good things : necessity

First things first, I may have worked all day and night yesterday, but I still had a pretty wonderful birthday:

Thank you so much, everyone! You all make my life a wonderful place to live.

In other news:

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If necessity is the mother of invention, I’m certainly glad she parented this dinner.

Necessity = making a meal on a limited pantry over the weekend because I hadn’t been grocery shopping in 2 weeks and didn’t want to face the all-consuming decision that is ordering out so I opted for making something at home instead. Which ended up being farro tossed in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and basil on a bed of mixed arugula topped with goat cheese.

Not a bad dinner, all things considered! It’s definitely a keeper!

I didn’t know I had it in me (or my kitchen).

Necessity: 1, Pantry Famine: 0.

beka stays hungry : frozen breakfast burritos

It would follow that after yesterday’s be all that you can be post that I’d showcase something really stellar for this week’s Dinner Challenge. You know, keeping with the theme of high achievements and all that.

However…this meal has Cheater, Cheater, Scrambled Egg Eater written all over it.

But it’s not just scrambled eggs! Oh, no! It’s a veritable to-go wonder: the portable breakfast burrito.

And see that out of focus pink stuff in the background? Well that right there is a side of grapefruit!

Dinner and a side!

Will wonders never cease?

Oh…wait…they just did.

Perhaps this is one of the less impressive meals I’ve made to date…but hey, sometimes a girl gets low on time and groceries. And sometimes her carton of eggs is about to expire. And sometimes breakfast for dinner is the solution to all of the world’s problems.

Or at least the ones that I have pertaining to dinner challenges and dwindling supplies.

I was inspired by yet another great Iowa Girl Eats post about how to make your own frozen breakfast burritos. The original plan was to roll out a breakfast production line for this week’s morning meals…but a) I really like oatmeal, and b) I really needed something fast, portable, and filled with eggs for dinners.

A match made in dinner challenge heaven, I tell you.

DIY Frozen Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients (Highly Customizable):

  • Whole Wheat Tortillas (I used the rest of the Father Sam’s wraps from last week’s enchiladas)
  • Eggs, scrambled
  • Green Peppers, diced
  • Salsa
  • Corn
  • Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese

Recipe (Kind of):

Scramble desired amount of eggs – about 2 eggs per wrap is a good estimate. Set up a burrito assembly line and layer as follows: eggs, cheese, salsa, peppers, corn. Roll into a burrito (good luck…I have new respect for anyone who can do this without spilling/sinning) and wrap in plastic for freezer storage. Then, when ready to reheat, unwrap and place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until hot.

(And serve with a side of grapefruit to make it a real meal, clearly.)

Rating:

3.5/5. Great to have stashed in the freezer for convenient to-go meals, but isn’t going to make a final “Recipes I Know And Love” list at the end of the year.

beka stays real : my favorite way to eat

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Seriously.

For all of my devotion to baked goods, meals like this are my favorite way to eat: plain, simple, and healthy.

I made this for lunch on Saturday (i.e. after this and before this). With no clear cut ideas for lunch I went straight for the things I really wanted and ended up with what’s pictured above: carrots and kale with a spoonful of hummus, 1/2 a grapefruit, 1/2 an Ezekiel muffin with peanut butter and sliced banana.

Sometimes I make meal planning too complicated. This is a good solution.

Amen.

beka stays hungry : healthy layered waffles

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Decadent breakfast reserved only for birthdays.

Waistline buster.

Diet wrecker.

These waffles look like they’d answer to any of those names. But really, their given name is:

Healthy.

For REAL.

There is nothing in these waffles that should make you reconsider diving in on any day, be it a birthday or a holiday or a Monday. Here’s the deal:

  • 2 Van’s Frozen Belgian Waffles
  • 3 Tbsp 0% Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • About a dozen frozen (and then unfrozen) blueberries
  • 2 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Dusting of cinnamon

Step 1: Toast the waffles

Step 2: Mix the yogurt, chia seeds, and defrosted blueberries together

Step 3: Layer as follows: waffle, yogurt mixture, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas, waffle, yogurt mixture, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas, walnuts, cinnamon, maple syrup.

Step 4: Enjoy! And all for the low, low price of around 350 guilt-free calories.

Happy Monday.

Happy Morning.

beka stays hungry : weeknight enchiladas

I actually made something that did not require the use of a crock pot this week.

And I actually made it from a recipe designed for the use of a crock pot…but that also had adaptations for non-crock pot cooking.

Shock and awe!

What can I say? I was hungry and short on time! I didn’t have 6 hours to wait for dinner!

I’m sure this recipe would turn out great in a crock pot, but I’m actually glad I went with the just-stick-this-pan-filled-with-enchiladas-in-the-oven method (that’s the scientific terminology, for those of you who were wondering). The hardest part is willing the tortillas into submission without all of the filling spilling out everywhere.

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Clearly, I have some room for improvement when it comes to willing tortillas into submission.

But really, this was beyond easy. And the best part is that they really held up well all week long. I made them on Sunday night and just had one of the last ones for dinner last night, and it was as good as the first!

That’s the mark of a staple recipe, right there.

Weeknight Enchiladas

lightly adapted from the Kitchn

Serves 4-6

1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1/2 bell pepper, diced small (any color)
1 clove garlic
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (I used Adzuki beans. I’m a rebel. And they were on sale.)
1 cup frozen corn (I used canned. See: rebel. See also: sale.)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cheese, shredded (I used low fat mozzarella, but I’m sure they would be great with any shredded cheese.)
1 cup salsa
6 6″-8″ tortillas, flour or corn (I used Father Sam’s Whole Wheat Wraps for the first time ever…SO good!)
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat – chicken, pork, hamburger, or shredded beef (I opted for chicken.)

Directions:

To see the real slow cooker directions, click on over to the Kitchn’s recipe here.

To make these bad boys in the oven (preheated to 400), I started by sauteing the onions, peppers, and garlic in just a little olive oil. Then I added some uncooked chicken breast strips and the seasonings and let that sizzle for about 5 minutes or so, until the chicken cooked through. Removing from heat is a good next step. Then, in a large bowl, I mixed the corn, black beans, 1/2 of the salsa, and 1/2 of the cheese. Once the pepper and onion mixture had cooled slightly I added it to the aforementioned bowl and mixed everything together. Then, with some degree of vexation, I rolled each enchilada until I had enough to fill a 9×13 pan, which turned out to be 6 enchiladas. Wonderful! Here is where I would have hypothetically put the remaining 1/2 cup of salsa on top the the enchiladas had I not forgotten. But I apparently decided to skip that step and went straight for covering the pan with foil and putting it in the oven for 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes have elapsed I removed the foil and added the rest of the cheese to my otherwise naked enchiladas and let them bake, uncovered, for about 3-5 more minutes, until the cheese was melted and tortillas were a bit toasty.

The fact that I just narrated that entire paragraph instead of giving you actual step by step directions illustrates perfectly why I will never write my own cookbook. Good luck!

But really, if you can figure those instructions out, it’s super easy and well worth trying.

Rating: 4/5, with the potential to be 5/5 if I remember to add the salsa to the top next time. Great weeknight dinner!

(But if you decide to eat them on a weekend, that’s ok too.)

beka stays healthy : wild rice stuffed acorn squash

Sometimes when I’m not eating sushi and nutella (I still stand by this decision) or Aladdin’s fatoush salad (oh my word…SO good…it’s dangerous that I live two blocks away) for dinner, I actually – wait for it – make something!

Will wonders never cease?

This is one of my favorites for this time of year: roasted acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, dried cherries, and walnuts. I’m a fan for the following reasons:

1 – There are exactly two steps, so it’s the opposite of labor intensive.

2 – There are exactly 5 ingredients (plus seasonings), so it’s the opposite of pantry-depleting.

3 – The seeds from the squash can be roasted with maple syrup and spices for a snack the next day. Two birds, one stone.

4 – It’s basically an edible bowl filled with warmth and comfort, and who doesn’t like that?

Here’s how you can make the magic happen in your very own kitchen!

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves: 2

Total Time: About an Hour

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Then, hack into the acorn squash. I’ve yet to find a reliable method of splitting the squash in half that does not involve hacking (and fearing a looming trip to the ER), but it works, and bonus: doubles as a stress reliever. Again with the birds and the stones! Once split in half, scoop out the seeds and reserve for later use. Coat the squash with a teaspoon of olive oil and season with course ground salt, pepper, and just a little cinnamon. Pop into the oven for 35 minutes.

Step 2:

Prepare the rice mixture. Feel free to actually cook your own rice…but I’m a fan of using these rice mixes. Mix 1/2 cup of cooked rice with one tablespoon of dried cherries, one tablespoon of chopped walnuts, and a teaspoon of olive oil. After 35 minutes take the squash out of the oven, split the rice mixture between the two squash halves, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.Let it sit for about 5 minutes afterward to cool, then dig in!

Winter dinner is served! Probably a better bet than nutella…or at least a more respectable one.

beka stays creative : DIY chalkboards

I’ve been wanting to paint a wall with chalkboard paint forever and ever, amen. But since I am a renter and not a home owner and want my landlord to give me back my security deposit at the end of my tenure, I haven’t been able to live the dream yet.

Until…I started thinking. What if I could hang chalkboards instead? It lacks the charm of a fully chalkboarded wall, but beggars can’t be choosers. This seemed like a good idea until I found out large chalkboards cost anywhere from $25 to over $100 dollars each and weight about half as much as I do.

Back to square one.

But THEN…I started thinking that maybe I could paint a smaller surface and then hang that up.

AND IT WORKED!!!

I made one for the kitchen (above) for planning weekend recipes to try. One for my bedroom for good quotes from books I’m reading:

And two for the living room; one for the Packers wall for quotes from Coach Lombardi and other Packers-related things, and one beside my desk for inspiring things:

Now I would give you a full step-by-step tutorial here, but there’s really nothing to tutor. I bought the materials, I painted the boards, I hung them on the walls. There’s probably a better way to do it because they did warp a little bit. Maybe a stronger material than foam core? But this works for me, and it was way more affordable (and easier to purchase and transport) than buying full sized chalkboards. Here’s the lowdown on costs:

Chalkboard Paint: $10

Foam Core: $2.50 each, $10 total

Chalk: $3

Eraser: $2

Total: $25! Four for the price of one!

I’m such a happy camper.

beka stays creative : window treatments

I have an obsession with fall.

Perhaps you’ve noticed.

But this year in particular, it seems like the leaves are brighter and sticking around for longer than usual. And I’m loving it! Last weekend I went for a walk with my mom and we picked up some particularly pretty ones. I wanted to do something with them. I didn’t know what. And then this happened:

How? The old fashioned way: a needle and thread. Seriously…it was nearby and seemed like the most effective way to string them together…and it worked! I just poked each leaf at a different spot so they’d look less uniform and tied the ends of the thread to the curtain rods.

They look a little less lively now, but they were pretty while they lasted! A quick and easy way to bring the outside in and embrace fall for a little bit longer.