Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta (with a poached egg)

Today was the first day I cooked in about 2 weeks.

For me, that’s unheard of.  Literally the last thing I made was these Mocha Protein Cupcakes.  No a single thing has been made other than microwaving soup from a box and veggie patties.

I’ve been busy, but let’s not concentrate on that.  Today, I knew I needed to cook.  I needed comfort food.  Usually for me, comfort food is a cookie, but lately, all I’ve wanted is lamb stew.  Umm… random? Yes.

Lamb is a little out of my price range right now, so I went to the store and bought some beef.  I started making beef stew with a bottle of cabernet a friend gave me not too long ago.

With half a bottle of wine and my stew on the first of many hours of stewing, I had a bright idea.

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I enjoyed this with a glass of wine while listening to Boleros.  Boleros is a genre of Spanish music, popular with people my grandmother’s age.  I have the musical taste of an 80 year old hispanic woman.  If we’re being honest, it’s probably my most listened to Pandora station.  It makes me think of my grandmother, who loves to wake up and put on music to listen to with breakfast.

So tonight, with my boyfriend across the country, I listened to sad music, think of my grandma, drank wine and ate a tasty comfort meal.

I’ll stop sounding so melodramatic, because despite the obvious missing of the boyfriend, it was a pretty relaxing meal for me (which was much needed because I’ve felt like I’ve been on the go for the past three weeks).

In terms of benefits to you: This is a super easy meal. It’ll be ready in roughly 15 minutes and it’s pretty healthy and the egg is totally optional, meaning this can be totally vegan.

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Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta

1/2 cup corn meal
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used Rosemary and Sage)
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (optional)

In a saucepan, mix together cornmeal and broth.  Put on medium heat.  While it comes to a boil, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and add onions cook a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another few minutes (about 5), stirring occasionally.

If you’re not good at multi-tasking, you can do each one at a time, but I’m a fan of multi-tasking so while the mushrooms and onions cooked, I stirred the cornmeal/polenta.  Once the polenta is thick and starts to come off the side of the pan when you stir, divide onto two plates, like so:

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By now the mushrooms should be about ready.  Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a minute. Add wine and stir.  It’ll bubble, steam and reduce.  Once the majority of the liquid is gone, turn the heat off.  Try a mushroom to make sure you added enough salt, adjust accordingly.  Then divide the mushroom mixture over the polenta.  You can serve it just as it…

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Or you can be a rockstar and add a poached egg, for extra protein and deliciousness.  If you don’t know how to poach an egg… google it?

Just kidding.  Check out this blog post from Smitten Kitchen.

Place your poached eggs on top of your mushroom-polenta creation.  Sprinkle with paprika, cheese, pepper, whatever else you like and enjoy!

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This recipe is perfect for two people, but it’s easy to make for one (which is what I did and just had leftover mushrooms for tomorrow).

This might be my new comfort dish of choice, because 1. easy, 2. delicious, 3. warm and 4. wine.

What’s your comfort food of choice? 

For me, Ice cream is probably my ultimate comfort food, but if we’re talking about meals: thick fatty soups (think creamy tomato) with grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Mocha Protein Cupcakes

Yesterday, I took Jesse to the airport.  He’s off to New York for almost 3 weeks for a training course.  I hate to be that girl, but I miss him already.  So in the meantime, I plan on baking a lot.  Because baking makes the world a little bit better.

After I did my search for the best protein powder, Garden of Life sent me some more of their flavors to try: Garden of Life RAW Protein Marley Coffee and Raw Fit.

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I automatically fell in love with the Raw Fit, because it kept me so full for so long, but I had a hard time with the Marley Coffee flavor.

Given that I’m a coffee fiend, I thought I would love the coffee flavor, but I’m going to be honest, I didn’t love the flavor on its own.  So instead of devouring the Marley Coffee flavor like I did the Raw Fit in my usual breakfast smoothies, I’ve been trying to find other delicious ways to use the Marley Coffee Protein and here’s my most recent creation.

mochaproteincupcakestextIt’s no secret I have a ridiculous sweet-tooth, it’s also no secret that I generally try to balance it out with healthy eats.  So I decided to try to combine my love of sweets with a dose of healthiness.  These cupcakes don’t contain any butter or refined sugar and each one has 7g of protein and only 125 calories.  Drizzled with a bit of almond butter, they’re the perfect healthy-ish treat.

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Mocha Protein Cupcakes

1 medium banana, mashed
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup Garden of Life Marley Coffee Raw Protein
1/2 cup almond meal1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Pre-heat over to 350F.

Mix together mashed banana, almond butter, maple syrup, egg and almond milk.  Add cocoa powder, protein power, almond meal, baking soda, baking power and salt.  Stir to combine.  Pour batter into 11-12 lined cupcake pan.  I got 11 cupcakes out of this.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

mochaproteincupcakes2You can eat them plain, top them with whipped cream or drizzle them with almond butter.  What I really loved about these cupcakes, other than the awesome nutrition stats:

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Was the texture.  They’re light and crumbly like a good cupcake should be.  The coffee flavor isn’t ultra strong, honestly these taste more like great chocolate cupcakes.  After all, it’s pretty common to add coffee to chocolate baked goods for flavor.  This protein added that perfect hint of coffee flavor that makes chocolate baked good extra delicious.

mochaproteincupcakes3So if you’re looking for a healthy cupcake, this is the one for you.  Be sure to check back later this week, I have some great things planned for you all!

 

**Note: Garden of Life provided me with the Raw Fit and Marley Coffee RAW Protein, but the opinions are my own.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cinnamon-Apple Filling

Dear California,

This is a friendly reminder that it is, in fact, October.  That means the temperature should be below 90F. Can you get it together so we can enjoy fall baking, pumpkins, sweaters and boots?

Sincerely,

Karla 

I don’t know where you are but I can almost guarantee it’s not hotter than Southern California was this weekend.  Seriously, it was the first weekend of October, and it felt like summer.  I went kayaking.  It was breezy, hot and perfect.  Then I wore a dress to dinner, with only a tiny cardigan, and had a rack of lamb. It was delightful.

I also baked a cake.

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I won’t lie, the temperature was slightly less than perfect for cake, but it happened anyway.  And since it’s October, I finally allowed myself to give in to the pumpkin season. But in the spirit of moderation, I made a tiny cake.

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6 inches, 2 layers and wonderful.

Full sized layer cakes can be too much.  6 inch cakes are my favorite.

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Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cinnamon Apple Filling

cake adapted from All Recipes

For Cake:

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp cardamom

For Filling:
1 apple, diced
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp rum (optional)

For Frosting:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 cups powdered sugar

First make the cake.  Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Using a mixer, beat together sugar, oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.  Add eggs one at a time, beating one minute after each.  Add dry ingredients and beat until well combined.  Pour batter into 2 6-inch round cake pans greased, flours and lined with parchment paper.  Bake about 30 minutes (this will vary depending on your oven, start checking after 25 minutes) or until golden and cooked through.  Allow to cool completely. (Note: you can make the cake a day in advance, just be sure to cover with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out)

Next make the filling.  Melt butter in a pan, then add apples, cinnamon and sugar.  Stir to combine and allow to cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add rum and cook for an additional minute or two, or until all the liquid is gone.  Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Next make the frosting, beat together butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Add powdered sugar until you get desired sweetness and texture.  You want it to be firm enough to hold, but not so thick you can’t spread it.  Set aside.

Now assemble the cake.  Level off each of the layers using a serrated knife or cake leveler.  Place one of the layers crumb-side down on a plate or cake circle, put a few pieces of parchment paper along the edges to keep your plate/cake circle clean.  Put some of the frosting in a ziplock back and cut off a corner.  Pipe some frosting around the edge to create a barrier for the apples (you don’t want them falling all over the place).  Like this:

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Next, place the apples in the center, spread them as evenly and possible (because no one wants a crooked cake).

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Then place the second layer on top, crumb side down.

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And then frost!  Remember to do a crumb coat first.  Don’t worry about getting too fancy, with a thick enough coat of frosting you can grab a spoon and make awesome swirls…

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I’m totally in love with this type of frosting decor. It’s a little bit hap-hazard but still nice looking.  And if we’re being honest, I totally want my wedding cake frosted like that with just a few flowers on it… but back to fall…

Pumpkin. Apple. Spices.  What’s more fall-like than that?

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So go ahead make yourself a little cake (or just double the recipe if you want to make the standard 9 inch layer cake).  If California would get with the program, I think I’d enjoy Fall flavors a little bit more.

Not to jump the gun, but I can’t wait til December, at which point gingerbread will be appropriate.  In the meantime let’s enjoy the Fall with flavors like pumpkin and apple.

Also, let’s not forget, I go to Peru in exactly 5 weeks, where it will be summer!  Talk about seasonal confusion!

What’s on your Fall agenda?

Farm Fresh to You: Get Produced Delivered, Eat More Vegetables

I’m going to be honest. This is not what I had in mind for dinner tonight.

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I had a salad for lunch and because I’m all about balance, I’m generally of the belief that if I had a salad for lunch, I’m certainly not having one for dinner.  But here I am.  Having a salad for dinner after I had one for lunch.  I don’t want to be one of those girls.  I’m not one of those girls.

Let me tell you the story of this salad, because really it started a few weeks ago.

Several weeks ago, Living Social was running a deal for Farm Fresh to You. It’s like a CSA delivered to your house, but instead of buying in at the beginning of the season, you can just order whenever you want it and pay weekly.  So I saw the deal: $15 for a delivery box of vegetables.

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If you used to read my blog when I was in grad school, you’ll know that I had a CSA share in Ithaca, NY from the Early Morning Farm and I absolutely loved it.  Every week I was so excited to pick up my share at the farmer’s market.  I got to try new and exciting vegetables like rhubarb and kohlrabi.  For a foodie writing her thesis on Sustainable Food Systems, you can probably imagine how amazing that was for me.

When I left Ithaca, I was sad that I wouldn’t have a CSA share to pick up weekly anymore. CSA shares in Southern California are basically twice as expensive as my share was in Ithaca (I paid about $20 per week back then).  So I was bummed.  I couldn’t afford to get one.  Let’s be honest, healthy living can be expensive.  (Remember how I got a second job to pay for Crossfit… omm yeah).

So when I saw this Living Social deal for Farm Fresh to You, I was all over it.  Last week, I placed my order and my box arrived today.  I had it delivered to my office because I was worried I wouldn’t be home when they delivered it and the heat wave here has been rough.  Now let me tell you, during my drive home, I was thinking about all the possible things to have for dinner, completely forgetting the box was in the backseat.

By the time I got home I had pretty much decided I wanted polenta with a poached egg.  But then I remembered the box full of vegetables.  I unpacked them and saw everything that was inside:

  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 honeydew melon
  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1lb potatoes
  • 3 apples
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 pears
  • 1 pack of Berry Kiwi
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1 bunch of carrots

That’s when I remembered: Oh yeah, I used to eat salads all the time because that shit goes bad real fast AND I hate to waste food. There’s no two ways around it, you have to be a voracious vegetable eater if the box is just for you (and that’s the case for me, since I live alone).

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And you know what goes bad first?  Lettuce.  You can wrap it in a paper towel to keep it crisper longer, but let’s be honest, it’s not making it past 4 days.  I wish the box included kale instead of lettuce… but alas not reality.  So that’s when I knew salad was for dinner.

Instead of that polenta and poached egg dinner I had in mind, I threw together a salad of lettuce, carrot, edamame and a Moringstar Farms Veggie Patty.  For dressing, I mixed together some natural peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sriracha and vegetable broth, for a little Asian inspiration (Note: that’s basically how you make the dipping sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls).

So you’re probably thinking… good for you! Pat on the back for having a salad! Who gives a crap!?! 

Well really the whole point of all this was to tell you one of the top benefits of having one of these produce delivery services (or a CSA share) and why I’m considering getting it again: it forces you to eat more vegetables.  And not just that… organic vegetables, even better!

Farm Fresh to You brought my count of vegetables for the day from 4 to 6 (plus 3 servings of fruit).  While I probably would have added spinach to my polenta with poached eggs, the box diversified my vegetable intake, because I already had spinach in my smoothie this morning.  Even better, different nutrients!

Overall: I was pleased with what was in the box.  It had a little too much fruit for my liking, but I love the idea.  I think in the future I’ll just choose the vegetable-only box.  I’m all for eating more organic vegetables, because with a sweet tooth like mine, I can always use extra vegetables to balance it out (I’ll be completely honest, after the salad I had a spoonful of peanut butter mixed with sweetened condensed milk for dessert… I know… we won’t talk about it anymore).

Oh and just so you know, I was not compensated by Farm Fresh to You.  I bought the Living Social deal on my own and these are just my opinions.

Have you tried a produce delivery service?  Did you like it?