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Spiced Popcorn and Date Night Revival

10 Apr

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Generally, I’m kind of a hard ass, but occassionally, I am really, really girly about things. Like dates. I love dates. A long time ago, I dated the master of dates: nice dinners at restaurants I’d been dying to check out, impromptu trips out of state, picnics in the park, all night dance parties. It was great. Recently, however, I’ve been a tad bit deprived. My best dates have been with my friends. Folks will look at me crazy when I say, “Yeah, I had a date with so and so.” “Aren’t you two friends?” “Um, yeah. So?”

LOL. Apparently, having dates with your friends is weird.

Whatever. Last night, I had a movie date with my best friend. We have a list of movies we adore or haven’t seen or need to see again. Last night was “Crazy, Stupid, Love”. It demanded popcorn. Yes, how original. Popcorn.

Well, I couldn’t find my popper, or my kernels for that matter, but what we did have was microwave popcorn and a chef’s kitchen worth of spices and such. So we had at it!

Popped the popcorn and then went to town with spices. Nutritional yeast (of course!), cayenne pepper, parmesan cheese, garlic salt and sweet paprika! One day, I’ll make this with air popped popcorn because it’s got to be just heavenly without all the excess gunk of buttered popcorn!

Still as it was, it was delicious! It took us three hours to get through our movie, some tears, giggle fits, potty breaks and heart to hearts. It’s exactly why I’ll always cherish my date nights with my buddies!

Watch and Learn + Sweet and Savory Grits

3 Apr

Even when people can’t or won’t tell you directly, they will show you the type of relationship they want to have with you. That guy who says he just wants to be friends, but incessantly buys you presents and invites you for drinks – just the two of you. The chick who you really want to get to know as a friend, but who never bothers to reach out to you. And only minimally gives of herself when she does. The chick you’re dating who swears she’s ready for a relationship, but six months in still won’t invite you to her house, introduce you to her friends or open up: all perfect examples of people trying to show you what you mean to them and what place they’d like you to hold in their lives.

I had a friend who used to always tell me she didn’t call or text because she was busy. I called bullshit on her more times than I can count. It takes about two seconds to send a “Just thinking about you” text. This colorful gentleman made a video about using the busy excuse. Even a simple text can make someone’s day which is the exact opposite of going two weeks and not saying boo. I myself am learning not to use busy as an excuse. I’m also learning to let people know when I’m thinking of them. I used to think of people and never actually reach out. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to reach. I’m working on that. I’ve gotten so much better.

My point is really that we make time for the things we care about. Each and every day, we make conscious decisions to give ourselves to one thing or another. If someone is showing you that they’d rather give themselves to something – or someone – else, do yourself a favor, save yourself some heartache, and listen to them.

You should also listen to your belly. Because this is a food blog. And I’m the cook and I say you should. hehe My belly was telling me to commit a serious crime: mix sweet grits with savory grits.

SAY WHAT?!

I know. There’s no denying the fact that I love grits. I’ve written about the incessant struggle between sweet and savory grits in Mint and the Geographical Truce. Usually, I am all about the sweet grits. But after recently having had the most delicious savory grits, I had a hankering for a mix of the two.

Unlike some people, my taste buds were telling me exactly what they wanted from me, and for once, I listened. It was quite possibly the best decision I’ve made all week.

What I Used
Trader Joe’s Stone Ground White Grits
1 cup gouda cheese, shredded
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 – 1 tsp liquid smoke (depends on taste)

What I Did

I cooked the grits according to specifications, nothing fancy there. If you use someone else’s grits, 1. Don’t expect these to taste the same and 2. Still follow those someone’s else’s cooking directions. After the grits were done, I folded in the cheese, sugar and liquid smoke. Let them set for five minutes and enjoy! Oh so, so delicious. Even my roommate, who doesn’t generally eat anything sweet, liked these!

Crazy Cravings = Cannellini Gorgonzola pizza

26 Feb Pizza

Man, cravings are no joke. I was craving all kinds of things this evening. Pizza. Beans. Sun dried tomatoes. Pizza. And I was feeling lazy. I didn’t want to slave away in the kitchen. What to do, what to do? Flatbread. Quick and easy dough replacement. What’s in the pantry and the fridge? Everything I was craving. And a pizza is born.

I try not to eat bread too often. I talk about my love/hate with bread a little bit here. I also try not to eat dairy. But I had a $5 chunk of gorgonzola just chilling in my fridge waiting to be eaten. I had to obey. I had no choice but to make a pizza.

Except what came out was only slightly pizzaish. Mildly pizza dough. Not quite flatbread. Whatever it was tasted quite delicious. Not too much pizza sauce, the right blend of cannellini beans and pungent gorgonzola. It may not be Chicago style, but it most certainly was deep dish yumminess. I would definitely make this again. Pizza-ishness and all.

What I Used

* adapted from the flatbread recipe found over at NourishingMeals.com:

Dough

1 cup gluten-free flour

1/2 cup of garbanzo flour

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup arrowroot powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Toppings

1 cup marinara

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup mixed roasted yellow and red bell peppers, chopped

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup basil, chopped

125 g gorgonzola, crumbled

1 cup marinara

What I Did

To prep the crust, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees and sprayed an 8 X 13 pan with olive oil spray as I try to avoid excess oil in my cooking. While the oven heated, I whisked together the dry ingredients through the salt with a fork, I couldn’t find  a whisk. In a separate bowl, said fork whisked together all the wet ingredients. I didn’t make a hole as I normally do, mostly because it’s more fun than just dumping it in there. Today, I just dumped. Dumped and mixed them together with my trusty spatula until all the dry was wet. I threw this concoction into the oven for 15 minutes.

During that 15 minutes, I chopped and crumbled some stuff. I smashed the beans with a fork and then folded in the peppers. When the timer went off, I layered the crust in the following order: marinara, bean mixture, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and finally gorgonzola. 15 more minutes covered in foil, 10 minutes uncovered, and voila, it was done.

And eating was good.

Romanesco, Fennel and Gorgonzola Gratin

22 Feb Gratin Photo

Oh, fucking romanesco!

Romanesco

The lovely alien romanesco, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Yes, I just cursed over a vegetable. An alien vegetable, with spikes and spears and a high dollar price tag. One of Madame Fleiss’s kinda vegetables. I’m sorry, the former madame. It’s an impostor vegetable. It can’t decide who it wants to be. It wants to be green like broccoli yet clustered like cauliflower. It’s like the Gemini of vegetables. Except Geminis have more integrity than this alien impostor. We are both pretty to look at, though, I’ll give it that.

Anyway, I digress all over the place. Romanesco. I had never heard of romanesco before this week’s food challenge Item was announced. Apparently, it’s popular in Italian dishes, specifically Rome. I’ve never been to Italy. Italian men scare me. I really had no idea what to expect from the vegetable, though. Then I read my fellow challenger’s blog post and, I must admit, I was a tad bit sour about the PGT (pretty green thing). Nevertheless, I was determined to give it my all.

Sliced Romanesco Fennel (Sweet Anise)

I wanted to make something special out of this wanna be vegetable with all that bravado and poor follow through. And that’s exactly what I did. With gratin. Sweet potatoes. Gorgonzola. Fennel. Inspired by this recipe. It was delicious. Enough to make you curse. And I did. And then, I helped myself to another plateful. Fucking romanesco.

Gratin Layers Photo
What I Used

Layers
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, sliced into rounds
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
1/2 cup anise, chopped
5 or 6 basil leaves, julienned
1 large head of romanesco
1 cup of gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp dijon mustard

Tomato-Marjoram sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes (I used roasted garlic)
1 tbsp marjoram
1 tsp fennel seed
2 cloves garlic

What I Did
Preheat the oven to 375  degrees. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Set aside to cool. Spray an 8×8 pan with olive oil spray (or butter if you prefer).

Create a layer at the bottom of the pan with the sweet potato rounds. Next layer with fennel, anise, and basil. Slice the romanesco into very large mounds and place them in layers on top of the previous ingredients. Finish by crumbling the gorgonzola on top and spreading out the butter 1/2 tbsp at a time over the top of the dish. Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and salt. I topped the gratin with romanesco clusters.

Whisk the milk ingredients together and pour on top of the dish. Place in the oven and back for 50 minutes, covered in foil. Uncover the dish and cook for another 10 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes and whip up the tomato sauce. Serve on the side of a slice.

Plated Romanesco