Yesterday was definitely not a success on many levels. I ended up eating a little bit of something I shouldn’t have on all three counts: macaroni + cheese, definitely a not-vegan, wheat pasta, with some sugar in the mix. Yikes. That’s what happens when I’m not prepared and am making a snack for someone else, I guess. Was the addition of broccoli a redeeming factor? I think yes. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Other than that, I did definitely feel a little bit spacey and woozy. Possibly that’s because I went on a bike ride when I hadn’t eaten anything all day long, but it wasn’t a very long bike ride after all – only about 4 miles one way, and 3 miles when I came back a few hours later. But then it was crazy – after I ate the mac and cheese I felt hugely energized. I ate again – something better for me – a couple of hours later and then ended up walking 4 miles and staying up until 6AM. So I’m not totally sure what the effects of food on me were versus just having interesting conversations or whatnot, because it’s certainly not the only time I’ve eaten that late.
Food Diary, 9/5/12
- 6pm, Bolthouse 100% green smoothie – 90 cal
- 10:30pm, Pirate’s Booty – 65 cal
- 10:30pm, organic mac + cheese w/broccoli – 200 cal
- 12am, potato salad (recipe below) – 460 cal
- 3am, PBJ oat crackers – 470 cal
- Total ~1285 cal
Warm Tuna + Potato Salad
This salad is sort of a way simplified version of a French Niçoise-style salad, but you could jazz it up any number of ways – such as adding capers, olives, or other vegetables or garnishes. Or, you could reserve the tuna oil and whip up a vinaigrette, pouring it over all of the salad components – and you could chill it! Basically, endless variations. But for a quick, easy meal, here’s how I did it – serves 2.
- 6 small red potatoes, diced
- 1 c. frozen green beans
- 6-8 oz. jar of tuna packed in oil
- Cook potatoes in salted water until nearly done – about 8-15 minutes depending on the size of your potato pieces. Add the green beans about a minute or two before you take the potatoes off the heat. Drain potatoes and green beans.
- In the same pan, add the tuna and oil, breaking up the tuna a bit with the back of a fork if necessary. Heat over medium heat and add in potatoes and green beans when the oil is hot. Cook another 5 minutes, or until potatoes are completely cooked. Salt to taste.
Sometimes simplicity really is best. I am a firm believer in meals with only a few ingredients, as long as it’s not a compilation of processed foods masquerading as something more complicated. High-quality linguine in a sauce of butter, onion, garlic, and fresh-cracked pepper is one example, and this sandwich is another: just one slice of delicious bread, high-quality mayonnaise (in this case, homemade), fresh tomato, salt, and pepper. Sure, you can pretty this up any number of ways, such as with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a base of fresh basil leaves, or thick, crisp fried bacon. But the beauty of this sandwich is that you don’t have to.
The only thing that really complicates this sandwich is the homemade mayonnaise, and I will echo legions of food writers in that it is absolutely worth it (though I have made the sandwich before with jarred mayonnaise, and it’s pretty tasty that way, too!). It’s softer, creamier, and has at once a stronger and more delicate flavor. I made mine using the whisk attachment on my hand mixer, and a squeeze bottle to slowly drip, then stream, the vegetable oil into the egg yolk for an easy emulsion. I know this is a process that daunts many home cooks, but I urge that it is totally, completely doable. Today was the first time I made it, and in about 15-20 minutes, I had a batch all ready to go.
Simple Tomato Sandwich (makes 1 sandwich)
- 1 medium slice bread – I used my favorite rosemary bread from a local bakery, but any will do, although I’ll say plain white sandwich bread may be a little delicate to hold up to the tomato
- 3 slices from a small, ripe tomato
- 2 tbsp. mayonnaise – I used this recipe as written
- salt and pepper to taste
- Lightly toast your bread slice, and let cool to room temperature, so the mayonnaise won’t melt on the bread.
- Spread with the mayonnaise, and top with the tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- That’s it!
Ever since I discovered that baby back ribs are easily purchasable in two-person quantities from Whole Foods, I was excited to try making them at home. They tend to be a restaurant-only dish, but the tender, savory meat would be great to have any night of the week. At around $10 for a rack, it’s not the cheapest dinner to make at home, but it’s cheaper and almost as fast and easy as going to out to get it – plus, you get to use your own sauce!
I’m still on the search for my perfect barbecue sauce: a little sweet, a little spicy, a little smoky – so I won’t share with you the sauce I did use on these. The beauty of this is that you can use whatever you have on hand and it’ll probably come out great. Seriously, the sauce I had is better on the ribs than by itself.
As for the oven fries, this was the first time I had the opportunity to make them, as I always make just enough for two with no leftovers. I was skeptical at the recipe I had for oven-baked polenta (no stirring, yay!) being six servings, and indeed I had about twice that! So, I spread out the remainder in a baking dish, then sliced and baked tonight. Voila, something vaguely fry-like!
Easy Baby Back Ribs (2 servings)
- 1 rack baby back ribs, about 1 pound
- salt and pepper (or, your favorite spice rub – tonight, I kept it simple)
- barbecue sauce, about 1/2 c. plus more for serving
- Preheat oven to 300.
- Turn the rack of ribs upside-down. You should see a thin, white membrane covering most of the back of it. Slide the tip of a knife underneath the edge, then grip with a paper towel and pull. The entire membrane should pull off. If it doesn’t, you can cook it anyway (I did!), but it does make the meat easier to bite and slide off the bone.
- Sprinkle both sides of the rib rack with salt and pepper. Seal in a double layer of foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake without disturbing for 2 1/2 hours.
- Remove ribs from the oven, open the foil, and spread barbecue sauce all over the top of the ribs.
- Preheat the broiler. Broil ribs for about ten minutes, or until sauce has caramelized and thickened.
Oven-Baked Polenta Fries (2 servings)
These were just fine in terms of taste and texture, but I think they would be even better cooked in a pan with oil or butter.
- leftover polenta, spread in a dish and cooled until firm – we used a piece about 6″x 9″, 1/2″ thick, or I would estimate the amount made by cooking approximately 1/4 c. cornmeal and 1 1/4 c. chicken stock (or water)
- salt and pepper, any other seasonings you desire
- Preheat oven to 400 (or broiler, which is what we did)
- Cut cooled polenta into french-fry-sized slices. Arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Bake about 20 minutes, then flip and bake another 10-15 minutes. You want fries to be crispy on the outside, and starting to brown in some places.