Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chickpeas Romesco, Calzones and Cashew-Ginger Tofu

I'm doing one post for three different meals because I've been feeling particularly lazy this weekend. So lazy, in fact, that I went to bed at 7 p.m. last night. We also spent the better part of yesterday afternoon (and this afternoon) at the playground. The kids have had so much fun! So, on to the cooking...

Friday night, I finally used up the last of the chickpeas I'd cooked the previous week. I made chickpeas romesco over garlic-saffron rice again. Both of those are from V-con. I swear, this may be my absolute favorite meal. It is just ridiculous. It's so freaking easy too, so you really can't lose with this one.

Yesterday the kids were talking pizza. It's their favorite for sure. They like my homemade pizza (still making it with the dough recipe from VWaV) better than anything we can order around here. That makes me feel pretty good since they generally turn their little noses up at nearly everything I make. It was calzones again for Sleek and me. Sleek had his with ricotta, mozzerella and spinach. For mine, I sauteed some onion, garlic and eggplant. When it was all softened, I added some chopped roasted red-peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. I put just a tiny layer of mozzarella over the veggies. It was off-the-hook! I may have to start making pizza/calzones a weekly thing around here.

I got a new cookbook right before I left for my parents' house, so I've had a good time looking through it since I got back. It's called Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Carrie has made several really nice looking recipes from it, so I ordered it back in February. It actually took me about 7 weeks to get it! Anyway, tonights meal was made from ED&bV. A baked cashew-ginger tofu. The cashew-ginger sauce was made from cashew butter, fresh ginger, tamari, vingar, agave nectar, garlic and water. I served it over coconut rice, which is from last month's Cooking Light. It's really simple. Just jasmine rice cooked in "lite" coconut milk with a couple of bay leaves. It went perfectly with the sauce on the tofu. I also made a little broccoli and red pepper stir-fry. I made a light soy-sesame sauce for that. Just mixed up some soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, agave nectar, thai chile paste and water. Everything was just awesome! A very, very good dinner. One which I will make again, certainly. I can't wait to try some of the other recipes in ED&bV.

When I planned all of my meals and made my shopping list, I forgot Sleek would be out of town for a couple of nights this week. I may not cook for the next couple of nights and make the previously-planned meals when Sleek returns. Maybe I'll post about my daily fruit/spinach smoothie that I have for breakfast every morning! Sound exciting?

Sleek introduced me to a new band this weekend. They're called Mr. Gnome. He brought home the CD, and told me to play it ASAP because he really thought I'd like it. Well, I certainly do. Very interesting. I think they're just a two-piece band, but they sure know how to make a lot of noise. Sort of trip-hop with some hardcore heaviness. Nice.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hey Y'all!

Jeesh! The kids and I just got back from a little "vacation" to my hometown to visit family. I was thinking I'd do a post while there, but my mom's computer wouldn't let me log in to blogger! I was totally shut out. WTF? Anyway, I'm still here. I just made up my menu for the next week, and I've got lots of good stuff to make in the next week. I'm not cooking tonight since the pantry is bare and I just can't take the kids to the store. (They make me spend at least $20 more than I spend when I'm alone!) So, I'll be back with a good food post tomorrow. In the meantime, check this out. It's just a little something I "stumbled upon" thanks to g2thelow. One time, Rebecca mentioned that my blog was like food porn. Well, click that link above and you'll see the ultimate food porn. I'm talking XXX. It's not all veggie, but there are some kick-ass baked goods on there! The photos are really nice too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spicy Chickpeas and More

Last night was another recipe from Vegetarian. Spicy chickpeas. They tasted very much like channa masala, but were less saucy, and maybe even better. They were spiced with tumeric, cumin, garam masala, fresh ginger, minced green chile, a couple cloves of minced garlic and tamarind concentrate. Really easy to make to. Just saute onion until soft. Add above ingredients and saute for a couple more minutes. Add a couple cups of chickpeas and a can of diced tomatoes and simmer for 45 minutes. That's it. I served it over jasmine rice, and made a side of steamed cauliflower and broccoli. To season the veggies, I toasted a few cumin seeds in about a tsp of oil, added a pinch of tumeric, and poured it over the veggies. The toasted cumin seeds gave it a nice little crunch.

Tonight I made a dinner that Sleek had requested. In the Vegetarian cookbook, he saw a recipe for asparagus with hollandaise sauce and another for asparagus and eggs. He wanted a combo of the two. Another really easy dinner. I roasted the asparagus, and poached the eggs in ramekins in a pot of boiling water. The hollandaise was really easy to make. I think it would have been a bit creamer and more "solidified" if I had used butter instead of Earth Balance. The flavor was really good, though, and definitely lighter than your traditional hollandaise. I don't eat eggs very often, but when I do at least I can get free-roaming, pasture-fed eggs from a farm right outside of M0-town. If I couldn't, I definitely wouldn't be eating them at all.

I kicked it old-school in the kitchen today with Beastie Boys License to Ill and Check Your Head. Sweet!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets, Quinoa Salad, and Stir-Fry

I cooked up a massive batch of chickpeas over the weekend, so be warned--lots of chickpea dishes coming this week! Last night it was the chickpea cutlets from V-con. These are a definite favorite around here. I didn't have all the ingredients for the mustard sauce that I made with them last time. I decided just to wing it with a onion gravy. It turned out really, really good. As a matter of fact, I think I liked the cutlets better with the gravy than the mustard sauce. I started the gravy by sauteeing a small onion in a smidge of canola oil. While the onion was cooking, I wisked 1/4 cup of flour into a cup and a half of No-Chicken broth. When the onion was soft, I reduced the heat to med-low and poured in the broth mixture. When it got to the consistency I wanted, I turned off the heat. Then I added a splash of soy sauce, a good pinch of thyme, a pinch of paprika, a pinch of sage, salt and pepper. Mmmmmm. It was so good. I made some steamed cauliflower and broccoli to go with it.

Yesterday for lunch I made some black-bean quinoa salad. I saw it on Keeta's blog, and she got it from Jenny's blog. LOL It's a trickle-down recipe. It's so easy to make, and just so good. I just put a tiny drizzle of olive oil over it, and gave it an extra squirt of lime since I went light on the oil. It was perfect over a bed of baby lettuces. Who needs dressing when you have something this good on your green salad?

Tonight I just wanted to do something really simple for dinner. I did a garlicky veggie stir-fry. I stir-fried an onion, a couple carrots, a couple zucchini, a bit of broccoli, half a red bell-pepper, and several minced garlic cloves. I sprinkled it with salt and pepper at the end, and served it over brown rice. It's nice to do something simple like that and actually let the veggies themselves flavor the dish.

I haven't really been writing about any music these last few days. That's because I'm slightly embarrassed about how much I've been listening to In Rainbows. I'd say it's an average of three times/day. It's got me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Soup and Pizza (Again!)

Well, the kids asked for pizza again today. Since I had nearly everything I needed to make it, I indulged them. For the "grown-up" pizza, I used some fresh spinach, roasted red peppers and banana peppers. Since I left the cheese off my half, I made sure to put lots of sauce on it. YUM. Today we took the kids to see Horton Hears a Who, and that was lots of fun. We all enjoyed it.

Yesterday, I made a really nice soup. It was a leek, pea and broccoli soup from the Vegetarian cookbook. It also had some potatoes in it, which gave it a nice and creamy texture. It had no oil or dairy in it, so it was fat-free and loaded with veggies. It was seasoned with a bay leaf, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. The whole thing was pureed at the end. It was a lovely green color. So good!

Friday evening I attempted to make falafel. The recipe was also from Vegetarian. It was a recipe for bite-sized, deep-fried falafel nuggets. I wanted to make pan-fried patties. I don't know what went wrong, but I noticed the falafel mixture seemed awfully wet. I wasn't too sure what would happen. I formed it into patties and put it in the pan. It sort of fell apart. I managed to salvage two of the patties, and they crisped up nicely on the outside, but were complete mush inside. They tasted really, really good though. The rest of the patties sort of fell apart and weren't really edible. I definitely plan to try it again. Maybe I didn't drain my chickpeas enough? Maybe the recipe was strictly for deep-fried falafel nuggets? I don't know, but if anyone has any advice, I'd welcome it. (Oh, and once again, I forgot to take pics of this and the soup!)

Has anyone else noticed their grocery bill skyrocketing? Holy crap! I used to spend between $75 and $100/week. I can't get below $150 now! I feel like I'm not even buying as much as I used to. It's really frightening to me. If something doesn't change, this blog will become very boring. I'll have to change the name to: Chez Mama: How to Get Creative With Beans and Rice. I have a feeling the worst is yet to come. I don't know how people are going to manage. I'm glad we'll have the CSA this spring/summer. That will help for sure.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Since I enjoy making pizza dough, and the kids want pizza every couple weeks, I decided that this time I'd make calzones for Sleek and myself. The dough recipe from VWaV makes enough for two large pizzas, so I made the kids their usual cheese pizza and had just enough dough for two calzones. I decided to fill them with a mixture of ricotta, mozzerella, fresh spinach and lightly steamed broccoli. I went really light on the cheese and heavy on the veggies for mine. I honestly had no idea how these would turn out, but I hoped for the best. I baked them on a pre-heated pizza stone at 500 degrees. I'd say they baked for 10 minutes or so. I didn't time them, just kept an eye on them.

Well...They turned out AWESOME. Holy smokes, I almost can't wait to make them again. Next time I want to just do veggies. Maybe some sauteed eggplant, sundried tomatoes and onions. Now THAT really sounds good. You could really put anything in these. I dipped mine in some pizza sauce I'd made. I use pureed tomatoes with some salt, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. I swear, it's so much better than any pre-made pizza sauce I've bought. YU-HUM! Sleek actually said it may have been the best calzone he's ever had.

Last night, I made another recipe from Vegetarian. It was a sweet and sour bean hot-pot. Really interesting, and very good. Some different flavors for sure. It had limas, great northerns, chickpeas and green beans. Also shallots. The sauce was made with tomato sauce, ketchup, apple juice, cider vinegar, dry sherry, butter (I used Earth Balance), soy sauce and brown sugar. With a little thyme and marjoram added before baking. All this was topped with sliced potatoes that had been blanched. The liquid came up over the potatoes while baking, so the topping wasn't as crisp as the one in the cookbook photo. It was very good, though. Super-easy too. I forgot to take a pic before I dug in!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spicy Cauliflower and Potatoes

So, I mentioned that Sleek found a vegetarian cookbook in our cupboard last week. I've made recipes from it the last two days, and I've been shocked at how freaking good they are. Last night, I made the Spicy Cauliflower and Potatoes. The recipe seemed so simple, that I was a little worried it would be bland. Not bland at all. It was amazing. You start with boiling the potatoes whole, then peeling them and cutting them in one-inch pieces when they cool. After that, you lightly toast the spices (cumin, corriander and tumeric) in a little hot peanut oil. Then you add the cauliflower into that along with a splash of water. Stir-fry until the cauliflower is soft. Add in the potatoes and cook a little more, then remove from the heat. This is the best part...Heat a little more peanut oil in a skillet, and add some minced garlic and cumin seeds to toast. Drizzle over the cauliflower and broccoli. OMG! This stuff is like something you would get at a good Indian restaurant. I'm not even joking. I made a little raita to go with it. I just used some plain yogurt and added some shredded cucumber and chopped mint. So good!

Today, I was back in the kitchen early. I wanted to make the brown bean salad, which is also from the Vegetarian cookbook. I wanted something healthy with a decent amount of protein that I could add to my dinner. I made the salad, which is really easy. The beans are simmered a little with water, an onion, some thyme and bay leaves. The dressing is made with chopped parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and cumin seeds. It reminds me of tabbouleh minus the bulgar, if that makes sense. So good and healthy. (For this recipe and the spicy cauliflower one, I used half of the oil called for in the recipe. I can't tell that it took away from either dish at all.)

For dinner, I decided on Chinese brussel sprouts and veggie fried rice. The sprouts are also from Vegetarian. (Be prepared for lots of recipes from this cookbook. It is INSANE!) These brussels are so easy. Just stir-fry the chopped/shredded sprouts in a tad of sesame oil. Add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkling of Chinese Five-Spice Powder, and that's it. I made the rice the same as usual, but I added some broccoli this time just make it a little more nutritious. YUM!

Yesterday, Sleek and I received our tickets for the Radiohead show we're going to in May. So, I decided to listen to their latest album, In Rainbows. I liked it a lot the first few times I listened to it, but this time it got me. I mean, it really got under my skin. I see myself listening to it constantly until the show. Holy smokes. It's amazing. While listening to it, I got so excited about going to the show that I actually started jumping up and down and giggling. Yep. I'm that dorky. After In Rainbows, I proceeded to listen to three other Radiohead albums: Amnesiac, The Bends and OK Computer. Can you tell I'm a little excited? ;)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Enchiladas, Casserole, Snobby Joes and Tag

Well, I've been "tagged" by Carrie. It's my first time, so I guess my "tag-cherry" is officially popped. LOL So, I need to think of five things about myself. I don't know why this is so hard for me, but here goes:

* I have a fascination with serial killers and other morbid-type things. I watch lots of horror movies, and also real-life shows about serial killers and forensics. I also read lots of horror fiction and Appalachian ghost stories.

* I'm agnostic.

* I have extremely normal-looking ears.

* I did LOTS of drugs in college. I mean, LOTS! (And graduated in 4 years!)

* I'm really good at Trivial Pursuit. (I guess all those drugs didn't hurt my brain too much!)

So, there's some inside info about me. Most people who post here have been tagged before, so I understand if you don't want to play along. I'll tag: Sleek, Rebecca and Olives. (I know you don't have a blog, Olives, but you can do your tag as a comment in this post.)

Okay, now onto the food...

Thursday night, I made some bean enchiladas. Holy smokes, they turned out good. I started by sauteeing an onion and some garlic. Then I added probably 4 cups or so of cooked pinto beans, and some no-chicken broth. I mashed it all together, and seasoned it with salt, chili powder, cumin and a few drizzles of hot sauce. Honestly, it was so tasty I could've just started eating it out of the pan! I made my enchilada sauce using this recipe. It was really good, and very easy. As I was cleaning up the kitchen that evening, I realized that I had left the tomato sauce out of the sauce! Crazy, but it was still really good. Whew!

Friday night, I wanted something really easy. I found this recipe for an Italian Veggie Casserole on vegweb. It looked simple and tasty, so I gave it a try. I used a whole-wheat blend rotini for the pasta. I also made the breadcrumbs with whole-wheat bread. I just put them in the food processor, and then mixed a little melted Earth Balance in with them. I have to say, the simplicity of the ingredients and recipe had me worried that this casserole would just be mediocre. It was actually really good, though. I think if I make it again, I'll use 2 zucchinis instead of one. I swear I thought I took a pic, but it sure isn't on my camera!

Yesterday, I made up another batch of Snobby Joes. I tell you, I think a meat-lover could try these and be fooled. They are so freaking good! I could eat them once a week. I think Sleek could too. Today we had lots of leftovers to eat, and I didn't cook a thing.

The weather has improved somewhat here in WV. I've been walking/jogging nearly every day. I'm still trying to lose a few pounds, so I've been eating raw fruit, vegetables and nuts for two of my meals each day. Then I eat a normal, but healthy, meal. No snacking at all. I also have given up all beverages besides water, coffee and green tea. No more diet soda, which I drank regularly but wanted to stop for a long time. I have to say that I feel like the fog is lifting. I feel better than I have in a long time. I haven't been posting as often because I haven't been sitting around online very much at all. So, I think that's a good sign. Spring is in the air!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Asian Broccoli Noodles and Smothered Tofu

I'd mentioned in a previous post that I found some good-looking recipes on vegweb. The last two evenings, I've used recipes that I found there. Tuesday evening, I made smothered tofu with mashed potatoes. I was impressed. It was very good. I did make a few slight changes, though. Instead of frying the tofu, I baked it. Just 'cause it's easier. After pressing it for an hour and slicing it, I baked it in a little peanut oil and shoyu for 40 minutes at 350 degrees, turning it after 20 minutes. For the sauce, I subbed shoyu for half of the balsamic vinegar. I also doubled the entire sauce recipe because I wanted to have plenty to go over the potatoes. When the sauce was thickened to the consistency I wanted, I added the baked tofu and let it barely simmer for about 15 minutes. It was so good, I can't believe that anyone would ever want a meat-based gravy after eating this.

Tonight I went with Asian broccoli noodles. It's a really easy recipe, and comes together really fast. For the noodles, I used a whole-wheat blend thin spaghetti. I followed the recipe exactly, and the noodles were very tasty. I think I like my tahini noodles better, though. I had some carrots and shallots in the fridge, and they weren't going to make it much longer. I decided to chop them up and roast them. I tossed them in a little canola oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. I roasted them at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. I took them out, and drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and a good sprinkling of black pepper. I put them back in for about 3 more minutes. When they were finished, the balsamic was nice and glazy. They were so good I couldn't even believe it! It's always nice when you just wing it with something like that and it turns out to be amazing. I love it.

While I was in the kitchen today, I listened to one of my recent faves--Beirut's The Flying Club Cup. After that, I played Weezer's Blue Album. I enjoyed it so much that I played one more time. I almost never listen to an album twice in a row, but I think I realized just how much I love that one.

Yesterday, Sleek sent me a link to a really cool article about Jeff Magnum. I know I've mentioned a band called Neutral Milk Hotel (Please click on the previous link and listen to Holland 1945. It's one of my absolute favorite songs ever.) here before, and their album The Aeroplane Over the Sea. It is one of my all-time favorites. It is truly amazing. Anyway, they kind of just did that album, and then disappeared. The article talks about how Anne Frank was the inspiration for the album. Sleek and I knew that Anne Frank was definitely a theme in that album, but I had never heard Jeff Magnum talk about how that all came about. That was very interesting to me since that album is one of the reasons my daughter is named Annelies. Most people don't know that "Annelies" was Anne Frank's name. We wouldn't have either, but we bought a biography when we visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. (Just two months before I got pregnant with her!) We saw the name "Annelies" in that book, and we knew that our little girl (Sleek knew we were having a girl from the moment of conception.) would be Annelies.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-fry

I've heard that this stir-fry from V-con is pretty damn good, but I really wasn't prepared for how good it really is. To be quite honest, it's ridiculous. No joke. It's really easy to make too. You get started the night before by making the quinoa. The quinoa is cooked in a mixture of pineapple juice, water and soy sauce. Then it goes in the fridge overnight.

The next day, you begin by toasting the cashews. Then you saute some garlic, scallions, diced chile pepper and some ginger. Add some fresh mint and basil, and then stir in the quinoa and fresh pineapple. Add the cashews and a mixture of soy sauce, veggie broth and mirin. Heat it through, and that's it. So damn good. Unbelievable, really. I'd like to say this will be in regular rotation, but I've go so many new things I want to make! It may be a while before I'm seeing repeats.

I also baked some chocolate chip cookies for the kids last night. (Really. These are for the kids. I'm seriously trying to drop a few pounds right now.) Well, my dad was in town for the WVU-Pitt game, and in his true fashion he ate at least a dozen of them! He thought they were great. I used my regular recipe, except I was out of whole wheat pastry flour. I subbed white whole wheat instead. I also used real butter this time. They may be the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever made. For real.

I listened to a little Radiohead yesterday. I started getting a little excited about the upcoming show since I posted about it here yesterday. I played a few songs (here's one of my absolute favorite songs ever) from OK Computer, and listened to all of In Rainbows. God, I can't believe I get to see Radiohead again. I'm a lucky girl.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lots of Soup and A Dinner Party

I seem to be having a trouble finding the time to post regularly these days. Maybe that's good since it means I'm not sitting at the computer all the time. Although, most times I can't use it because the kids are hogging it. Now that the weather seems to be getting nicer, we're all going to be getting outside more. That's good stuff.

Last week was cold and snowy. That prompted me to make a big pot of chili on Friday evening. I made the usual veggie chili recipe from the White Grass cookbook. It uses carrots, celery, onion, wheat bulgur and pinto beans as the main ingredients. Tomatoes and tomato puree too, of course. It was the best chili I've ever made. I have no idea what I did different. I've made that chili several times, but this time it was the bomb. Yum. Even the kids ate some!

Olives invited our family and the Getto-Dillons to a dinner party on Saturday evening. It turned out to be a big meal of Cooking Light recipes from the current issue. Everything was delicious. Olives made a spicy shrimp and coconut soup, spicy tomatoes and shallots, vegetable curry and coconut rice. I made a ginger angel-food cake with coconut frosting. It was quite a meal. As I mentioned, all of those recipes can be found in the current issue of Cooking Light.

Even though it was sunny and warm yesterday, I made another big pot of soup. This was a spicy peanut and eggplant soup from V-con. I was a little concerned that it wouldn't be that great, but holy smokes! It was delicious. One of the best soups I've made, I'd say. It will definitely be making another appearance around here.

Yesterday Sleek found a vegetarian cookbook in the cupboard. It seems we'd sort of forgotten about it. We sat down and looked through it, and DANG! Damn near every recipe in there looks off-the-hook. I can't wait to start making some things from it. I was a little disappointed that I'd already planned all my meals and done the shopping for the week! Next week, everything I make may come from that cookbook.

At this point, I can't even remember the music I've listened to over the last few days. Must not be anything new. LOL Sleek and I did order tickets to see Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (The Swell Season) in Baltimore in May. It's just one week after the Radiohead show we're going to. Looks like May is going to be pretty sweet. Can't wait!

Just a head's up: I had to turn on the feature that makes you type in some random letters before your post shows up. I was getting spammed left and right.