CreativEating

Try it, you might like it!

Cakes for Congress

It started with a joke. My dear friend Emily Grace and I are about as opposite on the political spectrum as two Americans can be. We are both passionately political… it can create some really challenging twitter debates. But every once in awhile, we agree entirely on an issue or idea. And when we do, we always joke that we should bake cakes for ourselves/everyone we know in celebration.

So today, after hearing that House Republicans have agreed to extend the debt limit for 3 months, with the provision that in that time Congress must pass a budget, I tweeted that I’m totally fine with this. While some may say this is still a deal with strings, this democrat-aligned lady would really like our legislature to pass a budget for once (it hasn’t happened in awhile if you’re not a congressional budget nerd). And, sure enough, Emily Grace, the dear libertarian-ish republican that she is, said she totally agreed. We were on the same exact page! Hooray!

But so what if we agreed? What does it matter? Well… why not share our joy with Congress? If they can get a budget passed, perhaps they should be rewarded? Sure, it’s their job. And sure, they haven’t been very helpful to the public lately. But perhaps, just maybe, they only need some encouragement and positive reinforcement. It certainly can’t hurt. So, after checking the ethics rules, which we believe we would not be in violation of, we made a plan.

The plan is Cakes for Congress. Here, this will sum it up:

Image

So that’s it. We’re doing it. I’ll be starting a blog just for cakes for congress (hopefully this weekend), and we’re looking into Kickstarter to raise some funds for this endeavor. Should they pass a budget, this would mean we’re baking 541 cakes (435 Representatives in the House, 100 Senators, and 6 non-voting members from territories etc. like Puerto Rico and DC… which since I’m a DC resident, we must include — BTW *aside* DC should really be a state).

So if you’d like to join us in this crazy plan, leave a comment, or tweet either of us:

http://twitter.com/Lia_Bia (my personal acct)

http://twitter.com/greatgrace84 (Emily Grace’s acct)

http://twitter.com/Creativeating (you know this one, don’t be silly)

More details to come! And more posts soon… seriously. Promise! Spaghetti squash post is like 75% done. Enjoy! And happy inauguration weekend from DC.

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Black Eyed Pea & Corn Salad (New Years!)

In the South, New Years Day has food traditions as strong as Thanksgiving or Christmas. For good fortune in the new year, you have to eat corn bread and greens (both symbolizing the literal fortune we hope to earn/win/be anonymously gifted through paypal) and black eyed peas (just for the good luck part, so they say). Generally you make black eyed peas with some kick, some sugar and a good portion of ham hock (or bacon if you can’t find the ever cheap but off the beaten path ham hock). However, this probably isn’t the beacon of health and purification many of us are aiming for in the new year……… enter this salad.

Alright, so I’ve made a bet with a friend to keep us both on our weight loss/health goals this year. This means traditional southern dinners, complete with honey butter and pork bits, are probably not going to be on the menu for awhile. This is, I assure you, very sad. BUT, with challenges come innovation and this salad seriously was an amazing creation, so enjoy it!

What you need:

  • baby spinach
  • 1 can black eyed peas (any kind will do, try to buy some w/o seasoning, but if you can’t find them, that’s ok)
  • 1/2 green pepper (diced)
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tomato (diced, optional)
  • cilantro (just a little bit, but makes a difference)
  • chili powder, adobo, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic salt, black pepper (adobo is optional, it’s pretty much salt, garlic powder, onion powder etc… but it is nice to just add a dash)
  • maple syrup (just a little bit)
  • white vinegar & olive oil (dressing)

Step 1: Drain black eyed peas

Yup, that’s it. Drain them, put them in a bowl.

Step 2: Roast the corn

Toss the frozen corn in your cast iron skillet on high. This will both defrost, but also char the corn a bit which tastes delicious. When the corn starts to brown, toss it into the bowl on the black eyed peas.

Step 3: Lightly cook peppers/onions (optional)

I dislike raw bell pepper and raw onions… I don’t know why. But when they’re cooked a little? Nom. Who knows. So while you may want to throw these into the salad mix raw, I prefer to toss them into the hot pan once the corn is done, with a spray of pam if sticking is a problem, and cook for 3-4 minutes to soften them up a little. Toss the onions & peppers, along with the raw diced celery, into the bowl when you’re done.

Step 4: Cilantro & Spices & Syrup

Dice up a few springs of cilantro into small bits and toss them into the bowl. Then dash in the spices. Of course, I didn’t measure, but I’ll say you can go heavy on the garlic powder and chili powder, medium on the adobo, and light on cayenne, salt and black pepper. Then drizzle on a teaspoon maple syrup.

Step 5: Pile it all on the spinach

Yup, just stir and scoop. Pile a large amount of this concoction on a big old plate of spinach (and the tomatoes if you went with those… which I’d suggest because they add some bite to the whole deal). When you have it set up, pour a mix of about 2 teaspoons white vinegar to 1 teaspoon olive oil. I didnt’ really even mix the two, just drizzled across the outside with both. It just adds a little bit of extra bite to the greens, and gives a little liquid to get the juices from the bean mix throughout.

While it may not be jalapeño corn bread and honey butter — this was one of the most yummy salads I’ve ever made. And even with about 3/4 of a cup of the black eyed pea stuff on top, this salad is still around 200 calories all totaled. So, needless to say, I was damn proud, and I hope you like it too! Best of luck in 2013! Enjoy!

2012 in review

While I’ve been frolicking Wisconsin for the holiday season (with 2 mostly completed, unposted recipes in the queue… sorry) the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. So, I figured I could share. Thanks for those of you who follow me, comment on recipes, encourage me to keep posting, and most of all thanks to you all who are willing to try new things and eat creatively! More to come in 2013!!!

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Respectful Pause

I was going to post about spaghetti squash and meatballs this afternoon, but I can’t seem to muster the effort nor do I think this would be in good taste (pun not intended actually). For those of you who know me outside of the internet, you know my love of cooking is equaled only by a few things: passionate political debates, amazing live music, encouraging people to pursue education… Something I’m also very passionate about is mental healthcare, which today is especially on the top of many people’s minds. So, for today, instead of planning our dinners or shopping for groceries, I hope we each tell those we love that we love them, listen attentively to our friends and acquaintances with a special attentiveness to those who express despair  depression and loneliness, and remember that we belong to one another. If someone seems like maybe they need help, they probably do. Please do what you can to connect them with professional attention if necessary. Be courageous in doing this – It can save families, save lives.

 

 

Banana Bites (and holiday food tips)

Alright people, it’s the season of desserts and snacks. As such, you really probably won’t be eating many meals. Seriously, I don’t think anyone eats one full meal between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if you try, it’s foiled by dips, charcuterie (I love this word), and four types of cheese cake that you try to ‘plan for’ as you eat. So, instead of fighting this, let’s work with it, shall we? Here are my holiday food solutions:

  • Bring it: If you’re going to a party, bring something with fresh fruit/vegetables or healthy nuts etc involved that you can much on without feeling too terrible about yourself
  • (Dis)Own it: Unless at the threat of physical violence, do not bring home food from events. On the flip side, if you’re hosting, demand your guests take home leftovers (I fully endorse this double standard). The only time this should be reversed is with wine. Seriously, keep the wine you gain from hosting – that’s the best way to get through the post-party cleanup. 
  • Try it: Plan to try everything. Don’t load up your plate with one thing thinking that you’ll get full of that healthy option and not be tempted by other treats. You will be, so just try to keep it all balanced. And try a few new things that look weird to you – you can always leave them on your plate and no one will really know.
  • Move it: No, I don’t mean exercise (though clearly this IS a good idea, this is not my point here) I mean, step away from the food table. Everyone loves to hang out in the kitchen right next to the food. It’s inevitable. But when I stand next to the island covered in finger foods chatting away I can easily down 1/2 a plate of sausage and cheese (crackers be damned, I go right for the bad for me delicious parts) and really this is no good for anyone. So move towards the sink area, or even towards the drinks. It’s much easier to continuously eat bite sized snacks than to end up with 5 drinks going.

Alright, now that we’re done with that… a 10 minute (max) yummy desserty snack you can make at home when you have a little craving or to take with you to a party. Quick banana bites (none of that pesky freezing thing) I threw these together last night when I wanted dessert I didn’t really need and they were very satisfying.

What you need:

  • 2 bananas (I just did one last night and bagged up the toppings so I can make another easily tonight if I want… sneaky)
  • peanut butter
  • chocolate chips
  • shaved coconut
  • some type of nut (I used raw almonds but really any kind are good)

Step 1: Slice the Banana

This sounds more violent than I intended but it kind of made me chuckle, so we’ll keep it. You need to first slice the banana in half length wise.

mmm nanners

Then cut each of these halves into 3 or 4 bite sized pieces (depending on the size of the banana). The original recipe I saw for something similar had you cut little troughs in the banana pieces here. I tried it on one half last night… it’s not very easy, especially if you have greener bananas. That being said, if you want to endeavor to cut little troughs lengthwise in your banana peices for your toppings to set into, by all means, get out a mini melon baller or grapefruit spoon (yes, I tried both of these things) and go nuts.

Step 2: Smear Peanut Butter

Pretty easy really. Just take a knife and put a dollop of peanut butter right on the banana bit (if you’ve carved out a little crevice, put it in there)

See? No need to be neat about it. Why bother? Just get it on there.

Step 3: Chop up Chocolate, Coconut & Nuts

Get out your trusty food processor if you have one. If not, you can crush the nuts in a plastic bag (think about like muddling fruit or something – use a tenderizing mallet or a rolling pin to crush). But if you have one, get that out. Toss in 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts, 2 tablespoons each of coconut and chocolate chips. Pulse until the mix is fine, but not so fine you can’t recognize any of the ingredients.

There is no artistic way to photograph stuff in a food processor…. trust me, I really tried

Step 4: Sprinkle

Yup, that’s it. Just sprinkle the chopped up toppings right onto the peanut butter’d bananas. Press the toppings in a little so they stick, and then plate. You can freeze these if you like your bananas cold/frozen, but I just keep them room temp. You can layer them in a tupperware with wax paper and take them to parties too. Always delicious, not too guilty, snack or dessert.

*Alternate strategy is to melt the chocolate chips & peanut butter together in the microwave, just put the nuts and coconut in the food processor and then blend those together. It doesn’t look as pretty but it sticks to the banana pretty well and gives a bit more chocolate flavor since it’s melted throughout the topping. This does create a slightly more sticky fingers eating adventure however. Your call. Both are delicious obviously.

Personal Food Revelation

I’m 99% sure that I could live off of goat cheese on rosemary triscuits and fresh grapefuit. That is all I have for the day.

Hope your Wednesday was wonderful. New post soon!

 

 

Fall/Winter Sweet Potato, Kale & Quinoa

Once upon a time I bought kale to be healthy. Then I realized I found kale scary. So, I decided to pair it with delicious spicy sausage & cook it with beer to make it less scary. And this was a success, especially considering it only takes like 20 minutes to make.

What you need:

  • 1 or 2 sweet potatoes
  • Dark or pumpkin beer (I used a leftover post-halloween pumpkin beer, but I bet a gingerbread ale, any old porter or really any wintery ale would do)
  • Kale (mmm vitamin A and fiber)
  • Spicy (chicken, vegan, whatever ) sausage
  • Garlic & Onions (always)
  • Soy sauce, cayenne, nutmeg (all optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Quinoa
  • 3 tea bags (optional, but I did Orange Pekoe quinoa with this and it was tasty)

 

Step 1: Chop stuffs

Chop up your sausage into bite size pieces. After washing your knife& cutting board (gotta be careful about cross contamination!), dice ½ an onion, chop your (peeled) sweet potato into 1” chunks, and cut your washed kale into strips.

If you’ve made any type of greens before (like the lovely rainbow chard, or collards etc.) it’s pretty much the same deal. Except with kale the stem doesn’t continue through the leaf as much, so just snap off the stemy ends and slice up the leafy parts. An FYI, you will need a lot of greens for each serving (remember they cook down A LOT) so don’t be shy about the kale.

Step 2: Make quinoa

Here is where I followed a similar method to the ginger tea soba noodles and put on the water for the quinoa (follow instructions on the box, I always use to much water and mess it up so here is one place I condone measuring). Steep 3 tea bags in the hot (it doesn’t need to be fully boiling) water for 3 to 5 minutes before putting in the quinoa. Then cook quinoa as directed (I sound like an Rx commercial).

Step 3: Potatoes and Beer

Add in your sweet potato chunks to the pan with a touch of olive oil. Then immediately poor into the pan about 1/3 of a bottle (my math tells me this would be 4 ounces which is about ½ a cup).

Cover with a lid, stirring the potatoes around every couple minutes. If the beer evaporates completely from the pan but your potatoes aren’t softened yet (which is the sign they’re done), add a bit more, remember we’re being creative here!

The idea is that the flavors from the beer cook into the potatoes as it cooks down. When the potatoes are nearly tender enough that you’d like to eat one (about 7 or 8 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks), move to the next step.

Step 4: Sauté sausage, onions & garlic

Throw the chopped up sausage, onions and a teaspoon (1 clove is enough) of minced garlic with another  dash of olive oil. Cook on medium heat until the onions soften. Most times the sausage is precooked so that matters a lot less. If yours isn’t, make sure that gets cooked all the way through. If it’s precooked this part really takes like 3 minutes.

Step 5: Kale

Now, on top of all the potatoes, sautéed onions and sausage, start to throw in the kale. You may need to do this in stages to get it all in the pan, and if it starts to stick at all, sprinkle just one more dash of olive oil in (it’s good for you, quit fretting about it).

When your kale is all wilted, you’re good to go. Remove from heat, and scrape the bottom as you toss everything around. You want that good flavor from the seared sausage and beer cooked sweet potatoes.

Step 6: Get it together

By now hopefully your quinoa is all cooked, so scoop that on a plate/in a bowl. Spoon on top some potato, sausage, kale, onion mixture. Here you can add a sprinkle of soy sauce if you want to add some salty Asian kick to the deal or a dash of cayenne or splash of nutmeg. It’s all optional.

Enjoy your healthy meal & hearty meal! This was a great dinner and great left over lunch, especially for the effort which is super low. For some reason I didn’t take a picture of it all together (SORRY!) but you get the idea. Try it, you really might like it. I know I was surprised it turned out so yummy.

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