE HAD THOUGHT OF THIS?!  I’M NOT A CULINARY GENIUS?!  Well, crap.

Behold: chia seed pudding.

Pudding!

Pudding!

Chia Seed Pudding

3/4 cup chia seeds

2 cups almond or coconut milk (vegan if you can find it–check the carton!)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (or cinnamon)

1/2 tsp. vanilla (a little more if you like:))

Throw 'em all in a bowl!

Throw ‘em all in a bowl!

The ingredients

The ingredients

Let this all sit out for a while, stirring every 10 mins or so, then put in your containers of choice, cover, and put in fridge overnight.

You can top it with some fruit–like kiwi, raspberries, blueberries.

I can’t wait to try it tomorrow!

In other news, I ordered these:

Reading material

Reading material

My philosophy on cook books is this: I read them like a novel, glean from the knowledge of others, write in them, and reinvent ideas I like.

I have a really hard time following recipes.  Not because I think I ALWAYS make something better than someone else, but everyone is different, with different taste preferences, palates, etc.  But, that’s not to say I am not competitive.  I love being really good at everything I do.  So, there’s that too.

The other thing I don’t like about recipes is everyone makes up the same thing!  Spinach salad with candied walnuts and cranberries?  COME ON.  Let’s be better.  Repeat after me, “I’m better than the Gap.”

Kudos if you get the movie reference;)

So, I guess it’s time to crack these puppies open!

**I want to add that there is in fact no sweetener in this recipe.  Someone wanted to comment on this–I didn’t approve it because they were pushing their website–but honestly, you don’t need it.  I don’t believe that because something is a dessert that it has to be super sweet.  Also, I do not have a sweet tooth, so the vanilla in this is plenty.

Thanks-N