Make-ahead Breakfast Sandwiches!

I made an amazing discovery – did you know that you can freeze and reheat breakfast sandwiches!? So of course I had to try it! I made eight of them and froze six. I just ate the first one and aside from the fact that I over-toasted the top of the muffin it worked out quite will!

This will help to ensure that I have food for the upcoming week. How did I make them?

  1. Caramelized some onions with sage, thyme, and pepper. I didn’t add salt because the bacon and cheese will do that for me later. I poured a dozen eggs (beaten)* on top and baked that whole concoction for about 20 minutes. Who knew that it took such a hot oven (450F) to bake eggs?

*although next time I will use 10 eggs.

2. It takes a slightly lower oven to cook bacon (375 F) but takes about as long. Bake it and put it on a paper towel to drain. That’s what’ll crisp it up. Also, do this on the top rack of your oven for greater success. I had to do some re-arranging mid-way through. You may prefer vegan bacon, (coconut bacon, tempeh bacon), peameal (Canadian), or none at all. All are fine. They’re your sandwiches, after all.

3. Toast your English muffins just a little bit. You can use the lower rack in your oven while you cook the bacon up top.

4. Assembly. Each muffin contains: 1/8th of the onion-egg (is this a frittata?), a slice of bacon broken in half (some got a bit extra) and a couple slices of cheese. Layer in standard sandwich format.
 Sorry for the weird perspective here! (I had to wedge in beside the fridge to take this picture).

Wrap each sandwich individually in tinfoil, put them together in a (clear) bag, and freeze. To reheat them take the tinfoil off and put your muffin on a paper towel. I microwaved it for 90 seconds but I think I’ll try reducing that to 75 or even 60 seconds the next time. I toasted the top half of the muffin in the toasted oven. I thought that I’d like the crunch but the texture was too different. I need to reduce the time there, too.

Pretty delicious, though! And now my breakfast woes are solved!

Pancakes!

Specifically, banana-buckwheat pancakes (or buckwheat-banana pancakes). I used this recipe with modifications; firstly I doubled the recipe so that I’d have enough for the freezer (so that I can have breakfast during the week). And because I had two bananas that were going. I also used more milk than she suggests (possibly up to 1/3 more – not entirely sure as I went by eye) and I replaced the last cup of buckwheat flour with whole wheat flour instead.

I ate them with jam on top. Success!!

Pot Roast: day two

 

 

Now it’s time to add the vegetables!

After cooking all day I added potatoes, carrots, and pearl onions. This is where the weakness of my cookbook was really apparent. I thought that 45 minutes in a slow cooker wasn’t quite long enough for potatoes – and I was right! Both they and the carrots were hard even though I gave them extra time. Veggie fail! In the future I will pre-cook my vegetables. That’s a tip, kids.

At the very end I added peas and corn. The corn needed to be added because it was going bad; I’d gotten 5 corn for a dollar at the grocery store for that reason. The rest will go into the chili that I want to make in the next few days.

This is what it looked like before I added the gravy:

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Ready to eat

And then, with gravy on my plate and ready to go:

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My first attempt at making meat and potatoes!

American Pot Roast

 

For some reason my cookbook differentiates between American pot roast and Italian. The difference seems to come down to pancetta (Italian) vs mirepoix (American – who knew! I thought it was French!) as the main seasoning. So I started it tonight, because pot roasts were 30% off at the grocery store. Which, when you find meat at the store that’s 30% off, you need to cook it post haste. So I started tonight. I’ll finish tomorrow. Thus far it looks like this:

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Would you believe that there’s a pot roast under there?

Thus far you’re looking at a pot roast (hidden underneath the gravy) which after being dredged in flour, salt, and pepper, was browned in butter for ten minutes. Then the mirepoix was cooked in the same browned butter with a teaspoonful of thyme and sage (I love these two!) and a pinch of rosemary. Then more flour as a thickening agent and three cups of veggie broth. I was supposed to use beef broth but I don’t keep that lying around. So that’s the gravy.

Tomorrow it’ll cook for eight or nine hours (can you overcook a roast? I hope not as I have some errands to do) and have pearl onions, potatoes, and peas added to it at the end. Planning ahead for post-work dinners!

Would you believe that I’m about as organised as a real grown up?

Pickled Garlic Scapes

I made pickles. Here’s the finished product:   image

These ones are pickled garlic scapes. It was brought to my attention that some people don’t know what garlic scapes are. They’re green shoots that sprout out from the garlic bulb in early spring. They take energy away from the bulb which, when you’re growing garlic to eat the bulb, is undesirable. They used to be scraped and fed to pigs  (or turned into compost). But they’re really quite yummy.

Some of these jars will be traded for things. I traded for the scapes in the first place and I promised the man who gave them to me a jar of pickles. I’ll also give a jar to my brother-in-law, as he seemed interested. The rest will either become gifts or an incentive for me to make more salads. And caesars. I bet that they’ll be delicious in caesars.

Buckwheat Pancakes

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I’ve been told that buckwheat flour is very hard to find in the US – if that’s true please let me know! I buy it at the local food co-op and then keep it in my freezer for sudden pancake cravings.

It’s strawberry season now. I don’t like to eat out-of-season berries. They’re too sour as they don’t develop their sugars when they’re forced to ripen against their will. Yes, even berries have free will and they don’t want to be eaten out of turn. So that means that when the berries are in season I have to eat as many as possible to make up for the 11 months of the year that I haven’t been eating this particular kind. The yellow is mango because I’m worried that I’m catching a cold. I’ve spent way too many days riding through rainstorms on my bicycle these past few weeks.

So this morning I woke up and walked to the store to buy strawberries, eggs, yoghurt (I use it instead of milk for these pancakes) and milk for my tea. On the way back I stopped along the way to eat mulberries. This was my reward for my productivity 🙂

This recipe makes enough for two people. If you want to try it too it is:

  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp melted butter

Combine these in a small bowl. Start preheating your frying pan (especially if it’s cast iron like mine). In a slightly bigger bowl combine:

  • 6 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 6 tbsp buckwheat flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, or other savoury spice that you like in your pancakes
  • I added in 2 tbsp of wheat germ because I think that wheat germ is important. This is optional. If you do this add a little bit of extra yoghurt to make up for the dryness.

Make a well in the bowl of ‘dry’. Pour the yoghurt mixture into the well. Using a scoop-stir method combine the wet and the dry. Do not overmix!

Melt some oil (I use coconut) in your frying pan. Using a 1/4-cup measuring scoop (or a very large spoon) dollop out the pancake batter into the pan. The trick with these is that they don’t seem to bubble around the edges the way that normal pancakes do to say “flip me!” so just keep an eye on them every few minutes. While they’re cooking chop your fruit. You will be much happier with fruit on your pancakes.

I keep mine warm in the toaster oven while I wait for the rest of the batch to cook. That way I have warm pancakes when it’s time to eat!

Salad in jars

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I think that I’ve finally figured out why everyone was making such a fuss about salads in jars. They’re pretty rad and are definitely a force for good in my life. These ones are my first attempt. I needed to use up the dressing that I’d made for dinner with my in-laws. So on the bottom there is orange-pomegranite dressing. The bottom veggies of this salad are cucumber, red onion, and shredded carrot. On top of that is some penne that I made (left over from a pasta-tuna salad) and native rice. In the lettuce are dried cherries (don’t like them/trying to use them up) and dried cranberries (must get more) and toasted pumpkin seeds.

I’ve eaten two of them already. I need to eat the last one so that I can have my jars back. I want to make more salads! I love having easy meals readily available at all times.

Preserved Lemons

So I tried my hand at making preserved lemons today. This is ostensibly because I found lemons for 50% off, and of course I only bought half as many as I needed. I had to run out and get more today as a result. Now I have extras so I suspect that lemon-cranberry muffins will be happening in the near future.

There were other reasons too. One of them being that I’ve been stressed lately and being in the kitchen is a nice way for me to take my brain off of that and focus it on something productive. Deliciousness plus an hour of stress-free living is a pretty good deal! The other was that I’ve been looking for a way to spice up my quinoa. I don’t like quinoa nearly as much as I feel like I should.

Preserved lemons seem like they would be easy (salt! lemons! and a sterile jar) but in actuality I couldn’t figure out how to pack them in there, nor get juice out of them. So I ended up needing about as many lemons as I kept just to juice. It felt like making lemonade.

On the upshot I can open them in a month (given that February is shorter I’ll peg the date at March 1st)  and then I’ll know whether this is worth trying again or not. I hope it is. I’ll be sick of winter food by then anyway, and likely need to wait another couple of months before anything fresh has grown.

The Perfect Vegan Pad Thai!

Of course it was so good that I didn’t get a picture of it. You all know what pad thai looks like, anyway. It does have a few steps, but you could shorten that by buying pre-fried tofu rather than cooking your own. You could also make the sauce a day or two in advance (keep it in a jar in the fridge). If you did that (I didn’t) then this would be the perfect meal to come home to after a long day out and about.

Mine is inspired from the Vegan Black Metal Chef but I really disagree with how much sugar he uses. It took me a few tries to tweak this recipe enough to get it to my liking. If you don’t like metal you can watch the video on mute. He’s got it all subtitled. Here’s what I’m working with:

because hey! Credit where credit is due, and we should always cite our source material. At the very least now you know how to chop garlic and green onions effectively, and how to cook the rice noodles.

The main modifications that I’ve made are broken into two categories – that of tofu, and that of sauce.

So first, tofu.
I don’t like deep frying. I don’t own a deep frier and while I own big enough pots I have a personal philosophy that states that if I need to dress like a fire fighter for my own safety then chances are that I’m not interested. Instead I bake mine because I have a toaster oven. Coat your tofu in (melted) coconut oil and put it in your toaster oven on bake (or bake it in the oven) for a half-hour or so, 350F. It will eventually turn a golden brown and get crispy. I also use smaller cubes – about the size of a D20 if you’re into that type of thing.

The Sauce!
The sauce is the secret to any pad thai. Here’s what went into mine:

  • 3 Tbsp sugar. Dissolve this in a half-cup of warm water. Add
  • 2 Tbsp sambal olek (this is a type of hot sauce. I don’t like Sriracha for this because I’d have to use so damn much of it, and the vinegar comes into play in some unpleasant ways)
  • 3 tsp tamarind sauce (I have tamarind chili sauce – I don’t think it matters). For my next trick I’d like to find tamarind paste.
  • 2-3 tsp cider vinegar. You can also use white vinegar, but maybe keep it to 1-2 tsp. I find it packs more of a punch.
  • The scrapings of my peanut butter jar. This was around 2-3 Tbsp peanut butter.
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic. I might add four next time.
  • a generous handful of cilantro

Stir it all up. He’s very correct in that it’ll look somewhat like puke. That’s the texture that you want too – very liquid. You’ll have to add another cup of water to get everything to cook. You can add it now, or if you’re using a bowl that’s a bit too small you can just add it to the pot when you stir it all up.

The Vegetables

I couldn’t find bean sprouts at the store. I used snow peas, thin slices of red pepper, and the green onion. It was perfect. Do whatever makes you happy. Just make sure that they’re cut thinly!

I used coconut oil to cook with because it has a high smoke point and my smoke alarm is sensitive. Also it tastes good. Cook it as he says; when he says to stir a lot just stir continuously and make sure that you get all the way down to the bottom.

Enjoy!

Food in Jars! (part 4)

A mason jar on a white counter against a white background.  It is full of thick pale tan liquid with pieces of corn and green flecks suspended in it.

This is my first attempt at potato-corn chowder. Given that I don’t really like potatoes, how did this come to be? Here’s how:

My friend has been telling me all about the wonders of fridge preservation so I thought that I’d give it a try. Having a two-day snowstorm (the edge of what hit Buffalo, NY) made me really want wintry food. So I decided to go with soup. Partly because she spent about 40 minutes singing its praises, and partly because it’s an easy and wonderful winter food. Also because I’d bought corn on sale from the grocery store a few days prior and it really needed to be used up. I had some aging potatoes in my fridge, and some sad jalapeños kicking around. So potato-corn chowder it was to be!

Here’s how I made it:

  • sauté onion, garlic, celery in some olive oil. I could have added a carrot as well, but I didn’t.
  • throw it in the slow cooker along with chunks of potato, the corn, some red pepper, and the jalapeños. Those were all the veggies that I had in my fridge.
  • added the broth that I’d made a few days before (and used as practice preserves). I also added some smoked paprika because it smelled good.
  • before going to work in the morning I turned it on, leaving strict instructions to Fuzzy that he was to turn it off at a pre-arranged time. I also texted him a reminder.
  • it sat in my fridge for a few days
  • you’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt. Later on (upon tasting) I threw in some Bragg’s, some soy sauce for good measure, and some worcestershire sauce just for added assistance. They barely made a dent, but at least it’s not impossibly bland.

Today I canned this (resulting in two jars) and turned them into fridge preserved soup. Given that I have a couple of very hectic weeks coming up and am seemingly incubating a cold, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. I’m also already planning some other soups that I’d like to make, including tomato-bean soup, and carrot-couscous. At this rate I’ll have to make more broth base first!