Sunday, January 11, 2015

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings"

It's cold and rainy. Again. Newton and I have been spending some QT on the couch with the Sons of Anarchy the past couple of days. Season 4 sure is bloody, buddy. Yeah, yeah - I know this sounds suspiciously like my New Year's post, but I spent a week on call in the interim, was phoned at all hours of the night (interns...smh), and had to go in to the hospital no less than four times last weekend to help sick dogs. Feel sorry for me yet? At least I have lunch plans today with another human.

Yesterday, I ate half of a head of cauliflower for lunch and I have the other half ready for dinner tonight. Sounds sketchy, but look what I did!

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower. SO YUMMY. I realize these are not the typical bright orange wing sauce color, but that is dependent on the type of buffalo sauce you use. This is the second time I have I followed the recipe from The Curvy Carrot. Yesterday, I made it with a few modifications based on what I had around the kitchen. While I did not have buttermilk on hand, I curdled a scant cup of half and half with a tablespoon of white vinegar. If you let that sit at room temp for 5-10 minutes, you get a gross looking, chunky cup of fake buttermilk to use. Don't be afraid. I mixed the curdled dairy with 1/3 cup whole wheat flour and 2/3 cup all purpose flour for the batter and found it to be a little thick, so I added about 1/4-1/3 cup of water into the mix. The cauliflower was still a little difficult to batter up, so next time I'd probably add even more water or milk to the flour.

I was all set to make my own buffalo sauce using Tapatío, garlic and butter, but actually found an unopened bottle of wing sauce in the pantry that must have survived the move from Iowa last summer. Weird. (But not really weird, if you know me at all, and if you know how many bottles of barbecue sauce are in there, too).  Last time I made these things, I tossed half with wing sauce and half with BBQ, then fed them to an 11 year old kid. He didn't really like them, but I think he did eat a couple bites as a side dish for his pile of ketchup. He didn't like anything I made, though, so there's that. (That's a lie. He liked these S'mores cookies.)

I think I have enough food in the house to get me to Tuesday, when my next CSA box arrives. Last week, I ate almost an entire head of cabbage, and it seems I'll be getting another cabbage this week. So.... Let's think about that. I'm supposedly getting more turnips, too. Yikes. As of this morning, I've decided I officially don't like rooibos tea. And as of Christmas Eve, I don't like turnips. At least the roasted kind. But I'm going to try something different with the little bastards the next time they come around... maybe blended with butternut squash in a soup?? If ya'll have any turnip tips, I'm listening.

In comparison with my old CSA in Iowa, my new CSA in Texas has a bit less variety in the veggie box each week, but I bet there are several reasons for that. One, this is Texas and things don't grow here like they do in Iowa. (One point for Iowa.) Two, I started this share in the fall/winter when harvests are less robust in general (though the CSAs in Iowa generally give up about November because of the freezing and such. One point for Texas). Three, I'm eating this entire box all by myself every other week, but in Iowa, I was splitting a weekly share with a friend/residentmate. And... Four, Granny's Garden is new at the whole CSA thing and it seems they have been making improvements and adjustments as the weeks roll by. They also deliver to my front door, which is cool. So, I'm going to stick with it through the spring/summer seasons and see what's in store.

Ok... Fortunately, I get to speak to a living human in about a half hour. Unfortunately, that requires me to change out of fleecy pajamas and head out into the cold, wet weather. We're having Pei Wei and I'm considering a step outside of the Pad Thai box. I need some time to consider the options.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year Sweet Potato Chili

Happy New Year!

I spent the day in fuzzy pajamas drinking Lemon Lift, Netflixing Sons of Anarchy, and taking naps with Newt (who, incidentally, talked his way out of a New Years bath).

I also started to take down my library Christmas tree

(which involves walking all of these glorious books back upstairs...). After a grueling two several trips upstairs with the smallish books from the top, I was famished.

So I ate some chocolate.

But then later, I actually made dinner.

You know what I love? When I already have everything in the house to cook dinner without requiring a trip to the grocery store. I'm getting pretty good at that. I'm flexible. I'm hip. I'm prepared like yellow mustard.

# 1. Today, it is cold and rainy in Texas.
# 2. I have about 46 pounds of organic sweet potatoes in my cupboard (not all of them went into that pecan maple sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving... that I ended up eating myself because pretty much the entire family doesn't eat sweet potatoes for some ridicu-reason).
# 3. I've been on my game with storing the fresh produce I can't eat right away. Basically, my freezer looks like a health enthusiast's dream.
# 4. OK. So, #2 isn't exactly factual. But I do have a lot.

So... what I'm getting at is this:

Sweet potato chili. I used this giantest sweet potato I had. It was probably a 3 pound potato. I peeled it (and then cheated and microwaved it for two minutes so it was easier to slice..... I can't be getting chopping blisters on New Years Day, ya'll). I diced it. I also diced some green bell pepper. I had some chopped onion and garlic in the fridge already from our Christmas Eve dinner. I rinsed some beans (sadly, no blackeyed peas though..). I had a bag o' red, ripe tomatoes and about a cup and a half of chopped greens pulled from the freezer. Chili powder and dried chipotle come out of hiding in the spice cabinet. Suddenly, this is getting real.

One of my resolutions is to be more productive this year. I want to get more done in a day. That goes for both work and the rest of life.

So I also ran the dishwasher.

I hope ya'll are having a fab night. And that no one else shoots fireworks to scare your dogs.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chicken Taco Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Black beans.
Tiny jalapeños.
The perfect avocado.

What would you do?

Well, ordinarily I would be googling all over the place. But I've already done that for pattypan squash. Twice. There are plenty of options, but very few transform the squash into a main dish, and even fewer call for a single, giant squash (like the ones my CSA farm tends to grow).

Maybe I was inspired by my upcoming trip to the Mayan Riviera, but......

I made a giant taco.

No, seriously. I have Mexico on the  brain. I am currently searching through a billion possibilities of places to stay on Isla Mujeres, in Tulum, and in Puerto Morelos. This is happening.

Taco Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 80 min
Yield 4-5 servings

1 medium pattypan squash
1 teaspoon chipotle/southwestern seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
½ cup dried white rice
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ large white onion, chopped
3 tiny jalapeños (or ½ large jalapeño), minced
1 medium chicken breast
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 – 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh pico de gallo
½ avocado, sliced
Sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top off of the squash and remove the seeds and any stringy insides. The patty pan squash should now look like a bowl. Bake for 1–1.5 hours (until a fork easily pierces the skin and flesh). Baking time will vary depending on size of squash.
2. In a large saucepan, heat half of the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté onions, garlic, and jalapeños for 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice and sauté until toasted and slightly golden in color.
3. Dump canned tomatoes (including all liquid) into the saucepan with the rice and onion mixture. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked to desired consistency.
3. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Cook chicken breast through (about 7-8 minutes per side). Remove from heat and rest chicken for 10 minutes, then shred with a fork.
4. Add chicken back to skillet (and finish cooking, if necessary), add 1 tablespoon of water along with the taco seasoning. Stir to combine and heat through. Add black beans.
5. When squash is finished, remove from oven and stuff with rice, chicken and black bean mixture, and top with pico de gallo, avocado and sour cream.
6. Cut the squash into quarters and serve like a Mexican pie.


Calories 439, Total Fat 12 g, Cholesterol 32 mg, Sodium: 1017 mg, Protein 21 g, Fiber 11.3 g

........And then that thing happened where I wasn't following a recipe and tremendously underestimated how long it would take to cook the squash and I ate my taco on a microwave baked potato. Don't let this happen to you. Plan ahead for a giant squash, people.

The potato was good, but the squash was much better (even reheated). Apparently, if you ever find yourself with an abundance of ripe pattypan, I'm your girl. Savory, stuffed, or sweet.

Now back to vacation planning!!

(I think planning my own vacations could be a really great career.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cocoa Chai Spice Roasted Almonds

Guess what?! My horses finally made it home to Texas. A three day trailer ride with a layover in Missouri got Angel and Halo down from Iowa in one piece (or, two pieces actually, each made up of a gazillion other pieces). I am so glad to have them close by again. I am far too neurotic to leave my pets that many miles away for very long.

For the first time since July, I got to rub horse noses and scratch horse ears, and hear that endearing little sound that Angel makes when she knows I have food for her*. It was so cute. Even though she had a huge hive of dried cockleburs hanging near her right ear. The rest of her mane was twisted into little black spirals and dredlock tangles... it was not cute. Halo had a few minor mane issues, too, but she has naturally beautiful princess cow pony hair (it's true -- just ask the little girls at Stagecoach Stables), so hers wasn't as bad after a few months of neglect.

Anyway, brushing a knotted labyrinth of horse hair is a fitting punishment for leaving them in Iowa without me for the last three months.  After a couple of days in segregation from the crowd, they were turned out with the rest of the Texas herd today on 65 acres of green grass and seem to be settling in nicely. GBT**.

Now lets talk about these almonds. Aside from horsing around, weekends are also for cooking (and taking pictures because I am home when there is sunlight and windows and time). I'd been eyeballing these Chocolate Chai Roasted Almonds from The Simple Veganista for quite a while***. I even bought an extra pound of raw almonds on my last trip to Trader Joe's****. As soon as I was in a functional-enough kitchen to do some testing down here, these made their debut. Here goes.

I followed the original recipe almost to the letter, but would definitely recommend backing off on the roasting time, as suggested in my version below. Obviously the time to roast will depend on your oven, so feel free to test them halfway and again at 15 minutes to ensure they do not burn. The almonds will be a little sticky at half time, but will be dry once completely cooked and cooled. And don't worry if they stick in clumps -- they will be very easy to break apart.

Cocoa Chai Spice
Roasted Almonds

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 17 min
Yield 12 servings

3 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon cardamom
1 heaping teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (I used white pepper)
a few pinches of mineral salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients until the almonds are well coated.
3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread almonds into a single layer.
4. Bake for 17-20 minutes, shuffling once in the middle.
5. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to two months.

Calories 226, Total Fat 17 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium: 14 mg, Protein 7.6 g, Fiber 4.7 g

These things were so easy, but (alas) they are all gone now. SO.. I am looking for my next roasted almond recipe to try! If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!

Everyone should be greeted in that way. It'll warm your heart, really. That is why she is my favorite.
** God Bless Texas.
*** I have also also made her Glazed Vegan Lentil Loaf. That recipe has been one of the most popular pages on this blog.... if you are interested. :)
****Dear Trader Joe: PLEASE PLEASE come to College Station. I'll pay you. Love, L.
*****Sorry for the excessive number of footnotes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Chocolate Chip Patty Pan Bread

This week at work has been so busy! I wish I could say that a daily slice of this no-oil chocolate squash bread was my single indulgence to get me through, but...

let's talk about something else.

Patty pan squash.

I only used about a quarter of the squash in the ratatouille from last week and have brainstormed / Googled other ways to use it up (especially because I got another one in the most recent CSA delivery). One of the recipes I found was from The Harmonious Kitchen. I switched it up a bit by replacing oil with applesauce, reducing the sugar, using 50:50 whole wheat:white flour, and increasing the squash. The end result was a just-sweet-enough, chocolate-chips-in-every-bite, soft and awesome bread.

I made this last weekend when J was in town visiting and we had our first, tentative bites after a 5 mile run, which included an unplanned detour through Wiener Fest*. That's a festival of wiener dogs, in case you were wondering. In fact, a part of me wishes I had a wiener dog just so I could enter it into the races. They actually have a race for "wannabe wieners" that Newton would have qualified for, but let's be honest: watching dachshunds** run is much more entertaining than watching dogs with normal sized legs run.

And look what else we saw:

Isn't this thing so cool??! I think this was part of a "coolest dog house" competition or something, but I haven't done the research to see what exactly was going on. A bunch of really awesome doggie houses were all lined up along the sidewalk here, but this one really stood out. Amazing!

Here is your reference, non-Texas people: Gruene Hall is the most famous dance hall in the central lone star state that plays host to some of the best country music in the entire world (a la REK).

Between J's visit, randomly running (literally) into Wiener Fest at the park, seeing this dog house, and visiting with an old friend (well, she used to be my boss back in the day, but it's been a we can be friends now, I think), last weekend was pretty great. And then the chocolate bread actually turned out pretty great, too, so luckily that just added to the overall greatness.

Chocolate Chip 
Patty Pan Bread

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 to 65 min (muffins vs loaf)
Yield about 12 servings

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
¼ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2-2 ½ cups grated patty pan squash
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9 x 5” loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. Alternatively, grease a muffin tin (about 18 cups).
2. In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients (applesauce, eggs, and yogurt) and both sugars.  
3. Sift in the dry ingredients (both flours, cocoa, and baking powder). Mix until just combined.
4. Fold in the squash and the chocolate chips.
5. Spoon batter into the loaf pan or muffin tins.
6. Bake the loaf for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If making muffins, bake for about 25 minutes.
7. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a butter knife around the edges (if necessary) and move the bread to a cooling rack.

Calories 232, Total Fat 6.2 g, Cholesterol 46 mg, Sodium: 266 mg, Protein 5.2 g, Fiber 3.1 g

Ordinarily, I'm all about substituting and using the things I actually have around the house, if at all possible. But, the chef's note on the original recipe warns against substituting other types of squash for the patty pan because of different water content.

I chose to fill a 6 muffin tin and then put the rest in a loaf pan. That made my own "servings" count a little weird. But the muffins will bake up much more quickly than the loaf, which is perfect for an impatient someone like me.

Do you see the colorful flowers in the periphery of those pictures? Those were from J -- his contribution to (me and) this recipe, making my photos look a little prettier.

*After writing this entire paragraph about Wiener Fest, I realized that I spelled wiener incorrectly. All of the wieners were wrong.
**This is officially the most I have ever used the word wiener. Ever. In a post that was supposed to primarily be about chocolate, even. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014


In honor of J's recent visit, I think I should start by saying that there is a blister on the inside of my dominant pointer finger. CHOPPING SQUASH. This blister is truly the gift that keeps on giving because it gets squished every time I pick up a fork. So... it gets squished pretty often.

There's proof that this recipe calls for quite a bit of chopping. It is a reminder that (1) I dislike chopping and (2) I REALLY DISLIKE chopping onion and (3) J is really good at chopping.

Unfortunately for J, this ratatouille was chopped, cooked, and down the hatch before he ever got here.

I chose to make this recipe in order to use up more of my CSA box veggies. Ratatouille is always good for that. It's a vegetable stew of sorts, generally containing tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and squash. I love it because it contains a TON of veggies and it is a pretty adaptable recipe. Use up whatever you have! Only have canned tomatoes? Go ahead! Who actually keeps a dried herbes de Provence blend, you ask? Toss in some extra thyme, oregano, and rosemary! What the hell is patty pan squash? Google it (or use a zucchini)! The addition of the patty pan squash was a new one for me, too, and it turned out wonderfully.

The measurements here are also pretty forgiving, so don't be afraid to use more or less than the suggested ingredients. Just BE SURE to adjust your seasonings. The first time I made a ratatouille recipe, it came out pretty bland. All of those veggies are glorious, of course. But they need salt (and other stuff) for this union to work.

Traditionally, ratatouille is served as a side dish, but I love to eat it as a full meal. Feel free to add a protein of your choice (white beans would be my recommendation, but something like ground beef or turkey would also do the trick).


Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ - ½ cup vegetable broth, divided
1 tsp dried herbes de Provence blend
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 small eggplant, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 small patty pan squash, chopped (about 1 cup)
1-2 small bell peppers, any color, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ pint grape tomatoes, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 small yellow squash, chopped (about 1 cup)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
18 oz tube prepared polenta
Grated parmesan cheese, optional

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent (about 4-5 minutes).
2. Add ¼ cup vegetable broth directly to the onion mixture to deglaze the pan.
3. Add dried herbs, fresh thyme, eggplant, patty pan squash, and bell pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.  
4. Add tomatoes, yellow squash, salt and pepper to the pan. . If mixture appears dry, add additional ¼ cup broth. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until squash and eggplant are tender. 
5. While vegetables are cooking, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Slice polenta into ¼” rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, sprinkling with parmesan during the last 5 minutes of baking time, if desired.
6. Mix parsley and basil into ratatouille vegetable mixture. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
7. Divide polenta rounds onto four plates and top each serving with ¼ of the ratatouille and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Calories 187, Total Fat 3.9 g, Cholesterol 1 mg, Sodium: 414 mg, Protein 4.1 g, Fiber 3.2 g

Seriously, I think that every time I make this dish, I like it better and better. Or perhaps I've become a better cook in the last five years. ;)

Finally, I encourage you all to take a moment some time today and just appreciate how it feels to NOT have a blister on your pointer finger. Just do it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Double Sweet Potato Lentil Curry


Aaaahhhhh. Autumn. It's that beautiful time of year in the south when the temperature dramatically dips into the 80's and we begin craving all things cozy and pumpkin and spiced and comforting. Down here in Texas, there are a good many few of us who can't wait to slip into turtleneck sweaters. Amiright?? J/K. Lolz.

Actually, the weather is quite lovely in the mornings. Newton and I can run a solid 2 miles without alarming passers-by that one of us might overheat and die at any moment. So, our seasons here are a little screwy, but I accept you for YOU, Texas weather!

One of the many great things about my little CSA box, is that I don't have to think about what veggies are in season or out of season (despite the weather). The box just tells me.

Last week, my delivery included sweet potato greens, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, okra, onion, patty pan squash, and spaghetti squash. I was able to use three of those items in the recipe I'm sharing today, adapted from smitten kitchen and The NY Times.

What do I mean by double sweet potato? I used the one huge sweet potato along with the sweet potato greens. If you look at the recipes from SK and the NYT, you'll notice that they both used Swiss chard. The fact is, you can use any greens at all. Spinach. Kale. Turnip. Just get 'em in there.

This dish is warm and lovely. Some notes to make it a success:

  • There are a lot of ingredients on this list, and a bit of chopping, but I assure you that the cooking part is easy.
  • The trick is to get the lentils cooked through all the way. No one likes a crunchy lentil. No one.
  • If you don't have garam masala on hand but you do have a plethora of spices, just make your own blend. See my version below the recipe box.  
  • Don't skip the lime. 

Double Sweet Potato
& Lentil Curry

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
½ jalapeno, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala*
1 teaspoon curry powder
3-4 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 lb sweet potato, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
¾ cup dried lentils (I used green)
1 bay leaf
2 packed cups chopped sweet potato greens
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 lime, zested

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent (about 4 minutes).
2. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, garam masala and curry powder. Sauté for 1 minute.
3. Add 3 cups broth, sweet potato, lentils, and bay leaf. Turn heat to HI, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. 
4. Add sweet potato greens, salt and pepper. If lentils look dry, add remaining vegetable broth.
5. Cook for 20 minutes longer, or until lentils and potatoes are tender.
6. Serve topped with scallion, lime zest, and lime wedge.

Calories 220, Total Fat 4.0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium: 1138 mg, Protein 5.7 g, Fiber 7.0 g

* Garam Masala: (this makes just enough for the recipe above, adapted from here)

  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • very scant 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • very scant 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Aaaaaannnnndddd... Finally, DON'T WORRY ABOUT THAT SODIUM. The recipe calculator likely used a high sodium broth. To ensure your sodium intake isn't through the roof, I'd recommend using a low sodium veggie broth.

Happy fall, ya'll!