Ok, ok. Deep breaths.
You guys! This last month has been insane. It has flown by so incredibly fast!! I don't know what the deal is, but I'm fairly certain my calendar is accelerating. There are just a couple weeks of the quarter left- THANK GOD- and it can't come soon enough. I've been taking an academic class online this quarter, and while it's interesting and everything, it involves soooo much reading and writing it has sucked up seemingly every moment of the day that I'm not already at work or asleep. Sigh. Really really looking forward to summer! Can't wait to have more free time! Can't wait to have a little more time to rest, relax,, and work on things that I actually enjoy! Like working on this lil baby blog!
Anywho. This month's top nine is a nice mix of things I made from cookbooks and plated I improvised from what I had on hand. I love cooking this way- using what's around, a mix of what's fresh and what's stocked in your pantry (or shelves or whatever. the figurative pantry of the apartment dweller). I want to get more into developing original recipes- and as I start thinking about this what stands out for me is that I love to cook without a recipe at all. I want to write about how to cook without a recipe. Cooking intuitively. Not sure if any of this is making sense or how it will evolve... but that's where my head has been lately.
ANYway. Here's a lil peak into what I've been munching on in May. Hope you enjoy!
Here's a great example of a beautiful that came together from what was handy that day. I piled leftover roast chicken onto a bowl of greens, and smothered it in basil along with some sliced onion, green onion, and radishes. I love to make my own dressings, but often I just throw olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and plenty of salt and pepper into the bowl. This salad was so fresh and delicious- def didn't feel like I was eating leftovers! Fresh herbs. Always the way to go. Can't go wrong with a big ol' pile of basil.
Gwynnie's NY Street Vendor Salad
In contrast, here is a salad I made from a recipe in "It's All Good," one of Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbooks. I feel like a lot of people have various strong opinions about Gwynnie- but this particular book is full of tasty, super flavorful food that happens to be fresh and lighter. I love to eat this way, and this particular salad recipe was bomb. The tahini-yogurt dressing alone was worth the price of the cookbook if you ask me! So delicious I could seriously just eat it with a spoon and be perfectly happy! Yumm.
ahhhh... another great intuitively created bowl of food. I had a bunch of peanut sauce leftover from another recipe (see below)... my tummy was feeling kinda weird that day so I wanted something carb heavy... so cooked up some whole wheat thin spaghetti and tossed it with the peanut sauce. I had a bowl of hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator (something I highly recommend keeping on hand), so I threw in one of those. I used my julienne peeler (a nifty lil tool from amazon) to make some thin cucumber strips, which I salted and let hang out in a strainer over a bowl while I got everything else together. After about ten minutes they had released some moisture and were relaxed and soft. I threw those into the bowl with some julienne-peeled carrot threads, plus some radishes cut into matchsticks. I drained a can of chickpeas (a must have for your "pantry"!) and heated them up in a small pan with some roasted garlic and a good spoonful of harissa, plus salt and a squeeze of lemon. Writing it all out it sounds like more of a big to-do, but it was really a quick and easy meal. Once I started the water, I basically just grabbed whatever else was around and sounded good, and prepped them as the noodles were cooking. Once the noodles were done and drained, I tossed them with plenty of peanut sauce, threw them in a bowl, and piled on my toppings. Yumm.
za'atar roasted potatoes
this beautiful bowl of potatoes came from Terry Bryant's cookbook, Afro-Vegan. Bryant present's the recipe as a twist on potato salad, and boy is he right on the money. I love potatoes and hate mayo, so this was right up my alley. Za'atar is a bangin spice mix that I want to start using more... this is probably the second time I've used it this year (I think only the third time ever) and both times it has beautifully elevated a simple vegetable dish. I brought this dish to our Mama's day BBQ and it was instantly devoured. A strapping young Alaskan man proclaimed it the best potato salad he'd ever had. Case closed.
all of these chillies cost me 36 cents. Plus they were pretty. That is all.
...I will add, things like fresh chilies are a super affordable way to add a ton of flavor and excitement to your food. You should do it.
another day, another gorgeous salad recipe. This one had kind of a lot of components, but was fun to put together and yielded a bounty of amazing leftovers which fed me happily for the next few days. The recipe is from Salmagundi by Sally Butcher, a beautiful book about salads from around the world. The recipe made "lunch for six" and so of course I made it for just myself. But like I said,, I was delighted to remix the leftovers all week long. This is where that amazing peanut sauce came from! I feel like it's become common kitchen wisdom to make a big batch of something for the week- usually a soup or stew, or more simply batches of staples like grains and beans that can be used in different ways throughout the week. I'm going to take it to another level and suggest you make a batch of sauce for the week! You can use it on all kinds of different starches, proteins and veggies which will keep it from feeling like you're eating the same thing everyday. This peanut sauce made for a number of lovely meals. I also made a garlicky basil puree recently which turned simply ingredients into delicious meals all week as well. Make a batch of your favorite sauce this week or try something new! The kale puree from April would be great for this...
fried eggs n harissa toms.
ooooohh this was a good plate. I had some cherry toms laying around starting to look a little sad... so, I threw them in a pan with a spoonful of harissa paste and shook that around a bit. Meanwhile I fried up some eggs, piled on the harissa toms, and finished it with a shower of fresh basil (plus s+p). Simple impromptu breakfast that felt fancy with a few little additions. Good times.
mexican-ish fried rice.
another great leftover remix. I had mexican rice (spanish rice? whatever) in the refrigerator, so I diced up some onion, threw it in a pan with some oil, added garlic, tomato, cooked that up for a bit... then added the rice. Let that cook for a while, let the moisture evaporate a bit.. stirring/flipping occasionally to get some crispy browned bits. Cleared a side of the pan, added more oil, broke some eggs into it, and scrambled them lightly in the pan before mixing it all together. So good topped with green onion and cilantro. Again with the fresh herbs. I'm telling you.
shells in yam sauce
ok, so I had been curious about vegan mac n cheez for a while, so I finally decided to try it. Don't get me wrong, although I love many vegan foods I am by no meanss vegan, and you can have my cheese when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. But still, I was curious to see what it would be like. This recipe from @thisrawsomeveganlife's cookbook was peaking my interest, so I gave it a whirl. I have to say it was soooo good! I mean, it didn't taste like CHEESE, per se. Hence my calling it shells in yam sauce. Still, I was impressed with the unctuous, hearty flavor and texture. It had a real homey, comfort food feel to it, and I would definitely make it again! Plus the color is INCREDIBLE. It truly looks like a bowl of Kraft Mac n Cheese, which is kind of fun- especially since it is in fact soooo much more wholesome and healthy!
Alright guys, that's it!
Hope you had fun hearing about some of my May adventures. June promises to bring more fun and excitement... the end of the quarter (yay!) plus some fun trips (YAY!!) will be keeping me pretty busy! But, I am looking forward to more relaxation this month as well, which is much needed and eagerly anticipated!
Thanks for reading. More coming soon!
love and yam sauce,