Tuesday, December 12, 2006

the recipe that saved my ass...

Me: Finally taking a moment to relax, pretending to be done with finals, getting into some knitting and sipping on a nice big glass of red wine, joyfully watching the Enron movie
Francis (cat): Kind of bored, playing with a bug that she found, waaay to close to my wine glass (which I have precariously placed on the carpeted floor next to me, naturally)
Me: hmmmm.....I'll just move that wine gl-
Wine Glass: spppppllllllaaaaaaasssssshhhhhHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! (ALL OVER - totally my fault, by the way....Francis is innocent)

So, yeah, I started flipping out just a little bit in my brain...it seems like only yesterday when we steam cleaned the carpet from the last red wine spill...and hmmm....we don't have any more stain remover left, and hmmm......this carpet is seriously only 3 years old?.....and hmmmm.....won't that just make Chris's day when he comes home at 1 am to this? So, I took every towel out of the linen closet, and while blotting, quickly looked for home remedies online (thank god for the internet, by the way). I tried everything that was suggested that I had in-house. I poured a quarter of a bottle of white wine on it to "neutralize" it, then some tonic water (only thing I had with bubbles), then I had to hit the grocery store for regular stain fighting stuff plus ingredients for this very magical-looking concoction that I found on the stain-fighting sites. All I know is, the wine and tonic water maybe helped a little, but it's the
$.97 bottle of hydrogen peroxide that I want to marry. I now have an unopened $5 bottle of double-chambered-oxy-high-powered-
ridiculousness for what? Here is the recipe that will save your life:

1 c. hydrogen peroxide
1 t. (or a little more if you don't believe a t. will work, like me) of Dawn

Mix, and pour the magic all over that stain. You talk nice to the stain. You give it your best sexy eyes. You watch it bubble up and foam just a little for you (I think it giggled at me), then you coax the stain, with nothing but an old tattered bath towel and your barest of feet. I did that like 3 times. Now, I bet Chris wouldn't be able to pick out where the 2 1/2 foot wide stain was. It's magic, people. I believe.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Party Food!

A couple of weekends ago, we had a party at our place, and I made just a few easy things for people to snack on while they were nursing the keg :) - Fat-Free Bean Dip, Fresh Salsa, and Chez Megane's Pumpkin Bars. It turned out that people were very happy with them, and I got many recipe requests, which was really nice. Unfortunately, the only picture I have is of the bowl from the bean dip, which was clearly emptied out...

Fat-Free Bean Dip
adapted from the Foster's Market Cookbook

2 cans rinsed black beans
scant 1/2 c. tomato juice
juice of 2 limes
1 T. cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. chili powder
2 t. salt
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/3 c. fresh cilantro

Place all of the ingredients, except for the cilanto, into the bowl of a food processer and blend until smooth. If you add a full 1/2 c. of tomato juice, the dip will be a bit thinner than a typical bean dip...so you may want to add a bit less and test it depending on your taste. Then, add the cilanto and pulse until cilanto is roughly chopped into the dip.

Fresh Salsa
adapted from the Foster's Market Cookbook

7 cored, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
One 14 1/2 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, drained (or 3 more fresh tomatoes)
One 4 1/2 oz. can diced mild green chiles
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and adjust seasonings to taste. This makes a mild salsa - plan on added extra jalapenos, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to spice it up if you prefer a hotter salsa. This makes a lot - 6 cups or more, and keeps for about a week.

So...lastly, I made the fantastically delicious Pumpkin Bars, which are posted here and here. I doubled the recipe, which seemed to fit nicely in one 11x17 jelly roll pan and a 9x 13 baking dish. I did make one change to the original recipe - Chris was kind enough to pick up a couple of things from the grocery store for me, and when he returned with the items on my list (cinnamon and ginger) he handed me a bag of ground cinnamon....and a big ol' hunk of ginger root. So, I decided it was better to up the nutmeg and cloves by 1/4 t. each rather than attempt to add grated ginger root to the recipe (although I am sure that would have worked out fine...). These were a hit as well - they were all gone!

Friday, November 03, 2006

One month later...

Many apologies. A month? It's ridiculous. I'm gonna kick-start the return to my semi-abandoned- for-school blog by sharing this spicy (not too spicy) delicious Malaysian-Inspired Tofu Curry. It's a great, easy, tasty one that will fill you up in a healthy way and keep you warm as the temperatures drop low. (can you hear Barry White?)

Malaysian-Inspired Tofu Curry
(adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

1 lb. firm tofu
2 15 oz. cans light coconut milk (or one can plus one can water)
2 t. light brown sugar
1/2 t. salt plus more to taste
1 T. ground coriander
2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. turmeric
1/4 t. cayenne
1 t. tamarind paste
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 T. finely chopped ginger
4 Roma tomatoes or 2 Beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
8-10 oz. green beans, okra, peas, broccoli or asparagus
juice of 1 lime
chopped cilantro or scallions for garnish

Drain and chop tofu into cubes. Place coconut milk through ginger into a rimmed skillet and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for one minute, whisking spices in until combined, and add tofu. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then add tomatoes and scallions and simmer for about 8 more minutes. Add green vegetables and simmer for about 5 more minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the lime juice and taste, add salt if necessary. Serve on top of steamed brown rice and garnish with cilantro or scallions.

Garlic Naan
(adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

1 c. warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 t.)
1 8 oz. container plain yogurt
1/4 c. melted butter
1 1/2 t. salt
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat bran
3 c. all-purpose flour

Sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 c. of the water and let sit for about 10 minutes or until foamy (you may need to lightly stir the yeast into the water). In a large bowl, combine 3/4 c. warm water, yogurt, butter, and salt, then stir in the prepared yeast, whole wheat flour and bran. Add as much of the all-purpose flour is needed to form a heavy dough, then turn out to knead (adding more flour if necessary) until smooth and slightly tacky. Turn ball of dough around in an oiled bowl, then cover and leave to rise for about one hour, or until dough has doubled.

Dice up 4-5 cloves of garlic and place in a small bowl with a few tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter and set aside. Place a cookie sheet or pizza stone in the oven (add a couple if you only want to bake one batch) and preheat to 450 degrees. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide into 8-10 pieces, then roll into balls and leave, covered, to rest for 10 more minutes. After resting, flatten out the dough balls with your fingers, spreading them and turning them until they have reached about 6-7" in diameter. I found it helpful to pull the dough out into a circle in the air instead of on the counter (gravity is your friend). Pull the preheated sheet pan(s) from the oven and place the dough rounds on top. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until beginning to puff, but not yet browned. Remove from the oven and baste with the garlic mixture (alternatively sprinkle on the diced garlic and place a small pat of butter on each naan) and return to the oven to finish baking for about 2-5 minutes, or until the breads are slightly browned and the garlic begins to fill your kitchen with it's oh-so-lovely aroma. Depending on how long you leave them in the oven, they will be slightly crispy and cracker-like where thin and soft and chewy where thick.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Fab Night @ The Strokes

Emily, Mandy and I just returned from our evening in Muncie, Indiana at the Strokes concert - I don't think ANYONE knew why it was in Muncie...especially considering the small auditorium was about halfway full...but, whatever - we had so much fun rocking that halfway full house down. We arrived in Muncie, had some delicious pineapple tofu fried rice and pad woon sen at a place called Thai Smile (I had to mention it considering this is a food blog), then kicked it at "The Bird" for a few quick drinks before heading to the show. Our tickets were great...but we found even better seats right in the middle, 16 or 17 rows back. Yeah, the pictures aren't so great - it's a bummer that I didn't get better shots... oh yeah - except for that one of us and FABBY!!! Holy crap!You should be jealous. Not only was he super sweaty (in the cute i-just-played-in-a-rock-show-way), but he was super nice (and apologizing for the sweat). Way cute, Fabrizio Moretti, way cute.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

drinks...more drinks...and chili

It all started last weekend with my friend Mandy's bachelorette party in Chicago. It was a great time. I went up early with some of the girls and had a great day of super shopping with my partner in crime, Emily, and hung out with her family a bit. Then, Saturday night came where the sangria, mango margaritas, tequila shots, dirty martinis, beer, blow job shots and whiskey flowed like honey. It was wild n' crazy and so much fun...especially because the bars stay open and bumping so late in the city, so me and the 2 other wildest ladies stayed out until 5:30 our time...something that happened without our realizing it, which is the best part. How often can you party so effortlessly for 12 hours straight? Anyways, I blame it all on Mandy, a true top-notch bachelorette:Then, we all awoke tenderly...and slowly made our way out to a superb hangover breakfast at Glenn's Diner (in Ravenswood, I believe). I ordered the scrambled eggs with parmesan and chives along with a tasty potato pancake and some slammin' thick, soft, raisin toast with butter. It also happened to be my birthday, so the sneaky gals ordered me a short stack with a candle:That night, Chris made some Ghirardelli brownies with added peanut butter chips, and sang to me.Fast forward through one busy week of school, and we are ready for another weekend made for partying. Last night we had another wine gathering at our house, this time in honor of Chez Megane's return to Bloomington for a visit. Beforehand, a couple of fine ladies came over for a vegan dinner - Mandy clearly loves Tofutti sour cream :) I made this chili after hearing so much about it from my friend Emily, and then seeing it posted on Chez Megane's blog...I used the same spice combination, but veganized it and used a different combination of beans. It was delicious! I think in terms of texture at least, the results were fairly different, considering mine was really super thick, and the original seems to be a tad more soupy. The ladies brought over yummy bread and cheese, and made a beautiful salad of mache, radishes, yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, and (avocado). It was really good, and made me realize that I need to use mache and radishes more in salads. Quinoa and Three Bean Chili
adapted from this Epicurious recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onions chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 c. quinoa (for a thinner chili, try 1 c.)
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock (or 3 c. water and one vegetarian bouillon cube)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans of beans (I used black, garbanzo, and kidney), rinsed & drained
chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, chives, or green onions
soy sour cream

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Add quinoa; stir 1 minute. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves (which I didn't have, but would be delicious I'm sure), cocoa powder, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, stock and tomato sauce. Mix and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with fresh herbs and sour cream. Serves 8.

After our delicious dinner, the wine started to flow, and although it was raining, we managed to find a point in the evening to start a modest fire and make s'mores as promised...and then we danced for the rest of the night to the tunes of D.J. Ninja RumbleKid. Now I have a couple of really pooped out kitties on my hands...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

i <3 new cookbooks :)

I FINALLY bought Vegan with a Vengeance the other night, and was so excited to cook from it. It looks like it is going to be a good book - nice flavors, new ingredients, and simple, straightforward recipes. Chris picked out a stuffed pepper recipe to start with, which I liked a lot. I guess the recipe is inspired by one that was found on the back of a box of veggie crumbles - - but because the cookbook is made without the use of prepackaged faux meat ingredients, she used quinoa and black beans instead - yum! The quinoa/black bean combination is not only a great source of protein, but it also tastes really good together, it's fast and easy to cook, and provides a nice textural appeal. As Giada would say, "...oooh....the beans are so smooooth and chrrreamy....and the toasted quinoa gives a little crrunch in your mouth." (that's for you, EBM)

Black Bean, Mushroom, and Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
slightly adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

4 large bell peppers (any color)
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 minced cloves of garlic
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 T. chile powder
1 t. salt
1/4 c. water
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 c. quinoa
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
(optional) 1 t. maple syrup
(optional) fresh cilantro or parsley

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the stems, seeds, and ribs. Decide if you would like to stuff the peppers whole standing up (nice presentation but not practical) or in halves laying down (not quite as pretty but much more practical) and slice or not slice accordingly. Place the peppers in the boiling water for about 5 minutes, remove, drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and saute until the onions are becoming transluscent. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and saute for about 5 minutes more. Stir in the chile powder and salt, then add the quinoa, water, and 1 c. of the tomato sauce. Stir well to combine, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes, stirring once. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the beans and optional syrup to the quinoa mixture, then taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. At this time, you can also add a small handful of chopped fresh herbs
to the mixture if you would like. Stuff the peppers, top with the remaining sauce and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and top with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Curried Carrot Bisque
I had to pick out a quick side to go with the peppers, and since it has been so grey lately, I was drawn to this sunny soup. It's got an amazing flavor, vegan or not - I just LOVE anything made with coconut milk and curry powder. It's really easy to make - if you want to be super lazy you can even just buy grated bagged carrots and use those with barely any prep work. You can get this recipe at the Post Punk Kitchen site, which has a lot of other recipes from the book (and elsewhere). I highly recommend this, so go right now.

In other news, in case you haven't read the Dining Out section of today's NYTimes, I just wanted to draw your attention to these great articles on tea (yay for new and improved tea bags!), coffee (yay for artisinal latte patterns!), and the Eating Well section (yay for spraying viruses on cold cuts instead of cleaning the factories!).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

a winey weekend...

This weekend, we ended up having a little last minute wine gathering at our house (which was so much fun!). My time window to cook and eat dinner beforehand was really small, and I hadn't planned anything, so I just picked up some veggies at the grocery store to throw in the oven. It made me remember how much I love having plates of just vegetables for meals - it's simple, really tasty, and super healthy, of course.
With the oven at 400 degrees, I put two sweet potatoes (cut into 4 wedges each) in the oven for about 20 minutes, then added a bunch of asaparagus (with the ends trimmed) and 2 sliced shallots to the oven, tossed with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Everything will finish roasting in about 10-15 minutes. I put the asparagus on a bed of mixed greens, topped the sweet potato wedges with butter, lime, chili, salt and pepper, and enjoyed it quickly before my peeps arrived for an evening of fun...

Then, I woke up in the morning, one fire pit, 8 bottles of wine, several crown and cokes, lots of s'mores, and a few beers later...and headed off to....Oliver Winery. Yes, Chris and I were both feeling semi-nasty in the morning, but it was worth it. Some of the girls in the Arts Administration program organized a tasting and pitch-in picnic, and it was lots of fun. We chose super-fruity light wines to taste, because I simply couldn't handle drinking anything too heavy...and then settled on a bottle of Savignon Blanc, which was really good. I decided to bring this white bean dip to share, which has sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and a bit of heat to keep it interesting. It was really tasty and easy to make, and the leftovers will make an excellent filling with veggies in pita pockets.
Provencal White Bean Dip
adapted from The Foster's Market Cookbook

2 15 oz. cans of cannelini beans, rinsed
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes (I used those packed in oil, if dried, plump in hot water before using)
2 T. drained capers
juice of 1 lime
1 t. hot sauce
1/2 T. dried oregano (or 2 T. fresh oregano)
1 t. salt
1/2. t. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the onion to 400 degrees. Toss garlic cloves and whole jalapeno pepper with 2 T. of the oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until soft and light golden brown. Slice jalapeno in half and remove the stem, seeds, and skin. Fit a food processer with the metal blade attachment, add all of the ingredients to the bowl of the processer, and puree until smooth. Serve with crostini, pita, or crudites or use on sandwiches.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Gonna Go Back in Tiiieeeme

Yes, I have been a horrible blogger. The truth is, now that I am back in school, and no longer chained to a desk chair, suckling on internet pop culture to survive each day (yes, part of me misses that)...I find it more difficult to sit down and do this when I know I have hundreds of pages to be reading and papers to be writing. So, I thank you for your patience. Stay with me, you few readers of mine, and I will strive to post more often than I have been. Also, my fellow classmates and I are looking into speed-reading techniques, so that should help...if it works out.

With that out of the way, let's get this time travel thing off the ground. Starting from this week and going backwards, I present to you (didillidilldoo, didillidilldoo, didillidilldoo, didillidilldoo, didillidilldoo,.....):

Macaroni n' Sneeze
I got a really nasty cold this week, and this super simple feast of deliciousness hit the spot. The best part is that it reminds me of my family's potato and onion pierogis, without the hours of intensive labor. It's from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and consisted of just a few simple ingredients...
- 2 sliced onions sauteed until beginning to brown in 2-3 T. of the oil/butter of your choice
- 4 potatoes (I used Yukon which was fantastic) diced up and boiled until just fork-tender
- a pound of macaroni (I used whole wheat - also fantastic) boiled in the potato water after they are fished out
- a cup or two of grated Gruyere (I used a .4 lb chunk)
- a big 'ol handful of chopped parsley
- salt n' pepper
It's super easy - saute onions, boil potatoes, boil macaroni, toss in bowl with everything.

I do have a couple of
- Deborah suggested pouring the onions on top of the other mixed ingredients, but I say mix it all, so your leftovers will also have onions.
- When the potatoes are done, and the pasta is boiling, cover those potatoes in the bowl with plastic wrap - "keep 'em hot"
- Definitely eat this with a salad, preferably one with apples on it, or better yet, saute apples with your onions. Believe me, the apple combo is one you will not regret.
- Also better yet, why not add green beans, or peas, or broccoli, or....? (but not with the apples)
- A pat of butter or drizzle of oil won't hurt the mixture either :)

Nut Butter French Toast
In my quest to use less eggs, I haven't actually bought eggs in a while. So, when I decided to whip up a batch of french toast the other day, I just looked at a few recipes online and made up my own conconction with what I had. A lot of vegan recipes use tofu (which I didn't have) or bananas (which I hate), so I used peanut butter. Although not exactly a substitute for eggy french toast, the peanut butter worked nicely and was a good twist on the breakfast classic. It works well in terms of texture, but it does stick to the pan more than regular french toast does, so prepare the pan accordingly. Next time, I think I'll top it with jam and crushed peanuts.
Place the following ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth:
- 1/4 c. nut butter
- 2/3 c. soy milk

- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. nutmeg
- 1/2 t. vanilla
That's it! I think you know the drill from there...

Coconut-Crusted Tofu Salad
I went out to dinner with my friend Emily at Upland Brewing Company a couple of weeks ago, and we split an amazing combo of the tofu salad (coconut-breaded deep fried tofu on salad greens with tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts and cucumbers) and the famous mac n' cheese. I love coconut-crusted anything...so I whipped up my own version of the salad. I think I need to do some research into the best way to coat tofu to get maximum coconut coverage, but other than that - this was really tasty. The salad at Upland was served with their amazing homemeade orange-ginger vineagrette. Since I had a bottle of sesame orange dressing on hand, I just used that, but any sweet-ish asian inspitred dressing would do. Enjoy!

- 1 package of extra firm tofu, drained, cut into pieces, and rolled in soy milk and sweetened dried coconut, and toasted to a golden brown in a non-stick pan with a tablespoon or two of oil
- salad greens
- sliced red bell pepper

- shredded carrots
- bean sprouts
- sugar snap peas
- dry roasted peanuts
- thinly sliced scallions

Double Berry Smoothie
So, there is not much to this - strawberries, blueberries (thanks E & A!), soy milk and ice in a blender. I made this when it was still officially August in celebration of the fleeting days of summer...which are almost gone now. I decided after making this that I need to make more smoothies with fun recipes, so let me know if you have any good ones.

Giada's Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
I made this after watching the Everyday Italian episode, "Italian Street Food," so this recipe was intended to be served on sandwiches. For dinner, I decided some whole wheat pasta was a better fit. I know a lot of us like to poke fun at poor Giada, but every time I have made a recipe of hers, I have liked it. Granted, she makes a LOT of meat, much of it being roasts and shoulders and the like that isn't easily replicated with soy or gluten, so I can't speak for that. Anyways, I encourage you all to have this recipe for sausage, peppers, and onions at the very least. She has a tendency to do things that are so simple, but that I might not have thought of if I were attempting the same thing from scratch - like tomato paste (which I find I LOVE in dishes like this) and wine. Simple, inexpensive ingredients....but she usually layers a lot of flavors for good depth of flavor in the final product. One note about the substitute meat that I used here - they were out of my favorite Boca Italian Sausage, so I tried Tofurkey Italian Sausage...and I don't recommend. The flavor was good and spicy, but the texture was like a damp kitchen sponge. Me no likey. Use something else (unless you like that damp kitchen sponge feel in your mouth).

I hope you have enjoyed this trip going back in tiiiieeeme (didillidilldoo,
didillidilldoo, didillidilldoo, didillidilldoo, didillidilldoo,.....).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

I missed you. Let's catch up, shall we?

Three weeks of vacation, and I am back. Oh, how I missed you. I don't really know where to start, but it's time for me to fill you in and post some oh-so-cute pics. OK - so, before I left, I made this...and although it was so in the past, I have to pass it on cause it was easy and delicious. I think I made it the night before we left - I needed a simple something to nosh on with minimal clean up. I toasted up some slices of baguette in the oven, then spread them with quince jam (fig would be delicious as well), topped them with thin slices of drunken goat cheese (but of course, almost any cheese would do, I think), and popped them back under the broiler until they melted. Then, the best part...I drizzled the bread with just a bit of honey and cracked black pepper on top of that. The salad is torn red leaf lettuce with dried cherries, toasted walnuts, and slices of granny smith apple with a simple balsamic vinagerette and black pepper. Yum!

So, where did we go, you ask? We started off driving from Indiana to North Topsail Beach in North Carolina to meet up with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. This is what we did there:
Yeah. It was nice. The weather was beautiful, the beach was beautiful, the water was beautiful, and the view was beautiful. So, after a full week of beach-reading, wave-crashing, shell-collecting, surf-walking, and sun-tanning...we were off. We drove to Chapel Hill, and kicked off the week by attending the wedding of our friends Chris and Alison. It was a beautiful, fun, personal wedding that Chris and I really enjoyed. It was a very classy affair, which this picture absolutely does not display:For the remainder of the week, we stayed at my parents' house. They are moving (sniff, sniff) - just across town...but still, the house has to be packed up, and I had to say goodbye. I spent the week going through dusty attic boxes of art projects, school papers, and letters, trying to make a dent for my parents in the pile of stuff they had to go through (a.k.a. get rid of). I did get a *tad* emotional when I actually had to say goodbye to their super-peaceful, wooded home for the last time, but there are only good things in the future for them, so it was all good, all around.

Then, we packed up again and hopped a flight to New Hampshire with my parents and sister for a BIG family reunion for my Dad's side of the family. I think New Hampshire is my new favorite state. Not only do they have the whole "Live Free or Die" thing going for them, it is BEAUTIFUL. I'm kind of sad, because my pictures simply do not do it justice, but I will share a sampling anyways. The reunion was held at the Mt. Washington Resort, which was built in 1902 and is a National Historic Landmark, surrounded by National Forest:
While we were there, we hiked, saw waterfalls, and visited with lots of family. It was great. After a jam-packed weekend there, we hopped in the rental minivan and trekked east into Maine. On the way, we briefly stopped at my aunt's house to eat some Thai food and and I finally got to meet my most photogenic cousin, Ellis:We had a lot of fun playing trains and puzzles and pulling up little Ellis's cargo pants that kept falling past his diaper. Cutie-pie. Then we ate a lemony delicious tofu pad thai...generally I like my pad thai with a ripe slice of orange, but the lemon really worked well. After that, we headed north to my Nana's cabin, where we spent the next week maxin' and relaxin' on the dock, basically. It's always a joy to be up there - I think breathing the air alone is like therapy. We canoed, looked at lily pads, and I ganked my family out of 26 billz in a hardcore game of blackjack (I only started with 2 dollars!). At Nana's house, if you are going to play cards, you have to gamble. I think my favorite day in Maine was Chris's 26th birthday, when we took a ferry out to the island of Monhegan. It's a tiny little island, an hour off the coast, with a small and super-cute community of island folk. There are a few cute shops and teensy grocery stores, and tons of hiking trails. There were some golf carts and a couple of old pick-up trucks, but I think the people that live there just walk around the island. We hiked on a trail called Cathedral Woods, which was basically like walking through a fairy tale (again, the picture does NOT do it justice). The ground was mossy and soft, but not muddy, and the trees were tall and dark with beams of light shining through. The path was narrow and curvy, and led you in and out of thick groupings of trees, so that you couldn't always see what was up ahead. The best part was that people built "Fairy Houses" all through the path, tucked under tree roots or on hillsides. They were all made out of natural materials - sticks, tiny pine cones, shells, stones, etc. This one was not my favorite, but you get the idea: The path led us out to the ocean, and this view: Then, we took a break for some ice cream, and hiked to the southern point of the island which led us to Lobster Cove, where we climbed on the rocks and explored a ton of really incredible tide pools. When we returned, we enjoyed this 1-2-3-4 Lemon Cake for Chris's birthday, served with locally-made blackberry ice cream. My Nana was really hesitant to let me bake in her kitchen - the cabin is only 800 square feet, and with 7 of us staying there, there isn't room to make a mess. But, after she tasted the moist and lemon-curdy goodness, I think I moved up in her love rankings. If you get a chance to make this cake, do it. No, my cake didn't look quite as pretty as the one on Martha Stewart's website (does it ever?) And although I think they linked the wrong lemon curd recipe to the cake recipe (I ended up with much less lemon curd than is pictured even though I doubled the recipe like it says to), it didn't matter. It tasted incredible. And yes, those blueberries are wild Maine blueberries - teeny pea-sized gems of sweet summertime. You could drink them. Oh, I miss Maine already. Although this post is already longer than it should be, I will leave you now with one of my favorite memories from the trip - a raucous birthday game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ooooh beanie weenie - ooh beanie weenie

(sung to the tune of "Push It" by Salt-n-Pepa)

Yesterday, Chris and I had a nice lazy afternoon sitting under our nice shady backyard tree reading books, trying to beat the heat while enjoying the outdoors. Afterwards, I was so relaxed...I didn't really even think about cooking. We were talking about take-out, and I jokingly began suggested combinations that could be made with pantry/freezer items. One of them was beanie weenie...and Chris took this idea very seriously.

I got a phone call and lingered outside on the phone after Chris went inside, and when I came in, this was what I found waiting for me:

Chris cooked! Any of you that know me know that this is a very rare occasion, and although he is actually quite able to bake an unbelievable herbed quorn roast and saute perfectly seasoned, crisp broccolini and asparagus with garlic (okay...maybe with just a touch of help) he would much rather nod to his roots of Lipton Noodles or the holy trinity of sausage, beans, and corn from his undergraduate days (when he lived with guys). When it came down to it, this was a really good dinner that we both enjoyed immensely with a nice icey cold wheat beer. Chris insisted that I post his "recipe" here:

Chris's "Push It" Beanie Weenie
1 can vegetarian baked beans
4 quorn hot dogs (this makes an "extra weenie" version)
leftover frozen vegetables

Open the can of baked beans and pour into a saucepan. Cook the hot dogs. Pour a concoction of leftover frozen vegetables into a saucepan with a little water, butter, salt and pepper. Cut the cooked hot dogs into bite-sized pieces and stir into the baked beans. Toast 2 slices of bread and put butter on them. Bon appetit!

Warning: If this is too good, you may find your spouse wearing boxer shorts in the kitchen after dinner, eating the extra beanie weenie straight from the saucepan with a big spoon, singing "oooh beanie weenie....oooh beanie weenie," as I did.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Beef Stroga-NO

Who didn't grow up on this classic? It was definitely one of those stand-by childhood meals that my mother cooked for us, and I have always loved it. I realize that most of the time, when I get a craving for a meat dish that I used to like, it's generally the overall flavors of the dish and not the meat that I miss. So, it becomes fairly easy to recreate without meat (especially with all of the meat substitutes available)...except for crab cakes...which I don't think I will ever stop craving (and tuno just won't fly there). I did use whole wheat yolk-free egg noodles to make this, but other than that, this is vegan. I know they make them, however, so this could easily be made vegan if placed on top of a vegan noodle, or even rice.

I have never actually made beef stroganoff before, so I read several recipes, and then put my own modern spin on the classics that I had read. I used substantially less soy sour cream than is generally used in beef stroganoff recipes, because I don't really see the need for all of those additional calories when it seemed creamy enough after only 1/3 c. (it seems pretty average to use 1 1/2-2 c. in other recipes). I'm sure it would be tasty with more, though, of course :) The best part about this is that is takes less than 20 minutes to put together, especially if you use pre-sliced mushrooms, and the flavor is really fantastic. Pour yourself a nice glass of red wine, think of your mom, and enjoy!

Beef Stroga-NO

2 T. margarine
1 T. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, diced
5 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (I used 8 oz. cremini and 8 oz. white button)
1/4 c. sherry
1 t. dried rosemary (or thyme, or other herb that you like)
1 lb. equivalent of meatless ground burger (I used 2 of the sealed packs of Boca)
2 c. vegetable broth (I find that plain old vegetable bouillon has a nice light flavor here, and is easy to dissolve with the handy boiling pasta water)
1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. soy sour cream
chopped fresh parsley (optional)
paprika (optional)
12 oz. egg or other noodles

Heat the margarine and oil over medium in a skillet. Add garlic, onion, shallots, and mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until beginning to brown. Stir in sherry and dried herbs, cook for about one minute until liquid is beginning to absorb into the mushrooms. Add meatless ground burger, stir, add 1 c. vegetable broth, and stir again. Dissolve flour into 1/2 c. vegetable broth, and stir into pan. Add sour cream, stir, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over noodles with chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkle of paprika for a true Betty Crocker touch.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Beans n' Rice II, III, & IV

Leftovers...ooh baby, did I have beans n' rice leftovers. I originally made them because we were broke, and for a few bucks, we certainly got our money's worth. Here is a quick photo story of 3 of the dishes I used them in...

1. Similar to my original creation, I piled this bowl high with lightly sauteed and seasoned spinach with diced red peppers and onions, and topped that with fresh, bright red strawberries. This was a really nice treat, like a warm spinach salad with a little more bang for your buck. I do have to say that Chris and I both preferred the broccoli-sweet potato-mango combination to this one, but this still comes highly recommended. With summer being here, I find myself eating berries and fruit any chance I get.

2. Chris picked up a pack of whole wheat pitas, and we went to town stuffing them up for lunches. Here's one with hummus, beans and rice (of course) and veggies - salad greens, cucumber, and red peppers. Yum! Mr. Belvedere has a bread thing - while I was photographing, he was drawn to the pita like a magnet, so I had to keep his cute little nose in the frame.

3. To finish off the leftovers, I made a vegan version of a favorite enchilada recipe from Epicurious and plopped it on top of the last serving of beans n' rice. I've had this before, made with milk and cheese, and loved it - but I saw no reason not to try a vegan version. The results were wonderful - I don't even think I noticed a difference, except for the obvious absence of melted cheese from the top of the enchiladas! Obviously you could add soy cheese to the top, but I don't think there was a need, with all of the other topping options. This is a really creamy, filling enchilada with a spicy flavor and lots of fresh veggies (so good!). And, it is super easy for a weeknight meal! Excuse this messy half-eaten pic...I was hungry and it just looked too good not to wait!

Vegan Garden Vegetable Enchiladas

adapted from Epicurious.com

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 3 c. chopped vegetables (I used zucchini, red peppers & cremini mushrooms, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 4 oz. can mild green chiles (or a diced jalapeno - the mild chile flavor is nice though)
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 T. chile powder (this will result in a hot enchilada - use 2 T. or less for a more mild enchilada)
  • 2 T. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 c. soy milk
  • 3/4 c. soy sour cream
  • 4 T. nutritional yeast
  • 8-10 8 inch whole wheat tortillas
  • toppings!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 T. olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mixed vegetables and onion and saute until just tender. Add 1 c. corn, chiles, and 1/4. cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Heat through, remove from heat and set aside.

While vegetables are cooking, place 2 T. olive oil or margarine in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chile powder, flour, and cumin to the pan. Cook while stirring with a whisk for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in soy milk, cook until sauce is thick and bubbling, whisking occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add soy sour cream and nutritional yeast and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread 1/3 c. sauce in bottom of a 13" x 9" x 2" glass baking dish. Mix 3/4 sauce into vegetable filling. Place approximately 1/3 c. filling in center of each tortilla, roll to enclose, and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until no more filling remains. Pour sauce over the enchiladas, and top with the remaining 1/2 c. corn. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. cilantro and serve with additional toppings (salsa, sour cream, guacamole), if desired.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Beans n' Rice

After a quick hiatus of take-out and unphotogenic food (Chris was out of town), I am back...with a big 'ol bowl of beans and rice. I decided to make this semi Caribbean-style, but beans and rice is such a versatile starter for any number of combinations. I substituted one can of light coconut milk for 1 1/2 cups of the water to cook the rice, to help bring in that "island flavor." Then, once the rice was cooked, I mixed in the juice and zest of one lime, along with a handful of cilantro. I began with 4 cups of dry rice, so the "island flavor" was mild and left room for variation. I just cooked the beans plain in salted water (I soaked them first for a couple of hours then boiled them for about an hour and a half or until soft), and then topped it all with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli, cubed mango, guacamole, lime, and more cilantro. I also had baby spinach that I was going to wilt and toss in there...but I forgot it. Chris suggested that I use a more Caribbean green vegetable next time and leave out the broccoli. I enjoyed the broccoli...plus, I don't really know what would work too much better here. I don't have a recipe because everything was really very basic and simple, but I suggest this combination of ingredients. Although I was a little nervous about tossing mango onto my vegetable-filled bowl, I really liked the mix of sweet and savory. Also, the guacamole was a necessary topper - it added such a great texture and flavor to the other ingredients. Stay tuned for more beans n' rice posts as I use up mammoth containers of beans and rice that I still have in my fridge.

Friday, June 23, 2006


You Are an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

On the surface, you're a little plain - but you have many subtle dimensions to your personality.
Sometimes you're down to earth and crunchy. Other times, you're sweet and a little gooey.

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

Veggie Pizza

Upscale and trendy.
You're the most likely to go for a gourmet pizza.
You have impeccable taste in everything.
You truly enjoy the finer things in life.

You Are Pumpkin Pie

You're the perfect combo of uniqueness and quality
Those who like you are looking for something (someone!) special

You Are Tofu

Okay, so you aren't exactly meat. And that's fine with you. Even if people think you're a bit bland.
There's a good chance you're veg - and even if you aren't, you secretly think meat is gross.

You Are a Martini

There's no other way to say it: you're a total lush.
You hold your liquor well, and you hold a lot of it!

I was trying to keep it food related...but I couldn't resist this one...
Your Stripper Song Is

I'm a Slave 4 U by Britney Spears

"I'm a slave for you. I cannot hold it; I cannot control it.
I'm a slave for you. I won't deny it; I'm not trying to hide it."

You may seem shy, but you can let your wild side out when you want to!

Thanks, Megan! Whoa, those things are addicting!