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While Eat In Month was actually in January, I decided to give it a try in February, because my January was just too crazy. In the end, February turned out to be almost equally crazy. We were out and about a lot, preparing for our big move, looking for a new kitchen and some bathroom furniture, etc.

I ate out a total of four times last month.

The first one was due to a movie date with a friend. The movie theater is in the opposite direction of my apartment, so going home after work would have been a long detour. I had a creamy root vegetable soup at one of my favorite cafés and it was delicious.

The second and the third meal out were each consumed on long kitchen and furniture scouting days. Both were fast food and quite bad. I really shoudn’t eat that stuff. It was disgusting.

The fourth and last meal out was a work lunch. My team mates spontaneously decided to go to our local pizza place, and I just couldn’t say no. The pizza was very good. And huge! I only ate half of it for lunch and ate the other half for dinner.

While I did it out more often than I had planned during this year’s challenge, I also managed to use up a lot of the food in my kitchen. There are only a few odds and ends left, and I also saved a little money thanks to buying less new food. So I’ll call this challenge a semi-success!

This month, eating in will be even more challenging, as I’ll have to live without a full kitchen for a few weeks. I’ll tell you more about my improvised, minimalist kitchen situation after the move.

Did you join the Eat In Month challenge this year? How was it?

See you!

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Our big moving day is approaching fast. Only ten days to go! Yikes!

In the past few weeks I’ve tried to use up the food in my fridge, freezer, and pantry. While I have made great progress, there is still so much left! I do realize it’s kind of silly to have seven different kinds of noodles in my kitchen. Yes, seven! And that’s just one example. You may roll your eyes at me now.

In our new apartment, I want to adopt a more minimalist approach, only buying what I really need, instead of hoarding tons of ingredients like a hamster.

I’ve also noticed that my grocery bills were a lot lower this month. Shopping from your pantry is a great way to save some money!

Here are some random meals and snacks I made over the past few days, using up some of my pantry foods.

2014-02-25_Potato_Dumplings

I finally got rid of those frozen potato dumplings. I paired them with brussel sprouts, red cabbage, and an awesome mushroom sauce.

2014-02-25_Rice_Soup

Next I made a quick broth with seaweed and dried shiitake mushrooms. And I added some frozen mandu (Korean dumplings), broccoli, and leftover rice.

2014-02-25_Cookies

A few weeks ago, I bought a new jar of tahini. It’s from a different brand, and I really didn’t like it. Way too bitter! But surprisingly, tahini is a great peanut butter replacement in cookies! Even the husband loved them.

2014-02-25_Toast

There are still a few slices of toast in my freezer. Sigh!

2014-02-25_Rice_bowl

My favorite way of eating broccoli is roasted. I just put a few frozen florets on my silicon baking mat and roast them in the oven for 25 minutes. So simple, so good.

I have plans for most of my frozen ingredients, but I’m struggling with that bag of spinach. I’ve used it in a few recipes already, but there’s still so much left.

What are your favorite easy spinach recipes? Please share!

See you!

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When my husband and I decided to get married, I knew that I would take his name and join his Korean family. It might sound strange to some of you, but I was very excited about this fact. Over the years I’ve come to love his family, and couldn’t wait to officially be a part of it. I’m not-so-secretly dreaming of getting a Hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, for myself. They are so bright and beautiful!

Thanks to my husband and my MIL, I’ve also learned to love Korean cuisine. While most Korean dishes contain some form of meat or fish, you can easily leave them out and make them vegetarian or even vegan. Traditional Korean meals already include lots of different vegetable-based side dishes (banchan), like kimchi, pickled radish or cucumbers, sautéed spinach or zucchini, and many more. And tofu is not just a weird meat replacement but a totally normal ingredient!

While my husband is very open-minded when it comes to food, he definitely prefers traditional Korean dishes, and as I enjoy them, too, we prepare them quite often in our kitchen.

Here’s what I ate last Sunday.

2014-02-16_Breakfast

A typical Korean breakfast would be a rather basic rice soup. I pass on that one. This German girl needs some kind of bread in the morning. I’m still working on using up that insane amount of toast in my freezer.

2014-02-16_Soup

On Friday I had made a big batch of beef broth for the husband, and a smaller batch of mushroom broth for myself. I used dried shiitake mushrooms, carrots, onion, and seaweed (or kelp?) and boiled it all for a few hours. Then I strained the broth and added fresh kelp, carrots, and frozen dumplings, and added a little soy sauce and sesame oil. It was delicious!

2014-02-16_Japchae

My husband offered to make japchae for dinner, and of course I said ‘yes’. This is a very popular picnic dish, made with sweet potato starch noodles and a variety of vegetables. We simply used what we had on hand: sweet red peppers, button mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, and eggs. This dish is so filling! And as those noodles are usually made of 100% sweet potato starch, this dish is even gluten-free. If you omit the eggs, it’s vegan, too! This looks like a small serving, but believe me, japchae is incredibly filling.

Have you ever had mushroom broth or japchae?

See you!

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In one of my recent What I Ate Wednesday posts I showed you a picture of semolina pudding, known as Grießbrei here in Germany. This is a traditional dessert or snack that is very easy to prepare. You could even enjoy it as breakfast!

2014-01-28_Sweet_grits

Sweet semolina pudding

To prepare this wholesome treat you only need a handful of ingredients and a few minutes, so it’s a great option to satisfy a spontaneous dessert craving. Or you could enjoy it as an alternative breakfast item.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2-3 servings

*Vegetarian*Vegan*

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk, e.g almond milk, rice milk, full-fat cow’s milk
  • 1/4 cup semolina (Weichweizengrieß)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • a dash of salt

Directions:

Pour milk of choice into a pot and carefully bring it to a gentle boil. Add all remaining ingredients and thoroughly stir with a whisk. Reduce heat to low and keep whisking. The mixture will look very thin but it will firm up within a few minutes. Don’t stop whisking or the pudding will burn!

After about five minutes the pudding should be firm and creamy. If not, keep cooking on low temperature and whisk regularly until it has reached the desired consistency.

Serve either warm or chilled, topped with your favorite fruit. Cherry compote or apple sauce are great options to start.

Note that this pudding will firm up even more after cooling.

I’ve decided to link up this recipe in Laura’s Strange but good round-up, as I assume that semolina is a rather strange ingredient to my non-German readers.

Enjoy!

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Last week I accidentally bought a huge bag of toast. I expected a weekend guest who didn’t show up in the end. So I’m doing my best to eat all that toast before it goes bad.

Why don’t I just freeze it? Well, our freezer is already filled to the brim with – wait for it – even more toast, that I bought the week before. Don’t ask. #firstworldproblems

Here’s what I ate last Saturday.

2014-02-11_Breakfast

Sandwiches are by far my favorite breakfast option, so I happily attacked my toast mountain.

2014-02-11_Avocado_Toast

Lunch was pushed back to get some errands done. To avoid any hunger-induced grumpy-ness I had a little snack. Mashed avocado and cherry tomatoes are an amazing toast topping.

2014-02-11_Lasagna

For our late lunch I brought back an old and forgotten favorite: lasagna! I made a quick tomato sauce with leftover vegetables, layered it into a large casserole dish together with lasagna noodles and crème fraîche, and topped it with grated cheese. Put it into the oven for 30 minutes and it was done.

I always thought that making lasagna takes a lot of time, but if you don’t bother making bechamel sauce from scratch, it’s actually not that bad.

2014-02-11_Potato_Dumplings

A few weeks ago my Mom gave me a big tray of potato dumplings. I put them into the freezer and have been trying to use them in some creative ways. I actually prefer bread dumplings (Semmelknödel), but I did enjoy the potato version, too, combined with a creamy mushroom sauce, brussel sprouts, and red cabbage (Blaukraut).

The next batch of potato dumplings will probably be sliced, fried, and drowned in ketchup.

So, how am I doing on my Eating In challenge? Well, I cheated once last week. I had an after work movie date with a friend, and it just wouldn’t have made any sense for me to go home and cook dinner. So we both enjoyed a nice bowl of soup at our favorite café. No picture, it was just too dark.

(What movie did we watch? Only lovers left alive! It was fantastic, go watch it now!)

2014-02-11_Meal_Prep

To avoid any more cheating on the challenge, I spent Sunday afternoon preparing some meals for the week. I made a Mexican stir-fry with quinoa, creamy chestnut soup, and an Asian vegetable stir-fry. I also have some frozen brown rice from a previous batch cooking session. I think I’ll be good this week.

And if I run out of meals and ideas, I still have plenty of toast to make more sandwiches.

Bread or potato dumplings – which would you choose?

See you!

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I tend to fall into some kind of food rut quite often, which means I make the same meals again and again. Those dishes are my favorites, they are tasty and easy to make, but also a little boring after a while.

I’d really like to try some new recipes. Who knows, they might turn into new favorites.

2014-02-02_Breakfast

Sunday’s breakfast was indeed a little different from my usual fare. I tried to ‘bake’ bread in a pan, using a ciabatta mix, and it worked! I let the dough rise in the fridge overnight, and fried/baked it over low heat with a lid on. That bread turned out quite fluffy and tasty.

2014-02-02_Bibimbap

Lunch was, once again, one of those boring favorites: bibimbap! I can’t help it, this dish is just so delicious and ridiculously simple to make, especially when you have leftover rice and a few banchan (Korean side dishes, e.g. kimchi).

2014-02-02_Pasta

Another ridiculously simple dish: spaghetti with tomato sauce. I really need to stop making this every weekend or my husband will go on a strike, I’m afraid.

2014-02-02_Cookies

I decided to make some healthy-ish snacks to help me through a busy week, so I brought back an old favorite that I hadn’t made in a very long time: Mama Pea’s Anytime Cookies! Those are also a great way to use up leftover nuts and dried fruit.

2014-02-02_Shepards_Pie

And then I really tried something new: vegan lentil shepard’s pie. I made a big batch to eat as dinners or lunches during the week, and it turned out delicious!

I totally forgot how much I love mashed potatoes, I haven’t had any in ages. Now I’m thinking about different ways of serving mashed potatoes, maybe with roasted onions, mushroom gravy, roasted brussel sprouts, red cabbage (Blaukraut)? New ideas and recommendations are always welcome!

Eating in is going very well so far, but it’s only been a few days yet.

Do you fall into food ruts, too?

See you!

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I usually don’t eat out very often. Delicious, plant-based dishes are hard to find in restaurants around here, that’s why I generally prefer my own food. In the past few weeks, things were different, though. I’ve been out and about a lot and even when I was at home I often didn’t feel like cooking. So I ate out a lot, and spent a ton of money!

That’s why I decided to do the Eat In Month Challenge in February. I know that I’m very late to the game, as the actual challenge takes place in January, but the timing just didn’t work for me.

I plan to eat every single meal “in”, that means no restaurant visits and no take-out meals. I’ll make an exception for free food, as my co-workers often provide breakfast, lunch, or dessert when they celebrate their birthdays. Meals and snacks that I’m offered by others, like friends or family members, are also okay for me. And I may or may not enjoy a small bag of movie popcorn.

I’m doing this challenge mostly to save money. Eating out is expensive! And I’m also still working on clearing my pantry. That’s a never-ending process, I’m afraid.

So in the month of February, I’ll hopefully enjoy lots of great home-cooked meals and snacks, just like the examples below.

2014-01-28_Squash_soup

I call this one my triple squash (pumpkin?) soup – blended Hokkaido squash soup topped with pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds.

2014-01-28_Sweet_grits

Sweet semolina pudding with cherry compote and cinnamon – best served warm!

2014-01-28_Bibimbap

My all-time favorite: bibimbap! Just a big bowl of rice, vegetables, tofu, and pickled radish. Never fails to satisfy my appetite.

Do you spend a lot of money eating out?

See you!

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