Tag Archives: cooking

Bacon. Mmm, Bacon…

I am in metaphorical foodie heaven.

Also known as…a plate full of my soon-to-be obsessions. I think the only reasons none of this is already an obsession is because I didn’t know it existed up until now. Or last night, if we’re talking onion rings.

Chavez Caesar Salad. With Eggplant Bacon.

And a side of homemade bread. (we’ll get there.) Oh and a couple onion rings. I had a few leftover and am rationing them two at a time so I can savor them over and over. I only have two left.

I already am plotting more excuses to “need” to get groceries so I can purchase a lifetime supply of sweet onions.

Fun fact: for just about the entire duration of my teen-hood, say from junior high to high school, you could bet $5 that whenever I’d/we’d go somewhere to eat, I’d be having a caesar salad or a caesar salad wrap. With chicken. Even after learning it had anchovies. And then something happened…maybe it was a caesar salad burnout. Maybe I was just too lazy to want to make my own once I started saving my pennies and stopped eating out for every meal.

But I finally geared up motivation to make a caesar salad (read: wasn’t feeling too lazy to clean the blender) and it. was. phenomenal. I don’t know how Isa thinks of these things, but seriously – this dressing is the caesar salads I remember.

Except better.

And you’d better believe I was picky about my salads. You’re probably thinking I was healthy even back then anyways, but honestly, for some reason I just had an inexplicable attachment to chicken caesar salads.

And then there’s the eggplant bacon.

Does it taste like bacon?

No! It’s eggplant!

Is it good?

Oh hell yes it is.

I was basically munching on it for the entire hour leading up to dinner. I’m lucky I had any left for my salad. I was never a “bacon-on-my-caesar-salad” kinda gal, but apparently I am an “eggplant bacon on my vegan caesar salad” kinda gal.

And here’s the kicker: I can make all of the above but apparently remembering about the bread I put in the oven is too difficult for my brain to handle.

Not to mention my other rookie mistake of completely forgetting to spray the plastic wrap I put over top while it rose, so of course when I went to pull it off I disrupted the entire top of it, beautifully risen and all.

But ohhhhh hot damn, this bread? Best loaf I’ve ever tasted. Hands-down. And unfortunately for you guys, I can’t give you the recipe.

Neener-neener-neee-ner!

Ahem. I’m sorry. That was incredibly rude of me. But this recipe was so generously passed along to me from a wonderful blogger friend. I’d really love to tell you because these acts of generosity deserve mentioning – but I’m afraid my ugly loaf would be an embarrassment, so instead I will choose to hold off until I make a prettier one.

Which won’t be very far away.

See, I fell in love with L’s idea of making mini loaves, so I halved the recipe and just made a mini loaf. My “problem” was that I’d make a normal sized loaf of bread and feel like I had to live off of sandwiches for fear if I didn’t have at least one a day, the bread would get wasted. Mini loaf? No problem.

Except…it’s almost all gone already. Mreh, well.

And as an aside – I need to publicly thank Jenn for being better support than WordPress is. She helped me figure out a way to publish the site I designed in iWeb for my photography! It’s got some kinks, but I feel so much more streamlined now 🙂 This blog’s gotta be next, though!

eventually.

What’s something you accomplished today? It took all morning – but I was so glad to get my site up. Far from done, but done enough to be public, I think. And at least better than what it was! I also did a bunch of schoolwork. Grumble.

Do/Did you have a favorite “restaurant meal”? Something you love to order out, but never make at home? I never made caesar salad (of course, I didn’t make myself anything back then!) but as mentioned – always ordered it out!

[Side note: Ask me how happy I was to have natural, real light to photograph my dinner. Go ahead, ask me! I’m so sick of using flash!]

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Filed under bacon, baking, bread, cooking, dinner, food, healthy living, photography, review, salad, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian, veggies

Curry Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Day 1 of the Deep Freeze:

obviously not spent at the barn. This will be a weekend that is intended for curling up with a hot cup of something and watching the Bruins slaughter the Avalanche. Avalanches? The Avs, we’ll leave it at that.

Unless I’m at Hannaford’s, I guess. My mom and I both had to do some work in town and then pick up something in the “big town” (I know that sounds corny, I’m just refraining from naming places!) so I ran into Hannaford’s for some sweet potatoes…

…but Amaranth flour found its way in my basket when I saw it “bargain priced to move” at $1.99. I don’t pass up bargain flours that I haven’t tried yet. Even if I’ve never even had amaranth as a grain before.

The irony? When I got home, I was reading through my comments on yesterday’s post with buckwheat flour, to discover my flour infatuation is rather well-known to you guys, too.

Look at how much iron it has, though!

Anyways. I haven’t used it yet and probably won’t even open it up for another couples…weeks…but I just found it ironic I suppose.

I did, however, make more sweets today. Cookies for the fam. We have a lot of desserts in the house right now, but they keep getting gobbled up so I’ll keep making them.

Which is probably the reason why I do try and make an effort to make stuff at least a little bit healthier if it’s possible. I don’t want to be blamed for making my loved ones unhealthy, so it’s my way of being able to continuously keep baking things I guess 😉

Which is why it’s going to be our little secret that I didn’t actually follow the recipe for the cookies that were requested, and instead followed Angela’s Ultimate Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe instead. The “requested recipe” was one that was an advertisement in a Rachel Ray magazine for Ocean Spray Craisins. It wasn’t that bad a recipe…but I think it was more of a “I like the process of finding a recipe rather than following one given to me.” sort of thing.

And yes, I baked with Angela’s printed-off recipe snugged in the magazine so it would look like I was following the magazine should anyone walk in the kitchen.

Ironically, I sort of unhealthified it, but mainly because I was feeling cheap and didn’t want to use the last of my coconut oil or maple syrup for something I wasn’t baking for myself.

Go ahead and call me selfish, I know.

That and, obviously, I needed to use cranberries. Raisins would just be a dead giveaway that I didn’t follow the other recipe, y’know?

The swaps:

  • 3/4 c. all purpose flour in place of Kamut
  • scant 1/2 c. brown sugar (the alternative suggested for Sucanat)
  • 1/3 c. maple syrup rather than 1/2 c.
  • 2 T. cow’s milk
  • 3.5 T. butter vs. coconut oil
  • 2/3 c. dried cranberries vs. raisins

I realize it probably seems contradictory to talk about using butter when I previously said I tried making things healthier – but I should probably clarify that I really don’t have any problems with butter or anything labeled “unhealthy.” I just don’t like to use a ton of it. And less than 4 tablespoons for 20 cookies is pretty marginal, if you ask me.

Alright alright. You’re sick of the cookie pictures. In case you were wondering, though, they were a serioius hit. And they smell amazing whilst baking. I think it was all the walnut meal and maple syrup.

Onto other, really unattractive things. I have the most difficult time photographing sweet potatoes and curries. The color just makes my WB go crazy, and it doesn’t help that I am so. sick. of having to use my flash to photograph anything that’s not lunch.

…which is just about everything, these days.

Being that my mom and I got home from town sort of late, I didn’t have time to have my daily sweet potato for lunch.

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

And so that meant only one thing: I had to make up for it at dinner.

Normally I’m pretty content just eating them plain, but decided I’d live life on the edge tonight. And stuff it. I had a stuffed sweet potato kick sometime last year, and they really are delicious.

I know it’s easy to slice into a fresh oven-baked sweetie and want to just eat it plain right then and there – but please, every so often…give the sweetie the love and time it deserves! Here’s one way 😉

Curry Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 medium-large sweet potato (try and choose a round one versus a long skinny one!)
  • 1/2 a red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 c. diced white mushrooms
  • 1/4 a block of tempeh, diced (or chickpeas or tofu or ground beef, for all I care)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 T. curry powder, depending on your taste (I used a heaping 1/2 T. of a sweet-ish curry)
  • 1/2 t. honey
  • salt, to taste

Preheat your oven to 425* and poke the sweet potato a couple of times. Bake for an hour, or until tender – when I knife can slide through it.

About half an hour into cooking, prepare your filling: in a small pan over medium heat, preheat your olive oil. Add in the onion and sautee until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and sautee one more minute. Add in the mushrooms and red pepper and allow to cook until all of the liquid has been cooked out of the mushrooms. Stir in the tempeh and then the curry powder and honey. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water at this point.

Once the potato has cooked, cut in half and very gently scoop out the insides, leaving 1/4 – 1/2″ around the outside. Chop the sweet potato you’ve scooped out and mix in with the filling. Spoon the filling back into the sweet potato and enjoy!

I’ve always been a fan of sweet potatoes and curry powder. If you’re hesitant, don’t be! It’s a lovely balance of flavors.

…or maybe I’m just weird. I’ve never been one to want to slather almond butter or maple syrup on my sweet potato, after all 😉

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Filed under cookie, cookies, cooking, dessert, dinner, food, food blog, healthy living, recipe, sweet potato, sweet potatoes, tempeh, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian, veggies

Italian Sweet Potato Gratin

For what seemed like such a looooong week – this weekend sure flew by!

There was lots of pancakes. The best pancakes of my life.

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There was lots of finishing up on schoolwork.

There was lots of Bruins watching.

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There was lots of sweet potatoes.

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There was lots of following recipes…

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…as well as creating recipes.

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There was lots of rain. Too much rain.

I’m sick of rain. And wind. I just want snow. And blizzards. I want to be snowed in. I want to step outside and be up to my waist in fluffy, pillowy snow. I want to hear the stillness of a town covered in snow. To look down my road and see nothing but pine trees covered in white, and the road revealing that only the plow truck and sander braved go out.

I don’t want rain. Or wind. Last time we had rain and wind, we had no power for three days, anyway. And I got cold.

Okay, anyways. I’ve cried my river (and it suddenly makes sense why it’s raining) and now I’m building my bridge.

How do I build my bridge?

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By baking. Naturally.

I think the only part of working all week last week that I hated (besides not riding Teddie – that’s a given) was not being prepared or getting to spend time in the kitchen.

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Unfortunately, it’s still too early to get some real Christmas baking done – but it’s never too early to just bake for fun, at least. I chose Vegan with a Vengeance’s Orange Glazed Scones, while my mom baked some of her classic anisette cookies.

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…and got an arm workout while she was at it. And reminded me of a night with a certain alcoholic substance that tastes of anise. I never realized it until today but that is probably what anise will forever remind me of. Shudder.

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Before anyone asks, no, I will not post this recipe. I don’t post recipes from cookbooks when I haven’t changed anything, or have only changed a fraction of the ingredients, or have only made a simple swap. I don’t consider  a recipe to be “adapted” when I’ve simply switched the flour or added some nuts. I used Earth Balance in place of the oil, sure – that’s pretty far from me adapting the recipe, however. Regardless of how I feel about “adaptations” of recipes, however – these scones are delicious enough that they could convince you to buy the book Winking smile

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At one point, my mom tempted me with her food coloring and I attempted to turn my glaze orange. The color frightened me, but hey – it’s a special occasion and I was playing – but I had to start over when the glaze was way thinner than it should have been. I started over sans icing. That fascination was short-lived.

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I did, however, make what I consider adaptations of a couple recipes while in the kitchen today! I wanted to prepare stuff for the week so if I am working every day again, I won’t be so frantic and at a loss as to what to have for lunches and dinners. One recipe was for burgers that I’ll share sometime soon (tomorrow?) and another for an Italian Sweet Potato Gratin.

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This is an adaptation of Moosewood’s Italian Sweet Potato Gratin. I realize I’ve done dinners like this before…but this one is good. I don’t think casseroles ever get old!

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The only bad thing about this gratin?

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It used up the last of my Bove’s pasta sauce Sad smileWell worth it, I suppose – you’ll want to use a good tomato sauce for this recipe! I suppose that’s silly to say, though; I can’t really imagine when you would want to use a bad tomato sauce?

Anyways. Here you go.

Italian Sweet Potato Gratin

serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main

  • 1 medium sweet potato, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 T. basil oil (or olive oil) divided
  • 1/2 t. italian seasoning
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1T. water
  • 3-4 large kale leaves, chopped
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 c. + 1 T. roasted red pepper hummus (or garlic)
  • 1 t. yellow mustard
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 T. water
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. good tomato sauce
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400*.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 T. of the oil, italian seasoning, vinegar, and 1 T. water. Set aside.

In another small bowl, mix together the hummus, nutritional yeast, mustard, and 2-3 T. water. Set aside.

In a casserole dish, spread the remaining 1 T. of oil and then uniformly layer half the sweet potatoes followed by half the onion. Sprinkle with salt and then pour half of the oil mixture over top. Spread half the hummus mixture over top, and then half of the tomato sauce. Layer on the kale, followed by the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and repeat the layering process, finishing everything: sweet potato, onion, oil, hummus and pasta sauce. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over top.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove cover and bake another ten. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

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Oh, yes. This was pretty simple to prepare, even though there was a bit of hands on and hands-off time. The perfect warm meal to make on a weekend and enjoy on a week-day Smile

In other news, I was finally able to replenish my peanut butter that I’ve been going through like crazy:

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I may or may not have made that in my mom’s bathroom. I didn’t think whirring a food processor for five minutes straight was going to go over very well.

I still get all excited when peanut butter reaches that peanut butter state. It’s like this clumpy ball one second, and then the next…peanut butter. It’s magic. I don’t know if I can ever buy it again.

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To jazz it up a little this time, I combined:

  • 1/2 c. honey roasted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • drizzle maple syrup
  • pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove
  • crystallized ginger pieces

And of course I replenished my banana stash so I can resume having bananas dressed up in peanut butter for snack Winking smile

So! That is all for now…but! stay tuned for:

  • lemon-poppyseed blueberry cornmeal-oatbran pancakes
  • broccoli and cashew white bean burgers
  • more fun things that I don’t even know about yet. I hope.

What’s your favorite peanut butter add-in?

What was one fun thing you did this weekend?

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Filed under breakfast, dinner, lunch, recipe, sweet potato, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian

The Day After

I really hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving, and continues to enjoy company of family this weekend. I loved spending the day/morning in the kitchen, but after our meal was eaten, our walk was walked and the horses were taken care of…I was more than happy to sit down!

We never have big holiday celebrations. I am perfectly okay with that…I’m not much of a “big gathering” person. It feels weird to say my family isn’t very bonded because it makes us seem like shut-outs…but I our family is very small and spread out across the states. I can’t remember ever having a Christmas or a Thanksgiving with more than 6 people!

That said, we didn’t go overboard cooking, either. There was just enough food to still be “special,” but not enough to feel like it was wasteful. We were only missing a green bean casserole! Which I don’t actually like, nor does anyone else…hence why it was missing. There was asparagus on the menu, but it was bad and we just figured we’d have enough food without it. Which was certainly true…but I would have loved a broccoli casserole, too Smile with tongue out

Anyways. I left you guys with some mysterious rolls and cakes…

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…but what were they?

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Firstly, Monet’s Sweet Potato Rolls. My knots are nowhere near as gorgeous as hers – but these were a mega hit. I made them just as is, taking the vegan option and using a flax egg and oil. The dough came together perfectly, and were easy and fun to make, too.

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But this is Thanksgiving. Who stops at one carb?! I was completely torn between recipes for rolls – and so bright and early yesterday morning, started working on Monet’s Herbed Monkey Bread.

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This dough was so nice to work with, too – so soft, smooth and elastic. Dare I compare food to a baby’s bottom? It’s a guess – I’ve never changed diapers to know.

Of course, these could have turned out horrible and it’d have been okay – I’d already sauteed garlic in basil oil, and that does me in every time.

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These, too, were raved about. Just their aroma brings a smile to my face! I wanted to serve them with a garlic butter, but my mom immediately said “nah, they’re garlicky enough.” Sometimes I forget that I could easily add two cloves to something I’m making for one serving and not even blink an eye.

Whoops.

The only change to the recipe was using unbleached bread flour for the all purpose, and basil oil for the olive oil (which is just olive oil infused with basil) and for the oil coating, used the basil oil, two cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of dried italian seasoning. Wondrous. Who doesn’t love pulling off a hunk of monkey bread?!

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Next on the list was frosting my mysterious cake – which was Angela’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf with Buttercream Icing.

I had the pumpkin chiffon cake planned, but when I read the recipe closer, it called for 9 eggs. I thought it meant a total of 5 (4 eggs + 5 egg whites) but when I read closer realized that was a lot of eggs. I told my mom why I wasn’t making it and she exclaims

That’s a lot of eggs! That’s expensive, don’t make that.”

I love moms because they tell us not to do something after we’ve already said we aren’t.

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I made as is (cutting back a hair on the sugar) and was shocked at how much batter I got. It said 8 servings, but I’m pretty sure this could feed at least 16.

I also halved the buttercream. It looked really thick and none of us are “frosting-y” people. You know those cakes that you buy at the store, all frosted? Yeah, my mom ad I would always scrape it off as soon as it hit our plate.

My thoughts on it:

  • buttercream was still really sweet – but I can’t complain because the family likes it and it’s easy enough to scrape off Smile with tongue out
  • it tastes just like my gingerbread muffins…which is odd because this one is a looot more decadent.

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And thennnnn….stuffing!! Er, dressing, whatever. I feel weird calling it dressing, but it wasn’t stuffed in anything so dressing it is. I’d rather call it…bread casserole or something.

Either way, it’s something I’ll be making again whether it’s Thanksgiving or not!

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This never would have happened without inspiration from Sarena. I’d never had cornbread stuffing before, and when she first posted it – I had to have it.

The recipe, however, was a combination  of a couple ideas. I promised myself I would strictly follow recipes for Thanksgiving…but c’mon…who was I kidding? That’s not very “me.”

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Maybe I’ll share the recipe, even though everyone is probably stuffed from all the stuffing they’ve had Smile with tongue out It is my favorite part!! This cornbread dressing was probably the best I’ve ever had, too. My mom also made some of her “traditional” stuffing, to stuff the actual bird with.

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I went very simply with the butternut. And it may have been one of my favorites. This mixed with the cranberry sauce? Ahmgaw. I may or may not have cleared off the table faster than I should have because I wanted to make sure I had some for lunch today. And finished what wasn’t left for snack. And it was a big squash.

I just tossed it with a bit of olive oil, salt, and a tiny sprinkle of brown sugar.

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My other favorite part (because I clearly can’t pick a favorite part)? Cranberry sauce! I sort of winged this, too. I used hot apple cider to boil/simmer it in instead of water, and spiced it with ground clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I sweetened it with maple syrup and cane sugar as well as the jucie of one clementine and its’ zest.

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And no, those are not raspberry seeds – I did not add raspberries. I did, however, add chia seeds. Don’t look at me like that…I needed something to thicken it! It wasn’t thickening quite like I wanted it to. Chia seeds did the trick and no one was ay the wiser, though after I did it I was sure I was going to get “what are these whitish things in the cranberry sauce?!?!” questions. I also left it nice and tart. Which means…perfect leftovers –

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…for pancakes this morning! So yum. I don’t know why I don’t just always make up a batch of cranberry sauce with my cranberries – but I think I’ll start now!

Yesterday, though, I had a little bit of everything except for Turkey and my mom’s stuffing. This was my first Thanksgiving birdless…and honestly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. I try not to view anything as “off-limits,” though – so I came to an agreement with myself that if I wanted Turkey, I’d eat Turkey. But I really didn’t want any. It just wasn’t appealing to me, after being meat-free for so long. Dairy and other animal products are becoming the same way as I use less and less of those, too.

And I just realized that I kept capitalizing turkey, which is a little weird. Guess I had that much respect for the big guy?

Another thing I noticed? I’m really becoming in-tune with my body. While usually Thanksgiving is a day to stuff yourself silly, ignoring all “full” signals…I was able to eat just enough. Happily content, but not feeling deprived. It was so nice to be able to go for a walk with family after and not feel so weighed down Smile with tongue out

What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

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Filed under baking, cooking, dinner, holiday

Mission: Unaccomplished.

The Lesson of the Day: Go somewhere looking for one thing in particular, and you’re not gonna find it. Instead, you’ll find everything else.

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The mission: Find plain or at least vanilla coconut milk kefir.

Mission: unaccomplished.

But, instead, I found everything else I’ve been mourning about not being able to find.

Well, I take that back. I haven’t been mourning not having tapioca pudding, but I just thought that packaging was too cute to pass up. And it made me think “oooh! pudding!” Unfortunately, when I tried it, my response was more along the lines of “ewwww, pudding…”

You win some, you lose some. Hopefully the rest of my finds are wins.

I just wish Hannaford’s was easier to get to. It’s the closest I can get to a TJs or WFs. Going there today after not having been for eons made me realize that there’s too many awesome things there to neglect it like that.

And then, I baked.

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I baked this 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread from King Arthur Flour. I adored the White Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf I made last week from them, but my adventures in bread-baking are too young to resign myself to the same recipe already.

I am learning – I don’t have instant yeast, and instead of just using active dry in the same fashion I know I need to proof it! Oh, the miles I have come Winking smile

Anyways. This is another great loaf from them, methinks. I used a pan that was too large, so I didn’t get a nice rounded top, but it still rose significantly.

I used sesame seeds instead of walnuts, too. I thought using walnuts again would be too similar to last week. The sesame is definitely noticeable in the end result. I love seedy, nutty breads, though. I also cut the honey down to 3 T. And used vital wheat gluten instead of “bread improver,” which I am thinking is the same thing, or at least almost the same thing.

The result?

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It finished too late for me to have a racy photoshoot with it, unfortunately. But iiis goo!

What’s a product you’ve been dying to try, but can’t get your hands on? Or one that you finally found, but was a major disappointment?

What’s your favorite bread add-in? Unless, of course, you’re a plain-jane….in which case, that’s always fun, too!

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Filed under baking, bread, recipe