Crunchy Chickpeas Two Ways: Plain & Sriracha Lime

ImageJesus, I eat a lot of chickpeas.  Mostly in hummus form.  I’ve spoke a lot about my hummus addiction and it doesn’t seem to be waning, not one bit.  I’m cool with it.  There are worse things to be addicted to, right?

Here’s a new way to eat these delectable little legumes.  Roast them up till they’re nice and crunchy and then just pop them in your mouth, one by one, or palm full by palm full for the impatient.  You can also add them to salads, or soups, or anything that will benefit from some crunch.  It’s a healthy substitution for croutons you see!

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Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Soup

photo 1It has been a rather nasty flu season, as the news tells me, but I have yet to experience it.  Thank God.  Not to jinx myself, but I don’t think I’ve had the flu since I was very young.  What I do frequently get is sinus infections, and one is plaguing me as I write this post.  It feels like my entire face is stuffed with cotton.  I’m sniffly, tired, and downright miserable, but as I said yesterday on FB, a good book, hot tea, a sweet dog cuddling next to me, and the smell of a savory and spicy soup slow cooking away on the counter makes this illness totally bearable.  Ghostface is taking time to rest as well…

photoSo while I’m drowning in tissues and hoping this is very, very temporary, I invite you to try is little gem of a recipe.  It’s super easy, with minimal prep.  There are many mods you can make, like using homemade chicken stock and roasting poblano peppers like in some of my other recipes, but when you feel like a truck ran over your face, you are less likely to put in the extra effort.  Which is okay.  Your culinary repertoire should have plenty of throw-together recipes easily executed in under half an hour.  This will keep you in the kitchen and out of the drive-thru line, trust me.

Happy Thursday, and to all my fellow sicklies – get well soon!

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Homemade Maple Granola

IMG_0537The Pulp Kitchen is not a fancy blog.  I don’t have a professional camera or lighting equipment – my iPhone and Snapseed app work fine.  I don’t have an editor, save Derek from time to time.  I don’t know what the best time of day to post is or how to get people to pin my dishes.  I do this for fun.  I do this to keep writing, because I like myself better when I’m writing a lot.  I think it’s the expulsion of thoughts and ideas, best when not bottled up.  Granted, some production would be awesome, as would a better camera and staging area.  But I’m certainly not there yet.  Luckily, I have some amazing food bloggers to aspire to, number 1 spot going to Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.

IMG_0531If you’re a foodie or food blog enthusiast and don’t know who Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is, then you must be living under a rock somewhere.  For a food blogger running her operation out of a tiny NYC kitchen, her cherub of a son in tow, and all done sans assistants and professionals, she has somehow honed in on the secret to a successful blog.  I mean, she averages about 300 comments per post, has over 114,000 Facebook followers, and just published a cookbook!  I just hit the 100 mark on my Facebook page and I was jumping for joy!  In my opinion, her success is a combination of excellent writing and recipes that inspire everyone, from novice to pro, to get their butts in the kitchen.  Her writing is eloquent and personal; funny and a little self-depricating at times.  We may all laud her achievements, but she is often talking about how un-together she is.  Her blog and her writing make you feel like she’s your friend, like she’s writing just to you.  If I saw her on the street (and believe me, I was looking around while I was in NYC, as if there aren’t over 8 million people living there) I would totally bear hug her and her adorable son if he was there.  In a non-creepy way, of course.

IMG_0535I’m thinking about blogging my way through her entire cookbook (maybe not the cakes though, God knows I don’t need to be making cakes for myself) Julie & Julia style, that’s how much I love this cookbook.  So, my first Smitten Kitchen Cookbook recipe is probably the easiest one – homemade granola.  I’ve made granola before, a Tyler Florence recipe, but this is by far the easiest and most delicious I’ve had.  It’s got that sweet and salty thing going, which makes me swoon.  The recipe says it will last for two weeks, but I doubt it will last one.  And trust me, after you make this, you’ll never buy store bought again.

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Healthy, Vegan, Gluten-Free Cookie Dough

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This recipe is bananas. I found the reference to said recipe on Bonappetit.com some time ago, and it got stuck in my head. Truthfully, I’m not one for this type of thing. Yeah, I wanna lose some weight, but I’m not going to look for a crazy modification of something as classic and amazing as raw cookie dough. The reason the recipe stayed with me is because it’s made out of beans. Yes, beans! And the blogger claimed that the final product is just about indistinguishable from the real thing. Well, something as absurd as fake cookie dough made out of beans had my interest and I needed to get to the bottom of whether it was good or not.

To my great surprise, it’s good. Damn good. Not exactly the real thing, but I was certainly shocked. Actually, when I first made it I thought it was a total failure. I used garbanzo beans, and the dough smelled like such. You can’t trick yourself into thinking you’re eating cookie dough if it smells like beans, you know. Plus, it was loose and liquidy, and off in general. But after a full night in the fridge, it completely transformed. The aroma went away, and what was left was creamy and satisfying. We polished it off in about three days, and I’m still shaking my head at how the blogger, Chocolate Covered Katie, came up with a recipe as crazy as this. Her whole blog is about healthy desserts, and with the success of this first recipe, I think I might have to try some of her other wacky concoctions.

One variation I did make on the recipe might seem a little over the top though. Deb of Smitten Kitchen just posted a recipe on her blog for the most “ethereally smooth hummus” ever. Her secret is de-skinning the garbanzo beans. Read about it and how to do it here. She says this is the way to counteract the potential grittiness of processed garbanzos, and we’ve all had bad, gritty hummus! But us Austinites really don’t have that problem since Grandma’s Hummus is the best hummus in the universe!

I digress. So, I de-skinned the beans before I put all the ingredients in my mini food processor. It took me and extra 20 or 30 minutes, and I can’t say if it made a difference as this is the first time I made this recipe, but chime in in the comments if you have any thoughts! Have a healthy, happy, sweet MLK day everyone!

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Pasta Bolognese

photoIt is no lie that I love pasta.  In my opinion, it’s comfort food at its finest.  And post-grad job hunting is the soul-crushing, anxiety-inducing type of work that has me needing some serious comfort.  I’m only two weeks in, but it feels like a lifetime.  And when the days keep passing by, and you were so certain that that cover letter you wrote was gonna blow them away, it’s that stab of rejection that gets your mind thinking awful thoughts.  Like, what if I don’t find a job?  What if I can’t pay my rent?  What if I have to go back to waiting tables?  The what-ifs will kill ya.

But, BUT, that’s no way to think.  And when those awful thoughts creep into my head, this is what I think:

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“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” -Stephen King

Don’t you just love that quote?!  It helps me to stay strong and be brave.  Because life is a roller coaster of ups and downs, all of which need the bravery to stay positive and believe you will get through it even stronger.

And when that doesn’t work, I think this:

keep-calm-and-read-harry-potter-75Because nothing will get me out of a funk like a good book, be it something new or something like Harry Potter which I’ve read oh, probably, 15 times all the way through. It will never, ever get old for me.  :)

Back to the lovely Pasta Bolognese.  I used Anne Burrell’s recipe found here.  The only thing I changed was that I used 2 pounds of ground beef instead of 3.  And it made enough to feed an entire country, so I really don’t think it needs that extra pound.  Burrell’s directions are very, very detailed which, according to her, are vital if you want to produce the richest and heartiest bolognese possible.  This is an arduous process, a labor of love, if you will.  A solid 5 hours of cooking.  While I was making it, through all the stirring and browning, I imagined I was an 80-year-old Italian grandmother fixing Sunday dinner for my large, loud Italian family.  This is the type of recipe that should get handed down through generations.  And when you need some comfort pasta, rich and meaty and ready to stick to your bones, this isn’t a bad place to start.

 

 

The Best Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

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Um, yeah, it’s been a while. Should I regurgitate lame excuses to the effect of, “I’ve been soooo busy,” or, “I just graduated and needed time off?” Nah. I could give many many excuses, because Life, with a capital L because it’s an entity all its own, has been spinning me around Wizard of Oz tornado style and I assume I’ll be landing in some unknown realm in the coming months. That’s what Life does sometimes. You think everything’s all mellow and you have everything in nice, straight lines. And then WHAM! Everything gets crazy. And you reassess who you are and what you want out of that trickster called Life. But, in my opinion, change is necessary and exciting. There are so many possibilities. So. Many.

I’m always looking for new slow cooker recipes. I mean, that damn thing is taking up a lot of real estate in the cupboard, so it should get some use. So many recipes I see online are for stew-type dishes, and I’m not really a stew-type girl. It’s just not all that appealing to me. But I have made a good amount of Latin dishes with it, with great success. This dish in particular. I’ve made it three times now, and every time it blows us away with its deep, rich, melt-in-your-mouth flavor, and general ease in making. The only arduous part is warming the corn tortillas. I like to spray a little olive oil on each side and heat them on a skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until they’re golden brown. When making 8-12 tacos, this step can take a while, but the tortillas taste infinitely better than using the microwave. But, by all means, make them whichever way you’d like.

I hope everyone had joyous holidays, and are just as excited for 2013 as I am! Also, if you have any great slow cooker recipes, leave them in the comments!!!

What I’m reading: Saga (comic)
What I’m listening to: Kendrick Lamar

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Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

I didn’t used to have such a sweet-tooth.  Or maybe my metabolism was so good that I didn’t notice.  Either way, now I find that I crave sweets pretty often.  I mean, why do donuts have to be so delicious?!?  Why are Pretzel M&Ms so good??  And why is it so hard to not buy a bar of that dark chocolate with sea salt I like so much??  Moderation is not my strong suit, as I’m sure you can tell.  But these little bites help, a lot.  I’ve seen similar recipes floating around Pinterest, and was skeptical as to how much they would satisfy my cravings.  And to be completely honest, they totally do!  I’m just as surprised as you are.  They’re like little teeny tiny banana splits.  The frozen banana has an ice cream-like consistency, which I think is the real reason it’s tricking my taste buds.  And at about 23 calories a bite, you can eat a bunch throughout the night.

Since school started again (last semester!!!), I’ve been feeling more motivated.  I’m trying to get back on the work-out-wagon, and it’s coming along slowly but surely.  Of course, I have to factor in the fact that every time I go to kickboxing class I’m sore for about three full days afterwards.  Like, I can hardly walk kind of sore.  Like, trekking up and down the gazillion steps of Texas State is agony kind of sore.  It’s all good though –it’s what happens every time I get back into the rhythm of things.

Oh, and even though it’s still scorchingly hot outside (except for the cold front that just came in making it a high of 84 today, which is pretty amazing compared to what it’s been like), I’m in full Fall mode.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back, and I’ve had them almost every day.  I’m obsessed with PSLs.  They make me feel warm inside, like it’s Fall despite the contradictory weather.  I’ve also ditched the peaches for crisp and juicy Fall apples, gorgeously red,orange, and yellow, reminiscent of the changing leaves that are non-existant in Texas.  And tonight I’m going to make some butternut squash soup to solidify this Fall feeling.  It’s all my big F.U. to Texas weather and it’s meager attempt to demean my favorite season.  And yes, I know it’s not technically even Fall yet, but dammit, it is in my heart!

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • about 3 tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter
  • about 2-3 tablespoons semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • splash of skim milk
  • sea salt (optional)

Melt chocolate chips and the splash of milk over a double boiler.  Add more milk, if necessary, to make the chocolate dollop-able.  Cut bananas into 1/2 inch slices.  Spread a little bit of peanut butter over them and top with a tiny dollop of chocolate.  Set on a parchment-lined pan and sprinkle some sea salt over them if you’re obsessed with salty-sweet like I am.  Put in freezer, uncovered, for at least and hour.  Then transfer to a freezer bag.

Makes 30-35 bites

Fresh Fig Salad with Goat Cheese, Pesto, and Balsamic Reduction

My domesticity has reached new heights.  The night I made this salad I also made stuffed shells with homemade marinara, and baked a blueberry galette.  A couple nights later I made a Cuban feast with black beans and slow-cooked pork tenderloin in mojo.  This took two days of cooking.  Today’s adventure involves dark chocolate chip cookies with pistachios and sea salt and possibly some Hatch green chile enchiladas for dinner.  Also, every day has involved the cleaning or organizing of something that I’ve put off during the last few grueling months of getting my book worm on.  I know- I might as well throw on an apron, a lovely 50s house dress, and get myself pregnant!

It’s been wonderful actually.  In past school breaks I’ve sentenced myself to the couch with the goal of watching or reading some series in its entirety- even if it’s, say, 5 full seasons of Gossip Girl- which in theory sounds awesome and relaxing, but in practice makes me feel like a lump of mushy brain cells.  This past week has already been surprisingly productive and social… the latter taking a bit of effort per usual.  Are you the type of person who responds to any invitation with a, “Oh yeah, that sounds like so much fun!  I’ll totally be there!” but then the day of you’re more like, “Uuuggghhhhhh, I don’t wanna gooooooo,” as you scarf down a whole bag of pita chips and tub of hummus… yeah, I never do that either.

Let me also just say that I spent the last 10 minutes looking up how to properly punctuate that last sentence, with unsatisfactory results.

I’m making myself sound super cool in this post, aren’t I?

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Lamb, Feta, and Hummus Flatbread

I just found out that I’m an introvert.  And I was apparently the last to know.  Not that I thought I was particularly extroverted, I just didn’t think I was an actual introvert.  What brought this on?  Well, I took the Myers Briggs Personality Test last week in one of my classes, and lo and behold I’m INFP/INFJ.  Introvert.  Dreamer.  Thinker.  Loner. Weirdo (just kidding!).  So I talked to Derek and he confirmed this new realization with a “duh.”  I called my friend Amanda and she basically said the same thing.  WTF!  How did I not know this about myself?!?  I mean yeah, I’m perfectly content being alone and have an extremely active imagination.  I love writing and being inside my head.  I am sensitive to the world.  I prefer intimate gatherings with friends where we can talk over dinner and drinks as opposed to going to clubs or large parties.  I shy away from overly publicized events.  I adore fiction and feel truly alive when I’m in that world.  And I’ve pretty much always been this way.  But it’s not like I’m shy, or a hermit, or anything! Then I read this great article by Carl King called 10 Myths About Introverts and the lightbulb above my head switched on.  Okay, yeah, I should have known.

I love these realizations about myself.  It is a wonderful thing to contemplate; to understand and learn more about who you are as a person; to always try and be the best version of yourself.  Amanda and I were talking about this same journey yesterday and she said she thought that very little people actually strive for self-realization.  That is so sad.

Anyway, I blew off the homework I needed to be doing to hang with Amanda the other night.  She came over and we gabbed over glasses of pink bubbly and pieces of savory goodness in the form of Lamb and Hummus Flatbread.  I got the inspiration from this article in Tasting Table.  Now, if you wanna make your own hummus and flatbread go at it, but I am entirely too lazy for such a task.  So this is my dumbed down version.  Ground lamb is browned in a pan with mint and basil infused seasoning, then ladled over hummus topped flatbread that’s crispy around the edges, but still soft in the middle.  Finish it off with really good quality feta, a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (if you’re not counting the calories), and roughly chopped fresh mint and Italian parsley.  Amanda suggests even drizzling some tzatziki on top or using it as a dip.  I served the flatbreads with a simple tomato and cucumber salad in the simplest of vinaigrettes – red wine vinegar, olive oil, a couple sprinkles of dried oregano, and s&p.  Easy as that.  The whole thing took about half an hour, tops.  You can bet that I will be making this often, and you should too!

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Chicken Dijon with Tarragon

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Despite the horrific news of another mass murder in Colorado, I intend to make this weekend worthwhile.  And yes, I will be going to the theater to watch The Dark Knight Rises.  No piece-of-s**t gunman, fueled by psychosis and readily available automatic weapons, will take that away from me.  As a person who gets overly excited about films and books, and regularly attending midnight screenings myself, this tragedy has me saddened and pensive. My friend and fellow blogger Priscilla wrote this inspired reflection on the tragedy, and Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci wrote this one.  Both really articulate how horribly senseless it was, but as cinephiles, we should all rally and support our local theaters and movies in general.  Saying that violence in movies and video games caused this man to murder 12 people is just an easy scapegoat for those unwilling to recognize that there are people out there whose lost minds are muddled with hate. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the event.

Speaking of movies and their awesomeness, I will be attending one of the greatest cinematic/culinary events known to mankind: the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Hobbit Feast at Alamo Drafthouse!  12 glorious hours of Middle Earth adventures accompanied by 7 courses of food and alcohol pairings!  There are not enough exclamation points in the world to express my excitement.  This a yearly event for Alamo, and I’ve always wanted to attend.  However, I realize this may seem a bit, how do I put it, CRAZY to some people, but I have this gift of being able to sit still and get completely lost in fiction, be it cinema or literature.  I can read a book, cover to cover, in one sitting.  When The Wizard of Oz came out on VHS, back in 1980, my mom said it was the greatest day in her life… because it was the first time her then 2-year-old daughter sat still for more that 5 minutes.  And to make her life even better, I apparently would watch it over and over again.  Needless to say, I still obtain this trait, and I find it to be a great gift indeed.  Bring on the mead and lembas bread!!!

On to food – I know that the picture above doesn’t look like it would be a seismic flavor explosion in your mouth, but it really is.  I found the recipe on Food & Wine’s website and have made it a couple of times with exceptional results.  I use chicken thighs, the recipe calls for chicken legs, but I say this sauce would taste good smothered on some old running shoes, if called for.  So use any chicken part or meat or meat substitute for that matter.  Just make sure to also have some crusty bread on hand for the necessary sopping of said sauce.  I promise there won’t be a drop left.

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