Basics · healthy · Rice · travel · vacation · vegetarian · Yummy

How to Make Brown Rice + Costa Rican Adventures

Okay, so here’s the thing. I flew in from Costa Rica this morning at 1am. It was 2 flights, a 4 hour layover, a confused and lost Lyft driver, and a 90 degree temperature difference. By the time I corrected my Lyft driver, picked up my car, made a tampon run, dropped off my bag, showered, and collapsed into bed at T’s, it was 3am. So forgive me for not having pictures of this week’s recipe. It’s really because I wasn’t planning on posting about rice this week. I was originally going to do spinach dip, but that will have to wait. Who the fuck cares about spinach dip when I’ve spent the last week eating the most delicious Costa Rican food? So I thought I’d help everyone out with the constant fucking struggle that is rice. The photos can inspire ways to serve your rice, but I will have no photos of the process, or even of rice I’ve cooked myself. I think you’ll all live.

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My friend, Liz, and I went to Costa Rica together for a week. I always forget that she doesn’t like swimming, especially in the ocean, which is literally my favorite thing. So imagine my surprise when she leaps at the chance to jump off the roof of our catamaran tour boat. The guides gave us 15 minutes of swim time before bringing us all to the shore of a secluded white sand beach (I know, right?!). I didn’t honestly think she’d want to swim at all, much less dive in from the roof. She doesn’t even like heights! As much as I love swimming and the ocean, I wasn’t even 100% sure I wanted to jump from the roof. I thought I’d climb down the ladder like a fucking wuss, dipping one chubby leg in at a time. But I can’t be the one to discourage her wave of bravery. Who am I to rain on her fucking parade? We were doing this. As we climbed to the roof of the rocking boat, I immediately tripped on the rope that had literally just been pointed out to me. Off to a good start. Just great. We made our way to the edge of the roof, got some reassurance from those that jumped before us, held hands, and leaped into the dark green water below. I landed ass first, obviously. I must have panicked mid-air, and decided to put my largest bit first. Makes sense, I guess.

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Snacks from our catamaran tour

We also spent our time eating gallo pinto and casados con pollo. Gallo pinto is a traditional breakfast dish made up of rice and beans mixed together with some spices and hot sauce (and cilantro, which is NOT food). We had ours with eggs and a side of fruit every morning. Luckily, I was never able to taste the cilantro in the gallo pinto.

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Gallo pinto with eggs

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The “weird” casados with an egg, ranch dressing, tortillas, AND mashed potatoes?

 

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A more traditional casados

Casados is a traditional plate of food, usually consisting of rice, beans, salad with “ugly lemon” squeezed over the top, fried plantains, and your choice of meat or fish. I took off my vegetarian label to experience the local cuisine, and opted to try pork once and fish many times. Each restaurant had a different form of casados, some of them even adding an egg on top (Liz was baffled). Within 3 days, I realized that I had made the grave mistake of not properly preparing my body for a sudden influx of beans. That, combined with a serious lack of water intake, caused bloating like I’d never experienced. All night long my stomach was making the saddest sounding whale noises, while my lower abdomen stuck out far enough to be a mid-term pregnancy. You’re welcome for that visual (and audio).

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Casados con chicharrones (fatty pork bits)

Brown Rice

1 cup dry, long grain brown rice

6(+/-) cups water, divided

1 teaspoon salt

Olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, bring 3-4 cups water to a boil. Add in the rice and let boil for 17 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Drizzle ~2 tablespoons of oil into a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is relatively hot and has thoroughly coated the pan. Add in the rice and keep stirring as it sizzles. Allow it to fry slightly for 2-3 minutes as you continue to stir. Add in 3 cups of water and the salt. Stir everything well, making sure none of the rice is sticking to the bottom. Lower to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 25 minutes. Make sure to stay close, though. You will likely need to add in some more water (probably about 1/2 cup). DO NOT STIR ONCE THE SIMMERING HAS STARTED. If you do, you’ll fuck it up. Don’t be a fuck up. Also, if you abandon your rice and start to smell it burning from another room – it’s too fucking late. That shit will be all fucked up. Trust me, I know. I’ve fucked up many a batches of rice.

Serve it with SO many things – tacos, burritos, meat/fish, eggs, roasted veggies.

Here are some of the critters we saw:

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breakfast · brunch · comfort food · dinner · easy · eggs · gluten free · healthy · lunch · quick · vegetarian · Yummy

Classic Scrambled Eggs and a New Friend

Two months ago someone handed me a kitten. They walked into my work (at an animal hospital) and said they found the little fuzz ball running around in the street. It was June 8th, the day Anthony Bourdain died, and I was in a dark place. I woke up that morning to the news on my phone and cried with Cortney while making breakfast. Anthony Bourdain has been one of my idols for years. I’m not one to mourn celebrity deaths much, but this one hit too close to home.

Around 8:30 that morning a woman walked in with a little nugget of a cat to check for a microchip. She’d hung onto him for 4 days at this point, and could no longer keep him due to allergies. I held him in my palms and he leaned back against my fingers as if he was in a tiny recliner, all the while sniffing my chin. Before I even knew what was happening, I blurted out that I might be interested in keeping him. THERE WAS NO THOUGHT PROCESS AT ALL. He pressed his little wet nose against my neck and I was done. The person they had lined up to take him fell through, and 30 minutes later he was mine.

I texted the boyfriend (who we’ll start calling T) telling him what happened and looking for name suggestions. His immediate response was, “Bourdain.” And so it was.

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He was mine and I was his. Neither of us was quite sure what to do.

Within 24 hours I realized that I had made the very grave mistake of adopting a demon. He was 3 pounds and what nightmares were made of. T was watching him while I was in Duluth with Cortney, and he texted me a few hours after dropping him off saying, “THIS IS MORE WORK THAN A BABY.” It was like a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum ALL OF THE TIME. Except this little fucker bites. HARD. If kittens weren’t so fucking cute, cats wouldn’t exist at all. We’d just murder them all and not even feel bad about it. They’d be considered pests, and we’d hire old, gruff dudes to “take care of it.”

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Look at those sharp little teeth!

Within 48 hours I was having some serious buyer’s remorse. He peed in my laundry a week after peeing on my bed, and I thought, “This is it. I’m going to be a kitten murderer, and no one will be my friend again.” No one wants to be friends with a kitten murderer. I had to control myself.

It took him a solid 3 weeks to be allowed free range of the apartment without supervision. It took another 3 weeks for us to successfully sleep in the same bed without him biting me. Honestly, we’re still working on the biting. But he’s good with Harriet. And I think he’s good for me. He shook up my life, and I need that sometimes. We all do.

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Harriet’s checking to see if the eggs are fresh. She’s a good helper.

So, between the two of us, T and I now have 4 cats. It will certainly make living together interesting, should that ever happen. I’m sure Bourdain wouldn’t even flinch at the idea of terrorizing all 3 of the other cats. He’s completely brazen and undeterred, and while that irritates me, I respect it.

Scrambled eggs with buttered sourdough toast has been my obsession for the last few months. I took Anthony Bourdain’s approach with this, and kept it simple. No cream. No milk. No herbs or hot sauce. Just butter, salt, pepper, and fresh eggs.

Classic Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs

1/2 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper

Absolutely NOTHING else

Place a skillet on the stove over medium heat. Drop in a pat of butter. Crack eggs into a small bowl, making sure to pick out any shells. Whisk until the yolk and white are fully incorporated, but not whisked into oblivion (control yourself). Swish around the butter that should be melted in the pan to fully coat the bottom. Then add another pat of butter and immediately afterwards, add in the eggs plus salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of the pan with the eggs and wait until it starts to set (maybe 30 seconds) before moving it all around. Add more salt and pepper after pushing the eggs around a bit with a wooden spoon. Anthony Bourdain says to make a figure 8 with the spoon, but I find that moving around any which way works just fine. Once the eggs are mostly cooked (but still look a little wet), scoop them out onto the plate. The residual heat will finish cooking them without making them rubbery.  Serve with a thick slice (or two!) of fresh baked sourdough toast slathered with lots of fresh butter. I like to piled it on the bread and eat it like an open faced sandwich. Bourdain always tries to get a bite, too. He’s kind of a dick.

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Not a scrambled egg, but you get the gist. He’s a MONSTER.

comfort food · easy · Holiday recipes · potluck food · sides · Stuffing · thanksgiving · vegetarian · Yummy

Vegetarian Stuffing

I spent my Thanksgiving watching the parade, drinking champagne, playing Sorry, drinking more champagne, cooking awesome food, eating awesome food, and oh, did I mention drinking champagne? And then we ended it with cake! Best. Day. Ever.

And I fucking cooked Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, minus the turkey, obviously. But still! It was a success. And this recipe from Buzzfeed was shockingly easy and delicious. We were originally planning on making stuffing from a box, but fuck that shit. For some reason, I was under the impression that stuffing is complicated to make. Not the case! It’s basically savory bread pudding. Why didn’t I realize this?

I know that looks like meat, but it’s actually vegan Korean BBQ “ribs.” I was feelin’ fancy, so I picked some up at the Herbivorous Butcher for fucking $12.99/lb. FML.

I am a carb lover at heart. When I was a child, I would routinely eat an entire sleeve of Toasteds crackers and then lie about it (I especially loved them slathered in easy cheese, but try not to judge me). It comes as no surprise that stuffing is my very favorite Thanksgiving food. I usually eat it for breakfast the next day (or several days), which always appalled my sister. Since I love bread so much, and because I didn’t actually know what I was doing, I ripped the bread into somewhat large chunks for this recipe. You don’t have to do that, but you’re missing out if you don’t. The larger chunks held onto SO much flavor without becoming mushy. It was chewy and comforting, just like stuffing should be, but I ended up having to individually spear some of the bread pieces with my fork, having to bite off half of it at a time. This is not a bad problem to have, and I still highly recommend the larger chunks. Especially for dipping them into your eggs in the morning when all you want for breakfast is stuffing, but you figure you better add an egg to it to make it “real” breakfast! I also added cooked spinach and Swiss chard to it, because I figured I needed a vegetable, too. See? You can make stuffing for breakfast seem completely balanced and normal.

Side note: Turns out I hate cranberry sauce. I mean, what is it’s point? To make literally everything on the plate tart and fruity? WHY? I just want to add it to a peanut butter sandwich and move on with my life. Stop trying to taint my food, cranberry sauce. Fuck.

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Vegetarian Stuffing (originally a Buzzfeed recipe, which shocked me)

1 loaf crusty, white bread

4 stalks celery, diced

1 large onion, diced

6 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups veggie broth

Salt and pepper

Tear the bread up into smallish (bite-sized) chunks and spread out on a baking sheet. Let it sit out for at least 6 hours (or overnight) until it becomes stale (this way it won’t turn to mush when we add all the other good stuff). If it’s time to start cooking, and you realize you forgot to dry out the bread, that’s okay! Just throw it in the oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in the celery and onion (plus a little salt and pepper) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and continue to cook for an additional few minutes, stirring frequently. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with a big splash of the broth. We need to slowly bring the eggs up to the correct temperature, so they don’t scramble when added to the mixture. Whisk them well with a bit of broth, then add a bit more, eventually adding all of the broth little by little. If your broth is low sodium, add a little salt and pepper here. If not, just add a little black pepper. Place the dried bread into a large mixing bowl, and pour all other ingredients over the top. Mix well, making sure all the bread gets coated. Buzzfeed says to be “gentle but firm,” which is fucking perfect. Isn’t that just great advice for everything in life?

Throw all that shit into a 9×13 baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 30ish minutes at 425 before uncovering. Then bake for another 15 minutes until it gets golden brown. This serves about 6, but is super fucking delicious, so maybe only 4. If you didn’t share it with anyone, and made it on a random Wednesday in May, I would 100% understand.

baking · breakfast · brunch · dessert · easy · gluten free · lunch · quick · snacks · vegetarian

Simple Homemade Granola

Guys. I have been so good at budgeting this month. Yes, I only it’s only a few days in the month, but still. I went 3 days without spending any money at all. NONE. No fancy pillows, no donuts, no coffee, NOTHING.

That streak was broken Saturday when I went to make dinner for a couple of friends, and realized that I had used all my brown sugar making cookies the night before. Sigh. I had to go to the store – I had a plan! I was just going to buy brown sugar. No big deal. I ended up with 2 avocados and an onion, in addition to my brown sugar.

It really could have been so much worse. I didn’t even look at the bakery section. That’s progress.

So, I actually filled out my budget spreadsheet from last month. My home decor section (which honestly shouldn’t even exist) was out of control. I blame the fancy pillows. Those fuckers tricked me into thinking I needed them. It wasn’t my fault. My budget for home decor this month is $0. Obviously.

When I went to the grocery store on the first of the month, I decided it would be my only trip for 2 weeks. The following day, I was really sad I hadn’t splurged on granola. But, seriously, that shit is expensive. I figured I didn’t need it. But regular oatmeal makes me sad. So I had an internal battle with myself about stopping at the store and ONLY getting granola.

You know what I did instead?

I fucking made my own.

That shit goes for like $10 a bag, and I made twice as much with shit I just had lying around my kitchen. Genius. I’m so fucking proud of myself.

Be like me. Don’t waste your money.

Simple Homemade Granola

3 cups old fashioned oats

A handful of sunflower seeds (shell-less, obviously)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Splash of vanilla extract

Splash of almond extract (this is key!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the oats and sunflower seeds in a large glass baking dish, and bake for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. While that is baking, whisk all other ingredients together in a small bowl. Once the oats are done, pour wet ingredients over dry, and mix all together. Pour everything on to a greased baking sheet, and spread into an even layer. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn off the oven but leave the pan in for another 5-8 minutes. Let cool/harden. Scoop some into a bowl, add some chia seeds, sliced banana, and milk. Feel smug about your frugal nature. Try not to spend the $10 you saved on fancy pillows or donuts.

**Side note: You could add any type of nut to this as well. I just didn’t have any on hand. It would also be great with dried fruit or chocolate chips, which should be added at the end (once it’s cooled). This recipe is easily adjusted to whatever flavor you want – be creative!

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This is Harriet watching me scrape the granola off of the pan after it cooled. She obviously approves. Look at that look of desperation.