Saturday, January 28, 2012

Childhood Favorite

Sad news: this may be the last post for about two weeks, from me anyway. I have faith that J will carry the sole responsibility of posting for this blog. She makes fantastic meals all the time. Yet, even more sad than that, I wont be doing  any cooking during these two weeks, instead I'll be living a hotel and eating out Blehhhh. Don't get me wrong, I loooooove trying new restaurants but for two whole  weeks??!?! I'll have to figure something out. 

Happy news: Kraft pasteurized prepared cheese product aka Kraft American cheese. Before you judge me, know that it is, and I quote, an "excellent source of calcium"  AND "always made with milk" and I would say thats enough to justify eating it...maybe?!? Eh, I don't care. This stuff is SO good. Like seriously good and on top of that it reminds me of the grilled cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs Daddy used to make me growing up. Also, I made it 'gourmet' (if that's even possible) by eating with fresh eggs, Ezekiel english muffin and my most recent condiment obsession, tomato paste sprinkled with smoked  paprika. Okay, I'm joking, it wasn't even close to gourmet. But, IT WAS SO GOOD. 

See???? Now you want some too, dontcha?!?

This delicious sandwich was so quick and easy to put together: Cook up two eggs, trim them to fit english muffin, slather one side of muffin with tomato paste and paprika while the other side is under the broiler so the cheese melts. Easy right?!?! And so yum. You could also add on a side salad or carrot sticks. (OPTIONAL)

Today is a big day for me. Today is the day I submit my first application to grad school. I am hoping they love my personal statement because I spent SO much time writing, editing, getting other's opinions, re-writing, etc. This last draft though, is pretty darn good. Guess it doesn't matter what I think though, hoping admissions thinks it's fabulous, too. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

THE Burger

I didn't think I'd post again today, but alas, here I am again! Woo! I just HAD to share this burger I had for dinner.

This makes me wonder though, what is the definition of a 'burger', culinarily speaking? Without doing a ton of time consuming research, a burger is made from ground meat. So, if I make a 'burger' from mashed sweet potato and black beans, can I technically call this a 'burger'?? Hmmmm.. more research is needed on this topic. Maybe this would be a good question for my beloved Alton Brown. Yes, I think I'll ask him via Twitter. 

Anywho, I unfortunately cannot take credit for this burger recipe. Believe me though, this thing is ahhhhmazing. Then again, I do love sweet potatoes, a lot. Easily my favorite vegetable. It's a quick dinner if you make a batch on a Sunday and freeze. They're easily reheated in the oven/under the broiler when you're hungry and want some foods on the fly. 

Sweet Potato 'Burgers'
((serves 6-8))

1-15 oz can black beans
3 C mashed sweet potato
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 C cooked quinoa (or other)
6 T oat flour (or other)
2 T sunflower seeds or pepitas
chopped parsley and/or cilantro
1/4 t cayenne
1 t chili powder
1/4 t corriander
1 t cumin
1/2 t salt

1. Sauté onions and garlic until tender and starting to brown. 
2. Meanwhile, mash half the beans into a paste and keep the other half whole. In a separate bowl, mix all the spices together and set aside.
3.  Combine all the ingredients except spice blend. I like to season with the spice blend to taste, so add accordingly. Also, if burgers are too wet, add flour until they're just right. 
4.  Divide evenly and shape into patties and freeze on a sheet pan. 
5. Once frozen, wrap in plastic and foil and store until ready to eat.

To reheat: place burger on a pan and heat in a 450 F oven for about 20-25 minutes. If the top is not yet browned, set oven to broil until desired doneness.

I like looooove, Ezekiel english muffins. They have so much flavor and great chew. Not to mention, an awesome ingredient list. These babies make a perfect bun. Toast, spread on some tomato paste, top with burger, a fried egg (sprinkled with smoke paprika) and you've got yourself a FANtastic dinner. Eh, and maybe throw in a side of steamed veggies.

So there you have it. 

Shoot! It's already 8 and I'm trying to put the final touches on this personal statement. eeeeek. 


Dreams in bathing suits

Dreams are the strangest things, am I right?!? And why do you have the exceptionally awesome ones RIGHT before your alarm goes off?!? At approximately 6:13 this morning, I was dreaming that I was doing an inspection of a grocery store, in a bathing suit. I then went for a swim in their pool. Grocery stores do not have pools. Now, I could analyze this dream and try to explain why I dreamt this mortifying experience, but I'll leave that alone because I do not have time for that now.

My $50 camera refuses to turn on even though the batteries are brand new. Get whatcha pay for!?! Awesome. On the bright side, I am a proud owner of the iPhone 3S. Not the 4, which has the camera flash. Bummer. I'll have to make due though for the time being. This peanut butter is the BOMB. And in case you were wondering, peanut butter can taste bad, depending on the peanut variety it's ground from. I've yet to figure out which peanut variety is the icky one, but I will. Challenge accepted. 

What's for breakfast this morning?? Oatmeal, duh.

Cinnamon Oatmeal
((serves 1))

3/4 C coconut milk
1/3 C rolled oats
1 banana
1/3 C TJ's organic granola

1 T peanut butter

1. Mash half the banana, and slice the other half.
2. Bring to boil milk, oats, cinnamon, and mashed banana until thick. Once boiling, it'll take about 5 minutes.
3. Pull pan off heat and stir in vanilla.
4. Top with  remaining ingredients.

A little aside on the peanut butter--It is IMPERATIVE to buy natural peanut butter. And check the ingredient list, it should read: "peanuts"  and nothing else except maybe salt. I think this one was from Harris Teeter, but Trader Joe's has their brand name that is also FABulous (said just like Ina Garten).

Gotta get to work!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Patience is a virtue, so I've been told.

Okay first, I suppose I'll turn off this incessant dubstep station on Pandora so I can concentrate on writing. Never understood how people could listen to music while studying. I literally need silence to just read tweets.... Okay maybe I like to exaggerate, it make stories funnier. Right, Jennifer?!!? (She's the queen of exaggeration).

Since my oatmeal post yesterday was so naked, I duplicated the recipe from breakfast, this morning. For a little bit of crunch, I sprinkled with chia seed. 

See!!??! So yummmm.

So while I was heating up my leftover soup from last night, I had 3 1/2 minutes to kill. How boring. A bag of tortilla chips and a jar of peanut butter were sitting on my counter just begging to be eaten while I very impatiently awaited that "ding" of the microwave. Boy am I glad I was impatient today! If you've never tried it, dipping tortilla chips in peanut butter is the BEST. And yes, I realize I'm probably not the first one to dip tortilla chips in peanut butter.

<insert witty transition here>

My job can be really cool. Like today for instance, I inspected The Williamsburg Winery. It's an absolutely beautiful place and is run by a few really intelligent and interesting people. Today, I met the President, Vice President and the Wine Maker for the winery. All very friendly and eager to work with me, which can usually come with some resistance. (I'm a regulatory official and the stores I inspect don't particularly enjoy my visits.) 

During my brief discussion with the President, Mr. Duffeler, he told me that he and his wife have an organic garden, that he hasn't eaten fast food or drank a soda in 32 years, nor has he put on but two pounds since he was eighteen and he's now in his sixties. As president of one of the largest wineries here in Virginia, he knows a little bit about wine making. Mr. Duffeler explained why they cannot use chlorine, a common cleaning agent at most food/beverage establishments. When chlorine evaporates it will react with the fermentation process and will ruin the wine indefinitely. Of course, he went into more depth, but I wouldn't be able to correctly explain it anyway. I was fascinated by everything this man told me. 

As I like to say, "a spoonful of peanut butter a day, keeps the doctor away." Or wait, is that an apple?????? 


And Figs For All

I'm Jennifer. I'm the other half of this food blog. Sarah is my other half when it comes to food.

We both love food. cooking. and eating. and sharing our food pictures. and then talking about our food. and then talking some more.

Sarah loves peanut butter. I hate it.

Tonight, it seemed fitting that I celebrate the end of National Peanut Butter Day by making Macadamia Nut Butter. Yuuuuumm. Before I get into what I made for dinner tonight, I think it's important to know that I'm also a teacher. I enjoy inappropriate vocabulary confusions. See text message.

I adore oatmeal. Like, really, really, really love oatmeal in every way possible. Two years ago, I became a very lucky lady when I started dating my amazing boyfriend, Conor. The best part? His family owns a house in the Grand Caymans. Score! As I count down the days until my tropical vacation, I'm starting to crave island food. To my American palate, this means coconut, pineapple, and macadamia nuts.

With this, Tropical Oatmeal is born. 

Macadamia Nut Butter Recipe

Step 1:
Toast 1 cup of macadamia nuts for a few minutes in a 400 degree oven

Step 2:

Add toasted macadamia nuts and 1 tsp. vanilla to food processor.

Blend in food processor until creamy. Enjoy. 

Now for the oatmeal.

Tropical Oatmeal Recipe

1 cup steel cut oats

4 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup crushed pineapple

1tbs vanilla (I really love vanilla)

Combine all ingredients and cook for 25 minutes-ish or until desired "doneness" is achieved. 


Real maple syrup
Macadamia Nut Butter
Fig Butter (from Trader Joe's - delish!)


I had a TON of oatmeal leftover, but I've found that it keeps well for a few days. Now, I have steel cut oats that are ready to eat first thing in the morning. 

And just like I tell my students everyday - be productive, and do good things!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Peanut Butter Day. 

I think this day could be better than Christmas Day, or maybe I'm just as excited about Christmas as I am about PB day. Last time I was asked (about 2 months ago) what my favorite food was, I blurted out "peanut butter!" and I think thats about right. But I do everything in phases--I'll be super into something then over it no time. For the last 6 months or so, I've been diggin' some dubstep, namely Bassnectar. His stuff is AHHHHMAZING. To me at least. But not long before that I was really into A Fine Frenzy, Fiona Apple, Sara Bareilles, etc. They're all still great artists but I just can't jam like I used to with them.

Enough about music though. This blog is about FOOD. The ONLY thing that I have always loved and I don't think that'll ever change. 

I am so thankful for Twitter for so many reasons, but today I am thankful for Twitter because it told me multiple times that today was National Peanut Butter Day. To celebrate, I made chocolate oatmeal for breakfast and topped with a nice glob of PB. Probably the most decedent bowl of oatmeal I make. I mean obviously, I would prefer a Reece's Cup for breakfast but this is a great alternative. No pictures of this bowl but I'll follow with a recipe to make up for it. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal
((1 serving))

1 cup coconut milk (or other milk)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 banana
1 T peanut butter

1. Soak oatmeal in milk + cocoa powder overnight. Shake vigorously in a mason jar to incorporate cocoa powder into milk. This step just makes it quicker to cook in the morning and is not otherwise necessary.
2. Mash half of the banana and slice the other half.
3. Mix mashed banana into oatmeal in saucepan and boil for about 3-5 minutes.
4. Scoop into bowl and top with peanut butter first (so it melts!) and sliced banana. 

And then while I was at work today I left this to cook in my crock pot for 8 hours. 

Garbanzo Bean and Chicken Stew
((4 servings)

1-28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 C roasted red bell peppers
3 C vegetable broth
1 C dry garbanzo beans (or 2-15 oz cans)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 heaping T cumin seed or 1 T ground cumin
1 t chili flake
2 t salt
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed or shredded
Optional toppings: sour cream, cilantro, crumbled tortilla chips

1. Soak beans in water overnight or for 8 hours. Rinse and set aside.
2. Chop garlic cloves in food processor. Add tomatoes and red bell peppers and pulse until desired consistency.
3. Use mortar and pestle to crush cumin seed, salt and chili flakes.
4. Add all ingredients except cooked chicken to crock pot and set to low for 8 hours.
5. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in chicken to warm through.
6. Add dollop of sour cream and other toppings, if desired. 

And since I never let food go to waste, I had these little babies on the verge of going bad. Yes, these are brussel sprouts, but they are certainly not the ones mom made for us as kids. They really can be good. I promise. 

First of all, they can go from this:

To this very easily:

And like Anne Burrell likes to say, "brown food tastes good."
The above photo shows what happens to sugars when they are exposed to high heat. This browning is called caramelization and as Jennifer knows, there's nothing more annoying than someone referring to a charred steak as "caramelized". More on this topic another time. 

And maybe the sound of a spiced stew with a side of brussel sprouts sounds strange. That's because it is. But like I said, they were going to go bad so I had to cook them. Travesty. 

Pan Sauteed Brussel Sprouts
((1 serving))

10-12 brussel sprouts
1 t coconut oil
s + p

1. On medium-low heat, melt coconut oil.
2. Slice the sprouts in half, cutting through the core so the leaves stay together.
3. Place cut side down for about 5-8 minutes, depending on the level of brown you're going for.
4. Sprinkle with some s + p to taste.
5. Flip with tongs and cook for another 3-4 to desired tenderness.
6. Serve and enjoy.

Coconut oil is a must for this recipe. It may sound strange, but it tastes fantastic and can be found at Trader Joe's and other stores, I'm sure. But I just know for sure its at TJ's.

To pay tribute to my favorite day of the year so far, here are a couple tasty links all about peanut butter:

Reginald's is a local nut butter manufacturer. And if I'm not mistaken, he started (or still is) producing in a small home-based kitchen. And even better than that, he is local! I just love that such a small business here in Richmond, VA is doing so well. His products are so innovative and tasty!

This peanut butter noodle dish sounds so good. 

And this peanut butter ice cream is so tasty, and dairy free! That is, if you really like banana.