March 29, 2010

What To Do With A Can of Lentils

Some things I always buy at the grocery: Ranch Style beans, canned lentils, sardines, tortillas and fresh spinach. As a grad student, I'm out of town every other weekend, so canned food allows me to make something quickly and not worry about it ever going bad. The problem with canned food is it all tends to have a lot of similar tastes across the different varieties (canned soups taste like canned vegetables taste like canned meat). How do I fix this? The same way universities fix their budgets: lots of adjuncts (hey-o! zing!). I call this recipe:

(Sort of) Curried Lentils with Chicken

2 cans of Progresso lentils
1 lb of chicken, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced (I like even more)
3 tbs butter
2 tbs curry paste (I like even more)
Salt, pepper, sour cream to taste

Start by placing 2 of the three table spoons of butter with the garlic and onions in a skillet on medium. Cook until golden brown and place in a pot with the lentils and curry paste on low heat. Place the remaining butter with the sliced zucchini and squash. Season them with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly browned and set them aside. Place the chicken in the skillet. Cook them until the flesh turns white on the outside then place in the pot. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. When finished, warm the zucchini and squash and place them on top of the lentils with sour cream.

If you happen to have some fresh basil, put that in here too, because lentils with fresh basil is amazing. There are also some other places that talk about this same exercise of making canned lentils better here. It's a good food website in general.

March 26, 2010

The Four-Minute Magical Breakfast

This is the breakfast that has changed my mornings. I first read about it in a magazine a couple of months ago, decided to try it, and have been hooked ever since; I eat it a minimum of three times a week. I call it "magical" because it is just so good, so fast, so easy, so basic (4 ingredients!) and so healthy (protein and veggies!!), it seems too good to be true. This little egg dish keeps me full and happy for hours, and it is the perfect morning meal when I have a long day of teaching and class ahead of me.

The Four-Minute Magical Breakfast


2 or 3 eggs
splash of milk
tomatoes, spinach, onions, mushrooms, whatever vegetable(s) your heart desires
small handful of shredded cheese

1. Break the eggs into a fairly deep microwave-safe bowl and add a splash of milk. Whisk with fork.

2. Chop some veggies directly into the bowl. Here I used baby spinach (torn into smaller pieces) and tomatoes. Stir around.

3. Microwave uncovered for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
4. Stir, add small handful of shredded cheese (here I used mozzarella), stir again.
5. Microwave for another 45 seconds to 1 minute depending on your microwave, stir, top with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Eat your scrambled mini-omelet!

Cooking time can vary based on your microwave. You might also want to put a small plate over the top of the bowl to keep the heat in, but this can also affect cooking time. I've heard some people are wary of microwaving eggs, but I love the fact that I don't have to dirty a bowl, a pan, and a cutting board for some good eggs in the morning: as you can see, the whole meal takes place in one little bowl.

One of the best things about this recipe is its versatility. You can make it with egg whites, you can make it with leftover veggies from last night's dinner, you can top it with salsa, you can eat it on toast. Make it spicy with Pepperjack cheese and green chiles, make it Greek with feta. Use more eggs if you're hungrier. Add pre-cooked sausage, add chopped peppers, omit the milk, douse it in hot sauce, use fresh dill or basil---whatever your tastes, you can modify this quick little dish to suit them.

If any of you try this, please let me know what you think. I'm also always open to new suggestions for fast, good and healthy breakfasts, so what do you guys eat in the morning?

March 25, 2010

Spring Break & Gastronomic Lit Journals

We're on spring break here at NMSU, but stay tuned for some new posts later this week, including one about everyone's favorite meal: breakfast.

In the meantime, check out Alimentum: The Literature of Food and Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. Poems about chocolate, essays about Portuguese pastries, a wealth of good writing about eating.

March 10, 2010

Cooking The Books

I recently came across a web series called Cooking The Books. It is basically an internet cooking show that consists of Emily Gould ( formerly of Gawker fame), inviting authors into her kitchen to cook recipes inspired by their recent books. Gould can be just the teensiest bit annoying (and where is the actual cooking?), but it's a cool idea. The most recent episode features Julie Powell, the Julie of "Julia & Julia." But in the interest of full disclosure, Julie Powell kinda freaks me out and they're cooking liver in that one, so I chose episode 4 to share with you guys. In episode 4, Gould cooks cheeseburgers with novelist Jami Attenberg.

Cooking the Books -- Episode 4 -- Jami Attenberg from The Awl on Vimeo.

Let's petition Emily Gould to do an episode with a poet.

March 9, 2010

In Which I Show You With What I'm Working

This is an experiment:

So I wanted to make bean and cheese burritos but I don't have regular cheese and I have most of the other ingredients. I also have things I need to use before they go bad. I have some non-fat cream cheese that I bought in December and I thought it would be bad by now, but it turns out it's good for six months. The only other cheese I have is sprinkle parmesan cheese. So that's what I'm working with.

Bean and Cream Cheese Burritos


1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 can chili beans (Ranch Style Beans would have been prefered)
2 oz of fat free cream cheese (any cream cheese will work though)
salsa, salt, pepper, and crushed red peppers to taste
(I also added some of the sprinkle cheese, just to see what that was like)
(And I put a slice of processed cheese on top, cause it sounded good)
Enough tortillas

Start by adding all your ingredients into a non-stick pan and turning the pan on low. Which should look like this:

(I know it doesn't look good now, but it'll be ok)

Non-stick because refried beans suck to clean out of a normal pan if it gets even the slight bit hot. Low because we want to melt the cheese while not burning anything. If you've ever tried to melt cream cheese, it's surprisingly hard. Next smash everything together. The chili beans are best if slighty smashed to the same consistency as the refried beans. Then stir and stir until the cheese is melted. Spread the beans on tortillas and roll them up. Top with more beans and salsa. Then some form of cheese if you have it. I microwaved mine to melt the lonely slice of processed cheese. The whole thing took about fifteen minutes.

I think it turned out really good. I got a great texture boost from the cream cheese and it tasted plenty cheesy. The non-fat cream cheese is also a great way to cut calories, only 30 per oz compared to 114 per oz of regular cheddar cheese. I am also proud of the fact that, even if I bought all the ingredients today (not counting the parm), this would have cost about $7.

March 6, 2010

Chili Collage

I call this Chili Collage cause it takes several things that are really good by themselves and combines them into something more delicious. It also uses really cheap ingredients and basically all you have to do is heat them up. Total time for this recipe was fifteen minutes.


1 large order of Chili from Wendy's (with or without cheese and onions)
1 can Ranch Style beans
1 can seasoned black beans
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
salt, pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper to taste

Start by lightly browning the onion (this really isn't necessary, the recipe would take five minutes, but cooking onions smells and tastes good). Then add the Wendy's chili (maybe if I say "Wendy's" enough they'll start giving me money), Ranch Style beans, and black beans. Season, garnish, and serve. For my garnish I used cilantro and cheddar, but I did a test run with crushed saltines that looked good too.

The grand total for this meal was five and some change, and it'll serve four really easy. I use Wendy's chili because it's a good way to get beef without having to cook it or pay for it.

Drink This.
Listen to This.
Read This.

March 4, 2010

In Which I Learn to Love Swiss Chard

I started reading food blogs about a year ago, when I was considerably less adventurous in my attitudes towards unfamiliar ingredients. Leeks? Had no idea what they were. Thai fish sauce? Sounded sketchy. Jicama? Ji-what? I kept reading about a mysterious vegetable called swiss chard, and I was getting pissed off. Was it just me? Was I the only person ignorant to the existence of swiss chard? What was this thing that so many food-conscious people were eating and why didn't I know about it? It sounded weird, scary, gourmet-esque, and undoubtedly out of my grad school student price range. Finally, after about the 17th mention of swiss chard, I googled it and set off to the grocery store to try it for myself.

I'm happy to report that swiss chard is neither "gourmet," nor expensive. Swiss chard is a leafy green similar to spinach, but with an earthier, heartier flavor. It's incredibly healthy (check this out), it's fairly filling, it tastes really good, and it's versatile. And at the Albertson's closest to me, it costs about $1.99 for a huge bunch.

I frequently sautee up some chard as a side dish, but I've also used it in soups and in stir-frys. Here is an easy step-by-step recipe for my favorite way to prepare swiss chard, something I call, uncreatively, "Sauteed Garlic Swiss Chard."

Here is what you'll need:

1/4 to 1/2 of a bunch of swiss chard (1/4 is enough for one person)
2 or so tbsp of olive oil
some garlic (however much you like. Yeah, I use the preminced garlic. It's easier!)
salt and pepper to your taste

1. Chop up your chard. The first time I prepared chard, I read that you're supposed to fold/roll the leaf and tear roughly with the knife, away from the center stem. This works pretty well, but do whatever feels natural to you. You will want to chop off the end stems and discard them. They are edible, but they're a bit more sour.

2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan. Once it is hot, add the garlic.

3. Once the garlic is just the teensiest bit browned, add in the chopped chard. It will seem like it is way too much, but chard shrinks down quite a bit. Make sure you toss the chard well in the pan, so it becomes covered with the oil. Probably use a spatula or a wooden spoon for this.

4. Keep stirring/tossing the chard around the pan until it becomes wilted and wet, about 5 or so minutes. Once this happens, cook it about one minute more, until it is hot and seems pretty thoroughly cooked. It should look, more or less, like this:

5. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and eat!

You can also try adding ginger, red pepper flakes, basil, dill, or whatever spice you like for more flavor. Throw some onions, leeks, or asparagus in the pan if you want a greater variety of vegetables.

Here I'm eating chard as a companion to baked eggs and tomato salad. It is a good meal.

March 3, 2010

Food Related Links

This is really funny/food related.

People from Las Vegas are Vegans. Officially.

I think I'm going to make green jello tonight. It's my favorite kind of jello. The last time I had green jello... I don't even know when that was. Maybe at a Shoney's buffet or something.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...