Posts Tagged: make this tonight

What I’m Eating

Every December, I think, “I’m actually eating pretty healthy! I rule.” And every January, when I’m all carb-bloated and my skin looks God-awful, I think, “Girl, you were literally eating pie for breakfast. GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF.”

Which is all my way of saying that I’m back to meal planning and cooking at home. While I wouldn’t necessarily say I enjoy the actual act of cooking, I do enjoy eating in general, eating healthy food specifically, and eating food that is relatively cheap. This is mostly because I like to go out to dinner and order expensive things without feeling guilty, so I need to keep the rest of my meals cheap.

Anyway, I’m cooking for an audience of two, including myself, and my husband is nice enough but doesn’t constantly shower me with praise (weird?), so in the name of seeking validation, here are the dinners I made last week and the ones I plan to make next week. Also I recently went on a Carrie Brownstein interview binge and read her Grub Street column and it inspired me to keep track of everything I’m eating. I included links to recipes when I could.

Sunday: Turkey meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes, ginger/garlic green beans
Monday: Panko-crusted chicken, curried carrots
Tuesday: Spaghetti with my mom’s homemade pasta sauce (it’s super helpful and cost-effective if you have a mother who cans a lot of food and you can just steal it from her)
Wednesday: Veggie chili (and Fritos, duh)
Thursday: Kale/sweet potato hash with fried eggs and cornbread
Friday: Daiya frozen pizza. Do you have a dairy allergy and miss pizza? Then just get this one. Forget all the other ones.

And here are my projected dinners for the next week!
Saturday: Zuppa Toscana, French bread
Sunday: Korean short ribs, potatoes, something green?
Monday: Crispy rice omelet (from Dinner: The Playbook)
Tuesday: Ham/pineapple/dairy-free cheese pizza
Wednesday: Potato/random fridge veggie hash
Thursday: Takeout (I have a deadline the next day and require Chinese food to meet it)

So that’s it! As I’ve mentioned before, grocery shopping is waaaaaay cheaper and easier when you plan out what you’re eating. I know for some people it’s a pain in the ass, but I spend all of my time thinking about food anyway, so it’s not all that hard for me. And as you may or may not notice, almost all of these recipes are extremely easy or feature very few ingredients. I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy, none of us are making Beef Wellington. Also, I’m well aware that I cook like a mom. These are mostly very protein-centric, one-to-two vegetable sides meals that you would probably find on a table somewhere in the 1950s. Whatever. It’s my style and I can’t help it! What about you guys? What have you been cooking lately?

Baking Break

Tonight H. went over to the house to work on some things, but I stayed here because I’ve fallen super behind on work. Whoops. And, okay, I did get a lot of work done, but I also took a little break to bake something because…well, because. That’s why. Life’s been pretty full of work lately, and sometimes you just need to step back and bake some chocolate zucchini bread.

Here’s the thing about baking: I’m pretty confident that I can do it. I am not really confident that I’m great at working on a house and my confidence in my writing waxes and wanes, but I know that I can pretty much always turn some sugar and flour into something everyone will want to eat. It’s nice to tackle something you know you can do every once in awhile. Thank God for recipes.

This chocolate zucchini bread comes together super easily, and if you have a lot of extra zucchini hanging out in your garden/CSA box/fridge, it’s the perfect way to use it. I’ve already made zucchini sautés, zucchini & panko bakes, and zucchini, cilantro, and lime stir-fries. Those things are all good, but you know what they don’t have? Chocolate.

I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly because I ran out of white sugar, but I stuck pretty closely to the original.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat the sugars, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

While I was baking, I listened to The X-Files Files, Kumail Nanjiani’s new-ish podcast devoted to, you guessed it, The X-Files. It’s pretty amazing if you love the show like I do. And if you haven’t seen the show, the first episode is a great introduction to why it’s so awesome. Mulder + Scully forever.

Make This Tonight: Drunk Blondies

Do you ever do something and think, “Oh my God, I’m just like my mom/dad”? I do all the time. Although I didn’t inherit my mom’s cleanliness (seriously, my place is always a mess), her perfectionism, or her aptitude for cake-decorating, I did get her obsessive need to feed people. H. and I always joke that when we go to my parents’ house, my mom is definitely going to make him a turkey-bacon sandwich, whether he’s hungry or not, and there will be at least one type of cookie in a tupperware container on the counter. That’s just how it is. Even if you’re a surprise guest, my mom always has something to feed you.

I guess that’s why I always feel bad when people come over and I don’t have any snacks for them. Our friends Mindy and Sam come over every week to watch Game of Thrones with H., and last week I worried that I didn’t have any snacks for them. This was dumb for a couple of reasons, firstly that they’re adults and they’re all perfectly capable of finding food, and secondly that no one even asked me for snacks! But still, I channeled my inner Mama W. and set to work making some Drunk Blondies, the baked good with the best name in the world. These are a good go-to cookie because they’re simple (they don’t even require a mixer!), they involve booze, and they will make you think of the LCD Soundsystem song Drunk Girls. Well, maybe they won’t make you think of it, but that’s what always happens to me.

This recipe comes from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, which I highly recommend. Of course, I altered this recipe to make it dairy-free. If you aren’t baking for anyone with allergies (lucky duck), feel free to use butter and chocolate.

Dairy-Free Drunk Blondies
adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup Earth Balance, melted (I bet coconut oil would be really great, though)
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1/4 cup carob chips

Directions:

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite edges of the pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Put the Earth Balance and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the pecans, coconut, and carob chips.

Put the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut the blondies into bars.

Make This Tonight: Cookie Dough Dip

Most of the time I have pretty good self control, but there are a few foods that I could keep eating almost to the point of exploding. Quiche, pumpkin pie, pizza…well, I guess anything triangular with a crust. My other weakness? Party food. Meatballs, those little cocktail weenies in barbecue sauce, fruit trays, and dips galore.

I don’t talk about my job too much on the blog because, as I’ve mentioned before, I think blogging about your work is sorta tacky. But I’ll break by self-imposed rule to tell you about something fabulous that happened in my office recently…Dip Day. It was a day that should become a national holiday. Everyone brought in a dip along with the appropriate accoutrements, we set them out in the conference room, and then I ate all of them and fell into a deep dip coma because everything was delicious and I couldn’t stop eating.

In case you’re jonesing to start Dip Day at your office (and you should be, duh), here’s what I brought in: Cookie Dough Dip. It involves the holy trinity of sweet dip ingredients…cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. The toffee bits make it taste surprisingly cookie dough-like. Give it a try, attempt not to eat the entire bowl, and let me know how you liked it.

Cookie Dough Dip (from Add a Pinch)

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
½ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits (you can find these near the chocolate chips)

Directions:
Using a handheld or stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter.
Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.
I served mine with graham cracker sticks, but I ate more of it later that night with pretzels and apple slices. Clearly I have a problem.

Recipes for People Who Are Tired & Grumpy: White Bean Soup

I like to cook. Really. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I like to meal plan. But don’t get the wrong idea…I don’t step into the kitchen every night with a spring in my step, just happy to be making a meal. I would say about half the time I actually enjoy making something. But the other half? Well, I like to eat, and cooking is just a means to an end. As I’ve mentioned before, that guy I live with doesn’t care at all about the quality of the food he eats (seriously, the other morning for breakfast he was eating pieces of bread with nothing on them…I AM NOT KIDDING), so I do the cooking. And honestly, sometimes I do not want to. Sometimes I’m just pouring things into a pot thinking, “WHEN WILL THIS BE READY I AM SO HUNGRY GOOD LORD,” and I don’t cheer up until I’m watching the X-Files and I’ve already eaten half my dinner.

In that spirit, here’s a recipe for you fellow tired and grumpy cooks. This one’s easy to make, relies on things you probably have in your kitchen, and really cannot be messed up.

WHITE BEAN SOUP FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TIRED AND GRUMPY

1. Think long and hard about getting take out. Remember that you’re trying to save money on food and stick to your meal plan. Remind yourself that you purchased all the ingredients to make this and it won’t even take that long!
2. Rebel against yourself by sitting on the couch until you’re so hungry that you want to murder someone.
3. Stomp into the kitchen. Find your soup pot. Halfheartedly chop up half an onion and a few garlic cloves.
4. Heat up some oil in your soup pot, then dump the onions and garlic in. Stir them around a little until the onion is browned. Burn it a little bit and think to yourself, “That’s just caramelized. Don’t worry about it.”
5. Add in some spices. Which ones? It’s up to you! The world spice cabinet is your oyster! Thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary are all good choices. Let the fragrant scent of the herbs carry you away to a place in which you’re already eating and in a much better mood.
6. Find some leftover, already chopped ham in your fridge. Dump that in the pot and let it get brown.
7. Pour in some water. Don’t bother finding a measuring cup. Ugh. Just use your drinking glass. You don’t even care! WHATEVER.
8. Add in 2-3 cans of white beans. Remember how much you inexplicably hate draining beans. Why do you hate this so much? It’s not even hard! Just dump in the first can without draining it, bean juice be damned!
9. Start to feel gross about that bean juice. Drain the other can.
10. Let soup simmer 20-30 minutes while you make Jiffy cornbread muffins because LIKE YOU ARE EVEN GOING TO BAKE SOMETHING FROM SCRATCH RIGHT NOW. There is just no way.
11. Mash up some of the beans a little with a potato masher.
12. Don’t salt the soup. Remember all that bean juice you dumped in there? Sodium city.
13. Eat. Apologize for all the things you said when you were hungry.
14. Definitely do not take a picture of anything because you don’t even want to deal with it right now.