because behaving is boring

Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread

I’ve been clear on my stance on raisins… If you’re new around here, let me catch you up: I hate them. The taste is foul, they stick in your teeth, and they look like rabbit turds. I can’t really think of a single redeeming factor.

My child, however, loves the nasty little things… Give him a little box and he will gladly cram them into his mouth as if they were something actually delicious. He goes through phases… Sometimes he’ll only ask for raisins a couple of times a day, and others he’s a broken record.

“Rasins? Rasins, mama? MAMA. RASINS. I hab it, the rasins? Pease?”

So it was one of those days… And I was trying to get some work done so I didn’t leap up the second he asked for them, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. I found him sitting on the kitchen floor with a bowl full of raisins in front of him, happily stuffing his face.
“Hey, buddy…where’s the box?”

He beamed with pride and said, “I frow it away!”

Rather than find a container for the remaining raisins, I decided to make some bread. Oddly enough, I actually do like cinnamon raisin bread, and I figured I had everything to make it. When it was time for O’s lunch, I took a break from my audio files and gathered the necessary ingredients. Once he was safely contained settled in his high chair, I got to work.

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Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (this was just an attempt to use up some almond milk that wasn’t my usual brand…feel free to use 2 cups of regular milk.)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon  (or to taste, however you like your cinnamon/sugar mixture)

Preheat your oven to 350° and spray two loaf pans with Baker’s Joy.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon). Add oil, milk, and eggs (I like to measure out the milk, crack the eggs into it, and whisk it all together, but you do you) and stir until all is combined. Add raisins and stir again.

In a seperate bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

Scoop a little batter into each loaf pan, then sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar on top. Keep alternating layers of batter and sugar until batter is gone. Make sure to get equal amounts into the loaf pans. Using a knife, swirl the batter and sugar together. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

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So yes, the term “quick bread” is relative here since it takes a while to bake, but it’s worth it. I didn’t get much almond flavor, and I was sad about that, but the brand of almond milk I got sucked. Seriously, it was like water. Lesson learned!

I have accidentally eaten three pieces already, so I should warn you that it’s pretty irresistible.

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Opinions…

Opinions are like assholes… Everyone is one!

…Wait, that’s not right.

Except, in some cases, maybe it is. Like maybe in the case of my Facebook newsfeed lately.

If you haven’t heard, Governor Mike Pence signed a bill recently that caused a bit of a stir. Feel free to check out this article in the Indianapolis Star.

…but this is not going to be about my opinion about the bill. I have already mentioned that I think it’s a bit unnecessary and dealing with it was a waste of taxpayer money. After all, our schools are a mess, the crime rate in Indy is insane, and there’s an honest-to-God HIV outbreak in southern Indiana. So, a few more pressing matters that should get attention, I think.

No, this is about the reaction it’s getting. Maybe it’s because I live here, but my newsfeed is full of people absolutely flipping their shit over this. You have the supporters sharing anything and everything they can find that backs their opinion,  and the other side is busy commenting and screaming at them for being bigots.

Then you have the people that don’t care. They don’t care so much that they spend some time seeking out articles that explain why this whole thing is a total non-issue. And because they care so very little, they make sure to share them on Facebook, making sure to type something like “Educate yourself!” I’m assuming that all of this is rather taxing on these people, because it must be a tremendous effort to not even care one little bit.

Ok, that was laying it on thick, even for me…

My point to all of this is that we all get to have an opinion. Every single one of us.

Some people will research for days.

Some people will skim a few articles.

Some people will read headlines, then take a look at what their friends have to say.

But no one gets to have a say over how other people form their opinions, just like no one gets to say someone is uneducated because they didn’t reach the same conclusion as you.

That doesn’t seem the least bit disrespectful? I have an idea, next time you want to say, “Educate yourself”, why don’t you just look the person in the eye, muster up the most condiscending tone you can take, and say, “Well aren’t you just a stupid little twat?”

Because that’s how it sounds.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I am mostly annoyed by this because someone actually said to me, “Why don’t you actually, you know, read the bill before you get mad about it. You just don’t understand it.”

Oh really?

I took a look at it. I don’t typically let my knee-jerk reaction to something become my official stance. But you know what else I’ve read?

Salesforce Won’t Travel to Indiana over controversial bill

NCAA Releases Statement Over Bill

GenCon Threatens to Move Convention if Bill is Signed

So yeah, I’m going to go ahead and get my panties in a wad over the fact that our state’s tourism revenue may take a serious hit. Another Super Bowl? Probably unlikely.

And yes, I will be a little more mindful of where I spend my money from now on. And I will probably be more likely to visit a business if it displays an Open for Service sticker in the window.

But what do I know? I probably didn’t even read this post.

Quick and easy: Brown rice with avocado and crispy egg

Deadlines are making me CRAZY right now. I’m in the middle of one huge ongoing project that has me basically putting in full-time hours. On top of that, I have an article due this weekend that I’m struggling with.

I’m not complaining… After all, freelancing tends to be pretty feast or famine. Sometimes I feel like I can’t seem to scare up any work, but others (like now) I almost end up with more than I can manage. I’m happy to have the work, believe me.

Being this busy makes it pretty tempting to let myself survive on coffee all day, because it’s much easier to pour a cup and get back to work. Since I’ve been going to the gym every morning, though,  I have actually cut back on my coffee consumption and started doing crazy things like eating real food during the day. Imagine that.

I’m also much more aware of the type of food I’m eating. I find that I actually crave healthier foods and I’m thinking of food more as fuel for my body instead of just what will taste good. Of course, whatever I eat (especially during the day) needs to come together quickly, and it’s even better if I can prep it ahead of time.

I think I found the perfect lunch.

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This doesn’t look like much, but it was quick, delicious, and filling without making me feel sluggish. It would be an excellent way to use any leftover brown rice.

I tried a different method when frying my egg, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back… I did end up flipping my egg to cook on the other side briefly, because I have nightmares about undercooked egg whites. Not really. Well, maybe.

This really isn’t even a recipe…more like instructions for assembly. It’s just that easy.

Brown rice with avocado and crispy egg
1/3 cup uncooked quick-cook brown rice

1/3 cup water

Olive oil

1 egg

1/2 of an acocado

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Prepare rice according to packace directions. While rice is cooking, cut the avocado in half. Cut one half into slices, and save the remaining half for later.

Fry the egg according to the instructions here. I gently patted mine with a paper towel after frying to get rid of any excess oil.

When your egg is done, spoon the rice into a bowl, top with avocado slices, then with your egg. Sprinkle parm on top, then crack some pepper over everything. You can add salt if you like, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

Hot sauce might be a good addition, but I practically inhaled this. I only remembered the hot sauce as I was rinsing my bowl.

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It was so good that I am actually looking forward to eating this again tomorrow. I won’t lie, I considered having it again for dinner.

What is your favorite quickie lunch?

Greek style cucumber and tomato salad

I woke up yesterday morning, before the sun, before anyone else in my house, and left for the gym. I do this every morning so it’s not remarkable. Since I started this in the winter, it also isn’t remarkable that my car was covered in a layer of ice that took forever to scrape off.

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I’m not usually one to publicly bitch and moan about weather that is still pretty typical for our area (we’ve had snow on Easter before),  but if I’m being totally honest…I’m over it. I’m tired of being cold. I don’t want to wear a thousand layers whenever I leave the house. I’m not asking for much… just, maybe 65° and sunny?

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Ok, I’d take this, too.

One thing I’m really missing right now is fresh produce. I want to go to the Farmer’s Market and pick out some nice tomatoes and sweet corn, local honey, strawberries…

You get the point.

So a few days ago, Kroger had some rather pretty grape tomatoes on sale. I managed to find a couple of decent cucumbers, and for once the baby dill looked fresh and not sad and wilty.

I had some chicken cutlets that I planned to roll around a filling of spinach and feta cheese, so why not make a Greek-ish salad to go with them?

This salad, and maybe the whole dinner, was just what I needed to perk up a little. I suggest picking up some naan or pita bread to go with it, because you’ll need something to sop up the extra dressing.

Greek style cucumber and tomato salad

1 container grape tomatoes, halved

2 cucumbers, cut into bite-sized chunks

About 1/4 of a small onion, cut into thin slivers

About a handful of pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1 container crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3-4 sprigs fresh dill, washed and minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Greek seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Toss the tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives, and feta into a bowl with a tightly fitting lid.

Whisk dressing ingredients until combined, then pour over salad. Make sure the lid is good and secure, then give it all a good shake to combine and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours. I put mine together while O ate breakfast, so it got to marinate all day before we devoured it.

Taste it before serving and add whatever seasoning it needs. I ended up adding a bit more Greek seasoning, but be careful. The feta is pretty salty, so don’t go overboard.

I served this along with my spinach and feta stuffed chicken cutlets and some lemon dill roasted potatoes.

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Excuse the poorly-lit picture, but I had to hurry because two starving guys were about to descend upon the dinner I had so artfully crafted. I knew if I waited there wouldn’t be much left. Surprisingly, O ate every bite on his plate, held it up and said, “more, pease?”

I gladly piled more on, and told him I was happy to see him eating so well.

“I happy, mama! It soooo dood!”

And then he shoveled his second helping in like he hadn’t eaten in a week.

That kid got a scoop of ice cream topped with a crumbled Oreo and chocolate syrup after dinner. Of course, he ate all of that, too.

Hell, I was so excited that he ate so much that if he’d asked for a pony I would have gone looking for one.

Stay tuned…I’ll post the recipes for the chicken and potatoes soon!

Rosemary and roasted garlic hummus

Oh, hey guys! Remember me?

To say I’ve been busy would be an understatement. I’ve been going to the gym regularly, I accepted a couple of new freelance gigs, and I’ve been crocheting and cooking like crazy.

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You want to make this roast, by the way. I adapted this recipe to work for a roast in the crock pot. It was delicious.

I also baked this sweet little smash cake for a sweet little girl’s one year pictures.

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That would be a white cake (that I threw sprinkles into at the last minute for fun) with chocolate and pink buttercream.

I have also been on a major hummus kick lately. I made a batch last week that was, quite literally, a bunch of stuff thrown into my food processor. It was good, but I really wanted some roasted garlic in there.

Today, after feeding my little stinker breakfast (that he decided not to touch), we made a quick trip to the grocery store for hummus fixins. As soon as we got home, I popped the garlic into the oven to roast. O “cooked” while I crocheted, and after about an hour the garlic was ready to go.

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Making your own hummus is so simple and easy, I don’t know why everyone isn’t doing it. Aside from roasting the garlic, it took about five minutes to make mine and it tastes so much better than store bought!

Rosemary and roasted garlic hummus
1 16 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

A couple of sprigs fresh rosemary

1 head of roasted garlic (follow the easy instructions here)**

Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Olive oil

Cumin

Salt and pepper

Add chick peas, roasted garlic, rosemary leaves (removed from the stem), lemon juice, and about a teaspoon each of cumin, salt, and pepper to your food processor. Start with about a tablespoon each of olive oil and water, pop the top on that puppy, and turn it on. Let it go for a while, and once everything starts to look nice and pulverized, stop and scrape the sides of the bowl down. Check the texture and taste, then add whatever it needs. If it feels dry, add in a bit more water and olive oil. You can also throw in whatever spices or herbs you want.

Keep blending and checking until you have the texture you like. Spoon it into an airtight container and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.

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If you can keep from eating all of it in one sitting, I’ll be impressed. I forced myself to put it in the fridge after shoveling half of it in my face.

**This may sound like a lot of garlic to you…And it probably is. I just really, really love the stuff. Feel free to back it down a bit. Whatever you don’t out in the hummus can be spread onto bread or mixed into mashed potatoes, soup, etc…

Overnight breakfast barley

I’ve been trying to come up with healthy breakfast ideas for O lately that can be made ahead. He’s been eating a ton of oatmeal lately (both the refrigerator kind and quickly-cooked that morning), and there’s always some sort of fruit involved. For a few days he had whole-wheat waffles with peanut butter and maple syrup, but then the toaster tried to kill me.

Seriously, flames shot out of the bottom. That’ll wake you up.

I bought some barley for the cauliflower salad I made to go with my beer chicken, and I thought it would make a nice breakfast for O. Barley is full of good things like fiber (not that my kid really needs more fiber…) and whatnot.

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The only problem is that it takes about 40 minutes to cook and we just don’t have that kind of time in the morning.

Oh, hello there crock pot.

Yes, my favorite kitchen item (besides my 8 inch chef knife) can also do breakfast duty. 

This is seriously the easiest thing in the world, and it’s entirely customizable. You can stir in peanut butter or maple syrup, nuts, granola, dried fruit, fresh fruit, chia seeds, almond milk… Whatever makes your heart sing!

Overnight breakfast barley

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
4 1/2 cups water
Optional:
Honey
Frozen berries
Sliced almonds
Cinnamon
Milk

Before you go to bed, use a mesh strainer to rinse barley, then dump it in the crock pot. Add water, give it a stir, and set it on low. I got mine started around 11:00, and I woke up around 7:30. I’d say at least 6 hours should do it.

That’s it!

To serve, I threw some frozen berries in a bowl, spooned the barley on top, and then stirred in some sliced almonds, honey, cinnamon, and a little milk.

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The frozen berries cooled the hot barley, and the heat from the barley thawed the berries. It was a delicious breakfast that was really simple and healthy.

I spooned the leftover barley into an air tight container and put it in the fridge, but you could easily freeze it in individual servings.

What are your favorite healthy breakfast ideas?

Crockpot beer chicken

I don’t generally cook with beer or wine… I suppose I worry that the alcohol won’t totally cook out, and the one time I decided to get wild and add some Guinness to my beef stew it ended up bitter. That was a sad day.

I keep hearing about this magical beer chicken, though. The most simple recipes call for little more than chicken and beer, but some call for herbs and spices. You apparently end up with super moist and flavorful chicken, just for pouring a beer in the pot.

And maybe pour one out for your homies.

…What? I don’t know…

Coincidentally, I happened to see Guinness Blonde at the store recently. I love Guinness, and I wanted to try this new, lighter version…I can’t remember the last time I actually purchased beer, let alone drink one, so I’d been hoping to see it in a 40 ounce bottle. Of course I’d need a brown paper bag with it because I’m super classy…Ok, really I wanted to find a 40 because I couldn’t justify spending the eleven freaking dollars for a sixer of beer just so I could drink one. You know what? I’m getting way off topic. Back to the chicken.

(I did end up buying a six pack of the Guinness Blonde, but from a liquor store for eight bucks.)

You. Guys.

Not only is this the best chicken ever, but it was insanely easy. I did toss a few extra ingredients in there, but nothing wild or hard to prep. You should totally put this on your meal plan soon, if you’re the type to be that organized.

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Crockpot Beer Chicken

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 12 ounce bottle Guinness Blonde  (or your favorite beer)

About 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced

3 garlic cloves

About a cup of chicken broth

Baby carrots

3 or 4 small to medium potatoes, cut into chunks

Salt and pepper

Trim any excess fat from your chicken, then place it in the bottom of your crock pot along with the onions and garlic cloves. Pour in beer, crack some pepper over everything and sprinkle in a little salt. Put the lid on and let it cook on high for about four-ish hours.

After four hours, add the chicken broth (I dissolved chicken bouillon in a cup of hot water), celery, carrots, and potatoes. Turn the crock pot to low and let it go for at least another three hours.

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Serve this chicken with this delightful warm cauliflower and herbed barley salad from Bon Appétit, and maybe a hunk of warm, crusty, French bread to soak up the juices.

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This made a really satisfying meal, and the leftovers make excellent sandwiches. I think I’ve managed to finally conquer my fear of cooking with beer…Now I may be adding it to everything!


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