Sunday, March 21, 2010

The quickest baked potato EVER

I don't remember how or why I realized this, but you can make a baked potato in less than 3 minutes, in the microwave.

I used to buy sacks of potatos because they are so cheap, but they kept going bad or shriveling up because I wouldn't cook 'em up soon enough. No more!

It's a great time saver for cooking too, as potatos sometimes take a long time to cook or will not cook evenly. Crunchy raw potato is always a bummer.

All you need is a potato, a paper towel and a plastic bag.

Wrap the potato in the paper towel then put in a plastic bag, remove all the air and knot close to the potato, like in the pic. Microwave 2 minutes and 30 seconds and presto! (NOTE: Bag might pop in the microwave. Hot potato, handle with care. Caution with escaping steam.)

I topped mine with a vegan queso I had leftover and Sriracha, of course.

This was a lifesaver today. Woke up late for work, so I just threw a raw potato in my bag!

Monday, March 15, 2010

5 min. Easy, Cheezy Broccoli-Potato Chowder

When I got up today, I felt so out of it. A few of my co-workers said they felt the same way and that their friends and family had similar complaints. Seems our shift to daytime saving time messes with our circardian rhythms--our biological timing stays our standard times while we forcibly adapt our daily schedules to DST. But the extra daylight is certainly worth the sacrifice!

I love the days when my friend/co-worker, Luwam, and I are both here at work. She is from Eritrea and when Eastern Orthodox Eritreans fast for Lent, they maintain a Vegan diet. I love bringing stuff to share! I think it's so cool she fasts because it gives me an excuse to get more creative and cook more often. Plus she is so gracious. After trying my soup today, she emailed me, "mu mu mu mu mu mu deliciousooo".

5 min. Easy, Cheezy Broccoli-Potato Chowder

Packing lunch today took 1 minutes!

In a ziploc, I put the the ingredients. The are approximate measurements--I relied on handfuls, drizzles and dashes...

1.5 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 heaping tbsp tahini (more for extra creaminess)
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

When I got to work, I put everything in a large 4 cup-ceramic bowl , then added:

1/2 cup soymilk, if you don't have any, use water
3 cup water
1 tbps apple cider vinegar

Stir well so there are no lumps....or if you like your potato chowder chunky, leave a few lumpies in there. Microwave 3-5 minutes, until hot and thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. The nooch makes it cheezy (and yellow), the tahini gives it a little extra richness and the vinegar gives it a cheezy tang. Great with...Sriracha!

That's it! Big on the easy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cubicle Soup: Creamy, Nutty Potato & Greens & 'fu

This is a soup that I have been longing to make. I know it sounds weird, but give it a chance. You will love it. It's creamy, and rich with a subtle peanut flavor. Eating it makes me feel like I am in Thailand. I didn't have any soy sauce here at work, but am sure it would have added a lot to it.

I'd estimate this soup cost about $0.25 to make because I shop in bulk. I bought a 5 lb bag of the mashed potato flakes, 5 lbs mustard greens and the large bottle of sriracha--man, I love Sriracha so much that I keep one at work and 2 at home. Sriracha makes everything taste better.

I've been eating lots of mustard greens lately: they are a great value. I got a huge bag of cleaned, cut greens for $3.99 at Ralphs, which is usually a very pricey grocery store. Mustard greens pack a nutritional bang. They have been touted nature's little secret! Full of vitamins A, K, C...even contains calcium and protein. And they only have 21 calories per cup.

I have also become a huge fan of instant mashed potato flakes-you'll see how many different things you can make with them over the next few weeks. It's one of the most versatile ingredients both cooking at work and at home. You can have a side dish or soup like this in just a few minutes.

This makes a large bowl of soup. A soup that eats like a meal. I'd estimate you get a little over 3 cups. As filling and delicious as this is, it only contains less than 300 calories for the whole thing. For those with peanut sensitivies I suggest a sunflower butter or soybutter.

I keep a box of potato flakes and large jar of PB at work, so packing for lunch today meant grabbing two handfuls of greens and a box of tofu. In the next few days I will compile a basic cooking-at-work pantry list.

Cubicle Soup: Creamy, Nutty Potato & Greens & 'fu

2.5 cups water
1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
1-2 tbsp peanut butter (chunky or creamy, either would be good--add more for extra richness and creaminess)
1/2 cup tofu cubes
2 handfuls collard greens
squirt of sriracha
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in large ceramic bowl, stir to make sure potato flake lumps dissolve. Peanut butter will melt in to the soup. Microwave 5 minutes or until PB is melted and greens are tender.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I made soup all over my cubicle!

I got up late and hungover. I blame our local bar, McMurphy's! They do $1 pints/$4 pitchers of domestics every Friday and it's only 3 blocks from our place. Man, I just love beer. My poor Mikey is still drunk. When I got up, I was ravenous and knew I needed something warm and nourishing and soothing and cheap. So I took a ziploc bag and in to it went all the ingredients for:

Cubicle soup, option 1

3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ounce (I think) whole wheat spaghetti
3 whole mushrooms
dash of liquid smoke
2 large handfuls of mustard greens
black pepper

When I got to work, I dumped the bag in to a large ceramic bowl which holds about 4 cups of liquid--added 3 cups water. It's really important that you use a large ceramic bowl because it is large enough that if you only partially fill it, it will contain everything without spilling over. Also, it will not melt like Tuppers. Plus, I truly believe that heating plastics in the microwave releases noxious chemicals.

Microwave about 15 minutes--make sure the pasta is submerged in the water. No need to stir, just let it cook away. You get a delicious, filling, healthy soup. Add sriracha, pepper and salt to taste.

This was super filling and cost less than a quarter. Only thing missing would be a bit of protein--I'm thinking kidney beans or lentils. Yum.

A few reasons why doing this is great:

  • Canned soup is good and convenient but super high in sodium.
  • Canned soup is canned. It's not fresh.
  • Canned soup is canned. Packaging waste.
  • Canned soup, especially vegan, can be expensive.
  • Ready-made hot soup is VERY expensive.
  • This only took 16.27 minutes and it would have taken way longer to drive to a restaurant and pick something up, plus, if I had a car, there is the whole gas expense.
TIP for the considerate: since you'll be hogging the microwave for about 15 minutes, try to make your soup at an off-peak time. You can just add a little more water later and heat it up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I have returned

Enough of my absence. I miss my blog. I am back! The last time I blogged, was the last day of my rash of unemployment. Once I got my job back and hooked up with a great boyfriend and moved and started traveling a whole bunch and went back to school, I suddenly ran out of time. In the past 8 months, I have: been to Canada for the Olympics; danced on-stage with a band; started taking Russian but the dropped out but then decided to take it again; drank over 25 types of beers; and fell in love. Mushy, mushy. Hi Mikey! I love you my little otter-bear.

Just had a brilliant idea! Two ideas, actually. I'm currently in the process of become a certified professional Spanish/English translator and it would be great practice to post in both languages. I'm gonna check with and see if it would be better two have one blog for each language, or to have one blog in both languages? Please tell me what you think.

Also, I gonna start a little series on a topic about which very little is written. Cooking at work! See, I do not enjoy fast food, I like healthy stuff. I keep a couple of staples at work so that if I forget to bring a home cooked lunch, I can cook at work. I am not a chef. I wish! I work in an office, for a website. With some simple utensils, basic ingredients, water, a microwave and an open-mind, I've come up with some very interesting and delicious concoctions: peanut butter potato soup, sriracha peanut butter sauce, steamed greens... What I find so cool about this is that it's fun and I feel good plus lunch only costs me a quarter with these top-secret tips. This series will introduce to you my unconventionality. I've been wanting to do this for a while. Plus, I just opened my one gallon canned pumpkin and this will be a great way to use it up.

Well, I better start cooking! I promise at least one post before the end of the week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Amaretto & Poppyseed Pudding with Cranberries

I sought something sweet but didn't feel like putting too much effort in to it. I was yearning for something cold and creamy that I'd never had before. So, I looked into the cupboard to see what I have. That's my M.O... I make stuff from stuff that I have. I found almond milk, cornstarch, sugar, sweetened dried cranberries and amaretto. Did someone say pudding? Oh, but this is not your typical pudding, this, I daresay, is luscious and verrrrrrry sensual.

I just love bitting in to poppyseeds and they look so pretty freckling the creamy, dreamy scented pudding. I added the cranberries to further provide color contrast but also to give it a slight tartness. If you don't like Amaretto or just don't want to have to buy a bottle just for this recipe, I suggest almond axtract or plain ol' vanilla.

This dessert is so cheap (about .25 per serving) and easy and even kinda fancy! AND it's light. AND low-fat AND low-cal AND even gluten-free.

Would be awesome in crepes or served as a parfait with layers of crushed cookies.

Amaretto Poppyseed Pudding with Cranberries

(serves 4)

2 cups almond milk (or soymilk)
1/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you like your puddings really sweet)
3 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp Amaretto (can substitute 1 tbsp almond extract or good vanilla extract)
1 tbsp poppyseeds
1 tsp lemon zest
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
garnish with toasted, slivered almonds and cranberries

In saucepan whisk together milk, sugar, starch, amaretto, poppyseeds and salt until all lumps disappear. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly to avoid lumps, about 5 minutes or until thick.

Pour into serving dish and let cool about 10 minutes and then refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. Tip: if you put it into a large shallow dish, thereby increasing surface area, you can cut the cooling time in the fridge to an hour or less. Make sure to cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding to prevent "pudding skin".

Serve cold--garnish with toasted nuts and more cranberries. I served mine in a highball glass--to fancify even more, try a martini glass, like all the frou-frou chefs are doing nowadays.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spicy Chile con Queso Dip

I just love art shows! Just got back from here in San Diego and had such a nice time. Sometimes I forget how cool it is to live just blocks away from these arty-farty places and shops and all the trendy restaurants and bars. At one of the galleries, which was actually Bank of California lobby, there were free snacks, which included cheese cubes. That inspired me to rush back home a create a spicy queso dip! It's spicy, tangy, creamy--everything a queso dip should be.

Lately I have come to prefer using chickpea flour (besan) as a thickener for a lot of my sauces. I think besan works particularly well in this queso because it maintains the protein component that makes cheesiness possible (just a theory of mine). For the same reason, I also used a few tablespoons of tahini. Plus, to me, tahini has a slight cheesy flavor. For tanginess, apple cider vinegar, of course!

This sauce/dip is excellent on baked potatoes! Or try it on nachos!

This sauce would fool most cheese-lovers. Great for potlucks! Try it on your favorite omni. Not "on" them, unless you're into that...but you know what I mean!

Spicy Chile con Queso

(makes about 4 cups)

1 tsp oil, I used canola

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

2/3 cup besan (chickpea flour)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

3 cups water

3 tbsps tahini

1 tsp salt

3 tbsps apple cider vinegar

In a pot, saute tomato, onion and jalapenos in oil until tender. Over medium heat, add besan and nutritional yeast and mix well with a fork to break down any possible lumps. Add garlic powder, water, tahini, salt and vinegar and cook for about 15 minutes, whisking often so it doesn't stick to the pot.