Day 1 – Scotcheroos and Corn Cakes

Day one of 30 Days of Creativity was a delicious success. I got creative in the kitchen. Start easy and where you’re comfortable, right? On Sunday we went to a barbeque hosted by a former co-worker. We’d been camping Friday through Sunday morning near Bloomington, so I needed something easy to make. Lucky for us, I requested breakfast on the way home from our campsite at Bloomington Bagel Company. Michael spotted a Peanut Butter Crunch bar in the dessert case and declared it very good. Could we reproduce it? One taste and I said hell yes, this is gonna be easy! These are scotcheroos!

Have you heard of scotcheroos? They’re like Rice Krispie Treats but better because they involve peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate. I use the word addicting loosely here. I ate one at the barbeque and then two more on the way home.

Scotcheroos seemed to be the easy and obvious choice for Day 1 for multiple reasons: Michael requested I make them again, and soon; they take literally 15 minutes to make; no oven; did I mention delicious?

We also had corn cakes with avocado and tomato salsa for dinner.

I prepped half of this meal (the corn cake batter) while I ate breakfast at the counter this morning. All that was left to do tonight was cut up veggies for salsa and cook the cakes. The meal is flavorful and balanced, filling and yet not heavy. The sweet corn cakes go nicely with the bright salsa. I love combining tomatoes and avocados. Just something about the flavors mixing together. Next time will add some black beans to the salsa. And the bright colors in this meal were actually fun to photograph! Continue reading

Soup Days: Vegetarian Chili

This winter has been a very soupy one. Soupy in a food sense for sure. I cannot get enough of making soup. You can let it simmer in a big pot as you walk the dog, it can cook all day in a slow cooker, and it’s good for lunch for days and days.

If snow could be soup, then winter has been soupy in a snow sense too. I haven’t seen grass in what feels like an eternity, but is probably more like two or three weeks. Winter will never end.

We got hit pretty hard by the Storm of Doom last week. First, two inches of ice, followed up by five to six inches of snow. I happily did a little sledding on Saturday. My bum did not happily sled. It is in fact largely bruised now.

Now as the ice was falling last week I thought about how this amazing chili recipe would be the perfect thing to be trapped in your house with. Then it occurred to me that when you’re house-bound, you can’t leave to get ingredients for chili at the grocery. So I would just be taunting you.

Now that the roads are passible and there’s still quite a bite in the air, I say have some chili! I’ve been looking for a good and flavorful vegetarian chili all winter and I think I’ve found a winner! It’s spicy for sure, a little sweet, thanks to the barbecue sauce, sticks to your ribs, and Joy the Baker says the steak seasoning is the secret to all the wonderful flavors. I trust Joy. She’s got taste and she’s funny.

Uh, also, I tried to take a photo, but it looked not so great. I’m trying to get the hang  of this food photo thing. It’s tricky! Any tips?

Recipe post-jump.

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Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Oh the weather outside is frightful…cold…frigid…very winter-like for early December. Perfect soup weather. And perfect running weather.

That’s right bitches. I ran outside in 20° weather yesterday and today. And today I ran my best 5K time – 25 minutes. And then, just for good measure, I ran another half a mile. Total mileage and timeage? 3.6 miles in just under 30 minutes.

Now I swear I’m not bragging. I’m just amazed by myself. In high school, when we were forced to run at crew practice, my friend and I were the last people to finish because we walked most of the way. So guys, if I can do it, so can you. I swear.

Now, once you finish running, or just standing outside for 2 seconds, you’ll need something to warm you up. And I’ve got that covered. You will need a bowlful of red lentil and vegetable soup. It’s like tomato soup with substance, a bright sunny kick from some lemon juice, and a nice, warm cumin flavor.

Cumin reminds me of my dad’s chili, which reminds me of being toasty in winter.

Toasty up your insides. Make this soup. Maybe add some green beans, because that’s kind of what I want to do next time I make it. And there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that…….

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Greens & You: Garlicky Kale Salad and Arugula Pesto

Gone are the days of tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, peaches, and peppers. Welcome to the greens and squash days. Yep, we are creeping towards winter produce time. It’s evident in the choices in my GreenBEAN (that’s Farm Fresh’s new name), in the tables overflowing with leafy greens, golden squash, and red apples at the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market. For awhile I was afraid of the greens. I mean how much can you do with chard, spinach, arugula, and kale anyway? And don’t they all just taste the same? Turns out you can do a whole lot with these vegetables and they all taste a bit different.Plus, they’re really good for you. They help your body naturally detox and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

So today I have two recipes for you that’ll help you use up the kale and arugula that may be overflowing from your CSA bin. Both have made successful appearances at ladies night potlucks (the kale salad multiple times actually).

The first is a raw kale salad with garlicky dressing. I like kale because it has a little more flavor than, say, spinach, but it’s not overwhelming. Kind of a nice nuttiness.

The second is arugula pesto. Arugula has a very peppery and more bitter flavor. I can only handle it in smaller doses when it’s all raw and on it’s own (i.e. on sandwiches, where it’s very yummy), so this pesto is a nice way to use a lot of it. Plus, it gives your pesto a good kick that basil doesn’t.

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Cheesy Enchiladas with Gravy

Oh I have been slacking again. But here’s the thing. I traveled a lot this past week. Well a lot for me. My job normally requires no travel, but when it comes to this time of year, I hop on lots of planes to deliver prizes for our art contest. Lucky for me this year I didn’t have to travel alone (which I think sucks balls). Jen and I traveled to L.A. and Alyssa and I went to New Jersey/Philly. Much fun. Though I could never do the work travel thing regularly. It’s seriously exhausting. And all the sitting on planes made me super dehydrated. Poor chapped lips.

There were also two more concerts the last two weekends: Guster and Band of Horses. I’m going to post some pictures and go on and on about how much I love Guster later this week. Just so you know and have something to look forward to.

Oh and, AND, big news – Mira and I got a new roommate! I adopted a sweet little kitty on Saturday.Her name is Lola. She’s quite the talker. I think she likes to sing to herself as she runs around the house or plays with her feathers on a stick toy. She and the Mira dog are getting along quite well all things considered. Lola isn’t scared of Mira at all. Mira does not want to eat Lola. On the contrary, she desperately wants to play with her, and cannot understand why Lola sprints away when she chases her down the hall. My only current problem is placement of kitty food. Adam says if we tell Mira no every time she tries to eat it, she’ll learn.

Now, I have a very, very good dinner for you. Cheesey Enchiladas with Gravy filled with whatever your heart desires. I added a variety of vegetables. I think some shredded chicken would be tasty as well. Add some jalapeños, maybe olives if you’re into that, zucchini may even be good! I think what I really like about these is the gravy. I’m not a huge fan of the red enchilada sauce. The gravy in this recipe packs some heat, so be warned and dial down the chile powder and hot sauce if you’d like! Overall, a good weeknight meal. Takes about 30 minutes total time to make. Continue reading

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

I was about to spin this recipe as a good end of the summer dish. Then I realized that it’s almost October. Not so much summer anymore. When the hell did that happen?? (sidenote, I’m incredibly excited about October. Three concerts this month!!!!)No worries, I have plenty of fall recipes in my queue already (think apple pie and pumpkin bread). I love autumn for two primary reasons: scarves and comforters. My scarf collection is very large and awesome and cozy. I pulled out my comforter last night and my sleep last night was also very cozy. Anything that encourages coziness as the weather cools off makes me happy.

So a week and a half ago (even last week really) summer was still clinging on desperately in the form of 90° weather. I certainly did not feel like making fall-like dinners.

This pasta is easy and yeah, you have to have the stove on, but not on the kind of heat that heats up your kitchen.You most likely have everything you’ll need in your cabinets and fridge now.

It’s kind of a pumped up pasta with tomato sauce. And by pumped up, I mean awesome. And isn’t everything from Ree, the Pioneer Woman? Sexy cowboys, adorable kids, delicious food, and horses. Yes. Please.

OK, so make this pasta for dinner one night during the week. And, as usual, I used soy milk, but clearly, as the word “cream” is in the title, you can sub in cream.

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Easiest pizza you ever met

There are days when I really, really like my job. Tuesday was one of those days. Today was not one of those days. Today I worked pretty much every minute (minus the minutes I chatted about movies with a coworker). I also missed pilates because traffic from work to my gym was awful. My gym is really about 10 minutes from work. Today I got halfway there in 15 minutes. I blame the Colts game. My route runs very close to Lucas Oil Stadium. So tonight, I say screw you, Colts! Tonight I am not proud to live in a city of Super Bowl winners. But just tonight. I’m OK with today being entirely exhausting though because tomorrow we’re going to Chicago and I can hardly wait.
But back to Tuesday, which did not suck. Every issue of the magazine I pick a recipe that I tell the kids is awesome and tasty and easy to make. For this issue (that’s November/December, and let’s not talk about how working on Christmas stuff in August fucks up my clock) I went with pizza. Jen, the magazine’s art director, and I make these recipes in the kitchen at work and do photo shoots. Tuesday, we made this pizza, which took about two hours total (that’s not how long it’ll take you, I swear. Taking pictures adds minutes.) and made for a very pleasant morning.

mmm chicken, pineapple, and barbecue sauce!

The recipe for this pizza should probably be written on bar bathroom stalls everywhere, that’s how easy it is. You should probably make lots of batches of the crust dough at once and put them in your freezer. Then, whenever you get a pizza craving (which is like once a week for me), you can defrost one of them and have pizza in 15 minutes. You can also let the dough rise all day in the refrigerator in place of the one hour rise. I do this sometimes if I make the dough on my lunch break and want it for dinner. So, on to the recipe! I’m going to give you the two topping options that we made, but really the options are endless. Be creative! Recreate your favorite restaurant’s pizza! Make one up with the seasonal veggies available at your farmer’s market!