renewed inspiration, right on time.

The last six months have overwhelmed me with clinical, wellness, and food service rotations of my dietetic internship, leaving me little time for the testing of new recipes. I’ve survived these hectic months with dishes whose recipes are well-known to my repertoire: vegan chili, kale and white bean soup, refried beans with brown rice and spicy kale, etc.

Since early February I have on a temporary hiatus from supervised practice, and with this more open schedule has come time to explore new recipes and create new dishes. On a visit to Nevada last month, my dear music educator friend and I found comfort from the cold in this shepherd’s pie. Last week I ventured out of my soup/stew comfort zone into the world of casseroles with Fat Free Vegan’s broccoli rice casserole and a vegan lasagna. Having grown up in a household where any lasagna other than that of my Italian aunt’s recipe was considered sacrilegious, I never dreamed that vegan lasagna could come close to meeting my standards. A classmate’s referral to this recipe found me skeptical at best; all I needed was one bite to be convinced that delicious vegan lasagna is possible!

My renewed excitement for being in the kitchen, trying new recipes and exploring new cuisines is right on time for National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme is “Eat right, your way, every day.” According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website, the theme “encourages personalized healthy eating styles and recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices.”

The hectic nature of my student lifestyle, preference for fresh, local food and culturally influenced foods and family health history are all factors that contribute to the food choices that I make on a daily basis. As an advocate of a plant-based diet, friends, family members, and acquaintances frequently ask me, “What is it that you eat?!” Throughout this month, I will be posting my meals on Facebook and Twitter and occasionally posting on Hunting & Bargaining to provide an example of how I eat right, my (plant-based) way, each & every day.

This morning, I wasn’t feeling like eating my usual oatmeal for breakfast, so I indulged in 2 freezer gluten-free waffles with my favorite local Krema peanut butter and 100% pure http://inside-the-hive.com/post/39658056454/cinnamon-roll-4-way syrup. Feeling inspired by this weekend’s trip to visit my blogger friend and our Sunday brunch of curry scrambled tofu, eggplant bacon, and baked grapefruit, I decided to try baking my own citrus! This morning, orange halves.

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I absolutely love  Constant Comment – black tea with orange and spice – and these baked oranges reminded me of this well-loved hot beverage. I followed Becca’s instructions for the baked grapefruits, except I did not cut along the orange sections (mistake) and I sprinkled the halves with cinnamon and ground cloves.

This afternoon for lunch, I munched on celery sticks and Baba Ghanoush while my newest creation bubbled away in the oven. I roughly based my recipe off of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s tamale shepherd pie  and Prevention RD’s chickpea pot pie with cornbread crust. The outcome was fantastic.

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MexiPotpie with Cornbread Topping

HUNT AND GATHER:

For the filling:

1/2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1/2 cup frozen corn

8 oz mushrooms (preferably cremini), thinly sliced

1/4 cup dry red wine (optional)

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp hot sauce of your choice (I used Tabasco Smoked Chipotle)

3 cups cooked black beans (About 2 cans, drained and rinsed)

For the topping:

3/4 yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup oat flour

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 tbsp baking powder

1.5 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Several turns freshly ground black pepper

1 serrano pepper, finely diced

1 cup almond milk

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or other vegetable oil (canola, safflower, vegetable oil)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat pan over high heat until water sprinkled over hot pan sizzles. Add onions, sautéing 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add peppers, sautéing 2-3 minutes longer until onions are beginning to caramelize. Add minced garlic. If vegetables are sticking to pan, add slight amounts of water or vegetable stock to help keep them from sticking.

Add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to release their moisture. At this point, add canned diced tomatoes, corn, wine (if using), and spices. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add hot sauce and beans, remove from heat. Set aside.

To prepare cornbread topping: Combine dry ingredients (flours, ground flax, baking powder, sugar, salt, black pepper) in one bowl and almond milk, oil, and diced serrano in another bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.

Transfers vegetable & black bean mixture to a large casserole dish. Forget about the non-stick cooking spray – you don’t need it! Top with large spoonfuls of cornbread mixture. Bake at 400 F for 20 – 25 minutes, or until cornbread topping is golden brown.

Enjoy while waiting for yet another Ohio snowstorm. [Is it really March?]

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things that must happen: spicy turkey burgers

As much as I have enjoyed and been challenged by eating a mostly-vegetarian diet this summer, I’ve been cheating – I made turkey burgers this week. I’ve been craving a charred, grilled burger for a while now – it’s one of those things that is quintessentially summer to me. Grill + apartment dweller + subletter doesn’t exactly go together, however. What’s the next best thing? Turkey burgers: a healthy alternative, accessible in price (ground turkey meat can be the same price as or just slightly more than ground beef), convenience, and flavor.  They freeze amazingly well, and my favorite way to serve is over a bed of tortilla chips (see here how to make chips in the MICROWAVE, what!), topped with salsa and cheese. Below is a variation on my mother’s recipe, much beloved by my family:

HUNT AND GATHER:

1lb ground turkey meat

1 jalapeno

1 egg

1 heaping tbsp cornmeal

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp canola oil

salsa, frozen corn, and fresh cilantro for topping/garnish

Slice the jalapeno lengthwise and use your knife to seed and then mince the jalapeno into very small pieces. Combine the meat, the egg, cornmeal, and all the spices in the bowl; combine until well blended and the egg is evenly distributed throughout the meat. Pat down the meat and divide into five even sections; shape each section into burger patties and place on a plate. Heat 1tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet; add all burgers at once. Let the burgers simmer for 3-5 minutes; watch closely. The burgers should be lightly browned on one side before flipping – you’ll want to minimize the flipping in order to maintain the flavor from the juices. In total, depending on your stove, it should take about 10-15 minutes to completely brown them on medium heat.

While the burgers are browning, heat salsa (I used basic bottled salsa just for convenience), corn, and cilantro on the stove on low heat. Cover and let simmer.

Serve burgers on a bed of tortilla chips, and top with salsa/corn mixture and cheese! Yum.

-M

 

“greek-style” shrimp scampi

As a part of my love affair with pasta, I am forever trying to find new ways to make different sauces and combinations to avoid constantly eating the same old “red sauce” pasta dish. Enter my recent obsession with pesto, of course! Pesto also gets old too, though – so, “greek-style” shrimp scampi, using a can of diced tomatoes and other flavoring in place of the butter and oil, was born.

Because of my complexion and hair color, I’ve been asked throughout my life: “are you Italian?” “are you Greek?” “are you Mediterranean?” No, no, and no – but my affinity for certain flavors in food does tend to stray toward the Italian/Mediterranean side. Like this dish, I guess, I can “fake it.”🙂.

This dish is simple enough to make for a quite night at home – but it’s also different enough – and bursting with flavor – to bring out when expecting guests. Enjoy!

GREEK STYLE SHRIMP SCAMPI

HUNT and GATHER:

1lb vermicelli/angel hair pasta

1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil

12-16oz frozen shrimp

3 cloves garlic

1 handful fresh basil

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

olives, if you like them!

feta cheese, for topping

salt to taste

(note: I made this dish with frozen white fish and mozzarella cheese in place of the shrimp and feta – at the one small grocery store I have access to right now without a car, they did not have feta cheese, and shrimp only came in huge bags of 120+ shrimp. This girl can’t eat 120+ shrimp during the two weeks left this summer in D.C.! You may also want to make these substitutions for budgeting purposes as well.)

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. While the water is boiling, chop up the 3 cloves garlic and basil so the garlic is minced and the basil is roughly chopped. Break the pasta and cook according to package directions once the water is boiling. Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan on the stove over medium-high heat for one minute; saute the garlic in the pan until fragrant for 1-2 minutes. Empty the entire can of tomatoes into the pan (do NOT drain); add the pepper, salt, and oregano, and stir. Distribute the shrimp throughout the pan, lower the heat,  cover, and let the entire mixture simmer for five to seven minutes. When the pasta is done cooking, strain the pasta and let cool but reserve the starchy pasta water. After the shrimp mixture is done simmering, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the mixture to make a little more “sauce.” Make sure the shrimp are cooked through. Serve the shrimp mixture, with 5-7 shrimp per plate, over the pasta, and top with olives and feta cheese if desired. Serves four.

-M

maple-tea flavored “coffee cake”

Coffee cake reminds me of home. It reminds me of Christmas mornings, visits to the grandparents, and my mother letting me “help out” by stirring the dry ingredients together while she taught me how to measure flour and sugar.

So, naturally, while missing home tonight, I felt the urge to make a coffee cake. My roommate was coming back tonight after three weeks away, and I wanted to have something to welcome her home here. I faced one issue, though – I’m subletting this in D.C. this summer, and all of my prized garage-sale-acquired baking supplies are back in Cleveland – along with close proximity to an inexpensive grocery store. I had milk and margarine in fridge…but could I make a coffee cake without cinnamon, real butter, and eggs?  I knew I could get by substituting oil for eggs (it’s worked before!), but I’ve always learned that real butter is  unfortunately expensive – and unfortunately essential to baking adventures. Here in D.C., a pound of unsalted butter can run you $4.50 – whereas, in Cleveland, I can get it for $2.50 on sale if I’m lucky (it’ll keep for a while in the fridge unopened). So, I had a predicament – I’m not going to buy a pound of butter when I’m here in D.C. for three more weeks.

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of baking with tea for a while now; I had an AMAZING lavender-earl grey tea flavored cupcake at the famous Georgetown Cupcake during my first week in D.C. this summer, and I was astounded by the complexity of the flavor. So, inspired by this recipe for applesauce coffee cake, I decided to improvise. A unexpectedly delicious “missing home, but welcome home” coffee cake was born:

HUNT AND GATHER:

  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda (I only had baking power, so I used 1-1/4 tsp baking powder to substitute for the soda)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teabag, cut open (I think dark teas would work best for this – I used dark English breakfast tea)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup applesauce (I used one of the pre-packaged applesauce cups that I usually eat with my lunch)

I ended up topping my cake with just oats and sugar sprinkled over the cake before baking (because of my lack of butter), but this would be ideal for a real crumb topping) 

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small baking dish (a small cake pan, or a 8×8 or 9×9 square pan). Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, including the flour, sugar, baking powder, and tea. In another bowl, mix the applesauce, oil, milk, and syrup until blended. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients all at one time, and stir just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle desired topping over the batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top of the cake cracks and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Enjoy with coffee in the morning, tea at night, or any time of day. -M

pico de gallo tabbouleh and home-made burrito bowls

When I first made the decision to be vegetarian, Chipotle’s vegetarian burrito bol became my absolute favorite food. That was when I lived in my parents home or in the dorms and before I started to really dig into teaching myself to cook.

Since moving into my first apartment and more importantly, my first kitchen, (almost two years ago!) I have taught myself to make my own burrito bowls! What I love about burrito bowls is their flexibility. As long as you have some limes, cilantro, and key traditional taco spices – you can make a burrito bowl with any veggies, beans, tofu or other meat substitute and grains that you have on hand! Here are some of my favorite combos:

Brown rice + fajita-style peppers, onions, and mushrooms + black beans + pico de gallo + guac (classic Chipotle bowl)

Brown rice + black beans + homemade mango salsa

Brown rice + homemade refried pinto beans + steamed kale + guac

mexican rice-style quinoa + beans + fajita-style veggies + guac

 

I truly could go on and on about the different combinations.

I usually use rice or quinoa as the base of my bowl, as they are the grains I most often use when cooking mexican or other latin-inspired foods. As the result of my growing appreciation for cilantro, I recently tried making a latin-style tabbouleh, only substituting cilantro for the usual parsley and otherwise using the typical tabbouleh suspects: mint, lemon, scant amount of olive oil, green onions, and cracked wheat or bulgar.

This week I cooked a large pot of millet to eat through the week with my lunches. I don’t usually eat a lot of millet – which is made obvious by my large glass jar of it. Since I’m trying to save money, I thought that it should try to use it up instead of going out to buy a bag of rice! For those of you who are not familiar, millet is an African grain. You may have heard of it because it is included in bird seed, but, not to fear! Millet is certainly fit for human consumption. It kind of reminds me of a cross between couscous and quinoa and can most definitely be substituted in other recipes (including the below recipe) for these grains and bulgar, as well. The best part, in my opinion, is that in the stores that I frequent, it costs around $1.13 a pound compared with quinoa’s price of $4 or more a pound.

For this tabbouleh, I modified the first latin-inspired tabbouleh I made by adding the components of my favorite basic salsa – pico de gallo. This made for a different, fun base for my burrito bowl and other creations that followed.

Pico de Gallo Tabbouleh

below recipe serves one but can be multiplied to make a larger portion to be store in the fridge or shared with friends!

HUNT AND GATHER:

1/2 cup pre-cooked millet (see note)

1 large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of 1/2 – 1 lime

pinch salt

several grinds of freshly ground black pepper

1/4 jalapeño or serrano, minced (I don’t remove the seeds but if you’re not a fan of very spicy foods, you may want to!)

1 roma or other tomato, chopped

~2 tablespoons chopped red onion

 

Combine first five ingredients and mix well. Fold in remaining ingredients, gently coating with juice, salt, and pepper.

Enjoy by itself or other burrito bowl favorites!

I apologize for the unfortunate quality of these pictures which were taken by my boyfriend’s HTC phone. I’ll be able to post this week with pictures from my camera!

I topped my tabbouleh with raw, fresh corn cut from the cob…

…and one of my favorite vegan taco meat substitutions, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Ancho Lentil Taco filling.

 

This bowl was absolutely delicious. I loved the multi-dimensional flavor provided by the earthy spice of the lentil taco filling and the fresh kick of the jalapeño in the tabbouleh. The corn added an extra crunch and sweetness.

What are your favorite combinations for a burrito bowl or taco salad?

$20 grocery week & italian two-bean salad

Welcome back!

For me, the inspiration for joining my partner in crime M in creating this blog was founded in the necessity to start following a weekly grocery budget. Now that I am [nearly] four weeks into my dietetic internship (during which I “work” 40 hours/week without pay) I have a limited store of monetary resources on which to rely.

As a foodie and dietetic student, I love to cook. If I could afford to, I would be cooking a new recipe or trying a new cuisine every night. Given my aforementioned condition, this isn’t a luxury I can afford [yet].

Luckily, the going (thus far) has not been so rough. Last week I visited the Clintonville farmer’s market and Kroger with only $20 to feed me for the week. At the farmer’s market, I obtained a bunch of radishes, a bunch of Chiogga beets (unfortunately I do not have a picture – google it!) and a bag of purple green beans for $9. Admittedly…this was not the best use of my resources.

I ventured to Kroger with the remaining $11, hopeful that I could stretch each dollar. I ended up under budget at $9.63! Included in my grocery bag were 1 container basil ($1.50 – could have been less if I used my own potted basil!), 2 lemons (.69 each), 1 lb Roma tomatoes ($1.12), 1 head garlic (.50), 1 lb great northern beans ($1.09).

While this doesn’t sound like much to eat – I was able to make a delicious salad using a few ingredients that I already had and those which I bought at Kroger! This salad is a great combination of textures with the crunch of the raw green beans and silky mouthfeel of (slightly overcooked) white beans and tahini. The flavors of the dressing – acidic, nutty, garlic-y – really bring the salad alive. Plus – it’s very nutritionally balanced: the beans provide protein, tomatoes and green beans add a serving of veggies, and tahini adds healthy fats.

MANGIA!

(unfortunately no pictures this time!)

 

ITALIAN TWO-BEAN SALAD


HUNT AND GATHER:

1 cup dried (or 1 can – I used dried) great northern white beans

1 lb roma (or other in-season) tomatoes, seeds removed.

~1 cup green beans or purple green beans

8-10 leaves basil, chiffonaded or chopped (optional but recommended)

~1/4 cup tahini

Juice of 1 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1-2 cloves garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pine nuts as desired (optional)

 

If using dried beans, soak and cook according to package directions. I find that it is easiest for me to soak my beans during the night while I’m sleeping and in the morning, drain, rinse, and put into the crock pot with the appropriate amount of water, cooking on low for 8 hours while I’m interning.Remember to REFRAIN FROM ADDING SALT at the beginning of the cooking process to keep the beans from developing a chewy texture.

Chop green/purple beans into 1″ pieces. Chop tomatoes. Drain and rinse cooked white beans. Combine both varieties of beans, tomatoes, and basil  in medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

In food processor, blender, or simply in a bowl, combine tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper (if using bowl with whisk to combine, you will need to mince the garlic or use garlic powder). Blend or whisk until completely integrated. If you’re using a bowl and whisk, you will likely need to dedicate a bit more time as it takes effort to create an emulsification between the fatty tahini and watery juice & vinegar. Modify to taste.

Pour dressing over vegetables (when ready to serve & enjoy) and toss to coat. If using, top with raw or toasted pine nuts.

 

That was last week’s success story. This week I have been enjoying a new rendition of my favorite homemade burrito bowl that I look forward to sharing with you this weekend! Until then –

JLS

pesto potato bake: welcome, here’s a casserole.

Hello–and welcome to Hunting and Bargaining!

As students, adventurous cooks, and vegetarian/”flexi” tarians (I don’t know if I can ever not eat chicken!), we hope to write about our adventures “hunting and gathering” food in our twenties–food that tastes good, is healthy, has variety, and doesn’t break the bank. No ramen allowed, of course.

And with that, my first foray into broadcasting my kitchen adventures begins with a casserole: the perfect “welcome home” food, comfort food, I-know-you’re -sick -and-here’s sustenance food.

But do all casseroles have to be calorie-laden cream of mushroom/chicken concoctions? Of course not. Add starch + veggies + some type of sauce + cheese = casserole. That’s it.

BY FAR the best investment my kitchen this summer are my $3.00 basil and cilantro plants. I’m obsessed with putting fresh herbs on EVERYTHING–my wraps for lunch, pasta, chips, etc. Think about it–it usually costs $3.00 at least to buy a package of fresh herbs in the grocery store – for the same $3, I’m enjoying flavorful freshness all summer. I make this “Beggar’s Pesto” with my basil plant – but I wanted to use the pesto on something different than pasta. The pesto potato bake was born.

PESTO POTATO BAKE

HUNT AND GATHER:

2 large russet potatoes

1/2 vidalia onion

1/2 green peper

handful of fresh spinach

1 batch Beggar’s pesto

cheese

salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Make the pesto first and set it aside. Wash and slice the potatoes thin, like you’re making scalloped potatoes for a big family dinner. Chop up the onion and green pepper (or whatever other veggies you desire!) roughly. Then –  make a “potato parfait”! Lay one thin layer of the potatoes over the bottom of the dish (I used a small round one); then add some onion and pepper. Next, layer a few spoonfuls of pesto over the veggies. Then add another layer of potatoes, the spinach, and more pesto. Repeat until the dish is full! Top with shredded cheese. (one way to cut calories and add flavor – cut the cheese from the inside of the recipe and only top the casserole with cheese!) Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are not crunchy.

Serves 4 – or is the perfect recipe for packaging up in individual portions and freezing for later!

-m