Quinoa Soup

I’m recovering from surgery and will hopefully next week be doing my cross-country move, so it’s been a bit hectic. Every few months I switch up my go-to soup, and this summer it’s been a corn and quinoa concoction. This freezes really well, I’ve made it and froze it for a friend for after she had her baby. It may have been the hospital drugs, but my friend said it was great. A testament to how often I make this soup is the fact that each picture is from a different time I made it. I don’t have a soup problem.

 

Here’s some soup:

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Quinoa Soup

Ingredients:

1 onion
1 clove garlic
Peppers: Either 2 bell peppers, 1 bell and 1 poblano, 1 bell and 1 serrano, or one of each type depending on your spice level.
1 large tomato
1 yellow potato, medium sized
2 cups frozen corn (or one bag frozen)
2 cups prepared quinoa
2+ cups water
1/2 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lime juice

Optional:
Cilantro
Avocado

Step 1: Dice the onion. Roughly chop the garlic and peppers. Saute in a soup pan with a bit of olive oil or water. Everything breaks down some as it cooks so uniform pieces don’t matter.

Step 2: Once the onions are transparent, chop the tomato and add to the pot. Slice the potato into 1/4″ thick half moon pieces (make a round slice then cut in half), add to pot.

Step 3: Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Add water to desired level. Let simmer uncovered for 40 minutes, adding more water if needed.

Step 4: Prepare quinoa. I use a bag of frozen pre-prepared quinoa so I am no help for figuring out how to prepare it correctly. Frozen quinoa is a wonderful invention because I’m terrible at cooking it on my own and having it come out edible. Add corn, lime juice and quinoa to pot. Bring to boil, and let cook for 5 minutes.

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Step 5: Top with whatever you want. Cilantro, avocado, and a lime wedge go really well with this soup.

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Mac and Cheese

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When I finally conceded defeat to dairy at the start of the year, I thought I would never have a mac and cheese I was satisfied with. I find most commercial non-dairy cheeses to be strange so I don’t eat them. A good friend had brought me a pretty awesome dairy free mac and cheese, but it used white miso paste as a base and that’s a little bit too specialized for me. Out of frustration, I created this version using two simple recipes to create a creamy, rich sauce. I may have used a whole very ripe jalapeno in the tester version, making it a bit too spicy for most people. Oops. Sadly, that means more for me!

Mac and Cheese

Motivation rating: Love for mac and cheese is a really good motivator, no matter how crappy you’re feeling.
Planning rating: Soak cashews overnight. Or if the craving suddenly strikes, boil them instead and you’re on your way.
Salt rating: It’s mac and cheese. Need I say more?

Ingredients:

The cashew sauce base of chip dip (minus onion soup mix and onion powder)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground dry mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 medium Yukon gold potato
1 large carrot, peeled
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 Tbsp tapioca starch (can also use cornstarch, but tapioca gives a bit more stretch)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
Noodles (I used gluten free elbow noodles)

Optional:
1 jalapeno
Breadcrumbs

 
Step 1: Prepare the cashew sauce base of chip dip, but no need to refrigerate it. I love versatile recipes and finding new uses for things I already make because it allows me to be that much lazier when it comes to food prep. Put a small saucepan with water on to boil, a medium saucepan with water for the noodles on to boil, and preheat oven to 350F. (Quick version: Use the same saucepan you boil the carrot and potato in for the noodles, and skip cooking in the oven as the noodles are ready to eat with the sauce)

Step 2: Mix the dry spices (onion through pepper) into the cashew sauce.

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Spiced cashew sauce

Step 3: Make sauce #2! Give the potato a wash and cut into chunks, no need to peel the skin off. Cut the peeled carrots into chunks roughly the size of the potato chunks. Toss them both into the boiling water until a fork pierces through them easily.

Step 4: Drain the carrot and potato pot, and dump into a blender. Add the milk, lemon juice, tomato paste, starch, yeast, and salt into the blender and mix on medium until smooth. (Optional: cut up the jalapeno and add to blender if you like it spicy)

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Small, personal blenders are a great size for the sauces

Step 5: Mix the two sauces!

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It’s like latte art but more delicious. Plus there’s no caffeine to mess you up.

 

Step 6: Cook the noodles according to the package. Dig the package out of the recycling to make sure it you actually read the cook time right. (Repeat as many times as necessary, until noodles are al dente) 

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Step 6.5: Admire your cheese sauce

Step 7: Mix the noodles and sauce. If you want, eat it right away. If you’re a mac and cheese snob like me, go to step 8.

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Step 8: Put in oven safe-pan and top with breadcrumbs, more seasoning of choice (mine is paprika), and salt. Bake at 350F until top is golden brown (about 30 minutes).

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Fried Green Tomatoes

Growing up, fried green tomatoes had somewhat of a mystical quality to them. It seemed to take ages to transform the firm, just picked tomatoes into the tangy, salty, crispy discs.

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Farmer’s market BLT Salad with peaches

We were out at a farmer’s market the other weekend and were able to snag some great green tomatoes, peaches, onions, heirloom tomatoes, and corn. What do you make with all of that? A massive BLT salad of course, with some horseradish dressing. Along the way I learned there’s a pretty easy trick to making the coating: 1/3.

1/3 flour, 1/3 cornmeal, 1/3 breadcrumbs

It doesn’t matter how much breading you’re making up as long as you keep the ratio of equal parts flour, cornmeal, and breadcrumbs. It makes it pretty hard to screw up if you know that magic ratio. It also helps alleviate that panicked moment when you realize you haven’t made enough coating for the number of tomato slices you have.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Motivation rating: Medium-high. Grab a friend and make a project out of it, the reward is worth it.
Planning rating: The hardest part is finding green tomatoes. If you find them anywhere grab them, you’ll thank me later.
Salt rating: There’s multiple layers of salt here, and all condensed in a delicious tomato slice.

Ingredients:
Green tomatoes (I used 2 large ones and had plenty of leftovers)
1 large egg or egg replacement
3 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp pepper + a pinch
1 tsp Old Bay or Cajun seasoning
Salt
Pinch of sugar

Step 1: Wash tomatoes and slice them to your desired thickness (Usually between 1/4 and 1/2 inch). Lay them out on a plate or flat surface. Sprinkle with salt, a bit of pepper, and the sugar. The sugar helps to balance the flavor so you don’t end up with overly tart tomatoes at the end.

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First salting: table salt, second salting: Hawaiian red salt

Step 2: Mix up your egg and milk in a bowl that you can dip the slices in later. I use VeganEgg and unflavored almond milk. I find that the VeganEgg (Made by Follow Your Heart) produces the best result for coating and frying or baking. I’ve heard that some people like scrambling it as well because it gives a more egg like experience than tofu.

Step 3: Combine remaining ingredients in a second bowl, also the proper dimensions for dipping.

Step 4: Heat a pan on medium with a bit of oil that doesn’t have a low smoke point. The key here is consistent heat.

Step 5: Dip tomato in wet batter, then dry and plop in the pan. There shouldn’t be too many tomatoes in your pan at once- if they touch they won’t cook properly. Once they’re browned on one side, flip and cook the other.

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Getting ready to be moved and cooled

Step 6: Take the tomatoes out of the pan with a slotted spatula and place on a paper towel covered plate. If you can, move them to a wire cooling rack after they’ve drained for a minute. This helps to keep them extra crispy. If you start to stack them or cover them once they’ve come out of the pan, they’ll lose their crispness and get weird and soggy. No one likes soggy tomatoes, and you’ll feel terrible about putting all of that work into making them.

Step 7: Salt and serve.

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Fried green tomato sandwich with pickles and pickled onions. A POTS dream come true.

These also freeze well once they’ve completely cooled. I like to make a big batch, freeze them, and reheat in a pan or the oven.