Cooking Challenge 2.0 begins: Game planning and Day 1 recipes

Down to my last frozen meal. Time to start cooking!
Down to my last frozen meal. Time to start cooking!
Hey Homies! I know it's a Sunday, and we rarely ever post anything on a Sunday, but it's a special week on Offbeat Home & Life. It's the week of Megan's Cooking Challenge, the second. Here's how we're breaking this down…

I'll be publishing the recipes the day before I'm going to be making them. That way if you want to play along — or be available with answers to my mid-cooking-panic tweets — you can!

Then I'll be publishing the results of my day of cooking the next day.

So you can expect to get the recipes for the day after, and the cooking results from the day before every day this week.

Now, if you're thinking of playing along…

You'll note that I am making THREE FUCKING MEALS A DAY. I hear that no one does that. Feel free to do things like eat your leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, and skip the lunch recipes. YOU are free to do that! I will be miserably making my lunches from scratch as well as breakfasts and dinners. (Yay for working from home, ammaright?)

Unlike the last challenge, I haven't featured any snacks. This is because I'm not generally factoring in having leftovers into this week's meal plan. Those times where I'm not whipping up new snacks, is because I'm going to try to actually eat all my leftovers this time.

You'll also notice that a lot of these recipes are vegetarian. No, I'm not a vegetarian, but I have some raw meat phobias on top of not eating certain animals, so to make things easier, we went veggie. Most of these recipes (unless otherwise noted) were given to me by my friend Jessica. Jessica is a vegetarian, and really into making salad and rice dishes. You voracious carnivores will find yourself looking at your plates and going "where's the meat!?" The meat is far far away from me. But it doesn't have to be for you! Feel free to add birds, and cows, and pigs to any of these recipes. I also recommend giving suggestions for other meat-lovers in the comments as we go along!

So now that we've game-planned, let's get to what we're making…

MONDAY'S RECIPES

Breakfast: Granola parfait

granolaGranola ingredients:

  • 3 cups — rolled oats (aka. not instant oats, Megan!)
  • 3 tablespoons — packed brown sugar
  • ½ tsp — ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp — kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup — honey
  • ¼ cup — veggie oil
  • 1 tsp — vanilla extract
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees, put the rack in the middle
  2. In large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and stir until well mixed.
  3. In a small bowl, mix honey, oil and vanilla — stir until completely blended
  4. Pour this over the oat mixture and still until the oats are well coated.
  5. Spread evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet
  6. Bake for 15 minutes
  7. Stir around the granola on the baking sheet
  8. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until granola is golden brown.
  9. Take it out of the oven
  10. Stir occasionally for the next 20 minutes (because it will harden as it cools)

Parfait ingredients:

  • Plain greek yogurt
  • Granola
  • Diced strawberries
  • Honey
  • Mint

In a cup or a jar, layer:

  1. granola
  2. yogurt
  3. drizzle honey
  4. strawberries
  5. granola
  6. yogurt
  7. drizzle honey
  8. strawberries
  9. and a chiffonade of mint

Lunch: Summer salad with bulgur wheat

Ingredients:

  • Wild arugula (rocket)
  • Handful of grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 persian cucumber (sliced and quartered)
  • Raw almond slivers (handful)
  • Crumbled feta (to taste)
  • Quarter cup of cooked bulgur wheat (room temp)
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Half a ripe avocado (cubed)
  • Lentils (pre-cooked from Traders)

Dressing ingredients:

  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad recipe:

  1. Cook bulgur wheat according to instructions, set aside to cool. (Use vegetable or chicken stock instead of water)
  2. Toast almond slivers in a skillet over medium heat, until lightly golden. Stirring constantly so as not to burn. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl mix all the salad ingredients
  4. In a small jar with a lid, combine lemon juice, diced shallot, olive oil, a big pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper, put the lid on and shake until combined.
  5. Pour over salad and toss

Dinner: Brussels sprouts over bulgur wheat, with a baked yam

Ingredients:brussel sprouts

  • Bulgur wheat
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Yam

Yam recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450
  2. Clean your yam, run it under water and scrub it, then dry the yam
  3. Stab it with a fork all over
  4. Place it on a piece of tinfoil and brush it with olive oil all over
  5. Bake it for 40-50 mins, or until tender
  6. Remove from oven
  7. Slice it down the middle
  8. Add salt, and either butter or plain greek yogurt

Bulgur wheat and Brussels sprouts recipe:

  1. Prepare the bulgur wheat according to package, but use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water.
  2. Meanwhile, cut your Brussels sprouts in half (make sure you cut off their stems first)
  3. In a large skillet, brown a tablespoon of butter
  4. Place the Brussels sprouts face down in the pan
  5. Let them sit until the bottoms brown, add more butter if necessary
  6. Once the bottoms are brown, toss the sprouts in low heat, salt to taste
  7. Serve them over the bulgur wheat

Ready? GO!


  1. ALSO! Everyone who's supported Offbeat Home & Life via Tugboat Yards should have received an email this morning with the recipes for the entire week… I meant to send it out earlier, and due my fail it didn't go out until today. If you're a supporter who didn't receive it, let me know!

  2. I am cooking-phobic but my husband is a fantastic cook, and actually likes it. (Lucky me!). I feel bad though since he does it all, and I am not contributing to our nutritional wellness at all. I should try some of these.

  3. Good luck Megan!

    I noticed that both lunch and dinner contain Bulgar wheat, prepared the same way. Perhaps you already thought of this and that is why you're making recipes with it for two meals, but in case you didn't think of it, here's a tip. If you wanted to you could save time and dishes by preparing the amount needed for both recipes at lunch time and reheating the amount you need for dinner.

    • Yup, unlike the last challenge, there wasn't much over-lay with recipes, so we thought we'd remedy that this year. Totally planned to do more bulgar wheat than I needed during lunch times.

    • Hey Megan: When you're preparing bulgur for salads, there's an easy-peasy way of "cooking" it so that it doesn't get overcooked or gluey. I just put one cup of it in a square glass dish, add a cup of boiling water/stock,then quickly cover with plastic wrap. No heating up the kitchen.

  4. Browning butter is delicious, but SOOOO easy to burn. You have to watch it carefully, and I would err on the side of not browning it since it's going to stay in the pan while the brussel sprouts cook. I can offer instructions on butter browning if needed.

    Good luck, I'm rooting for you!

  5. Yay, I first went vegetarian because of raw meat issues! Then I became a super environmentalist and had even more justification.

    Any chance there is also a shopping list to go with this?

  6. Ohh, I've never had bulgur wheat before! Would someone care to explain its taste/use? Is it similar to quinoa?

    • Bulgur wheat is the easiest thing, and probably one of the first 'instant' cereals used by humans. http://www.sunnylandmills.com/bulgur_wheat_history.shtml

      It's basically parboiled cracked wheat, which means that you can just pour boiling liquid on it, let it sit, and you're done. It is delicious and nutty and saves our bacon when making last minute packed lunches for work. I just:
      1) pour some bulgur into a jar,
      2) pour boiling water on top from our electric kettle (the water gets soaked up by the grain in a few minutes),
      3) stir in seasoned salt and olive oil to make tasty, and
      3) top with whatever veg we have leftover (or else spinach or arugula), and add
      4) any leftover protein we have laying around (or a can of tuna or a boiled egg).

      Boom – lunch in a flash. I wrap the jar in a dishtowel so the heat of it doesn't melt any nearby plastic.

    • It is a great, easy grain and way cheaper than quinoa (though not a complete protein). I like to make a pot of it on Sunday and use it all week. Warmed with cream and fruit and honey, breakfast. Base for a salad, boom. Bulk up ground beef dishes or soups, done. Stir a few spoonfuls in pancake batter, extra bulk and texture.

    • Bulgur wheat is sweeter than quinoa, and doesn't have as much of that "seedy" flavor (that I personally don't like about quinoa). Think of it like the large curd style to the small curd cream of wheat.

      • I didn't get a Tugboat email either. It's not in my spam, I verified Tugboat has my proper email address, I verified that I have my account checked to have messages forwarded to email. I think… it be busted.
        You don't have to send me a special email because I got it from the patron's group but I suspect other people are having a similar problem.

      • Nope, I used the same email. And I got a confirmation/thank-you message from Tugboat when I signed up, so I know they've got it and it works. Anyway, thanks for forwarding!

  7. My fiance makes me parfaits in small canning jars to take with me to work in the morning. He calls it a "jarfait".

  8. I really appreciate a whole menu of vegetarian items! Usually with these weekly menu sort of articles (like in fitness magazines, etc) I am left wondering how to make a menu with a similar nutritional profile from vegetarian versions.
    I am vegetarian mainly because I don't like the taste of meat. So even things like chik'n substitute doesn't really fly.

  9. I notice that the granola is made with vegetable oil. I'm trying not to use corn, canola, or any soy oils. Usually I use olive oil as a substitute in savory foods and coconut oil for baked goods. Do you think coconut oil would work for this recipe?

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