Friday, June 29, 2012

Odds and Ends

Well...I've survived my first week of living, cooking, and eating on my own! Here are a couple snapshots of what I've been eating this week:

hearty: rice and lentils mixed with bok choy, carrots, and onions

fresh: pasta and olive oil with steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, lentils, kale, and cilantro

Overall I've just been steaming all my veggies because it's just so much easier and quicker than stir frying or roasting. It's easy to clean up too -- I just have to wash the bowl I used to steam rather than pots or pans! Steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook anyways; the fact that it's quick and the veggies don't come in direct contact with the water results in them retaining most of their minerals and nutrients.

for fun: oatmeal-raisin "cookies" inspired by katie. I added more oats than usual and probably kept them in the oven for too long...thus the granola-like texture. They weren't very sweet but definitely a good snack to much on!

My internship hasn't started yet so I have lots of free time to catch up with friends, so I ate out a lot this past week:
Korean bbq in K-town, Sushi on Sawtelle, and cooking with a friend! (made honey-maple chicken with grilled onions, and salsa-and-onion-seasoned shrimp...delicious :) )

until next time,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Warm Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad;

This afternoon I decided to make my (at least for now!) favorite lunch dish: a warm black bean & sweet potato salad courtesy of OhSheGlows. I discovered this recipe last summer and since then, have made it every single time I've gone home. Now that I have a kitchen....I can make it all the time if I want to! It's a combination of some of my favorite how can that not taste good?!

The recipe is on Angela's website. I used the same ingredients as her version, but tweaked the preparation a bit to make it easier:

  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, preferably red, chopped  (1.5 cups chopped)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh lime juice (Juice of 2 limes), to TASTE!
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, drained (14-15oz can)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced (made about 3 tablespoons minced)

     - Instead of roasting the onions and sweet potatoes, I cube the sweet potatoes and steam them until they're soft. This is way faster and cleaner than turning on the oven and roasting! I leave the onions raw; in this case I poured some boiling water over them to get rid of the pungent smell but overall the raw onions give it a crunchy texture. If you don't like raw onions, go ahead and roast or caramelize them.

     - To cook the black beans I drain the can then put them in boiling water for a minute or so. This warms them up a bit too!

     - I mix the oil, spices, and cilantro in a big bowl before adding anything else; I then add in the beans and onions and mix that together before adding the sweet potatoes. I've found that this helps the flavors spread more evenly.

If you like these ingredients, please try this recipe. It's good, I promise :)

Here are some variations; using a red onion, with and without garlic, different amounts of cilantro...all delicious!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer: A Start to Apartment Life

First off, I apologize for not posting for a whole quarter! Spring quarter was extremely busy and I didn't find time to update this blog. I'll do a quick recap of Spring break/last quarter's food adventures sometime soon!

Anyways, I'm staying in the city of angels this summer, and am living in an apartment. One of the things I'm most excited about is having a kitchen and being able to cook for myself! Hopefully that means I'll be able to experiment much more than I am able to in the dorms :)

Yesterday was my first day here. I spent the morning shopping at Trader Joe's. The result:
A cornucopia of food!

Little did I anticipate how heavy this was going to be; I just about broke my back carrying all this back from the store to my apartment!

There are so many simple things that I needed to buy to start off, like salt and pepper, olive oil, and rice...the staples that are oh-so-essential for anything I'll be making! I tried to buy things conducive to quick cooking, because I know that weekdays will be very busy with my internship and classes. Hence the canned foods and pre-cut veggies.

A closer look:
veggies, canned beans, salt/pepper/cumin, canned fish (convenient!)

fruit and grains

I'm not fully stocked yet, but this is a start!

My first meal: lunch
I cooked up some rice pasta and threw it together with olive oil & salt, sliced grape tomatoes, chopped carrots, celery, and onion (bought as a pre-cut stock starter from TJ' was so quick and easy!), and chopped turkey breast atop of a bed of mixed greens. This should have been really quick to make, but it took some time figuring out where everything was in the kitchen! 

I didn't get back from the gym till around 5:15, and by the time I was done showering I was starving! I had planned to make rice or something, but I forgot that it takes about 40 minutes to cook rice. I couldn't wait, so scrapped that idea!

 enter: TJ's steamed lentils:
In the dorms I threw these on top of my salads to make them more substantial. I never ate them hot though, so I decided to try. These are pre-cooked so all I had to do was warm them up by putting the entire package in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. I figure that these would serve as my carbs, protein, and fiber for the day!

Of course, I couldn't eat just plain lentils for dinner, (oh, that would be the epitome of a starving college student!!) so I steamed up some baby bok choy and the same carrots, celery, and tomatoes I had for lunch, and mixed it in with the hot lentils

The final dinner turned out pretty good!

Not a bad start for my first day of cooking for myself!