Archive for the 'poor man’s food' Category

13
Jun
11

roasted cauliflower salad & lentil walnut burgers.

One of my old college friends is what you would call an Extremist. She’s brilliant in science, the maths, and all other stuff that the right side of my brain atrophied to avoid, and yet she can craft a beautiful essay and color coordinate an outfit like no other. I love/hate her for being so well rounded. She recently enrolled in med school, but she can party harder than, like, Bluto. I once witnessed her spooning with a bottle of Patron because she didn’t want to risk enjoying a next day hair-of-the-dog Bloody Maria with an inferior tequila. That’s only a mild exaggeration.

I’d always enjoyed the sense of superiority I’d gain when calling her an Extremist and telling her I was going to introduce her to my friend, Moderation. It took me years to realize I was projecting and referring to myself, and it was I who needed to befriend Moderation.

And so, Moderation is the name of the game these days. Rather than jump into any workout craze, I am sticking to my midday gymming and going to the occasional dance and yoga class. I just found out that my favorite street jazz teacher will be teaching nighttime classes at the studio near me, so look forward to some West Side Story-friendly moves in the near future. I can finally have that dance fight I’ve always wanted! I’ll say things like, “Take that tour jete, bitch,” and “You don’t even know how high I can arabesque, ho. Now sashay, Shante.”

I turned on the 4 Hour Body nearly as quickly as I started due to its surprisingly restrictive nature characteristic of a diet (subtle sarcasm). I’m staying pescetarian for the time being, but I may move towards meat eventually. I want to be like Giada who eats everything in moderation, and stays just so fit and adorbs. I feel like once I master the long-lost art of moderation I can maybe broaden my horizons? It goes against my binge eating generation’s nature, but I will rise above it.

I made this Cauliflower and Arugula salad I saw Chuck Hughes make on the Cooking Channel:

Ingredients:

cauliflower arugula salad

1 cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small pieces and blanched
2 tbsp butter (he called for 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar
4 cups arugula
2 shallots, thinly sliced (he called for one)
olive oil spray (he called for 2 tbsp)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnuts (he called for pine nuts)

I just love Chuck with his curiously Midwestern accent and overly expressive eyes when he’s detailing his ingredients. He’s like an aggressively tatted-up puppy. His recipes look damn good, too, and I wanted to pay tribute to him by making one tonight. I changed this one quite a bit due to ingredient restrictions, though, and I’m not proud of that. I left out the bacon to keep it veg-friendly, but carnivores should include.

You start by chopping the cauliflower into florets and blanching them to start. For those unfamiliar with this technique, you start by dropping cauliflower into salted, boiling water for about three minutes. Scoop it out and drop in a bowl of ice water and leave for a few minutes until they’ve completely cooled. This is meant to break down the fibers (I assume) and preserve the color and flavor in the meantime.

Chuck then says to saute in a pan with the butter until golden brown. I found this was longer than the 5 minutes he said and closer to 10, and I threw the first sliced shallot in with the cauliflower. I wanted Shallot City, Population: 1, and so I went there. Then I added honey and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, and cooked for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, mix together arugula, the shallot, the remaining red wine vinegar, and olive oil in a bowl. Top with the cauliflower and walnuts, and dinner is served. I really loved this dish, but next time I’m going to add some golden raisins. My sweet tooth is back with a vengeance.

While I’m not crushing fro-yo or enjoying some late-night rugelach, I’ve been countering the excess sugar intake as of late with some beans and greens. One of my go-tos is kale with lemon and cannelini beans, but I’m not sure I’ve ever featured it here. It looks like this:

kale with cannelini beans

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, chopped and de-stemmed
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 vidalia onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c dry white wine
olive oil cooking spray
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp ground cumin
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

At some point in her career, Giada made something vaguely resembling this dish, but I’ve distorted it in my hundred or so iterations, so it’s barely recognizable.

I start by chopping the garlic and onion and sauteeing it over medium heat with the cooking spray. I then add about half the can of beans, and simmer for a few minutes. I season with about 1/2 tsp of cumin, salt and pepper, and let the beans start to brown. I then add the kale in batches, and cook it down until it starts to wilt. In this version I added some leftover white wine, and I’m glad I did because it added all kinds of flavor plus a fun sizzling sound upon its addition. I then cook for a few more minutes until the kale is all wilty, and then top with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and more salt, pepper and cumin. It’s just so damn good, and total Poor Man’s Food so it’s ideal for the early month post-rent deduction scrimping familiar to my fellow New Yorkers.

I made these Lentil Walnut burgers from Whole Foods last week that I was relatively proud of:

Ingredients:

street jazz

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups cooked brown rice, divided
1 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed and drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

You start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, walnuts, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.

You’re then supposed to puree the rice lentils and egg in a food processor, but I have nothing of the sort so I merely mashed them together with a potato masher and some elbow grease. Transfer to bowl with vegetables, add remaining 1 cup rice and stir to combine. Form lentil mixture into 10 to 12 patties, using about 1/4 cup of the mixture to make each one.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Arrange half of the patties in skillet and cook, flipping once, until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat until the patties are done. I served with some sauteed spinach and onions, and it was really tasty. The food processor is a must, though, because my patties had a hard time staying together. I know what I’m treating myself to on payday!

lentil walnut burgers and sauteed spinach

24
Nov
10

veggie topped quinoa, beet salad.

There was a time when I’d regularly allocate $12-$15 for a week’s worth of food, and then I’d stay within those parameters. I’d invest in some Poor Man’s Food, such as eggplant or polenta, and stretch that out over 5 or 6 meals. A solitary green bean was my go-to side dish, and bread was rationed to the point of absurdity. These days, I’m eating gold on the regular. Platinum is my choice side dish, and when my sweet tooth kicks in I reach for some diamonds. And yet, I still appreciate some veggie-centric Poor Man’s Food. Especially in pre-Thanksgiving starvation phase. Nothing but water and laxatives until prom!

Last week, I made a vegetable stir-fry atop quinoa.

quinoa with veggies

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2-3 dashes of Cholula
salt and pepper to taste
1 c quinoa

I started by sauteeing the onion in olive oil, and then added in the bell pepper, eggplant and mushrooms. I added in the garlic after everything was starting to soften, and then I topped with lemon juice, olive oil and Cholula. Meanwhile, I cooked the quinoa as instructed on the box. Dinner in 20 minutes? Can DO.

On the sweaty side of things, I’ve been doing cardio for about an hour a day. What?! It’s true. All the better to go with the straight veggie diet, my dear. I even had an impressive two hour stint on the elliptical while watching “The Biggest Loser” a few weeks ago. I don’t typically consume 4,000 calories in one sitting, so I’m doing my best to get lean and mean before Thanksgiving.

I roasted my first beets the other day, also. I went with two red and one golden, and they came out pretty unattractive. Luckily, I’m not too deterred by looks, so I saw the potential. I actually put together a pretty little salad featuring my beets.

roasted beets

Ingredients:
2 c arugula
1 red beet, roasted and sliced
1 golden beet, roasted and sliced
1/8 c feta cheese
1/3 gala apple, sliced
1 tbsp grey poupon mustard
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
salt and pepper, to taste

I pre-heated the oven to 375 degrees and scrubbed the dirt off the beets as best as I could. I had the foresight to use kitchen gloves so as not to marroonify my hands, though I neglected to change my white shirt pre-scrubbing. Whoops. Ruined shirt notwithstanding, I cleaned my beets and moved on.

I drizzled them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and wrapped them in aluminum foil. I roasted for 30-40 minutes, and pulled them out of the oven to cool. Meanwhile, I mixed together the Grey Poupon mustard, agave, black pepper and sherry vinegar for a dressing. I sliced my apple, and created a bed with the arugula. I removed the skin off my beets, and then I sliced those. I combined the beets, apple, and feta, and then I topped with my honey-agave vinaigrette. So very tasty, and much more attractive than they were in their inception:

beet and apple salad with honey agave vinagrette.

08
Aug
10

broccoli rabe, yoga, Thai food

I just had the most demoralizing experience. Despite prior claims to become a dedicated yoga-goer, I’ve had a hard time dragging myself to more than a class a month (at best). I think it’s because I have a hard time equating it with exercise. I feel all soft when I put on the loose pants and barely bother to tie my hair back. I get so much more out of running in 90 degree heat with sweat dripping in my eyes. I feel like I earned that shit.

I have to gear myself up for, like, weeks before I’ll attend a yoga class. This weekend I had four separate sets of plans to go until I finally caved and went this afternoon. Five minutes into the class and my muscles had had it. I found myself cursing during downward dog and half-assing every plank we did. And the sweat? It found my eyes (and arms, back, legs, etc.) I honestly can’t remember the last time I got that disgustingly sweaty in front of about 50 strangers, but it was probs at The Atlantic. Ahh memories. Anyways, yoga was all, “you got served” to me, and I was like, “recognized and modified, thanks.” I don’t care for smugness.

the least offensive yoga photo on google images

On the spicy side, there are so many greens I’m just now getting to know. And I’ve been a vegetarian for, like, years (two). Last week, I decided to get to know broccoli rabe. I found this recipe on Epicurious, and decided to make it, mostly because I still have pounds of untouched orecchiette pasta left over from my birthday. For those just joining, I had plans to make four sets of appetizers on my birthday, and I grossly misjudged how long I would need to prepare. I ended up cutting the appetizer list in half, sacrificing my much hyped truffle mac and cheese. Failure suuucks.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 15 1/2-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), well drained
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh sage
1 1-pound bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 lb orecchiete pasta

You start by boiling the pasta, and in a separate pot melt the butter and olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic and garbanzo beans, and saute for about 8 minutes until they get all golden brown. Add half the sage and saute for a minute more.

Add broccoli rabe, wine, and 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid to the pot. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the broccoli rabe is tender. Then add pasta, remaining sage, and Parmesan cheese; toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. I, of course, added some red pepper flakes for some spicy. It was goooood. I think the acidity of the white wine cut down the bitterness of the broccoli rabe or something, because everything worked really well together.

Try as a I might not to steal Giada de Laurentiis‘s identity, I’m kind of doing it. She’s so damn adorbs, and she has it all. I watched her make Thai food last weekend, and I found myself jacking the Veggies in Yellow Curry recipe for dinner that night, with a few modifications.

orecchiete with broccoli rabe and fried chickpeas

Ingredients:

1 yellow curry jar (she called for coconut milk and curry paste)
1 small russet potato, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 15 oz can baby corn, drained and rinsed
1 Thai chile, sliced
5 sprigs basil, with stems, plus 1/4 cup chopped (she used Thai basil)
1 tsp lime zest (she called for 3 Keffir lime leaves)
1 tbsp fish sauce

Ok, so Giada made her own curry with curry paste and coconut milk, but I wasn’t able to find yellow curry paste anywhere. I had to settle on using one of these. Just admitting this makes me feel like a fraud, so imagine how I felt doing it! I never like to take shortcuts while cooking. If anything, I like to make things harder on myself. Even the Asian grocery was out of curry paste, though, so I had no choice.

Anyways, you start by heating the sauce, and then add everything. Easy enough, Giada. You win at life. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I made this really good whole grain brown rice and read a little from my new ibook. That’s right; I’m trendy. Once 30 minutes are up, you remove the lid and continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender, for about 5 minutes. Discard the lime leaves and the basil sprigs. I served atop the rice, and it was all kinds of delicious. It also fed me for — count it — 7 nights. Hello, record breaking leftovers. Where were you when I was perpetually broke? Better late than never, I guess:

veggies in yellow curry

09
Dec
09

savory roasted veggies with maple agave syrup.

I’m having the hardest time eating socially acceptable portions these days. I was in my element on Thanksgiving when everyone was eating monstrous, heaping plates of food and returning for seconds and thirds, but Nov. 27 hit and suddenly I look greedy. To be fair, those baked goods were not going to eat themselves. I usually budget for one or two sweets a day, but that week was lady balls to the wall. Chocolate peu de creme? Hit me. Pumpkin ice cream? You only live once. Now I’m feeling all kinds of tubby. Thanks, Thanksgiving.

I ran around my favorite lake a handful of times during my week-long stay, but a few miles weren’t much of a match for the lady balls on the wall. Gross imagery? I’m just trying to prove a point here.

Upon my return, I’ve been attempting to shed the excess with some healthy foods and way too much gym time. Running has been my main/only source of cardio these days, so I’ve been forced to up the ante with the treadmill. This past week, I’ve been increasing the incline for the last half mile on each tenth of a mile. By the time I get to .9 of a mile, I have increased the incline to 5 until I reach a mile. It’s considerably harder than it seems, and when I’m done my skin is a pretty shade of fuschia and my quads have had it. This has been going on for a couple of weeks already, so eventually I’ll be running on an incline for the whole mile(s). Believe it.

In the hopes of fast-tracking a Miss Fitness America-worthy body, I’ve decided that vegetables are my world. This past week, I loaded up on cauliflower, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, mushrooms and parsnips. My dad made this roasted vegetable dish with many of those for Thanksgiving, and he actually used maple syrup to flavor. Amaazing. I had about three helpings the first time we met.

I started my version with the aforementioned veggies, which I cut into pieces that are roughly the same size. You want them to cook evenly, so as not to confuse the toaster oven:

I tossed them in some olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, and then roasted them for 20 minutes at 400 degrees in the toaster oven. I then opened it, tossed them around some more, covered them in maple-agave syrup, and then roasted for another 20 minutes. They were insaaaane. Repeat for two nights.

On the third night I was a little bored with the formula, so I decided to make it more savory. I left out the rosemary, and instead used cumin and curry powder with the salt, pepper and olive oil. It’s pretty much the easiest recipe of all time. Maybe this is my 10 p.m. dinner speaking, but it really fills me up until breakfast. Also, there’s so many veggies that I can eat for days until they rot. Best poor man’s food ever.

See below:

27
Oct
09

pumpkin polenta soup/squash polenta soup.

Winter squashes terrify me, but in an exciting way. I like to circle them slowly, taking it all in, and then I start the no holds barred grab-assing, if you will. Last weekend involved me, the farmer’s market, like 19 varieties of squash, and that scenario I just recounted. I chose three different kinds and stepped up to the cashier forcing a familiar, almost bored expression. The farmer would have believed I knew my shit if I hadn’t tried to buy the decorative autumn corn to eat:just for show

That destroyed my credibility pretty fast. I took my squashes home with very little clue how I’d enjoy them. I started my gourd discovery in a small way, by using the leftover pumpkin from the prior week. I decided to make a soup I may or may not be stealing from Rachel Ray. I’m pretty sure I added my own touch where the spices are concerned, though, so I feel comfortable taking credit.

I started by cutting the pumpkin into chunks and throwing them in the food processor with two peeled and chopped carrots. I then added a third of a tube of cooked polenta, which is the ultimate poor man’s food. I added some spices in the way of nutmeg, cinnamon and chili powder, and I added about 3/4 cup of water to the processor. I pulsed them all together until they got nice and pasty.

Meanwhile, I cut a shallot, some spinach, a little cumin, and a can of black beans, and I heated them all in a skillet with some extra virgin olive oil. The goal of that was wilty spinach and soft shallots, and I think I accomplished it.

I heated about 4 cups of vegetable stock with about a a tablespoon of butter in a giant pot, and then I dropped the whole pasty pumpkin-polenta-carrot mix inside. Once I stirred for 5-10 minutes, everything was incorporated. I served the soup with the bean and spinach mix on top, and it was so filling and delicious. See below for Rachel’s and my love child:

pumpkin polenta soup with black beans and spinach on top

The soup lasted three nights of so, and for round two I tried it with this fancy looking squash:fancy winter squash

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prepared it pretty similarly, with two chopped carrots, a third tube of polenta, and plenty of seasonings. I’m not sure if this squash is, like, a non-ripened pumpkin in drag, but it didn’t have much flavor on its own. I was forced to pick up the slack by adding brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in larger amounts. I also pulsed it all with water, and then I added the whole mix to the heated veggie stock and butter.

I took a page from the Giada school by adding a little triple cream brie to the top ($1.99, thanks cheese shop), so the end result was much more dessert-y and sweet than the previous soup. If I had foresight of any kind, I would have swapped the pumpkin with the draggy squash in the two different recipes. It was pretty great anyways, though:

squash polenta soup topped with triple cream brie

14
Jun
09

spicy sunday brunch.

I bought one of my go-tos, the eggplant, last week. I usually have meals in mind when I take on Trader Joe’s, but this time I was all, “we’ll figure something out.” And it was me and my eggplant against the world. The black bean and tofu burgers lasted MUCH longer than I thought they would (read: 5 meals long), and come Friday I was coerced to Caracas. Not that I really needed much convincing. La Mulata arepa and Guasacaca with plantain chips? Yes, please. There is no better way to end the week.

Anyways, I never got around to my eggplant but at all last week. It sat in my refrigerator drawer all neglected up until today, when I finally realized it was now or never. I went to the gym first thing this morning (read: noonish) and cybexed my heart out. Honestly, I lasted an hour on that machine, and there was really nothing to watch but the Poor Man’s Project Runway on Bravo. I just could not get into that. Luckily, the tranny next to me provided great motivation with her defined arms and impressive stamina. I followed up my awkward bouncy cardio (oh, cybex) with some arm and back strength training. I felt totally inferior next to that tranny. I finally exhausted myself and left for the reprieve only my cheese shop can provide.

cheese, please

cheese, please

I’m toe-ing the poverty line these days, so the $0.99 spreadable brie on special did not go unnoticed. I found myself drawn to this caraway havarti, though, and I can’t ignore those feelings. It set me back a whole $1.79, which I’m good for even in the worst of times. Havarti has a really unique taste to begin with, but this kind has cumin, like, embedded in it. Aren’t the Danish crafty? I would never have thought to throw cumin up in there.

I had PLANS for this. I went home and chopped up the “business end” of the eggplant, if you will, and sauteed it in some butter. Sidebar: I should probably stop using this weird light butter I bought at TJ’s. It really doesn’t prevent things from sticking but at all, and I keep near burning eveything. It’s starting to make me look bad. Anyways, I cracked two eggs and separated the whites, and tossed just the whites in a skillet. While the whites started to firm up, I added chopped spinach, some havarti, and the sauteed eggplant. I folded it over, like so, and served it alongside sriracha (hellooo spicy ;)) and salsa verde. Soo tasty. See below:

from left: egg white omelette with eggplant, spinach and havarti, salsa verde, and sriracha sauce

from left: egg white omelette with eggplant, spinach and havarti, salsa verde, and sriracha sauce

23
May
09

polenta and a glute machine.

A few months ago, I had a love affair with polenta. I bought a tube of it for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, and suddenly I was fitting it into every meal ever and turning all my friends onto it in the process. I’m generous with my lovahs.

I’ve since introduced other non-cornmeal related foods into my repertoire, and in the process lost the desire for polenta. I was grocery shopping last weekend, and I came across the familiar tube while deciding which grain to go with…couscous? Rice? Quinoa? I can’t handle that many options! I decided to bypass the grains altogether, and embraced my old lovah. It was sweet.

Mid last week I fired up the Press and grilled eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms, squash and asparagus. I’m boring with marinades as of late, so I just used my old standby of olive oil and cayenne pepper. I really need to get more adventurous. I’m so bored typing this that I fell asleep no less than four times. Narcolepsy? Maybe. My money’s on lack of creative marinades. Anyways, here they are:

grillers

grillers

Aren’t they like a giant bed of diversity? That’s how I felt as I was overseeing this. It’s as if every race and ethnicity, like, got into bed together. Sometimes I’m too profound for my own good.

Speaking of diversity, I made major renovations to my strength training routine last week. I’d grown really bored with all the squatting and lunging I was doing tri-weekly, so I decided to introduce the leg glute press to myself. It’s too soon to tell, but I think it’s drastically improved my overall body and helped me find the meaning of life:

leg glute press

leg glute press

Is it just me, or is that thing enlightening? I can’t be the only one. I know it’s kinda premature, but I think we’ll go the distance.

Anyways, my bed of diversity cooked up kind of great. I cut a few pieces of polenta, coated them in olive oil and cayenne pepper, and threw them in the press as well. Polenta is way mushier by nature when compared with, like, bell peppers, so it took maybe a minute and a half to cook. They came out like crinkle-cut carrots but tasted way better. See below:

polenta and veggies

polenta and veggies




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