Kitchen Adventures

So remember yesterday when I was all “we’re totes not really affected by the storm, y’all!”?

Well. Spoke just an eense bit too soon.

After I wrote that post, I made my merry way to the nearby grocery store to pick up a few things. We’re not exactly out of food, but we needed a few staples: milk, chicken, eggs, veggies, etc.

The grocery store was open and with power, but apparently that had not always been the case. Every moderately refrigerated shelf had been cleared out. All the milk. All the meat. All the eggs. (There were veggies…one out of four ain’t bad?) It was a little spooky. (Especially if you’ve been watching as much Walking Dead as I have been lately.)

So I returned home largely empty-handed.

But dinner still had to be made. I found a few chicken sausages in the back of the freezer, I had veggies, but I wanted to add a bit more protein and fiber to stretch out what we had.

Then I remembered that I had two bags of freekeh that I’d gotten off the free table at work.

What is freekeh? According to the website, “Freekeh is a process which means “to rub”
in Arabic. Freekeh was created by accident nearly 2,000 years ago when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their crop of young green wheat was set ablaze. Most folks would sulk over their misfortune, but the crafty villagers rubbed off the chaff, cooked it up and ‘Eureka!’ Freekeh was created.”

Why should you eat it? Because it’s packed with more protein, vitamins, and minerals than other grains. It is low GI, low carb, high in fiber (up to four times the fiber of brown rice) and rich in prebiotic properties. According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, freekeh is excellent for managing diabetes and may diminish the risk of colorectal cancer and diverticulitis.

So…basically it’s really good for you.

PLUS, it’s pretty darn tasty. You pretty much prepare freekeh the same way you would make quinoa or other grains (boil the water/broth, add grain, simmer for 20-25 minutes), and use it the same way you would rice or pasta. Here’s what I made:

Freekeh-ing Good Stir-Fry

1 bag Freekeh (I used the Rosemary Sage flavor, but just about any would do)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1-2 T olive oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
4 apple chicken sausage, cut into coins
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
Garlic salt, paprika, cumin, and salt to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Cook freekeh according to package directions.

2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add bell peppers and onion. Saute for about 7-10 minutes. (Add more olive oil as necessary.)

3. Add chicken sausage and continue to cook for five more minutes.

4. Add fresh spinach and stir until it’s cooked down (about five minutes).

5. Spoon cooked freekeh into bowls. Add chicken-and-veggie mixture. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan if desired.

6. EAT.

Have you every cooked with freekeh? What did you think?

(And for the record, I am not getting paid to talk about freekeh. I was just pleasantly surprised with how good it was and wanted to share.)

So, as you have probably heard (unless you live under a rock), the East Coast is currently making the acquaintance of a little gal named Sandy.

Word to the wise: She’s a bit of a B. Don’t invite her to your parties.

But surviving a hurricane isn’t all bad. Today, pretty much every office in New York was closed. (And even if it wasn’t, the LIRR was shut down, so there was no commuting forthis little lady in the forecast.)

I was able to do a bit of work from home, but for the most part, I used the time to have an ironically Martha Stewart-themed day. Here’s everything I accomplished:

1. Cross-Stitch Family Project

A couple of week ago at the Martha Stewart’s American Made Workshop, I got a cross-stitch kit. Today, I used this tutorial to create this:

Adorbs, right? I’m in love with it.

2. Baked Peanut-Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I used this Martha recipe for the basics, but I subbed the chocolate chips for peanut butter chips (since Joey has that weird thing with chocolate) and added a teaspoon of cinnamon. It has to be said, there’s nothing like freshly baked cookies on a rainy day.

3. Painting Craft

I got this little wooden box at the Martha Stewart Tag Sale last week for like, 10 cents, and I decided to use it to hold all the business cards I get at meetings with potential partners. (Because buying a legit Rolodex just sounds sad.)

I painted the outside with Martha Stewart Chalkboard Paint, and the inside with a pretty periwinkle paint I had leftover from another project. It’s still in process (the power went out briefly and it turns out it’s hard to paint in the dark), but here’s what it looks like thus far:

So…yeah. Like I said, domestic day.

For now, I’m just hoping the power stays on a while longer to help stave off the boredom.

Hope anyone else in the storm is staying safe!

I rarely start the morning without breakfast. And in general, I prefer to eat eggs or something with a lot of protein (lest I find myself utterly famished at, like, 9:30 a.m.).

The only problem? A full breakfast can take a lot of time to prepare. And when you’re already waking up before the sun to make it to work on time, the last thing you want is to have to get up earlier to factor in cooking time.

I’ve shared my TOP SECRET (not) recipe for the 2-Minute Egg Sandwich, and while this is still one of my favorite meals (weird, I know), sometimes a girl needs a bit more. Like, you know, a vegetable.

I try to sneak in as many servings of produce throughout the day as I can. I never make a smoothie without throwing in a few handfuls of kale or spinach, and my afternoon snack almost always includes a piece of fruit. So while the egg sandwich dominates in terms of ease and heartiness, it’s kind of a failure in terms of vitamins and minerals.

Which is why I was pretty excited to learn about egg cups.

I’m certainly not the first person to make egg cups or egg muffins, as they’re sometimes called on Pinterest, so I claim no culinary genius here, but I figured I’d share my favorite (and super simple) way to make them.

Super-Simple Egg Cups

Ingredients:
12 eggs (I use veggie-fed, cage-free eggs…because I’m a tiny bit of a hippie.)
2 red bell peppers
1 white onion
3 cups of spinach, chopped
Hot sauce (optional…but recommended)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the above ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and stir to combine.
3. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or canola oil.
4. Distribute the egg mixture in the muffin tin cups and bake for 30-50 minutes. Serve warm with a couple dashes of hot sauce if desired.

BAM. Breakfast is served.

You can serve them all at once if you’re having company, or the egg cups will keep for about four days in a sealed container in the fridge. Microwave two at a time for 40 seconds to reheat for breakfast all week.

Not bad, eh? What would you put in your egg cups?

 

You asked for more single-girl meals (well, some of you did…), and that’s exactly what you’re going to get.

For those of you that aren’t single or girls, you can just call this a budget meal for people who don’t have time to cook anyway. It’s just less catchy.

The key to a good SGM is that is has to only require ingredients you probably already have on-hand, serve roughly one person (two if it can keep until lunch the next day), and cost less than $5 to make.

Challenge…accepted.

I give you:

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Super-Simple Chickpea Salad
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion
2 T feta cheese
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste

Y’all ready for this? Combine the above ingredients. Welp, you’re done.

Here’s what I like about this recipe, besides the fact that its cheap and simple and tasty:

1. It can be a snack, a side dish, or even a meal. (I mean, when you’re eating for one, whom do you have to impress?)

2. On the off chance you do want to impress someone with this salad, you just have to throw in a few extras, like wilted spinach, chopped tomatoes or cucumber, or even some cold chicken pieces if you’re feeling extra ritzy.

So there you have it. You’re welcome.

Whenever Joey and I are running low on groceries and lacking the funds or motivation to buy more, we’re forced to get a bit more creative with what we eat for dinner. The result?

For one, we clean out our fridge and pantry, which makes me feel better about using what we have instead of over-buying. Go, responsible consuming!

For another, we eat a lot more of what I have affectionately dubbed “Single Girl Dinners.”

I’ve discussed the gist of Single Girl Dinners before, but I feel like the topic has been coming up a lot lately as more and more of my friends pair off and get married or move in with their dudes.

Basically, it’s anything you would eat as a meal but would never serve to a guest. I’m willing to bet at least three different weird things you have eaten for dinner but never bragged about just popped into your brain.

The point is, I’ve decided to embrace the Single Girl Dinner (and possibly just amend it to the Low On Groceries Dinner). Especially since, for the last week, Joey has been taking a night class, so in general, I’m on my own for how I feed myself.

It’s weirdly…liberating. And I get a little nostalgic for my poor, single girl days. Don’t get me wrong; I love being married and love cooking real, would-serve-to-a-guest meals, but curling up on the couch eating tuna salad and crackers and watching Bravo by myself inspires a feeling I can only describe as decadent.

Plus, it makes a great lunch the next day! See?

I don’t know, you guys. Between Joey taking over the weekday cooking duties and me embracing these super easy “meals,” I’m a little worried my cooking muscles will start to atrophy. So for old time’s sake, let’s make this a quick Kitchen Adventure, shall we?

Single Girl’s Fancy Tuna Salad & Crackers
2 cans of tuna, drained
1/2 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Whole wheat crackers

Combine all ingredients (except the crackers) in a small bowl. Spread on crackers. Enjoy. (Keeps in an air-tight container for lunch the next day.)

SEE? Eating whilst single is beyond easy. Also, it’s kind of pathetic I blogged this. Having second thoughts…but it’s been too long since I posted so I’m keeping it. But Lord knows I need to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel sometime soon.

Or at the very least, start eating more dinners that don’t call for crackers.

I’m pretty sure even my husband would have no problem admitting that, between the two of us, I’ve always been more of the chef.

“Chef” used loosely here. I mean, I can cook. But nine times out of ten I’m just throwing things in a pan, incorporating one of my tried-and-true cooking methods, and then just holding my breath and hoping for the best.

One meatloaf mishap aside, I think we could say with a fair amount of certainty that this system has been pretty successful. And in general, I like cooking. It’s a good way to unwind at the end of the day sometimes.

Then I got that pesky new job in the city. (Still accepting postcards, by the way!)

And while so far I love everything about the job, the commute does limit the time I spend at home in the evening. So we were faced with a choice: Either we don’t eat until after nine every night, or Joey learns to cook.

I should clarify that he can cook. The boy makes a mean omelette, and he once whipped up a gorgeous dinner of pork chops, sautéed asparagus, and mashed potatoes. He just doesn’t do it often, and it takes him a while. (The pork chops? I kid you not, took him about seven hours from start to finish.)(They were, however, the best pork chops I’ve ever had.)

I think the main thing holding Joey back was just an unfamiliarity with the kitchen and cooking. He knew the basics, but as soon as he encountered anything new, he got nervous and just had no idea what to do with it.

In the weeks leading up to my new job starting, I tried to incorporate Joey into cooking more. Even if he was just hovering over my shoulder watching how I do things (“This is how you roast broccoli…this is how you make sure the chicken is cooked through…”), the main goal was for him to have a general idea of how to cook just about anything.

Wednesday was his first night in the kitchen since I started the job.

He made baked chicken Parmesan and roasted broccoli.

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Success! it really was delicious, and he will probably be eating the leftovers tonight.

Then Thursday, he took a play from my book and threw a bunch of veggies and some sliced chicken sausage in a pan to sautée. Then he even created his own creamy cheese sauce to put over some whole wheat pasta. I didn’t even teach him that one!

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He even threw together a little spinach salad for a starter.

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So our little experiment has been successful so far. But more important than the actual food, it has made me so grateful to be married to someone who has no problem stepping up when his family needs something. At the risk of getting mush all over this blog, it makes me love him even more every night.

And, you know, not just because he’s handing me a warm plate of delicious food.