Crushed-but-Not-Conquered Curried Tofu Stir Fry in Peanut Sauce

11 Apr

Welp folks, these past few months certainly have been an epic cluster of fucks. 

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted any updates here.  Unfortunately because I finally managed to make a job stick (also a year this month) the only way I could have made time for enriching creative expression would have been to sacrifice valuable hours spent drinking myself into a series of blackout stupors and watching the last remaining vestiges of my sanity and self worth hitchhike to more hospitable climes. I am now 25 days into intensive recovery so committing sloppy, dramatic slow motion suicide has been bumped down to the bottom of my personal priority pyramid.  While attempting to distract myself one recent day from the homing signal in my head that makes my feet tread, unthinkingly, towards yon Applebee’s to splash into a bottle of cheap chardonnay like a freshly hatched sea turtle finding the sea, I remembered this blog.  Oh yeah, thought I, I kinda dug that once.  I even enjoyed it while sober!

So yeah, I’ve been plugging away at this job, learning lots of new things, actually doing some bona fide back of the house professional kitchen craft for once.  Almost got a promotion, but I sort of took myself out of the running for that when my mental stability stock crashed and burned.  But I didn’t tear off my apron and quit in a tempestuous rage (see? progress!) and I started making new plans to relocate within the company to a bigger, nicer city with decent public transportation.  And that move is still in the cards for me, but sadly it seems that I shall be peacing out all by my lonesome.  

Yes, my dear Gingerfanboy, the delightful and adorable heretofore rocker-of-my world, has decided that he’s had quite enough of my alcoholic emo-antics and has opted to withdrawal his claim on my affections.  It’s my own doing.  He gave me plenty of chances to prove that I could grow as a person and become the healthiest possible version of myself, and I failed them all.  As he’s fond of putting it, I’m probably not fit for anyone right now.  Maybe I never will be.  He doesn’t trust me- hell, I’m not even sure if he even likes me anymore.  But ever the steadfast friend, he is still one of my strongest supporters and allies, ferrying me about town to my meetings and continuing to dwell with me in the apartment that I barely manage to keep tidy.  He was definitely a keeper, and I’m going to miss him for a very long time.

But wait!  Don’t cry, Emoreader!  Something terribly peculiar happened the day he broke up with me.  I DID NOT GO OUT AND GET DRUNK.  I know, right?  Like, what better time would there have been?  Instead I managed to call my substance abuse counselor in between guttural sobs.  I wanted to be talked off of the ledge for once.  Sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Trite I know, but that was me.  Maybe I’ll never know why the big important epiphany didn’t hijack my brain until after I’d lost the most important thing in my life, but hey, I’ll take it.  

I will also take my psych meds, and continue to take them for the rest of my freakin’ life because now that I’ve gotten a taste of what it feels like to be treated for bipolar disorder AND not abusing mind altering substances I find my faith in pharmaceuticals somewhat restored.  I’m not saying that medication should be the first and only answer in every case of psychological dysfunction, but I’m definitely responding to situations in a manner befitting a rational adult person for the first time in my life.  Find fault if you must; say that pills are a panacea, that they are just a way to dull and dilute an eccentric personality.  Because they can be both of those things, but they don’t have to be.  For instance, I’m writing in this blog again, aren’t I?  And believe me, I’m still plenty fucking weird. 

Okay, fine, we can talk about the food now.

This recipe was one that I was very excited about, until I flung open my cabinets and realized that I was missing a substantial portion of the required ingredients.  Since I don’t live within hoofing it distance to a grocery store anymore I had to make some last minute substitutions and proportion adjustments to bring it together.  It actually came out amazing.  Lets hope my current circumstances take a similar turn. =0)

Curried Tofu Stir Fry in Peanut Sauce

– 1 package extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes and left to dry

– 1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts

– 3 or  4 medium garlic cloves, minced

– about an inch of fresh ginger root, chopped

– the dash of red curry powder I had left in my spice cabinet, plus a generous portion of some yellow curry powder from Jamaica.  

– 1/2 cup flour

– a few healthy dashes of powdered cayenne pepper

some cinnamon

– 1 cup peanut butter.  Mine was fortified with flax seeds!

– 1/2 can coconut milk

– the two packets of soy sauce I had in my fridge left over from takeout ages ago, because I just assumed that more tamari had magically appeared in my pantry when it in fact had not (score 1 for food hoarders!)

– 3 tbsp fish sauce to compensate for the lack of soy

– 2 tbsp key lime juice, because regular lime juice doesn’t magically appear in the fridge when the bottle is empty either

– 4 frozen cubes of my signature poverty vegetable broth (or about 1/4 cup regular broth or stock for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about)

– some basil (I always have fucking basil, that DOES magically appear.  But no, it is not Thai basil because they do not sell that at the Bi-Lo)

– 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for stir frying (would sesame oil taste much better?  Yes.  Does it come in smaller and pricier bottles?  Also yes.  Connect the dots)

– a few dashes of rice vinegar

– two pinches light brown sugar

1/2 box whole wheat thin spaghetti or angel hair noodles

– a good sized bag of frozen bell peppers

– 1 can baby corn

– 2 cans sliced water chestnuts (or less than that.  Or none.  I just really like water chestnuts)

– red pepper flakes to taste

– salt (duh)

Chop a block of extra firm tofu into small cubes and allow to dry for as long as possible on paper towels.  The drier the tofu, the better it will fry up.

Toss 1 cup of the peanuts, the curry powders, flour, a pinch or two of cayenne and a dash of cinnamon into your shoddily constructed 20 dollar close-out store food processor.  Struggle like hell to get the lid to line up where it needs to go so the machine will turn on.  When that inevitably fails, grunt laboriously as you wrench the lid, which is now stuck, off of the bowl.  Decide that your 25 dollar blender purchased from a slightly more reputable retail establishment would be the better tool for the job and send aforementioned food processor sailing off of your second story balcony.  Make sure you relocate the ingredients into the blender first though, or you will be picking gravel out of your tofu breading.

Pulse the mixture gradually, stopping to stir it often.  Do not over process, or you will end up with a sort of curry flavored peanut butter.  I actually did get a little bit of that and it wasn’t half bad, so maybe I’ll use that for some creative condiment inspiration down the road.  When the breading has reached a grainy uniform texture, put it into a large ziploc bag along with your cubed tofu and shake it like a baby.

Make sure you use a strainer or fine mesh sieve to shake the excess breading away from your well coated tofu so you don’t end up with big gloppy bits in your sauce.

Give the blender a rinse and fill it up with the peanut butter, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, a couple generous sprinkles of basil and powdered cayenne according to your own heat tolerance.  Blend ingredients until smooth.  

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In the meantime, heat a shallow layer of vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat.  Add the tofu when the oil just begins to ripple, stirring frequently to encourage even cooking.


While the tofu is cooking, pour the sauce into a medium saucepan and heat over medium, whisking in the broth.

When the tofu is slightly browned, add the corn and stir continuously for about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers and water chestnuts next, tossing until the peppers and softened and the ingredients are heated through. Pour in the sauce and add the noodles.  Stir vigorously until all ingredients are combined.  

Crush 1/2 cup peanuts into small pieces using a ziploc bag and a heavy object. You can either mix them into the stir fry or sprinkle them on top as a garnish-  or both!  Go crazy!  I sure do!  Top each portion with red pepper flakes to taste. 


While he may be gleefully marking off the days until our lease expires and he can be emo-free at last, Gingerfanboy still appreciates it when I get down in the kitchen.  He enjoyed this dish even though it didn’t feature any meat, though I had to portion his out before I added the water chestnuts.  It was so well received that he wanted to take a helping for lunch the next day, so I set aside a serving in a tupperware container with the water chestnuts picked diligently out.  It’s not much, but a broken-hearted girl does what she can. =0)




Check Yourself Chile Relleno Casserole

16 Jul

chile relleno casseroleOne of the rectal-sucking realities of having a pocket change grocery budget is having to plan my menus around the offerings of whatever bargain basement grocer lobs the biggest money maximizing incentive bribe in my direction (right now I’m down with Bilo’s fuelperks to help Gingerfanboy fill up his tank on the relative cheap).  Don’t missaprehend, I’m not leading up to a soapbox stomp concerning the poor selection of artisinal cheese at L’Food Lione or anything.  I just wish my local affordable sundry shop could be bothered to carry a decent selection of basic brands and produce, or failing that, at least manage to apply the correct labels to the itmes they do carry.  Regardless, I have learned to never purchase a peck of unlabeled peppers ever again.

To fill in the blanks, I was having a threat level orange hankering for a good chile relleno but didn’t want to risk paying for disapointment at one of our crappy local Mexican joints OR take the time to roast, deseed, stuff, bread, and fry the peppers at home.  To compromise, I invented a roasted poblano casserole that was to incorporate all of the defining flavors of an aunthentic chile relleno sans the time suck and bevy of oil-based calories.

It would have been perfect if it had poblanos in it instead of mutant jalapeno capsaicin terrorist peppers.

They were big, they were green, they were shiny.  Most importantly, they were very much poblano shaped.  I went ahead and chucked six of them in my cart despite their lack of identifying signage or price.  My mistake.

Exagerration aside, the finished product was still quite tasty for those of us who enjoy spicy food.  For those who do not, I suggest mini tongue shaped hazmat suits; or better yet, just make sure your peppers are the genuine article.

Check Yourself Chile Relleno Casserole

– 4-6 poblano peppers

– 1lb chorizo sausage

– 6-8 roma tomatoes

– 1/2 sweet onion

– 2 cloves garlic

– 1 1/2 cups grated pepperjack cheese (or monterray jack, if you are sensitive to heat)

– 4 eggs

– crumbled tortilla chips (optional)

– a dash or two of oregano

– salt

– black pepper

The most time and attention consuming aspect of this recipe is ensuring the peppers are nicely roasted.  The sweet, juicy roasted poblano is my favorite part of a good chile relleno.  There are a number of ways to roast peppers in the oven- for these, I preheated my broiler and put the peppers on a baking sheet.roasted poblanos  You’ll want to check them periodically so you can flip them with tongs when the skins on one side start to blacken and bubble.  Mine took about 30 minutes total to complete.  When finished, pull them off the baking sheet and put them in a bowl, covering them with saran wrap.  Allow them to sit for at least 20 minutes, at which point the skins should rub right off with ease.

Turn off the broiler and reduce oven temp to 350.

While the peppers are cooling, break up your chorizo into a skillet warmed over medium high heat, stirring frequently until browned.  Dice up your onion and garlic, and give your tomatoes a quick and dirty rough chop.  Try to reserve as much tomato juice as possible as the goal is to make a chunky pan sauce.  Add vegetbale mix to the browning chorizo, cooking until the onions are slightly translucent and the tomato bits have cooked down a bit.  Season with oregano, salt, and black pepper to taste.chorizo sauce

Peel, deseed, and chop up your peppers.  Layer them along the bottom of a lightly greased casserole dish.  Add the chorizo pan sauce, then sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.  Give the eggs a good beatin’ then pour them over all the rest.  Bake the casserole for 25- 30 minutes.  If you’d like a crunchy top, crumble up about a cup or so of tortilla chips and sprinkle those over the top as well during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Enjoy this with a fork, a chip, or smushed into a tortilla- whatever your preferred method of Mexican food delivery may be.

Chorizo is a seasoned pork sausage and has a bit of a bite on it’s own, so if you’re heat sensitive I would suggest swapping it out for ground turkey or sirloin.  As a side note, the pan sauce by itself was so yummy that I plan on using it as a simple flavor base for other dishes in the future.

Food Hoarder’s Veggie Soup

2 Jul

veggie soupSometimes, I have trouble letting go.

Ever since my wee little emo-girlhood I’ve attached an irrational amount of sentimental value to objects, trinkets, and various other random life debris.  Luckily as I’ve aged I’ve managed to put enough of a premium on free space to curtail my “collecting” into mild pack-rattery as opposed to full blown obsessive hoarding; only being able to afford rent on shoebox sized apartments has done a lot for that.  Still, I have a storage sized tupperware box full of plushies suffocating in my closet and more than one container strewn about my home that is designated for holding quirky little bottle caps, fortunes from Chinese take-out, and other bits of minutiae that for whatever reason I can’t bring myself to resign to a Hefty.

Perhaps it’s a tad superstitious.  Maybe I feel that by littering the present with tidbit remnants of happy moments in the past I’m inviting good vibes to come in and sit for a spell.  More likely it’s a manifestation of childhood abandonment issues-  Daddy may have left, but I’ll be damned if this 2003 Mickey Mouse collector pin is going to slip through my fingers!

The pathological desire to hold on to stupid shit for no good reason has been given a mass media glamour shot by way of the popular expose television show “Hoarders.”  For a sometimes slob like myself (lowered serotonin levels make Emochef less likely to pick up her toys while depressed so back the fuck off,  judgey-pants) there is no better way to fan the flames of comparative superiority than to witness these poor schmucks losing their homes and marriages because they refuse to clean up their messes.  It’s like walking away from an AA meeting refreshed because you were the only person present who had yet to pass out under a bridge clutching a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20.

I have to admit though, I got a little concerned at the long hard looks my ex would give me during the parts of those episodes where the shrink and professional organizer were double teaming whatever nutty old lady was insisting that the half-rotted cabbage would only leave her roach infested kitchen when they pried it from her cold dead fingers.

Before you start to wretch, let me assure you that my kitchen is 100 percent roach free, and beyond my reluctance to pounce immediately on dirty dishes pretty darn clean most of the time.  I just don’t like to toss food- no matter how teensy the serving- until I know it’s good and ready to cross over to the other side.  But I guess the biggest grouse to come from any who have had to share food storage real estate with me would be the ziploc of carrot tops, onion skins, and various other chopped vegetable remnants that occupies a permanent spot in my freezer.

I mentioned this practice in a previous entry with the promise of explanation later on, and here it is.  Delicious broth can be easily gleaned from woody asparagus ends, tomato skins, pepper membranes, celery greens,  and whatever other pieces of poorly textured vegetable that usually just get fed to the garbage disposal.  This time around I used the broth to make a kick ass vegetable soup.  If not used right away it can be divided into small portions with ice cube trays and frozen for later use.

Food Hoarder’s Veggie Soup

– 1 or 2 good sized ziploc baggies full of frozen vegetable remnants

– dried herbs and spices of your choosing

– 1 can tomato paste

– approximately one cup of orzo or other short pasta

– about a pound of frozen veggies

– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (vegans, omit the cheese.  Duh.)

Place your frozen veggie remnants in a large pot and fill it with water until all of the pieces are just covered.  Throw in pinches or handfuls of herbs to season to taste; I used basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme in equal amounts.  This is another of my highly subjective taste-tailored recipes that is going to come out a little bit differently for everyone.  Bay leaves are yummy additions too.  I typically wait until the end to add salt and pepper depending on how strongly flavored I’d like the broth to be.

Bring your pot to a boil and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes.  If you don’t think the flavor has developed by then, just let that sucker keep simmering until it does.  The only tricky part of this recipe is separating the boiled parts from the delicious broth when it’s finished.  I have a fine mesh strainer that I position over a large stainless steel bowl that does the trick nicely.

straining vegetable broth

like so.

You could also place a colander over a large bowl or failing that, simply fish out the veggies with a slotted spoon.  Sample the finished broth and add salt and pepper as needed to achieve your desired taste.

The amount yielded obviously depends upon the amount of veggies you start out with.  I estimate that mine made about 4 cups, to which I added the can of tomato paste, cooked orzo, parmesan cheese, and frozen vegetables.  It turned out to be a hearty and filling vegetable soup with a ton of depth and flavor.  It was also dirt-effing-cheap to produce.  A great staple to have in the freezer for when your unemployment checks run out and you are forced to subsist on hot water and stale crusts of bread.


P.S.-  Sorry for the lag time between updates; this is the first entry I’m posting from my brand spanking new Harbisonland apartment!  I can’t wait to burn through my backlog and showcase the new EmoTestKitchen!

Salvage Job Chicken Salad with Steamed Broccoli and Orzo

9 Apr

chicken saladSo I have a job now, and it’s kind of a funny story.

These past few months I’ve been swallowing my pride along with large doses of mood stabilizer and applying for bullshit jobs that I am vastly overqualified for in the hopes that even the most minimal of wages will keep a roof over my head and my pantry stocked with budget victuals.  Why am I in this position?  Mostly because the economy in South Carolina is limping like a crippled dog that needs to be put down, and also because the high school guidance counselor who told me that a 4 year degree in ANYTHING would guarantee me a slice of the American Dream Pie was a filthy whore liar.

Oh don’t look like that.  Do you think that Anthony Bourdain would think twice about saying “whore?” Puh-leeze.

Still though, I have a hard time sacrificing dignity for dollars.  Case in point:  I finally landed an unenviable gig at Moe’s Southwest Grill last week (yeah, I’m calling you out, assholes) and found my paycheck-driven excitement immediately squelched by the overwhelming feeling of animosity seeping from the pores of every other employee I encountered.  Or maybe they were just sweating fryer grease, I dunno.  I do know that I’ve had a lot of jobs in my time and never have I encountered such a sour welcome.  I was passed from one inept teenager to another whose training technique included eye-rolling and barking orders while gesticulating vaguely in one direction or another.

Screw that noise.  After day two I turned in my cap and jumped ship to the new Chipotle opening up across town this month.  It may not be ideal, but it gives me a fresh start in a different section of the city, cash to support myself with, and maybe even the opportunity to advance.  Plus I can already tell that Chipotle people are courteous, civilized people.  Wreck salvaged.

Salvaging the wreckage is something I’ve had to do frequently throughout my life, be it the result of piss poor circumstances or terrible decisions that I’ve made.  Right now I’m embarking on roughly the fifth incarnation of my adult self, and as always I take bits and pieces of the me’s that came before to cobble together something that can survive and (hopefully?) thrive within the new lifestyle.  This recipe is reminiscent of that philosophy.

Salvage Job Chicken Salad is an amalgam of the orzo leftover from my stuffed bell peppers;  the steamed broccoli that played second fiddle to some baked tilapia that Gingerfanboy whipped up for me;  and the chicken that was tossed in with a pasta dish, also courtesy of the darling GFB.  And might I say, I have never had a man cook for me as much as he does.  Even though I enjoy getting down in the kitchen I still get butterflies every time he warms up a skillet. ❤

Salvage Job Chicken Salad with Steamed Broccoli and Orzo

– roughly 1 cup each cooked chicken, steamed broccoli, and cooked orzo pasta

– two carrots, grated

– extra virgin olive oil

– balsamic vinegar

– black pepper

Chop the steamed broccoli florets into bite sized pieces.  Grate the two carrots and toss them with the broccoli.  Gently process chicken pieces, or tear them apart with your fingers so that they are evenly distributed amongst the vegetables.  Add the orzo and toss to combine.

The dressing is a matter of preference; some will want just a light drizzle while others prefer a balsamic flash flood.  I suppose I personally lean toward the later.  However much you think it will take to please your palette, my advice is to mix one part vinegar with two parts oil.  Taste for balance and adjust as necessary.  I add a generous dose of black pepper to mine to give it some zing, but that is easily omitted.  Toss your finished dressing with the salad and enjoy.

This is a simple recipe for using up leftovers, but also yummy enough to recreate for it’s own sake.

Whipping this up was a bit inspiring.  I figure if I can come up with creative ways to avoid wasting my food perhaps one day the same will be said for my talents. =0)

Kick Ass Snackery: Whole Wheat Bagels with Pulverized Walnut Spread

31 Mar

bagels and cream cheese

I have many reasons to keep this entry short and to the point.  One, it is simple and does not need a great deal of fanfare, and two, because Gingerfanboy will be here any minute and I don’t want to be caught still writing when he gets here.

This is basically a thrown together power snack that I made from whatever I had on hand, because I was bored.  I hope that you guys adopt it and change it according to your tastes and/or level of boredom.

Bagels with Pulverized Walnut Spread

– 1 whole wheat bagel (or whatever sort you want,  I give no fucks)

– enough lowfat  cream cheese to cover both bagel sides

– some walnuts

– a pinch more of some other grated cheese (I used a cheap ass parm, romono, and asiago blend

– a slathering of  stone-ground mustard

-rosemary and thyme, to taste.

If  you are having a bad day, which, lets face it, I always am, pulverize some walnuts.  This can be done with a rolling pin or with the sheer force of  your frustrated fists.  I took the punchy route.

Mix in those walnuts with all of the other ingredients, spread it on a bagel, and enjoy.  If you don’t get a health high from the omega fats in the walnuts, the rosemary should put some kick in your step.

Sorry if this post lacks creativity, but I’m still bouncing off the walls over the job I just got.  Yes, your favorite Emochef has avoided Emohomlessness.

Gonna-Burst Bell Peppers Stuffed with Veggies and Brown Rice Pilaf

30 Mar

veggie stuffed peppers

While the body of my sober self is much more apt to drag itself from betwixt the folds of my Ikea faux- down comforter in the early morning hours, my brain still experiences a certain measure of metaphorical jet lag.  A decade of putting myself down at 4 and 5 in the morning with a belly full of central nervous system depressants has resulted in a skewed biological routine that does not lend itself well to heavy thinking before noon.  So if this post lacks the typical creative verve, please forgive me.  Right now, I’m living my life as though I’m acquiring Playstation 3 trophies of my own imagining…get a new blog post in before 12:00PM, silver trophy!

This recipe had dual inspiration.  Practically, I prepared it entirely with ingredients I found on sale.  I did a tiny ballerina twirl of excitement when I regarded the uncharacteristically low price on some big beautiful bell peppers at my local grocer.  Bell peppers are my favorite veggie but lately they’ve crept outside of my budgetary realm.  Prescriptions before peppers, such is the life of the psychiatric outpatient. ;0)

Emotions-wise, this was an ideal dish for me to prepare for the achievement of some culinary catharsis.  The time commitment provides a lengthy and healthy distraction.  Plus, the multi-step preparation forces focus away from frustrations like that pile of unpaid bills and onto the creation of a tasty meal.

This dish was enjoyed by my adorable Gingerfanboy, and was given a hearty two thumbs up by my dashing Jamaican superfriend* who will henceforth be referred to as Jangafan, unless he changes his mind later.   =0)  He is one of my favorite people to pawn leftovers off on, especially with dishes like this that yield enough to feed the entire Duggar brood.

(*Definition of “superfriend”- one of a few choice acquaintances who have helped me out so much and tolerated great lengths of my craziness to the point that they receive food from me whenever they ask.  You’ll be meeting more of them in future posts.)

This recipe is bursting with Italian inspired flavors, and yields enough to stuff approximately 6 large peppers.

Gonna-Burst Bell Pepper Stuffed with Veggies and Brown Rice Pilaf

– 6 large bell peppers in a variety of colors (I only actually used four but this will be enough for 6)

– 1 cup brown rice

– 1 cup orzo

– 1 15 oz can cannellini (or white) beans

– 1 8.5oz can artichoke hearts

– 3oz package sundried tomatoes

– 2 cups grated parmesan cheese

– 3- 4 cloves fresh garlic

– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– 1 heaping tablespoon each basil and oregano

– dash of red pepper flakes

– salt and black pepper to taste.

To begin, prepare the brown rice according to package directions.  This will take around 45 minutes so it’s best to get it out of the way.

While the rice is working, slice the tops off of your peppers and remove the seeds and veins.

seeded bell peppers


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Working in batches, blanch the peppers for about 10 minutes to soften them.  This makes for easier stuffing.

blanching peppers

in hot water.

Remove the peppers with tongs so that you can reserve the water for cooking the orzo.  When all peppers are finished, set them upright on a flat surface to cool and begin cooking orzo in reserved water according to package directions.

In the meantime, finely mince the garlic and heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a small skillet. Saute garlic until golden brown and set aside.

At this point you can begin preparing the rest of the stuffing ingredients.  Drain the cannellini beans and pour them into a large bowl.  Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes and add them as well.  Remove the petals from the artichoke hearts and toss them into the bowl.  When the rice and orzo are finished you may add them as well as the garlic and stir well to combine.

brown rice pilaf mixture

Stir the grated paremsan into the stuffing mixture along with the basil and oregano.  Using just a dash at a time as not to over-season, introduce the red pepper, black pepper, and salt.  Continue to taste and stir until the flavor is just right.


Lil' Emochef on the assist!

Preheat oven to 350 and bake desired number of peppers for 35-40 minutes to heat them through.  Any leftover stuffing mixture is also great to enjoy on it’s own as a meal or side dish.

And next time you’re feeling like your psychological seams are about to rip, sit down and enjoy a bursting pepper instead of a bursting stress induced heart attack.

Protein for the Poor: White Bean I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Alfredo

28 Mar

white bean alfredo

So there is this little game I like to play called 25 Dollars Feeds You For a Month.  Typically that 25 dollars is made up of whatever random coins I manage to dig out from my sofa cushions or scavenge from the recesses of my closet.  One of the upsides to extreme poverty is that all of the chores I typically neglect because I’m too depressed to get out of bed get accomplished by default when I’m rummaging around for pennies to feed myself with.  See kids, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!  It helps the pills go down smoother…

Eh, nevermind.

Anyway, I was playing my 25 dollar game at Publix not long ago and ended up with a shiteload of cannellini beans because they were having a huge sale on all things Italian.  Side note- is it part of Publix corporate policy for baggers and cashiers to ask how your day is going with the earnestness of a grief counselor?  Seriously, these guys handle me as though my dog just died every time I walk into their store.  Either this is by mandate or those are just some empathic mofos.

I was pleased with  my bean bounty because they are an excellent source on non-meat based protein, though I often have a hard time coming up with ways to make them interesting.  This particular dish came into being when one of my psych ward buddies cancelled their Olive Garden birthday gathering at the last minute.  The Alfredo sauce there is one of the only things on the menu that I find genuinely consumable and I was all set to gobble up a plate of it.  This dish satiated that craving with only a fraction of the fat and calories as well as being nutrient intensive.  No butter, no heavy cream, and a fraction of the cheese used in typical Alfredo recipes.  I want to make some snide remark about how pissed off Paula Dean would be with that, but she has probably never had Alfredo sauce because there is no mayonnaise in it.

The pureed beans give this dish a creamy authentic texture as well as being better for you than gooey Olive Garden style glop.  A good thing, because proper nutrition is important when you’re walking three miles both ways to the plasma bank to hawk your bodily fluids for rent money.

White Bean I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Alfredo

– 1 15oz can cannellini (also referred to as white or northern) beans

– 1 egg yolk

– 2 cloves garlic

– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

– 1/2 cup skim milk

– 1 tablespoon dried basil

– 1/2 sweet onion (optional)

– salt and black pepper to taste

– pasta of choice

If you opt to include the onion topping in the recipe, start off by slicing it thinly then throw it into into a skillet with one pan turn of olive oil and let the caramelization process begin.  This may take up to 30 minutes.  It’s not a necessary component of the recipe but I had a spare onion half on hand and thought it would give the dish a little more zip.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.  Easy peasy.

For the sauce, puree the beans, garlic, egg yolk, and seasonings in a food processor until it has a smooth, hummus-like consistency.  Adding a dash of olive oil doesn’t hurt either.  Heat the bean mixture in a sauce pan over medium heat and whisk in the milk and cheese.

Spoon the sauce over the pasta, top it with onions (if using), and congratulate yourself for not eating ramen for the third night in a row.