Wednesday, December 05, 2007

= Pressing PAUSE =

Well, I have been meaning to write about all of the fantastic things that I cooked and ate at Thanksgiving . . . but I haven't had time! Come to think of it, I only really made a couple of things over Thanksgiving break, because I didn't have time! And guess what? I won't have any time to write a post in at least the next couple of weeks.

I shall return for a post that I am required to make later this month for my all new daring bakers project, but aside from that, I will be (hopefully in this order):
1-4. completing my coursework
5. selling my house
hosting some fabby houseguests
7. packing my house
8. driving to nc
9. flying to brooklyn
10. attending my brother's wedding :)
11. flying back to nc
12. celebrating the holidays
13. driving back to indiana
14. finding a new place to live?
15. finishing my house-packing
16. renting and packing a moving truck
17. celebrating new years?
18. driving a moving truck to nyc
19. unpacking my house
20. starting an internship!

phew! see you when i see you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Free Food for Free Words

I'm always looking for ways to improve my vocab skills, and now all of that skill-building pays off in the form of rice donated through the UN to feed the hungry. Yay!

You are given a multiple choice question like this:

and for each answer you get right, 10 grains of rice get donated, without limit. Some are easy, but there are some definite challenges, too.

On the day the website went up (October 7), 830 grains were donated . . . yesterday, 188,987,290 grains were donated. So, if there are over 29,000 grains of long grain white rice in a pound, that would mean . . . over 6,516 pounds, just yesterday!

Thanks for sharing, Emily!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Apple Cider Mini-Doughnuts

My new favorite blog to read (in my oodles of spare time) is Aussie-based Milk & Cookies. I knew I liked the blog when she posted a recipe for Apple Cider Doughnuts - right on time as the chilly air moved in to Bloomington (although it's certainly not autumn in her neck of the woods). I have been looking for a good excuse to buy a doughnut pan for a looong time . . . and this was it! So, I promptly went after a mini-doughnut pan I found at Good's for Cooks downtown.

I made the Milk & Cookies recipe just as she wrote it, with a couple of slight changes. I agree that the batter is incredibly light and airy . . . most definitely yeast-like without the use of any yeast. The result was scrumptious, although next time I might make a couple of changes. Following is the recipe, and see my notes after that.

Apple Cider Mini-Doughnuts
adapted from Milk & Cookies
For the Doughnuts:
oil and sugar (or flour) for baking pans
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. grated nutmeg
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. applesauce
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. apple cider
1/3 c. plain yogurt
3 T. oil

For the Icing:
1 c. confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 t. vanilla extract
1-2 T. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously oil each doughnut cavity and sprinkle with sugar or flour; shake out excess. In medium bowl, whisk together flour through nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg through oil. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just-mixed.

Carefully place batter in a ziploc bag and seal closed, removing excess air. Using scissors, snip a 1/2" opening in a bottom corner of the bag. Pipe a ring of batter into each doughnut cavity, filling each about halfway.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the tops spring back when touched. Loosen edges of each doughnut and turn pan onto cooling rack; position doughnuts on rack and leave to cool completely.

To make icing, combine ingredients and stir until liquid but not drippy. Add more milk or sugar depending on consistency. Dip each cooled doughnut into bowl of icing and turn until top is well-coated. Return to cooling rack for icing to set.
My notes:
  • in general, the doughnuts were tough to get out of the pan, which is why I have suggested the less-sweet but slightly more practical option of dusting the pans with flour instead of sugar
  • Milk & Cookies suggested using hazelnut oil - I liked the idea of trying out a new oil but went with toasted walnut instead - but I don't really think it makes a difference.
  • with one batch, I added finely diced apple to the pan before piping in the batter - this tasted great but proved to be a bad idea, because the moisture level got too high, and the apples stuck to the pan, requiring that some of the doughnuts be surgically removed
  • my icing looks a lot different than Milk & Cookies does because a.) i made it too thin (but I kind of like it that way because it is like a glaze) b.) my doughnuts were still a bit warm and c.) soymilk makes the glaze a less-attractive beige color, so it is good that I went with more of a glaze and less of a frosting
  • these would be tasty with a maple-ginger icing made by substituting the vanilla with 1/4 t. ground ginger and adding 1 1/2 T. of maple syrup to the mix
  • like Milk & Cookies, I HATE to fry things in my house, and avoid doing so at all costs, which is why I love the baked doughnut idea in the first place. however, these were not as crispy on the outside as I would have liked, so next time I will be trying to bake these in a 425 degree oven for less time and see where that gets me . . .

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Black & Orange Cauldron Bubble

Happy Halloween!

Today's Splendid Table email newsletter was forwarded to me (shout out to the Moms & MJ), which included Robin Robertson's recipe for Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili. The recipe is excerpted from her book One-Dish Vegetarian Meals (I have had my eye on her Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker for a while), as well as Splendid Table Lynne's tips and ideas for buying, storing, cooking, and eating squash and pumpkins. It was a really nice email - not gimicky at all like most email newsletters - with lots of practical (okay, splendid) ideas. I think I'll subscribe.

The recipe was just right for today - tasty, quick, and festive (more and more, quick and easy is a prerequisite for my cooking, if you haven't noticed). For an ol' boring lady like me with exciting Halloween plans to catch the tail-end of the trick-or-treaters at home after class and hunker down with a big pile of homework . . . it worked great. Plus, I happened to have an excellent husband who had some free time this afternoon to hit up the grocery store and assist with some pumpkin-choppin' prep work. I was really impressed that he went so far as to carve up the pumpkin into chunks . . . back pain and all.

This was a really fantastic, savory chili - packed with flavor from the pumpkin, cider, and kale that we used. Although the added greens were one of Lynne's tips and not included in the original recipe, I highly recommend adding them. It brings a brightness to the chili, as well as a ton of nutrients that you don't come across every day. If you are not big on the flavor, don't add too much, but give it a shot.

Pumpkin & Black Bean Chili
adapted slightly from One-Dish Vegetarian Meals as presented by The Splendid Table

1 2-lb. pie pumpkin or butternut squash (we used a pumpkin & were quite pleased)
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 minced jalapeno chile, or 1-2 minced chipotle chiles in adobo
1 32-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. apple cider
4 T. chili powder (or chili powder blend - go light on this and add more if you are not a spice fan)
1 t. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
3 15-oz. cans rinsed and drained black beans
1 head kale or other hearty green, rinsed and chopped (optional)

Suggested toppings: toasted pepitas, soy sour cream, chives or green onion

Cut the pumpkin into 1/2-inch dice and set aside. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat, then add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno or chipotle. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add remaining ingredients except for beans and greens. Stir, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook for about 30 minutes or until pumpkin has softened. Add beans and greens, and more water if necessary. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until flavors have been incorporated. Serve with toppings, a small salad, and a slice of savory bread.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I ask you: WHY have I never made granola?

Reasons for asking why:
1. We go through copious amounts of granola/fancy organic no-HFCS cereal in my house.
2. It is expensive to buy boxed granola!
3. All of those boxes add up to a lot of waste, right? (although...all those bags you use to get stuff out of the bulk bins does, too...unless you save them like a good environmentalist would)
4. Making granola is SOOO easy!

A super-duper friend of mine gave me La Dolce Vegan! for my birthday this year, and I have been so happy and excited by all the new recipes at hand. I wanted to make something easy for this week's breakfasts...and then I came across a few tasty-sounding granola recipes. I've always thought about making granola, but I have just never done it..and now I suggest that you quickly whip up a batch. You can collect all the right amounts (or estimates of the right amounts) of the ingredients at the bulk bins - then go home and just dump all that shit into a bowl...and you are almost there! OK - enough with all of this granola praise...on to the recipe.

Cranberry Almond Pecan Granola
(altered from La Dolce Vegan!)

4 c. rolled oats
1 1/3 c. sliced almonds
1 1/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/3 c. pecans
1 scant c. unrefined sugar
2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
2/3 c. cranberry juice
1/4 c. oil
1 1/2 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, combine the oats through the spices, then add the juice and oil, and mix until well combined. Spread granola in a single layer on two large baking pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring and rotating the pans after 10 minutes. Let granola cool, untouched (no stirring! you will get better clusters that way), then add cranberries when cool. Store in an airtight container and enjoy all week long with delectable soy milk.
p.s. don't the pictures look better? (granted, the ones from the last post are cell phone pics) I bought a new camera with my birthday money - yay!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I caught a good one.

It was my birthday this week, and it turned out to be one of the best ones in a while. Chris and I have been away from each other on my birthday for the past couple of years, and this was extra special just because he was there and being so great to me all day long. He woke me up with a cup of coffee under my nose (not really out of the ordinary) and lured me into the dining room, which was all aglow with this spread:I had been sleeping soundly, and he had been up for an hour in the dark, whipping up whole wheat blueberry pancakes and soysages and coffee and orange juice. This is extra special, you see, because he is not exactly an experienced pancake-maker. I was very proud of him. Also, he really hates wrapping presents - he told me that you can tell that he loves me because he wrapped ALL of those presents. I always kind of considered his family tradition of unwrapping presents in the morning with birthday breakfast (and not after dinner with birthday cake, which is my family tradition) to be cheating, but this whole fabulous experience kind of debunked that theory (especially since I was not even supposed to get presents this year). This bonus gift came at the end:Anyways, I told him after that fantastic breakfast it really didn't matter what happened during the rest of my busy day - he had set the tone right and that was all that mattered. I ended up having a really nice day, especially capped off with dinner and drinks at Malibu with some of our great friends.

Then, he upped the ante even more by cooking dinner for me the next night! He made another of our Giada favorites, Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds, and Breadcrumbs. I don't have a picture, but you can look at the one with the recipe here. To sum it up: Boil a pound of penne or rigatoni. Place a 5 oz. bag of garlic-flavored croutons and 1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds in a food processor until like breadcrumbs. Toss pasta with crouton mix and 3/4 c. olive oil and/or pasta water. Top with a jar of roasted red peppers that have been julienned and a rinsed can of garbanzo beans (that is our own addition - it makes it really good). It's cheap, fast, easy, and really really good - the makings of a perfect weeknight dinner.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Moroccan Roasted Vegetables

So, this recipe is probably what I would consider my "signature" dish, only because every time I cook it, I get asked for the recipe. Then, those people seem to misplace the recipe (just as I would if I had originally requested it), and then they ask again. Then they pass it on to their loved ones and cook it for other people and get asked for the recipe themselves. It's a good recipe.

I was just asked for it by my friend Chez Megane, and I realized I have never posted it here before. Since it is one of those recipes that gets lost, I figured I would post it now to be used by all. Although I don't have photos of it to share, trust that it is a beautiful and humbly delectable dish.

Moroccan Roasted Vegetables
slightly adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

note: I generally add a good bit more spice than called for by mounding up the spices in the measuring spoons as I measure them - it makes it better.

1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick semi-circles
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes or semi-circles
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick cubes or semi-circles
1 large red bell pepper, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
15.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 T. olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. ground cumin
1 1/2 t. turmeric
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. cayenne
2 t. salt

Optional, but HIGHLY recommended for toppings:
chopped toasted almonds
crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together ingredients.

Spread vegetables onto parchment-lined baking 11x17-inch baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and stir well, then bake for another 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Serve warm over couscous, topped with suggested toppings.