Lychee Berry Chia Jam (It’s Vegan!)

Recently, I decided to go vegan. Not for any moral or ethical reason, but that’s a nice bonus. I can’t really process meat well, dairy makes my skin break out, so really all I’m giving up is eggs, which I’m not too fond of anyways, so…no big life changes here. But I did start a new Instagram, because I figure I’m more likely to make healthy dishes if I can take pretty pictures for the internet, and I didn’t want to spam everyone on my personal Instagram a million times a day with pictures of food. The new, vegan food based Instagram is here. I’ll post recipes on this blog every so often, but a lot of things are really simple (because it’s summer in Texas and I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen) so they don’t need recipes.

Also, I’m not a real big fan of jams or jellies in general, because I feel they’re way too sweet, so being able to control the sweetness for this one was a big help, and I like it a lot.

berries.jpg
Look at all those fresh berries. I used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but really you can use any fruit you like, the recipe is really flexible. 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam

350g strawberries, quartered.

100 g blackberries, cut in half

150g raspberries

1/4 cup lychee juice/nectar 

4 tbsp chia seeds, divided

3 tbsp light agave nectar

First things first I took 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in the lychee juice to soak. Save the remaining tablespoon for the end, you may or may not need it.

Next, chop up your berries. You’ll be smashing them later, but chop them roughly how big you want them to end up. I found that chopping the strawberries and the blackberries at least was best, the raspberries smashed easily without being chopped. Put your berries in a medium saucepan and heat them, on low to medium heat. They’ll release their juice and cook down. After they get soft, turn the heat as low as you can, take a potato masher or fork, and mash them to however chunky you want them.

Your chia seeds should have absorbed all of the juice by now, so add that to the saucepan and mix well. The chia thickens the jam so you don’t have to use pectin.

Add the agave nectar, and taste (blow on the spoon, this is hot), adding more if you prefer your jam sweet.

Turn off the heat, and if you feel you have too much liquid, add the remaining chia seeds, and stir so they absorb it.

Let the jam come to room temperature before you put it in a jar, it’ll set some more, and then put it in the fridge.

One serving is about two tablespoons, and this recipe makes sixteen servings. Each two tablespoon serving has 44 calories, 0.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, and 1.1g protein.

jam
This is my jam. 

I like having it on crackers, and it’s especially good with chocolate hazelnut butter.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com, or now at my new vegan food based instagram, PickyEatersInternational.

 

 

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Spinach and Leek Hummus

I know, I know, two recipes in a row. Bear with me, I’ve been working more than usual. This one is quick and easy, I promise.

When I was a junior in high school, my Arabic teacher took us to the school kitchen and taught us how to make hummus. I remember thinking it was remarkably easy, and she mentioned how you could add basically anything to the base recipe. And since spinach is so versatile, and I add it to pretty much everything, today I decided to add it to hummus. And it was fantastic.

Green hummus

Don’t let the bright green color fool you, you can hardly taste the spinach. And the recipe is so simple.

You need:

1 can (14oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

30g leeks, chopped

80g fresh spinach

5g (3 cloves) garlic, roughly chopped

2 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp olive oil

First, heat the olive oil and lightly roast the leeks and the garlic. What I like to do is let the oil heat completely, and then toss in the garlic and leeks, immediately turning off the heat. Everything will sizzle nicely while you do the rest, which means you don’t have to actively watch it.

While that’s happening, put the chickpeas and tahini in the blender, and pulse it until it’s mostly pureed. You might need to add water, do so a tablespoon at a time until it’s the consistency of peanut butter.

At this point, take the leeks and garlic off the stove and put it in the blender, getting as much of the olive oil into the blender as well. Blend it up.

When that’s all smooth, slowly at the spinach until it’s all incorporated. You can add some salt at this point too, I needed about a teaspoon. I also added a touch of paprika. Chili powder would have been ideal, but I didn’t have any.

Once everything is blended and there are no chunks, you’re good to go. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, on toast, whatever floats your boat.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, and by email at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale is a funny little vegetable. For the last decade or so, it was primarily used as a decoration for salad bars, providing a pretty green backdrop for its friends spinach and romaine, and the ever popular iceberg lettuce. And then someone decided to eat it. Kale has a bad rap with people who like bashing on healthy food. And sure, it’s tough, and fibrous, and makes you gassy if you eat too much, but come on, it’s good for you. Right?

Kale.jpg

Kale is having a serious moment though. Kale chips make up like half the aisle at Sprouts, and it’s move beyond just salad bar decorations and into the salad itself. But it’s nasty and gross raw. Sorry, kale. It’s true. It feels like eating plastic.

So you have to cook it. Cooking kale makes everything better. It’s suddenly tender, and delicious, and you can add quinoa and strawberries and homemade garlicky dressing and it turns into something like this:

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Which looks a lot more palatable than the sad salad bar trim it used to be.

This salad is easy. There’s a lot of waiting around for things to boil and season and whatnot.

You need:

2 teaspoons salt

300g kale, raw

2/3 cup quinoa, uncooked

250 g strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic

First, bring a large-ish pot of salted water to a boil. While that’s heating up, remove the leafy bits of the kale from the stalk and tear them into reasonably bite sized pieces. Wash them, and once the water boils, turn off the heat and put the kale in, leaving it for about ten minutes.

While the kale is cooking, wash the quinoa. The reason a lot of people think quinoa leaves a bitter aftertaste is because of a natural coating on the grains, called saponin, which tastes like soap and is a defense mechanism the plant uses against little animals. So you have to rinse it a few times, draining and re-rinsing, until the water stops looking sudsy. Put that on to cook until the water (should use 1.5 times as much water as quinoa, so in this case, one cup) is mostly evaporated and the quinoa is cooked.

At this point, the kale leaves should be bright green, like something Robin Hood would enjoy wearing. Drain them, and let them sit in the strainer to cool.

Chop up the strawberries if you haven’t done so already. You could replace them with dried cranberries, but fresh strawberries have less sugar.

Take the olive oil and heat it in a little saucepan. Once it’s almost boiling, turn off the heat. While it’s cooling a little, chop up the garlic as fine as you can get it, and then carefully put it in the oil. It’ll bubble and sizzle, but should not be frying. Once that settles down, you’re good to go.

Mix everything up in a big bowl, coating the garlic olive oil over everything. Heating and cooling the oil makes a difference in how it tastes, I promise. I’m not crazy.

  • Makes four servings. Each serving has:
  • 218 calories
  • 14.9g fat
  • 31.5mg sodium
  • 430.4mg potassium
  • 18.5 carbohyrates
  • 4.4g fiber
  • 5.1g sugar
  • 5.1g protein
  • 149.9% DV* Vitamin A
  • 219.2% DV* Vitamin C
  • 13% DV* Calcium
  • 10.2% DV* Iron
  • *Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet. 

 

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

This is the most delicious thing I’ve ever made. I know I say that a lot, but this is really good. It’s broccoli. With garlic.

roasted broccoli

And it’s one of those super quick twenty minute recipes you can put together at the last second when you want a side dish, but let’s be real, I just eat it as a meal.

You need:

1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite sized florets

3 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 pinch salt

1 pinch black pepper

4 tsp grated Parmesan (optional)

The first thing you should do is put the garlic in the olive oil and let it sit. Also preheat your oven to 400F, with one rack about five inches from the top heating element. Once you’ve got the broccoli chopped up, toss it with the garlic and olive oil, making sure it’s evenly coated. Spread it on a foil-lined baking sheet, and slide it into the oven for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until the edges of the broccoli are nicely browned. Pull it out and toss it with the Parmesan.

Isn’t it great?

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. Lots of things happening, not all of them fun. You can always reach me on Twitter, Instagram, another Instagram, or email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

 

Tuna Sandwiches Are Not Just For Tigers

(Yes, tigers. Like Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, who loved tuna sandwiches. I’m not crazy.)

I made the best tuna sandwich today. I mean, look at it.

tuna sandwich

I like tuna because it’s pretty high protein while still being low fat, and the taste isn’t super overwhelming. I really love tuna salad with pomegranate in it. I know some people put in walnuts and dried cranberries, but trust me, pomegranate is so much better. The seeds are sweet and tart, and just a little crunchy. And it doesn’t make the texture all weird like cranberries and walnuts do. I also chop my celery pretty small, so there’s no chunks, and add a pinch of paprika for a little kick. And most importantly, I toast the bread on a pan on the stove so it can hold up better than toast from the toaster.

It’s good, I promise. Go try it.

Also, as you may or may not have noticed, my posts have slowed down considerably. Now, if I were the sort of adult who planned things out, I wouldn’t be having this issue. But it’s the nearing end of my semester, Desiree’s wedding is coming up in a week (holy shit, Des.) and I’m running around like a panicky chicken. So bear with me, I do have some posts planned out that I need to write up, and after the first week of December everything should be back to normal. In the meantime, you can follow my Instagram, which I post to semi-regularly. And if you want to write a guest post or two for me, email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Enjoy your sandwiches!

Masala Chai Macarons

So as you know, I’ve been trying to ages to make macarons. Something always goes wrong. But Friday I managed to make a decent batch of red velvet macarons. I was so excited. Then I got distracted with making tea masala, and then had a fantastic idea.

What about masala chai flavored macarons?! I mean, it’s not too far off from the red velvet. Instead of adding cocoa powder and red food color, I just need to add tea masala and tint the batter brown-ish. Easy enough.

I started with a basic macaron recipe, found here, and then added a tablespoon of tea masala to the dry ingredients, plus a teaspoon of loose tea leaves that had been ground into a super fine powder. To the meringue, I added a tablespoon of very strong tea, mostly for color (Very strong is subjective. My mom thinks I make tea and coffee too strong, I believe that if you’re not twitching after half a cup it doesn’t count.)

And guess what.

It actually worked.

DSC_0085

I was so excited. And they taste amazing. The frosting I used was the same cream cheese frosting for the red velvet ones, and that recipe is here.

You can buy tea masala in any Indian store, but since I only needed a little and had the ingredients on hand, I made it myself. For this recipe it was about five cloves, two cardamom pods, a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of black pepper, all ground up and sifted to a very fine powder.

Actually Cooking: Super Easy Pesto

Again, I’m sticking the recipe right up here so you don’t have to scroll through a rambling narrative on my kitchening mistakes.

Super Easy Pesto

2 oz by weight (or 4 tightly packed cups) of fresh basil.

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350F, and spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop them in the oven for ten minutes, and [carefully] stir them around halfway through. This is an optional step, but I think it makes the pesto taste so much better.

While the pine nuts are cooling, put about half the olive oil and all the basil in the food processor or blender, and grind it up. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you’re gonna be blending for a while.

Once it’s reasonably liquidy, add the parmesan and garlic and pine nuts, along with the rest of the olive oil, and blend until it’s as smooth as you’d like. You can add more olive oil to make it runnier if you’d like. This recipe comes out to the consistency of mayo or very soft butter.

That’s basically it. It keeps pretty well in the fridge.

Not pictured because I forgot and didn't want to retake the picture: two cloves garlic.
Not pictured because I forgot and didn’t want to retake the picture: two cloves garlic.

Okay. Now I’ve got the recipe out of the way. I like planting things. But not flowers. My mom likes flowers, and while I think they’re pretty and smell nice, I thinks flowers just for the sake of being flowers are kind of pointless. So I like planting herbs and veggies instead. I planted a bunch of basil a few months ago, and it grew really well. I should’ve taken a picture before I picked all the leaves.

At this point I’d like to note that all I knew about making pesto was that it’s basically basil plus cheese plus pine nuts plus olive oil plus garlic. No idea what the proportions were, so I actually did some research this time, because apparently pine nuts are like $20 a pound so like hell was I buying more than I absolutely needed. I cobbled my recipe together by kind of looking over a few different sources, like AllRecipes and Martha Stewart and whatnot.

But I had all this basil, and while my mom makes a really good spinach pesto pasta sauce, I had had a craving for actual pesto, and we didn’t have any spinach. All I needed to buy for this was pine nuts, so after a Sprouts run I had a little bag of very expensive nuts. I also discovered that toasted pine nuts smell like my Aaji’s fried shrimp recipe. I then chunked everything into the blender, and went to town.

And it turned out freaking amazing.

I mean, look at that. You can practically smell the basil through the screen.
I mean, look at that. You can practically smell the basil through the screen.

I was so proud of myself. Usually when I try a new recipe it takes me a try or two to get something that resembles the finished product (ahem. Macarons.). But this pesto actually turned out really good. I had it on gluten free toast with tomatoes on top.

The brand of bread is Schar's. It's not bad, but I like Glutino a lot better.
The brand of bread is Schar’s. It’s not bad, but I like Glutino a lot better.

And not gonna lie, not only did I have pesto and tomato toast for dinner that night, but also lunch the next day (yesterday). And pesto on gluten free ravioli last night. And may or may not be eating pesto and tomato toast for lunch today.

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest, and email me with collab ideas or just say hi at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Actually Cooking: Gluten Free Soft [Kinda] Pretzel Bites

Look at this amazingness.
Look at this amazingness.

I’m gonna put the recipe right up here so you don’t have to read my incoherent rambling if you don’t want to. I hate when you find a recipe on a blog but it’s way at the bottom of the post.

Gluten Free [Kinda] Pretzel Bites

(all amounts are approximate because I don’t know what I’m doing.)

1/4 cup potato flour
1/8 cup tapioca flour
3/8 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg white
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 whole egg
onion powder and paprika to taste
1 packet yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water

Activate the yeast by mixing the yeast packet with the sugar and warm water. Set it aside and let it do its thing.

Mix together the flours, salt, and baking powder. Add the oil, and the egg white. I know it’ll look crumbly and gross but just do it. Mix as well as you can. Then slowly add the yeast mixture, mixing as you go. You might need more water. You want a sticky dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit. It may or may not rise.

When it’s done rising, get about ten cups of water boiling, and add a tablespoon or two of baking soda, mixing it well. While the water is heating up, divide your dough into whatever shape you want your pretzels to be in. Put the pretzel blobs into the water a few at a time, and the second they float, take them out and put them on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Once you’ve gotten them all through, let them dry for a bit as you beat the whole egg in a small bowl, and add whatever spices you’d like.Then gently coat your blobs with the egg wash.

Stick ’em in the oven (425F), for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly like mine.

Okay. So for the past few days I’ve really been wanting a soft pretzel. Except eating a soft pretzel would entail a week of pain and torment, thanks to gluten intolerance. So I scoured the internet, looking for a recipe to make something that could pass for a soft pretzel that my limited kitchening skills could create.

I tried a recipe or two, but even with various brands of gluten free flour mixes it turned out either too dense, or too crumbly, or would fall apart in the baking soda bath. So I sat in front of my pantry with a bowl and a quarter cup measure and thought.

I remembered that when I tried making dumplings for soup, using mostly potato flour resulted in a dumpling that was gummy and chewy and dense. I didn’t like it. But, pretzels are supposed to be gummy and chewy and kinda dense, so I put a quarter cup into my mixing bowl. Then, I found tapioca flour. I used an eighth cup, because it was in the same general area as the potato flour so might as well. Finally, I used three eighths of a cup of rice flour, because that also made things a bit gummy and dense.

Coming out of the pantry, I added some salt and baking powder and some olive oil, because other recipes called for it, as well as an egg white, because at this point I’m flying by the seat of my pants so might as well. I figured the egg white would make things fluffier, since all my flours were so dense.

All in all, I didn’t actually get a soft pretzel. What came out of my oven looked a lot like pretzels. But while it was slightly chewy yet crisp on the outside, it was denser on the inside, almost potatoey (well duh. I used potato flour). And since I put onion powder in the egg wash, didn’t need a dipping sauce. These are so good.

And that’s what happens when you start inventing recipes at 10pm. Sorry about the kitchen, mom.

I may not be posting here as often, but you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Tumblr again, or even Pinterest. If you’ve got an idea for a blog collab, want to submit a Go Through My Stuff post, or just want to say hi, email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

xo

V.

Almost Cooking: Stuffed Peppers

Since my brother’s away doing his senior project somewhere out of town, tonight I just had to cook for my dad and myself, so I figured I could get a little more adventurous with cooking. I scoured the internet for a few minutes and after a cursory glance at a recipe I knew I wasn’t going to follow, I decided to make stuffed peppers. Now, I’ve made stuffed peppers before. But they involved using rice and ended up bland. So I kind of knew what generally needed to happen. You cook filling and put it inside of peppers. Done.

I dug out of my fridge ground turkey, two tomatoes, two red bell peppers, a red onion (everything is red!), and some minced garlic (okay, garlic’s not red…).

Okay. So I set my olive oil to heat in the pan. Nothing exciting yet.

This is not an exciting picture.
This is not an exciting picture.

Then I chopped up the onion. See how smart I am, chopping the onion under the exhaust fan? No teary eyes here, bitches.

stuffed peppers 3

This time I remembered to saute the onions before I cooked the turkey. I’m on a roll today, man.

stuffed peppers 4

 

And then I added garlic.

stuffed peppers 7

When the onions seemed reasonably cooked, I added the turkey.

 

While that was cooking, I chopped up a tomato. Now, I don’t know about you lot, but I fucking hate chopping tomatoes. It’s the worst. They get all mushy and drippy and generally messy. I always end up with tomato innards running down to my elbow, and it looks awful on the cutting board.

stuffed peppers 2

I added the tomatoes to the pan, added whatever spices sounded good from my cabinet, and let everything simmer while I dismembered the peppers. For that, I cut the stem-y bits off and scraped out the insides, making sure that the edges stayed reasonably intact enough to make a little bowl. At this point I turned my oven on to preheat to 350F. I don’t remember if that’s what the recipe said, but whatever.

stuffed peppers 5

 

Once my peppers were all ready, I lined a casserole dish with foil. The foil is optional, but let’s be real, it means I don’t have to put very much effort into washing out the dish. Then I put the filling into the peppers and laid them out on the dish, and baked them for 25 minutes. I pulled them out at 20 minutes and put mozzarella cheese on top, but I forgot to take a picture of that.

stuffed peppers 8

 

That’s basically it. It’s super easy, but the catch is that there is no dainty way to eat these. I kept dropping things with every bite.

 

 

 

 

Smoothies and Other Ways to Avoid Getting Sick (A Recipe)

I have some very childish eating habits. I tend to just grab a pouch of applesauce and run out the door, or make a grilled cheese (on gluten free bread) if I’m feeling ambitious. My problem with quick meals is that I can’t have a lot of things, like gluten, meat, or too much dairy. So I tend to go for applesauce or mashed potatoes if I don’t feel like whipping out the recipe book or looking up ways to replace wheat flour online. Because that sends me into a spiral of how to replace it with things like sorghum, rice flour, or cornmeal, finally arriving at the same conclusion every time that some people are way too serious about pastry dough. 

My method of making smoothies is fairly simple: grab some fruit and put it in a blender. Done.

That said, some combinations of fruit don’t quite work, so on the mornings I don’t feel like experimenting, I’ve cobbled together a decent mixture that is some semblance of an adult breakfast.

What You Need:

Bananas (One or two. Your choice. I like ones that are still a little green.)

Strawberries. (Lots. Or very little. This is your smoothie. Own it.)

Cranberries. (The whole frozen kind. I use Dole. They come in rezippable bags in the frozen fruit/veggie aisle.)

Yogurt. (I use strawberry yogurt. Use whatever damn flavor you want. It’s your smoothie.)

A blender. (If you haven’t got one of these, this is going to be very difficult. Good luck.)

Making the Smoothie:

Chop your fruit into manageable pieces. This really depends on how well your blender works.

Throw it into your blender. (Or gently place it.)

Get the yogurt into the blender and stir a little so it’s evenly distributed.

Put the lid on and blend to the texture you want.

Put it in a cup and drink it.

This is what my smoothie looks like. Yours may be different, depending on what you put in it and the Instagram filter you used.
This is what my smoothie looks like. Yours may be different, depending on what you put in it and the Instagram filter you used.

That’s basically it.