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.”


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.


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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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.



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.


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.


Kale Chips–Possibly the Easiest Thing to Make, EVER

I know you.  You’re the person who bought Kale Chips the other day at Whole Foods, or wherever you shop, that tries to swindle you out of $5.00 for something that costs less than $2.00 to make.

Don’t buy Kale Chips.  Seriously.  You’re killing me.

Kale Chips

1 head of curly kale (green or red)

olive oil

nutritional yeast flakes or just plain ol’ salt and pepper

a bowl

an oven

a cookie sheet

a brain


You get the picture…

Remove stems (about 4 inches) and rinse

Remove stems (about 4 inches) and rinse

Toss with olive oil, S&P or NYF

Coat leaves

Arrange on cookie sheet

Lay those leaves out!


Place in bowl to eat

Bake at 350 for, oh, maybe 15 mins.  I never keep track.  I’m a horrible cook.

And don’t let me see you buying Kale Chips from the store–ever again!

* A couple notes * you can pull apart the leaves to make small chips, but it’s totally up to you whether you want to remove the rest of the stem that runs through the middle of the leaf.  When these bake, they dehydrate so much, it probably isn’t worth the work.


Quinoa with Lemon, Onion, Cilantro, Broccoli, and Avocado (V)

Ok, it’s getting a little crazy in this house today…I am posting again!  And this time it’s dinner!

Seriously though, I wasn’t going to get back on here tonight, but I’m not going to lie–it just tastes SO GOOD.

My friend Angie came over, so I threw a little something together last minute during our Breaking Bad marathon.

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I don’t know if the food is better than the TV show

Here we go:

Quinoa with Lemon, Onion, Cilantro, and Avocado

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 broccoli trees, finely chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 lemon, to squeeze and serve

handful cilantro, finely chopped

pinch of red pepper (or more, if you have an addiction like I do)

1/4 cup white wine

1 tbsp earth balance, or you could use olive oil instead

1/2 avocado, diced for serving

(If you want to really go crazy and add protein, throw some baby shrimp in while the quinoa is cooking.  Otherwise, this is super awesome for a vegan dish!)

In a medium-sized saucepan, put your choice of fat, diced onion, and broccoli to start cooking.  Saute for about 3-4 minutes at med-high heat.  Deglaze with the wine.  Add cilantro, juice of 1/2 the lemon, and dry quinoa to pan.  Stir.  After a couple minutes, add two cups of water and bring to a boil, uncovered.  Stir again.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed, and the quinoa is a little fluffy.  (If you choose to add shrimp, put it in when you add the water.  They can be frozen, too, since they are super tiny.)

Serve in shallow bowls with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and cubed avocado. You could also serve with a little diced onion, or a little more red pepper.



Super lemony quinoa

Garbanzo Bean Salad (V)

Happy NEW Year, people.  My resolution this year is to actually WRITE down what I cook.  Since I cook everyday, this is a slightly daunting task for me–I don’t follow recipes, so on the flip side, I never write anything down.

But here goes.

Today was a pretty productive cooking day.  I made the salad in the title, some kale chips, and baked some bread (both of those posts to come).

My focus this year is to clean up my diet even more–I am eliminating all animal products except eggs for the time being.  I would really like to continue this for the year.  I have been doing a lot of reading on supplements, etc., so I will be getting enough vitamins and nutrients from the foods I will be eating.

Actually, what I am figuring out right now is that I might be able to push myself to be an even more creative cook, because cooking with more grains and alternatives might lend themselves to ideas from ideas from ideas…make sense?

Cooking meat is always so straightforward.  I mean, you have many methods available, but the bottom line is, it has to be cooked to a certain temperature, and it can’t really be used as multitudinously as grains or vegetables (my opinion, but maybe I am right).

Thus begins my ovo-vegetarian journey.

By the way, if there is a (V) by a recipe title, that means Vegan, and (OV) will be Ovo-vegetarian.

And now, the salad!

Garbanzo Bean Salad

2 cups garbanzo beans (I buy dried, soak, and cook them)

1/4 large red onion, finely diced

1/2 cucumber, finely diced

handful cilantro, finely diced

teaspoon cumin

teaspoon black pepper

teaspoon dill weed

salt to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4-1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (to taste, as well.  I like a lot of vinegar)

Optional topping: avocado slices

Honestly, there is nothing to this.  I just love garbanzo beans (chick peas to some of you:)).

Just throw it all in a bowl and let sit for a while to let the flavors marry.

Clearly, I need to go buy more cumin.

Clearly, I need to go buy more cumin.

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Ready to combine

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And, done.

Enjoy this.  It’s pretty good, if I do say so myself.