Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Review on Good Food

Howdy! I hope you and yours had a FABULOUS holiday season and were as ecstatic as I was to return to work today (hint: I wasn't). As I mentioned in my last post (two weeks ago, I know. Sorry, I was busy enjoying time off!), I was lucky enough to receive the two Thug Kitchen books. I have officially sticky noted both of them (This means that I go through and carefully sticky note the things I absolutely want to make. Then I write down any ingredients I don't regularly have in my kitchen on said sticky note, so when I flip through and decide that's what I want to make - I just grab the sticky note and head to the store! Life hack!!) and yesterday, I had a big job in the kitchen. It was literally work. I was in the kitchen for five hours. So tonight I'm going to give you a little peek at what I was busy doing (no photos. Brutal, I know. I will step up my photo game starting after I publish this post .. I would say it is my New Year's Resolution - but I think those are stupid and I'll tell you why next week if you're nice).

First thing I did was decide what I wanted to make and then I made my shopping list - which was easy because I had sticky notes! (Yes, I'm humbly bragging about my life hack). It was a pretty big one, I even had to borrow the cart from the stair well of the apartment building.. this is a big deal since I'm usually too lazy (wait for it, this is kind of an oxy moron) to get the cart, bring it back to my car to fill it up, wait for the elevator, unload everything into my apartment, wait for the elevator again and bring the cart all the way back down to the stairwell. I'm too lazy to do all of that, so instead, I will carry sometimes $100 of groceries in one trip up to our third floor apartment which I don't think I could possibly have a further parking spot so that I don't have to do any extra work. By the time I reach our door, I'm usually dying and I struggle find my keys, let alone the key into the door without dropping everything... but don't worry guys, I only had to make one trip. Wow, I'm so sorry you had to read all of that. I will make it up to you by telling you a hilariously embarrassing story at the end of this. As long as I don't forget.

SO. Now that I have all of my groceries into the apartment, I need to start cooking supper. First up from Thug Kitchen: Vegetable Pad Thai with Dry-Fried Tofu. Now, I am not a vegan nor a vegetarian. So I did not have tofu. I added chicken instead. I call myself a "meegan". A meat eating vegan. Is that even allowed? Probably not. Basically, I use these vegan cookbooks for clean, fresh, tasty options but modify them to suit my own (and Ian's, cause let's face it, the farm boy needs meat) tastes and preferences. I'm not gonna sit here and preach that there is a certain way anyone should eat - do what ya want!! I am! So back to the pad thai review (I put it in Italics so it would look fancy.. did it work??) I give it a 4.5/5. I would add less lime juice to the sauce and I would also make sure I actually remembered to check if I already have tomato paste in the cupboard (sticky notes failed me) so I don't have to use tomato sauce - it was a little runnier than I would have liked because of this. Hmm, what else. Well, for starters, I don't think I used the right amount of noodles - but that being said, I don't think there would have been enough to eat for the four people this is said to serve. It says to pile it high oh your plate, and I did - but within reason - and there really wasn't a whole lot left. I would say you could get three small portions or two generous portions out of this. I don't enjoy cilantro, so I left that out. The recipe calls for shallots, and I just used yellow onion, because let's face it - they are pretty much the same thing and I have a giant bag of onions in the cupboard.

I did add the peanuts on top - that seemed to make it taste less lime-y which was nice. I think for the cabbage and carrots that you are supposed to put on the side - I would stir fry them in next time! However, they did add a nice crunch and I added a little bit of the dressing on them as well. The store didn't have any bean sprouts because I was there on Sunday at 5:00 PM so I stupidly just bought alfalfa sprouts, which, I do love but will never eat the full container of them before they go bad. Plus they are a pain to rinse. Oh. This reminds me. I now have approximately 10000 pounds of green cabbage if anyone needs it. I guess I better learn how to make cabbage rolls in the next couple of days.

I scarfed this down, because once all is said and done, it was delicious! Yes, I say I would change a few things - but there was really nothing wrong with this at all!

On to the next: To-Go Breakfast Bars. Because Ian thinks a granola bar is breakfast, he might as well have one that gives him some energy! At first, I was a little sceptical that uncooked quinoa would work ... because I decided one day when I didn't have oats for overnight oats that I could just sub in quinoa. No. That didn't work. But I trusted Thug Kitchen and away I went. You toast the quinoa with oats and millet and it smells sooo nice. I have never seen millet before yesterday, let alone cook or bake with it - interesting looking little guys. The recipe calls for cranberries - or similar dried fruit. I opted for raisins because we already had them in the cupboard and I am quite content with my choice. (Oh She Glows has a granola bar like this as well that I've yet to make - but my cousin, Kristen, made me a batch for Christmas and they were very delicious!) I also used peanut butter because I bought almond butter - but only enough for another recipe.

Unfortunately, I don't have a 13 x 9 baking dish. I have two 9 x 9's but dividing the mixture into two made them both very thin so I just put it all in one. I think I will have to figure out a better system because the top dried out a bit and they were pretty crumbly. Some parts stayed a little more moist (sorry if you hate that word. I don't mind it... but I hate saying casserole **shudders**) than others. This was very easy to cut into bars.. not even ones, I need to work on that.. and put away in the fridge for rushed mornings (hint: every morning). I also really like that they tell you to put parchment paper in the dish before you put the mixture in - it made it very easy to get it out of the pan.

NEXT: Oh! I totally forgot that while all of this is going on, I was making Apple Baked Beans. I think we got a bad bag of beans, to be honest. Ian has tried twice from this same bag to make baked beans and they didn't soften when he soaked them overnight.Then this time, I tried and they didn't really soften. But also, Ian said there was a certain something in them that he didn't really like. When I read him the list of ingredients, he couldn't put a finger on it. I imagine maybe it was the rosemary, since that's something he wouldn't have had in his beans in the past. I don't like beans.. at all. So I didn't even try them. But they were pretty simple to make - and they were just simmered on the stove top instead of baked in the oven, which was nice because I was still able to bake the breakfast bars and....

Peanut Butter and Banana Nut Muffins. Okay, these are delicious. Have you ever had a banana nut muffin from Tim Horton's?? These are basically the exact same thing.. but better! They were super easy to make - I didn't even use the stand mixer! Not to mention, mixing the brown sugar and peanut butter was way easier than I imagined it would be. I used four bananas (that were so mushy and disgusting from thawing all day) instead of three .. because why would I leave one gross black banana in the freezer all by itself? I didn't use nuts because my smart self didn't think to look in the cupboard for walnuts. I just assumed we had some. (I know, brutal. Sometimes, I amaze myself that I remember to change out of my pyjamas  before I leave the house.) I think these muffins are great, but I think they would be GREAT with the walnuts. I yielded 11 big muffins. The cook time was spot on for my oven.

While these were baking, I prepped for tonight's supper: Barley-Stuffed Peppers. Not gonna lie. Before I went to Thunder Bay for Christmas, I noticed this recipe and put it on my radar. I also noticed, when I was in Thunder Bay, that my dad had barley. So I asked him if he was going to use it and since he said no, I swiped the bag... along with pine nuts cause they're too expensive for me to buy...... Well, this past weekend, I made a turkey-barley soup (DEE-lish!! It's from +Real Simple) and have just been on a bit of a barley kick. Consensus on the stuffed peppers: Well, bell peppers are super expensive, so it is unfortunate that you need four. Also unfortunate, is that I have leftover stuffing - which means I should have bought 5 or 6 peppers.... $$$$$$$. But I can eat the stuffing on it's own for lunch, so that's a bit of a bonus. I don't really know how I felt about the flavours, to be honest. The thyme and oregano were kind of plain.. well, no, not plain. I don't know the word I'm looking for! Maybe some parsley would have helped? I tried a bit with some Thai chili sauce (you  know, the one you get from Costco in the GIANT bottle) and some with leftover pad thai dressing, while Ian added some Frank's Red Hot to his. I think with some playing around, I could definitely find a way to make this something I really, really enjoy. It was easy enough to prepare the night before and just toss in the oven when I got in the door. I won't get started on Tara making fun of me at work for eating the tops of the peppers....Can't waste any parts!!!!

Okay, so those are all of the things I made last night. Crazy, I know.

Tomorrow I'm going to prep White Bean and Red Lentil Burgers to eat on Wednesday night... Ian has some beef awaiting it's own burger prep, don't worry... and I'm looking forward to them - I have only made the veggie burgs from Oh She Glows, but these recipes are both very different from each other. And since you can't have burgers without fries - I'm going to use the directions offered in Thug Kitchen instead of my usual winging it.

Now that you're probably salivating. Or craving a juicy burger... I hope you'll be a little adventurous in the kitchen sometime soon! I know I have Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies next up on my to-make list as well! If you're a fan of +Thug Kitchen Team or +Oh She Glows , let me know some of your favourite recipes and I'll be sure to make them soon!

dream big dreams, be reckless (but not too reckless, as my Aunt Anne would say!!!)

PS - don't forget to follow me @gotl_blog on Instagram and Twitter!

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