Friday, August 26, 2011

Almost Vegetarian Lentil Stew

Since my nest is located in the upcoming path of the lovely Miss Irene, Mama Bird and I took a trip to our local grocery store at 10:30pm today. I expected the store to be completely crowded with nothing left on the shelves, and she thought I was being silly and that there'd still be plenty of everything and no one there.

It wasn't nearly as packed as I thought, but the almost complete lack of bottled water was not surprising. I don't think it's going to be as bad as we're preparing for, but owning another 32 bottles of water can't be a bad thing as long as we make sure to recycle! Mama Bird and I then spent a ridiculous amount of money on groceries. It wasn't because we were trying to stock up, it was because I had a long list of make-ahead meals I wanted to try. I intend to spend at least a few hours tomorrow making my own freezer burritos, and I want to try to recreate my own version of Amy's pizza pockets, which I was in love with all through high school and college. If I could make my own, I would be able to die happy. As long as I could eat them first. I also want to make my own granola in a slow cooker, because everything is better that way.

So tomorrow is going to be quite a day for cooking, hopefully. I must be stressed.

But today I'll be sharing a lentil stew that confuses me every time I eat it. It's delicious. It may be too spicy if you're me and just start tossing peppers in without thinking about it. But no matter what you do, if you don't eat this with bread or rice, then I just don't think it's very filling. Note the calorie count.

It's a very easily modifiable recipe. You don't want it to be spicy? Don't put in as many peppers- heck, don't put in any! You don't have celery, but wow you have a bunch of carrots? Not really an issue. It's a vegetable lentil soup. It won't judge you, you can do what you want.

And even better, if you want to make it vegetarian, just switch out the chicken broth. Instantly vegetarian! And the only thing you'll miss out on is that delicious chicken flavor.

Recipe modified from Red Chillies.
(Makes 6 servings, with 75 calories and $1.18 per serving)

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 potato
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 serrano peppers
    1. Heat 3 cups of water in pot, and put lentils it.
    2. Bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
    3. Set aside, but do not drain.
    4. Heat a little oil, and saute garlic and bay leaves.
    5. Add onion and mix until lightly cooked.
    6. Add ginger, celery, carrots, potato, and spinach.
    7. Cook until slightly less firm.
    8. Add broth, spices, and peppers.
    9. Simmer for 40 minutes.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • Different peppers have different levels of spice!
  • Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread.

    I love cornbread. Love, love, love cornbread. I recently went to Boston Market with someone I'll dub Model Bird, and he commented that I must not like cornbread because I didn't touch the piece they gave me.

    "No, I love cornbread," I replied modestly. "I just know that I can make much better cornbread than they can."

    So I did. And if anyone thinks this isn't better than Boston Market cornbread... well, then they certainly aren't any friend of mine.

    My mother was concerned about the jalapeno being in it. I was disappointed to realize that the jalapeno lost its bite once cooked. I should have known that, but I forget things sometimes. It still had a pleasant little kick.

    This is definitely not healthy cornbread. I have a separate recipe I do for that. You could probably half the amount of cheese in the recipe and still be happy with it. But if you're gonna make unhealthy cornbread, you may as well go all the way...

    Recipe from Food Network.
    (Makes 16 squares, with 295 calories and $0.60 per squares.)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 pound unsalted, melted butter
  • 8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions (3 scallions)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh jalapeno peppers
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
    3. Combine the milk, eggs, and butter in a separate bowl.
    4. Mix wet and dry ingredients carefully, not over-stirring.
    5. Mix in 2 cups of grated cheese, scallions, and jalapenos.
    6. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
    7. Pour batter into pan and sprinkle with remaining cheddar.
    8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes.
    Today's lessons learned:
    • Jalapenos lose some of their kick when they're cooked.
    • Bread gets moldy if you don't take care of it. It gets moldy faster if it's laced with cheese.
  • Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Time to turn the oven back on...

    I haven't posted in a while, I know. Since when I went to Spain. A lot has happened since then, and I mean a LOT. I lost my job four days before I left for Madrid. When I got back, Boyfriend Bird and I decided to end our relationship, and for a while I just decided that I didn't want to be responsible for things. I went on a family vacation to North Carolina, then went to Indianapolis with some friends to go to GenCon.

    I'm upset about some things. It's obviously devastating to lose a job, especially in an unstable economy. Boyfriend Bird and I dated for four and a half years, and it's hard to walk away from something like that. I'm going to call him Troll Bird here from now on. Which isn't meant to be a negative thing, as strange as that sounds. In fact, I think he'd possibly appreciate the nickname. But all that change so quickly... depressed me for a while. I didn't want to do anything, I just wanted to sort of mope.

    Things are becoming more stable. I don't have a job yet, but I've been looking, and I have plenty of interviews lined up, as nervous as that makes me. And with my return to being an adult, I want to return to updating this blog. I won't make any promises about twice weekly posts, or even weekly posts. I have been cooking a lot still, I just haven't been sharing it. And even if I don't write long and witty posts, I at least want to be taking pictures and remembering what I've been doing.

    I have plenty to share. A carrot cake, pancakes, cookies, muffins, not to mention everything I ate in Madrid.

    But I think my primary focus is going to be finishing cooking by way through England.