Yellow beans + cherry tomato summer pasta

The thing about photographing food is that you have to take the time to photograph it before you eat it. This really doesn’t work well for me, because to do it properly you need to take a fair amount of pictures. Lately I’ve been snapping like, six, hoping they’re fine and then munch munch.

Yesterday I felt like I was making a big error putting beans in pasta, but it was wunderbar.

I was in Wimbledon Village when I stumbled upon a nice little supermarket called Bayley & Sage and found yellow beans, which I was genuinely excited about. I feel like being this excited about finding beans is some kind of reflection on my coolness factor/age …

I also bought locally grown maters and fresh egg tagliatelle.

Yeller beans. Chopped and tossed into the sauce with just a few minutes to go so they’d maintain their crunch.

To make the “sauce” I heated cherry tomatoes, a garlic clove, olive oil, white wine, lemon juice and s&p.

For garnish I added a few sliced raw tomatoes.

Twirl in the salad.

Done.

Stilton asparagus puff pastry tart

When my mom came to visit I wanted to make her something English so I came up with a totally experimental Stilton veggie tart made with puff pastry.

Crumbles of Stilton from Waitrose on the bottom topped with asparagus tips, tender stem broccoli tips and sliced red onion. I spread a little of sharp cheddar cheese and drizzled a bit of EVOO on top and baked for about 25 minutes on 220 C. Once the edges were turning golden I pulled it out and placed a few sweet pomodorino tomatoes on top.

The only problem was the lack of veggies! I packed it full before it went into the oven and genuinely thought I over did it (like you can overdo veggies??), but this could have handled twice as many.

I love using puff pastry blocks because I feel like a fancy pants even though it’s super easy.

One block made four random rectangular/square shapes for us. It’s surprisingly hard shaping dough. Or maybe I just need to go back to Kindergarten.

Despite the inconsistent shapes, they came out well.

When mom was here she liked eating out, so if we ate at home I had to promise her a pint at our local.

Guinness for mom. Prosecco for me!

Totally random confession for the people who say I’m too healthy: Today for breakfast I ate Cheetos and blonde brownies. Topped off with an iced mocha. Breakfast of champs?

Healthy spinach and artichoke dip

I haven’t had spinach and artichoke dip from a chain restaurant in so long that I honestly couldn’t even estimate how many years it’s been. I still remember, however, how much I used to love that gooey, creamy dip.

These days I wouldn’t go near anything with that much dairy. As good as spinach and artichoke dip is, it’s not worth feeling sick all day!

The thing I always liked most about this dip is the spinach, so I set out to make a dip free from dairy that still boasts an addictive flavor.

While this dip is far from any commercial spinach artichoke dip you’ll ever buy, I guarantee you’ll love this light version!

It was easy to make, too.

When I peeled my onion I got a little surprise. It was like two onions in one shell:

Diced them up and lightly sautéed them while I got the rest of my ingredients together.

To make the sauce I started with cashews, nutritional yeast (for a bit of cheesy flavor), nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Add this to a jar of marinated artichokes, a couple cloves of garlic, and blend in a food processor.

Is there any way to make processed food look appetizing? Because this looks … gross.

Here’s your chance to be smarter than me. I thought it would be OK to mix the artichokes and spinach in the bread pan. Not OK. Mess everywhere, and I had to dump everything in a mixing bowl, which I obviously should have done in the first place!

Once it’s mixed, dump it in the pan.

Bake for about 10 minutes, then yank it out of the oven. (I have this problem of cooking/baking when I’m starving and I end up devouring before I can photograph)

I’ve shown you only half of the baked dip because the other half was an experiment with vegan mozzarella that supposedly melts, but I found out it doesn’t. It worked well inside the dip, but not layered on top. Also, there’s a giant dent in the dip from where my fork accidentally kept going into it and “taste testing” before I was able to snap a pic.

Eat up! I had mine with a freshly baked baguette, but it would have been better with tortilla chips or vegetables. I ended up just eating the dip with a fork straight from the bowl!

Ingredients:

Half a bag of frozen whole leaf spinach (about 500 grams)
1 med onion
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella (or real mozz or cheddar)
1 tbsp vegan parmesan (or real)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cloves garlic
1 medium jar marinated artichokes + a little of the oil from the jar (about 200 grams drained)
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)

Directions

Place the spinach in a pan on low-medium heat and let it cook while you prepare everything else. Be sure to stir it occasionally.

Dice the onion and saute lightly.

Put the cashews, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, salt and pepper in the food processor along with the diced onion, garlic cloves and artichokes. I poured a small amount of the artichoke oil into the mixture. Add more if it doesn’t process well.

I wanted my mixture to be a bit chunky, but process it as smooth as you’d like.

By the time this is done your spinach should be cooked. I used a slotted spoon to drain the spinach and put it in a bowl. Add your artichoke mixture and the shredded cheese, and mix.

Place mixture in a baking pan and bake on 200 C/ 400 F for about 10 minutes, or until the top is starting to brown.

Remove from oven and try not to eat too much straight from the pan!

Who loves broccoli and sweet sesame tofu?

I do, I do, I do-oooooo …

Watch this remix of Kel loves orange soda. I talk about Kenan and Kel too much, I realize this.

(please tell me you laughed at that)

Anyway, I FINALLY managed to make tofu that wasn’t just good – it was great.

The sauce:

olive oil + agave nectar + spicy mustard + salt + chili powder + sesame seeds

I’ll make it again soon and take exact measurements, because you and I both deserve a recipe. Also, pictures in natural light would be wonderful!

I took the time to properly press the tofu – makes all the difference. It had a nice firm texture and soaked up the sauce well.

On the side was a vegan bean dip with half a plate of broccoli for dippin’. I got the recipe from Daily Garnish, but I added a bit of chili powder, pepper and garlic powder because the original recipe is a bit bland.

I had enough tofu to fry the other half of the block in Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and the rest of the bean dip and broccoli got put in my special little lunch box.

Side note: I ran my fastest mile of this year! One of my goals was to get my mile down in the 8 minute range, and today I managed 8:30. I’d like to finish my 5K in April in under 27 minutes, so if I can keep this up for another two miles I may just make it! I’ve been alternating distance runs with shorter, faster runs like today.

I think if we can overlook the grass-that-looks-like-clouds anomaly, you can get a fairly accurate picture of what I look like when I run. Except I’m on a treadmill, and wearing clothes and shoes.

Side note the second: I took y’alls advice and got my momma to send me Crest Whitestrips. So glad I didn’t waste money on the dentist option, because these totally worked! Thanks!

Stabbing vegetables is healthy …

… in the same way petting a cat is healthy. Relieves stress, you know?

I’m lying. Cutting this f*&^ing butternut squash relieved no stress. It made me furious.

I’m sure all you experienced butternut squash cutters will look at this disaster below and pick out at least five things I’ve done wrong, but whatever. This is not intuitive.

Oh, and peeling this f*^%ing butternut squash? What a joke. The lady on the Google tutorial that I spent approximately 3 seconds searching for made it seem like a breeze. I tried it, then went back to the tutorial, expecting to find the words PSYCH! written at the end.

Remember when we used to say “psych!” at every opportunity back in the 90s? I’m trying to bring it back. It’s, like, slang. From England.

Anyway, I was making Angela’s vegan mac & cheeze. Although I wouldn’t exactly call it mac & cheese, it’s GOOD. Excellent, in fact. I kept eating the sauce straight out of the blender. If you’re skeptical about the taste of nutritional yeast, you don’t need to be with this recipe. It’s smooth, slightly sweet and creamy. Perfect comfort food, and vegan! I’m so impressed. And stuffed.

An experiment in vegan cooking – spiced red cabbage salad

When my mom was pregnant with me she said the smell of rice made her feel really sick. I don’t know if it’s related, but I hate rice and I’ve hated it my entire life. I hate the smell of boiled rice, I hate the thought of a lump of rice on my plate, and more importantly I hate the taste of rice.

I can tolerate it if it’s doused in curry sauce or another highly flavorful sauce, but in those cases I just think, “Why am I wasting stomach space on this crap?”

With that being said, I made a rice dish yesterday. I’ve been wanting to eat more vegan foods, so I’ve looked to my favorite food bloggers for inspiration, particularly Daily Garnish because she makes a lot of vegetarian/vegan foods.

I liked the look of this spiced brown rice and cabbage salad. It’s probably great, if you like rice.

But once the rice was cooking I was like, there’s no way in Satan’s lair I’m going to like this. Tons of rice! Hardly any cabbage. As I was putting it together I tasted it and it was disgusting (not Emily’s fault – purely the rice’s fault!).

I ended up changing the recipe quite a bit to suit my needs, and came up with something I’m pretty pleased with. I cut the rice amount by more than half, and added the bulk back in with tons of extra cabbage.

Emily’s recipe called for raw cabbage, but I kind of feel like a goat when I sit there vigorously chewing raw veg for too long so I quickly sautéed the cabbage to slightly soften it before putting it in the mix.

In addition to completely changing the portion sizes of ingredients in the original recipe and not adding turmeric, I also added a couple things (which I’ve marked in bold).

Brown rice, toasted pine nuts, dried currants, red cabbage, cumin, ground ginger, curry powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, agave nectar.

It worked a treat! What resulted was a mildly sweet vegan dish that’s heavy on veg rather than rice. I love the different bursts of flavor you get with each bite – currant, pine nut, cabbage, and obviously anything that has balsamic vinegar is a win in my book.

Have a good Wednesday!

The case of the starving housemates

I don’t know what my housemates eat.

Here is my cabinet:

Here’s my other cabinet:

And here is the cabinet next to mine that THREE people share. One of those items isn’t even food. It’s soap!

What do these people eat?? We’ve been living in this house for well over a month now, and still no more food has appeared in this cabinet.

Crazy.

Fine by me, though, because that means I have more space to rock out with my … spatula … out. That didn’t even make sense. Or rhyme. What I mean is, I can jam to John Mellencamp when I get random urges to listen to his music loudly.

I saw him in concert back in college and he was great, but I kinda forgot about him until recently for some reason.

Let’s rock. (look at his dancing! and his hair! it’s too much.)

Spiced-up Greek salad

My hand has a problem. It will be working nicely with my other hand making a beautiful meal when all of a sudden it will reach up into the cabinet, pull out a jar of chipotle chili powder and sprinkle a few dashes in whatever dish it was preparing.

This weekend it happened to be a Greek salad, which for some odd reason I was tremendously craving.

However cute they are, and they are pretty darn cute, I’m just not a fan of cherry tomatoes in salads.

Salads definitely need a bright pick-me-up, so I took a chance on subbing sun-dried tomatoes in my Greek salad.

So glad I did! The sun-dried tomatoes plus the red onions made for a perfectly colorful salad.

The few dashes of spicy chipotle chili powder gave it a fun kick and totally worked against the cool flavors of the feta and cucumber.

I used my trick of soaking the sliced red onions in water for 10-15 minutes to take the bite out of them before putting them in the mix.

1 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup torn, fresh mint leaves
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup sliced black or kalamata olives
1/2 red onion, finely sliced or diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta (or more, depending on how much cheese you like!)
olive oil – drizzle
red wine vinegar – drizzle
lemon juice – 1/2 lemon or a couple squirts of bottled
sea salt+ pepper to taste
chipotle chili powder – a few dashes
1 tbsp oregano

I prepared all the ingredients and let them marinate for a few hours before having the salad for dinner. I served it over Dolce Verde lettuce, but it would be good to eat on its own as well. I’m in love with red wine vinegar, so I added a bit more to the salad before I chomped away.

Enjoy!

I’m with Stupid

Sometimes I feel like someone should wear an “I’m With Stupid” shirt and just follow me around my house.

When I moved in I couldn’t figure out in which slot I was supposed to put soap in my washing machine.

Proof that other people are as dumb as me? Maybe, but sometimes I like to pretend I have a relationship with Google and he understands me. I mean, he just knows what I’m about to type next.

At the very least I can take pride in the fact that I wasn’t asking Google the third option, where to place my soap dish in my shower.

But get a load of “Chelley” who took it upon himself to answer a question on Yahoo! about which slot the soap should be put in:

“if this is a brand new washer: READ THE INSTRUTION MANUAL
if it is second or the manufacturer did not put a manual in the box ( it happens) the one marked “II” is for your detergent…. liquid or powder….. the one with the flower is for fabric softener and the one marked with “I” is for you prewash detergents….

Source(s):

doing laundry for 18 years……”

I hate people like this.
1) If there was an instruction manual sitting around, I probably would have made use of it. 2) Oh, I bet he thought he was so freakin’ cool when he wrote “doing laundry for 18 years.” Congratulations on being an expert in laundry washing.

I hate Chelley and I don’t even know him.

Last night I did this:

See that little dark spot under the radiator? Yep, that’s butter.

I gave myself a nice smug pat on the back for being so well organized and buying butter for my cookies at 10 am during my lunch break that morning so it would have time to soften by the time I got home.

By 4 pm it still hadn’t softened, so I thought “Oh, I’ll just set it on this radiator for a couple minutes.”

Twenty minutes later I scream and run over to the radiator to find my butter desperately trying to maintain its block form. Much of the butter had drained through the foil packaging and into the radiator, dripping into a lovely puddle on the carpet. I immediately grabbed it without thinking, and butter dripped all over my socks and into the kitchen.

The house smelled like butter because there’s no way I know of to wash the inside of a radiator, and I’m not about to Google that and see what else Chelley has to say.

You know how I said the secret ingredient to making good cookies might be love? Well, it’s not. The secret ingredient is being smarter than Forrest Gump. And me.

Maybe I’m being unfair to myself. I should blame this on my co-workers. Every time I try to make something for the office disaster strikes big time.

Cookin’ for the weekend.

So excited. My work Christmas gathering is Friday! I say gathering because we don’t have official parties at my company.

A little Tuesday humor:

Maybe I should stop quoting Mean Girls sometime this decade? Nah. Not yet.

Tonight I’m making sweet potato chili, recipe courtesy of Andie Mitchell at Can You Stay for Dinner?

Considering I’ll be making mine in the depths of a dark English winter, I somehow doubt my chili will end up looking like Andie’s:

I’m hoping this pot of chili will last me until the weekend. Speaking of which, I can’t wait for the weekend! I used to bowl a lot in high school, but ever since I moved to London I haven’t been able to find a place where people bowl competitively. I think I may have found one in a distant suburb of London that’s going to require a bit of travel, but it should be worth it. I really have my hopes up!