broccoli alert

There have been so many new things going on in my kitchen, I don’t know where to start! First of all – have you ever tried Pepperplate?! Ummm…best app ever. I was looking for some kind of grocery shopping/recipe app and this was the first one I came across. I wanted one to help me actually buy ingredients so I could try new recipes instead of just looking at them and then never making them or forgetting one or two things. I couldn’t tell if it was legit or not but I downloaded it anyway and I love it!

On my computer, I have a little button on my bookmark toolbar that allows me to input recipes straight from websites. I mean, I don’t even have to copy and paste. All you do is hit the button and a side bar comes up, then you can just DRAG the info into the correct field (ingredients, instructions, picture, etc.). You can then add saved recipes to the different days/meals on your monthly planner, build menus, or even add to a shopping list – you can even scale the recipe (1/2, 1/4, double, etc.) BEFORE adding it to your list! It gets better. I have the app on my phone and my Kindle too, so I can see the shopping list (or even full recipes, if needed) while I’m at the store and I can prop my Kindle up in the kitchen with the recipe pulled up while I cook! The system was truly put to the test for the first time tonight and it was great!

Last week I selected this garbanzo bean salad that met all of my criteria for a good recipe – delicious, nutritious, easy, and nothing really crazy that I wouldn’t have on hand or wouldn’t be able to use for something else. Little stuff like specific oils, spices, etc. can really add up and just aren’t practical on my little college student grocery budget!

Oh my goodness gracious was this ever delicious. And filling! I cooked up some fluffy millet to go underneath and I already can’t wait to take care of the leftovers.

I also got a new cookbook last week – the Joy the Baker cookbook to be exact! Joy’s blog is one of my absolute favorites to read because she is so funny and real…and her food is AWESOME. I can’t even tell you how many of her recipes I’ve made and gotten rave reviews. In fact, I’ve had a request for her spiced apple cake (I REALLY need to get a bundt pan) that I will be making this week…even though I’d rather be working my way through the 100 new recipes in the cookbook! πŸ™‚ We did make some trail mix cookies on Saturday night while watching one of our teammates tear it up at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships though, so that’s one recipe down – 99 to go! The cookies were quite delicious and made for a perfect evening. Baking + track? Doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me πŸ™‚

In other news, I wanted to make curried millet last week to use up some chickpeas…until I realize that I was out of millet. And curry powder. Problem. So, I winged it. I was going to sub rice but had to take one of my roommates to the store anyway and was able to pick up more millet. I made it more of a Mexican dish by subbing chili powder, cumin, and coriander for the curry and turmeric. I also added some diced bell pepper and swapped out the dried fruit for mango! I definitely didn’t have the spice combination quite right but I was hungry and it was certainly edible. I think with a little more tweaking though, I could be onto something! Definitely needed some lime juice. If you haven’t tried millet before, you must try it soon!

Oh. Can we take a minute to celebrate how light it is at night again?? This last picture was taken before that happened and it is a little depressing… πŸ˜‰ Also, I am totally addicted to roasted broccoli. To the point where I (accidentally) spent over $6 on broccoli for the week awhile back. And I’ve started a roasted broccoli revolution among my roommates. At least one person makes it every night. EVEN my meat-and-potatoes-loving-don’t-feed-me-anything-colorful Iowa roommate. AND our smoke detector only goes off when broccoli comes out of the oven. We have re-named it the broccoli detector.

stuffed.

Since visiting Kansas City last week where my aunt made a FABULOUS pre-race dinner of stuffed peppers, I have rediscovered my love for this delicious Mexican treat. I was inspired to change up my usual recipe a bit & also discovered that these fancy little peppers can be cooked up much quicker than I originally thought…I just needed to crank up the oven temperature!

So, earlier this week, I made the filling, cooking the millet with garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander, and CILANTRO. <—that made a huge difference in the flavor department. I used these frozen cubes of cilantro that I got a Trader Joe’s a few months back, which happen to be the best thing ever. Once the millet was cooked, I stirred in some kidney beans, corn, salsa, & feta cheese before stuffing those peppers & getting them in the oven! 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes…MUCH better than the hour it was taking before when I made these. I usually gave up before the pepper was fully done, but not anymore! I was also inspired by our life group dinner on Wednesday night to whip up some homemade guac to go on top of my pepper. I just smashed half of an avocado with a little minced garlic, salt, pepper, & (you guessed it) another cilantro cube! SO. GOOD.

Good enough that I did the same thing with the leftover filling last night…

Only this time, I also made some of Mama Pea’s Mmmm sauce to go along with my guac because I FINALLY got back to People’s Grocery to buy some more nutritional yeast! Oh my goodness. That sauce is so good. If you have ever been to Cafe Yumm out around Oregon, this recipe is a total match for their addictive Yumm sauce. Literally the week after I was out in Eugene for a track meet last spring & so sad that I couldn’t get a jar of that sauce onto the plane back to Kansas, Mama Pea came through with an exact replica. You must try it.

I also had other plans in mind for my new stash of nutritional yeast, including this creamy smoked kale salad…except I couldn’t find the right kind of kale, so I just made the dressing, tossed my kale with it, then baked it into some seriously delicious kale chips to go along with my red lentil dal & super quick naan bread!

All I did for the naan bread was mix 1/4 c. bread flour with a dash of salt & 1/8 tsp. baking powder, then stirred in a few tablespoons of water until it came together into a dough & cooked it in a skillet over high heat for a few minutes. Mine was a little too wet, so I ended up having to kind of spread the dough into the pan but, with less water, it can just be rolled out like normal dough into a little round flatbread.

Of course, the one day I get daylight for taking food pictures & my camera won’t turn on! So, I apologize for the horrible, dark phone pictures, but hopefully I’ll be back up & running again soon!

curried millet

Okay, the semester is OVER and I’m finally posting this absolutely delicious curried millet!

I left out the parsley because 1) I didn’t have any 2) I don’t like it. Oh, and I substituted a mix of craisins and golden raisins for the currants. It was seriously so delicious that I made it twice in one week. I made half the recipe each time and wasn’t quite sure it would be enough to fill me up for dinner, but it most definitely was. You must make it. Soon.

I also finally got around to using the farro I bought at Whole Foods…back in September. After reading this blog post, I knew I needed to track down some farro and give it a shot. So, when I ran out of all forms of oatmeal AND bread last week, it was time to grind up the farro and make some porridge!

Ummm…why did I only buy enough to eat this twice?! So. Good. This was a really nice change from regular oatmeal – the texture is so smooth and the farro has a really light flavor. I cooked 1/3 c. of the ground farro (ground in the blender) with 3/4 c. milk and 1/2 c. water and a sprinkling of cinnamon, then added my usual mashed banana after it had cooked/thickened about 5-10 minutes. Gosh, it was so good! Can you tell how creamy it is?!

Definitely need to find some more of this to add to my breakfast routine more often!

recap

Well, the semester is winding down which means only one thing – much more time to share what’s been going on in my kitchen! Although my goal is still to show that you can eat real, healthy food on a small budget (both money and time), I don’t always have time to SHARE about it during the semester – but it is certainly still occurring!

Awhile back for example (a LONG while…I honestly don’t even remember when), I finally madeΒ  a recipe from Clean Food that IΒ  bookmarked over a year ago.

I pretty much always have the ingredients, I just never made it happen. I have no excuse!

Aduki beans could easily be substituted for black beans, but I was able to find them at People’s Grocery in the bulk bins. Planning ahead to soak them is what took me so long to finally make this recipe, I think. Millet is one of my favorite grains and the lemon dressing was super easy, only requiring a few common ingredients. This salad would be a great side dish, but it wasn’t incredibly filling as a meal for some reason.

Another quick, easy meal when your cabinets are completely empty? Potatoes and eggs.

All I have to say is thank goodness I randomly started liking eggs, even if I can only eat them like this. I have no problem spending $3.00 for a dozen, cage free, free range eggs that I can use in baking OR for a quick meal. They are a MUCH cheaper protein source than grass fed beef or free range chicken.

This particular bowl consisted of roasted potato cubes, green onion and red bell pepper for a little flavor, and some sausage I had thawed from the local farmers market. Yum!

Now, can we switch gears a little bit for dessert?? First of all, I don’t think I ever shared my first adventure into the world of cake pops for my roommate Sara’s birthday.

They spell “Happy Birthday Sara”. She went home for her birthday so we couldn’t celebrate with her. I hid this in the fridge in her room for when she came back πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Definitely not too bad for my first attempt, but this experience gave me some insight for future trials…and an idea for what I think will be an extremely delicious entirely homemade version (I may have cheated on this one in the interest of time and money…)

Even more exciting was this cake I made yesterday (yes, we have finally caught up with everything I’ve managed to document and not blog about for the past few months!)

Pumpkin Pomegranate Upside-Down Cake (based off of Emily’s Pumpkin, Fig, & Pomegranate Upside-Down Cake). I made the original version for Christmas last year, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the fig jam and thought raspberry jam would taste much better. I also un-veganized this version by using real butter, buttermilk, and eggs. For some reason, this one fell apart when I flipped it, but it still tasted AMAZING and my Life Group was very forgiving about it’s less than spectacular appearance πŸ™‚

The cake is so moist and the tart raspberry-pomegranate-cranberry topping completes the fall flavors so well. You must try this cake!!

I plan to be back soon with more about some of Trader Joe’s purchases I shared awhile back, as well as more baking and an adventure into the world of canning! πŸ™‚

gluten-free week: days 3-5

Days 1 and 2 of gluten-free week were a bit easier because I had the day off of work. Day 3 (Wednesday), I had to work over the lunch hour but since we weren’t serving food until dinner that night, we were allowed to bring our own food.

DAY 3

Breakfast: Scottish oats with banana and some peanut butter with a glass of milk

Lunch: PB+J on homemade gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread, cherries

Dinner: Vegetarian chili and a glass of milk

When I saw the recipe for the cinnamon raisin bread awhile back, I knew it would be perfect for my gluten-free experience! I was having trouble finding chickpea (garbanzo) flour, so I ended up buying garbanzo + fava bean flour. I’ll admit, I was pretty skeptical. Bean flavored cinnamon bread? No thank you. But it tasted great! Not even a hint of bean flavor!

The bread was baked in a square baking pan and it is SUPER dense. I suppose it’s really more like a muffin than regular sandwich bread. If the bread is cut into 4 pieces (which end up being about the size of a normal slice of bread), each slice is 250 calories! So, I cut a slice in half and spread it with PB+J for my lunch. It looked super small but it was so incredibly dense and packed with fiber + protein from the flour that it was more than enough to fill me up!

For dinner, I was really excited to try this vegetarian chili and I thought it would be perfect to make the cornbread recipe that was with it. It hadn’t just called for cornmeal, but also whole wheat pastry flour. I thought nothing of it as I made the cornbread. Then, as I pulled it out of the oven with great anticipation, I realized what I had done. Whole wheat pastry flour is definitely a no-no on gluten-free week, so the cornbread sat untouched 😦 I’ve waited 3 whole days and I’m finally going to try it tonight!

DAY 4

Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and blackberries

Lunch: Garden vegetable pasta

Dinner: Salad (spinach, romaine, kidney beans, chickpeas, balsamic vinegar) + HUGE plate(s) of pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and strawberries (Hy-Vee salad bar!! πŸ˜€ )

You read that right….pasta at lunch. I was working and they only put out a few leftovers for staff. The options were huge steaks, leftover fish, the pasta, and a very small “salad bar”. Basically the only thing not containing sketchy meat was the pasta. I was halfway throughΒ  my food before I realized I was eating gluten 😦 If I hadn’t, I would’ve gone hungry because there were no other options! 😦

DAY 5

Breakfast: Oatmeal with blackberries, banana, and raisins + a kiwi + milk

Lunch: Sauteed zucchini + yellow squash, steamed carrots, honeydew + watermelon

Snack: Cinnamon raisin bread with peanut butter

Dinner: Leftover millet + black bean mixture from stuffed peppers + ratatouille

I had leftover filling from my stuffed peppers the other night, but no big peppers to put it in. Good thing it is just as delicious on its own!

There was zucchini, squash, a little bell pepper, and half a tomato leftover from my ratatouille the other night as well, so I had planned on making that for dinner to go with the millet. Then they ended up having almost the same veggies leftover for the staff lunch at work that day as well! I certainly got my veggie servings in on that day!

And that was the end of gluten-free week! It really went pretty well aside from my one mishap at work with the pasta. Honestly, even when we’re serving regular meals, they aren’t very sensitive to the needs of those with different diets. There is only 1 vegetarian entree planned per day and half the time it is covered in processed cheese. There are NO vegan options (unless something occasionally happens to be vegan by chance) and the gluten-free options are slim. In fact, there are none at the dining center I’m in right now! I know other college campuses have WAY more options for varied diets and I’m hoping that at some point we can get on the same page too!

I hope you enjoyed my gluten-free week recap! It was definitely a great experience and I learned a TON! Now, I can’t wait to finally try that cornbread tonight with the last of my veggie chili!

gluten-free week: days 1 + 2

Gluten-free week is off to a pretty good start! It turns out I eat a lot of gluten-free foods already…I didn’t have to alter my breakfast or lunch on day 1 at all! Dinner is where the experimentation began…

DAY 1

Breakfast: Scottish oats with banana out of an almost empty PB jar (probably one of my favorite breakfasts EVER) and a glass of milk

Lunch: Chickpea tuna salad, carrots + hummus, peach + cherries

Snack: Homemade crunchy buckwheat granola + yogurt + raisins

Dinner: Veggie quesadilla on brown rice tortilla and a glass of milk

Dessert: Brown rice tortilla + PB & J …had to give the tortillas another shot πŸ™‚

I saw these veggie quesadillas on Mama Pea’s blog the other day and immediately knew I had to make them! Of course, no regular tortilla would do so it was time to branch out into the gluten-free world of brown rice tortillas.

These are really smooth and actually kind of shiny with a great chewy texture and they crisped up nicely on the outside when toasted in the skillet. On their own, the taste has an uncanny resemblance to cardboard. However, the flavor seems to be easily masked by delicious fillings so that all you detect is the great texture πŸ™‚

As absolutely delicious as the nacho Mmmm sauce looked, I decided to just stick with the regular Mmmm sauce since I had already made it.

As far as the filling goes though, I followed the recipe…minus the maple syrup πŸ™‚ The filling was SO GOOD!!! The lime and cumin gave it such great flavor. I ate a nice pile of the extra filling that didn’t fit in my tortilla on the side πŸ™‚

I’m not a huge fan of zucchini/squash but this was definitely another one of those recipes that makes it irresistible! I could definitely just sit myself down with a giant bowl of these veggies and be just as happy as can be πŸ™‚ I don’t want summer veggie season to end!! 😦

DAY 2

Breakfast: Pumpkin buckwheat bake (drizzled with pure maple syrup) and a glass of milk

Lunch: Roasted veggie wrap with a banana and fresh cherries

Dinner: Millet stuffed peppers

Although oats themselves are a gluten-free food, they are commonly contaminated with gluten so they cause a reaction in some people with celiac disease/gluten intolerance. Because of this, it is often recommended that those on a GF diet stick to certified gluten-free oats but I have just stuck with my regular oats since they technically ARE gluten-free. However, I decided to break away from the oats this morning for a buckwheat bake! I assembled the dry ingredients last night to save time since it has to bake for 30 minutes.

Buckwheat definitely has a distinct, slightly earthy flavor which was detectable in this, but for the most part it tasted like a moist, cake-like pumpkin bread!

For lunch, I began by cutting 2 carrots and 1/4 red bell pepper into strips and roasting them at 425 degrees until they were tender. Then, I combined some of my spinach artichoke hummus with a little diced sundried tomato and spread it on a brown rice tortilla heating in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. I added the roasted veggie strips and a few slices of extra sharp white cheddar onto the tortilla, rolled it all up, then continued to cook on the skillet for a few more minutes to melt the cheese. It actually turned out really well! And I couldn’t taste that cardboard tortilla at all – just delicious chewiness!

Finally – DINNER! Lucky for me that millet is a gluten-free grain because I just LOVE it! πŸ™‚

It just goes so well with Mexican flavors, so all the more reason why I enjoy it!

These peppers are really easy. They take a little time with cooking the millet and baking them, but it is SO worth it.

And you’d better believe I poured some Mmmm sauce all over one of these pepper halves after these pictures πŸ™‚ Can’t get enough of that stuff! I’m sure the nacho Mmmm sauce would’ve been spectacular as well! Now I’m trying to figure out a good gluten-free dessert…that doesn’t involve brown rice tortillas again! πŸ˜‰ I’m thinking soft serve smoothie + homemade granola….

stuffed peppers

It is certainly no secret that I love Mexican food. Anything involving beans, avocado, salsa, chili powder, cumin, coriander…I’m there. So, it should be no surprise that I eat some combination of these foods multiple times each week, usually in a bowl with homemade tortilla chips/millet/rice OR in the form of a bean burger. This week, I splurged on some bell peppers and decided to change things up with some stuffed peppers….

….2 nights in a row. I know I’ve mentioned before that I have a strange issue with eating the same thing for dinner 2 nights in a row but I went quite a few days without Mexican flavors when we were traveling last weekend for our track meet AND our former teammate was coming over last night and bringing homemade guacamole. Therefore, stuffedΒ  peppers seemed like a good decision. It also allowed me to do some recipe adjusting so I now have an original and a speedy version of the recipe.

Stuffed Peppers (serves 2)

  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1/4 c. millet
  • 3/4 to 1 c. vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. + 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. diced onion
  • 1/4 c. diced bell pepper (I used frozen bell pepper strips)
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn
  • 1/2 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed + drained
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • handful of feta cheese
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheese (I used extra sharp white cheddar)
  • 1/4 c. salsa
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Start by adding your millet to a dry saucepan over medium-high heat and allow it to toast for a few minutes before adding vegetable stock, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. coriander, and 1/2 tsp. minced garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and let cook until liquid is absorbed (about 20-25 minutes).
  3. To prepare the peppers, cut in a circle around the top (about 1/2 to 1 inch away from the stem) and remove the core + seeds. Then, cut each pepper in half vertically.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium, then add garlic + onion. Saute about 3-4 minutes before adding bell pepper and frozen corn. Next, add the tomato, black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until millet is ready.
  5. Once millet has absorbed all liquid, stir avocado and feta cheese (if using) into the bean mixture, then add it to the millet and stir to combine.
  6. Now, it’s time to fill the pepper halves! You can either place them in a baking dish and then fill them, or fill them before placing them in the dish…whatever seems to be the least messy (I used a fairly small square glass casserole dish to keep the peppers from going all over the place). Once the peppers are filled, add some water to the bottom of the dish and place it in the oven. Bake 30-45 minutes or until peppers are tender. During the last few minutes, add about a tablespoon of salsa to each pepper and sprinkle with cheese.

**I made this using 1 pepper, but there was definitely enough filling for another. Instead of making 2 servings (4 pepper halves), you could also just eat the extra filling while you wait for the peppers to bake (like I did) or save it to make another stuffed pepper later! πŸ™‚

Last night, I wanted a quicker version of the stuffed pepper and I planned on eating some tortilla chips with the homemade guacamole so I didn’t really feel like I needed a grain component in the pepper. To speed it up, I placed the pepper halves in our steamer basket in a pot of boiling water while I prepared the beans. Then, I just put the bean mixture in the steamed pepper halves. No waiting for millet to absorb liquid or peppers to cook through in the oven required. I do think that the peppers might have been a bit more flavorful in the oven baked method, but this was a good alternative if you’re pressed for time.