Category Archives: Crunchy Comfort Food

Potato, Potato

Readers, the name of that post sounds cooler than it reads, I promise.

Recently, I was asked for ideas for eating greens. Unfortunately, my reader was apparently pretty green savvy. She was already sauteing them, cooking them in potato soup, braising them, and eating them with mussels. Whether or not I’ll eat them I have to give credit to a woman for getting creative with something that looks like…ugh I don’t even want to get into what mussels look like. Either way, kudos for knowing a lot of good ways to eat greens.

See, I think that’s so great, mostly because those, excluding the mussels of course, are all ways I eat my greens too. Mostly I saute them, though from time to time I’ll pop them into a salad, depending on my mood and what kind of green it is.

At nearly the same time I was also asked about comfort food. She wanted something healthy, but rich enough to be soothing. Nourishing, delicious, and savory. Sounded to me like potatoes were really the only answer to this conundrum. Potatoes have a horrible rap these days, and it’s just silly. They’re full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. So long as you aren’t drowning them in butter, grease, or gravy, you’re making a good choice having one.

Potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens but NOT soup. Well poop, what’s a girl to do but combine them?

Red Skinned Green Potatoes
6 small red skinned potatoes
2 cups spinach or other green (if using a green OTHER than spinach, steam it very lightly until slightly tender)
1 tbs vegan margarine
1 tbs nutritional yeast (Omnivores, if you have to you can swap the yeast for Parmesan cheese, but the yeast is worth your time finding, since it’s just so ridiculously nutrient dense)
2 tbs unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

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Clean the potatoes and stab them with a fork like they’re the jerk who stood you up at the prom. “Bake” them in your microwave for 10 minutes, or until a fork goes through one pretty easily.

When they’re cool enough to handle, cut them in half.

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Then scoop out the innards until they’re as empty as that useless shell of a prom date.

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In a food processor or really forgiving blender, throw the potato innards, greens, margarine, “milk,” and spices and let process until combined.

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Scoop the stuffing into the potato shells and place them on a baking sheet.

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Broil for five to seven minutes, until the tops are just a bit brown. Don’t tell anyone that you used the microwave earlier.

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That can be out secret. Promise. 🙂

Quick, easy, cheap, and yummy.

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Need to get rid of greens? Make a giant tray of these for a get together, or keep them in the fridge to nuke for a quick snack.

I used spinach because it’s what was in my fridge. If you have a farm share, trust me, you will have an abundance of spinach at some point. If, however, you find yourself with collards, chard, or turnip greens no worries. Just steam them for about five minutes before hand and they’ll be just as dreamy in your potatoes.

My family loved it, including Mr. “I don’t like spinach” and Ms. “Eww! It’s green!” They asked for seconds. I was out of spinach.

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Ok…I could always go get some more…

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Is it the Weekend Yet?

Readers, you’re going to have to forgive my lack of posts recently. It’s been a long few weeks, and I am exhausted.

List of Crap that Happened Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Heavy duty vegetable gardening
2. Unfortunate overgrowth of weeds
4. Four birthdays
5. Two Births…so six birthdays
6. Olive’s preschool graduation
7. Olive’s preschool picnic
8. Obscene heat
9. Three papers due
10. One test
11. A severe addiction to Angry Birds (how have I never played this before???)

List of Crap that Didn’t Happen Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Immaculate eating habits. We’ve had a looooot of cake lately, and pot lucks at preschool mean we’re downing some dairy out of necessity.
2. Consistent exercise
3. Basic hygiene. Here is what I look like. I have not showered (…in three days…), I have not had coffee yet, and I have to go to my first workout since Monday. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to avert your eyes.
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I’m pretty lucky that this is Memorial Day Weekend. I know right now that I should tell you all about how important it is to remember those who died for our country (it is VERY important) and the sacrifices that some people make. In reality, though, I’m so pooped that the idea of lounging poolside all day tomorrow, seeing a parade on Monday, and eating delicious grilled veggies sounds marvelous.

Maybe I’ll eat them with a few of these guys?

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Fudge Pops!
Makes Six-Eight Pops
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp salt

Whisk together the cocoa and maple syrup until a thick paste forms. All the cocoa should be fully dissolved (which is why we’re using liquid sweetener). Add the milk and salt and stir until combined. Pour them into Popsicle molds and freeze until set (probably about three hours).

In order to get them out, depending on your molds, you’re probably going to need to use the old water and squeeze method of pulling them out. Nothing is more depressing than an empty Popsicle stick. Luckily, nothing is more yummy than a Fudge Pop!

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It’s drippy!

Make these for your next cookout and they will be a hit, or just make them for you and horde them. I usually don’t brag about calorie count to you guys, but they are right around fifty calories a pop. They also have calcium and whatever vitamins your milk is fortified with. If nothing else, you can feel good knowing that you can pronounce all the names of the ingredients.

So kick back, relax, and eat like twenty of these. You deserve them.

Happy Birthday Kristie! Now Eat the Damn Cake!

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This is my best friend in the whole world. It’s not really a picture of her, but the likeness is absolutely uncanny, I promise. Yesterday was her birthday, and as part of my present to her, I had to promise not to take a picture of her and put it on my blog. I grudgingly agreed, and instead grabbed this picture of her chillin with Jiggly Puff. At any rate, she is now officially old as hell. How exciting!

Kristie and I don’t have some sort of average, run of the mill, friendship. It took us years and years to train each other to be the other’s best friend, and have been working on it for about sixteen years now. I’m proud to say that finally, after sixteen years of friendship, I have learned that “Don’t put my picture on the internet” actually means, “Don’t put my picture on the internet.” My mom’s been trying to teach me lessons far simpler than that for twenty six years. Good job, Kristie!

I know a few more things about Kristie that facilitated our birthday celebration (which was a simple dinner at my house); sixteen years will give you that kind of experience, I think. For example: Kristie loves green beans, doesn’t eat meat, thinks Eggplant Parmesan is the epitome of Italian food (but we can’t eat the actual Parmesan, damn rennet), doesn’t like chocolate cake, but could eat frosting out of a bowl pretty happily.

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Oh, and she digs sprinkles.

Lightly Spiced Cake or Kristie’s Super Birthday Cake of Happy Joy!
Makes one 9″ round cake (double the recipe to make a layer cake)
2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tbs baking powder, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c canola oil
1 c almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 recipe Vegan Frosting of Joy OR
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
Sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, 2 tsp of the baking powder, and salt, mixing well.

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I’m going to teach you a new technique I just learned which helps the applesauce egg bind better. I’ll be updating past recipes (such as other cookies and muffins) to reflect this new trick, which you should take with you into other baking adventures!

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Combine the applesauce with the remaining tsp of baking powder. I don’t know why this works better, but it really makes the applesauce a much more effective binder.

After you combine those, you know the drill. Whisk together the oil and applesauce until emulsified and stir in the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with as few strokes as possible.

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Pour into a 9″ round pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

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While your cake cools, whip up some frosting. With my chocolate cupcakes, I whipped up a vegan version of buttercream that was pretty good, but for this one I highly recommend this fake cream cheese frosting that will fool people into thinking they’re eating the real thing.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Frosts two 9″ cakes, but feel free to make a little extra for decorating (I wish I had!)
1 container non hydrogenated Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (or 8 oz of another vegan cream cheese)
2 tbs vegan margarine
3 cups powdered sugar

Using an electric hand beater (or some serious muscles) beat together the cream cheese and margarine. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until what you have looks suspiciously like frosting. Taste it, adjust sugar if necessary, and then ice the heck out of the cake.

Let the four year old in your house apply the sprinkles and tada!

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Your best friend won’t care that you aren’t the best at frosting things, or that it’s literally covered with sprinkles.

Hell, her favorite cake until recently was titled “funfetti” anyway.

She won’t care that you put her birthday on display on your blog…or that you called her old as hell.

Instead, she will be so happy that you baked her a cake, from scratch and with love, that she will invite you to sit at the table with her, after all the dishes are cleared, to eat cake straight from the serving plate. Perhaps you’ll even have a little fork cheers? Then before you know it, that half a cake you were planning on sending her home with is less than a piece, and you feel full, comatose, but strangely accomplished.

That’s what it’s like to have a best friend.

Happy Birthday, Kristie!

Rain, Rain, Go Away, or at Least Let Me Make it to the Grocery Store

Readers, sorry I haven’t been back sooner. I try to make Wednesday posts most weeks, but to be honest, I was just too excited about the fabulous weather we’ve had. You see, it’s been in the 80’s all week long!

This is a far cry from last Saturday which was cold, wet, and disgusting. It was not even normal “gross” outside, it was Cat in the Hat bad. I felt bad for Olive because I had no idea what to do with our time the entire day. I felt even worse for Mike because he had to go teach in it. I felt relatively fine for me because we had plenty of coffee and tea in the house, but I wasn’t leaving for anything, not even to pick up groceries for our relatively understocked kitchen so I could make my miserable, freezing family something good for dinner. It was gross out there!

Hey guys, I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but I made soup, so shut up cuz’ it’s yummy. *

Note: A thank you must go out to my mother, without whom I would have no basis for how potato soup ought to taste.

Two Potato Soup
2 large russet potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized chunks
2 carrots, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 dash liquid smoke
3/4 cup almond milk

In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots with broth and bring to a boil. Let boil until the potatoes are very soft.

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While the potatoes are boiling, heat one tablespoon of the oil in the skillet. Add the onions and celery and saute until the onions are translucent.

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Unfortunately, I was out of celery and nothing was going to make me run to the store to pick some up. NOTHING.

Add the garlic to the skillet, and saute for another minute. Set aside.

By this time, the potatoes will be soft, so turn the heat down to medium, and using a slotted spoon remove about 2 cups worth of the chunks. Some carrots and sweet potatoes will get mixed in, it’s not a big deal, so just go with it. Put them in a bowl, and mash the bajeezus out of them.

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Add it back to the pot along with the sauteed onions, celery, and garlic. Stir until the soup has thickened and the blob of mashed potatoes has disappeared (You can, of course, choose to mash a few more potatoes if you want the soup to be super thick, though we thought it was perfect as it was). Add the poultry seasoning, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and almond milk. Bring the soup to a simmer and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the top (this is optional, but delicious).

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Hey, that was easy!

This soup is perfect for gross days because it is so wonderfully warming. It’s comfort food without butter, full of potassium and vitamins, and tons of protein. It is the very best way to eat potatoes, and I love potatoes, so I should know. While it is loosely based on my mother’s recipe (which involved a secret ingredient known as “instant potato flakes”–sorry for ruining the secret, Mom!) and has a similar creaminess, the sweet potato adds a pleasant change of pace to this thick, savory, soup. I really wish Mike hadn’t eaten four bowls of it, because I would have liked seconds.

Oh well, even when it’s gross outside and I don’t have many groceries, I do usually have potatoes.

So I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but soup can bring lots of good fun that is funny. *

*My apologies to Dr. Seuss.