A Heaping TBSP of Life


~ presenting a slightly currated collection of all things edible ~

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Raised Beds & Chicken Poo

Raised Beds & Chicken Poo

Around the middle of February I started to feel the itch to get my garden planned. I started browsing seed websites with fervor, examining the pros and cons of Japanese black tomatoes versus Big Juicy Red Tomatoes (spoiler, I got them both – plus some). […]

Doenjang Jjigae

Doenjang Jjigae

For lots of people ‘comfort food’ is meatloaf and mashed potatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese. Although I am a fan of mac ‘n’ cheese (who isn’t!?) I would politely challenge the assumption that in order to qualify as comfort food, it has to be thick, […]

Turkish Chili

Turkish Chili

First off, calling this Turkish is probably a bit of a stretch to be honest. But we’re not going to get into that!

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, one of the hardest parts for me in a vegetarian/vegan diet is getting enough protein and iron. I’m always on the lookouts for fun and yummy ways to tweak recipes to not only make them colorful and delicious, but also to ensure that I am getting all the nutrients that I need!

Bulgur is one of those grains that you are starting to hear more about, but is still painfully underrated. It’s packed with protein, has a nice dose of iron, and has a great, hearty ‘chew’. When my husband looked at this chili he asked, ‘Is that ground beef!?’ in shock, thinking that I had actually cooked him a pot of meat…the best part was he wasn’t even disappointed when he tried it and realized it was bulgur! It really adds just the right amount of ‘heft’ to the dish to make it that comforting bowl of chili that we all love – with a twist!

I garnished this with a scoop of sour cream, some mint and a lemon twist for him, and left off the sour cream for myself. It was great both ways!

Make sure that you don’t skip either of the first cooking steps, they really give it that depth of flavor that makes chili so iconic. Tomato paste, when cooked to the point of caramelization (is that a word!?) releases an amazing aroma, and turns a deep brown. Taking it to this level creates an umami effect that coats all of your veggies. Be careful though, as BURNT tomato paste is just nasty! You want to get it to where it’s starting to stick to the bottom and turning brown, but not burnt to the bottom and black. I know it’s a fine line, but if you keep an eye on it, you’ll be able to see (and smell) when it reaches this point.

I’m sure this chili would be good with a brown rice as well, however I really like the chew and appearance that the bulgur gives it. It’s also super healthy for you…if you don’t have bulgur in your pantry right now, go get some!

Turkish Chili
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 6 Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 large red peppers
  • 3 lb fresh tomatoes
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 jalepenos
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp smoked papricka
  • 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 3/4 cup bulger
  • 4 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dollop Greek yoghurt, optional
  • sprinkle fresh mint, optional
Instructions
  1. Clean the red peppers thoroughly, core, and open up to lay flat. Lay, skin side up, on a large, lightly greased baking sheet. Do the same with the jalapenos. Skin the garlic and place on the sheet pan as well.
  2. Bake at 450 until peppers skin start to burn and garlic is dark brown (you may need to take garlic out before the peppers are done.)
  3. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Once it is boiling drop the tomatoes in and let them stay in the boiling water for about 30 seconds to a minute, you want the skins to slip right off. Take them out of the water and set aside to cool.
  4. When the peppers have blackened take them out of the oven and remove the charred skin. I find it easiest to stick them in a plastic zip-lock bag for a few minutes first to steam, and then use a paper towel to rub the skin off. Once they are skinned cut them into evenly sized squares.  Do the same with the jalapenos and mince.

  5. Cut the red onion into squares about the same size as the red pepper and finely mince the garlic. Tip the green beans and cut into 1" sections. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a 5 quart dutch oven until shimmering. Add the onions and chopped green beans and saute until they start to brown. Add the roasted peppers and garlic.
  6. Saute just until peppers are warmed through again. Add the spices and saute until aromatic. Add the tomato pasta and continue to cook just until it starts to stick to the bottom and is smelling delicious.
  7. Add the vermouth and stir, scraping the bottom until all the browned bits are released. Add the vegetable stock.
  8. Dice the cooled tomatoes and add to the pot. Bring the soup back to a light simmer and pour in the Bulgur. Simmer lightly for 30 - 45mn or until Bulgur is cooked through. Just before serving stir in the lemon juice and salt to taste.
  9. Garnish with a sprinkle of mint and a scoop of yoghurt if desired.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Is it too late for one more festive cookie recipe?? I’m going to say no! I didn’t bake half as many treats as I normally do this year – life has just been crazy – but I did find time to make a few tried […]

Kimchi Pancake (kimchijeon)

Kimchi Pancake (kimchijeon)

Lately I’ve been getting the urge more and more to try NEW dishes. Foods that I quite honestly have been scared to make for a very long time. More Vietnamese and Korean and Indian food, perfect french baguettes, deep dish pizza. I’ve started using several […]

The Healing Journey

The Healing Journey

I guess it goes without saying that these last few months have been some of the hardest of my life. There have been several times that I’ve sat down and started writing a few paragraphs, only to re-read it and toss it in disgust. Too much sadness, too much hurt, too much anger.

Writing is an outlet for me that has always helped though. Letting the thoughts out, putting them on ‘paper’, letting them go in a way. It helps me to internalize what is going on inside my head, and articulate it. It helps to understand the thoughts and emotions that are at first just a whirling mass inside me until I capture them and pin them to the screen. Seeing them written down makes them less scary, less intimidating, and more tangible. Making them tangible makes them real, which means I can do something about it. For me, it’s almost always one of the first steps of healing. Write it down.

So believe me when I say I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately. Most of that writing hasn’t been anything anyone would want to read though. Sad, broken essays of hurt with grammar that would make my mom cringe. Dramatic monologues ranging from angry and spiteful to mourning and self-pitying. All part of the healing journey, but not necessarily anything that needs re-reading!

As time has continued to pass there have been certain themes that stick though. Certain aspects of myself, my personality that I have been able to critically analyze, over and over again, peel back the layers of justification and false confidence, and expose the broken core. It’s hurt like hell, but it’s impossible to start healing before the real sickness has been diagnosed.

I know everyone is innately different, but for me, the healing process has come in 5 stages. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this pattern either. It’s surfaced nearly every time when a trauma happens in my life – not always the same length of time, not always as well defined, but these stages have followed me since I was just a kid. Maybe writing them down will help someone else to relate, maybe it will just help me heal a little more.

My Heart, My Whole World <3
  1. Shock. When the fallout first happened, when my world shattered, there was no pain, there was no anger, there wasn’t even a solid understanding of what was happening. I was spinning, I was lost, and I was just desperately trying to survive and keep moving. Whether it was forward or backward or in mindless circles. I had. to. keep. moving. Stopping momentum would have been like stopping breathing. As long as I was moving, I knew I was alive.
  2. Denial. As the realization of what had happened, and where I was really at started to sink it, it became overwhelming. My mind was trying to process, trying to think logically to move me forward, but the implications were just too much. My body went into a near self-preservation mode. I felt myself existing more in the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘this isn’t happening’ then in the reality. I kept trying to rationalize a way back to before, a path back to happiness, but the more I fought to go back, the more I started to question where that happy place I wanted to return to really was – if it ever even existed.
  3. Fear & Anger. Externalization was next. Emotions started to finally come to the surface. Coming to the realization that maybe, just maybe what I wanted to go back to, what I was craving with all my heart and soul, had never been real, it filled me with an intense loneliness. It scared me. And then it enraged me. Anger at myself for being naive. Anger at others for using my naivety. Then fear again, fear I’d never be able to be successful in love, fear that I would never be in a healthy relationship, that I wouldn’t even know what healthy looked like if it smacked me in the face. Back to anger, trying to push my mistakes to others, justifying my hurt with the actions of others. I bounced back and forth, working through the details of what happened, why it happened. As I continued piecing together how and why things happened though, I started to understand more, the problem became more tangible, and the harsh, raw emotions started to finally subside.
  4. Understanding & Acceptance. I still didn’t know how to move forward, but I was beginning to understand where I was at. The crazy whirlwind of guilt, anger, fear, and heartache was beginning to subside. The hurt was still there (maybe it will always be here) but the problem was manageable. I had accepted where I was, and it was time to start moving forward again. I knew what had happened, I knew why it had happened. I could see where the mistakes were made, and I had a pretty good understanding of WHY. It was time to make an action plan for improvement.
  5. Moving Forward. This is where I am right now. It’s not the first time either. I’ve been here before, when other events have shook my world and I’ve had to go through these stages, pick up the pieces and move forward. I don’t know if this stage ever actually wraps up. To forget would be to lose sight of the lessons learned, to risk making these mistakes again. Self-improvement is a never ending battle, and I firmly believe that it requires a healthy respect for the mistakes of the past. Not to give them the power to consume, but to acknowledge their existence, understand their causation, and do everything possible to never repeat them. It doesn’t make us broken to have flaws and imperfections, it makes us human. Recognizing these areas where I’m habitually struggling has been the first step to becoming stronger and healthier. Recognizing that I can’t do it alone, has played a critical role as well. Opening myself to the fact that asking for help isn’t weakness, and it doesn’t make me less of a strong, independent woman, has opened the door to improving areas of my life that I never even thought possible.

Through all of this I’m feeling myself learn and grow and become more confident and strong, and at this point I can finally say it feels GOOD. There’s still the sadness of course, I doubt it will ever leave fully. Love is love and when your heart is shattered, it never goes back together quite the same. But that’s not to say that life can’t be beautiful again. It will be. It will be even better.

Funfetti Cupcakes

Funfetti Cupcakes

The other day I was mindlessly pushing my cart down the baking isle at Cub Foods eyeballing the instant puddings and cake mixes that look soooo good  that I also know I’ll never buy (this is a regular occurrence for me).  I used to indulge […]

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Although burger season is officially over (sad face) I’ve still been making us delicious veggie burgers inside on my cast iron pan.  The best part of cooking burgers inside is that it saves so much time, I can focus more on whipping up unique and […]

Spiced Nuts

Spiced Nuts

One of my favorite ways to class up a centerpiece is by turning it into a big bowl of something festive and edible.During the holidays, sweets are every where: the office, the convenience stores, well-meaning friends and family. It can be hard to say no to all of the delectable treats that are hiding around every corner. One thing that you can take control of though are the desserts and treats that come into the house.  I love to cook (surprise, surprise) and abstaining from making treats this time of year would probably about do me in. That being said, I do try my best to keep my treats as health conscious as possible! One easy swap to do is replacing that big bowl of peppermints/Hershey’s kisses/candy corn etc with a bowl of spiced nuts. The nuts are a healthy source of protein and fat, and the light sugar/spice glaze makes them festive, and enhances their natural delicious flavors!I like to used mixed nuts for this recipe as it provides an interesting combination of flavors and textures, but you could definitely just use one variety, or make your own custom blend of all your favorites!Feel free to cut back on the sugar to an 1/8 cup, if that’s more your to your liking, just don’t eliminate it completely, or the nuts won’t set up right !

 

Spiced Nuts
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5 Servings
Ingredients
  • 1.5 # mixed nuts unsalted
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 sp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp gr. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 285 F.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces and drop on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes to melt the butter.
  3. Meanwhile whisk all ingredients except the nuts in a medium glass bowl until well combined and slightly frothy. Pour in the nuts and use a spatula to stir until the nuts are evenly coated with the spice mixture.
  4. Using the same spatula spread the butter around on the sheet tray until it is relatively evenly coated. Pour the nut mixture onto the buttered tray and use the spatula to smooth the nuts to a single layer.
  5. Bake at 300 for 10 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven and stir the nuts. Rotate and put it back in for another 10mn.
  6. Repeat this process 3 more times, or until the nuts have roasted about 40 minutes. They should feel dry when stirred around with the spatula at this point, and not wet like they were when you put them in the oven. Take the sheet pan out of the oven and allow to cool completely in a single layer before transferring to a large bowl!

Dairy Free Chocolate Puddings

Dairy Free Chocolate Puddings

I haven’t made chocolate pudding in ages.  Not because I don’t like it (I freaking love the stuff) and not because I don’t have time (it literally takes 10mn) but honestly because I know that it requires milk and occasionally butter, and I don’t stock […]


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