Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday cooking marathon 2: Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers


I’m sure everyone will challenge this statement, but: these are the best stuffed peppers anyone anywhere in the world ever has eaten or will eat. Period. This recipe was printed in Vegetarian Times about 18 months ago, and since then I’ve seen it reprinted in a several other publications. I do, as usual, jimmy it a little, so if you want to consult the original, you can find it here:

Why are they so good? I don’t know! The filling is substantial, flavorful, bold…and every time I make them I’m just amazed at how much veg is crammed in there, and the average person (yea, even the picky eater) would never notice. Finally, I love anything that makes quinoa—the wundergrain—delicious and accessible to the common man.

There are a lot of ingredients, but if you use your food processor you really can whip this up in no time.

2 Tbs olive oil

1 onion, grated

3 ribs celery, grated

1 Tbs cumin

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 10-oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes, drained

1 15-oz can black beans

3/4 C quinoa, well rinsed

2 C water

3 large carrots, grated

1 1/2 C grated pepper jack cheese

4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed


Grate the onion and celery in your food processor and sauté them in the olive oil for five minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook 1 minute longer.


Add the drained tomatoes and spinach and cook five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. While this is in the works you can grate the carrots and pepper jack cheese.


Stir in the black beans, quinoa, water and carrots. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed (I find that I sometimes just have to drain a little at the end because the vegetables release so much while cooking). Stir in the pepper jack cheese.


Prep your peppers and line them up in a 9x13 baking dish. So pretty!


Stuff those mothers full, about 3/4 C filling per pepper. I always have a little filling leftover, but never mind, because it’s delicious just to eat with a spoon. Cover the peppers with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.


Sunday cooking marathon 1: Tangy Slow Cooker Spareribs



The tang is the name for this pregnant lady. My mom used to make something resembling this dish when I was a kid. I peeked at her recipe, but it just didn’t look TANGY enough. So here’s what I came up with:

2 lbs boneless pork spareribs

flour, salt, pepper

olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

4 stalks celery, chopped with leaves


1/2 C ketchup

1/4 C water

1/4 C cider vinegar

2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika


Pour a little flour onto a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the ribs in the flour mixture. As you can see I thought I had pulled boneless ribs out of the freezer…but they turned out to be bone-full. No matter.


Heat a little olive oil in a fry pan and brown the ribs on all sides.


While they’re browning you can make the sauce, as well as chop your onion and celery.


Once the ribs are browned place them in the slow cooker on top of the celery and onions. Next use the sauce to deglaze the pan that you browned the ribs in. If you’ve never deglazed before, it just means that you pour liquid into a pan where you’ve sautéed something with a little flour, in order to pick up all the yummy brown bits and concentrated flavor that otherwise would get left behind. The residual flour also thickens the sauce a bit. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all that deliciousness, for about 2 minutes.


Final step: pour the sauce over the ribs (looking very paradisiacal here in their holy white cooking receptacle) and turn the cooker to low for 8 hours. If you’re around, baste the ribs occasionally throughout the day.


Serve with rice!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sublime snacking: Caprese Salad


Aka, the greatest Italian invention ever. I know it’s not tomato season, but any excuse to get fresh food into the fresh-food-averse first trimester pregnant lady should be exploited. Simple, fresh, clean, easy, flavorful, a little exotic--this is why I love the caprese salad.

Get your ingredients ready first: sliced tomatoes, torn basil leaves, sliced fresh mozzarella (in the past doctors suggested that pregnant women avoid soft cheese, but now they simply say to avoid unpasteurized cheese, which is actually extremely hard to find in the US—we have laws against such extravagances), extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.


Assemble in your own artistic way, drizzle on the oil, and salt and pepper to taste.


Best Pregnancy Breakfast 3: Whole Grain Apple Cinnamon Oat Pancakes



This is one of the all-time favorite breakfasts at our house (for me and Sawyer at least; Chris only ever wants cereal…curious), that happens to also be an excellent choice for the pregnant lady. The apple and whole grain flours ensure loads of good fiber to keep things moving (in case you haven’t heard, pregnancy hormones cause digestion to slow and many a pregnant lady to reach for the Metamucil), and pancakes, just by their very nature—their roundness, their sweet syrupyness, their fluffiness, I don’t know--seem to be able to cure all manner of depressive states.

1 apple, cored and grated (skin n’ all)

2 Tbl canola oil

2 Tbl brown sugar

1/3 C + 2 Tbl milk or soymilk

2 eggs

1/3 C oat flour (see direction)

1/3 C whole wheat flour

1/3 C barley flour

1/3 C brown rice flour

2 Tbl wheat germ

heaping ¼ tsp salt

heaping ¼ tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon (or for a variation, use ½ tsp fresh grated ginger instead)


First order of business is to make the oat flour. Pour a bunch of oats in your blender or food processor and blend/process away. Now you have oat flour. Here is my trusty helper getting the task done.


A word about the other whole grain flours before moving on: many people keep whole wheat flour around, but barley and rice, not so much. But I promise that once you start using them, you won’t be able to stop! Barley has a lower gluten content than wheat, so it can be mixed nicely in most things without affecting the texture. It’s also great because it’s extremely fine, which means you can use lots of it in baked goods, call them ‘whole grain,’ but not have the dry, tough texture that sometimes comes with whole wheat flour. As for rice flour, I swear benevolent aliens brought it to us, that’s how good it is in an unworldly kind of way. Rice flour makes pancakes SO fluffy! And you know how sometimes after they cool regular pancakes get rubbery? No more! Because rice flour has no gluten, this problem is eliminated and you’re left with inexplicably delicious pancakes. If you have a wheat grinder you can grind the flours yourself from regular ole’ brown rice and barley. If not, your local Whole Foods type market will have them.

Back to the pancakes at hand: mix the apple, oil, milk, eggs and sugar together.


Add the flours, wheat germ, salt, baking soda and cinnamon, stir until mixed.


Cook them in the usual pancake way, with butter or oil, flipping when tiny bubbles start to appear on the surface.


Give ‘em another minute or two on the flip side…


…and devour with the sweetner of your choice (we like real maple as well as agave syrup).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pregnancy-Friendly Sushi, also friendly to those who just don’t do raw fish


Sushi is something that a lot of pregnant women miss during those nine months, but also something that a lot of regular humans have a hard time with because of the raw fish element. In fact many kinds of sushi don’t have raw fish at all, and are therefore appropriate and delicious for everyone…except for that tiny, dogmatic portion of the population that for some inexplicable reason is under the erroneous impression that they “just don’t like sushi.” We all know that they “just haven’t had GOOD sushi.”

So here’s an easy primer for those who want to try some user-friendly, non-raw, nori-wrapped lusciousness that won’t weigh too heavily on the recommended fish intake for pregnant women (12 oz. per week), in the form of three rolls: salmon, shrimp and spicy crab.

Start first with the rice. I use short grain brown, but you can follow the rules and use Japanese sushi rice if you wish. This is 1 1/2 C rice cooked in about 3 1/2 C water with a little salt. After it’s cooked, stir in about 2 Tbl rice vinegar and set it aside to cool.


While the rice is cooking you can chop your veg: carrots, celery, cucumber, avocado. The more avocado the better. Many different kinds of veg would be tasty, this was just what I had on hand.


You can also use the time while the rice is cooking to make the spicy crab mix. Use 2/3 C shredded real or imitation crab meat (use real crab meat for the gluten-free version), 1/4 C diced celery, 2 Tbl minced green onion, all mixed together with a little mayo (canola mayo is dairy-free) and about 1 tsp Chinese hot sauce. This would also be a good time to toast some sesame seeds.


Once your rice is cool and all the fillings are ready, spread the rice thinly on 6 sheets of nori seaweed, leaving a 1-in seam at the top. It helps to dip your spreading tool (spatula, your hands, whatever works) in water periodically. I had just a small amount of rice left over based on the quantities that I gave above.


Next line up the sliced vegetables. There will be two rolls of each flavor—I didn’t put celery on the spicy crab, since there is diced celery in the mix.


Then add the fish and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Here is the salmon (the thinly sliced, lightly smoked kind)…


…the shrimp (cooked, peeled, deveined and de-tailed, of course)…


…and the spicy crab.


I don’t have a sushi rolling mat but find that it really isn’t a problem at all. I just put the nori on a dish towel and roll it carefully and tightly with my hands. When you get to the end rub a little water along the edge to seal it. Here are all six babies lined up, ready to be sliced.


While you’re staring at how gorgeous they look, have someone sharpen your best knife. Then have them sharpen it again.


I like to cut the rolls in half first, then work out toward each end. Each roll should make eight pieces. This is three rolls cut up—one of each flavor (crab on the left, salmon on top, shrimp on the right). The other three rolls are in the fridge and will be cut up for me to take to work tomorrow; finding those in my lunch box at about 1pm tomorrow will be about the best thing that will have happened to me all week.


A salmon roll poses effortlessly on my stylish sushi plate.


Chris dips deeply into the sauce (soy sauce plus a dab of wasabi--San J tamari and LaChoy soy sauce are both gluten-free).


Best Pregnancy Breakfast 2: Tangy Blueberry Shake

Another delicious, soothing and healthy breakfast choice came together this morning: the tangy blueberry shake. Blueberries continue the antioxidant theme, soy brings extra protein and natural therapy for the pregnant lady's hormonal excesses, buttermilk gives it that irresistible tang and maple syrup makes it feel a little nostalgic. I actually measured my ingredients this time. I'm really making en effort here.

1 frozen banana cut into chunks
1 C frozen blueberries
1/2 container silken tofu (make sure it's silken!)
1/2 pint (about 1 C) buttermilk
2 Tbl maple syrup

Before I go any further I just want to make sure that everyone is on the same page with buttermilk. I've seen fat-conscious people shrink away from it, as if it were actually butter+milk. It's just fermented low-fat milk; the 1 cup in this recipe has 2.5 grams of fat. Buttermilk also makes awesome Irish soda bread (uh-oh, I feel a craving coming on...). Ok, now that everybody's clear on buttermilk:

Put all the ingredients in the blender!

This recipe makes a big glass for you and a little glass for your envious spouse/child. The little glass proved not to be enough satisfaction for my 2 year-old; he keeps coming over to my glass for maybe go drink this in your closet where no one will bother you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Best Pregnancy Breakfast 1: Antioxidant Oats

This was one of my very first cravings this time around, and I'm still eating eat (miraculous, because everything else I just want to eat once). During the earliest weeks I was craving anti-oxidants, in particular dark chocolate and walnuts, hence this most excellent breakfast.

2/3 C old fashioned oats
1/2 banana, sliced
2 Tbl toasted walnuts
2 Tbl dark chocolate chunks/chips

Maybe it's just me, but I think there's about nothing better than raw oats; they're light, refreshing, and don't have the tell-tale glopiness of cooked ones (though I like those too, under the right circumstances).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Apricot Ricotta Spread


This came from good ‘ole Healthy Cooking magazine, but as usual I jimmied it. They spread it in celery sticks, but in the opinion of my biased taste buds sweet fruits are a much better choice. 

Another great choice for the pregnant lady: low fat protein and lots of iron from the apricots:

a big handful of dried apricots

1 container ricotta cheese (part skim, whole milk, whatever rings your bell)

3 Tbl brown sugar

1 tsp orange zest

juice from said orange (a few tablespoons)

a pinch of salt

Puree all ingredients in a food processor and enjoy with apple or pear slices, or spread on cinnamon raisin toast.

Thai noodle salad


The most perfect realization yet of an intense craving took place today, and I didn’t even know that I wanted Thai noodle salad until about 30 seconds before I made it. But it’s an ideal recipe for early pregnancy because it includes the pungent umami flavor that many people crave, as well as the citrus component that makes me, at least, feel that all is right with the world, plus much needed protein and the few fresh vegetables that are pretty palatable during the first trimester (ie: the ones that are actually fruits).

This particular recipe is undoubtedly very inauthentic, but pregnant lady has to make do with what she finds in her pantry/refrigerator, and I can assure everyone that it was exceedingly delicious. How do I know? Chris devoured the rest.

about half a package of rice noodles (I mixed rice and japanese udon noodles—mmmm)

1 1/2 C thinly sliced cooked steak (as it happens, mine was already sort of teriyaki flavored—whatever leftover cooked meat you have would probably be great)

1 C chopped cucumber

1 C carrot in lazy matchsticks

1 C chopped celery

1 bunch cilantro, minced (I wish I had had basil too…)

2 Tbl minced green onion

Dressing: a few tablespoons Thai fish sauce, about one Tbl soy sauce, maybe 2 Tbl canola oil and 1 Tbl sesame oil, about 3 Tbl lime juice (I only had lemon, but it was still tasty), about 3 Tbl sugar and one good squirt of Chinese sriracha sauce.

Chop all the veg and meat and set it aside


Cook the noodles according to package directions.


Make the dressing!


Toss it all together and swoon.


The First 13 Weeks

Of course 13 weeks is a misnomer because according to the 40-week pregnancy standard you're actually pregnant 2 weeks before you even have that hot, sexy night. And then you don't even find out until "week" 4 or 5. And maybe you feel great and have no weird cravings/sickness until week 7. It all depends on you and the particular nature of your special parasite. In my case, we were abroad for three weeks over Christmas and I didn't get hit with food-mania until we were home (week 9-ish). Though I was strongly influenced by the white flour madness of Europe and had a hard time readjusting to whole grain bread, pasta, rice upon our return: the first thing I bought when we got home was a huge bag of basmati rice...which is totally disgusting to me now, of course. Whenever I go to Europe I come home wanting Mexican food like an enchilada wants cheese, so that was one of the first things on the list.

A few disclaimers before I start--

1) I am an improvisational cook. Some people might call this laziness, because I never measure anything when I'm using a recipe or pay attention to quantities when I'm inventing something. I'm sorry that whoever ends up reading this will have to suffer from my lazy genuis. Unless I did follow a recipe, I'm going to give very approximate quantities, like "some" and "a little" in the food ideas that I share with you.

2) Anyone who knows me knows that I abhor diet foods, like splenda and low-carb tortillas. Yet, like all human beings, I am fraught with contradiction, so I confess to you now that I regularly use low-fat sour cream and mayo, and unless I say otherwise in a recipe, that's what I used. Why? Weirdly enough, they just taste better to me. But keep your fat-free cheddar and your food replacement beverages away from me, or this friendship is over.

3) These recipes are coming to you from a desert about a mile above sea-level. Baked goods at lower and more humid altitudes sometimes need less moisture and more cooking time than things way up here in the stratosphere. I'll note where I've changed something if I'm using a pre-printed recipe.

Kissing-the-American-Soil Enchiladas

You know these are patriotic enchiladas because they have ground beef. Our last night with friends in France over the break we cooked enchiladas for them--anyone who's tried to recreate a specialty from home in a foreign country knows that you always end up with some weird hybrid dish that somehow represents the cultural intersection of your transatlantic friendship. In this case I was able to find tortillas (and they were normal), salsa (more like tomato sauce) and fajita seasoning (nothing like it! strangely sweet, no cumin!). We did our best, and they ended up being delicious in a way that could never be recreated back home, for lack of weird, culturally adapted products. Anyway, this experience inspired me in this particular batch of enchiladas.

1 package of ground beef
1 onion, chopped
a few cloves garlic, minced (many pregnant women might want to avoid this!)
3 colored bell peppers, sliced
1 package sliced mushrooms
taco seasoning of your choice

1 can black beans
your favorite kind of cheese, grated

1 avocado, or maybe 2, cut into small cubes
Fresh cilantro. chopped
a few tomatoes, chopped
half an onion, diced
a few limes

8 flour tortillas

1 small jar salsa
1 container sour cream

Brown the beef, then add onions, garlic and peppers (add oil if your beef is really lean). Cook for 5 minutes until things are softening. Add mushrooms, stir a few times and cover. I like to let things get really brown and caramelize slightly around the edges. Season to your liking. I collect lots of different kinds of seasonings and then mix them haphazardly to my taste. Here I used penzey's taco seasoning, some lime-chili stuff we got in Mexico, extra cumin, some red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Drain the beans, and spread your tortillas out on the counter. On each tortilla spread beef mixture, beans and grated cheese (we eat cheese sparingly, maybe 2 tsp on each enchilada--but to each pregnant lady her own). Roll those fatties up and line them up in a 9x13 pan.

Now mix the salsa and sour cream together until you like the balance of flavors. I added a little water to make it more saucy. This was how we dealt with the lack of enchilada sauce in France, and I liked it so much that I had to do it again. Pour this over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with additional grated cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Pull the foil off and brown longer if you like.

While the enchiladas are baking make the (adulterated) pico de gallo: combine avocado, tomato, cilantro and onion. Squeeze lime juice into mixture and salt to taste. Many pregnant women crave citrusy or acidic things, so go crazy with the lime juice; you won't regret it. Serve this goodness over the hot enchiladas, accompanied by extra sour cream-salsa sauce if you wish.

Coconut-Curried Lentils (with basmati rice!)

This was my second mega-craving after getting back from our trip. While we were there the Brazilian husband of one of our friends made a pumpkin shrimp dish full of coconut milk that he cooked inside a huge pumpkin. After that it was all over: all this pregnant lady wanted was coconut milk and basmati rice. Unfortunately I just threw the last of these lentils in the compost because the desire left me after a few days, and Chris doesn't do coconut milk. But they were utterly delicious while my desire lasted!

1/2 onion
a handful of baby carrots, chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
about 3/4 c yellow or orange lentils
about 1-1/2 C chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
powdered cumin, cardamom, curry, coriander to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped

Saute the onion in a little oil for 3-5 minutes; add carrot and cauliflower, cook a few minutes more. Add lentils, broth and coconut milk, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, checking every so often to make sure that there's enough water. Ideally when it's done it's vaguely soupy--you could eat it over rice or just with a spoon. Before serving add spices to taste (I would say easy on the cumin and cardamom, heavier on the curry and coriander) and the cilantro. Let stand covered for five minutes to allow flavors to blend and cilantro to wilt. Serve with basmati rice. Oo, you know what else is really good? Mimicking naan by frying a flour tortilla in a little canola oil. You'll think you've died and gone to Bombay...unless you have a really good Indian restaurant down the street.

It all started with artichokes

I woke up in a cold sweat thinking about artichokes, and just knew that they had to be combined into a pasta dish with red peppers and feta cheese. And because Chris' favorite pasta is rigatoni, and because he had just bought about 1800 pounds of Italian sausage, I knew that these things would make an appearance too.

5 links Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 onion
2 red bell peppers, sliced
many, many artichoke hearts. I used one can, but wished the whole time I’d used two—drain and reserve about ½ C of the liquid
feta, feta and more feta
pepper, pepper and more ground pepper
1 box rigatoni

Saute the sausage, breaking it up as you go. When it starts to brown add the onion, and after a few minutes, the red pepper. Cook until the peppers are crisp-tender. In the meantime you should have your pasta a-boiling. Reserve about ½ C of the cooking liquid when you drain the noodles. Combine the sausage-veg mix with the pasta in a large bowl, and toss with the cooking liquid and the reserved artichoke juice. It might seem a little wet at first, but everything will get absorbed. Now bombard that bowl with feta cheese and ground pepper! I didn’t have to throw any of these leftovers away because Chris liked it so much that he ate it all before it could disgust me. I think he’s a lot happier this time around with me cooking so much—last pregnancy he had to resort to a lot of Hungry Man dinners and frozen burritos. It’s every man’s dream for like a week, and then they realize it sucks.

Spinach-Artichoke Spanikopita

This dish was a natural segue from the initial artichoke craving. After that pasta dish I realized: “What I really want is more artichokes.” So again, in a cold sweat, I woke up to this idea: “What if I made spinach artichoke dip, added chicken to it, and wrapped it in filo??” I had to take a sleeping pill to keep myself from getting up and going to the grocery store at that exact moment.

This part I got off the internet, though I jimmied it a little:
1 C parmesan cheese
1 C jack cheese
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 cans artichoke hearts (yes, this time I listened to my cravings)
2/3 C sour cream
1 C cream cheese
1/3 C mayo

1-1/2 to 2 C diced or shredded chicken

1 package filo dough
about ½ cube butter, melted

Mix all the dip fixins and chicken together in a bowl and set aside. If you haven’t worked with filo before it’s really no big deal, just make sure it’s completely thawed (leave it in the fridge for a few days before using), and then once it’s open keep it covered with a damp towel as you work to keep it from drying out. Here’s what you do: pull a sheet of filo from the stack, lay it in front of you, and, with a pastry brush, apply a thin coat of melted butter. Now take another sheet and lay it atop the buttered one: butter this second one. After the third sheet, put a big pile of filling toward the right side of the buttered filo—mine was about 3 inches wide, piled about 1-1/2 inches high, and there was maybe a 2-inch margin above, below, and to the right. Now just fold it up like a burrito: I fold the sides in first, then fold the right side over, and then just flop it over itself until it’s closed. Brush the outside with a little melted butter and place your delicious pain au spinach artichoke dip on a cookie sheet. To give you an idea, I was able to make 6 bundles, with a handsome Tupperware (maybe a cup and a half) of filling left over for snacking. A few days later I heated that up in the microwave and praised my genius for having such an excellent snack on hand. When all your little bundles are made, cook them at 350 for about 30 minutes—they should be golden brown on the outside and melty-good on the inside.

Peanuts, peanuts, peanuts: peanut butter cookies

So I had this day where ALL I wanted to eat was peanuts. I ate several handfuls of dry roasted peanuts for breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and then later in the afternoon my son and I made my all-time favorite peanut butter cookie recipe, this time studded with dark chocolate chips. The recipe comes from The Horn of the Moon Cookbook—one of my old standbys back in my vegan days. It makes a different kind of cookie—very soft, not chewy…I don’t know how to describe it, but EVERYONE loves them (not just pregnant women). I took a batch to my birth class during my first pregnancy and they got gobbled up in about 5 seconds.

2/3 C butter (I used soy margarine back in the day, and so could you, but butter is way better)
2/3 C honey
1 ¼ C smooth peanut butter (natural, do I even need to say it?)
3 Tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¾ C whole wheat pastry flour (I grind my own ww flour so I can make it very fine, but other people say that ww pastry flour is great)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
many handfuls of the darkest chocolate chips you can find

Cream butter and honey, add peanut butter, milk and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients by hand, as dough will get too stiff for a mixer. Roll dough into balls and press gently with tines of a fork. Bake at 325 for about 11-13 minutes—depending on how big they are and how browned you like them. I tend to like my cookies a little undercooked.

Miso-Roasted Root Vegetables

I’ve been wanting to use more miso in general, but I’m not well versed in its usages. Then I realized that one of my cravings was the umami flavor, and miso has it! So I’ve been using it more and more… These were really delicious, but I only wanted to eat them once—the whole anti-veg thing…

Cut up beets, parsnips, carrots and any other veg that you really like
Red or white miso
canola oil
sesame oil
sesame seeds, toasted

Grab a glob of miso in your hands and rub it all over the vegetables. Let them sit as long as possible for the flavor to soak in. Preheat the oven to 400. When you’re ready to go, drizzle a little canola oil on the vegetables, just until they glisten a little. Spread them on a cookie sheet and roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 15 or 20. Before removing them from the oven mix equal parts sesame oil and honey—maybe 1-1/2 or 1 Tbl of each. Toss the roasted veg in the sesame-honey mixture, then top with toasted sesame seeds.

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing, Roasted Vegetables

Another day I got totally hit with a craving for comfort food. This was probably helped along by the package of organic cornbread stuffing that I found on the markdown rack at the grocery store.

For the chicken:
Take a whole chicken (I don’t know how many pounds, one that will fit in your slow cooker, yo), remove the giblets, rub some butter all over the outside, then salt and pepper that sucker inside and out. Roll up three balls of tin foil and put them in the slow cooker—this raises the chicken off the heat source and allows it to roast instead of boil in its own juices. Cook on high for about four hours. The skin does not get as dark as it would in the oven, so use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s done (should register 160 degrees in the thickest part of the breast).

For the stuffing: well, follow the package directions.

For the roasted veg: About fifty minutes before the chicken is done, cut into thick spears two pears and one peeled sweet potato. Pour out about ½ C of the chicken juice from the slow cooker, and toss it with the cut vegetables, some baby carrots and a little maple syrup (a few tablespoons). Roast at 400 for 30-40 minutes or until tender and browned. Beta-carotene for your and your baby’s eyes!

While your chicken is resting (you should let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving to let the juices soak in) you can make the gravy—pour all the juice from the slow cooker through a strainer into a small pot. In a small glass whisk some flour (maybe a few tablespoons) into some milk (maybe ¾ C). Whisk this into the juices over medium heat until the gravy thickens to your liking. Add salt and pepper if you feel so inclined. And if your gravy is a little lumpy, run it through a sieve before serving.

What happens to leftover roast chicken when soup cravings hit

This was so delicious; I’m still eating it. Stick your leftover chicken carcass with whatever meat is left on it back in the slow cooker and cover it with water. Some people like to add chopped celery, onion, some herbs, etc. at this stage of broth making, but I never have extra. Let your broth simmer on low for 14-18 hours. Strain the broth, reserving all the chicken bits—this is a pain, but once they’re cool enough you can go through and sort out the meat. It the meantime pour the broth into a pot and add whatever long-cooking vegetables you like to have in your soup: I added carrots, celery and potato at this stage, let them cook for about 20 minutes, then added zucchini, yellow squash, corn and cooked for about 8 minutes longer. There was a huge pile of beet greens sitting on the counter in a vase…I’d been saving them, thinking I’d work them into some soup. I stared them down, but just couldn’t make peace with them. They went into the compost today. My intentions are good, but my body revolts! The last step is to add the chicken meat that you gleaned from the mess of a carcass. I wanted to make some homemade noodles to take this to a new level but…just didn’t….have….the energy…..

Lemony-Lemony Quinoa Tablouleh

Tabouleh is another place where I can indulge my insane citrus cravings. Though it’s usually made with bulgur, I love using quinoa because it’s unobtrusive and so good for me and my parasite!

1 C quinoa, rinsed (it has a bitter coating, so rinse it well)
2 C water (a little more in Colorado, quand même…)
a few tomatoes, chopped
½ an English cucumber, chopped (yes, a regular one is ok, but the English ones are soooo good! If you use a regular cucumber, peel it)
1 bunch cilantro, minced lazily (who really has time to mince?)
a few tablespoons olive oil
a large lemon

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, then cover and simmer 30-40 minutes until water is absorbed. Stick it in the fridge to cool. In the meantime you can chop all your veg. Mix quinoa and vegetables together and toss with olive oil and the juice from your large lemon. Salt to taste. Note: most tabouleh recipes call for parsley…unless you can find Italian parsley I really recommend using cilantro.

Blue Cheese-Bean Dip

My quest for strong flavors continues! This was another one that woke me up in the night. Puree a can of white beans, liquid and all, with half or 2/3 of a block of blue cheese, salt to taste. We’ve been eating this on rice crisps, bagel chips and tortilla chips. MMM….

"I can't believe it's not real potato!" Potato Gnocchi

Ever since I made that chicken soup where I wanted to make homemade noodles but didn’t have the energy I couldn’t stop thinking about gnocchi, but seriously, it’s so labor intensive. And then, suddenly, a cooking magazine came in the mail and what did I see? “Instant Potato Gnocchi.” Normally I would balk—no, worse than balk, I would be loathe!—at using instant potato flakes in a recipe (I really am a snob), but this was the only resolution I could find between the severity of my gnocchi cravings and the severe amount of time and effort that it takes to make gnocchi from scratch. And because probably most of us couldn’t tell the difference anyway, I give this recipe my blessing.

From Healthy Cooking magazine

1 C mashed potato flakes
1 C boiling water (you need a little more than that in good ‘ole CO)
1 egg
1 ½ C flour (better cut that down a bit in the mile-high desert)
¼- ½ tsp salt (depending on how salted you like your gnocchis)
The recipe also calls for ¼ tsp garlic powder and ½ tsp dried basil, but if you ask me, that’s just gross.

Pour water over flakes and stir until you magically have potatoes. Beat in the egg, then add the flour. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10-12 times until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Divide into four pieces. Roll each one into a ½ inch rope. Cut each rope into ¾ inch nuggets. If you really care about authenticity and gnocchi aesthetics, roll each nugget with the tines of a fork. I really can’t be bothered to do this when I want to put the gnocchis in my belly asap. Boil 30-60 seconds in salted water or until gnocchis float. We ate them with vodka sauce from a jar, but I think they’re best with a little butter and some fresh parm. The great thing about this recipe is that the gnocchis can be ready to go by the time your giant pot of salted water is boiling; it really is that fast.

Why am I doing this?

This pregnancy (number two) is decidedly different from the first. The sickness is more intense, but the appetite is greater; the cravings are more specific, and food is infinitely less repugnant. I'm 13 weeks in now, and after noticing that I have been cooking nearly non-stop--indeed, waking up in the night sometimes with a (genius) idea of exactly what I want to eat!--it occured to me that other (pregnant) women might enjoy getting a glimpse of what I've been working on. In some cases my brain is coming up with semi-innovative ideas. Other times it's an old standby that suddenly seems like the holy grail of my culinary desire.

Since I'm getting a late start, the first post won't have any pictures and will instead be a run-through of some of the things that I've clawed my way to the pantry to make so far.

There's really just one problem with this system: my husband and I are only two people, and my son, 2 years-old, subsists on cereal and "crisps." We're having trouble dealing with my leftovers, because usually after two or three meals, I don't want said compulsive object of my cravings anymore. So anyone who needs a homecooked meal come on over! The fridge is full!