Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I do not like whole wheat as a rule. In the past, my experience with whole wheat often resulted in a flecked-looking product, a drier & heavier product, and something that was overpowered by a strong wheat flavor (bleh). I personally tend to prefer texture, flavor, and eye-appeal over healthy. I’ve seen white whole wheat flour (ground from white wheat berries) in stores, but until recently, I’ve never tried it. However, in an effort to be a teeny bit healthier, I broke down and purchased a bag. I bought Ultragrain White Whole Wheat Flour at my local bulk-food store. It was lighter and cheaper than Prairie Gold Flour, which is similar.  I have been so impressed with it! The flavor is slight, and as long as I weigh to measure rather than “scoop” measure, nothing has been drier and not much heavier.

That being said, the first of my recipes that I will share with you is whole wheat cookies. I really don’t know how much of a health difference it makes, but I’m positive there’s at least a little difference! This recipe makes only 8-10 cookies. I prefer it that way so that the cookies stay fresh and don’t sit around more than necessary. Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum.

 

First, turn oven to 350°. Then, in a glass bowl place 7 T of butter (in a solid stick, don’t soften or cut it up) and place in oven. The goal is to melt 1/3-1/2 of the butter and this is a great way of doing it! While the butter is melting, measure and prep other ingredients.

Easton-2In a bowl place flour, soda, salt and baking powder.

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Get out the good vanilla that your friend Josh brought you from Costa Rica.cookies-1

Place one egg in a dish of hot water to bring it to room temperature.

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Measure out your sugar.

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 By this time, your butter should be melted half-way, though you should check it every minute or so, or it will over-melt. Take the butter out and put it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to cool it off a little.

Wipe the flour that you spilled off of the counter. Avoid the basket of laundry on the couch. Set the plates and cups for lunch. Take a drink of water. Put finger in butter to check coolness.

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Once the butter is cooled, mix it and the sugar together until smooth and creamy.

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Slightly beat the egg and add it and the delicious-smelling vanilla to the batter.

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Mix only until combined.

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Add the dish of flour and mix until combined. The dough should look dry-ish and pull away from the sides of the bowl. I added an extra ounce (1/4 c.) after the initial flour in order to make it thick enough.

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Add some chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

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Place large balls of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. These balls are 2-3 T of dough. The smaller the cookie, the crunchier and drier it will be. To shape them, grab a ball of dough, roll it into a log about 2″ long and stand it up on the sheet.

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Bake for 11-14 minutes until lightly browned, then place on rack to cool.

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Enjoy with a little glass of milk! (or a large one, if you prefer)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes:8-10 large cookies

Ingredients:

  • 7 T. Salted Butter
  • 1/2 c. + 1 T. Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1 t. Vanilla
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 c. (4 oz) White Whole Wheat Flour + extra to get batter to desired consistency
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 3/4 t. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 t. Baking Soda
  • 1/4-1/2 c. Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Place butter in oven-proof bowl and watch closely until melted 1/3-1/2 of the way. When melted, place butter-bowl in freezer to cool to room temperature–about 5-10 mintues. While butter is melting and cooling, prep and assemble other ingredients.

Weigh flour, if possible, into small prep bowl. Add salt, soda and baking powder. Place egg in a small dish with hot water to bring it to room temp. so that it will mix better with the dough. Measure out sugars and set aside.

When butter is cooled, add sugars and mix until smooth and creamy. Add slightly beaten egg and vanilla and mix until just combined. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Continue to add tablespoons of flour (if necessary) until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and looks dry-ish. Add your preferred amount of chocolate chips and mix only until combined. Roll large balls of dough into 2″ logs and stand up  on cookie sheet. Bake the cookies 10-14 minutes until lightly browned. Remove cookies from sheet and place on a rack to cool. Enjoy with milk, ice cream, or my personal favorite–rainbow sherbet!

 

 

Every Day Caramel Latte

Have you noticed how many recipes, copycat Starbucks lattes, coffee syrups, and delectable photos there are concerning this one delicious beverage? I am now here to add my two bits as well.

You see, in my experience, there are some things in these recipes that often seem lacking–deep flavor, practicality, beauty. I am here to present to you all three.

Caramel Coffee Syrup

Makes a little over a pint.

  • 2 c. Water
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 1-2 t. Caramel Flavoring (I use Watkins brand)
  • 1/2 t. Maple Flavoring (Watkins)

Boil sugar and water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool around 5 minutes. Add flavorings and transfer to container. I like to use a glass Starbucks bottle–they pour pretty well. This recipe can also be used for hazelnut or hazelnut caramel–just play around with it!

So, about flavor. I tried making caramel coffee syrup using a simple syrup recipe (sugar+water) and adding caramel syrup (like the ice cream topping) to that. I don’t know what your experiences are, but I’ve always felt as though this was intensely lacking in the one thing it was supposed to be–caramel flavor. It tends to just make your coffee sweet. While that may be delicious, it doesn’t replace a coffee shop drink by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve also tried adding straight caramel syrup. Again, you have to add a lot to get enough flavor, and by that time, it’s overly sweet (and it gets a little expensive, even to make your own). I’ve never really had much luck with Torani coffee syrup either–just a little expensive to use it daily and a little too sweet.

Enter, my heroes. They saved the latte day.

coffee-22Using flavorings allow you to be able to adjust according to your taste. If you want more caramel, add more! I also like to add some maple flavoring to enhance the caramel. You cannot taste it if you don’t know it’s there, and it really rounds out the caramel flavor. These cost around $3 a bottle, which sounds expensive. But, when compared to buying a bottle of coffee syrup, this is much, much cheaper per cup.

And forward, on to practicality and beauty! I will now present two recipes: one using normal kitchen things, the other using espresso machine essentials. The first method is not as strong coffee flavored, and is great for using with French press coffee. The second will require some basic espresso-making tools (and not quite as much practicality).

coffee-26First, begin with 1/3 a cup or so of strong coffee, made in your preferred method.

coffee-27The next step is to heat and blend some milk. I warmed up about 3/4 c. milk in my magic bullet jar. You don’t want to boil the milk, but you do want it to be pretty hot. Blend your milk for about 30 seconds. If you like, you can add 1/2 T. Coconut oil to your milk while you’re blending it.coffee-28

Add 1-2 T. coffee syrup. If you have your milk in a large blender, pour it into a glass measuring cup or a small pitcher. Tap your milk on the countertop to pop any large bubbles and swirl it around a couple times. Repeat the tap/swirl. Carefully pour your milk in, leaving a little foam/milk in the bottom of your pitcher.

coffee-30Now, for the beauty part! Sprinkle cinnamon (or cocoa if you’re not a cinnamon fan) over the top of the coffee. Take a spoon and carefully distribute the cinnamon over the top layer of foam–you’re not trying to mix it in to the entire cup.coffee-32Take another spoon (or clean off the one with cinnamon) and scrape off some foam from the milk in your pitcher. Carefully, just touch the surface of the cinnamon with your spoon of foam to make a little dollop. Make a large circle of dots and a smaller circle in the middle.coffee-37Take a skewer, thermometer point, or something similar (round, but not too fat or too skinny–a toothpick is too small usually) and slice through the dots in a spiral pattern, creating a series of little hearts!coffee-41

Alternatively, you can just put a giant dollop of cool-whip on and pour on some caramel–tada!

Now for version two. You will need these items:

  • Pump-powered espresso machine (you can use a steam powered machine, but you will get little, if any, crema)
  • Coffee Beans and Burr Grinder (or pre-ground espresso grind coffee)
  • Metal Tamper (preferably not a plastic one that came with your machine)
  • Metal Steaming Pitcher (found in some stores as a cream pitcher)
  • Milk
  • Coffee Syrup (the good stuff)
  • Coffee Mug

To begin, turn on your machine and let it warm up. While it’s warming up, empty the grounds from the filter basket if you haven’t already. Rinse it out, dry it, and set it aside. Put the filter holder/handle back on and brew plain water into your cup–either half full or if your machine is set to brew a certain amount, until it shuts off. Microwave the water for around a minute (grind your coffee beans while it’s heating) There are a couple reasons for doing this. Firstly, it will clean off any grounds that are left on the machine from the last time. And secondly, it will warm your cup up so that when you brew your espresso, it is not cooled off by a cold cup.

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Pour your coffee grounds into the filter basket.

Tamp your coffee grounds by pressing your tamper down really hard, and then twisting and pick up. Tap the sides with your tamper to knock down any grounds that got pushed up the sides and repeat the tamping process. I typically tamp mine a total of three times. The goal is to get an even, hard finish. Place in your machine. Empty the hot water out of your mug and add 1-2 T. of coffee syrup–if you don’t know how much to add, err on the side of not enough, since you can add more later.

Brew that espresso.

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In my experience, espresso machines come with either a ‘single’ filter basket or a ‘double’. I always use the double. The reason being that this is not a $400 machine, my grinder is not a $200 grinder and my beans are not fresh. If all of those factors were in place, a single shot would be sufficient. However, with mediocre equipment, I feel like I get the best results with the ‘double’. I usually fill my mug to around 1/3 or just beneath 1/2 full (would be less without the syrup).

Set the espresso aside and turn on the steam function to preheat. While it is heating, pour your milk into your pitcher. Always store your pitcher in the fridge or freezer when you’re not using it so that when you pour in your milk, it stays cold as long as possible. One of my machines took forever to heat up and so I would pour the milk and then set it in the freezer to keep cold while I was waiting.

Hold the pitcher in such a way that the metal is flush against your palm so that you can feel the temperature (it works best for me to do this with my left hand). Immerse the tip of the wand and turn the steam on. Immediately after the steam is flowing, bring the tip to the surface of the milk so that it is sucking air in. If you put it too high, you’ll blow bubbles and milk everywhere. If it’s too low, you won’t be getting any air. It should sound something like paper being ripped. Once you can feel the milk becoming warm against your palm, put the tip back down in the milk and play with the angle until the milk is rolling around in the pitcher. If there are loud screeching sounds, your tip is likely too close to the bottom of the cup. When the pitcher becomes too hot to touch, shut the machine off. Wait to remove the pitcher until the steam stops, then set it aside. With a wet cloth, wipe off the steam wand and run a little steam through it to rinse out any milk.

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Pour in your steamed milk! I purposely poured so that the milk all went under the crema, leaving the top golden. If you like, you can sprinkle cinnamon on top–I love how it tastes with the caramel. Then following the directions above, I added dots and sliced through them to make hearts.

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Sweet Baby Raisin Buns

Surprisingly, there are only a few baked goods that I really long for. I mean, I love to make just about anything. But mostly, I’m just in it to make it, not so much to eat it. These are the exception, however.

Picture this:

  • Hot coffee
  • Brown sugary gooeyness
  • Dough much softer than my pillow
  • Chewy sweet raisins and cinnamon
Are you getting hungry yet? You really, really, should try these.
For all of you raisin-haters, I feel for you. But the raisins aren’t optional. They lend moisture, chewiness, and general awesomeness–you should try to give them a chance.

 

food-26Yeast mixture, now proofed.

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food-45On the rise!

food-49Mmm chewy raisins!

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food-62I sadly do not have any photos after they rose and were baked. I went out after putting them in the pan, thinking I would return within the hour. However, I ended up not coming back home until four hours later, after darkness had fallen. And so, these steps remain a mystery. Surprisingly, they had no negative effects due to their four-hour rise, for which I am thankful. I now know that I can make them ahead of time if need be!

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Sweet Baby Raisin Buns
Total Time: 2 hrs. Serves: 1-6 based on serving size
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • 1/4 c. Water
  • 2 T. Butter, cubed
  • 1 t. soy lecithin granules (optional)
  • 2 T. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. Yeast, active dry or instant
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1 T. Vital Wheat Gluten (optional)
  • 1 1/2-2 c. All-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 c. Raisins
  • 2 T Butter, melted
  • 1/3-1/2 c. Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 170°.
In a glass measuring cup, heat milk and butter until butter is melted or nearly melted, stir until no chunks are left. Add lukewarm water to the milk and pour into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and lecithin. Test the milk/water temperature by hand or thermometer, it should be 110° or lower (if it’s steaming, it’s too hot). If it is too hot, stir the mixture to speed its cooling (but don’t let it become too cool). Add the yeast and stir. Let the mixture set for 5-10 minutes to let it proof.
     When the yeast is nice and bubbly, add the salt, gluten, and 3/4 c. or so of flour. Mix until fairly smooth, and keep adding flour until it makes a nice ball of dough. Knead for 4-10 minutes until dough is smooth, no longer sticky and bounces back slowly when poked. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in oven. Shut oven off and allow the dough to rise for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in size.
    Prepare a loaf pan by greasing it with shortening or lining it with parchment paper. After dough has risen, punch it down and place on a floured countertop. Roll into a rectangle approx. 1/8″ thick. Place raisins in a microwave safe dish and cover with water. Microwave until somewhat rehydrated, about 1 minute. Carefully pour off hot water and set aside. Pour melted butter on dough and spread around. Sprinkle cinnamon over butter (use more or less depending on your taste). Lightly sprinkle brown sugar over cinnamon and butter. Evenly sprinkle the raisins over the dough as well. Starting with the short side, roll the dough into a log and pinch the edges and ends closed and roll over so the pinched edge is on the bottom. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise. From this, cut sections 2-4″ long, fold in half like a book, and place in prepared pan, gooey side up. Once pan is full, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 30-45 minutes.
     Bake buns at 350° for 15-23 1/2 minutes. To test for doneness, pull up on a piece in the center–if it stretches a lot, you will be able to see that it’s doughy, if it rips right off, it’s probably done. It is perfect when there is a slight stretch, and then the dough fibers begin to tear. It’s better to err on the side of being underdone as overdone means dry.
     These are best eaten fresh out of the oven. However, they taste perfectly amazing the next day as well–just microwave for 10 seconds or put in a toaster oven for a minute or so. Happy eating!
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Dutch Oven Chicken & Rice

I cook and choose my meals based basically on one thing: what’s on sale at Dutchman’s, Hwy 2 Discount and Aldi–my local go-to grocery stores. A couple weeks ago, Dutchman’s had chicken quarters for $.39/lb. in 14 lb bags and so I purchased 2 bags. Needless to say, we’ve been eating lots of chicken.

Something I make fairly often, is chicken and rice. One reason why I like it, is that I can make extra rice and chicken to use later in different recipes when I need a quick meal. I also like it because it’s fairly simple to put together. It takes me less than 30 minutes to put it together and then there’s nothing else to do after it’s baked but to eat it and wash the pan! I love that I can make it in my dutch oven because then it only makes one dirty pan, and all the flavors get mixed together. In addition, it pairs really well with flat bread.

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Chicken & Rice

Total Time: 1 hr. 30 mins. Serves: 4

  • 2 Chicken Leg Quarters (legs separated from thighs)
  • 1 c. Rice
  • Onion
  • Mushroom
  • Sweet Potatoes, cubed (optional)
  • 2 1/4 c. Milk
  • 1 T. Butter
  • Seasonings
Preheat oven to 375. In a dutch oven, toast the rice with the butter until golden brown. Pour the rice into a small dish and set aside. Put one leg quarter in dutch oven and sear on high heat until golden brown. Flip the chicken over and sear the opposite side. Repeat with remaining chicken. (As your pan heats up, watch that it doesn’t get too hot and burn.) Set the chicken aside on a plate. In the chicken oil that remains in the pan, saute mushroom and onion. Once the onions begin to look clearish, add the sweet potatoes and saute for a couple minutes longer. Add the rice, milk, any seasonings that you like (salt, pepper, garlic, chives, Italian, tumeric) and stir it all together. Situate the chicken in the milk so that it is as covered as possible. Cook on the stovetop until the milk begins to boil. Place the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 1 hour, or until rice is tender.
Alternatively, you could follow the above steps with a skillet, boil the milk without the chicken, and place it all in a casserole dish to bake it.
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The Pumpkin Donuts You’ll Break Your Diet For

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These donuts (or muffins or coffeecake, depending on your pan) speak for themselves. But since you aren’t here to listen to them, I’ll tell you a little about them. They are:

  1. Quick and simple to make.
  2. Full of fall and winter flavor.
  3. Masters at moisture.
  4. Able to be stored for days and retain their moistness.
  5. Able to be frozen, thawed, and still taste delish (and moist).

I love to keep some in the freezer for quick thawing on a Sunday morning. They’re also great for company, because you can make them ahead or really quickly spur-of-the-moment. They are simply the perfect coffee break snack. Need I say more?

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Pumpkin Donuts

Makes 12 donuts or muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yellow Cake Mix (16-18 oz)
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or your own blend of nutmeg, cinnamon & ginger)
  • 1/2 c. Water*
  • 1-15 oz. can Pureed Pumpkin
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 T. Vanilla

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 c. Flour
  • 1/2 c. Brown Sugar
  • 2 t. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. Butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a muffin or donut tin, or 9 x 9 pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the cake mix, baking soda, and spice. If your cake mix is really lumpy (or you’re paranoid about lumps in your food) sift the mixture so that it’s smooth.

In another bowl (or 4c. glass measuring cup) mix the water*, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until it is all incorporated. There will likely be small lumps, but it is best to not over-stir, so try to ignore them.

For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until there is no more dry flour and the mixture is crumbly.

Fill donut pan (or muffin tin) to the brim with the pumpkin batter and pile the crumbs on top. For coffeecake, spread half the batter in the pan and sprinkle half the crumbs on top. Cover with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 until done. Note: It is very important to not over bake these–take them out as soon as possible. I typically bake my donuts somewhere between 10-15 minutes. I test for doneness by lightly poking one–if it springs back, they are done.

*If you are using home-canned pumpkin that is thinner than the store-bought, scale the water back to 1/3 c.

Recipe adapted from Clever House Wife and My Kitchen Craze.

 

 

 

Candy Bar Snowman Printable

I was having trouble finding a decent version of this printable. The original blog post that it was on was no longer available. The only option that I could find was a small png image. So, I took the image and worked on it a little so that it would be a little easier to print to scale. I’ll also attempt to include a pdf link with two printables on it already.

Snowman Single

 

The full page link with cutting lines:  Snowman Whole Page

Leftovers For Lunch Recipe

Leftovers just happen sometimes–older food gets forgotten in the wake of fresher food. And often I make extra food on purpose so that I won’t have to cook the following day’s lunch. But there’s still often small portions of random items left. And so, I make Everything Is Awesome–a one-pan lunch (or supper, if you have no need to cook lunch anyways). Everything Is Awesome changes depending on what’s in your fridge or pantry, though I mostly make it with a leftover-rice base. It’s simply taking good foods and combining them for better or worse. Some days I make Everything Is Awesome soup–but that is a different recipe entirely. And so, I will walk you through today’s version of Everything Is Awesome, which is something very similar to fried rice (though not quite as pretty).

 

 

 

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Today’s Ingredients:

Baked Chicken and Rice (leftover)

Potato Ham Soup (leftover)

French Onion Flavored Grain Blend with Ham (leftover)

Egg

Mushroom

Onion

Spinach

Seasoning

Corn

Peas

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Sauté onions and mushroom in about 1/2 T Butter. I’m only using one mushroom because I like to treat fresh mushrooms as valuable and not use more than necessary. A little bit goes a long way towards adding hints of yummy flavor to recipes.

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When the onions start to look clear-ish and the mushrooms slightly wilted, I add a handful of spinach and sauté until it is completely wilted.

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Next the leftovers get tossed in!

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The next step is to spice it up a little! I just dump on my usual spices–garlic, salt, dried chives, pepper, Italian herbs. If you like curry or spicier things, this is a good dish to put those on. I also like to add some turmeric to rice dishes like this–it just make them taste right.

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Mix up an egg in an empty leftover’s bowl and pour it on. I used two today, but I should’ve only used one egg as it turned out to be very mushy with two. Eggs are also something I like to add to rice dishes–added protein, added color, added flavor. It does not at all make your rice taste eggy! You just mix the egg in and let it cook, stirring frequently.

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Lastly, I added some canned sweet corn and canned peas. Normally, if I add peas to a dish like this, they are frozen. I just throw the frozen peas in the pan with everything else and they cook in just a couple of minutes. The canned peas were a bad idea however–I forgot how bad canned peas taste.

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And you’re done! That takes about a total of 15 minutes. This is best eaten with a flat bread of some sort–naan, roti, gordita, torilla, pita, etc. I will often just roll it up in a flatbread and eat it as a wrap! For added fat calories, drizzle melted butter over the flatbread-it’s amazing, really.

This is also pretty easy to heat back up–I made this around an hour and a half before Jay was home for lunch, and just had to put it on the burner for a couple minutes when we were ready to eat.

So to sum it up:

Take rice-based leftovers, add a couple of things to them, and have an awesome meal that’s similar, but not identical to foods you’ve had in days past. Also, if your food looks similar to something you might feed the cows, just pretend that you are one and eat it anyways. Or just throw it out and try again another day! (And have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.)