Sunday, February 28, 2010

it's kitchen time!

Really, when is it not kitchen time?

Dinner Friday Night:

Shredded cabbage and onions sauteed in butter, seasoned with salt, pepper, and loads of paprika, served over egg noodles, and alongside homemade applesauce and rye bread. Cabbage has to be the cheapest vegetable ever, and it's pretty versatile, I'm learning!


Sorry you have to turn your head to see my beautiful homemade pho. I used this recipe as a guide, subbing vegetarian-friendly ingredients where appropriate. I also didn't have any star anise in the house, so I subbed 1 tsp anise seed. This was kind of a lot of work for a Sunday lunch, but it was SO worth it! Pho is Dan's all-time favorite soup, and now that I can enjoy a non-fishy version, it might be mine, too!

Ms. Jackie's perfect black beans:

My coteacher, Jackie, brought me a small container of home-cooked black beans the other week, and they were SO DAMN GOOD that I hid them from Dan and ate them all myself. :) Have no fear, though, I learned Jackie's secret -- dried onion, dried garlic, and epazote cooked with the beans. HEAVEN. Here's a loose recipe, requiring a 5-quart crock pot (or large pot -- I'm sure you could simmer these on the stovetop just fine, too):
2 1/2 pounds dried black beans
1 tbsp each dried garlic (not garlic powder,) dried onion (again, not onion powder,) and dried epazote
plenty of water (I filled my crock pot almost up to the top)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt added once the beans have cooked fully

More granola:

We never tire of it! Dan has a huge bowl for breakfast every day, and I can't complain -- all of those flax seeds help keep his cholesterol down!

Those awesome black beans mostly went into the freezer, but a small pan became part of a large burrito buffet for dinner:

Black beans, brown rice tossed with lime juice, cilantro, and salt, whole-wheat tortillas, peppers and onions, queso fresco, homemade guac, salsa, and lettuce. YUM. Here's the finished product:

I exclaimed more than once during this meal, "I'm a really good cook!" :) At least I don't have any confidence issues. :)

Hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2010

week-old backlog

I fell way behind in the posting this past week! Sheesh -- some of these photos are from last weekend. Oh well, better late than never, right?

For example, I'm pretty sure this is what we had for lunch last Saturday:

Oh artichokes, how I LOVE thee! At the first hint of spring, (i.e., slightly warmer MN weather when you still have to wear the parka, but long johns are optional,) giant artichokes usually appear at the co-op for somewhat reasonable prices. Somehow, I mind less splurging on a vegetable than on junk food! We panfried up the rest of the leftover homemade spicy Italian vegetarian sausage links, and oven-roased some potatoes, too. SO good. Hearty and healthy and comforting!

I really love it when blogger rotates photos for me:

Sideways slightly lower fat snickerdoodles are tasty! I didn't intend on making these lower in fat, but when I discovered I forgot to bring TWO sticks of butter (instead of one) to room temperature, I improvised with 1/2 cup applesauce. The cookies turned out soft and cakey, not what I'd prefer necessarily, but still delicious!

Dinner Sunday Night:

Carribbean Red Beans and Brown Rice from The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, with greens and panfried plantains on the side. Good and spicy! Wahoo!

Dinner Monday Night:

I think we make too much pizza. Why? Because almost every day, the kids at work ask me, "do you have pizza for lunch today?" :) Anyhow, here's another one. Artisan Bread crust, Muir Glen organic pizza sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, spinach, onion, mushroom, green pepper, and Yves "Meatless Pepperoni." Meatless pepperoni? Prepared pizza sauce? Well, the kids at work wanted to make a pizza, and SOMEONE had to do something with the leftover ingredients!

"Deli-Style Rye," as part of our bake-a-long:

I didn't follow the recipe exactly, since I completely forgot I was supposed to brush the loaf with a cornstarch wash and cover it with seeds, but, oh well. Floured crust looks pretty, too! I also had a chance to use the charnushka seeds that Dan's brother bought me for Christmas, in place of the more typical caraway. Thanks, Ryan!

We'll cut into the rye tonight with our dinner . . . to be continued!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

soup, and soup.

I'm having a week of being "stuck" on foods -- first it was pasta, now soup!

Thursday night's dinner:

Tofu Mom's Kale-Sausage Soup, which is a favorite at our house, (made with homemade spicy Italian veggie links,) with Cheese Muffins on the side. Seriously, if you eat cheese, make these muffins. Unbelieveable.

Friday night's dinner:

Loaded Miso Soup! Ingredients: peanut oil, carrots, oyster mushrooms (I would have preferred shiitakes, but, well, sometimes you get what you get,) ginger, vegetable broth, water, soba noodles, tofu, spinach, green onions, and miso. Yum!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

pasta, and pasta.

It's been a week of pasta at our house . . .

Monday night's dinner:

There was an article in the February issue of Real Simple that detailed ten different things to do with cheese ravioli -- this was one of them. Spicy sauteed cauliflower and green olives, tossed with whole-wheat cheese ravioli was a mighty fine dinner. (Keep in mind that I typically really don't care for cauliflower, yet I still gobbled this one down!)

I always try to keep a pound of pasta and a can of crushed tomatoes on hand for last-minute weeknight dinners:

I'm feeling kinda crappy tonight, actually, but I knew I needed to eat something (ahem, besides a cupcake.) :) I used up the lone mushrooms lingering in our fridge in my basic 5-minute marinara, and tossed the lot with some whole wheat rigatoni. I wish I could bring myself to eat a salad with this, but I'm just not digging food tonight. Hope I'm not coming down with something! :(

Off to clean up the kitchen, shower, and crawl into bed with a cup of tea and my book. I need an early bedtime tonight!

Monday, February 15, 2010

off and on the yoga wagon

I must confess . . . I sort of "fell off" the yoga wagon last week. Too many busy nights, too little sleep, and too many germs at work made it REALLY hard to want to exercise when I got home from work, even if it was only for a few minutes. And then my laziness continued into the weekend -- we were busy, and I was TIRED. Like, I took a nap on Saturday tired, and THEN went to bed early on Saturday night, too!

All of that rest must have done me some good, because I feel back to my old self today, but I had definitely fallen out of the "habit" of doing yoga several nights per week. How to get myself back on the yoga wagon?

I contemplated a long, challenging, 45-minute practice tonight, especially since I arrived home early from work. Then, I thought, "nah, 20 minutes is enough -- better make myself feel successful right away!"

So I did, and logged, my 20 minutes. And I feel better. And I'll most likely do more yoga tomorrow! (I'm going to take my iPod and pants to work with me, and squeeze in 30 minutes during my break, since Dan and I have plans with his parents tomorrow night.)

What do you think? How do you motivate yourself to get back on track with healthy habits?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I must confess, I'm not a lover of Valentine's Day . . . I fear the holiday has grown far too commercial, and has become all about pre-packaged cards and candy for children, stress about finding the perfect "gift" for grown-ups in couples, and grumpiness for those grown-ups not in couples.

So, I thumb my nose at Valentine's Day, and make it about what I love most -- food! (Well, and Dan, too.) :)

We had a nice "date" day today -- we went to see a play this afternoon, and enjoyed a fantastic treat for dinner:

That, my friends, is BRIE FONDUE. Yes, indeed, my all-time favorite cheese, melted into something alltogether tastier than I even imagined. :) Yum, yum, yum. Dippers included homemade Artisan Bread baguette, sliced apple, steamed broccoli, steamed potato, and homemade veggie sausage slices.

I also managed to bang out a batch of cuppers this weekend:

Ever-thrifty, I pulled leftover Christmas buttercream out of the freezer, and decorated with a box of conversation hearts that Dan or I hadn't gotten ahold of yet, plus leftover holiday sprinkles. Score! (P.S. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe ever -- Moosewood's Vegan Chocolate Cake. Full of nothing but pantry staples, whisks together in minutes, and bakes up moist, chocolatey, and delicious!)

Hope you enjoyed your Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

laundry list of dinners

I don't think I was feeling terribly creative when I did last week's meal plan . . . lots of "repeats," here. Well, at least we ate healthfully and well!

"Brooklyn Pad Thai," from Vegan with a Vengeance:

I usually try to add an extra vegetable to this recipe, (usually broccoli,) to amp up the nutritional value. Last week, local cabbage was on sale, so I picked up a 1/4 head and gave it a try! The cabbage worked very well in this recipe -- melted into the dish, and just sort of acted like extra noodles. Delicious!

Homemade pita, falafel w/the fixings, and tabouli:

I found a recipe somewhere for "winter tabouli," that called for sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh ones. Worked well! I add TONS of mint to my tabouli, which is usually too much for most people, but Dan and I love. Yum.

Crock Pot Chili:

I've bastardized a Vegan Planet recipe to the point where I might just post my variation someday. I love chili, and I LOVE my Crock Pot!

Don't forget the cornbread muffins:


Artisan Bread half-whole wheat crust, roasted garlic & olive oil puree for "sauce," a variety of leftover cheeses, roasted red peppers, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, red onion, and spinach. I LOVE PIZZA.

Brunch for dinner:

I think blue potatoes are so dang fun! Am I weird? Anyhow, lately I've been throwing a drizzle each of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce into my kale, and it's been heavenly! What's your favorite way to cook greens?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

typical weekend kitchen projects

Here's a peek at some of my typical weekend kitchen projects . . .


The last of the Artisan Bread oatmeal dough, this time stuffed full of cinnamon-sugar, walnuts, and dried cranberries. As soon as this loaf cooled, I stuck it in the freezer until we finish up the half-loaf of bread currently on our counter.


I added dried blueberries and cranberries to this once cooled.

Using up random, dying produce:

We bought some pears last week at the co-op, and they were TERRIBLE -- starchy, mealy, and just plain gross. So I peeled them, diced them, and cooked them up (with a couple of aging apples, too,) added a teaspoon or two of sugar, a few dashes of Penzey's baking spice, and voila -- apple-pear sauce.

Pre-prep for coming meals this week:

Shredded cheeses:

Smoked mozzarella, for pizza, and sharp cheddar, to top chili.

Yogurt-Tahini sauce:

(We're having falafel for dinner tonight.)


Washing, stemming, and chopping greens on the weekends saves SO much time during the week, when we're trying to get dinner on the table quickly!

More bread dough:

Half-whole wheat this time, for pita later today, and pizza crust later this week.


To accompany our falafel later today!

I'm also planning on pad thai for lunch, and I'll prep the whole lot of ingredients, (since the recipe yields two huge batches,) bag them up in the fridge in the different stages of frying-up, and then I'll have yet another meal nearly ready to go! Woo!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

the dinner that wasn't.

Let me tell you about my AWESOME Friday night last night . . .

So, those of you who have worked or know someone who has worked child care, you know that kids NEVER go home early, especially on Fridays. (Families are usually busy trying to squeeze in one last errand before the weekend, etc., at least in my experience.) You can imagine my surprise when, last night, my last kid was picked up at 5:15 pm! (We close at 6:00.) I spent some time cleaning and tidying in my classroom, doing silly things like pulling staples out of the walls and rotating the children's artwork, and checked my work email TWICE IN ONE DAY! (Whoa!)

I packed up and headed out the door at my usual time, and walked down to my bus stop. I waited for the bus. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, my bus showed up at almost 6:20 PM, WAY too late to make my connection to the express bus from St. Paul to Minneapolis. DRAT! Fortunately, I thought, I had figured out a plan the last time this happened -- I hopped off my usual bus with the intent of grabbing a slower, but direct "high frequency" bus that connects St. Paul and Minneapolis.

And then I waited some more. Over fifteen minutes later, a #16 FINALLY showed up, and I hopped on -- only to find the bus jam-packed, and I had to force half a buttcheek on a seat next to a very large man who was at least reading a book (not drunk and passed out, which is usually the only half-buttcheek seat left.) As the 16 crawled towards Minneapolis, I started getting REALLY cranky -- and by the time I got home, I was livid! My typical 1-hour commute took nearly TWO hours. And there was no snow or any logical reason for the busses being so unpredictable! BLAH.

I had every intention of arriving home last night, relaxing over a short yoga practice, and fixing Dan and I some gnocchi, leftover homemade sauce, and green salads for dinner, and maybe settling into a movie after a while. Not so much . . . since I didn't get home until almost 8:00 I was crabby, hungry, tired, and did I mention crabby?

Dan kindly offered to take me out to dinner to cheer me up. :) After murdering a veggie burger and waffle fries at the Uptown Diner, I felt much better. Whew!

Today was a little different, thank goodness, and I did manage to finally make that gnocchi!

AND, I had the pleasure of stopping into a little bakery and coffee shop this morning, (appropriately called "Cupcake,") and picked up a couple of treats for Dan and myself:

Pumpkin Spice cupcake for me, Lemon Merengue cupcake for Dan! Yay cupcakes!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

our week in food

Sunday night's dinner:

Grilled cheese and (homemade, vegan) cream of tomato-basil soup! YUM. This is, oddly, a frequent meal request of Dan's. Who knew?

Monday night's dinner:

Dan's Awesome Stir-Fry -- a little too spicy for me this time, but still great! I think he hasn't figured out yet that four dried Thai chillis kick my butt a little too much. :)

Tuesday night's dinner:

Here is a time where I veered significantly from a printed recipe, and it went really, really well. Soup is awesome, and soup containing a whole head of roasted garlic is even awesome-er. Ingredients: olive oil, celery, carrot, shallot, chard (stems and leaves,) navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, roasted garlic, vegetable broth, crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sage, salt, pepper, and a parmesan cheese rind. Conveniently, this soup ALSO helped me clean out my veggie drawer and counter produce bowl! Sweet!

Soup requires bread, wouldn't you agree?

More Vermont Cheddar rolls, just 'cause that's the quickest thing to get in and out of the oven on a weeknight. Equally as tasty as last time! Yay bake-a-long!