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Packing Lunches: Mashed Cauli-tatoes

This font is called Trebuchet.  Sweet. While Xanga does not recognize that as the correct spelling, it is indeed (I double-checked).  In case you don’t know what the word means (but I doubt that), a trebuchet (treb-you-shay) is like a ground sling-shot that hurled rocks at one’s enemies (or more likely, their castle walls) in medeival times, and that young men today sometimes attempt to build, if they’re nerdy enough.  It’s quite ingenious.

Anyhow.  FOOD. I have been packing Tim’s lunches to save money, which I wanted to do all along, but didn’t want to tear him mercilessly from his last single-man habit: eating lunch with the guys. With some new financial demands, I brought up the idea again and he agreed, saying he’d just been thinking the same thing.  Aw. So then I had to start making things I could pack for his lunches, and of course, leftovers work well too.  Which is how he got sent out the door this morning with SNEAKY MASHED POTATOES!!!!

There’s a show called Cook Yourself Thin (which you can find for free on http://www.hulu.com) which introduced me to the idea of sneaky substitutions.  Actually, my mom did when she said “use applesauce when you bake instead of oil.” Also, my very domestic friend M informed me the other day that one can use a can of black beans (un-drained) blended up in a brownie mix in place of all the other ingredients for fudgy goodness, and that it’s undetectable unless you overbake.  Hmm…I really want to try that now. >:} But back to the show: the three hosts take somebody who wants to drop a dress size and helps the guest achieve her goal simply by changing the way she eats (and cooks), without enjoying food less. In my opinion, that’s the only way to diet and stick to it.  If you don’t like what you are eating, you’ll most likely cheat.  So they instructed making mashed potatoes with cauliflower (I mean, in addition to; some completely nix the potatoes—google recipes for faux potatoes) to cut the calories in half.  I watched the show but paid attention to the other recipes (or recipe, singular: DESSERT!). The idea, however, was in the back of my mind.

Until. The other day my mom gave me a bag of potatoes.  I have bought my own before, but they go bad before I use them all.  So we swapped onions and potatoes.  And then I realized I should use these ones before they stink up my kitchen (that’s usually how I remember I even have potatoes stashed in the pantry).  I pondered what to do with them for a bit:

Baked potatoes?  Mmm..they’re fast, but kinda dry usually, and I have no sour cream.

Potatoe Soup?  Too hot out.

How ’bout mashed?

(I sorta whined to myself that making mashed potatoes has never worked for me in the past; it was too hard to get them cooked all the way to mash them. But recalling the Cook Yourself Thin show made it seem possible.)

I decided this time not to try to boil them.  Takes too long.  I scrubbed them (skin on; “it’s healthier that way” –or I’m lazy) and poked holes in them, then microwaved 6 small potatoes for 5 minutes.  Let them sit while I cut up a head of cauliflower, then did the same to the cauliflower (with some water in the casserole dish, lid offset a bit).  I was doubtful about the outcome until I whipped them together in my mixer and added some “cream cheese” (actually, it was Neufchâtel; “the main distinction between the two cheeses is their fat content: While cream cheese by law must contain at least 33% milk fat and not more than 55% moisture, American Neufchâtel weighs in with about 23% milk fat and slightly higher moisture content”– http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/whats-the-difference-between-neufchatel-and-cream-cheese-the-cheesemonger-143447 ). I added dill, salt, a couple Tbsp. of “butter,” and bacon bits, and topped it off with cheddar.  Tim tried some when I was out for the evening, and when I inquired of the taste, he immediately became suspicious but could not put his finger on my particular method of mischief.  

Thus, mashed caulitatoes was a success!  And you can too.  Or something.

Are there any sneaky substitutions you’ve pulled off?

 

 

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Food Processor Frenzy!!!!

Today I am in a food-processor frenzy, and it all started when…

I bought a bunch of celery, which seemed like a good snack filled with peanut butter.  Problem is, I’m lazy and did not ever get it out, cut off some stalks, wash and snack on it.  It was looking kind of sad in the fridge. BUT THEN, just when I should have been vacuuming, I got a “use my cool stuff” urge (also influenced by beautiful basil plants waving in the wind outside my window–which might need [to be] cleaned, again). 

First, I thin-sliced BRRRRRRzzz-OH-SO-FAST!!! the whole bunch of celery, freezing some (flat- to bag later, so it easily un-chunks to use in stuff like soup) and reserving some to go into STIR FRY later.  Yes, I am using too much capitalization in this post, but that’s because I had a coffee, and now it’s fun to say things more loudly, even if it’s typing it loudly.  >:}

NEXT, I got out some carrots (the cute “baby” carrots which were 29cents a lb. last week at Aldi, my fav. food store) and thin sliced them too!  Bwahahaa. No freezing, this time, but I did reserve some for stir-fry as well.  Speedy chopping is good.  I do love my very sharp knife, but this is better.  Plus, I can still use it to cut out bad spots and tomatoe stems, etc… I chopped up some more, plus tomatoes (from mom’s garden, as mine are slow to ripen), which I added to . . . (wait for it) . . .

the mix I am concocting for VEGGIE BURGERS!!!   Ok, so they’re not gonna be completely veggie…I admit there might be a grilled hotdog in there that I did not feel like eating. (“Hot dog” and “healthy” are oxymorons, I know…but I didn’t wanna waste it.)

Then, whilst tasting this concoction, I realized that the cumin and chili and garlic spices added in with basil really make the veggie puree taste like hummus, without the garbanzo beans. So I am making me (Tim won’t eat the stuff) some pseudo-hummus spread.  

Next, the rest of my basil will go into PESTO!  Bwahahaa. >:}  Pasta, anyone???

*This is a side-note: I bought extra-virgin olive oil, cuz I guess it’s s’posta be good for you, or at least, better than the veggie stuff, and figured though the bottle didn’t say, maybe I should refrigerate it?  Well, it turned milky-looking and cloudy.  Then when I poured some into my “hummus” it seemed less flow-y-like. I looked up how to store this type of oil (which I should have done first, duh) and apparently, the cloudiness is fine, unless there is internal condensation which might mess up the flavor. The web site recommended keeping a small amount in a cool, dark place as a ready-use supply, because the other stuff gets a little lumpy.  Learn sumthin new every day!  

 

But I am maybe just a little more pleased with myself about an earlier kitchen-concoction: The Impatient Amy Creamer-Cubes!!!!!

 You see, I do not like to wait to drink a drink I make.  I put ice cubes in my hot tea so I can immediately sip its loveliness and not burn my tongue (which is a most unpleasant experience.)

Thus, as I was whipping up Tim’s creamer (1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1 TBS vanilla, 1 TBS maple syrup –which you can omit–, and regular milk all shaken up in a 1 qt [or 32 oz] bottle [which is why I did not specify the amount of milk–I estimate, just filling up the container])

I realized that I did not want to use all the creamer, and the expy date for the milk is in 6 days.  However, I’d already opened the can of SCM.  This led me to think of freezing much of it, which led me to think of the ice cube trays my mom just gave me, which led me to think of creamer-cubes.  Genius, I know.  >:}  Hahaa.  So I can have not-scalding coffee whenever I want it.  YAY!