Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Power-Packed Quinoa Veggie Soup

Michigan weather is famous for being ridiculously uncalled for. The seasons don't really follow any predetermined pattern. Last year it barely snowed and St. Patrick's day was 75 degrees and sunny. This year, I've had to pack trail mix with me on my hikes through the snowy campus, and it's just recently started to reach above 60 degrees. 
And although Spring has arrived drunk and late to the party, we're all happy she's here.
Mainly because Spring = bushels upon bushels of fresh vegetables. Which makes this season the perfect time for some delicious veggie soup.

I call this soup power-packed because it's stuffed to the brim with vitamins and nutrients and little to no added preservatives or salts. Additionally, the protein-filled quinoa keeps you full for hours, making this soup the perfect meal.

To make a big pot, grab these ingredients:

(adapted from 2 peas and their pod)

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
generous handful fresh green beans, ends clipped and cut in half
32 oz vegetable broth
1 32-oz can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme, leaves and stems chopped
1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch chili powder

Start by heating some olive oil in the bottom of a large pot on medium heat. Add your chopped onions and saute until translucent. Add your garlic and saute for one more minute. Add your celery, carrots, zucchini, squash, and green beans. Saute for 4-5 minutes.

Next, pour in your vegetable broth and your can of diced tomatoes. Throw in your bay leaves, basil, and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow it to simmer for 25-30 minutes

While the soup is cooking, make your quinoa. Rinse the dry quinoa, then add it to a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Heat the quinoa on high and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is fully cooked and all water is absorbed.

Test your soup by making sure your veggies are tender and cooked through. Add your cooked quinoa to the soup, then toss in some salt, pepper, garlic salt, smoked paprika, and chili powder. Serve with sliced bread.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

No Thai Fried Rice

If you live in Ann Arbor or East Lansing, you've probably been to No Thai at least once under one of these scenarios.
Scenario 1: It's late. You're a little tipsy. You spent all day at the football game guzzling beer and munching on hot dogs, but after the walk home and the down time afterwards, you're hungry again. You walk past a No Thai and the smell just calls your name, so you immediately run to the door and order yourself an enormous plate of Pad Thai.
Scenario 2: You woke up at 7:30 am for your 8:30 am class. You had meetings on and off throughout the day in between your classes, and you barely had enough time to sit down let alone grab a cup of coffee. Your group project meeting just finished, and your stomach has been growling at you since 7 pm. You check your watch, see that it's 9 pm, and run down to No Thai to get your chicken fried rice fix. The only thing scarier than how badly you wanted it is how quickly you finished it.
Sound familiar?
I myself have fallen prey to the No Thai cravings, and my vice is ALWAYS the gloriously greasy chicken fried rice. While it may be literally swimming in oil and possibly over 3000 calories, every now and then my taste buds are on a mission and can't be stopped. And after I eat the whole thing, I lay down and literally wonder if that's the day that my heart is going to stop while it processes all that sodium and oil.
I usually squelch my cravings by rationalizing that I can make something better and cheaper myself. But No Thai fried rice is something I haven't been able to conquer.
Until today.

I'll admit, it's not EXACTLY like No Thai's rice. It has a lighter, fresher flavor, less oily and salty, but is still completely delicious. And it's a helluva lot healthier for you, so you don't have to feel bad about eating a huge bowl of it.

To make 4 servings of this dish, grab the following ingredients:

Stir fry sauce:
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
pinch white pepper

4 cups cooked rice
sesame oil
1 raw chicken breast
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 small white onion, sliced 
3 green onions, sliced, white parts separated
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 shitake mushrooms, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup frozen peas & carrots

Start by mixing together your stir-fry sauce ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Next, chop up your chicken and toss it with 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce. Let it marinade while you chop up your veggies.

Heat the sesame oil in a large pan on medium heat and add your onions, garlic, and the white part of your green onions.

Next, add your chopped chicken and cook until browned. Toss your mushrooms in and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.

Next, add your rice. Fold gently into the oil, being careful not to toss it out of the pan.

Gently add your stir-fry sauce in 1-2 Tbsp increments. Fold the rice after each addition.

Clear a small space in the rice so that you can see the bottom of the pan. Scramble your two eggs and toss them into the pan. Cook and chop your eggs, incorporating them through the rice. Lastly, add your peas and carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Top with the green part of your chopped green onions and relish in the delicious smells coming from your kitchen.

Scoop into a bowl and eat as much as you can. Then relax knowing you're not going to get a stomach ache later.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

The Wafel Shop

For once, one of my blog posts was completely unplanned.
It was Saturday evening, and my boyfriend and I were strolling around downtown. We popped into an old record store, and while he flipped through the musty racks I sipped on a cup of cherry coffee and browsed. 
I wasn't even hungry at that point. But then I remembered that The Wafel Shop was just around the corner.
For those of you who don't know, The Wafel Shop is a new establishment in Ann Arbor that makes some of the best breakfast-style comfort food EVER.
They have two different kinds of waffles, Brussels and Liege, that start at $5 each. You can top your waffle with free syrup, butter, chocolate shavings, or powdered sugar, or you can upgrade to $1 and $2 toppings like Nutella, bacon, and chocolate sauce.

I went traditional with a Brussels waffle topped with butter, chocolate shavings, and Nutella. Because it's criminal to not get Nutella when getting Nutella is a possibility.

Light, fluffy, but packed full of flavor, this waffle is definitely one that you'd want to top with some sweet and chocolatey options. It was a hybrid between a dessert and a scrumptious breakfast item.
My boyfriend went for the Liege waffle topped with syrup, butter, and bananas. He also grabbed a large coffee, which I immediately regretted not doing because The Wafel Shop serves Zingerman's brand coffee.

Scrumptious, buttery, and a bit nutty in flavor, this waffle was definitely unique.
Not that I didn't enjoy my chocolate mountain or anything.... 

Needless to say, I'm already planning my next trip. Maybe caramel sauce next time? Who knows....

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Dinner at Weber's

Happy belated Easter!
I hope that, like me, you plan on raiding your local drugstore for 1/2 priced Cadbury eggs and eating them all week.
Except maybe I already ate mine and it's been 2 days......
But for the actual holiday (considering I was still feeling sick), my parents and I went to dinner at Weber's Restaurant instead of dining in.

With a special menu and decorative decor, this place was all decked out for the Holiday.

For starters, bread, crostini, and crackers with butter and salmon pate.

I started with a cup of chicken noodle soup - it's like they knew I was feeling sick!

My dad got a house salad.

For the entrees, my mom chose the traditional ham and yams meal.

Dad took on the 35 oz chef's cut prime rib...yowza..

And I went for....wait for it.......1/2 a roasted duck with mashed potatoes.

Look at how beautiful and crispy it looks...mmmmm.
The funny thing is, I used to hate duck. In fact, I refused to eat duck, rabbit, deer, and basically anything else that I could find in my backyard. After a chance incident of trying duck off of a friend's plate in a restaurant, I was hooked. And since it's such a mess to cook in your own oven, I buy it at restaurants as much as possible. 

And of course, there's always room for dessert...

Coffee and cream...

My dad's creme brulĂ©e..

As for me, I got the chocolate mountain....
Which is a cookie, topped with ice cream, topped with whipped cream, topped with hot fudge, topped with TWO cherries.

Isn't it beautiful?
Needless to say, having Easter dinner out was an excellent decision.

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