Monday, January 29, 2007

Sniffles Suck and an Easy-Bake Disaster

Sorry for the lapse in posting last week. Jim passed on his germs and I spent the week congested, sniffling and otherwise feeling sorry for myself. We ate less-than-exciting fare, at least to look at.

What's more fun when you're sick than ice cream? Not much, I'd say. This was a slap-together sundae I made when my throat was sore and it hit the spot. Vanilla soy ice cream with mango sorbet, half a banana, a sprinkling of hemp seeds, walnuts, warm up frozen raspberries and, of course, warm chocolate sauce! Yum. I could go for another right now... if I hadn't eaten all the ice cream already.

Not 2 minutes after I mentioned to Jim that I wanted to make something for dinner involving pasta, spinach and mushrooms I happened upon Ken's recently resurrected blog. His dish du jour on Friday was a lasagna recipe from Susan's blog. Perfect! I tried out brown rice lasagna noodles for this dish. They were good and tasted like regular old lasagna noodles. We enjoyed it with whole wheat bread. I love lasagna because of the leftovers. A whole dish of lasagna can last 2 people quite awhile!

Tonight I wanted to play with a new food item I recently got: black lentils. They are also called beluga lentils because they apparently look like caviar when they are cooked. Having never seen caviar, I'll have to assume that this is true. I had a hard time finding anything about them online and very few recipes, certainly nothing that jumped out at me. So I decided to make a risotto with lentils on top. But then I thought that rather than using pretty nutritionally empty arborio rice, why not use quinoa? I'm always trying to figure out good ways to get quinoa into Jim, so this seemed as good as any.

I also had a delicata squash laying around, so I used it to add a layer of flavor, provide some color and give me the creaminess needed for real risotto. With the squash roasting in the oven, I cooked the black lentils in one pot, 1 cups worth and in another large pot I sauteed a diced onion with a little olive oil. I added 3 cloves of minced garlic and toasted the rinsed quinoa (1 1/2 cups) until lightly toasted, then added 3 cups of water and a bay leaf. While the quinoa and lentils cooked, I removed the skin from the roasted delicatta and mashed it up. Then it got processed it in the food processor with a little water, to make it creamier.

Once the quinoa was done, I removed the bayleaf and added 3 tablespoons of EB to it along with the pureed squash. Adding the sqaush right at the end preserved the savory flavor of the risotto while adding a sweet layer, complimented by the earthiness of the lentils. It was really fun to make, being a new dinner idea and some new ingredients to me, and it was quite tasty. We had it with a salad and some bread.

Now, I'm just a little kid a heart. I love making crafts, playing games and collecting toys as much as the next 7-year-old. So much that when baking nostalgia kicked in, I decided to buy an Easy-Bake Oven.

The EB Oven was one of my favorite toys as a kid, especially because I didn't grow up with a mom who cooked or baked. My mom heated things up and got drive-thru. So this little oven was not only a favorite toy for me, it was a mother stand-in as well. ;)

Veganizing recipes for it was a cinch. The problem, however, was that they are manufactured so poorly that they cannot be serviced because they want you to get a new one instead. So, one small cake in, I have a brownie batter overflow. Thinking we can take it apart and fix it, Jim (a.k.a. "The Man Who Can Fix Anything") busts out his tools. Jim has worked on American, Japanese and European cars and has more tools than the average Joe. But the Easy-Bake Oven isn't meant to be taken apart and has special proprietary screws and parts, so that even my own personal handy man was stumped. We tried to clean it the best we could, but the next night, halfway through a double layer "little cake", as Jim is calling them, it died. 2 days old, a little dried brownie batter and the damn thing died!

But there is always a silver living and in this case there was a great solution: the toaster oven. We discovered that in 6 minutes we can make a double layer little cake using the little pans. This is becoming quite popular with us because the clean up is a breeze, it's fast and it makes just enough, with no tempting leftovers to pick at. Now Jim keeps going on and on about little cakes, so I guess I'll just have to keep making them. :)

Vanilla double layer little cake (they measured about 3 inches across) with a strawberry jam filling and a chocolate ganache icing.

Chocolate double layer little cake with a warm chocolate ganache filling and a drizzled glaze topping. Jim, who is not a chocolate hound like I am, gobbled this up and asked for 4 of them for his birthday. Maybe I'll try making a grown-up sized one instead.

Can I tell you how fun it is to be this big giant playing with little pans? I'm so making Bindhi a birthday cake this summer... they're cat-sized!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Snow Daze!

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts in my last post. It's hard, as the human, when things don't work out because you feel a level of blame. I'm happy to say, though, that Maddie was adopted yesterday. All's well that ends well, I suppose.

We had a full-on Portland snow storm this week! Being from Minnesota, it was laughable at about 3 inches, but because it's so rare this city is not prepared for weather like this. It's so funny to me to see these people rushing around for chains for their tires. It's 3 inches of snow! All the same, people can't drive under normal circumstances here, I was not about to risk my life out there, so I stayed home. The day after the snow was probably worse, as it had time to warm up and then freeze. Eek! Jim was sick, so he was able to spend a day with me, which was nice, even if he was germ-infested. :)

Sick/snow day dinner. Aloo matar gobi, curried potatoes, peas and cauliflower. Yum! Served with brown jasmine rice and in place of naan I took a sheet of lavosh and heated it in the oven with some melted EB and crushed garlic brushed on top.

One of my favorite treats that we haven't had in a long time. I basically melt down some chocolate and then stir in enough nuts and dried fruit so that everything is nicely coated, then I plop spoonfuls down on waxed paper to set in the fridge. The fruit makes them nice and chewy. This batch was cranberry/sour cherry/pecan.

Dinner from a night last week. Baked tofu with a wild rice pilaf and some delicata squash. Oh, I'm loving the ease of delicata right now! So tasty. They were tossed with mixture of melted EB and lime juice.

I don't know how much longer I can bore you all with pizza or pancake photos, but here's another one! Pizza 2 nights ago, herbed crust with red sauce, VwaV sausage crumbles, baby bella mushrooms, kalamata olives and artichokes. I love pizza so much! It's a million times better as a vegan because you can actually TASTE it!

And while he's not happy with this pic, my sick hubster on the couch. :( At least he had plenty of company. Ravi and Linus kept him warm and, believe it or not, Bindhi is between his legs, under the afghan. This was, to date, the first time all 3 cats were on the couch at the same time. Every time Jim gets sick they flock to him, such good little kitties.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sad news

It is with a broken heart that I have to tell you all that we had to take Maddie back to the Humane Society. We had some hair-raising and frightening experiences with the cats and realized that while she is an absolutely incredible and wonderful dog for people, she is not suitable for a home with cats.

I'm sure those of you who have had experience with mixed species homes know, there is a difference between dogs who are unsure of cats and dogs who don't like cats. Sadly, Jim and I had to do what is best for the cats and take her back before there was too much of an attachment so she can find her forever home. She is a great dog and the Humane Society here does amazing work in placing dogs, so hopefully it will be a short wait.

I think the hardest part of being the person who has to make the decision is that no decision feels right, but one has to be made anyway. Jim and I really torn up about this and this is really hard to type, but thanks for listening.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Some quick food

Just a quick little thing here.

I made the cauliflower sauce mentioned in Susan's recent post for some fetticcine. I didn't have any mushrooms, so we had broccoli and carrots. Jim HATES cauliflower, but wants to start incorporating more vegetables into this diet, so he was all for trying it this way.

The only chage I made was that I used a total of 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, which was the max I thought Jim could tolerate, but it could have used some more. It was very yummy and I was happy that my blender was able to puree it, as I still haven't gone out and replaced my food processor yet.

For dessert, for me (another thing Jim doesn't like), some rice pudding.

I pressure cooked a cup of arborio rice in my pressure cooker with one cup of water and then tossed it in a pot with 2 cups of soy milk, a 1/4 cup o sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon and some rum-soaked raisins. Yum! I love rice pudding, it's something I just don't make often enough.

Yesterday I woke up to a (temporary) winter wonderland.

This was the view from our bedroom window! I was so excited, but by 1pm it was all melted and now we are back to being just plain old cold, but now with patches of ice :P It was nice while it lasted. Bindhi was trying to stalk the falling clumps of snow from the trees. Silly cat! This was her first experience with snow. The boys are from MinneSNOWta, so it's old hat to them.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Faux no!

Where has all the faux meat in my kitchen come from?! When we moved to Portland we overindulged in all the new faux wonders here, But then I worked to get them out of our kitchen. Our latest stint with veggie burgers and the nuggets from Food Fight seem to show you otherwise, though!

I know that some of you have strong feelings about faux meats. And I know that some omnivores like to view it as a sign of weakness. And they can just reinforce bad pre-veg eating habits and keep people from exploring food-world and leave them wondering what they can eat. Personally, I'm not big on them because of the whole processed-food reasoning. But, sometimes I do use veggie burgers out of convenience and with the nuggets, well, I'm passing the buck to Jim on that one! He bought 'em! :)

Leslie's Sloppy Lentils with a romaine, spinach, roma tomato salad, with Green Goddess dressing and shredded nuggets on top. The lentil look huge, but were really just a coffemug full. Delicious, if you haven't made them, give them a go. I was able to whip them up super fast and they are so flavorful. Mmm...

For a baked treat, last night I made Isa'a Fig Not-ins from VwaV. I already knew I loved these guys, but I decided to try something different. I made them lower fat and lower sugar, decreasing the dough sugar to 1/4 a cup (you can't tell!) and by using the 1/4 cup shortening, but omitting the 1/4 cup margarine and using applesauce. I also added 1/2 cup of raspberry jam to the fig filling for raspberry not-ins.

Now here's the technique I figured out for making these guys... she says to divide the dough into 2 balls and divide each rolled out ball into 3 strips. You put the filling on 3 of the strips and use the other 3 to top them with. But I found it hard to get the width and length right on the strips, so instead I divide the dough into 3 balls and roll out eachjavascript:void(0) ball, then fill one side of it and pull over the unfilled side and seal. Much easier, makes the same amount and they look nicer than my previous attempts. I made big bars this time... I love Isa.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Beige is the new yum.

Well, not really and I've been eating really well lately, but all my pictures have a level of beigeness to them, partly the food itself and partly the lighting. But I do love beige things. Beige = starch = potatoes or bread or other baked goods. Drool.

Pasta we had last week. Organic brown rice penne from Trader Joe's (although, they aren't really penne, they are just long tubes, almost like giant elbow macaroni). Roasted garlic tomato sauce, red kale, artichokes, cremini mushrooms and a nice sprinkling of chopped kalamata olives on top. I'm becoming an olive junky, especially for kalamata ones. We resisted the temptation to have bread on the side and we really didn't need it. It's just so good...

Breakfast for dinner the other night. I made Isa's basic pancake recipe, but instead subbed the water for orange juice and added a teaspoon of zest and a splash of vanilla. The vanilla makes the orange less intense and makes it taste like an orange creamsicle. With chocolate chips, of course! I also made a 1/2 batch of the orange pudding (which I'm clearly addicted to!) from Vegan Cupcakes to have on top. I made it with rice milk, which I wasn't crazy about. We're trying to use different milks in things than just almond and soy all the time, but rice leaves too much of an aftertaste and the fat content just isn't there for certain things. We used hazelnut milk last week and it was good, but tasted distinctly nutty. Anyone have any experience with oat milk?

This bad boy is the latest treat we've been making. We have frozen, small sqaures of puff pastry and I just thaw them, roll them out a little and fill with 2-3 squares chopped chocolate, half of a banana chopped up and a spoonful of peanut butter. We bake them until golden and puffy and brush on some Earth Balance before cooling. YUM! I made one the other night where I omitted the peanut butter and added a sprinkling of walnuts instead. It's so simple and easy to throw together and is great because it makes just the right amount and there are no leftovers lying around (like brownies!) to graze on. This one was Jim's, I cut out a heart for it to vent from. Aw, aren't we cheezy?

After a brief flirtation with warmer days and sun, we're back to cold weather, but I can't say I don't enjoy it. I love curling up with a warm drink and a book, lighting a fire, snuggling under a blanket to watch a movie and most of all wearing sweaters/hoodies! I do miss sandals, though, as I'm one of those people who hates wearing shoes and socks. But knowing how incredible and perfect the summers are here, I'm in no rush. Good things come to those who wait.

Hope you all are having great weekends!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holy Food Post, Batman!

Happy New Year, folks! I'm ready for some serious blogging! I have a backlog of pictures, I'm listening to Sam Cooke (what better music to blog to!) and I'm just going to jump right in!

Some raspberry muffins:

These were a part of a holiday gift basket I made. I used whole wheat pastry flour to keep them light, but not as unhealthy as all-purp.

Last night we rung in the new year with Chris and Kate. We watched "The Big Lebowski". Jim and I have been living a life of shame, having not seen it, when everyone we know has. We made pizza, one with an herbed pizza dough and another with the Oatmeal Pizza Dough recipe from Diann's blog.

They were topped with red sauce, pesto, VwaV tempeh crumbles, eggplant, mushrooms, olives and artichokes. YUM!

New Year's Eve dessert:

I know I have Leslie's approval on this one: banana splits! Bananas, strawberries, chocolate and vanilla soy ice cream, chocolate sauce, Dreena's caramel sauce, almond slivers, sprinkles and Soyatoo whip. OMG, I fell in love with banana splits again. This could be dangerous.

Dinner tonight: We used up some leftovers and had soup and a sandwich .

Tomato soup that I whipped up using pantry staples. A large 28 oz can of diced tomatoes was pureed in tiny batches in my handy chop, because in continuing the demise of my appliances, my food processor died last week. This was added to one medium sauteed onion and 2 cloves of garlic. I then added 1 1/2 cups water, a healthy shake of dried oregano and basil and half of a pureed avocado. Creamy and delicious. The sandwiches were my take on a sandwich we had at Chaco Canyon Cafe in Seattle. They had a layer of avocado, some leftover pesto from the pizza and a slice of Tofutti cheese, toasted. They were great dipping sandwiches and the pesto and soup naturally complimented eachother. And I was able to use up some random odds and ends from the fridge.

Earlier this week, burgers, sweet potato fries and steamed veggies.

Dave's Killer Bread with a quick veggie patty and all the fixin's. Jim's actually on a nutrition kick and is forcing down veggies, albeit drenched in Veg-It. He wants me to buy some Spike, but I refuse to lose my husband to Spike, like so many of you have! What is it with them!?

Pumpkin Pecan Bread loaves from Susan's blog.

Two of these were in a gift basket with the raspberry muffins, also made with whole wheat pastry flour. I love these little paper loaf pans, they are cheap, very pretty and make gift-giving loaves decorative and easy.

Some "cheezy" veggie soup I made last week, with some tahini, chickpea miso, and nutritional yeast.

It was based off of a soup I used to love eating in school years ago called "California Medley". It's funny to me how anything that has veggies, avocados, sundried tomatoes or is just sans-meat is labeled "Californian" on menus. Anyhow, this was to help out Jim's lunches while he's into eating his veggies. I pureed some white beans to make this creamy and more nutritionally balanced.

Burrito bowl! Or at least, that's what we call it.

Black beans dressed up with some cumin and garlic, some salsa, Tofutti sour cream, and quick guac (mashed avocado with some sea salt and a splash of lime juice). I like this dinner because it's super satisfying and can be whipped up in 10 minutes tops.

Last Friday, breakfast for dinner.

We featured Leslie's Blueberry Grunt as a breakfast food instead of pancakes drenched in maple syrup. It was so fast and easy, Jim could have made it! We used WWPF and they were so moist and delicious. We ate them with the tempeh white bean sausage patties from VwaV. OMG. If you like the tempeh sausage crumbles, MAKE THESE! They will rock your socks. I made the grunt again the next day with raspberries. It was good, but the flavor was a little overpowering, so I think blueberries are optimal, or maybe a fruit blend.

What a long, blabbering post without a cute kitty picture? Linus was hanging out on Jim's lap during breakfast yesterday and was such a little chubber I had to take a picture!

He was sinking into Jim's legs and was happily purring his butt off while kneading the air. Linus is definitely a lover, not a fighter!