Thursday, June 19, 2014

Meal plan city - dinner!

When you have two people with busy lives and you combine them and then throw two children with their own host of activities into the mix, what you get is a freakin' busy life and way more take out than is healthy. I'm trying to renew my commitment to the kitchen this week by making things more interesting and making sure I have easy things on hand that'll be quick. I also prepared some stuff for use through the week on Sunday, which I will say helped immensely on Wednesday when I was exhausted and starving and sick and tired of the kids running around screaming. It's also helpful to have things left over to take to work for lunch, of course.

Here's what the meal plan looked like this week.

New: White Beans in Sherry Gravy (from Isa's newest book, Isa Does It) with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.

Old: Lentil tacos - this is a big hit with the kids - and pico de gallo

Fast: Refried bean quesadillas - recipe for refried beans from Appetite for Reduction

Soup: Poblano chile and potato chowder. Inspired by a few different recipes I've seen but not really based of any per se.

Pasta: bowties, asparagus, red pepper and raw spinach with a basil and lemon dressing (cold)

Convert: found a recipe for braised pork shoulder with with a cider sauce, served with spaetzle, in a recent copy of the LCBO's Food & Drink magazine. Replace the pork with some tempeh, add some fennel (like the plant, not the seeds), and some green beans.

Poblano chile, vegan sausage and potato chowder

3 poblano chiles, roasted, skinned, then chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp thyme
5 c veg broth
3 large white potatoes, cut into chunks
a head of kale, washed and torn into bite size pieces (I used a package of pre-washed baby kale.)
1/4 c your favourite dairy alternative
3 or 4 vegan sausages, sliced
a pinch of nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste.

1. Roast your poblanos by popping them into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning every 10 until they are blistered and / or a bit black. Remove them and put them immediately into a glass bowl and cover with saran. When they're cool, they'll be easy to peel and chop.

2. Put a large pot on medium heat. Heat the oil and then add the onion, both types of peppers, and celery, and sprinkle with salt. Saute until soft; add the garlic, fennel seeds and thyme and saute another 30 seconds. Add the broth and deglaze, then add the potatoes.

3. Cover and bring the soup up to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 25 minutes. Add your sausages and cook until they are heated through and the potatoes are tender. Add the kale and let cook for a couple more minutes, until it's totally wilted. Turn off the heat, add the 'dairy' and pinch of nutmeg and stir. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then serve.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pumpkin Donuts 2.0

I made pumpkin donuts a while ago, just veganizing the Blue Eyed Baker recipe that is so popular (at least on pinterest) when the cooler months rear their beautiful, non-sweltering heads.        

Today I decided to veganize the one I found on King Arthur Flour. I changed it up a bit because with 3 eggs to omit and no milk in the original, you can't just leave them out without missing the liquids.

Also, I feel like maple and pumpkin are natural buddies, so instead of the 'classic' cinnamon sugar coating, I opted for maple glaze. With sprinkles. Because sprinkles are yummy and pretty. Not that you need a reason to add sprinkles to anything, of course.

As is, these are pretty non-complex in the flavour department, although they are definitely yummy. I think next time the addition of some molasses might add some depth.

My favourite food blogger camera angle. AVALANCHE!!!

Pumpkin Donuts 2.0
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour recipe

1/4 'milk'
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp ground flax
3 tbsp water
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c pumpkin
1/2 c oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 c flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray your donut tins. I made 48 minis and 6 full sizers. The recipe says it makes 18 full size donuts. Use your discretion.

Mix the milk and vinegar; separately, mix the flax and water, and let both mixtures chill while you get the rest of the ingredients, except for the flour, into a bowl. Then add the flax & milk and mix everything together well. Add the flour and stir it in gently, you don't want to overwork it here.

Divide up into your tins and pop mini donuts into the oven for 10 - 12 minutes and full size ones for 12-14 minutes.

Pull out and cool in tins on racks for a few minutes before removing them from the tins to cool the rest of the way.

Leetle ones

Scientific Maple Glaze Recipe

1 c icing sugar, plus about a quarter cup
2 ish tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp maple extract

Stir everything together until smooth, then dunk the donuts in. If you want, you can follow that by immediately dunking them in a bowl of sprinkles, but I hand-sprinkled these ones for fun / less mess / less waste / a more rustic look.

Rustic looking, right?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rice Krispies Squares

I found a container of Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme in my pantry the other day.

I don't usually condone artificial vanilla, but it has a home in rice krispies squares.

I don't know what I bought it for, or how long it had been there, only that one thing came to mind: rice krispies squares.

Looks pretty okay... but read on...

I followed the recipe from Olives For Dinner because it sounded like a direct veganization. It is, and the taste is great, but the consistency? Not so much. They just fall apart.

What is the meaning of this?

You can hardly cut them and you definitely can't hold on to them. So I'm disappointed / annoyed and now have to go find some Sweet & Sara marshmallows in hopes that they give better hold. We don't have dandies, or I would try those too and have a great Rice Krispies Square Tasting of '13.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Food

I had it in my head that I wanted to focus once a week on something that I've never made before. Then since I crapped out on the whole first week of Mofo I pretty much gave up on trying to do themes. BUT that didn't stop me from wanting to try cooking with something I've never cooked before: eggplant.

The reason I wanted to give it a try is because it's in season here in Ontario right now. Our growing season isn't especially long but we do grow lots of good things. My local farmer's stand has been my go-to for veggies this whole summer, as since from the first bite of wax bean I took all the veggies have been exceptionally delicious. And lo and behold, there were eggplant this week. I decided to take the dive.

It was very fortuitous timing that not only did the eggplant appear, but a friend lent me a cookbook that I spied at her house last weekend and one of the recipes that caught my eye was for a coconut curry with potatoes, chickpeas and, you guessed it, eggplant. Kismet!

It's an eggplant! I could Google to see why it's called that, but honestly, who has the time these days?

So, that's what they look like inside. Okay, just kidding, that wasn't a big mystery or anything. It's still kind of pretty though, right?

The recipe was from Mouthwatering Vegan, which I'd never heard of before. Leafing through there are definitely a lot of super promising things, but there is also a really heavy reliance on 'cheeze' - be it Daiya or home-made - and I am not keen on that. The curry section is all kinds of awesome though and Eggplant, Chickpea, Potato & Coconut Curry is the first of many that sound amazing. (note: the recipes also tend to be very oil heavy, but I think you can probably cut down on that as preferred. I did with no ill effects). And I'm lucky that not only are eggplants in season at our market, but luckily enough, so are potatoes, garlic, and onions.

This was in a field a few days ago!!!

The method of cooking the onion / garlic / ginger was different than any I've ever done, which to this point, has been straight chopping / mincing and then sauteeing. So not a lot of other methods to compare to. But anyway. Instructions were to chop them roughly and then toss them into the food processor until they were completely broken down. And you know what, I kind of loved that.

Only 4 or 5 cloves to the whole head! So different than the Chinese garlic.

I liked that it blended right into the sauce this way. I liked how consistent it made the flavour of the curry, too. Am I too lazy to do it every time? More than likely. But when I have extra time? Heck yeah!

The spice mix was perfect, if a little less spicy than what I'm used to in a curry. I also forgot to add the sugar called for so I added some agave at the end and then let it sit for a few minutes. I cut down the oil and skipped the cilantro.

The end result was delicious. And now I can't say I've never cooked eggplant, so double win.

However, I still can't figure out how people make curry photograph 'pretty' and not like... this.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Vegan Mofo Intro

So it's a month of the year this year. I would say "that" and "again" but that wouldn't make sense since Mofo seems to be a transient hobo, no home to call its own, any month / overpass will do. I know I'm a few days late with the first post of the year, but this long weekend was super insane pants - birthday party, horse show prep, horse show... no time for anything else.

I always have great aspirations. I'm going to use this Mofo to cook some new ingredient I haven't tried! I'm going to veganize some old favourites! I'm going to bake something new every week! I'm going to use this never-before-used cookbook FINALLY! And then I fail at all of them. So I have no such aspirations this year. Imma cook and bake. And then, Imma take pictures. And then, Imma blog.

Good luck to me and everyone else delving into Mofo this year!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vegan Mofo

Well I kind of crapped the bed on the 52 weeks of baking. Don't get me wrong, I have totally baked a ton in the last several weeks, but I've been relying on old standbys and also I have two children that I'm *supposed* to pay attention to and I've been busy with horses and and and.

However, I'm going to make a concerted effort to get my poop in a group for Vegan Mofo this September. Don't know what, if anything, I'll concentrate on, but I do enjoy Mofo and like to participate no matter how sporadically.

Here's some cupcakes. You know, to tide you over.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

52 Weeks of Baking: Week 15 - Lemon Cream Pie

Don't get bored of lemon things. It's my outlet for baking 'spring' things on a day (MAY TWELFTH) when it's freezing and snowing / hailing. HAILING AND SNOWING I ask you. Unacceptable.

Anyway, it's Mother's Day (hope you called your mother) and we went to my aunt's for dinner as is family tradition. She usually orders Chinese. Nom nom. My mom made a chocolate cake in celebration of my uncle's birthday - chocolate is his favourite - but I offered to make something and my aunt said that would probably be appreciated. Why have one dessert when you can have two?!

I struggled for a bit with what to make. Cupcakes + chocolate cake seemed too redundant, even though cupcakes are always yummy, so I finally decided on a tart. My tart pan hasn't had enough use by far.

I was too lazy to make a regular crust so I went with a spice cookie crumb crust. Easiest crust ever. And Dare Simple Pleasures Spice Snaps are vegan. Perfect. I had already chosen to do lemon, based on the success of last week's lemon curd, but I wanted something a bit bulked up and decided to follow last week's theme even more closely and added some coconut. I came across this recipe which looks like a take on lemon meringue. The topping, however, is coconut with some agar cooked with the water from the coconut, and then the coconut cream is beaten in. I never got it to the solid state that it looks like it was in to top the lemon cream pie in the photo, because then I beat in a full recipe of lemon curd.

HOWEVER... it turns out that whatever happened the thing did not solidify properly and was kind of a creamy mess. I don't know if I should have added more agar or let the curd set better or maybe just cooked the agar more, but whatever happened it was like lemon custard. I mean, it was still delicious, but just don't go and do this unless you want lemon soup stuff.

Looks pretty at least!

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