Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"F**k It" Burgers

Sometimes work does a number on a girl’s ability to cook dinner.  There are days when I get home and feel so totally depleted that the very idea of cooking a big dinner (and dealing with the subsequent dishes) is enough to make me want to run and hide under the bed.  And possibly curl up into the fetal position and beg for my mother.
Have I mentioned that I’m an adult?  Oy vey.
For those nights, I’ve started developing a series of recipes that allow for a person to say “F**k it, I SO don’t feel up to cooking tonight” while still eating a good meal.  If you occasionally find yourself too exhausted to cook, this simple veggie burger is quick, easy, and nutrient-dense.  It’s cheaper and healthier than take-out, too – so although I might feel like my day chewed me up and spit me out, I know that my bank account and body will both be happier if I forgo the Chinese delivery in favor of a simple but healthy alternative.
F**k It Veggie Burgers
1 Sunshine brand Garden Herb veggie burger
1 Udi’s Gluten-Free Hamburger Bun
½ C frozen sweet potato cubes
Ketchup to taste
1 pinch Celtic sea salt
1 pinch garlic powder
3 (or however many you want) leaves of romaine lettuce
Pepper to taste

Microwave the GF bun for approximately 45 - 60 seconds, just to thaw it out.  Place on tin foil and put under the oven broiler until brown and crispy.

While the bun is toasting, microwave the sweet potato cubes until they’re thawed out and hot.  Mix together with ketchup, salt, pepper, and garlic powder – all of which you can use more or less of to suit your taste.
Microwave the veggie burger for 1 minute (or until hot but not dried out). 
Spread the sweet potato-ketchup mixture on the inside of the toasted bun.  Add lettuce and the veggie burger, and voila:  dinner in under 10 minutes.  That’s far less time than it would take for any restaurant to deliver, and this meal is loaded with vitamin A, protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  It nourishes your body so you can recover from a hellish day – and take the next one by storm.  Or at least not hide under the bed. ;)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Roasted Potatoes and Veggies, One of Many Ways

When I was growing up, whenever my parents were having someone over for dinner my mom would make roasted potatoes as a side dish.  They were a consistent part of her repertoire, which is a good thing -- because they were awesome.  She'd put diced potatoes into a gallon-size Ziploc bag with some Newman's Own salad dressing, shake 'em up, pour them onto a pan, and roast them.  They were quick, easy, and effing delicious.

Over the years, I've taken the same tactic and changed it up a bit.  I still put diced potatoes into a gallon-size Ziploc, but now I often add a sliced onion, garlic cloves, and veggies.  The good thing about this is that the potatoes, onion, and garlic serve as a versatile base for different veggies (or combinations of veggies): carrots, asparagus, bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes -- whatever your heart desires, actually.

Tonight I wasn't in the mood for lots of chopping, so I decided to go for a decidedly basic version of this dish: potatoes, onion, and carrots.

Step 1:  Grab a 1-pound bag of baby carrots, one onion, 7 cloves of garlic, and 5 smallish potatoes. Chop the potatoes (you can either dice them into cubes or make thin-ish slices).  Put everything into a gallon-size bag.  Pour 1/4 C olive oil, 1/4 C balsamic vinegar, and 2 tablespoons Italian herbs on top, and shake the bag until everything has an even coating.  

Step 2: Put 'em on a tray, and throw 'em in the oven.

Step 3:  Roast at 400 F for approximately 30 minutes.  Halfway through the roasting process, run a spatula along the bottom of the pan to loosen and redistribute anything that might be starting to stick.

Step 4: When everything is cooked through, broil until the potatoes and veggies are starting to get browned and crispy. Remove from heat, plate, and enjoy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Holy Unexpectedly Fantastic Dinner, Batman!

Being both a Celiac and a vegetarian often makes eating out into an absurdly hard task.  A few major chain restaurants have GF menus that contain vegetarian items, and some smaller places are willing to do substitutions for things I can't eat.  However, I've never had a restaurant custom-make a dish purely to accommodate me.

That changed over the weekend.

On Saturday, my Betrothed and I drove down to North Carolina to surprise my Grandpa for his 90th birthday.  My dad was also visiting in honor of this momentous occasion, and we all went out for dinner that night to celebrate.  My dad, also a Celiac (he likes to say he inherited his gluten problems from me, which totally flummoxes the people who don't realize that he's joking), called ahead to the restaurant to see if they had GF-friendly options.  Happily, they said they had GF pasta and would be happy to amend any dish to make it safe for us.

When we got there, he told our server that we'd called ahead about the GF food.  She just happened to be the cook's wife, and sweet Jesus, she was awesome.  My dad quietly alerted her to the fact that I was also in need of a vegetarian option, which I didn't know until she came to take my order.  The menu was heavily meat-based, and the only vegetarian option on the menu was a salad.  Just as I was about to order the aforementioned plain salad (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bummed about the prospect of a bed of naked, lonely romaine lettuce), she said, as if it was totally no big deal, "We can make a pasta primavera with olive oil and garlic for you - would you like that?"

Um, YES.

As soon as the food arrived, I was basically smitten with my dinner.  I've never waxed poetic about any restaurant food, ever.  But ZOMFG, it was frickin' awesome.  First off, it looked gorgeous -- the vegetables were so beautiful and colorful that I wanted to dive in as soon as I saw it.  Dive in I did, and oh. My. God.  The garlic had infused the olive oil with an amazingly toasty, deep flavor.  When I've had pasta with garlic and olive oil before, it has tasted overwhelmingly of raw garlic -- but not this.  The garlic, while not roasted, absolutely tasted that way.  The GF pasta was al dente, and when coated with the garlicky, slightly salty olive oil, it was heavenly.  The veggies were tender and delicious.

Holy crap, this was awesome.

Once I was done, I had to restrain myself from licking the remaining olive oil straight out of the bowl.  My mantra went something like "Must. Not. Drink. Sauce. Must. Maintain. Decorum."  It was only with epic self-restraint, however, that I kept from doing away with any semblance of manners while freebasing what was left of my delicious dinner.

I've always cooked more than I've gone out, so I'd never before experienced a restaurant that can deviate from the menu with such grace and ease to accommodate someone's dietary needs.  But oh my, was it ever fantastic.  I'm now going to be on a mission to replicate that pasta primavera.  So help me God, I'll figure that one out...

Friday, June 24, 2011

In Which I Lament My Recent Absence from Blogger

Weddings.  As Diane Keaton once said in Father of the Bride, "they happen every day, in every country in the world."  So, you'd think they'd be relatively painless to plan.

Not so much.

I have been, for lack of a better description, buried alive in wedding planning.  I'm in the home stretch -- the big day is July 30, so I'm just over a month out -- but I'm in the phase wherein I wake up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat, thinking about all the loose ends that have to be tied up in the coming weeks.

I also made the mistake of reading one too many etiquette columns in which people lamented the horrible manners of modern brides who take too long to send out thank you notes.  So now you'd think that the thank-you note equivalent of the Stasi was watching me, waiting for me to take too long to write a note before detaining me for an etiquette violation.  Oy.

All this has left very little time for cooking or blogging -- which has bummed me out, because I do love me some cooking and blogging.  So, hopefully I'll be able to do more both before and after the wedding.  Because what does a girl need in order to get through the final sprint towards her nuptials?  Food.  Good food.  And lots of it.