Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sweet Potato & Avocado Sandwich with Poppy Seed Spread

Last night I made Sweet Potato & Avocado Sandwiches because it's a magical way to eat vegetables and takes 10 minutes from start to finish (since I microwave the sweet potato instead of boiling it). I subbed clover sprouts for the lettuce, and some colby jack for the cheese. Still very good! I will continue to make this again and again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Carolina-Style Barbecue Sandwiches

Yesterday was Memorial Day but I had to work, so no picnics for me. When I got home, I made Carolina-Style Barbecue Sandwiches using Gardein fake pulled pork and threw that in with the Carolina sauce. It all blended well and made for a delicious dinner with some coleslaw, potato chips, and beer. Even Erica liked it, and she is a big fan of real pulled pork. Hooray!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Enchilada Bake

I got a spam message about Christian Louboutin shoes on my last post and it is just one of the most poorly-written comments. It cracks me up. Please don't click the links obviously, but I'm not going to delete it because I'm entertained by it.

I'm trying so hard to cook but I'm working 11 days in a row (this only happens once a year) and I am so tired that I've become a zombie. Plus I couldn't go to the farmer's market this week because I had to work. Boo! But I did cook dinner last night! Erica got a flier from PETA in the mail and it had some good recipes in it, so I figured I'd try one. Neither of us agree with PETA on pretty much anything, but our mostly-vegetarian diets do benefit from new recipes. This one is technically vegan but I made it non-vegan by adding real cheese. Be aware that some corn tortillas are made with lard. And fun fact that I just recently learned: Morningstar Farms soy crumbles are made with egg whites so they are not vegan. Thank god our vegan streak only lasted 5 days.

In general, this was really good. I felt that the soy crumbles didn't add much and would have preferred adding more beans or maybe even potatoes; Erica felt the opposite and would have liked more soy crumbles and fewer beans. So tweak it according to what you want. And while it baked for a full hour, it really didn't take much time to prepare. The recipe is so freaking poorly written, so I will tell you that I did cook the soy crumbles before using it, I used half a can of enchilada sauce each time it says, "pour tons of sauce in!" and I used Penzeys Taco Seasoning.

Today I work again (yes, I know it's Memorial Day - people still get sick on holidays) so I will take this for lunch and see if it passes the lunchbox test.

fritos

fritos

Enchilada Bake
PETA

12 oz. vegetarian burger crumbles
1 packet taco seasoning
2 15.5-oz. cans enchilada sauce
18 corn tortillas
2 15.5-oz. cans pinto beans, drained
2 green onions, chopped
2 cups vegan cheddar cheese, shredded
1 4.5-oz. can diced green chilies
2 cups Fritos corn chips, finely crushed

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, combine the burger crumbles and taco seasoning and set aside.

Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with oil.

In layers, spread a generous amount of enchilada sauce, 6 corn tortillas, 2 cans of pinto beans, a handful of green onion, a third of the shredded “cheese,” half the can of green chilies, lots more enchilada sauce, 6 more tortillas, all the seasoned burger crumbles, another third of the “cheese,” the remaining green chilies, more enchilada sauce, then the final 6 tortillas, more enchilada sauce, and the rest of the “cheese.” Cover in foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil, top the entire casserole with the Fritos, and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Burning For You

My dinner last night was a fried egg sandwich, and my dinner tonight has so far consisted of Sour Patch Kids, so it's safe to say I'm not posting a new recipe tonight. However, my friend Katie posted on her twitter earlier today that she wished she could learn "how to not burn things from your blog." I think she meant it jokingly and in a different context, but I have nothing else to post so here we go. This is something that has taken me a long time to conquer, and I am still not awesome at it. But there are a few things that have helped me to learn to avoid burning things.

1. I check. A lot. And I always set the timer for the lowest baking time and then re-set from there. So if the recipe says, "Bake for 12-15 minutes," I automatically check at 12 minutes.

2. Make sure your oven is actually at the temperature it says it is. Sometimes ovens lie to you. You can use a meat thermometer or something else like that.

3. Good cookie sheets can help, especially the nonstick kind. I loved these cookie sheets until I destroyed them. I need to buy more of them. You can also get a whole set of them, including cake pans and muffin tins. I have those, and it's amazing how much better my food bakes in them. Plus, they don't stick! You could also just get some Silpat liners to bake on, but I still think that things turn out better on the cookie sheets than on the Silpat.

4. Don't let things stay in the pan! Take them out to let them cool on a wire cooling rack. I have burned many a cookie by forgetting to take them off the pan.

Examples of my own screw-ups (which are more often than not):

bananas
{Banana-Filled Graham Cracker Pancakes}

lemons
{Burst O'Lemon Muffins}}

crab
{Crab Fritters}

blah
And let's never (or immediately) forget the Great Mother's Day Meltdown in which I made this horrendous dish and collapsed in tears.

You know what I didn't burn though? Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn't make them again (and never will), I just wanted to remind you that it is a thing.

The lesson to be learned here is that you can make little changes and be vigilant while baking, but we all screw up and burn cookies. Eat them or throw them away, but keep trying because eventually you will pull something delicious out of the oven and be proud that it is something you created.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lemony Asparagus with Pine Nuts and Parmesan

The farmer's market got hit with the first wave of strawberries and asparagus this week, which was super exciting. I got some beautiful, perfect purple asparagus from Beechwood Orchards and decided to try out this side dish to go along with the beloved Spaghetti Pie.

This was super simple and very delicious. It was a great way to prepare asparagus. I would definitely make this again.

asparagus

Lemony Asparagus with Pine Nuts and Parmesan
Real Simple, May 2012

2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds asparagus -- (2 bunches) trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon thinly sliced lemon zest
1 ounce Parmesan -- shaved

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the pine nuts and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and Parmesan.

Servings: 4

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cookies

One of my first purchases at the farmer's market this season was some fresh ricotta from Keepsake Farm. I love to use it in savory dishes, but ricotta works so beautifully in cookies that I thought I'd make some this week. I couldn't get Meyer lemons so I substituted regular lemons and a teeny tiny bit of tangerine extract. It worked just fine and the cookies were delicious. They are so fluffy from the ricotta. I love it! I would make these again.

cookies

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board via RecipeGirl

Cookies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 1 teaspoon lemon and/or tangerine baking oil
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest, freshly grated
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Glaze:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar
3-4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Decorating sugar, silver dragees (small silver balls), optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine butter and sugar in bowl; cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, ricotta, lemon extract (or baking oil), zest and juice; blend well.

3. Add 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt; blend to combine. Add remaining flour in two parts, blending to combine between each, until a dough forms.

4. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake until cookie edges are very light golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for a few minutes and transfer to wire cooling rack.

5. While cookies cool, prepare glaze by creaming together butter and sugar. Continue to mix, gradually adding juice until desired consistency. Decorate cooled cookies adding dragees or decorating sugar, if desired, before icing sets.

Yield: 4 dozen

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Avocado, Cream Cheese, & Salsa-Stuffed Puff Pastries

It's kind of a joke that every recipe that gets popular on Pinterest involves cream cheese in some way, and it's mostly true. It should come as no surprise then that this recipe involves cream cheese and was found on Pinterest. What should come as a surprise is that these were not delicious at all. They were actually kind of gross. The hot cream cheese in puff pastry? AMAZING. Hot avocado? No. Hot avocado mixed with everything else inside puff pastry? Not good at all. Neither Erica nor I enjoyed it in any way. And we both determined that avocado is delicious when cold or room temperature, but when it's warmed up it just gets this weird, gross taste. Blech. Definitely not a make-again.

avocado
{In progress. I got to use my ravioli wheel!}

avocado

Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa-Stuffed Puff Pastries
Love Veggies & Yoga, via Pinterest

1 large sheet puffed pastry, thawed
1 ripe avocado, halved and mashed (approximately 1 tablespoon of avocado per pastry square)
1/3 cup cream cheese (approximately 1 teaspoon of cream cheese per pastry square)
1/3 cup salsa (approximately 1 teaspoon of salsa per pastry square, or a combination of Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde and Trader Joe’s Mango Red Pepper Chutney)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400F and prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper, Silpat liners, or spray them well with cooking spray.

2. Thaw one large square of puffed pastry for about 10 minutes. Flour your countertop or working surface and roll out the pastry square as thinly as possible. With a pizza cutter or knife, slice the puffed pastry into approximately 2-inch by 2-inch squares. From the one thinly rolled large sheet of frozen puffed pastry, I created 18 squares.

3. On half the squares (9 squares for me), place a dollop of avocado, then cream cheese, then salsa, season with salt and pepper. Use the remaining squares as the lids and place one lid over the filling mounds. Seal the pastry packages by pressing the edges with a fork, taking care to seal the edges well, pressing the fork in repeatedly, so no filling escapes during baking.

4. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork, and apply an eggwash to each of the pastry packages. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until desired browning and puffing has occurred. Watch them closely after 10 minutes in case your oven is hotter or your brand of puffed pastry cooks faster.

5. Remove from the oven and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and if desired, reheat leftovers in the microwave for approximately 45 seconds before serving. Or, store extras in an airtight container on the countertop for a day or so, using common sense because of the cream cheese filling, and reheating in the microwave if desired.

Yield: approximately 9 puffs, depending on size of square

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spicy Bean & Rice Burritos

In case you are curious what we eat on the days when I don't cook, the answer is the following:
-Casa Italia pizza
-Peace Valley Winery wine
-Lemon Cheesecake Truffles from Spreading Joy
(The latter two are things we got at the farmer's market.)

Last night I made super-easy burritos because I found a recipe on Pinterest. Mine did not look like the photo on Pinterest (no one is shocked by this) but we agreed that they were very good. Despite the enjoyable spiciness, I still like my Rice & Bean Burritos better, so I probably wouldn't make this one again. But a good, healthy dinner for once! Hooray!

burritos

Spicy Bean and Rice Burritos
Tasty Kitchen via Pinterest

For the filling:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 whole pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 dashes cayenne pepper
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, 15 oz can
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, 15 oz can
1/3 cup water
2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup fresh salsa

For the taco assembly:
6 whole tortillas, burrito sized, warmed
8 ounces shredded cheese
3 cups shredded lettuce, more as desired
4 whole green onions, chopped
8 ounces fat-free greek yogurt

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, and cayenne. Cook briefly until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add in drained and rinsed beans, and water. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 8 minutes, mashing the bean mixture slightly. Remove from heat, and stir in rice and salsa.

Divide mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Top with cheese, lettuce, green onions, and Greek yogurt. Roll up, and serve!

Servings: 6

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Edamame

There has been a lot going on for my family lately so cooking has been the last thing on my mind the past couple of days, until yesterday when I suddenly got the urge to make a large quantity of Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Edamame. Like, three huge Tupperware containers'-worth. It's so freaking easy, and it's always delicious (to me - to Erica, it's a bowl of things she hates) and now I'm guaranteed to have dinner and lunch for the rest of the week. I'm hoping to cook tomorrow and Friday but it all depends on my motivation level. We'll see!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Challenge: Failed

Yesterday Erica and I were discussing that being vegan sucks because we miss all of these delicious things in the world. Denise was telling me about s'mores made with Reese's, and I kept thinking about all the delicious things on Pinterest involving cream cheese, and I just felt an overwhelming sense of depriving myself. Being a vegetarian/pescetarian, I don't feel at all like I'm depriving myself. It's a lifestyle change I made 15 years ago (!15!). But eliminating dairy and eggs, regardless of the reason, felt like torture. Perhaps if it was something I felt very strongly about and truly wanted to make a permanent change, like when I was in 8th grade and chose to stop eating meat? Regardless, we decided to stop being vegan and this immediately happened.

pizza

Me: I feel like a failure. I never fail at challenges.
Erica: No. We have pizza and Snickers ice cream bars. This isn't losing. This is absolutely winning.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

OK, I am not one to give up on a challenge, but I'm pretty sure that we're going to fail miserably at being veganish. Just giving you a heads-up!

Last night for dinner I had a meeting until late so I thawed out some of the Spicy Vegetarian Chili I froze awhile ago. Still delicious when re-heated. Love it so much!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Chipotle Sweet Potato, Black Bean, & Guac Tacos

Something I learned today is that when you can't eat dairy or eggs, catered lunches at work are not so fun and exciting. This little experiment is three days old and already I am tired of it. We will persevere!

Recipes like the one I made for dinner tonight certainly will help. These tacos were so good that we didn't even miss the cheese or sour cream. The homemade guacamole was wonderful. I omitted the chile and tomato and just added extra chipotle to the potatoes. Because I have had bad luck cooking sweet potatoes in a dry pan (so sticky!), I microwaved it first and then cut it up and threw it in with the beans and onions. This worked VERY well and made for a nice texture. It also stayed neatly in the taco shell. We both agreed this was delicious and I would make it again.

tacos

Chipotle Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Guac Tacos
NaturallyElla.com via Pinterest

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup black beans
1 chipotle in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons adobo sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Juice from 1 lime
4 taco shells (hard or soft)

Guacamole:
1 avocado
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 serrano pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 small tomato, diced
Handful of cilantro

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in skillet. Add onions and let cook until onions begin to soften, 3-4 minutes. Next, stir in sweet potatoes and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

2. In a mortar and pestle, combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, honey, and lime juice. Break apart the chipotle into small pieces (alternatively, you can cut up the chipotle.) Pour into the pan with the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add beans and continue to cook until sweet potatoes have softened, 10-15 minutes.

3. While sweet potatoes cook, scoop out the insides of the avocado. Add onions, garlic, pepper, salt, and lime juice. Mash until the guacamole has your favorite consistency. Fold in tomato and cilantro. Taste and add more salt if needed.

4. To serve, scoop a spoonful of guacamole onto the bottom of the taco and layer with sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle extra cilantro on top if desired.

Yield: 2 (4 tacos)

Veganish: Day 2 - Bhel Puri

It turns out that buying lunch in the hospital cafeteria is damn near impossible when one is vegan. Yes, I could eat filler like salad, but there's no protein in it. Maybe when there are beans at the salad bar, tossing some of those on? I'm pretty sure most people on special diets thusly bring their lunches. Today I am taking a Tandoor Kitchen pad thai for lunch. Super duper.

So for dinner last night I made Bhel Puri. I love it so much, and I was thrilled to find my bombay mix at the grocery store. Surprisingly, Erica really liked it. I was nervous because it's so spicy (full-of-spices spicy, not hot-spicy) but she liked it. And hoorah for vegan!

So maybe we'll make it through the month after all. We'll be ok. We have Erica's copy of Veganomicon, and I took this as an opportunity to buy The Voluptuous Vegan and Rebar Cookbook (as well as Booze Cakes - but that's after this month is over). Farmer's market in four days! How fun.