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!

Crockpot (GASP!) Sesame Ginger Chicken (MEAT, yo!)

Oh hey, so I am still not eating any meat, but I have a hungry roommate who will appreciate this one.  Hopefully.  She seems to enjoy what I cook…I’m going on my gut here.  Anyway, I had some chicken in the freezer, and I really wanted to not have to think too hard about what to do with it, so I thought, ‘a crockpot provides for thought-free cooking,’ and here we are.

My feelings about crockpots are not super positive.  Part of me can see how if you have a million+ things to do, and don’t have hours to be in the kitchen, it can be useful.

However, I have the time, and I never remember seeing a crockpot in our house, or my grandmother’s–definitely not!  I learned how to cook everything on a stove or in the oven, not using shortcuts, etc.  And, thankfully, I happen to love the process of cooking, and have the time right now.

So, this brings me to why I am using a crockpot today.  I do have laundry to do…I will probably go work out later…but mostly, and I am going to be totally honest with you right now, Netflix just added every season of The West Wing, and hello, what an amazing show!

I know.  Awful.

The other part of me doesn’t really want to be dealing with meat right now because I am trying to discipline myself to clean up my diet, and the crockpot allows me to basically not touch the chicken at all.

But, y’all, it’s gonna be good!

So, here’s my crockpot Sesame Ginger Chicken recipe–appearing on my almost-Vegan blog:)

Sesame Ginger Crockpot Chicken

a bunch of chicken breasts (come on, you didn’t think I was going to get all specific, did you?)

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

In a bowl:

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1 teaspoon white pepper (or regular pepper–whatevs, I know not everyone has white pepper)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds

dash of soy sauce

dash of sweet and sour sauce, or whatever Asian-type sauces you’ve got

a whole mess of chopped garlic

tiny dash of cinnamon

red pepper (it always makes it in!)

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I could drink this. Seriously.

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Ready to go in!

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Ground ginger–good for you!! (That’s my “mess” of garlic in the bottom of the bowl there.

Stir all these together and dump the onion and spice mixture in over the chicken, and add one cup of water or your favorite broth.  Yeah, this is totally unnecessary

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Altogether in the crockpot!

Cook on low for 3-4 hours

You can serve this in lettuce for a low-carb wrap, over brown rice, on pita, whatever you fancy.  Chop up some  green onion to sprinkle over the top.  Check back for an update.  I just put in on, so I only have a few pictures.

Enjoy!