Over-the-Humpday Challenge: A Little Rebellion Can Be Healthy

I love whole grains. I really do. 9 times out of 10, I will pick the whole grain over the simple carb without blinking an eye. The texture is more complex, the flavor heartier, and they are much more satisfying.

irish brown soda bread (14)

But about that 10th time, I get an inner urge to rebel.

Corn muffins were a fixture of my childhood. I have no idea why I remember them so well, but the euphoric feeling when the Jiffy box came out and the first buttery, sweet crumb hit my tongue is still very much with me. Like the Force. Or not.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (13)

So when that very particular craving hit last week, I knew what had to be done. No vegan spin, no whole grain flour substitution – just run-of-the-mill Jiffy-box-clone corn muffins.

Well, alright, I may be lying just a tad. I can’t do anything simple; something in my chemical make-up does not allow it.

Especially since I happen to have some buttermilk left over from last week’s challenge…and even better, a bag of frozen [organic] blueberries happens to be sitting in the freezer just crying out to be used in a recipe. And it’s just best to keep your frozen fruit happy.

So after quite a bit of recipe research – my favorite kind! – I found a simple recipe for strawberry-spiked corn muffins. Corn meal, flour, sugar, oil, egg, milk. Mix, bake, eat. Now that’s a good recipe.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (1)

The original calls for the use of the aforementioned strawberries, which I subbed with the aforementioned blueberries, and regular milk which I replaced with buttermilk. The whole process took about 40 minutes, give or take.

Buttermilk Blueberry-Corn Muffins

(adapted from this recipe by Eating Out Loud)

makes 12 perfectly golden muffins


1 c. corn meal

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. sugar (I used vegan cane sugar; granulated is fine)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. [sea] salt

1 egg

1/4 c. oil (I used sunflower)

1 c. buttermilk

1 c. frozen (or fresh!) blueberries

Preheat to 400 F. Grease/oil/butter/non-stickify 12 muffin cups.

Combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (2)

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. I don’t know why; the recipe said so.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (3)

Then add in the oil and buttermilk – if you’re feelin’ frisky, a little vanilla extract never hurts!

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (4)

Wet –> dry. Don’t over mix.

Fold in the blueberries, or whatever fruit you’re using. Caution: purple-tinted batter may ensue.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (5)

Divide the batter into the muffin cups and throw ‘em in for about 20 minutes – check them then with the toothpick test. I had to keep mine in for an extra 7 or so minutes.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (7)

Now, Spring Break is in 2 days, and here I was with a dozen fresh muffins. I’m sure they freeze well, but this is the time of thing best enjoyed fresh. One of my roommates ate 2, another ate 1 and brought 3 to her class to share with the other student in it and the professor…and BAM! down to 6. Why I am ever concerned about having too much food while living at college, I have no idea.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (14)

The verdict? I like them. Don’t love them – yet. Probably nothing a little butter can’t fix. They were also a tad on the sweet side, and next time I think I will decrease the sugar to 1/3 cup.

There will be a next time, because this recipe is so easy to play around with! Spices, extracts, fruits, flours, milks…oh, the possibilities.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (15)

And didn’t I promise you a good buttermilk recipe? I always deliver on my promises. The food-related ones, anyway.

buttermilk blueberry-corn muffins (9)

Mmmm. I love a good rebellion.

Over-the-Humpday Challenge: Luck of the Irish

St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. carries a lot of connotations. Green, shamrocks, beer, leprechauns, pots of gold, beer, luck, rainbows…did I mention beer?

I’m not a fan of beer. I’m a bread gal, through and through. And what better time of year to try your hand at making Irish Soda Bread?

Answer: none. Roll up those sleeves and preheat that oven people. We’re goin’ green – and for once, I’m not talking about the environment.


This is the first recipe I’ve made from the big yellow food bible, also know as The Gourmet Cookbook.

After hours of online research in a quest for the ideal soda bread recipe, it finally hit me: go to Gourmet. You can’t go wrong there. True story. They have not one, but two recipes for this particular kind of bread – I went with the Irish Brown Soda Bread. Love me some whole grain action!

Irish Brown Soda Bread (ever-so-slightly adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)


1 1/4 c. all purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. oats (not instant – but I don’t have to tell you that, right? 😉

1/4 c. toasted wheat germ

1 tsp. sea salt (scant tsp. unless using table salt)

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 stick or 4 T. cold unsalted butter

1 1/3 c. buttermilk

If your wheat germ needs toasting:

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Spread 1/4 c. wheat germ on a silpat or baking sheet (it shouldn’t stick much, so don’t worry about greasing the pan yet) and stick it in for about 2 1/2 – 5 minutes, depending on the intensity of your oven. Mine, for example, is a beast and in 3 minutes my wheat germ was a little well-done. Moral of the story: watch your wheat germ.

On to the good stuff:

Now preheat your oven to 425 F.

Cut the butter into bits and set aside or back in the fridge – you want it cold. Ireland-in-January-cold.

Get all the dry ingredients mingling together in a large bowl and whisk it all together.

Throw in the butter bits and toss the mix around to coat – don’t get too intense about this. We’re talking seconds here.

Ok, now you want to work the butter into the mix with your fingertips. You can use a pastry blender too, but if you actually have a pastry blender, I probably didn’t even need to tell you that.

Anyway, you want to get the mix to look like a “coarse meal.” I’ve never done this before, so I was a little anxious. Don’t worry – it’s pretty hard to eff-up butter. You basically want to massage the butter into the dough. It takes a bit of elbow grease, and if your counters/working space is a little on the high side, you may want to do this at a table that is hip-height. Or just flex your marching band backstep muscles and stand on your toes like me.

Now measure out your buttermilk and stir it in. I started with a spoon and switched to my hands after a while – sometimes messier = easier.


At this point, your dough [and hands] will be quite sticky and dare I say, gloppy. That’s ok! Just make sure you have floured the heck out of your work surface – and keep that flour canister handy. Knead the dough for about a minute and try not to get frustrated with its stickiness. This might be the most difficult step of the entire recipe. I promise you the result is worth it!

Your oven should be ready and rarin’ to go! Plop that dough on a silpat/greased/lined & floured baking sheet and form it into a 7-inch-wide round. Use a knife to mark a shallow X in the top.

It’s completely acceptable to pretend you are Zorro when you make the X. [Xorro?]

Now bake that dough-baby for 30-40 minutes or more – it should sound hollow when you tap the bottom. It took my loaf a looooong time to get close to that, probably closer to an hour, and I even think I took it out a little early. But I’m a big fan of doughy bread, so I had no problem with this. Personal choice.

Sit it on a rack – not a sheet or cutting board because the bottom will get soggy (yes, I did learn that the hard way) – and let it cool for about 2 hours before cutting it. That’s what the directions told me, anyway, although I don’t think the world would stop spinning if you cut into a little early.

Holy Saint Patrick, this bread is SO GOOD. It tastes incredible – crusty, dense, doughy, with the subtlest hint of sweetness from the buttermilk. I just had it plain today because I think fresh bread is best eaten naked, but I’m pretty sure this is going to make some epic toast and grilled cheeses in the incredibly near future. And it didn’t take that long to make – we’re talking half an hour prep time tops.

Mission: Irish Soda Bread Accomplished. Move over, Guinness. This is officially the best way to celebrate this holiday. Ever.

Oh, and about the luck? Tonight I also poached first egg ever with great success, and created a pretty awesome roasted chickpea recipe off the top of my head in minutes. This bread is better than pot of gold any day.

I know what you’re thinking – that stupid leftover buttermilk. Stay tuned, my friends. I’ve got you covered.

Over-the-Humpday Challenge: Detours

About a week or so ago as I was doing my daily browse through Tastepotting, I came across this and simply had to show it to one of my roommates.

Photo Credit

BAH! Tell me that is not one of THE cutest things ever. Obviously, we had to make them. And it sounded like a darn good OTHd Challenge.

Ah, but the best laid plans…

I had a meeting at 2, and we both had to be places at 4, and the dough had to rise for an hour…so Friday it is!

Unfortunately, that left me challenge-less on Humpday. Oh dear.

But considering that most things involving a kitchen – that do not involve eating – is generally a challenge for me, I regrouped. And I remembered a block of tempeh in the freezer. Done.

A couple of weeks ago – again, on Tastespotting – I saw a recipe for vegan bolognese using tempeh to give the ground-meat texture. I thought it was quite clever, and reserved some tempeh just to try that.

Oh and yes, I am addicted to Tastespotting. I check it before I read the news. Problem? I don’t see one.

Ahem. So, I threw the tempeh in the microwave to defrost (only about 30-40 seconds) and starting heating some sauce from a *gasp* jar!! Oh, the horror, I used the dreaded processed pre-prepared product…yes, I know. But I had just woken up from a nap and the sleep  haze had not yet lifted. That is also why I forgot to add red wine and garlic to the sauce.

Moral: Don’t cook immediately after waking. Eat a cookie first.

Sleep-driven mistakes aside, after heating up the sauce in a saucepan and throwing in the tempeh and some chopped onion, I served it over a big bed of arugula. Why? Because I can.

Well, that, and because my roommate was using the only pot we own to cook lentils. Pasta in a saucepan = disaster.

You know, it wasn’t half bad! But please, please do not go into this thinking it is going to taste anything like traditional bolognese – a hugely important – if not crucial – part of the luscious flavor of that sauce is the beef/veal used, and the fat from the meat is what makes it so head-swimmingly delicious. I made this recipe because I was looking for something to do with tempeh that was a bit more interesting than slapping it in a sandwich or sauteing it with some balsamic. I was not expecting anything mind-blowing.

Disclaimer done. I did like this as an alternate way of preparing tempeh though! Especially tasty on top of extra-spicy arugula with a healthy sprinkling of parmesan. And some toast. With cheese melted on top, if possible. Mmm hmm. Definitely start with some fresh garlic in olive oil on the pan before adding the sauce – I missed it.

Another challenge accomplished – even if it involved a detour. Detours can be a good thing – sometimes you see things you would have really missed out on.

And sometimes, they drive you right into a ditch. It’s all about the experience, really.

Stay tuned for turtles!

Over-the-Humpday Challenge: Venture into the Grain Unknown

Just call me the Indiana Jones of grain.

Or don’t. Personal choice.

When pondering what this Wednesday’s challenge would be, my eyes immediately flew to the brown bag from the bulk bins at Whole Foods that came home with me last Saturday.

What could it be???

The mystery continues…

Can you guess??

…that’s okay, I probably couldn’t either. This is millet, and at $1.99 per pound, it may just be my new best carb-friend. I’ve seen it here and there in the blogosphere, and was very curious. I don’t like rice at all, but I adore cous cous, quinoa, and oats (of course), so I’m always in the market for a new grain.

That, and now that I have a whole kitchen, I can experiment to my heart’s content! So, Mission: Millet it was.

It almost looks like little tiny popcorn kernels!

I measured out a scant 1/4 of a cup. Generally, that is the single-portion serving size for grains, and I figured starting small would be best. Looks are deceiving – this cooked up a very nice serving!


Whole Foods said took cook 1/2 a cup in 1 1/4 cup of water, bring to boil, then simmer for about 20 min. I halved the water, and after it boiled I turned it down and just watched it, stirring every so often and tasting until it seemed ready – it was probably about 15 minutes, and I had to add probably about another half cup of water.

Bubble, bubble, not much toil and even less trouble!

When it seemed to be near sufficiently fluffy and yet still slightly al dente, I added about 1/2-1 tsp grainy mustard, several shakes of pepper, garlic salt, and some herbes de provence. The mustard actually made it really creamy and yet still with a subtle bite – I recommend it!

I served it over a bed of “fresh herb salad mix” – another [cheap!]  Whole Foods find. I think it’s just spring greens, radicchio and cilantro – it’s a really neat change from regular salad greens! Sprinkled with parm and doused in some White Balsamic vinegar.

Sorry for the pic quality – no natural light to be found when I need it!

This. was. AWESOME! The herby greens and the sweet vinegar complemented the creamy and peppery millet perfectly. I would definitely make this again. In fact, I probably will. I’m thinking tomato would be fantastic, and maybe some hummus mixed in. Or maybe with curry, ginger, and some carrot…

That’s part of what I love about grains – their versatility makes for excellent foodie adventures. I do love a good adventure.

Mission Millet: Accomplished.

Oh come on, admit it. Indy ain’t got nothin on me.

That Darn Swing and the Return of OTHdC

It’s official. My “to-do today” list is 9 items long, I’ve had to fit in 2 short-notice meetings today, and I made lunch while talking on the phone and checking my email. The semester is, without a doubt, back in full-swing.

Really, it’s a good thing. I need to-do lists – they make me feel efficient – and I like have a variety of things to do. Too much free time is dangerous for me; I get into ruts and am easily frustrated.

That is, at least, what I keep telling myself.

I’d really like to say that I’m an old pro. That balancing school, 3 jobs and 2 blogs is a cinch for a near-compulsive organizer like me and just a matter of having the right day planner. But I would be lying, and that’s just lame. In all acutality, I live via the post-it note on my computer that lists everything I need to do just today, and I generally drink lots of tea and spend some quality time with Tastespotting. PS – Cookie-dough stuffed cupcakes. I can’t make this stuff up. Already on my devo fare list. (That’s “I must make” in Italian.)

As a general rule, I write things like little notes and my grocery list in Italian. Mostly to keep it in my head. Well, that….and I’m really just a huge geek.

BUT – this is a food blog, not an I-need-to-whine-about-growing-up blog, so let’s get to it.

For those of you who followed my previous blog, I started a Wednesday post called Over-the-HumpDay Challenge. I’d pick a recipe or certain goal for the day and report back. Recipes are probably the most fun 🙂 SO, today, I had every intention of bringing that back while making use of the buttermilk left in the fridge from these lovely cupcakes.

With images of warm and flaky buttermilk biscuits danced in my head, I opened the fridge…and saw this:

Now, I realize that buttermilk has some staying power, but I draw the line at 10 days. One sniff and my mind was made up: mission aborted.

So I made some tea and went back to reading about food in Florence post-WWII. It’s for class, I swear! A class I designed myself actually, syllabus and all, about the role food plays in the lives of women of the Mediterranean region in the 20th century. Man, I love going to a liberal arts college. More on that later.

And as a fresh wave of homemade tomato sauce and thick crusty bread flooded my brain, a new challenge came to mind:


Now, don’t judge. It took going to Florence and finding the best sandwich shop in the whole world (ignoring the fact that I have not been to every sandwich shop in the whole word, that is not an exaggeration) to get me to fall in love with these salty little slivers of goodness.

Anchovies + herbs + pecorino + schiacciata = true sandwich love.

I like to think of anchovies like bacon. I could eat it by itself, but it’s so much better when it’s used for flavor. I looked at the use-by date and was all the more inspired – I will NOT be foiled by expiration dates twice in one day!!! I also had the end of a bag of frozen brussel sprouts and some arugula that was begging to be eaten quickly, and was seriously craving some olive oil. And thus, dinner was born.

I chopped up about half of the tin of fishies small and a clove of garlic after blanching the frozen sprouts. Blanching is just a fancy word for plunging (yes, plunging) uncooked veggies into boiling water and cooking it for about ONE minute. They turn a really vibrant green color, and they are easy to cut in half after.

I mixed everything together in a bowl and doused it with salt and pepper, herbs (rosemary-oregano-sage-basil-parsley) and olive oil. I was craving olive oil after reading about Florentine diet & culture. Normal? Probably not. But that’s how I roll.

I broiled this mix for, um, 10 minutes? on high. I don’t know, I just kind of watched it until it started to brown a bit. While I waited, I tossed some arugula (my FAVORITE green!) in a little balsamic and sea salt in the same bowl I used to mix the veggies & fishies. Out of the broiler, onto the arugula and top with some parmigiana.


Don’t forget the bread!

This was delicious! I love when my meals are successful. There’s nothin like that feeling, right?

Mission Use-Up-Anchovies: Accomplished.

I guess those biscuits will just have to wait…

Over-The-Humpday Challenge: An Unintentional Two

I had to work the opening shift at the coffee house, 6 am – noon. Because of this, I had to wake up at the unconscionable hour of 5:30. I’ve always secretly wanted to be one of those people who wakes up at insane hours to exercise, so I decided that today OTHd Challenge would be to actually do that.
And I did. Alarm went off at 5 and 5:30, I popped up & got dressed, had a temper tantrum when I couldn’t find my iPod, and rushed out the door for a calming walk to work. (I don’t always trust myself to drive that early. Telephone poles tend to move to the middle of the street. I swear.)
It was a great walk, and I worked off some frustration, but it also gave me some serious thinking time. Remember the marathon-running thoughts? Well, today they all crossed the finish line at the same time in a big, tangled, confused mass. But, if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s sorting. Yeah, I was the kid whose favorite game was to sort and re-sort her Beanie Babies into various different categories….hey, it kept me happy. Sshhh.
Lately, I have been feeling a bit out of sorts. I had a GREAT time in Austin at the API Office (don’t worry – that post is coming tomorrow!), and it was SO much fun to hear about everyone’s study abroad experiences and exchange stories. But it also reminded me about every wonderful minute of my spring in Florence, and it seemed to have trigger something I thought maybe I had escaped. Reverse culture shock.
We were all warned about culture shock – you get to a new country, it scares the crap out of you at first, then you love every single inch of it…but eventually, it starts going sour, and you just want to go home. I’ll will be completely, totally, 100% honest – I didn’t experience it. I definitely had “I wanna go home” moments, but they had nothing to do with Italian culture. In fact, the biggest shock was how quickly Florence became my home & how comfortable I was! But I expected reverse culture shock. I knew it would be hard to go from living this incredible life in my favorite place in the world to right back home in a small town where the only Italian people know is latte. It didn’t really ever hit me hard, though – I definitely slept a LOT when I got home, but I felt like I slipped back into home-for-the-summer life pretty easily. 
Until now. It is all of a sudden SO hard to be here. And at home, there really isn’t anyone to talk to about who seems to ‘get it’. That was what was so great about meeting all the Peer Mentors – our experiences were different, but we all had the experience itself in common!
What is hard is the reaction I know I will get. I’m sure there are plenty who say, “Oh please. You didn’t live like an Italian, almost broke and trying to find an apartment in one of the most unorganized countries in the world. You lived like an American in Italy – spoiled.” Ok, yes, I was spoiled. I know that, and I’m offended by people who think I live in a dreamworld where every Italian owns a prepaid apartment in the middle of Florence and the hardest decision of the day is what kind of bread to buy. (There are over 250 kinds; it’s not an easy decision. 😉
No, I am perfectly realistic about that. What I miss is the way of life. People just seem more content with life, naturally happy. Life is hard, but that’s life – roll with it. Here, it feels like everyone refuses to be happy until they lose another 10 pounds or make another 10 thousand dollars. We have Starbucks with drive-thru lines tossing out massive paper cups filled with nonfat cappuccinos. In Italy, you go to a bar, you sip your 4 oz or so cup of cappuccino – made with whole milk, thankyouverymuch – and *god forbid* talk to the person who made it and the people around you. What?? Stopping for coffee? No no, that’s why I bought the SUV with extra cupholders! ….Oy. 
Now please don’t get me wrong – American culture is just as beautiful & interesting as any other in its own unique ways – another post for another time, I promise. But I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more comfortable in a place before Florence. It just felt right, and perhaps it’s because all of a sudden I’m understanding that I’m not going back tomorrow and I have to readjust to a place I love just a little less that these feelings are coming up.  
And of course, all this thinking has lead to yet another very painful realization – I’m ready to leave my house. The only one I’ve ever known. And it feels like one of my limbs is longer than its opposite. Off balance. I think this is what they call growing up?
So, today’s OTHd Challenge was two-fold. Get up early to exercise before work? Check. Deal with reverse culture shock?….This one might be a work in progress. But, I am a work in progress. And that’s okay with me.

Over-The-Humpday Challenge: Oh, Calories

Today’s OTHd Challenge is a little different: I decided to try to NOT count calories at all.
There is a method to my madness.
I’ll be honest, I’m good at counting. Back when I did Weight Watchers, I was a Points-counting machine. And even when I went off it – for the better – I still couldn’t help but count something. It gives me a feeling of control, a feeling damn near irresistible when it comes to my own eating habits. Combine that with my obsessive perfectionism and, well, it’s a recipe for totally irrational, anti-intuitive habits. 

Recently, my appetite has been out of control. I’m 99% sure it has to do with the fact that it is a very particular time of the month for me, a time during which I have the inexplicable desire to eat until I feel like a balloon. I’m also very mean and some days in a LOT of pain. God bless the pill.

This insatiable appetite has given me cause to ponder the calorie-counting phenomena. Yes, it does give me the comfort of control that I crave, but at the same time, I think it actually screws me over. When I count, I know how much more I “should” eat, which translates in my brain into “you must eat that much and NO more.” Which consequently leads to over-eating, because I “bargain” in my head: “oh, I can have another hundred.”

I have a lot of problems with this mentality of mine. First and foremost, it doesn’t make me think about what I really need. Am I actually hungry? Would that make me feel better or worse? These questions are not factors. Second, it takes away the pleasure of eating. I’m too busy figuring out how many kcal I’ve consumed to even taste what’s in my mouth, and that just pisses me off – I like food WAY to much to ignore it!

I’ve tried not counting before, and I know I feel lightyears better when I focus on listening to my body rather than a stupid number. In fact, in Italy I barely counted at all, and even if I did, I never let it dictate what I ate. If I wanted that trofie al pesto, then damn it, I would have it. And it would taste amazing, because I savored every.single.bite. And to top it off, I lost weight in Italy, and maintained it pretty easily. Hmm……
Since I have come home, my weight has been fluctuating like whoa. I refuse to let myself on a scale – it just screws with my head and it infuriates me that something as simple as a number can throw me into a depression.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot since coming out of my battle with anorexia 3 years ago, and if I’m hungry, I KNOW to eat. And I don’t deprive myself – chocolate, for one, is a pretty much daily consumption. It keeps me sane. And happy.
With all the awesome Operation Beautiful buzz this week (love!), it seemed like the perfect time for this particular challenge. So onward I charged, not to be undone by silly little numbers!
The result? It was hard. I found myself counting without even realizing what I was doing. It was actually really interesting to see how completely ingrained in me it’s become. I found when I was hungry, I actually started counting to see if I “really should be hungry” or what kind of snack to make. Tell me that is not ridiculous. It was a huge and welcome slap in the face, and it made it clearer than ever that I need to get back in touch with my body. Because I love my body, and I would really like the feeling to be mutual.

I’m going to make this a week-long challenge. And then a month-long challenge. And then…um, you get the picture. I’m pretty sure I just heard every cell in my body say “it’s ABOUT TIME!”

I read somewhere to make every day count – there will never be another one like it. It resonated really strongly with me. And that is the only counting I will be doing for a while.

Another challenge met. See y’all tomorrow – with pictures!


Over-The-Humpday Challenge: Noodleless Lasagna

Remember that time I tried to make an all-veggie lasagna using eggplant & zucchini as the noodles? You know, back when I lived in Florence, Italy.

It is unspeakably entertaining to be able to say that I have actually lived in Florence. I’m thinking of printing onto my business cards. Too much?
…I digress.
That particular attempt ended up as more of an Italian vegetable pie than a lasagna, although that’s not to say it wasn’t tasty. So, when our neighbor brought over a huge yellow squash fresh from a coworker’s garden, the  image of my first good-yet-completely-unlasagnalike try popped into my head:
And the next OTHd Challenge was born.
First, take a pan – I opted for the long shallow pan versus the 8X8, do whatever feels right to you – and spritz with some cooking spray. 
Preheat your oven to 375 (you may end up turning it up to get it to cook faster should you be like me and horribly impatient/very hungry).
This squash was a big mofo, and was almost too much – probably about 3 medium-sized gourds would do it. I also recommend getting smaller squishes because the larger they grow, the tougher their skin becomes. And the bigger a pain in the butt it is to slice it into nice, even, lasagna-noodle-like slices. 
I forged on with the slicing, undeterred by the dozen times I almost sliced my fingers off and by the unaesthetically appealing uneveness of the slices. This is why I love cooking; caution is thrown to the wind and I just wait and see what happens. I know, I know – I’m livin on the edge.
Next, I threw the many unwieldy squash slices into a big ole Ziploc with 2 T olive oil + 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar + 2 minced garlic cloves + fresh parsley-rosemary-oregano + S+P. Let it all mingle together for about an hour or so.
Did you wait the whole hour? Promise? Ok. Now, you know that oven I told you to preheat? Take your marinated squash slices and throw them on a pan and let them cook for about 5-8 minutes on each side (less time for smaller slices!). 
While your squish is softening up preemptively in the oven, let’s work on the filling. I must say, I’m a little proud of this filling that I pulled out of nowhere.
All I did was take 3/4 c. of ricotta (I used fat free because it was all I had, use whatever your heart desires!) and mix in some sea salt, pepper, and a bit of lemon zest, about 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. I also pan roasted a clove of garlic I sliced and threw that in, although I might do another clove, I couldn’t taste it very well.
Have you flipped your squash? Okey dokey, let’s make lasagna. Make a layer or two of the squash. Then, on top of that add your ricotta filling, then 1/2 c. parmesan cheese. After that I made a layer of baby spinach, which I liked a lot, but if you don’t have it, don’t stress. After the second (and last) layer of squash, pour a can of Italian-spiced diced tomatoes over the top – you know, the ones with garlic/oregano/basil? I promise they are in your supermarket.
Sprinkle some more parmesan on top (~1/4 c.) and bake away. I just baked until it started bubbling, probably about 25-30 min, and I did end up turning the heat up to 400. Take it out & slice away!
Next time I would like to add some cannellini beans to it. You could also play around with the veggies – I plan on using eggplant and/or zucchini the next time around! I think basil would be a fantastic addition as well. But this was pretty good all on its own! Rave reviews from both of my parents – who, I will tell you, do not lie to me about my cooking. The lemon in the ricotta really made it, too – very light and summery. I will most certainly be making this again!
Another humpday, another challenge met and won. All in a day’s work.

Over-The-Humpday Challenge: Veganizing Brownies

After multiple awe-inspiringly successful attempts at tofu frosting topping Dreena’s Triple Chocolate Cake with tofu-based frosting…
…you had to have seen this one coming.
Oh yes, people. This week’s Over-the-Humpday Challenge: tofu brownies.
I figured there had to be a recipe out there in the depths of Google somewhere – and lo! The universe and I were clearly on the same page, because I woke to find my AllRecipes.com newsletter in my inbox with none other than a recipe for Triple Chocolate Tofu Brownies. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
So, I got straight to work – you can view the recipe here.
I stuck to the recipe as closely as possible, which I like to do when trying a recipe for the first time. Then, I figure out what needs to be changed. The only alteration I made this time was to use a combo of  vegan chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in the batter – and LOVED it. I would definitely keep the white chocolate next time, it rocked! A nice contrast to the dark cocoa-y flavor.
It was overall a success – they were almost gone by the time the plate returned after I sent it over to the neighbors’. I found them a tad too sweet though, and would like to add some instant espresso powder to the batter – coffee in general emphasizes and complements chocolate and just helps bring it out more. I meant to add it, I just forgot! I think I’d reduce the sugar – I knew a whole cup of white sugar sounded like a lot, but I went with it. I’d prefer to use raw sugar, and not quite so much. I’d also like to experiment with different oils – I couldn’t quite tell how the olive oil affected it, but I would like to try canola or walnut just to see what happened. 
Another day, another OTHd Challenge done. And the weekend is almost here! Make some brownies – it will get here faster. I promise.