Sick Days are Miserable

This last weekend I was pretty sick. I had a fever and my throat was really sore. turns out it was only a virus so we couldn’t get anything to treat it and it had to run its course on its own. That was all fine and dandy until Wednesday when my eyes started to get gross, I got some eye drops for them, and things are all starting to be much better for me. I still have a bit of a cough, but I feel so much better and by energy is back. I had an energy burst Monday night though, and even though I had been home all day, I made some soup.

AND IT FOLLOWED MY MEATLESS MONDAY! I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to stick with it while I was sick because it would be too hard to cook, but I really didn’t eat much anyway.

In the past my family had bought soyrizo, which is the soy alternative to chorizo, and it was a good way to get some great flavor into the black bean soup that I made.

It turned out pretty good. I haven had many black bean soups, but I’m pretty happy with the way that this one turned out and that I actually gave it a shot.

Before I tell you more about it, this is the recipe I followed, from My Recession Kitchen.

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly. Except I did use the can beans and pureed it at the end so that it was a bit more smooth.

I sautéed up some onion and garlic, until the onion was translucent and before the garlic burnt (oh my goodness, do not let it burn!! (I almost did, I wasn’t paying attention…))

Then cook the soyrizo, to get it warmed up and a little color on it. Make sure to break it up. Don’t laugh at what it looks like when it comes out of the tube.

Then you add your beans, and the stock, and let it cook.

Then finish it off with the cumin, oregano, and cilantro.

I pureed it a bit, I don’t know if that was the best thing to do, but hey, it still tasted great.

This is how it looked. I wish I would have some guacamole or cheese or something to top it with, but I wasn’t 100%, it’s okay.IMG_7190

I like the flavor, I would make it again, with less pure action. My mother also liked it, so maybe once it’s cool again.

Rainy Day Mac

After some really bad few days that I had over the weekend I really needed some good hot comfort food. Of course macaroni and cheese is at the top of the list for comfort food, along with white chili, and seeing as we made white chili about two weeks ago it was time fore the mac. Also, while in Ireland I had a couple of tuna melts and fell in love and I had a partial craving for tuna also. Of course you can put tuna in mac and cheese and so I did that. Also I used my cast iron skillet, which made it a whole lot more comforting.

To start you should boil some water and salt it, then throw a couple cups of elbow mac in and let it cook to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, defrost about a cup of peas, or clean the fresh ones and set them aside. Also, get your tuna out of it’s pouch or can and fluff it a little bit with a fork. The next step you cannot skip so read carefully…

Give a small piece of tuna to each cat in the house and watch them be so happy about fish out of a can/pouch.IMG_7191

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Now, once the pasta is going and your fish and peas are ready, start to cheese sauce thing. Melt a couple of table spoons of butter IMG_7193in a skillet and add the same amount of flour. IMG_7194Whisk it into a nice little roux and cook it until it smells nutty. IMG_7196Then add half a cup of milk to the roux and two ounces of cream cheese, whisk this until the cream cheese is melted and then add another half cup of milk.IMG_7197

From here you should probable let it cook for a couple minutes so that it thickens up, but it won’t need much time.

Now add your cheese, about a cup to a cup and a half, and stir it until it melts. Add the tuna now.IMG_7200

Drain your pasta if you haven’t already, and pour it into the cheese sauce, and mix it all together.IMG_7201 Finally add the peas.IMG_7202

Top with some bread crumbs and shredded cheese and pop it into the oven at 375 for 10 minutes, turning the broiler on for a minute after and letting the top just slightly brown.IMG_7205

Take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few moments, then serve._MG_7213

Enjoy on a dark rainy day, when it has rained for like 30 hours straight, and you really don’t remember what the sun looks like. Share it with your loved ones, but not your cats because they don’t deserve people food because they scratch at the bedroom doors at night to get attention.IMG_7203

Carbonara

Before you continue, I made this pasta (and this post) a while ago, but it never got posted. I kind of wish it had been, because the lighting in the pictures is better than a lot of my more recent ones. I hope you enjoy!

It’s an exiting day when you get to have pasta for lunch  It’s even more exciting when you get to make it fresh for yourself. What’s even more exciting than that is when you get to use pancetta.

It was a first-time pancetta experience for me, I mean I’ve tasted it before and I’ve watched others use it, but I had never used it myself. I’m not completely sure I did everything the “right” way, but it didn’t burn and it still ended up tasting really good.

Crispy pancetta

Wednesday was an early dismissal  so I didn’t have to eat lunch at school. On those days sometimes I run to Hy-Vee to pick up some Chinese or pizza, but I really wanted pasta on Wednesday. I had to fight my way out of the KPL to make it home with reasonable time to cook for myself.

I have been really interested in trying some new things with pasta, other than the basic tomato or alfredo sauces. I looked into some carbonara recipes after seeing some really yummy looking pictures around the internet. I looked up the actually way of doing things, that had a good explanation and I could follow, because this was something completely new to me.

I went with this recipe, but it’s written to serve four people, and I’m only one person and I didn’t know if i would like the leftovers. I had to cut it down then, and because of that I messed up the cheese and egg ratio, and I probably had too little pasta.

You can read the recipe on your own, it’s pretty simple, I don’t need to tell you everything about it. However, make sure you salt the past water enough, even if you think you have, add a little bit more, it’s your only chance to salt the pasta. Still on the lines of pasta water, put some aside before you drain the pasta, this way you can bring the temp of the eggs up by beating a little water into them so they don’t fry when they hit the pan. I didn’t do this, so the eggs were thick, and it wasn’t quite right.

You should cook the pancetta before you start thinking about beating the eggs, but it goes back in when the eggs do, so I’ll explain something helpful here. Cook the pancetta so it’s a little crunchy, but be careful not to burn it. It’s really nice to bit into a fork of pasta and get a crunchy little piece of salty meat.

The longest thing about this lunch was cooking the pasta, the pancetta cooked quickly, the and then you pretty much just add everything together. I was happy that I was able to have such a good, filling lunch on a half day, and I didn’t have to go out and buy it. I also really like this meal because it’s different from normal, but we always have all of the ingredients on hand. It might be one of my go-to half-day lunches now. I’m honestly really pleased with this, you should defiantly try it, or at least have some sort of pasta for dinner.

The Lunch Box

A while aback I wrote a post about how school I detest school lunched. I was pretty much just me whining about food that we get fed, and saying that I bring my own lunch. I tried to give some examples of what I bring, but I kind of failed, and I didn’t have very good specific examples. Since then, I have changed my routine a little bit (partially because I got burned out on some stuff and partially because it got colder so I have wanted to eat warm food).

Last week, on Monday, I stopped at Hy Vee on the way home from school to pick up some stuff for school lunches. I really like to have war m food since it’s winter and my thermos does a great job of keeping everything warm for a good amount of time. This little thermos had done a really good job for me so far, it’s defiantly already paid off (it was only about $15 and I have used it almost every school day for a few month). Anyway, I really wanted to think about other options for lunches after I had hit a rut the week before. I wasn’t eating anything that was really boring or anything, but I have done all of these things multiple times and I just wasn’t excited about eating it (I’m not complaining, I’m just trying to give insight on why I keep thinking about it, but also I like food, and I don’t want to have a “wasted” meal, I want to be able to enjoy everything that I eat).

When I got to the V (yeah, we call it that), I went straight to the canned food aisle and went to the ravioli. The canned ravioli, Chef Boyardee especially, is alright, it’s suggested serving size is half the can, but you can fit the whole can in the thermos, so it’s filling and that’s of great importance to a high school student. I picked up a can of both the beef and cheese ravioli, and I made my way across the store to the frozen section.

Let me use this as a break to say why I like to have to remade food for lunch. First of all, there is very little prep time outside of the microwave. I’m not a huge fan of the microwave, but it’s really easy to use, more so in the morning when you’re rushing to get out the door on time and do everything that you need to. Second, there is a good amount of variety. The frozen meal section has pasta, Asian food, low-fat meals, and even comfort foods, and over time these meals become easier to cook in the microwave, and they have started to taste better. And finally, the third reason is that they are meals. When you get a can of ravioli, it’s just the pasta and sauce, nothing else, you need to pack the rest of the food for lunch, otherwise lunch is going to be super boring. But when you get a frozen meal they normally have a side or a bit more diversity.

I ended up with a few frozen meals to have, too. I chose one that was orange chicken with rice, one that was ravioli (yeah, I know, it’s more pasta), and another one that I can’t remember. The downside of this though, is that the rice from the orange chicken meal got kind of really icky, it get really soft by lunch time, and so I pretty much just ate the chicken out of it. The chicken was good, but the rice really wasn’t.

My point is that even though it sounds really nice to make really fancy lunch-box lunches, it’s not practical and there are plenty of other options for lunches that taste good, are inexpensive, and don’t make you feel like a bad person. Frozen lunches aren’t for everyday, especially when you have leftovers, but they really do work. I have some chili that I can have for lunch a couple times this week, plus some leftover pasta, too. I don’t know how much actually prep I will actually have to do (other than hitting buttons on  microwave).

Plus, this is the last week of school before break and so I have several days where I’ll have time to leave campus for lunch. And that’s as fun as anything, albeit unhealthy if I go to Wendy’s or get Hy Vee Pizza.

Cheese on Bread won’t Kill You

I had free Friday night, which is absolutely crazy, but I really did enjoy the free time to relax and try something new.

I have an interest in grilled sandwiches, so much so that if there were a Facebook for food bloggers it would be listed under my interests. I don’t just mean grilled cheeses or paninis, but sandwiches that people eat cold that have been put on sliced bread and cooked. When I eat a homemade sandwich  I normally throw it in a pan and grill that baby, it’s  just what I do!

I have found some nice grilled sandwich ideas out there, and so I decided to go ahead and try one for dinner Friday (you can expect to see some more coming in the near future, especially with the cooler weather). I chose one that seemed to push me outside of my normal comfort zone.

The only reason it was out of the comfort zone was because it had avocado on it. I’m honestly not that big on avocado or guacamole or the like, it’s not that appealing to me. I truly wish it was, I know it tastes good to some people and I do like the texture, but that’s not really enough to get me to want to sit and eat it.

The sandwich was pretty well withing my comfort zone here on out, though. It had cheese, turkey, more cheese, and bread (well, duh!).

The bread was dipped on one side in an egg wash then into parmesan cheese before it went cheese side down into the spicy garlic butter that was sitting in the hot pan.

The cheese crust on the bread 

before it was cooked.

The crust that gave it was awesome. It was cheesy, but crispy, and it gave the simple bread something special.

The actual contents of the sandwich were turkey, muenster cheese, avocado, and no cilantro like the recipe called for (I was a little worried about how good it was actually going to taste once it was in the sandwich, you have to be careful with cilantro).

The finished sandwich.

I was not as happy-with the sandwich as a whole-as I was expecting. I don’t really know what was missing, but I was left craving something. I really did like the way that the crust on the outside turned out, it made me want to love the whole thing, rather than be slightly disappointed.

I wouldn’t do this one again, but I would try some others that were similar. It wasn’t terrible, but if avocado is up your alley, you might want to give this one a try.

School Food is Gross

School food is awful. It’s terrible. It looks like cat vomit half the time (trust me, I know, Rascal likes to eat grass). I hate it.

I bring my own lunch to school everyday. I started doing this the third trimester of last year, and it really stuck. I wasn’t eating what I wanted, there was never anything appealing to me on the menu, so I decided to bring my own food that would actually fill me up with a similar serving size and calorie content. I have a few things that I rotate through, but it still seems like more variety than the school provided meals.

I occasionally at sandwiches, turkey and/or ham with cheddar. Sometimes I bring lunchables, they remind me of childhood and youth. I like soup, macaroni and cheese, and left over pasta. All these things taste better to start with then the school lunches. They also keep me filled longer, yes even the lunchables, and I don’t have to wait in any of the massive lines that happen in the lunchroom. I can normally get throw my lunch before everyone is through the line, and I don’t have to worry about talking and eating, or the like.

I personally cannot stand school food. This was probably more of a rant than anything. I don’t understand how the school system can find the food they feed to us appealing in any way. It’s terrible. I would love to give some more specific examples, these will com in the future, though.

Super Snack

Normally my week nights are crazy and busy. I normally don’t have much time for doing what I want, and sometimes I end up not eating dinner, or eating a tiny dinner fairly early, like before 5:30. that means, but the time I am done with whatever activity I am doing, normally 9:30, I’m pretty darn hungry.

That’s where super snacks come in. A sort of meal thing that’s not large enough to constitute a true meal, but still requires too much effort and has too much substance to call it a snack. Obviously this is all very subjective, to some my super snack may be a meal, while others might consider it a normal sized snack.

Anyway, with these super snacks I strive to eliminate hunger, while also enjoying something delicious.

Tuesday I rally didn’t have an activity that went on for a while, but I had spaghetti for dinner then went to a French horn lesson. I came home. I did some work. Then I decided I wanted a snack. I committed to making something too delicious for nine o’clock at night.

I don’t care what you want to call it, but I made a toad in the hole. The American one, I could not possibly commit to several hours of cooking on a whim like that. You know what I mean, right? That piece of bread with a hole cut out in the middle, and you cook an egg in it on the stove and the bread soaks up some of the egg while it cooks and all the problems in the world are temporarily fixed. Maybe it’s not that drastic, but at least it fixes my issue with hunger.

toad in the hole

I make mine special, I like garlic a whole lot, so when I get the bread ready, I use a garlic butter and throw some dry seasonings, like basil or oregano into it. The bread gets a really nice crisp on it when you use the butter, and garlic never hurt anyone (especially not vampires because they don’t exist).

finished toad in the hole

It takes a total of about 20 minutes start to finish, maybe more if you eat slowly or don’t want to burn your mouth. Seriously, it’s the easiest way to make wonderful eggs, other than scrambling them in bacon grease, but that requires cooking bacon, no one has time for that on a Tuesday night at nine.

The toad in the hole is best served with a glass of orange juice, and it will go down pretty quickly.