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Stuffed Artichokes

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Have you made stuffed artichokes? Until today, I never had. We used to get them all the time when we lived in Oak Park. There was one place in particular — a little sandwich/pizza place called Massa in Elmwood Park, IL — that made awesome stuffed artichokes. (They’re still open, but I don’t see stuffed artichokes on the menu. If you’re in the Elmwood Park area and you enjoy panini, I recommend the Giardino (seasoned grilled eggplant & zucchini, roasted red pepper, Portabella mushrooms, provolone cheese, leaf spinach, red onions, Roma tomatoes & basil pesto mayo) no mushrooms of course because mushrooms are gross.

Anyway, we hadn’t had stuffed artichokes since we lived in Illinois, so it’s been what, almost 10 years now. Holy crap I can’t believe we’ve been living in Colorado for almost 10 years. We never found a place in Denver that has stuffed artichokes and they seemed like a total pain in the ass to make, so we just forgot about them.

Until artichokes showed up in our weekly produce bin and instead of swapping them for something else I figured it’s about damn time we tried making stuffed artichokes. So tonight we did and . . . holy shit. Do you ever do that thing where you eat something really, really good and you kind of roll your eyes back into your head and say “Oh my god” several times? Homemade stuffed artichokes might make you do that. They’re exactly as good as the ones you get at a restaurant.

The good news is they’re not bad to make. The trick is to focus on stuffing the center of the artichoke and the outer leaves really well, and be okay with the fact that there will be some leaves in the middle that won’t get stuffed. When you’re eating them, you really won’t care.

As always, I took a shitty iPhone picture of my food.

stuffed artichokes

The other good news is I found a recipe on the internet that’s pretty much perfect from Saveur (here), so I don’t have to sit here and write a new recipe. The only adjustments we made were: add oregano and bake for 60 minutes. Also our artichokes were on the small size but we still used four and had the right amount of  filling and we forgot to broil after sprinkling cheese on top, but oh well. We made bread crumbs by baking a few slices of homemade French bread at 350 until dried and then crunching them up using a bowl and a cup mortar-and-pestle style.

If you’ve ever had even the slightest desire to make stuffed artichokes, you should totally do it. So good.

Written by Tracy

February 17th, 2013 at 8:33 pm

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Cheese Sauce for Nachos Recipe

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homemade nachos

As a result of trying to eat better food and avoid GMOs, hormones, and other icky stuff, we no longer consume Velveeta. It’s not like we consumed much Velveeta before — the only time I ever used it was in nachos, because when making nachos, you need a very creamy, melty cheese in addition to shredded cheese to attain the proper creamy-melty-cheesy-deliciousness ratio for amazing nachos.

Can I take a minute to say that I hope I don’t sound smug when I talk about food? As a vegetarian, I know there’s already a chance of smugness when I talk about food. Whenever you say you don’t eat something, it almost always seems like you’re doing a little disdainful sniff after saying what you don’t eat. Like:

  • I don’t eat meat. *disdainful sniff*
  • I don’t eat processed foods. *disdainful sniff*
  • I don’t have celiac disease but I avoid gluten. *disdainful sniff*

I guess saying you don’t eat something comes off as smug because what’s implied is that you know better than to eat that or you’re kind of judgy about what other people eat. Or something. It’s just one of those things that bothers me, so I try not to do it. Obviously, there are lots of things I don’t eat because of my philosophy, but I try to focus on what I do eat rather than what I don’t, first because I find it more constructive and second because one of my worst fears (as a hippie liberal vegetarian) is coming off as smug and self-satisfied.

Speaking of smug, I was reading a vegan starter guide the other day and I was almost strangled with the smugness. I’ve been having some thoughts about going vegan (although as you can see from the middle of a post about cheese sauce, I’m not there yet, and I regret to inform you that my first attempt at homemade vegan ice cream was not all I dreamed it would be) and was checking out the vegan starter guide to see if there was anything useful and/or inspirational. What I remember most about it was the thing about what to do with leather goods you already own. First off let me say that even if I become a die-hard, dedicated vegan, there’s no way in hell I’m getting rid of almost all my shoes because building even a limited a new shoe wardrobe is not a good financial move for me at this time. So right off the bat, I really don’t care what the vegan starter guide thinks I should do with my shoes. But I read it anyway. It said something about how sure, that pair of boots isn’t causing additional suffering to animals, but maybe you should ask yourself why you think it’s okay to wear the body parts of a dead animal in the name of fashion. That kind of smugness is hugely off-putting to me. Ugh.

Speaking of vegan shoes, how do I start designing them? Vegan shoes have come a long way, but there’s still much more progress to be made. I think I could contribute in this area. Maybe someone would Kickstart me.

Anyway, back to the cheese — specifically, creamy, melty cheese for nachos. I thought a cheese sauce might work. And it did! And here’s how you do it.

Recipe: Cheese Sauce for Nachos

Ingredients

I’d say this makes enough for a 4-5 serving platter of nachos.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 generous cup shredded cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring for a minute. Add the milk and cook, stirring, until thickened a bit. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. That’s it! It’s super easy. Use this in your nachos (recipe here) instead of Velveeta. Enjoy!

Written by Tracy

February 4th, 2013 at 10:27 am

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Things We Make Instead of Buying

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Green juice

So we’ve started juicing and it’s pretty much the greatest thing, ever. I want to have this green juice in particular every day for the rest of my life. I know correlation does not imply causation, but when I drink it, I almost feel like I’m on some sort of natural Adderall. I feel energetic and able to focus and really, really good. I follow this recipe from Choosing Raw exactly. I wasn’t sure green juice would be delicious, but it is.

The only downside of juicing is that it’s expensive. Aside from the juicer, you need a ton of produce. We already get a ton of produce every week and now we need even more if I’m going to have my green juice every day. Ben originally wanted to get a juicer because he thought it would be a good way to use our leftover produce each week but man, I’m kind of obsessed and am going to want more than that. Side note: I’m planning to grow a billion cucumbers this summer.

Making juice got me thinking about stuff we make that we used to buy, and I figured I should do an update on that. We’re still avoiding GMOs and trying to be simple and natural and healthy as much as possible. The good news is that the more we make stuff, the more it seems natural to make stuff, if that makes sense. It doesn’t seem tedious or overwhelming or anything — it feels good.

So here’s a list, with links to recipes (mine or other people’s) when available:

We’ve always made our own coffee (we grind beans and use a drip coffee maker or occasionally a French press or Toddy). We also make stuff like salad dressing, pie crust/baked goods, and granola . . . and probably other stuff I’m forgetting, too.

With all this making stuff, we have several single-purpose small appliances in our kitchen, which can get annoying: juicer, ice cream maker, bread machine, coffee maker, coffee grinder, deep fryer, rice cooker, in addition to several general small appliances: microwave, electric griddle, crock pot, food processor, stand mixer, toaster oven, blender (which we never use). We also have a waffle iron (got free) and a donut maker (gift) we haven’t used yet. Why have I not made donuts? I have no idea. I should get on that!

Up next on my to-make list: waffles (Soren loves waffles for breakfast and I’d like to make and freeze some instead of buying frozen waffles), pickles (with garden cucumbers), and more cleaning products. Maybe hot sauce. And one day soon, I’d like to make beer. It’s crazy that we haven’t done that yet.

Written by Tracy

January 27th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Sunflower-Broccoli-Peanut Linguine Recipe

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dinner

So hey, I made this thing for dinner and it was good, in addition to being easy! And it has baby sunflower greens, which are awesome. Here it is.

Sunflower-Broccoli-Peanut Linguine Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 tablespoon oil — peanut, vegetable, whatever (I’ve never been picky about oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 scallions, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup tamari (start on the low side and add more if you like — I used a little less than 1/2 cup but I like my salt)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup chopped, unsalted peanuts (I used raw Spanish peanuts, which I roasted at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, and coarsely chopped)
  • 2 1/2 cups baby sunflower greens

Directions

Prepare linguine according to directions. When it’s done, which if you’re like me will be right when you’re in the middle of doing other stuff, drain and put in a large bowl. While the linguine is in progress, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, scallions, and broccoli and fry, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add tamari, lime juice, and sugar and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Pour this mixture over the linguine and add peanuts and sunflower greens. Mix well. Garnish with Sriracha and enjoy!

Inspired by “Thai Noodles” in Vegetarian Times Low-Fat & Fast.

Written by Tracy

November 27th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

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Avocado Pasta Recipe

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avocado pasta

another bad photo

Here’s another recipe from my summer of pasta. We’ve been eating a lot of pasta. I especially like pasta with some kind of sauce you make in the food processor and don’t have to heat. So easy and so good for summer. WOOOOOO! SUMMERTIME! (That link has nothing to do with this recipe. I just always think that shit is hilarious.)

I’m sorry I haven’t made an effort to take better food photos like I said I would. I don’t want to post shit that looks gross, but for real I’m not a professional blogger or a food blogger and most of the time I just end up Instgramming my dinner, which is another kind of lame but at least doesn’t take much effort. (Full disclosure! I totally post shit on Instagram all the time and then delete it and upload it to Flickr, where I put all my public photos. In theory I like Instagram and hipster photos in general as much as anyone, but in reality, I’m too lazy for the level of asskissery Instagram really requires.)

Anyway, let’s get on with the food. I always hate it when someone posts a recipe but has to write 10 paragraphs about some other shit only tangentially related to the recipe first. Oops. At least I don’t post 800 pictures of every step of the process, as if you’ve never seen garlic in a goddamn food processor before.

Also, bonus: this recipe is vegan!

Avocado Pasta Recipe

Ingredients

  • however much you want of whatever pasta you want (I like penne with this and always just make a whole box.)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon (start with 1/2 and add more after processing if you like)
  • 3 nice, ripe avocados, pitted and peeled (I don’t really need to say that, do I? I don’t tell you to peel the garlic. You know that already.)
  • 1 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, throw your garlic cloves in a food processor outfitted with a regular blade. Process until garlic is uniformly chopped. Add lemon juice, avocados, basil, olive oil, and some salt and pepper and process until smooth, breaking up any persistent avocado chunks if necessary. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper and process again if necessary. Serve over hot or warm pasta (I like to do this portion by portion instead of mixing all the pasta and sauce together). This is important: Top with salsa (recipe here). Enjoy!

Adapted from Oh She Glows, 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta. She says this should be eaten immediately because it doesn’t reheat well, but I’m perfectly happy to eat it cold for lunch the next day.

Written by Tracy

August 7th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

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Pasta with Arugula Pesto Recipe

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I kind of hate when people go on about how they’re obsessed with this or that, but I’m obsessed with this pasta. I made it last Sunday and again today. Soren loves it as much as I do. He had two servings for dinner! Ben loves it maybe slightly less, but whatever. This and pumpkin soup are my IDGAFoods, which are foods for which I have no fucks to give when someone doesn’t like them as much as I do (Ben’s is breakfast burritos, which I’ve been sick of forever). I’d pretty much eat this once a week for the rest of summer and be totally happy about it.

Pasta with Arugula Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts (pieces or chopped are ideal)
  • 16 ounces penne
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut into relatively uniform pieces
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, cut into relatively uniform pieces (the good kind) (I always estimate my cheese measurements because I just cut it into cubes and throw it in the food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 4 cups baby arugula leaves (this equals one 5-ounce package)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half (you probably already know this, but use a bread knife to cut tomatoes)

Directions

Put a pot of water on to boil and when it does, prepare the pasta as directed. Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside (I transfer them to a bowl so they don’t get any more toasted and can cool a little.) Throw the garlic into a food processor and process until it’s chopped. Add the Parmesan cheese and process until it’s chopped up into little pieces, which is pretty much the same as grated cheese, only easier. Add the walnuts, olive oil, basil, and arugula to the food processor and process until well blended. If you have a garden-variety Cuisinart like I do, it will take some effort to cram all this stuff in there and you’ll have to move things around with a rubber scraper a few times, but eventually everything will get processed. (Maybe use a blender if you have a fancy one.) Add the milk and process until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed.

Put pasta in a giant bowl, add the sauce and tomatoes, and mix well. Enjoy!

Holy crap this is good.

Sorry for another bad iPhone photo.

This makes a ton, but the good news is that it’s awesome as leftovers. Eat straight from the fridge or warm up a little (I wouldn’t make it super hot) — either way, it’s delicious.

Adapted from Organic Gardening. The original recipe was printed in a little thing I got in the mail promoting the magazine, but I can’t find it on their website.

Note: I updated this recipe to change evaporated milk to whole milk.

Written by Tracy

July 24th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

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A Good Sandwich

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Do you have one of those things you like to eat that’s kind of horrifying? Like maybe you go to the drive through and get a giant greasy burger and some fries or you eat french fries dipped in ranch dressing and mayonnaise and a milkshake or whatever?

My horrifying thing is this sandwich. I used to get it at a little place in DeKalb, Illinois (I couldn’t remember what it was called but Google reveals that it’s the Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, which appears to still exist) (while I’m at it, DeKalb, Illinois has surprisingly good restaurants), when I was in law school. I always got food from this place before final exams, brought it to school, and ate it nervously in the Thurgood Marshall gallery (see it here, man I miss that place) while thinking about how I was going to fail (I wasn’t, but I was always 99% convinced that I would).

You would be right to be horrified by my lunch.

Okay, let me take this moment to tell you that I’m really going to work on my food photography. There is no excuse for this half-assed iPhone shit. I’ll try to do better.

Anyway, this sandwich is as follows:

  • one everything bagel (you can use whatever kind of bagel you like, of course, but everything bagels are the best bagels — Einstein makes amazing everything bagels and you can get them at Super Target), sliced and lightly toasted
  • garden vegetable cream cheese
  • sliced muenster cheese

Spread garden vegetable cream cheese on each half of your lightly toasted bagel. Top each half with one (or 1 1/2 or 2 if you’re really going for it) slices of muenster. Broil until muenster is nicely melted and lightly browned.

This is the kind of thing I bust out every few years. It’s super rich and will keep you full for a while, and you might feel kind of gross about all the cheese you just ate but you’ll get over it. I always do.

Written by Tracy

July 8th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

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