Friday, July 26, 2013

Riverside Suppers

Strangely enough, for the first time since I was maybe fourteen, I'm starting to love Riverside again.  It's easy to love a place which isn't permanent though...I'm off to Denver this coming week.  Still, I'm really seeing why it's such an overpopulated, over-polluted habitat of happiness-seekers.  It is a laughable place at times, and has an abundance of flaws, but overall, I'm glad to have come from here, and I'm glad it's where my parents' big house with all the memories is.  I'm also really happy about the super uncharacteristic rain we got this morning.  As a result of growing up here, smoggy rain smells better to me than clean rain. 

Riverside Mission Inn:  so many high school and post-high school memories of sneaking around here, running wild downtown, and frolicking in parking structures.

Annnd time for foods.  More dinners for parents :)
First, chicken legs rubbed and marinated in a paste of coarse ground brown mustard, brown sugar, rosemary, salt, and pepper and baked.  Served with Parmesan roasted cauliflower.  Cauliflower tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and roasted at 400 until beginning to get crusty.  Then tossed with Parmesan and baked further until completely crusty and cheesy.  Corn on the cob, baked with the husk on.

Dad plate; Mom plate.

More Nutri-bulleting for Mom.  One that worked out especially well was 1 banana, 1/4 an avocado, 1 orange, a handful of spinach, and 4 dried plums.  The plums added back all of the needed sweetness and the avocado made is so creamy.  Ice added at the end to make it extra cool and frothy.  It was a bizarrely wholesome milkshake.

Crock pot salsa chicken - so delish!  This was post-crock-potting, but pre-pulling.  In the crock pot went:
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 jar of Pace chunky salsa
2 minced red bell peppers
1 minced onion
1 can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves smashed garlic
dried oregano
dried cumin
chili powder
Let it go for 6 hours.  The bell peppers really made this I think...the rich sweet flavors of the red peppers permeated the salsa and chicken so deeply.  They all became one.  Flesh all-a-mesh.

Remove breasts from crock pot after 6 hours and shred with 2 forks.  Toss meat back into sauce and let cook on low for another 30 minutes, and then serrrrve.
Would be fantastic in tacos, enchiladas, taco salad, etc.  Also delicious on its own as a protein bomb.

Yum.  It's amazing what time can do for a sauce.  Served over brown rice for Mom and Dad.

Yay vegan meatloaf!
I needed some meat-free goodness, so I threw together this madly-inexpensive, delicious, nutritious, and super-filling bad boy.

3 cups dry TVP re-hydrated with boiling water or vegetable broth (I used water)
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 can tomato sauce
vegetable bouillon (if you used water to rehydrate)
2 tbsp Sriracha (optional.  not optional if you're me.)
2 tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 5 tbsp water and mixed until sort of gooey.  This is your egg replacer.  If you can't dig this, use egg.  This holds everything together when you shape it into a loaf.

You can easily add or exchange other things - instead of tomato sauce, you could use marinara or crushed tomatoes, or even a lesser amount of ketchup.  You could throw in Worcestershire, or a touch of liquid smoke.  You could toss in lightly-sauteed veggies, such as celery, onions, carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, etc if you wanted a bit more texture. 

Anyhow, form into a loaf shape on a baking sheet, or use a loaf pan (sprayed with olive oil).  Spread ketchup over the top, or do like I did and spread a mixture of tomato paste thinned with vegetable broth over the top.  Bake for forever...for like an hour to an hour-fifteen at 350.
The top gets super sweet, and the nutritional yeast gives this a lovely hearty depth of flavor.  This stayed together shockingly well, and did indeed have a very meaty texture and feel.
Rib-stickin'.  Nom.

Chicken sausage pasta:

olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow onion
1 large carrot
2 stocks celery (all veg finely minced)
5 cloves minced garlic
1 lb spicy Italian chicken sausage
1 jar tomato sauce (I know, I know...we just had some)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup ish red wine
cayenne pepper
whole wheat spaghettini

Saute all veg in olive oil until wilted and so very fragrant.  Sea salt and pepper.  Add sausage and let brown with the veg.  Once brown, add tomatoes, sauce, wine, and remaining spices and let simmer.
Once sauce has thickened up a bit, throw your spaghettini right in and toss around until all is coated and happy.  Some salted pasta-cooking water getting in there isn't a problem.  Served with Parmesan and crusty garlic sourdough.

Frittata: somewhat of a leftovers solution.
1 minced red bell pepper
3 minced green onions
2 cloves minced garlic
meat of 1-2 leftover chicken legs
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup leftover brown rice
shredded cheddar
3 wedges Laughing Cow Swiss
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt, pepper
cayenne for heat
Parmesan for topping

Saute veg down with salt and pepper.  Let cool a bit and toss all ingredients together in a bowl.  In a cast iron skillet, greased with olive oil, pour mixture and then cook on medium heat on the stovetop until just the edges start to firm up.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Then put into a 350 degree pre-heated oven until the center has set.  Should take about 15 minutes.

Out of oven.  Let it sit for five minutes before cutting.

Shredded potato cakes - shredded Yukon gold potatoes earlier in the day, and let them drain some of their moisture out with sea salt.  Before shaping into cakes and frying, I squeezed all moisture out from them.  Lightly fried in butter.  Crisp like hash browns.

Served the frittata with the potato cakes and a marinated asparagus salad, which was 1 lb asparagus, tough ends removed, blanched in salted water for five minutes, and then marinated in 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp honey, crushed dried rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic.  Marinated for about 4 hours before dinner.
Plated up and ready for my parents, all pooped from work.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Some healthier options for mom and dad were created this past week.
In terms of where I get my recipes, I usually surf the web for awhile on a specific subject.  Like, "turkey meatloaf."  I take what I like from certain recipes, and I leave what I don't, or what would be better replaced with something else.  I usually print a recipe just to use as a rough guideline for cook times and really significant proportions, but I never really follow it.  I know many of these recipes were supposed to have bread crumbs, whole eggs, a different spice arrangement, and ketchup rather than tomato paste, so it's basically not any of those recipes at all anymore.  As a past (and eternal) Writing Center consultant, I feel that this goes too far away from any sort of plagiarism to be a concern.  So here is "my" recipe (if anyone can own a recipe anymore), modified from like four other recipes that either didn't seem healthy enough, or flavorful enough, or just didn't suit me well.

Turkey meatloaf:

2 lbs extra lean ground turkey
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes with chiles (lightly drained) or 1 cup salsa of choice
4 egg whites
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Mash, shape into a log, and bake.

After 40 minutes of cooking at 350 (it's a very large loaf), slather with 2/3 cup tomato paste reduced with 1 cup chicken stock plus 2 tsp brown sugar (or stevia).
Bake for another 30.  Let rest.

Weird last minute bean stew thing.  Sort of just using what we had, but it turned out to be delicious.
Onion and garlic sauteed down in olive oil.  Green bell, red bell, roma tomatoes, garbanzo beans, black beans, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper.

Totally separate cauliflower love time.  Sometimes I make a whole meal out of roasted cauliflower (olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder) finished with nutritional yeast.  Yum.

Simple baked tilapia with blackening seasoning for parents.  Chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, pepper.

Rosemary sweet potato fries for mom and rosemary golden potato fries for dad.  Olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, rosemary, garlic.

Peas that don't suck.  Melted butter (tiny bit) with olive oil, sauté onion and garlic, salt, pepper.  Add peas.  Get tender, bright, and pretty.

Dad plate.

Mom plate.


Cooking is always fun (whoa, wait no, that's a lie!), and I try to make sure everything comes out according to the tastes of the people I'm cooking for.  In this case, my parents really dig well-rounded homey meals so that's what I'm doing, now with the additional component of meals that are much more health conscious, red meat-free (nearly), with fruits, veggies, and lean proteins at the center.  I'm not going to make them tempeh bacon or TVP meatloaf or seitan pepperoni, because they will not like it, and then it becomes much more about cooking for me than it does about cooking for others.

I'll make something naughty while I'm down here surely.  I just wanted to start with simple and wholesome.

More mom and dad meals soon.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Nutribullet Love + Banana Bread

Back at the parents' house, and have been cooking away.  Now it's been almost entirely healthy things, as my parents have recently gotten much more serious about upholding a healthy lifestyle.

The newest toy to come onto the scene in the Couey kitchen has thusly been the Nutribullet.

This little guy was 2 small raw beets, handful of spinach, some parsley, carrots, a little lemon, ginger, and water to the top.  It shouldn't taste good...but it does.  It's almost like some richness comes from the veggies that is undetectable just from chewing and needed pulverizing in order to be noticed.

I'm so excited that all of these things (which I already love)...

...can become THIS!

There are so many really simple guidelines to follow to make these taste fabulous.  The beet one was roughin' it.  This one on the other hand was smoother, sweeter, more meal/shake-like and had bananas, almonds, and peach at its forefront, rather than beets and parsley.

So many possibilities!  So excited.  So much energy.  So simple.

Going to start using flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocado, and more exotic fruits.  Right now I'm in the experimentation phase where I want to see just how much kale I can fit in with fruit and still have it taste like a milkshake.

At some other point, I made banana bread because we had some super old bananas:

2.5 excessively ripe bananas mashed with a fork
1.25 c. flour or whole wheat flour
1 c. oats
.5 tsp. baking soda
.5 tsp. salt
.5 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
.25 c. oat bran
.25-.5 c. crushed walnuts (optional)

Mix all.  Bake at 350 for 45 ish minutes if using a big cake pan like this.  For muffins, probably under 20 minutes.

Sealed in baggies, some at room temp, the rest frozen.  These freeze really well.  I'm sure they'd take all sorts of adjustments really well too.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Splurgy things: Buttafinga Cake, Biscuits and Gravy, et al

I love making healthy things for the ones I love, but sometimes they just need that rich, sinful thing that gets them going.  For something like a birthday, I am happy to oblige.  Sometimes we all need a junky classic.  Case in point, my dad.  I adore him and want him to be as healthy as possible, but for his birthday, no punches are taken.  The man loves cake.  The man loves Butterfingers.  Sooo...

Classic chocolate buttercream:

6 tablespoons butta or 6 tablespoons margarine (softened)
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 -6 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Cream butter and powdered sugar sloooowly so you don't get a cocaine cloud.  Add in the cocoa (sifted if you're lump-paranoid), followed by the milk and extracts.  Use a deeper bowl than you think you need so you don't get too sloppy outside the bowl.  Find someone to lick the beaters.

Then frost a yellow cake (whatever your favorite recipe family loves the yellow mix, so in this case, since this was for my dad, I stuck with that), and take out your aggression on a couple regular-sized butterfingers in a ziploc baggie.  I smashed mine with a pan.  I didn't want to use a food processor because I didn't want total dust.  I wanted for there to be some crunch.  Then present to your loved one (or self)!

Biscuit gravy: This recipe grossed me out SO much, but it's Eli's favorite food ever so I had to make it the classic way and not manipulate the recipe to be less artery-clogging.  He'd know.
Made this a couple times, once using flour as the thickener and once using cornstarch.  Both work equally as well

1 lb breakfast sausage
2 tablespoons finely-chopped onions
6 tablespoons flour (or 3 tbsp corn starch)
1 quart milk (or half and half if you're feeling cray)
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika (optional; it looks pretty)
5-6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (optional.  skip if you do not like heat)

In a large skillet, brown breakfast sausage (don't use anything too lean, as you need the fat for the gravy) with onion.
Drain if you have more than a few tbsp excess fat.
Remove sausage/onion with a slotted spoon from pan and let rest on a plate (do not drain with a paper towel).
Add flour to the drippings and whisk consistently until the color becomes goldenish (roux - you may need to add butter here if you didn't have much fat) and whisk in the milk.
Add spices and Worcestershire and let thicken and bubble, adding sausage/onion back in at the end.
Serve over flaky hot biscuits or rolls.

Dat boy was happy.  I would have been very, very sick.

Annnd rice krispy peanut butter unicorn chunks:
Basic rice krispy recipe with peanut butter in place of just a little of the butter, and some vanilla extract.  

A Milestone Made of Cheese

Above: some highly adult utensils to add to my idiot joys.
Below: graduation gifts for the latest batch of Boise State's Poetry Masters (and Laura who just deserved a big bag of treats).  I should have been blogging.  I don't even remember the recipes I used precisely, but I know the cinnamon roll cookies were a basic butter sugar cookie dough rolled with yet more butter and a brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  The rice krispy squares had peanut butter and white chocolate, the cookies on the bottom right were oatmeal+dark and white chocolate chip, and the brownies in the upper right corner I think had Reeses chips in them.

This was before it got to be burning hot in Boise, so having the oven fired up all day wasn't so bad.

Bags o' treats for delivery:

And onto the present...ish.   Went to the Farmer's Market yesterday for probably my last time while living here.  I still remember the first few times, alone, with my mom, or with new friends, on my bike, bringing home flowers, fruits, soaps, and jams.  Our market is exceptional.  I prefer it by far to even Los Angeles' renowned market on 3rd and Fairfax.  Here, local means local, "no dogs" means "yes, please bring your delightful pups!" and the merchants are happy, reasonable, knowledgeable, and passionate about their goods. 

Where I bought my rainbow chard:

Part of the haul: kohlrabi (edible greens), rainbow chard, goats' milk cheese, beets (also with edible greens to be used later).  Not pictured: apricots, fresh raspberries (eaten), and fresh mini bread loaves.

Had my first ever goat cheese experience yesterday!  Jessica and Gracie were sampling goat cheese, and it just looked too fantastic.  I'd heard individuals with lactose intolerance could tolerate goats' milk cheese, but I've had such horrible experiences with cows' milk products that I couldn't get myself to try.  Til then...

It was so wonderful!  After several years of only vegan cheese and other crap-turds formed to look like cheese, I can't begin to describe how amazing it was to bite down on a natural hunk of potent, rich, real cheese.  And lucky me, I got to have my first goats' milk cheese be from Rollingstone Chevre, described as some of the best cheese outside of Europe.

I had to buy just a little sliver of the "Idaho Goatster", to serve later with the chard, beet greens, and kohlrabi greens.

For dinner, I roasted these gorgeous beets and the kohlrabi (turnip-like) with just garlic, salt, pepper, and a touch of maple syrup for a deep sweet crust.

Served over fresh mushrooms with scallions and red onions and hunks of avocado.  Sometimes it's amazing what vegetables can do, and what avocado can do with them.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Nori Rolls and Tropical Tummy-Loving Fruits

This Fourth of July, we went up to the cabin in the mountains near Featherville, Idaho.  Eli's dad made panko-crusted rockfish that was delicious, even more delicious with a margarita, and I munched on tons of fruit and veg.
We were lazy for most of the time, except when getting really dirty riding four-wheelers through amazing open fields sprinkled with wildflowers (I still have dirt in my ears) and heading to the river for swims.  So, still sort of lazy.
I'm not, and probably never will be, completely used to the natural beauty this world has to offer, and felt myself gasping for more reasons than the revving of the engine.  The mountains around us made it feel like the field was a natural home.  We stopped and picked some wildflowers, and set them free while driving as fast as we could across the plain.  His mom sold some of her organic local honey while we lazed about the house after the Fourth of July parade.
It was all a great way to say goodbye to Idaho before I leave for California and then Colorado next week.

Coming home, we were ravenous, and everywhere we'd want to eat in Boise was closed, so we cooked.  I should say Eli cooked.  I chopped and assembled like cray.

Mostly-raw vegan nori rolls.  The ones in the middle are a mess, albeit a delicious mess, before I got the hang of rolling using just raw veggies.
These were avocado, toasted sesame seeds, red, yellow, and orange bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, shiitake mushrooms, green onion, lettuce, and cilantro wrapped in nori and drizzled with a sauce of soy sauce, minced garlic, garlic chili paste, and honey.

This meal was a powerhouse of nutrition, flavor, and satiating healthy fats.  It took a few tries to get the rolling down.  I started using some of the liquid the mushrooms were soaking in to dab on my fingers to make the roll stickier, which worked well.  I also found that if you smear the nori with avocado, or something soft, or even lay down the lettuce first before adding the other fillings, that the roll stays together much more tightly and prettily when you cut it.

Eventually though, my seaweed cravings dominated and things led to this...burritos!

...and then this...salad!  aka mess plate!

Watched a Woody Allan movie full and happy, feeling clean and nourished.  I love the combination of nori, toasted sesame seeds, rich avocado, and meaty mushrooms with crisp veggies and a salty sweet sauce that left my mouth burning.  So much yum.

It was a pretty happy Fourth, but I missed my brother, as it's his birthday, and I missed my family because we always made a huge deal out of the Fourth of July.  Although I have a hard time being patriotic, kitschy stars and stripes decor, squirt guns, and creamy cakes with strawberries and blueberries always take me back home where all of the huge tanned tattooed boys would get wildly drunk and flip around in the pool and on slip n slides in the backyard while dad made fajitas and tanned bikini'd chicks made Jello shots and guacamole with my mom and I.  Now that brother is on residency in a Houston hospital and I miss him dearly.

Anyhow, in the morning, I made a simple fruit salad:  Papaya, kiwi, African mango, Champagne mango, leftover coconut, and peaches with a sprinkle of chile con limon.

So glad I learned to love papaya.  Just the smell of it used to make me gag and the taste could only be described as gamey.  I still get the gaminess (if fruit can be gamey), but now I love it.  I also love that papayas are so good for the tummy and are full (so I've read) of natural probiotics our bellies need to be happy and not grumpy (a happy tummy is mandatory before a run).
I promise I'll do what is considered "real" cooking (more than just assembling, whether heat is involved or not) within the next few days.  I'm just loving the surprising complexity of what ingredients on their own are capable of at the moment and am seeing very little tweaks to be done given their natural awesomeness.

Tweaks later.  Now, it's courteous mango time.

Have a gorgeous (hot) day!