Kitchen Experiments: Brown Rice Blues

It is a well known fact that cooking isn’t a strong suit. Sometimes I can follow a recipe and have pretty decent results. It never looks as pretty as the picture but the taste usually works out. Other times I can take a perfectly simple recipe and still find a way to mess it up. Usually this happens when I get too confident and start to improvise, like the time I attempted guacamole… Or the time I tried to make egg in a whole using a stack of bread with holes ripped out of the middle instead of using a bagel… Or the other day when I made a large batch of brown rice.

Yup. Brown Rice.

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I know it seems like an impossible feat but don’t be so sure, my friends. I managed to screw up the worlds easiest recipe. Let me share my sad pathetic tale so that you all may learn from my mistake. Lets start with the instructions shall we?

  1. Bring rice and liquid to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40-50 minutes.

Two simple instructions. That’s all there is to it. I was making a large batch because I am attempting to eat healthier meals and that means planning ahead. I’m participating in The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Challenge. This is a challenge that Gina holds twice a year for free on her blog. She provides multiple clean eating recipe suggestions and a weekly workout schedule, more on this later. A lot of the recipes call for quinoa as a side or as a salad topping. But I’ll be honest I’m not a huge quinoa fan so I decided to sub in brown rice. It’s not as healthy but I mean its better than white rice, am I right?!

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So anyway, I was making a weeks worth of brown rice for lunches and dinners. I decided I was gonna get fancy and use an equal mixture of vegetable broth and water for my rice. So I put the rice, broth and water in the pot, z17040393O,--Downton-Abbey----fot--ITV-turned up the heat and then made a last section decision to add a little salt to the water because that’s what a chef would do, obviously. Once the pot was boiling I turned down that heat, turned on an episode of Downton Abby and occasionally stirred. After a totally dramatic episode (aren’t they all, seriously I cannot get enough of this show!) the liquid was absorbed and the rice was ready to go! I removed it from the heat, let it cool for a few minutes and then took a big heaping spoonful into my mouth…

…YOWZA that is some very SALTY rice! Way to go me! How did this happen?! I did NOT put that much salt in the water! Then it hit me, the broth was ALSO salted. So by using both my end result was very, very salty. Like ocean level salty.

The good news: The rice is still edible as long as there is something mixed in. Yesterday I had a veggie and rice bowl for lunch with avocado, red pepper, cucumber, spinach and chic peas with a lime balsamic dressing. Once mixed together the saltyness (it’s a word now..) of the rice was hardly noticeable. And today I had salmon and rice with a salad, once again after it was all mixed up, delicious, but I had a couple rice only spoonfuls and they were strong.

In the future I’m just gonna stick with good ol’ water. Lesson learned.

Have you ever messed up a super easy recipe? Share in the comments!

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Kitchen Experiment: Roasted Veggie Medley

A few weeks ago I shared that I had been doing some cooking! Regular readers will know that this is a scary thing for me. But I also shared that my last two Kitchen Experiments were successful! Wooo! I had also promised to share the recipes! So today I am sharing my Roasted Veggie Medley Recipe.

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I’ve only got the one picture (I’m no food blogger after all) but my oh my it does look yummy doesn’t it?! And it’s healthy too! This dish is a great side dish for any meal.

Roasted Veggie Medley

Original Recipe by Alex Folkes

Ingredients

Note: There aren’t exact measurements for this recipe. The “measurements” below fed 5 people and provided left overs. But make adjustments as you see fit. 

Two medium to large sized sweet potatoes

4 or 5 large carrots

2 large handfuls of green beans

Extra virgin Olive Oil (EVO)

1/4 cup of Veggie Broth

Spices: basil, rosemary, cinnamon, salt and pepper

Instructions

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees

2. Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrots into cubes. Put into casserole oven dish.

3. Wash green beans, remove the end and put into casserole dish.

4. Coat veggies with EVO.

5. Shake spices over veggies. Distribute evenly. Amount of spices used is dependent on personal taste. I used more basil and cinnamon than rosemary. And I just used salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour the veggie broth into the mixture and stir. Just make sure all your veggies have some oil and spices on them. Then cover with tin foil and pop in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes. When the sweet potatoes are soft it is good to go!

Enjoy!

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I have seriously been neglecting the blog recently. Life has been exceptionally hectic over the past two weeks. I have had virtually no free time and in the free time I have had I’ve been watching The Mindy Project. Following the antics of Mindy’s made for tv life has become a full fledged obsession. mindyIn addition to binge watching the most hilarious woman on netflix, I have been running. A lot. In preparation for my race which is in 13 days! I have been working, a lot. We are launching into our spring run of shows here at the Opera. So the amount of parties and events that are happening is overwhelming. I have been reading, a lot. At this pace I’ll be finished my 50 book goal in no time! And lastly, I have been cooking! Not a lot, but more than normal!

So many excuses, so little time. Lets break it down for a moment.

Running

giphyThis weekend I ran outside for the first time since I started training for my 5k. I was incredibly nervous. When using a treadmill I think it can be hard to tell if you have made progress or not. I knew I had improved but as the running intervals got longer I found it more and more challenging to keep going. I figured that I had reached my limit. WRONG. I had reached my indoor limit. My outdoor limit is a whole other thing!

So on Saturday I grabbed my friend Melanie and we hit the pavement. Having Mel there really helped because she motivated me to keep going. Yesterday, I ran outside again, on my own this time. I ran a short route that I used to do last summer. Back then I was out of shape and untrained. I couldn’t run the whole thing without stopping to catch my breath at least once. Yesterday I did the whole thing without stopping and at a decently quick pace! Thee cheers for progress!

Work

Very briefly, my job in lamest terms is fundraising. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that a huge part of fundraising is donor appreciation. Here at the opera we appreciate our donors with exclusive events. Behind-the-scenes type stuff. I actually really enjoy working these events because it gives me the chance to get to know our donors and learn more about the works we are presenting on the stage. In addition to working all the swanky parties I also work some of the shows at the welcome desk. Basically I’m just there to trouble shoot questions and engage with the donors. Between the parties and the shows I’ve had a lot of late nights. But I don’t mind too much because I really like this aspect of my job and it’s only for a short period of time.

Reading

One of my many goals for 2015 was to read 50 books this year. It is nearing the end of downloadApril and I just finished book number 11! I am thrilled with my progress and I have really enjoyed expanding my literary horizons. In addition to reading 50 books I have been making an effort to pick books that are outside of my comfort zone. The book I read most recently was a memoir by a Canadian woman named Amanda Lindhout, the book was called A House in the Sky. True story, while working as a freelance journalist in Somalia Amanda and her partner were kidnapped and held for ransom for over a year. Her experience was a traumatic nightmare but *spoiler alert* she lived to tell the tale. This book was truly amazing. Terrifying and inspirational all at the same time. I encourage everyone to read this fantastic book.

If anyone has a good book recommendation I would greatly appreciate it! Share in the comments!

Cooking

Lucas’s mum just celebrated her birthday and I needed a way to say both happy birthday and thank you for accepting me into your family. But what do you buy for someone who has everything already (especially if your on a budget). Answer: you don’t. Instead you make dinner. So I made a pretty decent vegetarian meal featuring sweet potato, carrots, green beans, rice, soy beans and chic peas. I’ll be posting the recipes next week so stay tuned.

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And this week it is just me and Lucas so I made dinner last night. I forgot to take pictures but I made tomato stuffed chicken breast, sweet potato mash and an arugula salad. This meal also turned out to be pretty darn delicious! It feels good to receive praise for my cooking since I’m really not confident in that department. I’ve also made a few batches of cookie recently. mmmm cookies.


So there you have it! That is why I have been neglecting my internet wonder. But I will do my very best not to be so distant in the future.

What activities have been occupying your time recently? Share in the comments!

Kitchen Experiment: Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Yesterday evening I came home to an empty house. This is a very rare occurrence for me. In fact I cannot even remember the last time I was alone for an extended period of time (other than yesterday) and that is exactly the way I like it.

When I am alone I only have 3 possible states of being: Antsy, depressed, snacky. Being antsy isn’t so terrible, sometimes it can result in uber amounts of productivity. But feeling sad and sorry for yourself is not pleasant at all. And being snacky totally defeats the purpose of all the hard work I’m doing at the gym.

Last night I was feeling antsy. I am in the market for a new pair of sunglasses so I thought about going to the store and trying some on. But the store isn’t exactly close and with no one home I’d be using public transit which is slow and frustrating. Then I tried to convince a friend to come with me (she has a car – I know I’m a terrible person), but she wasn’t up for it. So I scratched that plan and moved onto fitness!

After perusing the group exercise schedule I decided that if I had a quick dinner I could make it to the 7:30 pm BODYPUMP class. This is a weight class based on the concept of lighter weights and more reps. I decided to try it out because weights training is being hailed as the best way to get strong and lean ect. ect. But I am clueless when it comes to anything other than the treadmill so attending a class seemed like a good idea. Well let me say this, that class was a challenge but I loved it (except for the squats – nobody likes squats)! I used the lightest amount of weight possible but my body was still aching! This obviously means that I am not strong and I must continue to go to this class.

Anyway, the title of this post is Kitchen Experiment so let me get to that (finally – gosh I love to talk). As I said I needed a quick dinner: Leftovers! Except NO! The only leftovers in the fridge was pizza which is delicious but covered in cheese (which I am not allowed to eat anymore) and it is not good pre-fitness food. Eventually I decided to make a tuna salad sandwich. Normally this would mean mayonnaise and cheese and tuna, not this time, healthy Alex is here to stay. So I made a healthy, dairy free, tuna salad.

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Most exciting part?! I didn’t follow a recipe. This baby was all me. I just did what felt right. Usually this heads disastrous results but my tuna salad was a huge success! Creamy, healthy, fueling power food.

Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Ingredients

1 can of tuna

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 tea spoon Basil flakes

1/3 tea spoon Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice from 1/4 slice of Lemon

1/2 an avocado

 2 slices of your choice of bread

Instructions

  1. Open your can of tuna and drain. Place in a medium sized bowl and mix using a fork.
  2. Mix in the olive oil, basil, garlic power, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. There is no need to follow the measurements exactly, adjust according to your taste buds. For a creamier tuna salad, add more olive oil.
  3. Toast your bread, I used 12 grain.
  4. Mash the avocado in a bowl using a fork. After the bread is toasted spread the avocado mash onto the toast. Pile your tuna salad on top of the avocado and enjoy!

Notes: From here you can do whatever you’d like. I added hot sauce to one of my slices and it was fantastic. Next time I am going to experiment by mixing the avocado in with the tuna. I also toyed with adding some little baby tomatoes. Also, eating the tuna on its own is an option. The opportunities are endless. In total this mean only took about 5 minutes to put together. Enjoy!


How would you dress up your dairy free tuna salad? Share in the comments!