Meatless for Lent

It’s been a while and I have some posts to catch up from February, but here’s a new project for lent: Meatless.  Quite a few of my friends, many of whom have no connection to each other, have decided to go meatless for lent and it struck me: that’s an interesting idea.  With the rise of vegan and vegan diets, why not try it?  It also serves as a good way for me to explore different protein options because I know that’s one area I tend to forget about.

So this is the mission:  Meatless for lent (I’ve also added only 3 days for goodies/sweets cause I’ve been overindulging lately) with a cheat day (for meat) on Sunday.

Let it begin!

Day One:
So far, so good.  Day one is always the easiest.  You still have your resolve.  However… that frozen pizza is calling and will have to patiently wait until Sunday.  I forsee many days of eggs… in any way I can get them.

The Egg Nest, Nid d’oeuf

Someone shared a Russian video about making these fabulous looking egg nests on my facebook page.  I was absolutely enchanted the moment I saw them and thought: I wanna try.  The tricky part is that I have to be in the mood for breakfast for lunch or dinner and that might take a while (there’s no making an elaborate breakfast for, *gasp* breakfast).  I also had to figure out what they were called to search for them in English… and then Pinterest saved me.  Someone pinned a recipe for it and viola… and experiment was born!  Even better: it was based of a French recipe (I have a not so secret love of French cuisine and anything to do with France).

Now, usually, I whip egg whites by hand; a carry over from my days working at a living history site, but I live in this wonderful 21st century and decided to make my life easier.  I used my hand held mixer that has a whisk attachment.  Boy, was that so much faster and easier.  I’ve been converted…for now.

The recipe I found calls for grated Guyere cheese and this writer used parmesan, but I had none of these.  I usually do have some parm. but not today.  Digging in the frig, I found some shredded cheese I use for tacos, fajitas, etc.  I wasn’t sure if it would work and if it would be too heavy so I went light on the cheese, just two pinches.  I’m going to have to find some Guyere and give that one a try.

Nid d'oeuf!  So yummy!

Nid d’oeuf! So yummy!  Forgive the blurry quality.  The tremors in my hands were bad today.

I followed the directions, though I used cooking spray rather than parchment or the mat.  My yolks did break so I was worried, but never fear.  You only put them in for three minutes so it doesn’t mess with the yolks too bad, depending on how badly you broke them.  While I fretted for the combined total of 6 minutes (you split the cooking time), I didn’t need to; they came out beautifully.

They taste just as good too!  Like eggs over easy, but the whites are airy and light.  I’m horrible at flipping eggs (I always, always break them), so this alternative is brilliant.  I don’t have to compromise that yummy yolk sauce and the whites are delicious and filling.  This one is a keeper.  Actually, this might be a good ‘show off’ recipe.

A Cinnamon Roll in a Minute

I know I missed a week or so there, but I’ll blame finances and if this was a more political blog, I’d go into the details of being a struggling, underpaid, under-worked, over-educated millennial, but this isn’t…  It’s just that the past week, I was using up the minute dinners and cans of goods, so there wasn’t really anything worth posting.  I did attempt this delicious mug cake below, but the first picture was horrible, so I made it again… it was that good.

Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake...it was delicious.

Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake…it was delicious.

I’ll first start off by saying, I didn’t alter this one in any way.  I know that a lot of the times I will, substituting or adjusting for my own tastes, but with these mug cakes, I want to try and do that exact and find the best one.  Let me say that this one really does taste like what it claims to be: a cinnamon roll in a mug cake.  If the texture hadn’t given it away, I would have thought it was a cinnamon roll.  Obviously, this has a more cake texture to it than the bread-like roll but boy, the flavors are so very, very close.

This one is a definite try.  It actually cooks up in the time that the recipe says, is fluffy and full of flavor.  I’d even recommend this on Sunday mornings (it was a tradition in my house as a kid that my dad would get up before church and pop in the cinnamon rolls for us when we woke up…  it was the extent of my dad’s baking).

It has become clear to me that I need a better mug to do these in…  so the search will be on…

Twofer: Dinner and dessert

Tonight was a pasta night.  It happens quite a bit, usually in the form of an easy microwave dinner or just some pre-made in a jar sauce with noddles.  Nothing fancy but nothing creative either.  I decided to forgo the stables and do something new.

The menu?  Pasta with an easy creamy garlic sauce that I found on this blog and a quick, microwave dessert that’s a bit of a stable for me when I want something sweet and fruity.  I will say this about the menu…  wait a bit before going from your garlic sauce to your apple dessert.  It doesn’t always go well together right away.

Let’s break it down.

The sauce wasn’t too difficult to make and I say this as being a person who cannot make a savory sauce or gravy right to save her life.  Desserts?  No problem.  Savory?  Apparently it doesn’t work in my brain.  That being said, I’ve watched enough cooking shows to believe I could handle this, and you know what?  I did.  What I will say, however, was that I did have to change things up a bit…as usual.

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

The recipe on the site calls for a tablespoon of butter, finely chopping garlic and three tablespoons flour (among other things, you’ll have to check the website out to see what).  I didn’t have fresh garlic (boo) so I used the minced stuff which is probably what changed things for me.  My mixture ended up too dry before I added the milk to the mix.  So I hurried and put in another tablespoon of butter, which seemed to help and worked the milk into the mix.  I do think I will cut back on the flour in the future and add more salt, otherwise, the quick save did the trick.

Now, to top it off, and because I’m a sucker for cheese (forget mold allergies, I love my cheese!), I sprinkled a bit of shredded cheese on top, a bit of dried (wish I had fresh) parsley (I’m on a parsley kick), and some cherry tomatoes.  I turned out rather tasty.  It wasn’t as strong a flavor as I would have liked and fresh garlic is probably what would have made this so I’ll give it ago another time when I have it in the house, but for a quick and easy pasta sauce?  It’s a keeper.

On to dessert.  I’m a fan of microwave desserts since I’m just one person.  It makes it easy to stop at one serving.  What I love even more are apples.  I can eat apples till I’m too stuffed to eat.  Just ask anyone who has worked with me at Greenfield Village at Firestone Farm during apple harvest.  Apples, love them!

My favorite thing to do is to add some sugar, both brown and white (I love the flavor mix of the two with an apple), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to a chopped apple.  Always taste your apple to check the sweetness, etc.  Every apple breed is different and that changes your ratio of sugar to spices.  I’ll admit, I had a sweet apple and might have added a bit too much sugar (ha!), but I got excited.

Spiced apples with ice cream

Spiced apples with ice cream

Microwave those apples with your spices and sugar for about 1 minute.  I always do spurts of 30 seconds just to be sure.  Then I crumble up some graham crackers or vanilla wafers (preferred) and top it off with just a small scoop or two of french vanilla bean ice cream.  It warms the belly and really isn’t as bad for you as a good slice of chocolate cake, which is a winner in my book.

All in all… not a bad meal.  A typical meal, but a pretty good one.

Coming Back: The Great Mug Cake Experiment

Yes, The Weekly 52 is going back to its roots this coming year and posting at least one new recipe a week.  It worked fabulously the week before, even if I ended up losing track of posts mid-summer.  I did keep baking/cooking a recipe a week.  I loved the experiment so much that I want to bring it back…especially with the continued rise of quality recipes on Pinterest.

To start it off…it’s another mug cake.  I love little mug cakes, to be honest.  I don’t have to bake a huge cake and still get a little dessert.  The downfall is that they can be tricky buggers.  Some are spongy, some are tough, etc.  So when I stumbled on this from Pinterest, I had to try one of them, even if it was based off Buzzfeed.

Two little mug cakes sitting nicely in a row

Two little mug cakes sitting nicely in a row

First things: it isn’t my usual ‘healthy’ dessert.  I say this by explaining that I sub in applesauce when I can to cut down on some of the sugar and egg ingredients.  I’ve had great success with it, but I really wanted to follow this one to the letter since it proclaims to ‘fix’ what’s wrong with most mug cakes.

The top recommendation is to use self-rising flour or at the very least, make your own and they tell you how (1c flour + 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt).  I’ll say this: it’s a key thing to making the consistency that of a regular, baked cake.  I get it…and I’ll stick to it.

Next is the egg and yes, I tend to sub this out a lot so that I can use eggs in other edible things but I stuck with it.  They warn that this is for two mug cakes and that’s the kicker: one egg in a mix is two mug cakes and yes, cutting an egg in half isn’t going to happen.  Another good tip.

The other recommendations are pretty common sense so I moved on to the few recipes they offered on the site.  It is a book afterall and so these were just samples of recipes inside.  I’ll take it and run with it.

I started off with the basic yellow cake recipe because you can do so much to it and yes, they recommend adding.  I stuck to the recipe and made an addition: I added a half spoonful of my homemade strawberry jam.  Next time, I’ll add more but I used up all that I had…

My two mugs baked at 2 minutes and I probably could have gone a smidge longer but they were fine.  They bounced back and cooked all the way through.  I threw on some homemade buttercream colored a dark pink, sprinkled on chocolate chips and called it good.

And it was good.  Was it the best mug cake I’ve ever had?  Honestly?  No.  But it was up there on the list and one that I’ll keep around and reuse.  I will say that it was good enough to think about trying to find the book and putting it on a birthday wish list.

Week Nine: Last Howl

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a fuzzy child, so here is my dedication to a very beautiful, loving ‘wolf.’

Last Howl

It echoes in the night
Shattering the silence
A cotton tail rabbit dives into a hole
There’s a doe that stops, ears open
It comes again
A long note, held to the very end
Slipping across the shimmering snow
No wind moves the trees
No rustle of leaves to shade the call
Just the sound to fill the air
The silence
Brilliant, still, and a stab through the chest
All of nature holding its breath
A shared waiting
And then an answer
High above the trees
Ringing amongst the branches
To meet the other
A chorus of echoes and cries
Forming a symphony
For memory
One last call joined with others
A last howl in the night.

Week Nine: Fairy Door

Fairy doors was such a fun concept and there’s one in one of the conference/teacher’s office where I substitute teach a lot of the time.  For whatever reason, it inspired me.

 

Fairy Door

I’m just a fairy
Living in a door
A fairy door if you will
I see a new penny each day
And oh, the stories they bring
An old man gives for a wife dying in a hospital bed
A boy for the football player who won’t look at him
The new bride in hope they make it through the rough stuff
They come, leave their copper
And I listen for a while
There’s a little girl hoping for a pony
There’s a mother praying for a suicidal daughter
A college kid who just wants to pass the Econ. exam
Some are big
Some are small
But they matter to me
Like the dancer who broke her foot and is lost
Or the singer who just wants an audience
Or the IT guy who wants to be the next Steve Jobs (or Bill Gates)
I love hearing them
Laughing and crying with them
The young mother who only has a Medal of Honor for a husband
And the nurse who doesn’t sleep because she cares too much
Or the Cat Lady who has a heart ten times it’s size
They’ll never know
But I hear them
I keep their pennies with a little sigh
Pass their memories
Keep them alive
I’m just a fairy
Living in a door