Strong Independent Popcorn Who Don’t Need No Microwave!

When I first came across this recipe from Portlandia, my eyebrow curled up. Really, a popcorn recipe?

Then I remembered that there are such things as cheddar and caramelized popcorn. I tend to be a movie theater popcorn purist. I don’t even like to butter mine. It gets too greasy and if the popcorn is done right from the get go with seasoning and etc, it’s not needed. In my opinion.

I’m a strong independent woman who don’t need no butter, but this recipe is of the nacho cheddar variety and let’s face it, I’m a cheesy person. Maybe it’s time I allow some cheese in my popcorn.

What you’ll need

  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese powder or a packet of cheese from a mac and cheese mix (but then you don’t have cheese for your mac and cheese and that’s upsetting to me)
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup of popping popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Salt

In an appropriately sized bowl, mix all your powders and the yeast.

Then in a large pot, heat the oil and then add the popcorn. Cover slightly with a lid and pop the corn over medium heat.

Once the kernels have popped pour the popcorn into a bowl and dump the melted butter on it. Toss until butter has coated evenly, then add half of your powder mixture and toss again. Once you’ve felt it’s been tossed enough, add the rest of the powder mixture and continue more tossing.

Eventually it all be mixed and then you can add salt to your liking and enjoy!

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The Scent of Fried Eggplant

Some of you may be thinking, “Oh no…not another eggplant recipe!”

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I get it, I like eggplant, but I’m getting tired of writing about it. So how do we make this fried recipe from The Scent of Orange Blossoms interesting?

History. Provided you find history interesting. I’ll make it entertaining….

Eggplant did not come from an Isle of Eggplants, but from the regions of India and China. It then spread in both directions, west and east where it ended up in Egypt, the Iberian peninsula and finally England. The Wikipedia page on eggplant pulled a quote from a British writer that states

This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere. -English Botanist 1597

The people of the western side of Earth loved this purple cucumber and it followed many cultures and crossed the pond into the Americas in such a fashion that would make a bodysnatcher proud.

If this little history lesson hasn’t amped you up enough, I have another tidbit for you. Apparently at some point in China’s history the below quote was a thing.

In China, as part of her “bride price,” a woman must have at least 12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day. –The Elegant Eggplant

So ladies, if you’re single this is number 4 of eggplant recipes that I have written about. You’ll need 8 more if you want to get married and I’ll certainly update you if I come across more.

What you’ll need

  • 1 globe eggplant
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • finely minced rind of 1/2 preserved lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or balsamic

The first step is to cut the eggplant into 1/2 thick slices. Then place them on paper towels and salt them. This will help with the frying process later.

Let the eggplant soak in its salt bath for about 15 minutes and then turn over the slices and repeat on the other side.

This is like eggplant’s version of sunbathing/spa treatment.

After both sides have been salted, rinse the eggplant with water, pat dry, and then set aside.

Get more paper towels and line a baking sheet with them.

Side note, what did people do before paper towels for these eggplants? I’m sure they just used a towel of some sort, but it had to have been a super absorbent one right? The middle ages version of a shamwow is what I’m picturing.

We are now ready to fry the eggplant. Do so by heating two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add just enough eggplant that each slice has its space and then fry each side. You’ll know they’ve been fried enough when the eggplant establishes a light brown color. Once each side is fried, allow it to drain on your paper towel pan.

Once they’ve cooled you can garnish with garlic, parsley, preserved lemon rind, and vinegar.

After this process they are ready to be served and enjoyed!

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Eggplant, (2018) fried in pan

 

Isa’s Wild Rice Soup

This recipe comes from Isa Does It and is a vegan alternative to chicken and rice soup.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of peeled and thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
  • 1 cup of wild rice
  • 1/2 cup of red lentils
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 pound of seitan
  • 1 15 ounce can of great northern beans, rinsed and drained

Being the omnivore that I am, I had never heard of seitan until making this soup. Tofu, tempeh, and soy alternatives of meat for sure, but not seitan. Seitan did remind me of something though….

Church lady nc state - Tried this new vegan meat substitute... Could it be SEITAN?!

Seems like I’m not the only one who thought of the church lady

Seitan is a popular chicken alternative because it’s denser than soy and tofu based meat alternatives. You can buy firm tofu, but usually tofu has that soft jello like texture in the middle that clues my brain into knowing I’m not eating meat.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still tell seitan isn’t meat, but it’s closer to the real thing due to level of firmness.

Which makes me concerned that maybe there’s a reason it’s called seitan. Gonna have to consult the church lady on this one.

Away with you seitan! We need to move on and talk about how to prepare this soup.

First you pre-heat your favorite pot that you got crafted in California and heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add those onions in and saute with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until it’s translucent. This is so seitan can see it’s soul better for stealing purposes.

Add some garlic next and saute that until you smell it. Next toss in the carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir that pot up because stirring the pot sometimes gets seitan’s attention.

This may not be enough, however, so we need to throw in some wild rice into the mix along with lentils and broth. Cover the pot and bring it a hellish boil. Church lady will then come in and try to save its soul. It doesn’t work, but the heat will go to a simmer. She’ll leave the lid open slighty so redeemed souls can escape. Allow them to escape for about 25 minutes.

By now, seitan should learn about this golden opportunity to steal some wild rice souls, but like with most professionals preparations must be made.

Seitan likes to prepare itself by soaking in a hot pan with oil. Not surprising right?

Prepare that pan by heating it over medium heat and then adding the oil. Once the temperature is right, allow seitan to take an oil bath for about 5 minutes.

Seitan will be relaxing in its bath until the rice, beans, and lentils have softened. You’d think this would be the perfect moment for seitan to strike, but it won’t until we’ve tested the soup for salt seasoning.

Once that’s been prepared to everyone’s liking, seitan waits til the soup is served into individual bowls before it makes its move.

We now have a condemned soul for consumption.

Despite my bad taste of humor into turning this into a story of ungodliness, this is actually a pure soup for those of you who love animals.

I also love animals but unfortunately enjoy eating chicken. Despite this, I thought seitan was a tasty alternative. Knowing  it’s high in protein is beneficial as well.

I suggest doing your research about what seitan to use however. This was my first time with seitan, so I just grabbed what was available, but I read up on it after the fact and some pre-packaged seitan has extra additives like sodium that negate the health benefits.

Otherwise I highly recommend it as a meat alternative.

Enjoy!

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Seitan’s soup

 

Apple Meat Loaf

Do your loaves of meat need a little sweetness in their lives, then may I present to you this apple meat loaf from Cooking for Two. 

What you’ll need

  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup of shredded peeled apple
  • 1/2 cup of soft bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons of ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • dash ground allspice
  • 3/4 pound ground beef

The first step is to saute the onion with the butter. Probably should make sure that butter is melted at first as well. Then in a large bowl combine the apple, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper and allspice.

Once all of those ingredients are fairly mixed, gradually stir in the onion and then finally the beef.

After the meat is mixed, pretend you’re Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force and make it look like a loaf of bread. Then place that meat loaf into a pan and bake under 350 for 40-45 minutes.

You now have a meathead with a touch of sweetness,

I don’t have much to say about this recipe. It’s simple and easy to make. I did enjoy the slight sweetness from the apple. Besides the apple it’s your standard meat loaf, so if you are into that sort thing, you might as well give it try.

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Meatloaf is not the most photogenic

Five-Spice Eggplant

Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Meals is like the Game Genie of cooking and I love it for that reason.

However, it also appears to be a cookbook backed by the spice company McCormick, which I have mixed feelings about. I don’t have anything against McCormick, but it just feels like the Sandra’s publishers were like, “Ok this eggplant recipe is great and all, but we need you to mention McCormick somewhere and it can’t be just pepper and salt.”

So, they came up with McCormick five-spice powder.

I feel that they should just be honest about it and name this McCormick Sponsored Eggplant, but I digress….

What you’ll need

  • 4 small Japanese eggplants, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon five-spice powder (McCormick of course)
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons of dark sesame oil

The first step is to pre-heat your oven to….

Is it gonna be 350 or…..

It’s gonna be 400!

So, do that, then line a baking pan with some foil.

While your oven is heating up, in a medium bowl, toss every ingredient together. Then lay the slices on your baking pan and roast for 10-15 minutes. Once that timer goes off, you’re good to go.

Simple and easy, like always.

I admittedly could have done without the 5-spices. Maybe that’s why I feel the way I do about this McCormick sponsorship, but this was still a tasty recipe. The star of the show was the sesame oil. Other than that, this is your standard eggplant side dish and should not disappoint anyone who isn’t too picky.

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5-Spice Eggplant

Spicy Scallops

I am pleased to announce that I finally made something from The Everything Thai Cookbook that I actually liked.

Prepare your trumpets and your drumrolls,  cause that recipe is…. Spicy Scallops!!!

*The author of this cookbook recognizes that her food tastes are not refined enough to appreciate some of the previous recipes she has cooked in this book. She means no offense to Thai cuisine or people. She enjoys meals she’s had at Thai restaurants and recognizes that the issue lies with her and possibly her cooking skills.

What you’ll need

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeno minced
  • 1 (1/2 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 8 large scallops

The first step is to prepare your sauté pan by placing that veggie oil in it and heating it up. Even food needs some foreplay guys. That is purposely directed towards guys in case you’re wondering as well.

Add the garlic, jalapeno, and ginger to your hot oil and cook for about a minute.

Next add the coriander, soy sauce, and water. Stir it together and allow it to simmer for about 2-3 minutes.

Once cooked, strain the liquid and set aside for later.

Add the scallops once the pan has cooled for a bit and drizzle the strained sauce on top. Increase the heat to medium-high and cover the pan with a little bit of wiggle room for steam to escape. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.

At this point your scallops should be ready to eat!

 

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Mmmm…spicy scallops

The final result is Thai restaurant quality. That’s saying something, becasue I like scallops, but am not a die hard fan. This recipe almost made me one.

The sauce is simple, with a bit of that salty bitter soy sauce taste, but it just glazes over those scallops and makes you want to slurp every last bite.

I think this soy, ginger, and jalapeno combo would make a great marinade for other meats as well. I look forward to making this again and hopefully you will too.

Olive Condite AKA Sicilian for Dressed Olives

Whenever I eat olives I think of this song called “Jerusalem” by Dan Bern.

A friend of mine from college introduced me to this song and when he showed it to me I was instantly hooked. I love songs that tell a story and this was most certainly does. It’s also a little quirky and funny at points. So you should check it out. It’s good stuff.

Towards the end of the song, Dan sings,

And all I ate was olives
Nothing but olives
Mountains of olives
It was a good ten days, I like olives
I like you too

Well thanks Dan, I like olives and you as well.

I think, anyway.  I’ve never met you. You could be a secret jerk.

Hopefully, like these olives from Sicilian Cookery, you’re far from it.

What you’ll need

  • 1 pound/3 cups of green olives
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Hot red peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar

Your first step is to crush the olives. You don’t have to completely beat them down, it’s mostly to get the inner olive juices flowing.

Once crushed, season them with garlic, basil, parsley, and chopped hot, red peppers. Place this mixture in a jar and add olive oil until the jar is almost filled. The remaining space will be filled with a few drops of vinegar.

Once you let it mix and marinate you’ll have no reason to go to that infamously expensive olive bar at Whole Foods! You’ll have your own!

Side note, I’ve calmed down a bit about Whole Foods because they do have standards on how they treat their animal products and I do support that. I just get irritated by how expensive their other items are. Some of it doesn’t seem necessary to me.

The final result is what can be expected if you enjoy olives. As some of you know, I’m a spice lover, and naturally those peppers combined with the olives left me in heaven.

If you’re not big on spice, however, there are alternatives the cookbook mentioned which consisted of seasoning with pickles and oregano.

No matter how you like your olives, if you want to be a good Sicilian, you gotta keep those olives on hand for all your important guests to snack on. You never know, they could be the next messiah.

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Mt. Etna of olives