Sunday, June 19, 2016

Peanut Butter and Mulberry (and Banana and Spinach) Protein Smoothie

Now that it's hot again, and the house lacks air conditioning, I'm back to making smoothies and shakes! This time with added protein powder. I've also gone dairy-free (with some things anyway).

The inspiration for this recipe was this Peanut Butter and Jelly Protein Smoothie. Naturally, I couldn't just follow the recipe, so here is what I did.

  1. The house may lack AC, but there is a flourishing mulberry bush in the side yard, and I went outside one day and picked a bunch! For this recipe, I measured out 1 cup of fresh mulberries.
  2. Peanut butter can be difficult to blend sometimes and sticks to the sides of my vintage blender, which is frustrating to clean. So I used 1 tablespoon of PB2 powdered peanut butter. It claims to have 85% less fat calories than regular peanut butter, but that part doesn't concern me. 
  3. Next I added 1 scoop of Nature's Way Alive! Protein Complete Shake (vanilla flavored). It has a bunch of vitamins and minerals and vegetable protein. Also, it's gluten free and was on sale at Meijer last week.
  4. Now here's something I never considered - 2 tablespoons of oats in a smoothie. I opted for the quick cook kind because it was already chopped up.
  5. To all of this was added 1 cup of vanilla almond milk. 

I blended all of these ingredients together, and it tasted pretty good, but it was really thin. I wanted to thicken it up, so I added:
  1. 1 whole banana. 
  2. And for a little added nutrition, a handful of frozen spinach leaves. 

I should have added chia seeds, but I forgot. Next time. And there will be a next time. This concoction was delicious! The seeds from the mulberries kept it from being completely smooth, but they're easy enough to just swallow. (Same with the oats.) And it made enough for two servings, so I poured some in a glass bottle and put it in the fridge for tomorrow.

Keep cool, everybody.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Chicken Cheese Casserole with Asparagus

I posted a version of this recipe - my usual form of this recipe - a couple of years ago here under For the Love of Casseroles. I mentioned that the original recipe that my family has never actually made calls for a can of green beans and that it's probably not a bad way to add some vegetables to the meal. Tonight, I gave it a try. But not with a can of green beans, with a bag of frozen asparagus. And this time with pretzel panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) rather than Italian seasoned.

The Steps:
  • Cover the bottom of a glass casserole dish with cooked chunks of chicken (1.5 to 2 cups).
  • Layer the chicken with a bag of frozen asparagus cuts. (Spears are probably too big.) 
  • Sprinkle this layer with breadcrumbs. 
  • Then sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. 
  • In a saucepan, heat cream of chicken soup (condensed) and 1/2 can of chicken broth. (I used cream of celery and vegetable broth because Greg is allergic to chicken broth, but chicken is traditional.) 
  • Add a 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the soups. Warm and stir until cheese melts. 
  • Pour this over the stuff in the casserole dish. 
  • Cover with another layer of breadcrumbs and drizzle with 1/4 cup melted butter. 
  • Bake 1 hour at 350F.
Why pretzel panko? Because it was what I had in the cupboard. I figure the texture and salt level are similar to the crushed Ritz crackers that often top casseroles. 

I debated between frozen broccoli and frozen asparagus, eventually choosing the asparagus because if I'm going to be experimental, why not go all out? We sometimes get cheese and asparagus-stuffed chicken breasts from Meijer, so I already knew asparagus and cheese go great together (albeit a different kind of cheese). 

One of the reasons I love casseroles so much is because you can throw all the ingredients of a meal - protein, vegetable, cheese - into one container, toss it in the oven, and an hour later out comes dinner. (This Chicken Meal in One is another great tactic!)

So here you have it, another recipe I did not follow. And that's why the blog is called Adventures.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Johnny Bread (Cornbread)

Johnnycake is what my Grandma Coburn called cornbread. The recipe I have for Johnny Bread, courtesy of a group milling cornmeal as a demonstration of old engines at the historical festival in Ypsilanti last summer, blends these two names and warranted investigation.

Wow! Are there ever some variances of these two things. And they do seem to be two things as Wikipedia has one entry for Johnnycake and a separate one for cornbread. This Johnny Bread looks like a northern U.S. cornbread, rather than Johnnycake, recipe since it involves half wheat flour and half cornmeal. Southern style cornbread uses more cornmeal and less sugar. Johnnycake is unleavened cornbread, and this recipe calls for baking soda. 

My one substitution was butter for Crisco because that shit will kill you. (I've read that the original Crisco recipe has changed to make it safer for human consumption, but I don't trust it and limit my own consumption.) 

I'd never heard of sour milk before. It's easy to make and does not taste bad (yes, I tried it - couldn't resist). This recipe as whole was very easy to make! And I had all the ingredients on hand. Northern cornbread is supposed to be more "cake-like" than bread, but I didn't get that with this recipe. Jiffy's cornbread mix, my usual go-to, is definitely on the fluffy side. 

This also could have used more salt, in my opinion, an odd assertion for me because I don't really like salt (my nutritionist called me salt-deficient). There is still some cornmeal left, so I will take that into consideration next time. (Another use for cornmeal, cookies!)

So there you have it - Johnny Bread! Which is really cornbread and not Johnnycake.

Monday, April 4, 2016

10 Foods I'm Looking Forward to at the Farmer's Market

  1. Asparagus
  2. Corn on the cob
  3. Eggplant
  4. Greens (I have a lot of recipes for various kinds)
  5. Potatoes
  6. Squash (including - and especially - zucchini)
  7. Tomatoes
  8. Apples
  9. Blueberries
  10. Strawberries
There are so many farmers markets around town! And just a few weeks ago, Greg and I picked out seeds for our impending garden. Some of these foods will be in that garden, but not all. We actually intend to plant two apple trees in the backyard, so we'll have our own fruit as well as vegetables and herbs. There will also be plenty of flowers and a little garden for fairies. I'm excited! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

BBQ Chicken With Cheddar and Bacon & Lemon Tarragon Asparagus

BBQ chicken has always been a staple in my family. When you're tired and feeling uninspired, just spread some barbecue sauce on a few chicken breasts and toss them in the oven. Any vegetable goes with BBQ. Pasta, too, if you need a starch. It's also a plain meal, though tasty. 

Then I came across a variation that is far superior to the original! Throw some shredded cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles on top of the BBQ sauce and it's a party. It's also super easy!

While the chicken slathered in sauce was in the oven baking at 350F for 20ish minutes, I cooked 3 slices of turkey bacon on the stove-top. After getting it nice and crispy (and letting it cool), I crumbled it by hand into a bowl for later. I then grated the block cheese into another bowl. 

When the chicken was done, I added the cheese followed by the bacon, then popped the smothered chicken back in the oven until the cheese was melted. Perfection!

For a side, Greg and I put together some Lemon Tarragon Asparagus, a recipe we were trying out as a vegan side option for our wedding reception. I'm not sure I've ever cooked with tarragon before, and I didn't realize it was so minty. It paired well with the splash of lemon juice, making a fresh, summery dish (though it was winter outside).

I tried putting tarragon in an egg scramble later, and it was less tasty. Fragrant, though! Even so, I don't think we'll be growing tarragon in our herb garden. But I might make the asparagus dish again! I think it'd be good on the grill with big, whole pieces of asparagus. I think we could do the chicken on the grill, too. 

I can't unit for warmer, dryer weather!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Breakfast Muffins and Other Sundries

Despite sleeping clear through most mornings these past few months, I've been eating a fair amount of breakfast foods, mostly because they are so easy to make and nutritious. 

I started off eating a lot of egg scrambles with bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, spinach, and garlic, all of which were pre-chopped and stored in plastic tubs in the freezer. (Ok, the eggs were kept unbroken in the fridge.) I also would sometimes fry up a few slices of turkey bacon, so these were protein heavy meals.

On mornings that I worked, I usually just had a bagel and cream cheese. I started keeping a tub of cream cheese in the work fridge and either brought a bagel from home or picked up a more freshly baked bagel from Sparrow Market or Zingerman's in Kerrytown.

Today I was feeling more ambitious, so after a midday nap with my kitty Memphis, I decided to make a recipe that we bought ingredients for last week, Individual Baked Oatmeal Cups. My mother sent me the link to them on Pinterest. The recipe says it makes a dozen, but I got 14 out of it, possibly because I added more oats as the batter was quite runny and I was worried it would make the paper muffin cups soggy (they did end up sticking quite a bit). My toppings were frozen blueberries, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, and golden raisins (not all together, though that probably wouldn't be bad).

Now I should have breakfasts ready to go for the next couple weeks without worry. The muffins are freezable, warm-up-able, and one of the suggestions is to pour milk over them and break them up like a wheat biscuit, making them also versatile. And, for those concerned parties, gluten free, assuming the other ingredients used are gluten free. (I've recently learned not all baking powder is gluten free.) 

As for the taste, very much like a thick oatmeal. I like it! And I am not generally a fan of oatmeal.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Traditional Polish Christmas (in the US)

Though I've been working a lot less this December than probably any other December since I started working at the age of 16, I have spent basically the entire time since Thanksgiving being sick, so updating my blogs has been difficult. (Come to think of it, I spent most of the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving being sick, too.) So, since I haven't had a lot of kitchen time (our kitchen still isn't together, by the way, and dishes continue to be washed in the bathroom), I decided to share a Christmas tradition that has become a part of my life since I started dating Greg: a Polish Christmas!

Greg's maternal family is of recent Polish descent and maintains many Polish traditions, like celebrating Christmas on the evening before. Parents, aunts, uncles, children, and grandchildren all gather for a special Christmas Eve dinner, in our case at Greg's aunt's house which used to be his grandparents' house and is the house in which his mother, aunt and uncles grew up in. 

Poland is largely Catholic and Christmas Eve is considered a fast day, which basically means no meat. Except for fish and other water creatures like shrimp. (When I was very young, I asked my Italian-by-marriage Catholic grandmother if, since fish are not meat (by Catholic standards), and meat is the flesh of animals, are they not animals? She said she wasn't sure, but she didn't think so, or something to that affect. I was then confused on this point for years.)

So our Christmas Eve dinner is "vegetarian" and always predominantly consists of shrimp cocktail, which I love and Greg hates because he doesn't like water creatures and finds them creepy (it is a testament to his love for me that he fixed my old fish tank one year as a present, and together we stocked it with little fishes, and we have visited two public aquariums together), a platter of baked macaroni and cheese, and pierogi usually filled with farmers cheese and occasionally potatoes (Greg doesn't like the potato ones either). There is also a salad and a vegetable side dish, like this year's cranberry green beans.

But the meal starts with a prayer, a toast, and oplatki, a flat "Christmas wafer" with a texture and taste very much like styrofoam. Most oplatki (plural) are white, but one is pink and is intended to be given to the household animals (farm animals in the rural old country). I read about the purpose of the pink wafer earlier this month. Greg's family had never known, minus one aunt who read about it last year. Everyone takes a piece of oplatek (singular), then goes around to everyone else at the table, wishing them a "Merry Christmas!" and breaking off a piece of each other's oplatek. Some then dip the oplatek in wine (or juice) before eating it, some eat it plain, and some quietly set it aside uneaten. Me, I'm a wine dipper.

After dinner, presents are passed out and opened, desserts like cookies, brownies, pie and chrusciki are laid out, and the evening is hectic and informal and everyone chats and jokes and teases about Santa coming. (In my own family, coffee would be served after dinner, which turns out is an Italian tradition I rather enjoy and big family dinners don't feel complete without it, despite my preference for tea over coffee. Greg made us coffee after Thanksgiving dinner with his family this year, but I declined Christmas Eve since we had hot chocolate.)

The "fast" is broken Christmas morning with a Christmas ham and/or kielbasa for breakfast, neither of which I can readily eat because I can't digest most pig products. Growing up, we always had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, followed by presents. I insist on continuing the cinnamon roll tradition with Greg because mmm... cinnamon rolls... We do not exchange presents on Christmas unless we are spending it with my family.

Today, we made another batch of those Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies mentioned in my last entry, then got Chinese take-out. It was a very relaxing day! And that, in itself, is a great present.