Garlic Time

For whatever resaon, I hate peeling and chopping garlic. I don’t know if it’s because it’s all sticky, or because it makes my hands smell delicious for days, no matter how many times I wash them. In order to save myself some trouble, I decided to chop and preserve a massive amount of garlic all at once. I used 4 heads of garlic, and some olive oil.


Start by peeling and separating all the cloves.

Here is the easy trick to peel garlic: lay a flat knife blade on top of it…

…then squish it with your hand. Obviously, be very careful and aim the blade away from yourself. I managed to do this about 100 times in a row with no mishap, so it can’t be that hard. We all know how adept I am at injuring myself.

Now just peel those bad boys, and start chopping.

And keep chopping. FOR DAYS. Next time I plan to do this, which won’t be for a long time, considering how much garlic I chopped, I will use my food processor then just make hummus immediately afterward. Those things are not easy to clean, so I like to use it for at least 2 things when I have to use it.

Hell, you could also use it to make breadcrumbs from stale bread before the garlic goes in, and get 3 things made at once. You can also use this same process to freeze lots of fresh herbs, so maybe you can chop up dozens of things!

Scrape your chopped garlic into an icecube tray.

Then cover with olive oil. Put it in the freezer for a few hours, and warn your roommates/spouses so they don’t end up with the worst beverage ever by mistake.

I also put some of the chopped garlic in a container in the fridge, also packed in olive oil. The oil thickens and looks milky when it gets cold, so don’t worry about it. I used some to cook with this week, and everything came out delicious, as usual.

Once your garlic cubes are solid, pop them out of the tray and into a plastic bag, then back in the freezer.

 

Mine wouldn’t simply pop out of the tray like regular ice cubes, which gave me a brief moment of panic. I just turned the tray over and ran some warm water over the back, and they popped out alarmingly fast. I also recommend scrubbing your ice tray thoroughly after this so your roommates/spouses don’t end up with the second worst beverage ever.

July 31, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Cooking. 3 comments.

Enchilada Casserole

The other day I realized I had a can of enchilada sauce and too many tortillas in my house. Well, make enchiladas, right?? Except I did not want to be in the kitchen rolling tortillas all night. So I made it into a layered casserole instead. Laziness, for the win!

You will need:
Tortillas (corn or flour)
Cheese (A LOT)
Enchilada sauce
Your choice of fillings. I used beans, onions, jalapenos, and cheese. You could use cooked spinach, chicken, beef, or a whole host of things. I had squash and corn filled enchiladas in California once (which were okay), so try anything your little heart desires.


Spray a 13″x9″ casserole dish with some baking spray, then pour a small amount, maybe 1/4 cup, of the enchilada sauce into the pan, and spread it around.

Layer tortillas in the sauce.

Throw down some fillings. I used onions, jalapenos, and beans. I didn’t do a very thick layer. You can make your filling layer thicker, or add another filling layer on top of this one, if you want.

I then added a ton of cheese. I used colby jack and American cheese. Do NOT tell Hubby. It’s so inauthentic to use American cheese, but it was so good! I used big slices of cheese, so there’s probably the equivalent of 2 cups in there. I didn’t feel like shredding it, and slices worked fine.

Then add another layer of tortillas. At this point you can add a second filling layer if you want. I also spread some more enchilada sauce on top of these tortillas. They soak it up while it’s baking.

I then added more raw onions and jalapenos, and EVEN MORE CHEESE YYEAAAAAHHHHHH!!


This is how it came out of the oven. I baked it at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese on top was bubbling.


It was so very awesome. I want more right now! It also reheats really well. The way I made it was a little thin, so Hubby and I each ate about 1/4 of the pan. You could make it thicker as I mentioned earlier, or serve it with a side of rice and refried beans, or a salad. It was so cheesy and melty and delicious and heart attacky.

July 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Cooking. Leave a comment.

Vegan Beef Slices

I always have fun at the Asian grocery store. If you’ve never been to one, make an effort to track one down. You can find all kinds of random, interesting things. On my last trip I found these Vegan Beef Slices, which is basically soy protein made into fake beef.

Unfortunately, they don’t have any instructions on the package in English, so I kind of made up a recipe. I made some very strong broth from buillion, and then soaked the “beef” in it for about 10 minutes while I chopped vegetables. This makes the “meat” soft, and gives it flavor. Hubby ate a plain, dry piece of “beef”, and he said it wasn’t good. I didn’t even trick him, he just wanted to try it! 

The buillion I used had beef in it, which somewhat defeats the purpose of soy meat, but I need to use it up anyway. Plus, this was only $3 for a big package (think the size a cereal bag is inside the box), but the measurement is in grams so I have no idea what that means. Thanks, American public school system!


I made a regular stir fry, and added my rehydrated “beef” to it once the vegetables were mostly done cooking. The “meat” is ready to eat once it has plumped back up; it just needed to be heated up with the rest of the food. The texture is good, but I doubt you could trick someone into thinking this is meat. I love the high protein and low fat and carb content, and of course the cheap price tag. This “meat” also absorbed flavor pretty well, so it would be a good option for people that don’t like tofu for that reason.

I also like the fact that I can store this in the pantry, and it can be cooked and ready in 10-15 minutes. It’s great for quick meals, and impromtu vegetarian cooking. Add the fact that it’s cheap, and you know I love it.

July 25, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Cooking. Leave a comment.

The One with all the Surgery

As I have mentioned a couple times, I recently had to have a small surgery performed. Here is the story. There are pictures, but I will save them until the very end in case you get grossed out easily, and I will warn you when they are coming.

It all started when I was reading a book. The main character in the book was pregnant, and she reached down to feel her uterus when she was about 3 months along, and said it felt like a round, hard tennis ball under her skin. I thought “That’s interesting, I wonder what a normal one feels like?”, so I reached down to my tummy, and felt a round, hard, tennis ball type thing. Umm….so that was unnerving. I sent Hubby for a home pregnancy test (I mean, we are responsible and all that LIKE EVERYONE SHOULD BE, but there’s always a chance), which came back negative (I TOLD YOU WE’RE RESPONSIBLE). So I went to my Lady Doctor, who sent me for a sonogram, which discovered a giant fibroid.

A fibroid is a benign growth (“It’s not a tuma!”). My doctor said the difference is a fibroid is made up of one cell cloning itself over and over, but a tumor is made up of mutant cells that grow out of control and cause other cells to mutate. The one I had had probably been growing for 2 years, and was about the size of a guinea pig. Immediately after I found all this out, Kornberg and I decided this stowaway needed a name and a back story. Obviously, it should be a she since she’s on my uterus, and she should be somewhat unpleasant, since she’s been causing me some discomfort, was going to be expensive to remove, and wasn’t even paying rent! We named her Shalene (pronounced shay-LEAN), and she is your classic, bitchy, Southern lady. she’ll make rude comments, but end it with “bless your heart”, so you can’t really get mad. She also had a tiny neighboring fibroid we decided was her tea-cup poodle named Princess.

The symptoms I was having were pretty mild, and it wasn’t until we knew Shalene was in there that we realized she was causing those problems. I was getting odd heart burn, like after I ate oatmeal, and I had horrific menstrual cramps like demons were trying to use me as a portal to cross over into our world. She also would have caused complications if I had been pregnant. As large as she was, she would have been poking my organs, or could have lost blood-flow and died while I was pregnant, leading to all kinds of complications. Since Hubby and I are on the inevitable track towards Baby Town, it was important to evict this bitch.

I have never been in the hospital before and never had any surgery other than wisdom teeth removal, so Hubby and I were nervous. The day before I went in, I was on a liquid diet, but apparently alcohol doesn’t count as a liquid. Isn’t that horrific?! The day of the surgery I couldn’t have anything, even water. My parents came and sat in the waiting room with me and Hubby, and we tried to talk about simple things my food-starved brain could comprehend. Once I was admitted, and had my glasses off, everything else is kind of a blur. I remember waking up in the recovery room and joking with the nurse that they should add bikini waxing services. I figured it would be a good test to prove that someone is under anesthesia, and that’s also the only way I would ever get one; drugged to unconsciousness.

I stayed in the hospital for 2 days, which was actually really nice. They gave me drugs and food without me having to do anything, and it was really quiet. Hubby stayed in the room with me the whole time, and our wonderful roommates were watching the animals for us. I didn’t know it at the time, but they also cleaned the whole house, and made me a gift basket of books, crafts, and Asian snack foods!!! Aren’t they the greatest?

Staying in the hospital was really nice. There was no “I should be getting something accomplished” feeling. There was nothing around me I had to do, and no one expected me to do anything. It was like a meditation retreat. All that guilt that settles into my shoulders all week, the I should be doing the dishes, mopping the floor, decluttering, blogging, etc. was non-existent, and it was nice. After that, I had to stay home for 2 weeks, which was also very restful. Friends brought me food, and Hubby waited on me hand and foot. All I did was sleep and read and eat! I also used this time to detox from coffee, which I was seriously hooked on. Now I can have a cup if I want, not because I have to, and it’s great!

Okay, well all in all it was fairly uneventful. Mostly I slept and took pills. If only every vacation could be so great! Now I’m healing up, I’m not addicted to pain killers or coffee, and I’m back at work (unfortunately). If you are squeamish, this is the end of the post. If you want to see what came out of me, keep going.

 

 

 

*WARNING: GROSS PICTURES OF MY INSIDES COMING UP*

This is Shalene when she was still attached to my uterus. You can see she’s seriously the size of a guinea pig.

Here she is after she was removed (and her little dog, too!) She weighed about a pound and a half.

 

This is the picture that creeped us out. Look at it a bit and see if you notice anything. I’ll wait………….ok it looks like an alien baby head! Everyone says so! Even the doctor!!! Shalene was obviously trying to take over my life like a pod person. I’m just glad we found her when we did. I don’t want to be replaced by a demon alien spawn! So creepy.

July 17, 2012. Tags: , , , . Random typing. 16 comments.

Veggie Rolls

I love sushi, but as everyone knows, it can get expensive. I’ve wanted to try and make it myself, but the process seems prohibitively difficult, and the ingredients are expensive. Add to that the fact that I’m scared if I use raw fish I’ll kill myself and Hubby, and it seems like a recipe for disaster. I have possibly invented a solution, however. There’s no rice or fish, but it is sushi-like enough to make my mouth happy, and that’s the only thing that matters. I basically stuffed some seaweed full of vegetables and sauce, and ate it, and it was great!

This is what you’ll need:

Nori seaweed: my normal grocery store has this in the “International” section. It’s $2.50 for ten sheets. It was a little cheaper at the Asian grocery store.
Veggies: I used sweet potato, avocado, carrot, raw cabbage, and cucumber. You could also use sprouts, tempura vegetables, or anything else your little heart desires. If you’re going to use green onions, I would chop them up and use them sparingly so they don’t overwhelm everything else.
Sauce: I used the Thai Hot Chili Mayo pictured above. It is simply mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha, so you can easily make your own. I found eel sauce at my Asian grocery store also, which would be amazing. I used teriyaki sauce for dipping. You can easily make this a vegan recipe by using Nayonnaise (soy mayo), and it’s almost raw vegan, although I don’t know enough about that particular diet to recommend a sauce.
Optional fillings: If you want you can add some chopped up scrambled eggs, cooked brown rice, fake crab legs, or sesame seeds. Hell, add cooked shrimp, I don’t care. Experiment, because this is much easier (to me) than making real sushi, so just try whatever.

In order to use sweet potatoes, you should cook them first. I attempted to cut one into long strips, and the knife got stuck. I persevered however, and it was still a big hassle. I have experimented since, and discovered a few tricks: 1) Buy long, skinny sweet potatoes, that are kind of small. 2) Bake them most of the way first, like in the microwave so it doesn’t take too long. 3) Now peel and cut them into strips. 4) A little goes a long way. I used one small sweet potato about the size of a banana, and that was enough for 3 of these rolls. What I actually did is cut this potato up as though I was making sweet potato fries, and bake them all in the oven on a cookie sheet. You can use either method, I just found the first method listed here to be easier, and it didn’t heat up the whole kitchen.

There are a few options for how to prepare your vegetables, but I think this is the easiest. I have this handy-dandy cheese grater that comes with different blades, but it turned out the basic cheese grater with the large round holes worked the best, so you can just use your normal cheese grater. I chose one big, fat carrot, washed it (rather than peeling, because that’s where a lot of the vitamins are), and grated it to nothing. This was way easier than I thought it would be, even with my weak, useless, T-Rex arms. I grated the cucumber as well, but this released a LOT of water. It was very fast, but then I had to drain the veggies on several paper towels to remove the water. If you don’t drain them the water will mix with the sauce in the roll and start to leak out creating a HUGE mess. Chopping the cucumber into long matchsticks seemed to eliminate this problem. I chopped up a little raw cabbage and cut the avocado into strips also.

Once you have everything chopped up, you can lay out your seaweed. I happen to have a sushi mat, but this is not a necessity. I did a few by hand and it worked fine. I spread the mayo onto the seaweed, leaving one edge blank for about an inch and a half. Keep your fillings in the mayo square so you can roll it easily.

I laid out my shredded veggies and sprinkled them with sesame seeds. If I had any eel sauce I would have squirted it on right here. Try to keep the veggies low, and evenly spread. We’re basically substituting raw veggies for cooked rice here. That’s good nutritionally, but then the whole thing doesn’t stick together the way regular sushi does. That only means you don’t slice it up in the end; just eat it like a burrito!

I have now added my avocado and sweet potato chucks. I tried to keep them relatively centered. I did a few tests of the rolling process to make sure I was not over-stuffing them. To roll this up, the first thing you need to do is rub some water on the blank 1 1/2 inch section. It needs to be damp to stick to the other seaweed. I just got my fingers wet and rubbed it (That’s what she said!!!). When you’re ready to roll, start with the side that’s away from the camera, the side where the mayo goes almost to the very edge. Roll that over the toppings. Try to make it pretty tight, but not so tight that things are squishing out everywhere. I rolled the far edge down so that the edge just touched the spot where the blank area of seaweed started. I then rolled the damp edge over top of this, pulling everything together snugly. I rolled it pretty much by hand, then used the sushi mat to firmly squeeze the whole thing together, but that didn’t seem that necessary. I have no clue if  I am using that thing how I’m supposed to or not, but now it’s covered in mayo, and I have to figure out how to clean it.

I did cut this one in half, but after this first one I just started eating them. I made one that was only seaweed, sweet potatoes, and spicy mayo and it was awesome. I also made a few where I tried to seal one end of the roll by folding the seaweed over itself, and those were a little bit successful. These things taste amazing, are easy and cheap to prepare, but my rolling technique will take some practice. If you want to add some scrambled eggs to yours for additional protein, I would scrambled 2 eggs with a tablespoon of water and some teriyaki or other sauce you like to give them flavor. You then cook them like an omelet, just letting it sit in the pan and cook into one solid piece. Let it cool, then cut into strips.

I want to experiment with more sauces, but I am currently completely enamored with this spicy mayo. Tempura flakes in there would also be great, but of course adds fat and empty calories. I used very cheap vegetables for mine, so I think my cost came out to around 50 cents per roll. Considering most sushi rolls are $4-5, that’s pretty cheap! Plus you don’t have all the carbs from white rice. There are tons of possibilities for these, and I can’t wait to try more.

July 15, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

Zucchini Chips

Once again, my dear friend and brain twin Kornberg has come to the rescue to entertain you voracious minions. Here we have her attempt to make zucchini chips while I was down for the count from surgery, doped up on pain killers, and sleeping for days at a time:
 
So I saw this http://vittlesandbits.blogspot.com/2012/03/baked-zucchini-chips.html blog post on a pinterest somewhere and thought it looked good.  I was going to suggest it to That Clever Chick but then I realized that this thing involved knives so I’d have to field this one for her.  When zucchinis were on sale at HEB, I picked up 4 of them and decided to rock it. 
 
You will need:
cooking spray
zucchinis
seasoning (I did 2 batches with garlic salt and the other with Tony Chachere’s)
knife
cutting board
baking sheet
 
 
(Clever Chick’s Note: Oooh, organic olive oil baking spray! Aren’t we fancy?)
 
I basically followed the instructions from the blog.  I do not have a mandolin slicer and I am not a chef so my slices were a bit thicker than a quarter.  This was not a good thing.
 
 
I also finished off the can of Tony’s–I would starve without it so I had to make an emergency grocery list addition.  I put way too much on there because I ignored the advice from Blog Lady.  This mistake was not repeated with the second batch.  
 
 
I also did not line the pan with aluminum foil.  It’s a bit wasteful and it was fine to just put them on the baking sheet.  So I guess I had a 50% success rate for ignoring Blog Lady’s advice. I got 2 zucchinis onto my (only) baking sheet and seasoned liberally.  Here is a useful, overhead shot to show my zucchini slice arranging skills.
 
 
Here is a Pintrest worthy, totally useless picture.  But it’s still pretty..
 
 
 
These came out ok.  They were way too thick and just were not getting crunchy.  Also they were too spicy.  The next batch I took care to slice as thinly as humanly possible.  That was the garlic salt batch and I sliced them so thin that I had to make 2 batches out of the same amount of zucchini that I used for one earlier.  These were much better–they were seasoned more moderately and were crunchy and amazing.
 
 
Overall, I would say that these are great tasting but too much trouble.  4 zucchinis would only make a small bowl and it’s a big pain to slice all of those zucchinis.  Also since I only have one baking sheet, it would take nearly 6 hours to make that one small bowl, so it’s not really worth it.

July 13, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Cooking. 2 comments.

Dishwasher Magnet

There are multiple people in our house who run the dishwasher (JEALOUS?!?!). This often leads to conversations like this: “Are these clean or dirty?” “I’m not sure, do they look clean?” “I think so. Is that garlic smell coming from you or the dishes?” and on and on. I decided to turn to crafting, as I often do, for a solution.You will need:

A large, free magnet, some scrapbook paper, pencil, scissors, and mod podge. I used punch-out letters, but you could draw, stamp, or paint them on. Shirt paint would be easy to use. This is a good project to use up smaller pieces of scrapbook paper. Lay the magnet down on the paper you’ve chosen, and trace around it, then cut it out. Coat the magnet in mod podge, then stick the paper to it. Make sure the edges are glued down.

Once that’s dry, arrange your letters to make sure they fit, then glue them down also. If you’re using the punch-out letters, make sure you have all the ones you need in the right color before you start punching them out.

Coat everything in mod podge, then let it dry. You could also do a second coat, or even use clear spray paint to make it water-proof. Just stick it to the dishwasher with the correct word facing upward to let everyone in the house know the dishes status. The whole project took about 30 minutes, including drying time.

July 9, 2012. Tags: , , , . Arts and Crafts. 4 comments.

Bedroom Cleanup

I recently had to have a minor surgical procedure done, and I knew I was going to be bedridden for at least a week afterward. I knew there was no way I’d be able to relax and heal while my bedroom looked like the disaster area you see here:

After deep cleaning much of the house, our bedroom had become a dumping ground for all the stray furniture and homeless items. Hubby and I finally said enough is enough, cleaned up, cleared out, and rearranged. Our bedroom is long and skinny, so we decided to divide it up into two areas. I had already started rearranging in the picture above, which is why part of the bed is totally inaccessible. The area you see below is the other half of the room, that we decided would be our “living room area”.

Random stacks of things, like picture frames, finally got stowed away where they now belong.

You can see we still have a random mix of stuff, but it’s much cleaner and more usable now.

On my side of the bed I have my night stand, book shelf with only unread books, and a cabinet that has snacks and craft projects. Hubby got me the big Jack Skellington for Christmas years ago. Isn’t he sweet? 

Our mini living room still needs a little work. If somebody (hint: Hubby) would let me get rid of some stuff organization would be a little easier. I mean, I got rid of my box of sticks; time for you to step up! 

Here we have our armchair and poof footstool for seating. Most of this area has been left open so Hubby can do his yoga kickboxing DVDs. He also ended up sleeping on an air mattress there while I was recovering, because the tiniest shake of the bed was painful, and I screech really loudly.

The carpet is atrocious, and this is one of the few places we still have it in the house. At some point it will be disposed of in a fittingly violent manner, but we have to endure it for now. Stupid car payments. While I wish this was a “big reveal” showing our newly remodeled room, I think this shows that just rearranging furniture and decluttering can make a big difference, and costs you zero bucks.

July 5, 2012. Tags: , , , , . House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

DIY V-neck T-shirt

I have lots of cool t-shirts that I love, but don’t love the fit. I’ve attempted to remedy this by turning several into tank tops, but I needed another option. If the design is too high on the chest, or the shirt is too small, the tank top method won’t work. I decided to make this t-shirt into a v-neck. You little minions may remember that I’ve done this before, but this time I’m doing away with the whole t-shirt collar.

This is the collar of my awesome shirt. I made one cut about an inch long in the middle of the front. On each side, right in front of the shoulder seam, I cut just through the collar. I did the same on the back, opposite of the fron cut.

I then tucked all the edges in, creating the v-neck, and rounding out the rest. Keep in mind, you don’t have to hem on this project because the collar edges won’t unravel, so you just plain old fold the edges under. I then pinned it all in place, and sewed it by hand while watching the old X-Men cartoon.

And viola! It is so much more comfortable now that the t-shirt isn’t chocking me to death.

I can comfortably, and atractively (if I do say so myself) show off my nerd cred. I’m getting ready for Star Wars Celebration VI! Who’s with me?!

July 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

My Attempts at Gardening

Recently I thought to myself, “Maybe I can actually grow things. Maybe I’m not the Grim Reaper of plants”. I was both right and wrong. In the pic below you can see a cactus through the window. His name used to be Cornelius, until he was almost mauled to death by a squirrel. After some drastic surgery, the conjoined twins were separated, and I now have Corn and Elius.

In the foreground you can see some flourishing herbs. I’m glad I took the picture when I did, because they perished soon after this. These were cuttings of mint and rosemary. I simply put them in a glass of water and they started to grow roots. I was amazed at myself, and started to gain confidence. They had beautiful, numerous roots, and I should have planted them, but I put it off, forgot to water them, and they died. Curse you, procrastination!

This is an idea I found on Pinterest, and it worked really well. This is a large salad mix box I reused as a tiny green house to sprout lentils!

Look how adorable! I put one paper towel in the container, scattered beans on top, added another paper towel, and got it wet once. The lid keeps the paper towels moist, and the lentils sprouted almost immediately. They were incredibly easy to grow, even as neglectful as I am. 

Some of you may remember my previous attempt to grow lentil sprouts, which definitely did not go well. This new way was super easy and low maintenance. The sprouts are tasty, and didn’t mold or anything. I will do this again in a heart beat.

July 2, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking, House Stuff. 7 comments.