Well, if you can get over the fact that these pictures are a total mess, I have a feeling you’ll be pretty excited.
“Sweet Sriracha Dynamite” is actually stolen from my old friend, Pizza Hut. They’ve got all kinds of wacked out flavors coming out and that was one of them–it’s kind of a trashed up Hawaiian pizza. And I’m all about making trashed up pizza.
Buuuut this time I opted for something a little less…junk food-y. Thanksgiving is less than a week away and my birthday (the one day a year when calories don’t count) is this week, too…so I figure it’s better to front load the healthy stuff. Yay!
Except you’d never know that this wasn’t a big, fat, plate of takeout. It’s got the sweet, the salty, the spicy, and a sauce that made me want to weep tears of joy. May also have been the sriracha.
Well, I have to say it’s one of my most commented upon posts to date and…there’s an awful lot of you who thought it was effing terrible. Oy.
So! I re-made it! Yay! I think (hope, pray) that the issue with the first one was that it just lacked seasoning. Most of the negative comments called it bland or tasteless in so many words, so I decided to amp up the flavor a bit.
I know 6 ingredients (do spices really count as whole ingredients if they’re like a gram each?) are way less appealing than 3 (and I purposely don’t count “salt to taste” because of course I don’t), but geez, you guys, is the extra effort (all 10 seconds of it) totally worth it!
I really don’t know how you can call this bland. It’s sweet, spicy, tangy, and oh-so-rich and buttery.
For all of those I so gravely offended with the original recipe, please accept my apology.
The slow cooker rice casserole is my new go-to meal option. Seriously, changed my life…not only is it just insanely easy, but it’s the best way I’ve come up with like, ever, to use up my random assortments of leftovers. I have yet to find anything that doesn’t marry up with rice.
What’s even better is the texture is nothing short of, well, stuffing. And if you’re a stuffing hoarder like me this is pretty much the best thing since Stove Top.
I could eat nothing but stuffing for the rest of my life and be totally happy. It’s the epitome of carby, sweet, savory, salty, warm, comforting goodness. But this casserole? It’s like I transported through time to the Thanksgiving table. And it’s about a thousand times easier to make. And yes, I know stuffing is super easy to make anyway. Think about that one…
I wish there was a way to take a picture of this that didn’t make it look like a pile of something nasty because it’s so effing good I can’t even stand it. I mean, it’s a literal mash up of a million things so I honestly don’t know what to do unless I dressed up the dish with a sash and crown and just called it America’s Sweetheart. Maybe that would get the point across? Maybe I just need more sleep.
This recipe is extremely customizeable…note how pretty much every ingredient has something else that could fill in. Honestly, feel free to use whatever you’ve got on hand. The basic formula that works the best for me is just 2 cups of dry rice, 4 cups of liquid (like stock) and a can (1 1/2 cups) of coconut milk to add some richness. On top of it all…anything goes. So go nuts! (Add nuts!!)
Yup. I totally de-legumified falafel and replaced the chickpeas with meat. Sue me. It was sort of on the fly and I didn’t have any, so I did what I often do and replaced the missing ingredient with meat. Meatza, anyone?
Thanks to the plethora of farmers’ markets and, well, local farms in general, cheap yet local and sustainable foodstuffs–like the aforementioned meat–have been refreshingly easy to come by around here, so my freezer is stocked to the brim with assorted animal parts. We’re on a tight budget, what with my husband in B-school and all, so stocking up on the essentials ahead of time has been a godsend. I’m pretty keen on feeding both of us on $100 a week, and I’d like to get it down to $86 (which is what the USDA says we ought to be able to do on the Super Thrifty…aka What You’d Get on Food Stamps…plan). It’s amazing how much you can drop in one trip to Whole Foods on, like, 3 things. Which isn’t news to anyone, I know, but it was shamefully easy to get complacent when both of us were working and living in a lower cost area.
The real challenge has been deciding what our true priorities were, and I’m still working out the kinks (which I’d like to share in a future post). For example, I’m fine with buying a lot of produce that’s conventionally grown, and the latest GMO study has me sleeping a little better at night over some things. BUT I’m still buying organic eggs and dairy products because, well, there’s some really shady practices in conventional poultry and dairy farming that pose a risk I’m not willing to take. AND I haven’t figured out where to draw the line on meat. On the one hand, yes, grass fed and pastured is better, but it’s also thrice the price a lot of times. Also a heck of a lot easier to find (affordable) grass fed and/or pastured chicken and beef than it is, say pork. Farmers’ Markets help with this but not a ton, especially since a lot of them shut down in the Fall. PS Quick cash-saving tip…I withdraw $100 in cash before my weekly grocery run…it’s the single best way I know of to keep me honest
OK so falafel. Ah-mazing with hummus, paleo or otherwise…I happened to have some parsnip hummus on hand (recipe coming soon…here’s a sweet potato hummus recipe I love to tide you over!) and did up a little plate with the falafels, hummus, and some roast veggies. I did find this recipe for a GF pita that I really want to try next time, too. There’s a lot of ways to fix up the real deal, so be creative with these! Next time I’m going to try rolling the balls in sesame seeds before frying to try for that lovely crunch.
When my husband came home with this cooking on the counter, the scent of sage and rosemary wafting through the house, he was convinced I was making Thanksgiving dinner.
Admittedly it’s super hard to make a picture of this delicious mess look as amazing as it is, so I reallyreally need you to trust me here. It’s approximately 2 minutes of actual work (and by work I mean dumping stuff into a slow cooker) for a meal that will either feed 6-8 people comfortable or feed 2 people for DAYS. And feeding us for days on some very affordable ingredients is a very, very good thing…especially if it manages to hit the level of rich, warm, comfort that makes a food coma positively inevitable.
This will most definitely be happening again…next time I’m thinking it’ll be time to bust out the fall veggies and go all out with some sausage, cranberries, winter squash…maybe even some apples if I’m feeling crazy
Yeah, I know. I’m going crazzzzy with all this chia pudding.
But seriously, what was wrong with me? This is the perfect breakfast. Just mix it all up, toss in the fridge. Boom. Nice cool breakfast option for hella hot days all nice and ready after I stumble out of bed.
So this recipe also has sort of a secret ingredient. I use it in pretty much everything. Probably the greatest grocery discovery I ever made.
Apple pie spice is sorta like pumpkin pie spice but much, much lighter. Maybe because apple pie is a much more summery dessert? I’m freaking out over Fresh Market’s blend, though…it’s got a few extra ingredients that others generally don’t, like lemon peel and fenugreek. Baller.
Seriously, y’all. It’s like I put a cheeseburger in a blender. I had this fantastic concoction cooking all day yesterday as we were moving in and our tiny kitchen was thick with the smell of backyard barbecue.
This was our second meal actually prepared in the new house. If you recall, half our house was without power and the AC was out for the whole weekend because things like that just…seem…to happen to me all of the time. I think we’re finally in the clear, but just know for the rest of the year I’ll be afraid to turn on the dryer…20A to start when the whole house is only 60A is terrifying. My only good ideas are to either a) just do laundry out, or b) to designate a laundry day and make sure *everything* is shut off before even thinking about washing clothes. At least our water bill might be lower?
Anyway, this chili. I went ahead and roasted half a butternut squash in foil and just scooped out the inside and dumped it into the crock pot, but in the future I’ll probably just used the canned stuff since a) it takes way less time, and b) I won’t have to turn the oven on. I’m making a lot of lists today. If I’d have been thinking ahead, I’d have thought to get some ketchup and mustard to dump over my bowl and make this even more like a cheeseburger smoothie. Trust me on this one.
I have been long averse to jumping on the chia pudding bandwagon. Maybe I had a bad experience? I feel like I probably did, since I couldn’t even hear the word “chia” without thinking of gritty, gelatinous goop.
Well, you guys, when you’re moving and your AC goes out (along with power in half the building) because the ampage in your new house simply cannot handle running the washer and dryer at the same time, you start looking for breakfast options that are, you know, cold. Never mind how the heck I ended up with a baggie of chia seeds in the fridge, but there they were, and gosh darn it if this mess didn’t come out spectacularly. I even ate it out of a little mason jar, since apparently that’s what cultured grown-ups do. Does it count if it was my complementary margarita glass from Joe’s Crab Shack?
Valentine’s Day, 2010. My husband (then-boyfriend) and I were attempting to not make a huge deal out of it. And by “not trying to make a huge deal out of it,” I mean that Ross made reservations for us at one of those places where you get a five star dinner while watching a show but didn’t realize until about an hour before we were supposed to leave that the place was in San Antonio (we were in Georgetown at the time). Oops. So we ran out to dinner to a place down the road and that was that.
And I got a “Santa Fe Salad.” Funny what you remember.
Anyway, I guess it was good since this salad a part of our dinner rotation ever since. I mean, the date was good, too. Obviously. During the hard-core Paleo years, we just nixed the cheese and corn and used sliced almonds instead of tortilla strips and it was still amazing. So this is totally kosher for clean eaters. Promise.
My favorite protein to use for this salad is grilled chicken, but salmon (or any other fish) is really great, too. When entertaining, I’ve even made a side salad version…just a tiny one without the protein. As for dressing, you can use anything you want–the original had what was basically a spicy ranch–but I loveLOVElove this avocado dressing with a little cayenne on top.
What with being unemployed and all and not exactly having a place to live until August 1, hubs and I are spending a few weeks with my parents. The older we all get, I’m starting to have more and more respect for how my folks have handled life after the last kid left home 8 years ago. Dad has been 100% retired for most of it and has steadily accumulated projects and community stuff to stay busy whenever he isn’t out on the motorcycle. Motorcycle rallies–the kind with checkpoints and landmarks to find within a 24-72 hour time limit over some region of the country–are pretty much his purpose in life. Mom still works as a nurse but has managed to keep the 3, 12-hour shifts a week for over a decade. I can only hope I’ll be so lucky. She’s been a gardener her whole life but when kids came along and life got busy we didn’t have much besides the flower beds and a few vegetable patches, but the garden beds have multiplied in the last few years to include everything from cucumbers and squashes, corn, beans, herbs, winter veggies, and, to my surprise when I came home last week, collards and kale (“everyone at work was talking about how much they love this stuff called ‘kale’ so I went and got a pack of seeds…). With my dad as a handy helper (he does the garden building and vegetable eating part) and a really commendable renewed devotion to personal health on their part, we can always count on fresh produce at home. So, obviously that brings me to today’s recipe. With the exception of the yogurt, everything here has been freshly grown and that’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.
Since summer is, you know, hot and all, I’ve been doing a *lot* of salads and cold veggies with dinner instead of the typical warm side dishes. Saves time, that’s for sure–one of my husband’s favorite things to toss on a plate next to the main event is a sliced heirloom tomato with salt and a drizzle of melted butter (speaking of which, grilled tomato and butter sandwiches are the bomb and I could probably eat them every day forever).
I got a little…fancy…with last night’s salad, as you can see. The dill was calling my name, I couldn’t resist. I’ve got fantasies of doing this again with some smoked salmon later this week. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s dying just thinking about it….?