Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Time Consuming (worth it) Beet Burgers

12 Aug


I don’t care if it’s Summer, I love beets. Even the ungodly things they do to my…inner-workings, I accept beets for who they are. I have been getting emails from The Kitchn for a while, and to be honest I don’t remember how why or when I signed up. The recipes always make me stop and read through, but I finally decided to jump in and actually MAKE something and yowza, it was the right thing to do my friends. I have 100000 other things off this site bookmarked now, so….be ready for that.

I am always on the lookout for a great veggie burger. Why? I don’t know. I love meat, but maybe it’s just the promise of lots of non-meat items coming together to create a flavor-punch patty that’s just too tempting to get out of my head? Either way, I came across this and decided yes, this is for me.

{ Best Ever Veggie Burgers – The Kitchn }

And with a title like that, who could turn it down? I made these on a day when I needed to feel that I accomplished something, anything, and with good reason. Let me set the scene…

The day: Saturday after the Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti

The time: directly after seeing Pacific Rim IN 3D IMAX (a great way to turn off your brain for 1.5 hours)

The feeling: not quite human yet

(If you glance below, you can see just how much fun I’m having with my snazzy Bell’s glasses and mini “tasting” cup)


It was time to roll up my sleeves, chug some water, and get down to non-meat burgers. Wrap some beets in tinfoil, put them in the oven and forget about them for a while.


Meanwhile over cook some brown rice, and caramelize some onions with cider vinegar (for extra sweetness)


Find an old bag of oatmeal (that happens to have lots of good stuff like flax seed and whatnot), or just some regular old oats, and give it a nice grind into a flower-like consistency (and doing this you learn that your ALREADY AWESOME immersion blender has an attachment like a mini food processor. Things are comin’ up Vitkin!)




Now hopefully your beets have been pulled out of the oven, peeled, cooled, and grated and placed in a bowl to await tasty additions. Such additions include black beans–both whole and pulverized WITH PRUNES (oyi my digestive system)–smoked paprika, dijon mustard, cumin, coriander, cooked rice, and sweetly cooked onions. Give her a good and strong mix. Now add that awesome oat flour you just made, and one lone egg.


Now let all the flavors get to know one another intimately in the fridge for a few hours, and then form into patties, and cook until a nice crust forms on each side



Those look good….but I wish they had cheese on them….



Hurrah! Now place on your bun of choice (I chose english muffins because I had them, and that way I could have 2), and add some fixin’s



Smash together (but not too hard, since we all know homemade veggie burgers tend to be somewhat mushy). Enjoy.



This recipe made a TON of food. I pattied 6 of them, and that wasn’t even half. I ended up tossing the rest in the skillet together to warm it through (I’m looking at you egg) and to give random places a little crust. I ate this delicious “mush” for the next 4 days topped with everything from avocado and cilantro to corn and tomatoes (and sometimes all of the above). Omit the egg and prepare thine self to WOW your vegan friends with your amazing culinary skillz.

Adapted from { Best Ever Veggie Burgers – The Kitchn }

  • 4 small beets
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F, wrap the beets loosely in aluminum foil and roast until easily pierced with a fork, 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a 2-quart pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and add the rice. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the rice until it’s a little beyond al dente. You want it a little over-cooked, but still firm (not completely mushy). This should take about 35 to 40 minutes. Drain the rice and set it aside to cool.
  3. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Stir the onions every minute or two, and cook until they are golden and getting charred around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. A few wisps of smoke as you are cooking is ok, but if it seems that the onions are burning, lower the heat. A dark, sticky crust should develop on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the cider vinegar and scrape up the dark sticky crust. Continue to simmer until the cider has evaporated and the pan is nearly dry again. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Process the oats in a food processor until they have reduced to a fine flour. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Drain and rinse one of the cans of beans and transfer the beans to the food processor. Scatter the prunes on top. Pulse in 1-second bursts just until the beans are roughly chopped — not so long that they become mush — 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the second can of beans and add these whole beans to the mixing bowl as well.
  7. Use the edge of a spoon or a paper towel to scrape the skins off the cooled roasted beets; the skins should slip off easily. Grate the peeled beets on the largest holes of a box grater. Transfer the beet gratings to a strainer set over the sink. Press and squeeze the beet gratings to remove as much liquid as possible from the beets.
  8. Transfer the squeezed beets, cooked rice, and sautéed onions to the bowl with the beans. Sprinkle the olive oil, brown mustard, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander over the top of the mixture. Mix all the ingredients until combined. Taste the mixture and add salt, pepper, or any additional spices or flavorings to taste. Finally, add the oatmeal flour and egg, and mix until you no longer see any dry oatmeal or egg.
  9. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the mixture to a refrigerator container, and refrigerate the burger mixture for at least 2 hours.
  10. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan.
  11. Form patties and cook as many as will fit without crowding. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side (or until you see a nice crust).

Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp

29 May


’twas a rainy [Memorial Day] Monday, and I had done a bit too much “celebrating” over the weekend. I needed something that was hearty, appetizing, and didn’t involve too much effort because man was I tired. Extra points for including asparagus. I went back and forth between 2 pasta dishes: one had a pork and apple ragu, one had an asparagus and an almond crisp. After what seemed like months of deliberation, I settled on the asparagus.

{ Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp – Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izzard }

Why did I make that decision? Well it involved a topping that was made up of butter, toasted almonds, roasted garlic, and parmesan. Wowza, I think that’s what I want my tombstone to read (“Here lays Erica, she was a big fan of the following products: butter, toasted almonds, roasted garlic, and parmesan”…but then again “Here lays Erica: Breakin’ necks and Cashin’ checks since 1987” has a nice ring to is as well, just rolls off the tongue really). 

So the first thing to tackle was the whole head of roasted garlic (I get chills every time I write/think/say that). The one time I’ve tried to make a whole head of roasted garlic I put it in the microwave with some type of garlic roasting apparatei, and the whole thing started smoking and I was upset because my entire head of garlic was ruined, the kitchen smelled like weird smoke for 3 days, and I was out $0.75. I was determined to turn things around. I followed instructions.

Take your head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4 exposing the cloves

GarlicPlace on tinfoil, and drizzle with olive oil and salt

GarlicDrixxleWrap tinfoil into a Hershey’s Kiss-like teardrop around the garlic, and roast at 400F for about 40 minutes (feel free to pop in some almond slices for the last 5 minutes of roasting to get them a nice toast)

Now combine room temperature butter, the whole head of roasted garlic (no skins, please), bread crumbs, some chili paste, parmesan cheese, and the newly toasted almonds (be careful, don’t you crack those almonds)

AlmondMixIt’s okay to sneak a taste of this, because sweet jesus I would eat this out of the garbage. I will now find excuses to make this as a “garnish” for upcoming dishes

AlmondCrispPop this in the fridge to harden up. Oh, it’s hard now? Throw it in a pan over med-high heat and let’s crisp this sucka (and yes, it smelled JUST as good as you’re imagining)

AlmondCrispCookNow: Asparagus Time.

AsparagusCookSaute for a good 3-4 minutes to get a nice vibrant green color (think a cartoon character getting sea sick), and add some chicken stock, soy sauce, and water. Hell, let’s throw in some more chili paste because I just can’t get enough

AsparagusStirLet the liquid cook down to about half and add some fresh peppery arugula

ArugulaGive it a good stir to wilt, top with some cooked linguine (I opt for whole grain because it’s good for you you guys), fresh lemon zest and the glorious almond butter crisp

MixDig in.

ForkTwirlJust. Delightful. And hey, one more for the road: whole head of roasted garlic.


Adapted from { Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp – Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izzard }

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 Tbs butter, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs (I went with panko)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs Sambal or other Chili paste
  • 1 C. sliced almonds
  • 1 box linguine (1 lb)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb asparagus, sliced in diagonal 1-in pieces
  • 1/2 C. chicken broth
  • 1.5 Tbs soy sauce
  • handful of baby arugula
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Place butter out on the counter to come to room temperature. Just forget about it now and be surprised when you stumble upon it later in the recipe when you need it.
  2. Roast your garlic. Slice off the top 1/4 of the garlic head to expose cloves and place on tinfoil. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and fold up tinfoil edges to a point. Roast for 40 minutes at 400F. Mince the garlic pieces that you cut off and set aside. Pop in the almonds during the last 5 minutes of roasting to toast.
  3. Mix you almost-forgotten-about room temperature butter, bread crumbs, 1 Tbs of the Sambal, and parmesan together to form a paste. Gently (gently!) fold in your almonds. Pop in the fridge to harden.
  4. Cook pasta in salted water and reverse 1/2 C of the cooking liquid.
  5. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add asparagus and reserved garlic mince. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken broth, pasta cooking water, remaining 1 Tbs Sambal, and soy sauce to asparagus and simmer until cooked down(town) to about half.
  6. Add arugula and lemon zest to asparagus mixture and mix to wilt. Toss with pasta.
  7. Serve this as a Choose-your-own-adventure: mix the almond butter crisp right in with the pasta (like I did), or serve the crisp on top of the pasta (which gives more of a “wow” factor)






VeganFEAST: Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers with Brussels Slaw and Hearts of Palm/Avocado Chop Chop Salad

26 Apr

Vegan!? I know, I can’t believe it either. But when I read fellow blogger Small World Supper Club‘s post from April 22, I knew I had to make this immediately. I also came across this salad from Big Girls Small Kitchen around the same time, and didn’t even realize it was also vegan (chicken-omitting, of course)

Bulgur Bean Burgers + Brussels Slaw – Small World Supper Club }

Chicken, Hearts of Palm and Avocado Chop Chop Salad – Big Girls Small Kitchen }


I am a big fan of black bean burgers, but have never made one successfully at home. It’s a delicate apparatus, my friends. There is a certain art to putting together a black bean burger because it is WAY too easy to make it into a big pile of (delicious and protein-packed) mush. You think it’s awkward trying to cook a big pile of mush in a pan? Try to take a bite without it spilling out over the sides in a stream of black bean failure. But I digress…

What’s nice about this whole meal is the only “cooking” that takes place is the bulgur that’s in the patty, and the pan-frying of the actual patties. The rest is fancy knife work, risky emulsifying, and good old fashioned elbow grease. But what is Bulgur anyways? It’s a ground-wheat (recognized as whole wheat by the USDA) that is often found in Mediterranean foods and my pantry (I have a surplus of bulgur because a while ago I made a mushroom-bulgur dish that I loved, and then decided to buy another pound when I wanted to make it again because I forgot I already some. Bulgur Surplus).

So once our bulgur (terrible, terrible name, right guys?) is cooked and ready, we want to make the burger patties. In a food processor, combine the majority of a can of (rinsed) black beans, shredded carrot, cumin, fennel, coriander, pinch of cayenne, salt, cilantro, and juice of 1/2 a lime. Remember that chili paste I was blathering on about last week? Well let’s toss about a tablespoon in there too.

FoodProcessorGive it a few good pulses just to mix, and add in 1/2 the bulgur. Pulse again (DON’T OVER PULSE THIS IS WHERE THE MUSH COMES FROM). Now add the rest of the black beans for a few final pulses. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the rest of the bulgur.

BurgerPasteNot great…but not bad either (texture wise). Just to be safe, let’s form these into patties and pop them in the freezer for a tic to form up before the pan-frying.

PattiesMeanwhile, let’s start our brussels  slaw. Thinly slice some cute little brussels and grate some carrots (I always have baby carrots on hand, so naturally my hands were a little cut up after this because have you ever grated baby carrots? It always ends in grated fingers)

SlawAnd the only thing that goes into this is now the vinaigrette…which uses apple cider vinegar…that I don’t have. Crap. After some frantic internetting  (because I hate driving to get something when I don’t need to, and not in a “I’m afraid of driving” kind of way, but in a “what a waste” kind of way), I pieced some different things together to come up with the following: white vinegar is too strong of a flavor, and adds nothing, and sherry cooking wine is super sweet. Blend them half and half, and throw in a pinch of sugar, and you’ve got yourself a suitable substitute. Now, with your franken-vinegar, mix some prepared mustard, salt, cumin and cayenne. Slowly drizzle in some olive oil while whisking birskly to create a nice emulsification (which is a mixture of liquids that normally wouldn’t blend but since you’re whisking your ass off they come together in perfect harmony).

VinaigretteI think our burgers are ready now. Pull them out, and coat both sides in  bread crumbs (I opted for panko)

BurgerDipNow pan fry those mothers

BurgerFlipSince I am just the queen of multi-tasking, I decided to start and finish my Chop Chop salad while these bad boys were getting a nice crust to them. I’d also like to take this opportunity to talk about Hearts of Palm.

HeartsofPalmIf these weren’t so expensive I would probably have a can-a-day addiction, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: it’s a vegetable that is harvested from inside the core of a Palm Tree…one might even say the “heart” of the Palm…. They have just a hint of sourness, and look really gross. These bad boys are usually $4 a pop (a can that has about 6-7 pieces, which has approx. 20 calories a “stick”) and are just the best.

Anyhoo, cut these up, add some corn (thawed frozen is fine), a diced avocado, some chopped cilantro, and a roasted red pepper. I opted to make my own since I learned how easy it is

  • place your fresh pepper directly on the flame of a gas burner or right under your broiler
  • let sit, then rotate, then sit, then rotate, and do this until it’s black and charred all over
  • place in a sealed plastic baggie for 30 min to “sweat”
  • peel off charred skin under running water

Now this salad has it’s own dressing, but it’s so similar to the vinaigrette used for the brussels slaw I decided to just use whatever extra there was from the slaw. I also added the juice from 1/2 a lime (because dun-dun-dun that’s what I had) and some more cilantro. I made the mistake of not really documenting this salad, but jesus christ this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. If I can find cases of Hearts of Palm on sale I’m going to go hog wild and make this daily.

Black Bean Burgers, Assemble!


There was a cilantro mayo that was omitted from the original SWSC (Small World Supper Club) post, which my first thought was “are you CRAZY!? Cilantro Mayo sounds like maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard of” but once I had everything ready, the components were really deep and flavorful, so I thought they’d be able to stand on their own, and hey, it’s vegan, bonus. Now add your salad on the side, and you’ve got yourself quite the ” I can’t believe it’s Vegan” Vegan meal.

BurgerFinalNotes from the next day: not sure how to pack the leftovers up for the fridge, I combined the slaw and the salad since it all had the same dressing, and wow, it made it even better. I had a burger patty with a big heap of slaw-salad for both breakfast and lunch and can’t wait to do the same for dinner (providing John doesn’t finish the last of it before I get home)

Adapted from { Bulgur Bean Burgers + Brussels Slaw – Small World Supper Club }

Brussels Slaw

  • 1/4 cup “home made” sherry vinegar (1/8 C sherry wine + 1/8 C white vinegar + pinch of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • about a pound of Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 carrot (or a handful of babies)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, cumin, cayenne, and mustard. Gradually whisk in the oil to emulsify. Adjust seasoning to taste. I added a splash of lemon juice at this point.
  2. Slice the sprouts longways, creating long skinny shreds. Or, if you’re feeling lazy (like me), just throw them in the food processor and shred. If the core seems overly hard, discard it (preferably in your compost bin). Add the Brussels sprouts to the dressing.
  3. Peel the carrot and use the vegetable peeler to shave off long slices and then slice them into thin shreds. (Or process in the food processor.) Add to the sprouts and dressing and toss well. Keep covered, refrigerated, until needed.

Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tsp sambal/harissa/chili paste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked fine- or medium-grind  bulgur, cooled
  • 2/3 cup panko
  • buns, toasted
  1. In a small food processor, combine 2/3 of the beans, carrot, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and spices, and process until combined. Be careful not to over do it; you’re making burgers, not hummus!
  2. Add half of the bulgur and pulse a few times to combine. Then add the rest of the beans for a few FEW pulses. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the remaining bulgur.
  3. Shape into 6 patties a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Place on baking sheet and pop in the freezer for 10-15 min to firm up. Spread the panko on a plate and coat both sides of each patty with crumbs.
  4. Spray or coat a large sauté pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until well browned an heated through (I found that it took about 4 minutes on each side).
  5. Serve the burgers, topped with slaw, on the toasted buns.

Adapted from { Chicken, Hearts of Palm and Avocado Chop Chop Salad – Big Girls Small Kitchen }


  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • One 14-ounce can hearts of palm, cut into chunks (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed under running water and drained
  • 1 fresh red pepper (or jar of roasted red peppers)
  • 1 ripe avocados, cut in half, pit removed, cut in a cross hatch then scooped out
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  1. Place pepper on direct flame of gas stove or under broiler. Rotate and let sit until charred all over. Place in plastic bag to sweat for 30 min. Remove skin and seeds, and chop (if using prepared roasted red peppers, drain oil and chop)
  2. Combine all ingredients in bowl, and drizzle whatever leftover dressing from the brussels sprouts you have over everything. Top with juice of half a lime, more cilantro, and some olive oil.

Far East Meets Deep South: Oven BBQ Chicken with Indian Potatoes

25 Feb

It’s potato time–again.  I’ve decided to bring in an aspect of globe trotting into my kitchen: the far east. I think I’ve mentioned my love of Indian food before, but I must proclaim it again: I love Indian food. The spices, the colors, the way you’ll smell for the rest of the day, and there is no way to get just “comfortably full” while eating it. Ahh yes, all this and more I love about it, and I wanted to bring it in to my home. So when I came across something called “Smashed Indian Potatoes” I flipped over my desk with excited strength and ran to the store. However, smashed potatoes by themselves does not a meal make. So after remembering I have a bottle of Big Moe’s barbecue sauce (if you’ve never had this Kalamazoo delicacy, do yourself a favor and grab a bottle and get ready to shotgun gallons of this sweet and tangy red sauce), I decided to make baked BBQ chicken. I present to you “Far East Meets Deep South: The Now Entering Flavor Country Story”


{ Food 52 – Smashed Indian Potatoes with Lazy Raita }

{ The Hungry Mouse – Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken }

Did I really have to look up a recipe for oven BBQ chicken? Yes. I have ruined a variety of chicken cuts through improper care (soupy bbq sauce from the fat drippings that turn into a gelatinous sludge, raw in the middle, just to name a few) so until I no longer feel like a baby bird about to fall into the fat house-cat’s waiting jaws below, I will continue to look up oven BBQ chicken recipes. And this one had just a few tasty steps, nice and east to follow: brown chicken, slather on sauce, bake, slather on more sauce, bake again, enjoy (with some more sauce on the side).


And yes, I needed to follow a recipe for all that, so drop it.

While the chicken is sizzling away, it’s Indian potato time. Now that I’m on what feels to be my 20th potato post (read: it’s been about 3), I was excited to see that this recipe called for a healthy dose of cauliflower to the tune of an almost 1:1 ratio to the potatoes. And I love cauliflower, so bring it on.

Cook the potatoes and give them a good mash, set aside. Sauté the cauliflower with sweet delicious Indian spices (while they give you a great list, I just use what I have like cinnamon, turmeric, curry, coriander, some chai spices, and whatnot), some onion, garlic, and ginger. Add FROZEN peas (which, coincidentally became my favorite part of this dish, as it adds the perfect little sweet snap to the bunch).


Now add the potatoes, some cilantro, and lemon. Taste. Adjust. Boom. Now for that lazy Raita? Mix salt, yogurt, cucumber, lemon, and cilantro together. Boom, you’ve been sauced.


And there you have it! A delicious wonder with the heart and soul of globe-trotting flavors with the effort of a lazy and lethargic recently-dumped college student (you’re welcome).

{ Food 52 – Smashed Indian Potatoes with Lazy Raita }

Lazy Raita

  • 1cup Plain Yogurt (I used non-fat Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced
  • a few sprigs of cilantro, chopped small
  • 1/2teaspoon cumin seeds
  • black pepper to taste
Smashed Indian Potatoes

  • 2large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 3cloves garlic, minced
  • 1small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2cups cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 1 1/2cup frozen peas
  • about 5tablespoons or so of olive oil
  • 2teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2teaspoons garam masala spice blend
  • 2teaspoons ground fenugreek seed
  • 2teaspoons ground turmeric root
  • 2teaspoons whole yellow mustard seed
  • 2teaspoons whole cumin seed
  • 1teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook olive oil, garlic, onions, cauliflower, garam masala, fenugreek, turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin seed, red pepper flakes, and fresh ginger over medium heat. Stir until seasonings are well distributed. Salt and Pepper to taste. Cook until onions are translucent and cauliflower is almost tender. Add peas and cook for five more minutes. You may need to add a little more olive oil if things start to look dry.
  3. Add the vegetables and potatoes to a big bowl and stir until well combined. I stir quite vigorously, so that the potatoes get all smashed up.
  4. Add the chopped cilantro and lemon juice last and stir again. Salt and Pepper to taste and serve!
  5. To make the Lazy Raita: Combine ingredients and stir until well combined. Serve alongside or atop the potatoes and enjoy!



Full disclosure, I’ve made this 2 times now, the second time with just 1 potato and more peas. I. Love. It.

We’re Not Breaking Any Space-Time New Ground Here: Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole

17 Jan

Now let me preface the following post with a statement: this dish is very good. I enjoyed it, and look forward to eating its leftovers tonight. However…it leaves the palate wanting. I’ll explain more, but first: to the beginning!

I have a delightful raw beet and quinoa recipe I snagged from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck which I planned to make this week. However, it was a dry and cold day, and I didn’t want fresh fiber-y vegetables, I wanted something that was slow cooked, with the possibility of a cheese addition. That was when I came across this:

Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole from Eating Well Living Thin (I swear I didn’t mean to make it to a dieting site, I found it on Pinterest)

Hey, I’m getting Quinoa for my other dish, so why not make 2 Quinoa dishes in one week. It’s so crazy…it may just work. For those of you who haven’t had Quinoa before: it’s like lighter Cous Cous, and it’s packed with protein. And it’s fun to say. So I stopped at the Food Co-Op on my way home from work because I like their bulk section, and grabbed some {organic} broccoli and Qunioa (among other items that I forgot at my Meijer trip earlier in the week). Well…apparently I didn’t see how much the {organic} broccoli cost per lb, and I must have grabbed, I don’t know, 15 lbs (or so it seemed), because when I left, I thought the bill was high, and upon further inspection, realized that I spent $7 on broccoli! (breathing into a paper bag)

I stopped dead in my tracks on the sidewalk and starred at my receipt. What is the protocol for returns? Store credit. Ahhh, tricky, since I usually lose those pieces of paper denoting my credit due. After what seemed like hours, I decided to just continue to my car, and try to convince myself that cooking at home is saving so much more than eating out at a restaurant, so the $7 was totally worth it–oh my god, $7 broccoli. I was able to sidestep with issue with the cauliflower…but not the scallops. IT’S THE SCALLOPS ALL OVER AGAIN!

I wish I even cared that it was organic. Hey, pump me full of pesticides in order to save $5, I welcome it. (sidenote: just bringing this up again is making all those standing-outside-of-the-food-co-op-on-the-sidewalk-looking-at-the-receipt feelings come back)

But we solider on. I was going to make the hell out of this (now expensive) Quinoa casserole!


Like how I gave it an authentic mustache? El Diablo. However I must admit that after I chopped it up, when I tried the pieces of stem they were much sweeter than other broccoli stem chunks I’ve had in the past. Not an extra $5 sweeter..but hey, small victories…


I boiled the chopped broccoli for about 5 minutes to soften it a bit, and then drained. I decided to add some chopped mushrooms to the mix since what’s not to like when it comes to mushrooms in casserole?


And now we add everything else to make a casserole: cream of {whatever} soup (I used celery for a reason I’m still not sure why, because, you know, celery has SO much flavor), cheese, splash of milk, some mayo (that was new for me), cooked quinoa, pinch of sugar, pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper. Put it all in a casserole dish, top with parmesan cheese, bake. Go for run, come back, pull out of the oven.


Awwww yeahhh. Warm Quinoa-y goodness.


Now, back to what I was saying in the beginning. This is a tasty dish, but it one-dimensional. There is no layering of flavors, there is no sour/savory/sweet/bitter/anything contrast. The only spice in it is nutmeg, which doesn’t really come out all that much. Again, very tasty. I wish I was sick because I would enjoy the hell out of a big bowl of this. Looking back, perhaps some lemon, or seasoned chicken would be a nice addition. But in any case, swapping pasta or anything else that goes into a bake/casserole I would 100% recommend using Quinoa because it’s just a stand up grain.

I’ve always debated reprinting the recipe here, since ultimately I want people to go to the original site for instructions to give the proper author credit, but I’m going to throw caution to the wind:

Adapted from: Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole from Eating Well Living Thin

  • Expensive Organic Broccoli (2 small stems or 1 big one, yielding about 3 cups chopped)
  • Chopped Mushrooms (1 cup)
  • 1.5 C Cooked Quinoa (3/4 C dry, boil with 1.5 C water for about 18 min with lid on)
  • Can of Condensed ____ Soup
  • Splash’o Milk
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheese
  • 2 Tbs Mayo
  • 1/2 tsp (pinch) Sugar
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • Parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Chop broccoli. Boil 5 min or until more tender. Meanwhile cook Quinoa.
  3. Mix everything but the parmesan together and put in casserole dish. Top with Parmesan.
  4. Bake with lid on for 40 minutes.
  5. Take lid off, bake additional 10 minutes to get nice crispness.
  6. Take out of oven, start photo shoot (omgjk)
  7. Enjoy.

Why Don’t You Write About, Like, A Sandwich?

8 Jan

Good point, title. And what’s not to like about sandwiches?

I’ve been on a quest for quite a while for a good Banh Mi, a vietnamese sandwich filled with fresh and pickled veggies, pork (or other meats, but I mean, pork is the king) and cilantro, all in a crispy and soft baguette. If you have not yet had one, I highly suggest you dedicate the next 7 days to finding one, and conquering it…and then thanking me. Well during a recent Bachelorette party, we happened to dine at Sava’s, a restaurant that has none other than (bum bum bum) Banh Mi on the menu! It was offered with either pork or tofu. One of my dining companions ordered the tofu, and I ordered the pork. It was delicious. However, this sparked the topic of tofu at the table (alliteration!). Each of us likes tofu, but have never been successful in preparing it at home.

So fast forward to this past weekend, when Max, my roommate, says the above words of the title, and I immediately accept my 2 way challenge: write about a sandwich, prepare tofu in a successful manner. Now, for future reference, I will always pick pork over tofu, but it’s a new year, and it’s time to prepare a sandwich!

I selected a Bahn Mi recipe from a trusted site:

Caramelized Pork Banh Mi – Food52

And swapped out the pork for…


And the best part? That block of tofu right there was only $1.25 at the People’s Food Co-Op!

Before we start a-marinating these beauties, I wanted to get the pickled veggies started, since the longer they sit, the more intense the flavor. I made sure to start these while I was NOT hungry, as to allow plenty of pickling time.

This specific recipe calls for you to combine all the ingredients (vinegar, water, salt, sugar) and then place veggies in, and let sit. Now, in my pickling experience, giving it a little heat in the beginning allows the ingredients of the pickling liquid to marry a bit more, and infuses the veggies right off the bat. However, it does cook them a bit, giving it less crunch. I threw caution to the wind and decided to put it over heat before placing it in the fridge. I also added some sliced red onion, and fresh cilantro.


Once they’re reactively cool, pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to pile them high. I let mine sit for about 2 hours.

Now, back to the tofu. When you’re about 30 minutes away from “I need a sandwich inside of me” slice up your protein source, and let it sit in the majesty that is the delicious marinade from this recipe (fish sauce and brown sugar, who knew?!)


While the tofu is marinating into something with a semblance of flavor (get it, tofu tastes like nothing), it’s time to make the condiment that will make grown men weep


Who knew it was spelled sRiracha? I always thought it was siracha. And there are no instructions for this: add sriracha to mayo until heat level desired it reached (or until color is to peak pretty tones).

Now since it’s been 30 minutes, place your tofu/mushroom mixture in your new christmas presented cast iron skillet to achieve some tasty caramelization


And if you can’t tell from the above picture, I broke the cardinal rule of browning: over crowding the pan. Not only that, I didn’t realize how much extra liquid there would be from the marinade, so needless to say, there was no browning, no sweet caramelization of tofu, but hey, it warmed up, and the mushrooms cooked.

Now to assemble:

  1. Bottom of baguette
  2. Sweet sweet sriracha mayo
  3. Tofu/mushroom slices
  4. Pickled veggies
  5. Sliced Jalapeños
  6. Fresh cilentro
  7. Big torn pieces of lettuce
  8. More sweet sweet sriracha mayo
  9. Top of baguette


Ohhhhh yeahhh. Do you see that? Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? And I’m not just talking about my new placemats I got at a steal of a deal from Anthropologie. You’re right, let’s take a closer look


I plowed through 2 of these in no time flat. Just delightful. And can I say, even without the proper browning the tofu was a success! It had a great texture, and the flavor is (to speak Guy Fieri-ese) Out of Bounds. The next day, with lots of everything leftover besides the bread, I made a “salad” version of this with lots more lettuce. It was tasty. But then again, how could it not be with sriracha mayo as the “dressing”

Pasta, Embarking on a NEW Frontier

10 Dec

Let me set the scene. The day: A chilly-post Bell’s Eccentric Day after an early 2 hour car ride back to Ann Arbor. The mood: hungry and a little groggy (and always sleepy).

I have had this recipe bookmarked for a little over a week, and knew today…today was the day. What’s better for post-indulging nights than a hearty pasta dish? (and just to be clear, I was not hungover, simply drained)

Christmas Honeycomb Cannelloni – Cook Republic

Do you see this? The pasta doesn’t simply roll over and take that sauce, it STANDS UP as though possessed by the great culinary spirits from days of yore (breaking’ it down, the “NEW frontier” in the title of this post is the vertical frontier. Clever.). How could this NOT be good? It’s almost as fun to eat as the ingredients tell me it will be flavor-wise, according to the picture. And wouldn’t you know, it needs STICKS OF CINNAMON THAT I HAPPEN TO HAVE JUST PURCHASED! Victory all around.

The first thing I did was spend a ridiculously long time figuring out what type of baking apparatus I would use for this dish. I started standing up each noodle in the pans to see which would fit the best, and quickly abandoned that practice as it was TAKING FOREVER. I settled on my small red Dutch Oven, leaning down and whispering sweet nothings “today, today is the day we explore new territory, VERTICAL NOODLES, and we’ll take this chance….together. As equals.” But then after some quick complex-calculations, I realized it would be too small, and un-ceremoniously tossed it aside (not really, as that thing is heavy and capable of lots of damage). I settled on a spring form pan I usually reserve for cakes and the like.

Besides the pasta, there are 2 main sauces to tackle: red veggie mania, and cool and creamy spinach (I improvised the names a bit). The white sauce is really easy, and straightforward: sauté spinach, add sour cream, cream (or in  my case, milk), and parmesan. Mix. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice. Boom. White sauced.

Hope you like dairy. There's a WHOLE lot of dairy

Hope you like dairy. There’s a WHOLE lot of dairy

Now the red veggie mania has a little more prep involved, and that fancy ingredient: cinnamon stickz!

We start by sautéing some of the aromatics: cinnamon stick, bay leaf, dried chili pepper, and once fragrant, add LOTS OF ONIONS.

Lots of strong "personalities" in the pan. What's not to like?

Lots of strong “personalities” in the pan. What’s not to like?

Once soft, add everything you have in your kitchen that you think would be good in a sauce: chick peas, red wine, chopped tomatoes, rosemary, black olives, garlic, mushrooms, carrots…hell, lets add some prepared tomato sauce too. And now we simmer.

It was at this point my previously selected understudy of the spring-form pan was starting to look too small. It wouldn’t have been able to fit just the monstrosity that was the amount of red sauce created. So I, again, started to weigh my options. I threw caution to the wind, and picked my BIG roasting pan, normally reserved for casseroles and big meats. For the record, that’s the 3rd baking dish I settled on (don’t worry, this time it was the right decision).

I poured about half of the red sauce on the bottom, and began the awesome task of standing up the noodles. At first I crammed them all together while I was placing them, afraid I’d run out of room. I filled 1/4 of the pan with about 45% of the pasta, and began to re-evaluate my plan of attack. It was spread-out-noodles time. After what seemed like full calendar days, I had them all standing up, and (somewhat) evenly spaced. While I would normally be upset at this point that my dish isn’t going to turn out like the prototype (THE PROTOTYPE!), I had long abandoned that notion around the second baking dish selection. I didn’t have time for frivolous thoughts: I was hungry, and it was sauce time.

Once the noodles are pointing high toward the sky, pour half the white sauce over the noodles (trying to get into each crevasse), and then do the same with the rest of the red sauce…and then the rest of the white sauce. The single coolest part of this was after pouring the sauce over the noodles, bending down and listening to the sauce break air bubbles in the noodles and sink in. *pop*pop*pop* It was like a strange pasta-equivilant of Rice Crispies.

So. Much. Sauce.

So. Much. Sauce.

And then we bake. We bake for 30 minutes. The longest 30 minutes of my life because at this point I’m STARVING, so much so that when there is 0:03 seconds left, I take it out of the oven, test a noodle, and my general reasoning and cognitive skills have left me as I think “this scalding hot and chewy….REALLY chewy pasta is PERFECT, just perfect!” and make 2 big bowls (one for me, one for John). After we finish it up, my senses start to come back to me, and I realize: ok, it needs to go back in the oven so the noodles can finish cooking. 15 minute later: perfection.

The noodles! They STAND

The noodles! They STAND

While mine didn’t turn out quite as pretty, it was damn DAMN tasty. The cinnamon notes are very pronounced, making it not-your-average-vertical-baked-pasta-dish. It lasted for roughly 8 meals (between John and I), which was just dynamite in my book.

An under-cooked delight

An under-cooked delight


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