42 degrees north

A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe. Thomas Keller
I love breakfast. Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, toast and peanut butter. I could go on and on. While browsing the web, I recently happened across recipes for “overnight oats”. The twist on regular oats occurs in the preparations of overnight oats. You simply toss together the oats, a liquid, and then whatever extras you’re in the mood for. Come morning, you get a perfectly creamy serving of oatmeal that actually tastes just as good cold or room temp as regular hot oatmeal. Not only are overnight oats a great way to stay cool in the heat but there are SO many recipes to try that it’s basically impossible to get bored with oats. Plus oatmeal itself a really heart healthy meal and many of the recipes I’ve seen on the internet also suggest using other really nutritional foods such as greek yogurt, chia seeds, alternative milks such as almond and soy, as well as fruits, nuts, and nut butters.

For my overnight oats I combined…

1/4 cup steel cut oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 frozen raspberries 
dash of salt

I really enjoyed the fruit and lemon combination and the creaminess you get from letting the oats sit overnight in the greek yogurt + water results in a really smooth texture. I brought my oats to work and enjoyed breakfast for lunch but making them the night before means if you’re in a rush to leave for work you can grab a fiber and protein packed lunch to go too!

Some other combinations to try can be found here!

I love breakfast. Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, toast and peanut butter. I could go on and on. While browsing the web, I recently happened across recipes for “overnight oats”. The twist on regular oats occurs in the preparations of overnight oats. You simply toss together the oats, a liquid, and then whatever extras you’re in the mood for. Come morning, you get a perfectly creamy serving of oatmeal that actually tastes just as good cold or room temp as regular hot oatmeal. Not only are overnight oats a great way to stay cool in the heat but there are SO many recipes to try that it’s basically impossible to get bored with oats. Plus oatmeal itself a really heart healthy meal and many of the recipes I’ve seen on the internet also suggest using other really nutritional foods such as greek yogurt, chia seeds, alternative milks such as almond and soy, as well as fruits, nuts, and nut butters.

For my overnight oats I combined…

1/4 cup steel cut oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 frozen raspberries
dash of salt

I really enjoyed the fruit and lemon combination and the creaminess you get from letting the oats sit overnight in the greek yogurt + water results in a really smooth texture. I brought my oats to work and enjoyed breakfast for lunch but making them the night before means if you’re in a rush to leave for work you can grab a fiber and protein packed lunch to go too!

Some other combinations to try can be found here!

Recently, I was lucky enough to be gifted my very own bread starter courtesy of my Uncle Rick. With the advent of the “no knead” method of bread-making I have been dabbling in different methods and ingredients for loaves of bread. This week I thought I would attempt to make some Indian naan bread to go with my tandoori chicken dinner.

The bread turned out pretty well- it was nicely charred from cooking in the cast iron skillet but not as light and crisp as traditional naan which is cooked in a tandoor oven.

Here are the recipes I used-
Naan
Tandoori Chicken
(I also marinated some cauliflower in a Ziploc with the chicken and then broiled it in the oven and made some mango chutney)

I’m still working on adapting the bread recipes to incorporate starter since most of them call for active yeast as a base. I’m hoping to try hamburger buns next…

It’s my first Meatless Monday themed recipe and this week with Independence Day and picnics on my mind I decide to try altering the classic pulled pork sandwich. In order to make this sandwich vegetarian I swapped pork for lentils before adding in the classic sauce components. This version is nice because it’s simple and quick, as well as healthy. The ingredients for this recipe are things I feel like people amass great quantities of in the summertime months which means one less trip to the grocery store. Overall, this sandwich is tasty served at room temperature and is also easy to assemble on-the-go if you feel like braving the heat and dining al fresco.

{Loose} Recipe
To make the sandwich, I cooked a batch of lentils and then dressed them in my favorite barbeque sauce. I also added a splash of apple cider vinegar because I tend to like vinegar-based bbq sauces over the sweeter ones plus a tiny bit of sriracha for heat. I served my sandwich on a whole-wheat hamburger bun and added some crumbled goat cheese and spinach to round everything out. I really enjoyed the finished product which mimics the non-vegetarian original quite well and certainly requires just as many napkins!

Afterthoughts
- Lentil cooking instructions state that it takes 20-30 for slightly al dente lentils and 35-40 for softer ones but I found my cooking time was closer to 50-55 minutes so it might be a good idea to make a bigger batch the night before and use leftovers throughout the week. Lentils make a tasty base for a salad- I like chopped red onion, spinach, fresh herbs, and an oil + vinegar based dressing. Lentils can also be pureed and turned into hummus-like dips.
- Another version of this recipe that I had toyed with was making lentil sloppy joes. Upon inspecting my fridge, I realized I was out of ketchup but if anyone wants to try a sloppy joe version I would just substitute ketchup, Worcestershire, and mustard instead of barbeque sauce. Serve these up on hot dog rolls instead of burger buns and enjoy.

Summer and apple pie seem to go hand in hand, so when I saw an online recipe online for apple crisp that is baked in an apple half, I thought it looked like a creative and simple alternative to the classic. Although this recipe is already healthier than regular apple pie (it lacks a buttery crust), I made a few changes to further the nutritional value: instead of using white flour, I ground up whole almonds which have a healthy dose of natural fat. This meant I could slim down on the added butter and honey as well. Using honey also lent itself to my alterations since it made the topping stick together without the use of the entire amount of butter called for. Overall I really enjoyed this new riff on an old classic. The only downside is waiting the 30 minutes it takes to cook each apple half. I served these with Palazzolo’s pistachio gelato which can be purchased at Babo in downtown Ann Arbor.

Recipe
Baked Apples with Oatmeal Streusel

As I mentioned above I used a half cup of ground almond instead of flour and also used half the amount of sugar and butter that is called for in the recipe.

Afterthoughts
- I do wonder if you added a small amount of water to each ramekin, like one or two teaspoons at most, if the apple itself would steam a bit and soften and cook faster.
- In case it hasn’t been obvious I tend to deviate from recipes. I really love going on food blogs and websites for inspiration and then making small changes so that the recipe suits how I like to eat. I think if you’re more comfortable following set guidelines then go ahead and stick to the directions. On the other hand, maybe you’re like me and feel like experimenting, and yes it can be a risk, but I figure my cooking is never perfect anyways and trial and error is how I’ll learn what does and doesn’t work in the kitchen!

Spotlight Saturday: Beets
As summer progresses, vendors at the Kerrytown Market have more and more produce to offer. Last weekend one of my purchases was a bunch of beets for just two dollars. While I usually like to roast whole beets in the oven, the recent 90 degree weather has made me hesitant to run the oven in my tiny apartment. Also, since these beets were so fresh I thought it would be best to let them shine raw. A chilled salad seemed like the ticket! Relying on vinaigrette infused with powdered curry to add a little heat and spice, I tossed carrot, avocado, and the beets in the tangy dressing. The resulting flavors were bright and fresh, and the curry powder adds another dimension making this simple and seasonal salad into a satisfying dish. If you aren’t a fan or curry you could certainly leave it out, but maybe consider adding some fresh herbs for a little extra zing!

Curried Beet and Carrot Salad

One large carrot, sliced
Two beets, thinly sliced
Half an avocado, sliced

Dressing (adapted from here)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons honey
¼ c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Basil leaves (optional)

Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl. Add in chopped veggies and mix well. Top with fresh basil and enjoy!

Afterthoughts
- The rice wine vinegar can be replaced with white balsamic or white wine vinegar, or even fresh lemon juice to taste
- If you feel like adding a few extra flavors to the salad I would suggest feta or goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and/or dried fruit such as golden raisins, cranberries, or apricots!
- Don’t throw away the leafy beet greens. Use them like spinach or kale- they’re packed with vitamins, iron, and potassium and make a healthy summer side dish.

About me
Hi all! My name is Rachel Cook and I am a recent University of Michigan graduate. I majored in Art History and Cultural Anthropology and next fall I will be studying the Culinary Arts at Schoolcraft College. Food has always been a part of my life and something I enjoy sharing with friends and family and hope to someday turn into a successful career. Until then, I plan to share my adventures online with you. My blog is still in its infancy but my goal is to have weekly themed posts including Meatless Monday, Thrifty Thursday, and Spotlight Saturday (spotlight will be shining on local purchases from the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market!) I can be contacted via cooklrachel@gmail.com.

It’s my very first Thrifty Thursday post! These weekly installments will feature recipes with ingredients that are cheap and common pantry staples.

Stuffed red peppers have been around for ages, but quinoa stuffed red peppers?! Quinoa is a superfood full of fiber, protein, and amino acids. Coupled with an assortment of veggies and topped with a smattering of cheese it not only makes a delicious and vegetarian dinner, but a very affordable one at that. With price per person for my recipe coming out to less than 4 dollars per pepper (which is by the way packed with protein, fiber, and vegetable nutrition) you’ll have money to go out and grab an ice cream from Washtenaw Dairy for dessert.

Being Italian, I added chopped artichoke, chard, red onion, and tomato to my mixture and after baking I topped the whole thing with some good ole parmesan cheese. Other good combinations could include Greek inspired spinach and feta. Or perhaps pizza stuffed peppers- I’m thinking chopped pepperoni and mozzarella cheese would definitely appeal to the kiddies. Or how about taco stuffed peppers with ground beef, spices like chili powder and cumin, a little pepper jack and salsa. Finally, I am a huge fan of breakfast-for-dinner meals and you could even make a stuffing with bacon, egg, and cheese mixed into the quinoa for a frittata-like creation. The whole idea for this “Thrifty Thursday” meal is that it can be made with whatever veggies and cheese you have on hand in your pantry and fridge so get creative! The possibilities are endless.

The essentials

4 bell peppers
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 cup assorted vegetables, lighting sautéed
½ cup cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together quinoa with veggies and cheeses. Stuff peppers with mixture. Bake in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Broil peppers for the last couple of minutes to achieve crispy, crunchy crust!

Afterthoughts
- If your quinoa mixture seems a little on the dry side, add some chicken stock or tomato sauce to the mix before stuffing the peppers- it’ll ensure they come out of the oven steamy and juicy.
- One great thing about stuffed peppers is that they can be made ahead of time and then popped into the oven at 350 degrees to bake for 20-30 minutes whenever hunger strikes. Also, you could wrap each pepper individually in plastic wrap and freeze them to be served on a day where the work to be done will be turning on the stove!

Spotlight Saturday: Strawberries
Strawberries are in season right now and I was lucky enough to take home about 6 quarts of local strawberries from work one evening. I knew the only way I was going to preserve such a massive quantity of berries was to make jam. I had a couple of vanilla beans in my pantry so I decided to try a strawberry-vanilla jam. One great thing about jams is that you can take large quantities of seasonal produce and preserve it for months to come. And don’t limit yourself to only fruits! Tomato and pepper jellies are also delicious and poured over a brick of slightly warmed cream cheese they make a delicious topping that proves a nice change of pace from the usual salsa and tortilla chip combo! Also, since you’re making the jam from scratch, you can also control the quality AND quantity of ingredients (a lot of store-bought jams have artificial ingredients and absurd amounts of sugar). Not only is seasonal jam a great way to capture produce at its peak of flavor but it’s a thrifty gift guests can bring to barbeques and summer events! Although jam takes a little time and attention, it requires few ingredients and the smells that will fill your kitchen while cooking will have you toasting up some bread while you wait!

For my strawberry jam

1 lb. strawberries
1½ cups honey
One vanilla bean, split
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Candy thermometer (a meat thermometer will also work in a pinch!)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and SLOWLY bring up to boil. When the thermometer reads 218 degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool. Eat some, jar some, maybe even share some!

Afterthoughts
- For the 1½ cups sugar in my jam I used honey, but regular granulated sugar is just fine! If you feel like experimenting, maple sugar and agave nectar are other natural sugar options you could try! Also, I like my jam on the tarter side so I would suggest fiddling a bit with how much sugar you want to add until you get your jam to the desired level of sweetness.
- Be careful while making because the mixture does get extremely hot and tends to bubble up.
- Make sure to use properly sterilized jars if you are planning on keeping your jam for longer than a week!
- Besides being great on toast this jam is scrumptious on biscuits, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, and tossed in plain oatmeal.
- Feeling adventurous? Variations on plain strawberry could include adding some aged balsamic vinegar, rosemary, or fresh grated ginger!
- If you don’t feel like spending the 30 minutes or so it takes to heat the jam to 218 degrees, here is a great, “quick” jam recipe
- Finally, if you’re looking for some great jam recipes this is a beautiful book with lots of tasty ideas!