Crispy Edamame Snack

 

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Chips are boring.SAM_5094

 

Fries are gross.

Nuts are boring.

Fries are still gross.

The only routine with my lunch routine is no routine at all. I’m constantly switching up what I eat, especially with sides. You probably would have guessed on your own that I detest anything fried or processed. Another lunchtime challenge is that by this point in the day I haven’t had any veggies yet. So if I don’t get 2 servings of vegetables at lunchtime, my health-nut side feels the need to overcompensate at dinnertime, effectively stuffing myself and inducing lethargy to follow. Not ideal, but you’ve got to have them…SAM_5083

Back to my point with this post, I eat a lot of vegetable sides, but I’m picky about their preparation.

When in doubt, I always broil a vegetable. You’ve read about how I’ve done this with sweet potato fries, chickpeas, greenbeans. There’s nothing this girl can’t turn crispy and delicious with a broiler, seasoning, and a few minutes of patience.SAM_5091

Remember that 8-week nutrition study I participated in, the one that required me to have an incredibly high-fiber diet? In addition to breads, tofu, and black beans, I was given a generous supply of edamame. Yum! I could eat those little beans raw all day long.

But on a wet, April-showers-kind-of morning, I wanted something warm and crispy. So I tried roasting.

And you know what, it never fails to please.

Ingredients

1/2 cup edamame beans (thawed if frozen)

cooking spray

seasonings of choice

Directions

-Preheat broiler to high.

-Prepare boiling pan by spritzing lightly with cooking spray. Too much spray will actually make it harder for the beans to crisp up, and if you leave them in too long waiting, they’ll burn.

-Place beans on pan. Coat lightly with seasonings. Use hands or utensils to toss them around a bit so they’re evenly coated and sop up just a tad of the oil.

Note: you can use just about any seasonings you like. I used a garlic-pepper blend, but a spicy Tex-Mex version might feature chili powder and cumin. Or you could go Asian-inspired with a sweet ginger rub or a curry powder.

-Roast beans until the outside shells begin to crisp and turn brown. About 5-6 minutes in my broiler.

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Broke Girl DIY: Administrative Professionals Appreciation Day

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Happy Administrative Professionals Week!SAM_5127

How do you plan to thank these wonderful people? The people who have the spatial ability to organize and prioritize work flow? The people who take all your questions patiently and kindly, no matter how obvious or absurd they might be?

Most of the women in my family worked in some capacity as administrative professionals and the care and the effort they put into their work is relentless. It exhausts me just thinking about it. I’m not crazy about the term secretary or that this field is still dominated by women, but the work these people do is fascinating. A lot of it is day-to-day, mundane filing and fielding questions, but more than that, it’s taking care of others. Administrators are the buffers between work conflict. They’re always tending to people’s problems and I’m sure that wares on their energy at times. That’s why admire them. Plus, the power and influence they have over an office is incredible.SAM_5137

Put another way, if the ringleader isn’t happy, the animals won’t be either.

So I found this cute little idea on Pinterest. It does take commitment to do an administrator’s job. So I hope I can sweeten up some of their days (I only have six!) with a surprise commit-MINT.

Too cute, right? The wordie in me will always be a sucker for a good play on words.SAM_5132

So please do something kind for the professionals who are so kind to you. This craft is a no-brainer and inexpensive. A few bags of Andes mints, peppermint patties, or whatever minty treats you can find. Goodie bags, ribbon, and a kind note seal it up into a simple, thoughtful presentation.

MexiCali Burrito Bowl

 

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Get your burrito fix! Get it on the half shell!SAM_5105

 

No, no oysters in this burrito recipe, but it’s innovative enough to make onlooking eaters shellfish. (HIMYM reference. Had to go there.)

Some of the recipe pins on Pinterest.com are–in my humble opinion–the best development for crafty cookers since the cake pop revolution a few years back. And this recipe is much easier to make, even easier than cake pops!SAM_5095

Gather your favorite burrito fillings and let’s get started. Oh, and you needn’t set aside much time. It really doesn’t take long.

Ingredients

one delicious, whole-wheat burrito tortilla

cooking spray

DirectionsSAM_5114

Find a small broil-safe dish that you can tuck your burrito into to achieve the shape you desire, i.e. smaller dishes for a smaller burrito bowl with more folds or larger dishes for wider shell with less folds.

Prepare the dish by lightly coating with cooking spray. Preheat broilers. When broilers are ready, fold the burrito into your greased dish. Place in oven for 1-2 minutes to get the bottom crispy. Then add in your filling ingredients of choice. Broil another 2-3 minutes or until edges are crispier and browned.SAM_5116

Serve warm.

By the way, this burrito bowl could also function nicely as a crunchy taco-salad holder or a fun, visually-interesting bowl for entertaining. You could impress guests for some time with this trick.

I even wonder if this would work well as a soup bowl? Okay, you probably don’t want to try that as a freestanding bowl, but like a breadbowl from Panera, it could be  a nice tear-and-peel twist on soup service.

Broke Girl DIY: Baby Headbands

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I have this adorable niece. Her name is Lydia.SAM_5060

Okay, I actually don’t have a biological niece, but this one may as well be my own. I’ve talked about her before (remember Lydia & Zydia??) and I’ve gone on about my best friend Sareena, her super sweet momma.

I could go on forever about all of the nice, completely unnecessary, but appreciated beyond words, things Sareena has done for me. She is the most thoughtful person I know, always picking up something for me because it made her think of me. I know no one kinder.

So when I saw a bunch of adorable plain headbands and Hobby Lobby, I thought: “I want to make a headband for Lydia and Sareena. It’s perfect.” Can’t be that hard, right?SAM_5053

It certainly wasn’t. I’m no sewing expert, but I can pull together a solid stitch. So armed with my headband, sewing kit, flowers of choice, and a few buttons, I attempted to reciprocate my friend’s kindness.

If you can make a stitch, you can do this. And if you can’t, I promise you can. Just YouTube or Google some simple instructions.SAM_5071

I went with a bright purple-orange combo for the coming summer months and because I knew Sareena would love those colors. I stitched the flowers on with a clean white button holding them in place, somewhat lopsided for effect.

I didn’t remember to pick up an equally cute gift bag, but I did make one quickly with a brown paper bag I had lying around and some ribbon.

Simple, easy, and thoughtful. Isn’t that the way all things should be?

Curry in a Hurry!

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If you know me, you know my dinner standby is a simple equation of sorts: pasta + veggies + protein. I like to mix up each part, and I love trying new sauces. Definitely my favorite comfort food, and heaven knows I eat a lot of it.SAM_5020

But sometimes when I’m feeling wild and crazy, I make Curry in a Hurry. It’s so simple, so healthful. Plus, it’s fast!

Yes, a good curry can be made fast and made for one. Here’s how.

Ingredients

1/2 cup dry brown riceSAM_5014

4 oz. of cooked protein of choice (chicken, mahi mahi, etc.)

1 cup veggies of choice (onions, scallions, carrots, edamame, broccoli, and red pepper slices are a few of my favorites)

1-2 T broth (for a runnier curry)

1-2 T Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce

1/2 t curry powder

garlicSAM_5006

cooking oil

optional: dash of cayenne or ground ginger for good health

Directions

To cook your rice fast, prepare in rice cooker as directed. Or do as I do and combine 1/2 cup rice and 1 and 3 T water in microwave-safe bowl and zap for about 7 minutes or until all water is absorbed.

While your rice is cooking, heat garlic in a lightly oil pan. Add in veggies. Sautee as you add in the curry powder, then the broth and optional seasonings if you’d like those.SAM_5021

At this point, if you’d like your protein mixed in, then do that now. I often just eat mine over the top, on a bed-of-rice sort of deal.

When the rice is finished, blend it in to heat up with the veggies. After a minute or so, mix the secret weapon, Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce, in. Blend well; add more if you like.

Serve warm. And if you’re in a hurry, at least take a minute to enjoy this incorrigibly good, Indian-inspired dish.

Veggie-Bean Tacos

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Last Wednesday I wrote all about the high-fiber study I was participating in, and about how I was Tex-Mexing with tofu for lack of meat in my diet (as required by the study). Well, the study is over, but these little veggie-bean tacos aren’t, not for me.SAM_5050

Why do I love them? First of all, I almost never eat beans, which is a shame considering all their health benefits. More so than that, I love this recipe because anytime I want a protein-packed, filling meal, it doesn’t require thawing. Defrosting meat is something I hate. It’s disgusting. It’s uneven if you use the microwave, and because I usually prepare whatever I feel like eating when I feel like eating it, I rarely plan ahead.

But beans are ready when you are. Simple and wonderful.

This recipe is very similar to the Southwestern Tofu Scramble because I sautee my beans with my veggies and smash them up a little bit. You don’t have to, but I like them to be infused with similar flavor.

Ingredients

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1/4 cup black beans, rinsed

1 jalapeno

1/2 Roma tomato, chopped

garlic and minced onion, to taste

dash of cumin and chili powder

optional: tortillas, kale, cheese, twist of lime

Directions

-Warm a skillet to medium heat. Spray with cooking oil and begin adding in garlic, onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Sautee for a few minutes.

-Add in beans and then the seasonings into the veggies. Continue to cook until beans and veggies are heated through fully. Again, I smash my beans down a tad, but that’s personal preference. If you want to keep the texture of your mix diversified, don’t press down on them.

-Serve warm with warm tortillas, which I like to toast for a minute or so in the broiler (and it crisps the edges of the veggie-bean mix quite well).

I add kale and spritz a little lime juice over the top. Not too much though or else the tortillas become soggy. And my salsa rice makes an excellent side.

 

Southwestern Tofu Scramble

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I don’t think I’ve written yet about the study I’ve been participating in for the past 7 weeks, but it’s been a fascinating experience. There’s a tofu-rrific connection coming, I promise…SAM_5030

So I’m part of this Iowa State nutrition study testing the effects of high- and low-fiber diets on iron absorption levels. Every two weeks, I’m handed 2-3 heaping bags of high-fiber foods: whole-wheat rolls, pastas, rice, sliced bread loaves, black beans, and tofu. This is fantastic because not only am I a poor little graduate student, but also because I’ve been learning all about how studies work in other fields. The primary researcher, Seth, is a friend of mine. It’s always interesting to see how things are going with this. I imagine he’ll be very successful.

But for all the free food (and compensation at the end), there are a few drawbacks. For one, I have to log just about everything I eat, which can be tedious. I also have to take special care to include something high-fiber at every meal. I usually do this anyway, but when eating out it’s a little challenging.

The biggest challenge, though, has been restricting my meat consumption to only 2-3 3-oz. servings a week! Despite misconceptions about me being vegetarian–which even some of my dear friends continue to think–I am not. I eat meat most days, usually for dinner.SAM_5038

Tofu has been my saving grace. I need the protein. To be honest, I’m not crazy about the jiggly stuff, but I have found some cool ways to incorporate it into my diet. My favorite is this southwestern-style scramble, which I usually serve on corn tortillas.

Ingredients

1/4 container of firm tofu

1 jalapeno

1/2 Roma tomato, chopped

garlic and minced onion, to taste

dash of cumin and chili powder

optional: tortillas, kale, cheeseSAM_5029

Directions

-Warm a skillet to medium heat. Spray with cooking oil and begin adding in garlic, onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Sautee for a few minutes.

-Meanwhile cube tofu. You can cut as haphazardly as you like. The crumblier the better for those wanting this recipe to taste more like an egg-imitation one. Add into sauteeing veggies.

-Add in seasonings and cook until tofu is heated through and somewhat crumbly. Serve warm with warm tortillas.

I like to add kale and sometimes salsa to mine. Add your usual Tex-Mex favorites, like queso, ranchero sauce, etc. Enjoy!

 

Quick Rosemary Rolls

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If you ever need dinner rolls fast, like 30 minutes or less fast, give this recipe a go. You can decrease the recommended rising time as much as you like; I often let it rise for only 20 minutes and that’s because I’m almost always in a bit of a hurry.SAM_4996

I based this recipe off a hybrid of the whole-wheat pizza dough recipe and the rosemary ciabatta loaf recipe I’ve featured in the past. The rolls aren’t gorgeous–they are, after all, just quick and easy drop biscuits–but they are delicious and pair perfectly with soup or pasta.

Ingredients

1 t honey or agave nectar

1/2 of a yeast packet

3/4  cup whole wheat flour

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1 T rolled oats
pinch of garlic salt, if you like1 t cornmeal

Seasonings: Rosemary to taste, a little basil, and dill, too

Directions

-In a bowl, dissolve sweetener and yeast in 1/4 cup hot water. Let stand for about five minutes.

-Add flour and salt to the yeast mixture and stir ’til a soft dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.SAM_4995

-Place in bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top. Let rise ’til double in size, about 30 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-Punch down and work in seasonings. Use a spoon to scoop the dough into rolls, sort of like drop biscuits. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm. Maybe with my Roasted Corn & Black Bean Soup!