Summertime Blues// Homemade Happy Hour

It’s 64 degrees today people. 64 and sunny. Days like today make me forget that we’re still in the throes of winter, and that it’s not quite time to pack away the sweaters and tights yet. Even though I know it will probably snow next week or something, for today, I’m going to kick back on the porch swing, close my eyes, and pretend that this winter is behind us. This drink will help my fantasy.

Summertime Blues

1 part Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon (I used 2 oz)

2 parts water

Juice of 1 lemon wedge

Combine in a lovely Mason jar over ice. Mmm… tastes like summer, right?

Note: This is most likely the only time you will ever hear me tell you to water down bourbon. Trust me, the stuff is wayyy too sweet on its own. Drinking it straight might  remind you of those summer nights that you’d rather forget, if you know what I mean.

Jamaican Rice & Peas// what i eat

Since I’ve become an “adult” (although I’m not exactly sure at what point I made the jump), I have realized that everyone needs a go-to staples recipe. What I mean by this is that you need a recipe that you can pull out of your back pocket (and your pantry) when you need to make something for dinner a little fancier than a peanut butter sandwich. Some people may go for spaghetti out of a can, I go for Jamaican rice and peas.

I originally got this recipe out of a magazine when I was in college, so almost 10 years ago (eek, I am an adult). I don’t remember what magazine and I long since lost the page where I tore it out, but I’ve made it so many times now I have it committed to memory. I’ve embellished on it a little over the years, increasing the spices to better suit my tastes, so I kinda feel like its my own anyways.

At almost any given time, I can find all of the ingredients for this dish in my pantry. The “peas” in this dish are actually kidney beans. I used regular ones this time because that’s what I had in my cabinet, but normally I use the dark red kind (the extra firmness tastes better, trust me). I also normally use light coconut milk, but Whole Foods only had the full fat version that last time I went staple shopping. It actually makes for a richer, creamier dish when you use the regular coconut milk, but you have to add a lot more water to get the rice tender. You can also sub in dried thyme if you don’t have the fresh.

So here’s a simple, naturally gluten free and vegan meal you can can whip up in about 30 minutes, while only dirtying one pan! Can’t beat that!

Jamaican Rice & Peas

1 can coconut milk

1/4 cup water (if using regular coconut milk, you’ll need to up this to at least 3/4 cup)

1 cup jasmine rice

1 tsp allspice

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried

2 tsp kosher salt

1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, rice, water, allspice, garlic, thyme and salt. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a slight boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. If the liquid cooks out before the rice is soft, add more water and continue cooking.

Remove thyme stems and crushed garlic from dish and discard. Stir in kidney beans and heat until warmed, 2-4 minutes.

I usually add a little more salt to mine before serving, I think it balances out the sweetness of the coconut. For me, this and a little sautéed spinach can be a meal in itself, but it would also go great as a side dish for jerk chicken or pork chops, for you meat eaters out there.

 

Pineapple Bisquick Biscuits// what i eat

Last week I ran across something in Kroger that made me stop in my tracks– Gluten Free Bisquick. First mixes for cakes, brownies, and cookies, and now Betty Crocker has introduced a version of her famous kitchen cheat Bisquick for all of us gluten free gals out there! (Although I wouldn’t recommend the brownies or cookies; there are much better GF mixes for those out there.) It wasn’t on my shopping list, but I grabbed a box anyway just to give it a shot.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. I’m at home, starving, with absolutely nothing to eat in my kitchen except for frozen fruits and veggies and half a jar of black olives. Eying the box of Bisquick in the cabinet, I decided it was time to experiment a bit. One the back of the box there was a recipe for simple biscuits, so using that as a base I came up with a concoction for GF vegan pineapple biscuits. Yum.

I should tell you that last week I made my first attempt at GF vegan baking from a box. It was NOT good. A little gun-shy this time, I decide to only make half a recipe of these guys so that I wouldn’t waste the whole box of Bisquick. (Oh the joys of GF convenience food: half the size, twice the price…) Instead of using Ener-G Egg replacer, which is where I think the cake went south, I made a slurry of flax seed and water. Totally did the trick!! These guys were so soft and fluffy out of the oven, with a nice crisp outside layer. The half a batch didn’t make it past bedtime last night.

I’m sure you could adapt this recipe if you don’t have Bisquick, using other flours and starches. Also, if you don’t have a problem with gluten, you could probably use regular Bisquick instead, although I’m not sure if the two can be substituted equally. After this attempt, I’m definitely going to keep a box of the stuff in pantry from now on though. You know, for when those afternoon biscuit cravings hit.

Pineapple Bisquick Biscuits

2 cups GF Bisquick

1/3 cup Earth Balance spread

1/3 cup coconut milk beverage

1/3 cup  frozen pineapple puree

3 tbls ground  flax seed + 9 tbls water

In a small bowl, combine flax seed and water and let sit for at least two minutes. These are your “eggs.”

In a blender or food processor, puree a 8-9 chunks of frozen pineapple (defrosted first). I used my Magic Bullet, which is perfect for this. I just microwaved mine for about 15-20 seconds first to defrost, then blended until it was a lovely yummy liquid. You want to pineapple liquified and not in big chunks, so that the biscuits have the sweetness and flavor without the extra texture. Measure after blending to make sure you have 1/3 cup.

In another bowl, place Bisquick. Cut in Earth Balance, either using your hands, a pastry cutter, or a fork, until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. I used a food processor to make this, which made it that much easier, but if you don’t have one the old fashioned way works too. Add the pineapple puree, coconut milk, and “eggs” and combine until fully incorporated and a soft dough forms.

Drop dough by big spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Makes 10 biscuits.

Note: When I posted this earlier today, I accidently listed the wrong amounts for the flax seed slurry. I’ve corrected it now. I also said “flax seed” but what I meant was “ground flax seed” or “flax seed meal.”  Just so you know, 1 egg= 1 tbls ground flax seed + 3 tbls water (this recipe calls for 3 “eggs.”) Sorry for any confusion!

I ate two right when they came out of the oven and the flavor was amazing! Replacing half of the liquid with  a bit of frozen pineapple puree gave a light sweetness to the dough without being overbearing.They were a little too soft on the inside so I planned on tweaking the recipe on the next batch before sharing. However, once they cooled for about 15 minutes, I went back for a third and the texture was perfect! I would recommend letting them cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving them to guests, but feel free to scoop a hot one off the cookie sheet for yourself. 🙂 Put a little Earth Balance inside of a slightly warm biscuit and enjoy a little bit of biscuit heaven.

Fried Noodles// What I Eat

After the day I had today, I needed a little comfort food for dinner so I decided to stir up some yummy fried noodles! This dish is based on the Fried Udon Noodles recipe in The Kind Diet cookbook. I followed the recipe the first time I made the dish (subbing in gluten-free pad tai noodles for the udon) but since then I’ve tweaked it a little to make it more to my tastes.

Fried Noodles

1/2 pack brown rice fettuccine style noodles

2 tbls olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 & 1/2 tbls paprika

1 tsp sea salt (more to taste)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup daikon, cut into  match sticks*

1 piece kombu, broken into tiny pieces*

hemp seeds & fresh parsley for garnish*

*These guys are totally optional. Sometimes I add them if I have them handy, sometimes I don’t.

Step one: Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to directions. When al dente, drain and sit to the side.

 

This is the BEST brand of gluten free pasta!! So good, and not at all mushy!

 

Step two: In a large skillet (I used an electric wok, but just because it was still out on the counter from when I made popcorn the other night… but back to the skillet), heat 1 tbls oil over medium high heat. Add cabbage and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add some water from the pasta pot if it starts to stick. Meanwhile…

Step three: In another skillet, heat remaining oil. Add onions and sweat a bit (the onions, not you). Add garlic, paprika, salt & pepper and stir to combine. Cook mixture over medium high heat until the onions start to caramalize. When things start to stick, add a little water to the pan. This helps a nice little sauce to start to form around the onions. You want to be sure to let the onions sweat on their own first though, this brings out a sweetness that you don’t want to miss! Keep adding water and cooking until the “sauce” is nice and thick.

At this point, you can add the kombu and daikon, if you wish. The dish is fine without them, but with them it’s just that much better for you.

Once the onions are done (about 5-10 minutes total), combine with the cabbage and the pasta in which ever skillet is bigger. Cook until heated through (1-3 minutes). Salt to taste.

Serve with hemp seeds and parsley, if desired. It’s a simple little noodle dish, but something about the sweetness of the onions and the smoky paprika really hits the spot!

Note: I normally use plain old green cabbage in this dish, but I had a purple head in the fridge so I gave it a try tonight. Purple isn’t bad, but green is better- it gets softer and more noodle like when cooked.

 

A Healthy Homemade Happy Hour

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It’s been a while since my last Homemade Happy Hour post, and there’s a good reason for that. One of my New Year’s goals was to get fit again (at least to my standards) so I started the year off by counting calories. Being a gluten-free vegan, my diet is already about as healthy as you can get, but for some reason I was gaining weight and I was pretty sure I knew why: portion sizes, lack of exercise, and “liquid” calories. Sure, an ounce of whiskey may have 65 calories, but make it a double, add some ginger ale, and repeat a few times each evening and it adds up. I cut out alcohol altogether for a week or so, and have limited myself to 1 drink/day, tops, until I reach my goal. (Not to say that I have 1 drink every day; that’s just my limit when I do.)

Since my HHH’s are one of my favorite features on my blog, I thought I would share with you what I have been drinking a lot of lately- healthy green protein drinks. I started subbing these in for lunch every day (followed by a hearty snack when I get the late afternoon munchies) and I can’t even tell you how much better I’ve felt! They really pack a energy kick and taste great, plus they’re quite filling so I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all.

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You can really customize this drink a bunch of ways to suit your taste buds as long as you stick to this basic formula:
1 part frozen fruit
1 part leafy green (I recommend spinach for newbies, it’s the mildest green flavor)
2 parts milk alternative (I suggest either coconut, almond, or hemp)
3 tbls protein powder (hemp is a great one if you’re trying to stay vegan!)

Different fruits and milks will produce different flavor combinations, so I suggest experimenting a little to find one that you like. Here’s the combo that I’ve been using lately, I think it’s really yummy!
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Berry & Hemp Green Drink
1/2 c frozen blueberries
1-2 chunks frozen pineapple (for sweetness)
1/2 spinach
1 c coconut milk (important: not the stuff in the can!! I use coconut milk beverage which is a much thinner version of the canned stuff)
3 tbls hemp protein powder

Combine all in blender (or in my case, Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth. If mixture gets too thick for your tastes, add water to thin. Drink and feel strong all day long!
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