Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spicoli Burgers and Pakastani Dahl (Again)

I saw a recipe in ED&BV for some nice-looking veggie burgers. They're called "Spicoli" burgers due to the cup of hemp seeds the recipe contains. I thought that was pretty funny, and I have been looking for a plain-ish veggie burger that would be like eating an actual burger. You know, not like a Mexican-style bean burger or something. I've been wanting to make these burgers for a few weeks. No hemp seeds to be found here in town (well, not the shelled, edible-type anyway). ;) So, I ordered them online. Hemp seeds are packed with protein, fiber and essential fatty acids. Due to the idiotic drug laws in the U.S., industrial hemp can't be grown here in the states. This makes me crazy, and I could go on and on about it, but I won't. Even in light of the current food and fuel prices, I won't go into how hemp could potentially solve some of these problems. On to the food...

The burgers were really, really tasty. Loaded with short-grain brown rice, onion, red pepper, spices and hemp seeds. Sleek said that they reminded him of crab-cakes. I agree that these would make a suitable, vegan replacement for a crab-cake sandwich. I topped mine with some Vegenaise, red onion and lettuce. Very tasty.

Last night I wanted to make something simple. Something that I already had all the ingredients for. So, it was Pakastani Dahl once again. I made this a few months ago, and I thought it should become a regular. I guess it hasn't quite made it there yet! I found the recipe on Vegweb. I like to add a little garam masala and some extra chili powder. The original recipe isn't quite flavorful enough for me. It's so tasty, and the recipe makes plenty for leftovers the next day.

We spent the holiday weekend in our state capital, Charleston. We did lots of visiting with my Mamaw. We also explored downtown Charleston a little. A beautiful downtown, but not many people out and about. We thought it was kind of strange. We had a great dinner at Sitar of India with Becky and her husband, Mike. It was really fun. It's cool to meet an online friend in real life! The food was fantastic too. I had wanted to have brunch at Bluegrass Kitchen, but after eating three fresh-out-of-the-fryer Krispy Kremes for breakfast, I was pretty much done for the day. I'll hit it up next time for sure. We also saw family friends Bill and Becky Kimmons perform a concert with their a cappella trio, Bare Bones. Our kids are huge fans, so they thought it was a pretty big deal. It was a great concert, and they debuted songs from their new cd, Put Your Loving Arms All Around Me.

Yesterday, I was pleased to see this article/interview with Radiohead on They're so freaking cool! It prompted me to listen to Kid A, which is just a fantastic follow up to the amazingly hard-act-to-follow OK Computer. I remember a feeling of relief rushing over me the first time I put Kid A on. I was so afraid it wouldn't live up to OK Computer or The Bends. When I heard the first chords of Everything in it's Right Place start off the CD, I knew everything would be just fine.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I seem to be doing some serious slacking here at Chez Mama recently. I don't know what to blame, really. Okay, so I'll partially blame the Wii we got last Sunday. I've got a serious case of Wii elbow going on from playing so much tennis. For real! My arm is totally sore. It's so fun, though. So, since it's been a while since I last posted, I'm just going to do some highlights. A few things I made were old standards, like calzones/pizza and pasta pomodoro. I also made the Bean and Corn Lasagna with Avacado from ED&BV. It was really easy and tasty, but I didn't get a good photo of it.

Last Friday night, I decided to make some pancakes. Those are always a hit with the kids. I used Becky's recipe, which she had posted on her blog before. Here is her recipe:

1 egg (or egg substitute)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I like Hudson Cream... King Arthur is good.
You can cut it half-half with white flour if you want fluffier
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp applesauce
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Beat the egg, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until
smooth. Ladle onto hot, nonstick griddle. Flip when pancakes aren't
shiny around the edges and top is covered with bubbles.

I added a little squirt of agave nectar to the batter to give it just a hint of sweetness. These were some really tasty pancakes, and the kids loved them. I can see it becoming my standard pancake recipe, except for the times when I need to just go all out and make Bisquick ones. LOL!

Monday night I made the best channa masala I've ever eaten. It was insane. I made it by adapting a recipe I'd found on vegweb. All the measurements listed are approximate. Here it is:

2 TBS oil
1 onion chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 tsp curry powder
2.5 tsp garam masala
3 TBS tomato paste
3.5 cups of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 can of lite coconut milk
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp salt
cayenne pepper
2 TBS margarine (I used Earth Balance. Butter could be used as well.)

Heat oil in pan, and sautee onion until softened and lightly browned. Add garlic and sautee another minute. Add spices and tomato paste, and stir until well-mixed. Add coconut milk and chickpeas and simmer until chickpeas are nice and soft. Add lemon juice, salt, cayenne and margarine. Stir until margarine melts.

This was just out of control. I swear it's better than any channa masala I've had in an Indian restaurant. I could eat it every day!

This evening, I made some refried beans the usual way. I also made some mashed potatoes, and once again the jalepeno-corn gravy from V-con. This time, I happened to be out of lemons, so I substituted lime juice in the gravy. I also added a few splashes of hot sauce. WAY better than with lemon juice.

Sleek and I saw a really rockin' show last night here in Mo-town. Clutch. Kinda blues-funk-hard rock. We had been wanting to see them for at least a year. They've played Mo-town before, but it's been a pretty long time. I didn't really expect them to return, since they've really grown and become more mainstream. The show was at 123 Pleasant St., which is pretty much our only really good music venue. Last month, I was checking out the 123 website, and saw that Clutch was playing on May 21st. I instantly IMed Sleek at work to tell him. I believe his response was: "SHUT UP!" We had a good time, and the show completely rocked. I'll check them out again any time they're in town.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Veggie Burgers, Cauliflower and Stuffed Zucchini

Every issue of Cooking Light has a section called "Inspired Vegetarian". I've found some killer recipes there. In the April issue, that section was all Indian-inspired dishes. That pretty much rules as far as I'm concerned. Last night, I chose a couple of the recipes to try. One of them was for veggie burgers. The bulk of them is made up of chickpeas and potatoes. They also have carrots, onion, lots of cilantro and other spices. I knew they would need some sort of dressing, so I bought some hot mango chutney. I mixed the chutney with Vegenaise pretty much half and half. I spread some of that in a pita, stuffed in some baby romaine, the burger, and some red onions. So good. So freaking good. Best veggie burger I've had in a good while. (Oh, the recipe says to mix it all up and keep it in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Of course, I didn't notice that until I got the whole thing mixed up, and planned on eating dinner in an hour or so. I put it in the freezer for about an hour. I had no problems with the mixture holding together or anything.)

I also made some Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower from the same issue of CL. It was just out-of-control. No other way to describe it, really. I can't recommend it enough. Anyone reading this should plan on making it. Right now.

Tonight, I made some zucchini stuffed with millet, tomatoes, kalamata olives and capers. I came across the recipe in VWaV. Pretty simple, and pretty good. Not great, but good.

Sleek said that the veggie burger/cauliflower meal was the best meal he's had in a long time. So, I think I'll be making that one again in the next couple of weeks. It really was ridiculous. Oh, here's something cute...Yesterday, Julian came in the kitchen and got a handful of grapes. He headed for the back door and said he was going to make some "homemade raisins." A little while later, I look out on the deck and see this:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just a Little Update...

Hey y'all. I just wanted to check in here with a quick update. Sleek and I skipped the Radiohead show. We had a lot going on this weekend, so we over-nighted our tickets to a friend. Turns out, we dodged a bullet. The weather in the D.C. area was horrible, with torrential rains and flooding. Many concert-goers didn't even get into the show due to closed roads. Apparently there was parking-lot trouble after the show as well. Some people apparently just ended up sleeping there in their cars. So, I'm quite relieved we decided to skip it. If we didn't have PIT TICKETS! to the Cleveland show later this summer, I'd be disappointed. Since we do, though, I'm not. LOL

Anyway, we spent the weekend at my parents' house where I proceeded to fill my body with bad, junky food. For example: Schwann's cheese pizzas, Sun Chips (lots of 'em), candy bars (lots and lots of 'em), etc. I felt miserable the whole time because of it. I feel physically and mentally yucky when I do that. So, today I've just eaten raw fruits and veggies, and may do the same tomorrow. I'll probably cook something for everyone else, though!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Burritos, Beans and Tofu

With the weather getting warmer, it seems like my computer time is definitely decreasing. I guess I don't really consider that a bad thing, though. Tomorrow is our 9th wedding anniversary. Nine years, Sleek and I have been married! Wow. We've been living together for nearly thirteen years, and that really throws me for a loop. Heavens! I was but a 20 year-old child when we got together. LOL I'm not cooking tomorrow, so we're taking the kids out for dinner at Black Bear for our anniversary. We're going to the Radiohead show on Sunday too, so that will be part of our celebration as well. OH MY GOD, we're going to see Radiohead on Sunday! In honor of that, I listened to both discs of In Rainbows today. Twice. Oh, and the photo at the top was taken by Sleek at the Hemlock Trail. He and the kids went hiking there with some friends last weekend.

Okay, Monday was Cinco de Mayo, and I wanted something resembling Mexican for that. I made the Garlicky Broccoli and Bean Burritos from ED&bV. While it's actually more of an Asian-style burrito, it worked. It was super-easy to put together, and that scores major points with me. Very interesting flavor for a burrito. I know, I know--burritos seem to come in every possible ethnicity these days.

I had a lot of BBQ sauce left over from my BBQ tofu sandwiches last week, so after much thought about what to do with it, I decided on BBQ beans. I thought I'd heard of them before, and after searching the web I found out that they do indeed exist. I couldn't find a recipe I liked, so I winged it. I used an unknown amount of cooked pinto beans. I would guess 5-6 cups? I mixed them up with the remaining 3(?) cups of BBQ and a jar of Newman's Own Pineapple Salsa. I baked them, covered, at 375 degrees for an hour. Then I uncovered and baked for 30 more minutes. Dang. They were some good stuff. So easy too. A fantastic way to use leftover BBQ sauce. Oh, I sauteed a green pepper and half a diced onion to add to them. Almost forgot that.

To go with the beans, I made some macaroni salad. Almost a tradition in my family. If you're having any kind of baked beans, you have to have either mac salad or homemade mac and cheese. I made my family's traditional mac salad recipe, except I vegan-ized it. Here goes:

12 oz. cooked macaroni, cooled
1 1/3 cup Vegenaise
6 oz. soy milk
1 scant cup of sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. salt
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, grated

Blend together mayo, milk, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery seed and salt. Pour over cooked macaroni and stir in onion and carrot.

Tonight I made Cumin-Lime Tofu from ED&bV. I made coconut rice to go with it. (Coconut rice is becoming very popular around here!) Served it up with a side of broccoli. The things on the tofu are chopped, raw pepitas. (aka pumpkin seeds.) The tofu was a nice change of flavors. Very, very easy and really tasty.

I probably won't post again until after Radiohead, so I look forward to telling y'all how freakin' awesome it was! Actually, I made some really kick-ass, healthy granola bars this evening. I may do a quick post tomorrow for those. They're really amazing! Oh, and check out what's on our front porch. On top of the porch light. Not a great photo, but I have to stand on a chair and just hold the camera up and point it down without being able to see what I'm shooting.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Long Time, No Blog

Wow. It's been over a week since I posted. It all started with Sleek being out of town last weekend. I took a little break from cooking. Then, I woke up Monday morning with a nasty sore throat and congestion. I'd finally caught the cold that Sleek and the kids had. I thought I was in the clear. I was feeling much better by Wednesday, though. Still a little tired, though, so instead of blogging I was going to bed early. I'm not going to go in depth about every thing I cooked last week. I'm just going to do highlights.

Monday evening, feeling like crap. I decided to make some "no-chicken noodle soup," which I had made last winter. It was the perfect thing to ease the sore throat. Who says you need chicken in your soup to make it therapeutic?

I think it was Wednesday evening that I made the Lemony Roasted Potatoes from V-con. My God, they're good. I could've damn near eaten the whole pan. And it's 2.5 lbs. of potatoes! Thursday, I made a mixed vegetable, Malaysian-style curry. It was in a recent issue of Cooking Light. Instead of okra, I used zucchini. I made coconut rice to go with it. It was nice and spicy, and worked to clear my sinuses a bit.

Friday evening, I decided on BBQ tofu sandwiches with coleslaw. I made the BBQ sauce from V-con, and baked the tofu. For the slaw, I sliced half a head of cabbage, a couple carrots and half an onion. I made the dressing with Vegenaise, soy milk, cider vinegar, a bit of sugar, a pinch of cumin, and a dash of salt and pepper. It may have been the best slaw I've ever made, and the sandwiches were just ridiculous. Sleek said, "You could sell these."

Also on Friday, I decided to take it upon myself to make some homemade chewy granola bars. I just kind of winged it. They turned out to be AWESOME. They're pretty sweet, so next time I'll definitely reduce the amount of brown rice syrup and brown sugar. Here's the deal:

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups puffed millet
1 1/4 cups puffed brown rice
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup Sunspire chocolate candies (natural M&Ms)
3 TBS melted Earth Balance
1/3 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1 1/4 cups brown rice syrup

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in small bowl. Mix dry ingredients until all mixed up. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir (or mix with hands) until combined. Press into 9X13 inch pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Today was the first day of the season for the Morgantown Farmer's Market, so I was all over that. At this point, it's pretty much greens, meat, jellies, eggs, and plants. So, I got a nice little head of bibb lettuce, and a beautiful bunch of purple kale. For dinner this evening, I made a salad with the lettuce. I found a recipe for a bibb lettuce salad with butter dressing, so I decided to give it a try. Very different. Very buttery. Very good. For the kale, I sauteed an onion and garlic until the onion was nice and brown. After boiling the kale for about 3 minutes, I drained it and added it to the pan with the onions a garlic. I made a sauce for it using about a tablespoon of Earth Balance, 2 TBS of tamari, and a tsp of balsamic vinegar. I think it was the best kale I've ever tasted. I'll be getting two bunches of it next week. The kids wanted some mashed potatoes, so I made some of those too. I made a simple onion gravy by dicing and onion and browning it in a non-stick pan. (I didn't even use any oil!) Then I added some minced garlic, a pinch of paprika and a pinch of oregano. Then I added a cup and a half of no-chicken broth with about a 1/3 cup of flour whisked into it. I stirred while letting it thicken, then added a splash of tamari and salt & pepper. It may have been the best meal of the week.

Only a week until the Radiohead show! Whoooo-hooooo! Two new (to me) bands I'm really liking right now: Old Crow Medicine Show and Amos Lee. That's thanks to Olives and the mix cds she made as party favors for her daughter's birthday. Now that's a great party favor!

Oh, for anyone who is interested...Sleek made a slide-show revealing the horrors of mountain-top mining. It's posted over at Picture West Virginia. It's quite disturbing.