Iron Woman

I have a bunch of disjoint thoughts in this post, but it’s been a week since my last one so I felt like I had to blog. Also I’m putting off writing an essay for my Chinese film class, so this seemed like a good way to pass the time.

This weekend, instead of Weekend Breakfast, my friend and I went to the Strip District. I’ve heard about it but I’ve never been before. It actually made Pittsburgh seem kind of… I don’t know… Cool? Lots of little shops selling specialty foods. We went to a coffee and tea store where I bought about a half pound of Kahlua and Cream coffee beans, a store selling all sorts of overpriced spices (honestly, how many types of cinnamon are there?), a biscotti shop, even a pasta shop that made their own olive oil. It gets pretty crowded on Saturday mornings, and some bakeries even set up tables on the sidewalk to sell all sorts of pastries.

Do you like brussel sprouts? I’ve only ever tried them once. I was a kid, maybe 9 or 10, and I didn’t like them. But how can you really know whether or not you like something if you’ve only ever tried it once, ten years ago? So I had some. And they were delicious. I didn’t make them – my friend did, and she saved some for me to try. They were two days old and microwaved and I still liked them. Who knew?

On to the main event: the recipe. I love things that are fast and delicious. If you are like me, you will love this recipe. It’s so simple, it’s not even really a recipe. Do you know what tempeh is? It’s a “meat alternative,” made from soy, but it’s nothing like tofu. It comes in a block and it’s pretty dense; the soy beans are actually kept whole. I started eating it this summer at Google – they serve it all the time in the cafes – but this was my first time cooking with it.

Ten Minute BBQ Tempeh

Ingredients
tempeh (4 oz. per person)
olive oil
barbeque sauce

Instructions
1. Heat olive oil in a pan over high heat.
2. Add tempeh and cook each side for one minute.
3. Pour barbeque sauce into the pan (the more the better, I say), making sure to coat the tempeh evenly.
4. Reduce to medium heat and cook another 2-3 minutes.

I cut my tempeh into little squares and ate it in pita with spinach, red onions, mushrooms, and smoked mozzarella. I bet it would be good as a burger, too.

I made this a few days ago, and then again tonight. So quick and so delicious! And it fills you up, which was definitely what I needed. I donated blood today for the first time in four years, which is a major achievement for me. I’ve tried and been turned away a couple of times because my iron levels are always too low, but today the nurse told me that for a vegetarian my iron was actually HIGH! How awesome is that? Guess I’m eating right!

My Romantic Valentine’s Day

Did you do anything for Valentine’s Day? Go on a hot date with that someone special? Roses, chocolates, the whole deal? I know I did.

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Date
Step one:
Find your best girl friend.
Step two: Take a romantic moonlit walk with her to the mechanic, where her car is waiting to be picked up.
Step three: Head over to the grocery store. Stock up on everything. You really need milk.
Step four: Invite her back to your place to romantically cook dinner, because it’s now after 8 o’clock and the two of you are starving.

My mom got me a great vegetarian cookbook for Christmas, and this was my first time trying out one of the recipes. It was great! My biggest problem with vegetarian cookbooks is that they usually call for all sorts of weird I-don’t-even-know-where-to-buy-that ingredients. This one doesn’t, so poor college student me can actually try some of it out.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Mole Sauce
Originally from The Accidental Vegetarian. Makes about 10 small enchiladas.

Ingredients
vegetable oil for roasting
salt and pepper
~1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes (I bought mine pre-cut)
~12oz refried beans (3/4 can)
fresh chopped cilantro
10 corn tortillas
mole sauce (make your own or buy pre-made)
cheese, sour cream, etc. to serve

Instructions
1. 
Preheat the oven to 400F. Oil a baking sheet.
2. Microwave your squash for about 2min.
3. Put the squash on the baking sheet with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 min.
4. Mix squash, beans, and cilantro in a bowl to create a paste.
5. Fill tortillas with the bean mixture, and bake for 10-15 min.
6. While the enchiladas are in the oven, follow package instructions to make the mole sauce.
7. To serve, spoon mole over enchiladas and top with cheese.

 

NOT Machine Learning

This weekend I went to the mL Tour DC. mL stands for Movement Lifestyle, not machine learning, despite what my brain told me whenever I heard the abbreviation. It’s a group of amazing choreographers from a studio in LA (it’s actually like 15 minutes from my house) and they put awesome videos all over YouTube. In February and March they’re touring a few cities, so it’s a weekend of nonstop dance. Seriously amazing. I’ve got so much choreography rolling around my brain and I love it!

I decided to bake cookies for the drive out there – it’s about 4 hours from Pittsburgh. I’ve made these before, and I really liked them, but this time they got a little dried out. Still good, but they didn’t stay soft. I don’t know what was different… Maybe I baked them for a little too long.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Original here.

Ingredients
2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, softened
1 1/3 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C white chocolate chips
4-5 oz dried cranberries

Instructions
1.
Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar, then eggs one at a time, mixing well.
3. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in white chocolate and cranberries.
4. Drop spoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets. (They don’t grow very much in the oven, so feel free to cram ‘em on there.)
5. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned.

 

“Healthy Week”

My friend decided that this week is “Healthy Week.” What does that mean exactly? Working out, no junk food. That means no peanut butter, no Nutella, no delicious Fig Newtons hiding away in my cupboard, and NO COFFEE. Coffee isn’t exactly a junk food, sure, but I’ve gotten to drinking it every morning and I really should cut back. Both of us are going coffeeless for the week.

Unfortunately this is proving to be pretty difficult for me. I try to eat healthy, sure, but if you’re going to restrict what I can eat I need some warning. We decided last minute on Sunday night that this would start Monday morning, and of course I’m almost out of spinach, so salads are out. I’m also almost out of hummus, which is another one of my go-to ingredients. Next week we’ll be back on our regular diets, and then the week after that is no junk again, so at least I’ll have time to prepare.

I don’t know if this really counts as healthy, but it’s certainly not unhealthy. I made a big pot of it Sunday night, and I’ve been eating it nonstop since. If you know me, you know that this is my #1 favorite food in the entire world. It is always at the top of my food request list when I get home after being away for a long time, and I talk about it way more often than any food really needs to be talked about. Also, until now, I had no idea how easy it is to make. Sure, I suppose some of the magic is gone, but since I get to eat it more often now, I don’t really mind. So, without further ado…

Tortilla Soup
Recipe courtesy of my mother

Ingredients
I actually made a half batch, but I’m posting the original amounts.
~6 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 corn tortillas, cut into pieces (cut tortilla in half, then cut into 1/2in strips)
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves for you silly non-Americans)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
3 bay leaves
6 cups vegetable stock
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions
1.
 In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add tortillas, garlic, cilantro, and onion; saute 2-3 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil.
3. Add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, vegetable stock, and return to a boil.
4. Reduce heat. Add salt and cayenne pepper.
5. Let simmer 30 minutes to thicken. (The photo above was taken pre-simmering – this stuff gets thick!)
6. Remove bay leaves. Serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream, fried tortilla strips, etc.

Magic. In a bowl.

Breakfast Dinner Theater

Today is the Super Bowl and quite honestly… I don’t care. I’m going to be a stereotypical girl right now and say that football is boring. Actually being at a game is fun – I went to a few in high school, and I always had a good time. But I can’t watch it on television. It’s boring. I can’t even sit through it for the commercials! I go online after the game and look up the best ones. But, then again, I am backwards. I can’t sit through any sports on TV except for baseball and golf. Backwards. Are you doing anything for the big game? My only plans are homework and half price Chipotle.

This week I’ve been at work nonstop. I seriously have the best campus job ever: I’m an usher for the drama department, which means all I have to do is tear tickets and then either sit in the lobby doing whatever or sit in the theater and watch the show, then clean up afterwards. I love it so much. They had a lot going on this week, so I pretty much just got paid to sit around playing Pokemon. Sounds easy, yeah, but after you’ve been at work for six hours, even if you weren’t doing much, you’re exhausted. So on Saturday morning I wanted a break.

Enter stage left… The second installment of Weekend Breakfasts with Pinar!

Crepes

Ingredients
1 C milk
1 C flour
2 eggs
splash canola oil (no more than 1 tsp)

Instructions
1.
 In a large mixing bowl, whisk everything together.
2. Over medium-high heat, pour about 1/4 C batter at a time onto an oiled frying pan. Tilt and rotate the pan to coat evenly, making your crepes nice and thin.
3. Cook for about two minutes, then flip to cook the other side.
4. Serve hot with your favorite toppings.

The tilting-and-rotating takes a bit of practice. Some of our crepes turned out a little messy,  but they taste the same of course.

We ate our crepes with Nutella, raspberry preserves, and sliced bananas. Yum. Strawberries would be good too, maybe with some whipped cream.

I’ve never made crepes before – they always intimidated me for some reason. Now that I know how easy they are, I’d like to do some experimenting. Maybe some savory crepes, with spinach and cheese? What do you think?