Overly Enthusiastic

This weekend was Spring Carnival at my school, aka the only time CMU resembles any sort of normal university. People are crazy and silly and go go go go for three days straight. It just makes me wonder… how would I have possibly survived if I went to a real school? By the end of Carnival I was just sleepy. What if it were like this every weekend? I would die. Or have no friends. Or both.

My favorite part of Carnival is Holi, which is basically an excuse to eat delicious Indian food and get really dirty. It’s especially fun when it’s raining out, because you get super muddy too. I really want to know what the color powder is made of – it actually dyed my blonde hair pink! I don’t know how long it will last, but it looks pretty cool considering it was accidental.

I had a zucchini left over from when I failed making zucchini bread a little while ago (don’t ask, it was a huge disaster) so for lunch a couple days ago I decided to make pizza. Since I’ve been cooking more and more, I’ve been getting more comfortable with randomly throwing things in a bowl rather than actually measuring them. It’s great for my cooking skills but bad for my recipe posts. I’m gonna put estimates but check out the original recipe if you really want to know the actual measurements.

Zucchini Boat Pizza
Serves one. Original recipe here.

Ingredients
1 medium zucchini
1 Tbsp bread crumbs
1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
dash dried oregano
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp marinara sauce
shredded cheese
toppings (mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, etc)

Instructions
1.
 Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Wash the zucchini and slice lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the innards, chop them further, and put into a small mixing bowl. Put the zucchini shells on a foiled baking sheet.
3. Add bread crumbs, parmesan, oregano, basil, and marinara to the mixing bowl with the zucchini and stir well. Refill the zucchini shells with the mixture.
4. Top with shredded cheese and any toppings (I didn’t use any).
5. Bake for 20 min (mine took 15 in the toaster oven).

Embarrassing: I got way too excited to eat this/make people jealous that I only took an Instagram photo with my phone and completely forgot to use my foodtography camera. So that’s what you get.

Hearts

Last weekend my dad and brother were here visiting my school, so that was really great. We did a bit of sightseeing around Pittsburgh, went to the Andy Warhol museum, saw Hunger Games (a second time for me), and went out to eat… a lot. In three days with them we went out to eat four times. I never eat at restaurants that much, and I was feeling kind of gross afterward. I really don’t understand how some people can do that all the time!

For brunch on Saturday, we went to Pamela’s, which if you’re from Pittsburgh you know has the best breakfast in the entire world. If you’re not from Pittsburgh, you should be sad you don’t have Pamela’s. I was afraid I talked it up too much and my family would be disappointed, but they were just as impressed as I said they would be.

They’re famous for their hotcakes, which are about halfway between a pancake and a crepe. I need to figure out how they do it! I had some stuffed with apples, my brother had them with strawberries, and my dad had French toast.

I actually had two weekend breakfasts – I cooked with two friends on Sunday. Yes, that’s right, we added a new member to our breakfast club! I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the result, so I’ll skip posting the recipe. If you’re curious though, we made German pancakes.

Instead, I’m going to explain how to prepare an artichoke. I absolutely love artichokes, and would be perfectly content to eat one everyday. They were on sale for a dollar apiece at the market last week, so I got one and had it over the weekend. I was a bit intimidated by it, but preparing it is really easy.

First, start by tearing off some of the petals from the bottom and slicing off most of the stem.

Then, take your kitchen shears and cut off the tops of the petals where they have that annoying little thorn. Just do this for the bottom 2/3 of the artichoke, and then slice off the whole top third. After it will look like this:

Then, rinse the whole thing, making sure to get water in between the petals. Put it in a glass bowl in about 3cm of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave 5-7 min until tender.

Then eat!! Pull off the petals and scrape off the meat on the inside with your teeth. You can dip it in melted butter with some lemon pepper, which is amazing. I didn’t have any lemon pepper, though, so I dipped mine in pesto!

Snack Attack

I’m a big snacker. I’m always snacking between meals, which is actually really good for you – as long as you snack on healthy things. Especially for college students, I think it’s really easy to get into a habit of munching on potato chips and Goldfish all day. Obviously those things are fine to eat occasionally, but I never buy them because I know I’ll end up eating too much of them. I like to think I have a pretty healthy set of snacks, so I wanted to write a quick post about what I eat.

  • Raw nuts, particularly almonds and cashews. Nuts are packed with protein, which is great for vegetarians like me, and essential fatty acids. I really like to grab a small handful of almonds to eat as a post-workout snack.
  • Granny smith apples. Any apples, really, but granny smith is my favorite kind – they’re tart and crisp and just taste fresh. I like to toss apple slices with a little bit of lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon; it tastes like apple pie!
  • Kakimochi, aka Hawaiian rice crackers. Not exactly the healthiest, but I have so much from my recent trip to Hawaii that they just need to be eaten up. In moderation, of course.
  • Baby carrots and hummus, especially the Mediterranean Hummus from Trader Joe’s.
  • Frozen grapes. They’re really great if you’re craving something sweet – it’s like a popsicle only much healthier and bite-sized.
  • Roasted or grilled chickpeas are a great way for me to get extra protein. Toss some chickpeas with a little olive oil and spices, and either roast in the oven for 30 min or throw on the stove for about 15 min. They’re addictive! As for spices, I like to use a Hawaiian curry seasoning my grandma gave me, but you can try curry powder, cumin, or even cinnamon.

If you ever want to know more about what you’re eating, I like to look at this site for nutrition info. It has way more information than you’d ever really need to know about any food you can imagine, which is really great if you’re using raw ingredients which don’t usually come with a nutrition label.

What about you guys? What do you snack on? Let me know in the comments – I’m always looking for more ideas!

Breakfasting Alone

This semester is going by so quickly – I can’t believe it. Only five weeks left in the semester, including this one, and then it’s finals and then my internship. I’m starting to feel like I haven’t done nearly as much cooking as I wanted to. Well, let me rephrase that. I cook everyday, but usually it’s lazy cooking. Pasta, sandwiches, whatever. I haven’t done as much fun and exciting cooking as I wanted.

I’ve been experimenting with tempeh quite a bit, actually. I like the taste and texture better than tofu, and it’s more versatile too. I have a hard time putting tofu in anything that isn’t Asian. I know how to put it with noodles or rice, but anything else and I just feel like it doesn’t belong! The other day I made fake Spam musubi with tempeh, which was pretty good (and super Asian), but you can definitely do more with it than that. For example, my bbq tempeh, or the really great sandwich I made the other day. I cut the tempeh really small and grilled it with some baby bella mushrooms, then stirred it up with some pesto I picked up at Trader Joe’s. Put that with some spinach and wheat bread, and you’ve got yourself a really great meal.

I have this bizarre obsession with vegan baked goods. I’m not a vegan, of course, but I love baking things and then saying GUESS WHAT THAT’S VEGAN! What I hate, though, is “vegan” recipes that call for “vegan butter” or “vegan cream cheese” or whatever. Taking a regular recipe and subbing in vegan versions of the ingredients doesn’t make a real vegan recipe.

This past weekend my Weekend Breakfast partner in crime was busy, so I decided to go vegan just for fun.

Blueberry Walnut Muffins 
Vegan. Original recipe here. Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients
1 C quick or rolled oats
1 C soy milk
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 2 tbsp water)
1 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C chopped walnuts
1 1/3 C fresh or frozen blueberries

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, milk, agave, and almond extract.
3. While the oats are soaking, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, chia, flax, salt, and sugar.
4. Stir in the flax egg, walnuts, and oats. Last, add blueberries.
5. Spoon into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes.

I used frozen blueberries, which was fine I think. As soon as I stirred in the berries, the batter turned a crazy greenish color. They looked like zombie muffins but they tasted great! Not too sweet – perfect for breakfast. Although I will say you have to eat them fast. Since there’s no oil in the batter, by the second day they’re already pretty dried out. I wrapped them in a damp paper towel and zapped them in the microwave for 15 seconds, which helped, but these are definitely meant to be eaten the day of.