Large Scale Cooking

I’ve always been hesitant to make anything I have to separate into portions and either freeze or eat that week. There’s something depressing about it, like the fact it makes me feel old and adult-ish. But now that I am an adult I felt that I should try it again. I had a box of pre-cooked lentils in my fridge so that became the main theme of the dishes, along with soup since it’s so chilly here and I was so hopeful that Juno would actually shakes things up in Charm City (she didn’t but it’s still been plenty cold enough for soup).

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I took all the recipes from other websites so rather than go through each one here and rewrite them, I’ll just post the links and my reviews of them. First up, lentil stew with sausage, kale and sweet potatoes. This was my favorite dish of the three, based on both taste and how long it lasted. Here is the original recipe. The only changes I made were using chicken sausage instead of pork, and I chose kale instead of mustard greens because they cost half as much at Trader Joe’s. I also only used one large onion which was plenty. It tasted delicious right when it was done cooking, but also a day later. I separated it into five portions and froze one of them, while keeping the rest in the fridge. The only complaint I have is that the sausage started to toughen up. But the taste remained wonderful.

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Next I made lentil lasagna using this recipe. I was pleasantly surprised by this considering the fact that it was only five ingredients and one of them was creamy tomato soup rather than red sauce. The directions are a bit confusing so to clarify my layers went as such: Tomato soup, pasta, pesto, lentils, tomato soup, pasta, pesto, lentils, tomato soup, pasta, pesto, lentils, tomato soup, pasta, tomato soup, pesto, cheese. Sorry that isn’t especially clarifying but the original directions make it sound like you should only have two layers of pasta. I also used much more than one cup of precooked lentils, but that’s because I like meaty lasagna and because I wanted to use up the whole package. Clearly this dish isn’t dairy-free but there isn’t too much so my stomach felt alright after eating it. The slices weren’t incredibly easy to separate but I managed to cut up half and put it in the fridge while packing up the rest in one serving packets to freeze. It tasted good the whole week after but next time I think I’ll freeze more because I got sick of lasagna after about three days in a row.

Finally I made chicken noodle soup, based off the recipe of Tyler Florence’s recipe. The recipe calls for you to make your own broth but since I don’t have the patience, time, or funds to do so I just used Trader Joe’s chicken broth and that worked fine. A few adjustments I would make: the two carrots wasn’t really enough for me so I would definitely double the amount; I didn’t add the noodles because I wanted to refrigerate and freeze the soup so instead I will just make egg noodles when I want the soup and then add them, but this means that you need less broth (1 1/2 quarts instead of 2). After I made it I just froze two portions and put the rest of the fridge.

Let me know what your favorite dishes are to make ahead of time! 

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How to Fit As Many Calories As Possible Into A Brownie (and have it be dairy-free)

Sometimes you just have to be a little naughty when it comes to food. I love to bake but I’ve found that it usually ends in me eating an entire roll of cookies or an entire pan of brownies. The solution? Make something so rich and sugary that it is physically impossible to eat more than one slice without getting a tummy ache. That is this cookie-brownie-oreo-with-chocolate-ganache recipe. Don’t get me wrong, this thing is delicious. But I would be seriously impressed with anyone able to eat the whole pan.

triple layer brownies

Classes start back up next week, but since I graduated in December I am about to enter a serious lull of things to do. Which is also what decided this baking binge. There’s seriously no better way to convince people to hang out with you than making something so good that people have to try it. Then just force them to stay by turning on a marathon of Parks and Rec. It’s a flawless plan. What are some other ways you make plans to hang out with people that costs minimal money? I always need advice on this subject since I am currently unemployed and out of school.

“Betcha Can’t Eat More Than One” Brownies (adapted from I Just Got Dumped Brownies by Gal on A Mission)

Triple layer brownies

Ingredients
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
Oreo Layer
  • 15 Golden Oreos
Brownie Layer
  • 10 tablespoons (1 and ¼ stick) unsalted margarine, melted
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Chocolate Ganache
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 tablespoon coconut cream

Cookie Dough Layer

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil. Lightly grease. Set aside.
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer – In a large mixing bowl, cream the margarine, light brown sugar, and white granulated sugar.
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add in the all-purpose flour ½ cup at a time and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add in the salt and baking powder. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the cookie dough layer on the baking dish and spread all over. Make sure the layer is even.
  6. Add the Oreos on top of the cookie dough layer.
  7. Brownie Layer – Wash and dry the large mixing bowl, combine the melted margarine, sugar, eggs, and cocoa powder. Mix together.
  8. Add in the vanilla extract, flour, and salt.
  9. Spread the brownie layer on top of the Oreo layer and make sure it is even.
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean it is done.
  11. Allow the brownies to completely cool.
  12. Prepare the chocolate ganache layer by melted the chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until the chocolate chips are melted. Stir in the coconut cream. Spread on top of the cooled brownie bars.
  13. Slice and enjoy!

Seriously. I dare you to eat more than one. Also, highly recommend enjoying this with a big glass of almond milk. Yum.

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Pork Tamales, New Years Resolutions and Help Needed

Once again I have been delayed in posting. I’m sure you all think this will be a never ending cycle – no posting, posting, apologizing, no posting, etc etc. But here is my list of New Years Resolutions, which I plan to stick to:

1. No dairy. I think I’ve developed a minor lactose intolerance so I’m testing it out to see if this will help.

2. Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this new fitness trend, but Kayla is a force to be reckoned with. I’ve tried this guide before, but literally gave up in the last week. This time I’m going to do the whole thing. Look for #theKaylamovement on Twitter. It’s big.

3. Blogging. Ah yes, there it is. I will blog, at least once a week. I just finished school and now am in the midst of applying to jobs so it’s the perfect time to get back into the habit.

So there you go! I’ll keep you updated on how they are all going. Fortunately, number three will be obvious.

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For tonight’s dinner I had tamales with rice and beans. No dairy to be seen! However, I cannot claim I made the tamales. Trader Joes did, bless their hearts. This is where the help needed part comes in. Since the beginning of December I’ve felt very unmotivated to cook. I still love to eat and what not, but I’ve felt very uninspired. When I do cook, it’s just pasta or vegetables. So I want to know, how do you all get out of a cooking funk? How can I reinstate some desire to cook interesting things? I’ve tried Pinterest without success. So please, bring on your tips!

Look for another post soon, hopefully homemade this time.

Bon appetit!