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Monday, December 24, 2012

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish

with hope, by now the tender peace of the season has settled in your home, in your heart, seeping thru the cracks of the woes we've faced recently, & tho it will not erase the tragedy, it is a reminder to hold dear to our loved ones and pay homage to the innocence lost.

in our dwelling, again, we are keeping it simple and private. dw will be toiling in the kitchen while i am at work, creating a delightful bounty for our humble table. i am so rewarded that i have him in my life, to not only nurture my spirit, but hold my hand during the darkest of times. i will arrive home, likely early, to a well seasoned abode, a warm hug and much to be grateful for.

this extremely simple side dish has been made three times already this season, it's his favorite. making use of autumn's apples, cranberries and oranges, as in, every part of the fruits, even the skin, it's sweet and tart and invigorating. it's important to use only organic fruits. adjust sweetness levels according to taste, as well as how sweet the fruits are naturally.

may the merry cadence of this holiday occasion be as sweet for you all as it is for us.

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish
1 package cranberries, washed
1 orange, thoroughly washed
1 apple, thoroughly washed
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar, to taste

chop up the apple, removing the stem & seeds. chop up the orange, removing the seeds but keep the pith and skin.

in a food processor, add all three fruits and process until reached desired consistency, be careful to not liquidize the concoction. the consistency you're going for is similar to the pickle relish you put on hot dogs.

add in the sugar and mix to dissolve. you can eat it right away, we do sometimes, but i think when the flavors have settled a bit in the fridge it tastes even better. sometimes we have it with our main entree and other times it's dessert!

this is my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tofu Coconut Flan

Tofu Coconut Flan

it's a testament to my grocery shopping skills that i was able to create this week's The Food Matters Project 3 times without having to head to the store for restocking (or that i am a food hoarder). the first time i thought i had not cooked the geleatin properly and the second time i came to the realization that the gelatin was just sketch. as a result, the 3rd time i used agar powder and rather than canned coconut milk, i used coconut creamer instead. i will admit to being exasperated & impatient when making the caramel and i didn't let it deepen in color enough.

Tofu Coconut Flan

now. i love me some flan. i've said it before, and tho i don't order it when out anymore for fear of dairy doom, it is still one of my all time favorite desserts. this version is completely vegan. personally, i like the addition of the eggs, it provides creaminess and a smooth texture. tofu, even silkened, doesn't do it for me. either way, this is a no-bake version, very quick to put together (combined, all three times probably took me just under 90 minutes) and if you're wanting to keep it egg-less, this is the way to go.

Tofu Coconut Flan

my other flan for Lan versions:

this is my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco + side of Spaghetti Squash

our season of giving thanks this year was a private affair. we were not inclined to venture far beyond our little roost, aspiring instead to create our own tradition of being mindful and grateful.

in the weeks following thanksgiving and leading up to the holidays, i will be seeking solace in Winter's soothing charms: burrowing under warm lap blankets, crocheting, and sipping on spicy hot chocolate (dairy free, of course). there is, admittedly, a burgeoning hope for snow, a light dusting mayhap, enough to brighten an otherwise dark season.

this dish was a simple something that dw & i decided upon, depending on what cuts of meat Whole Foods had to offer. we spent that thanksgiving morning putting this together, npr on the kitchen radio, the potpourri pot simmering gently and the world a distant noise beyond our door. if you've no dinner plans for the coming yuletide this would make a great meal.

Osso Bucco + side of Spaghetti Squash

we could not decide on which recipe to go with, so we incorporated both methods and used what ingredients we had on hand.

as inspired by :

we served the osso bucco alongside roasted spaghetti squash, that was seasoned simply with salt & pepper, and a cranberry relish that is dw's fave thanksgiving treat. our sweet treat was chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vegan NYT Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies {vegan}

this december has been standoffish, ill-content in what temperature range to stay in, one day warm, the next fickle and cold, leaving much to desire -- along with my dressing room in disarray. so unlike november, when it was a steady coolness that encouraged soft sweaters and gloved hand holding, the first week of the 12th month has had its ups & downs.

december has always been a busy succession of days reserved for holiday cheer and birthday accolades. we spent our weekend among friends and little ones, sharing these delightful cookies, something that i can finally bring back into my diet. i made them often and when i nixed dairy they disappeared. now, this is their 2nd appearance.

the first time we agonized over the cold dough, combining two ice cream scoopfuls. then we decided to make do with one scoop prior to refrigeration and they turned out wonderfully. the first time dw ate these cookies, he had to with a fork. the cookie were fresh from the oven, had not yet set and were too soft to handle. they are that good.

adapted from: papillon

another vegan recipe i'm wanting to give a try: rosewater & thyme.



this is my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. this week was sponsored by Margarita of Let's Cook & Be Friends. the recipe is for walnut-orange biscotti. i won't lie, i've made biscotti once & failed, i opted to save my pride & make cookies instead.

if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

mixedcon ~ up in the mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains

i attended my first food blogging conference over the weekend. what i imagined to be a chaotic foray into networking madness turned into a revelation. i have grappled this year with what to do with this here space, i have moments of flights of fancy and then other moments where i am left unmotivated. this retreat allowed me to finally come up for air.

nestled in the blue ridge mountains of southern virginia, where i attended college, is a tiny resort where a big movie was filmed. there we immersed ourselves in not only the barren landscape that the exiting autumn left behind, but in each other, drawing breath and ideas and inspiration.

Blue Ridge Mountains

i left on sunday morning, driving down the mountain with the windows open, these mountains that when i was in school always provided such comfort just from the sight of them. the long windy road home was spent reflecting on what i had learned. to keep this to the point, i will simply say that i traveled that distance, i spent that time to come to the conclusion that i am where i want to be, where i need to be.

Blue Ridge Mountains

so, in the meantime, thank you to the organizers and sponsors (like kitchenaid and dreamfields) of Mixed, to the speakers and the staff at mountain lake. last, it was wonderful meeting people. i should be back next week with new recipes to share.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Singapore Noodles

Singapore Noodles

there are quite a few things in this life that make my days brighter just by simply existing: that expanse of 81S going thru 3 states, where the mountains are blue-grey and hazy and seem to stretch on to forever. sipping fresh, hot coffee on my faded elephant couch while watching saturday morning foodtv. dw. and noodles.

it’s a weird thing. i grew up with noodles, not of the italian pasta variety, but the asian rice kind, and it’s never once occurred to me that they would be so much a part of what my body craves now. we have a diverse meal plan at home, it’s whatever is in season, on sale and can be prepared quickly and simply. this is such a dish that i can put together on a week night, after a busy day at work, and all i want to do is enjoy the simple brighter things that an evening shared with my beloved can provide.

Singapore Noodles

Singapore Noodles
adapted from the complete vietnamese cookbook by Ghillie Basan
this can just as easily be made vegetarian, use tofu instead.

sesame oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
knob of ginger, finely chopped
4-6 green onions/scallions, chopped
1 skinless chicken breast fillet, cut into bite-size pieces
3 1/2 oz pork loin, cut into bite-size pieces
1 TBL tomato paste
2 TBL tamarind paste
1 TBL fish sauce
juice of one line or lemon
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup water or stock (i used chicken)
rice noodles cooked accordingly to package instructions
bunch of fresh basil & mint to garnish

heat up a heavy pan and add the oil. stir in the onion, garlic, and ginger. cook until they begin color and get really fragrant. add in the green onions, cook for a minute, then add in the meats.

stir in the tomato paste, tamarind paste, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. pour in the chicken stock (or water) and cook gently. allow the liquid to reduce.

in the meantime, cook up the rice noodles in a pot of water. i typically cook them until just barely done. drain noodles, add to the meat pan. season with salt/pepper or fish sauce. serve immediately, with basil & mint.

dig the eff in.

Singapore Noodles

other asian noodle dishes:
noodle with tofu stir fry
veggie noodle bowl
veggie stir fry with banh canh noodles
wonton noodle soup
Pho Bo
bo kho
fancy ramen noodles
bun bo hue

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

our home is located on the top floor of a 4 storied building, sometimes when i'm feeling particularly boughetto i might say that we live in the penthouse. we don't know our neighbors, save for edward who lives on the bottom floor, who is so fabulous and extravagant with his speech i find myself making exaggerated gestures and pronunciations, too, when i run into him in the building foyer. tho we rarely interact with the people below us, we certainly can hear them with the occasional backdoor slamming or pitter patter of their children's feet.

the little nest that we're creating is a mish mash of books, photography set up and have mercy, kitchen toys that have no home in the tiny urban galley kitchen so they spill into the hallway and living room. it's a lovely mix of chaos and order, i know exactly where to find my spoon props but damn if i don't panic when i can't find a whisk, ANY WHISK, to whip up some eggs.

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

over the holiday weekend we spent our days sleeping in, sitting warm & cozy on the couch watching reruns of housewives of atlanta and miami, a recent horrible guilty pleasure i've picked up, crocheting or reading. in the kitchen a bouquet of citrus, cloves, cinnamon & rosemary simmered on the stove, permeating thru the entire abode with all that is right with autumn, but without the cold and fog and rotting leaves.

not ones to partake in crazy black friday shenanigans we somehow found ourselves at a local hh gregg on small business saturday, looking to replace a very old television i had inherited. the irony was not lost on us! and so sunday morning, we awoke early to "correct" our sleeping pattern for the coming work week and noshed on these waffles, spending the rest of the day lounging in front of our new non-kitchen related toy.

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles ~ Vegan
adapted from Minimalist Baker

for the soak:
1 1/4 cup organic pastry flour (methinks regular AP or spelt flour would be fine)
scant cup of almond milk
juice of half lemon

1/2 TBL baking powder
1/4 cup + 1 TBL brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 cup butternut squash puree
2 TBL brown rice syrup
1 TBL canola oil
1 flax egg (1 TBL flaxseed meal + 2 1/2 TBL water)

the night before combine flour + almond milk + lemon juice. mix, cover, go to bed.

morning of: preheat waffle iron.
make flax egg by combining water and flaxseed in a large bowl and letting rest for 5 minutes
meanwhile, in the bowl with the soaked flour, add in the rest of the ingredients (baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, butternut squash puree, brown rice syrup & oil)

when waffle iron is sufficiently hot, spoon about 1/2 cup of the batter onto the center of the iron and cook according to your machine’s instructions.
makes about 12 square waffles. serve warm with honey and pat of vegan butter.

note: the brown rice syrup was used because we didn't have molasses handy. it added a slight warm burnt dimension to the waffles, particularly in areas where your waffle iron might be hotter than others...
i should also add that while i did the soaking process, dw is the weekend breakfast maker and he did the rest of the steps for the waffles & made them for us. i was too busy in the living room playing with all the buttons on the remote control.

this is my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. this week was sponsored by Jen of Prairiesummers. if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

banana cranberry bread ~ again

banana bread 3

we are slowly, but surely, going into hibernation mode, i can feel it settle in my heart. all i desire are long naps with my beloved, to lose myself in a good book, or tangle my fingers in a crochet pattern. it is that bleak time of year where i fight the urge to disappear. instead, now i make every attempt to be out & about, to immerse myself in the season. i can't fight it, so i might as well join it.

with the blustery winds of november comes the desire to bake more. the tiny kitchen we share is always bustling with a pot simmering on the stove, something rising on the counter and of course, a sweet confection baking in the oven. during a freezer clean i came upon a container of frozen bananas, leftover from a summer of smoothies. tho they were an unappealing brown mess, i overlooked their appearance and decided on bread.

the thing with banana bread is that it's kind of pedestrian, everyone likes it, even if you don't hold an affinity for the actual fruit itself. there are so many varying recipes - with nuts, without, dairy doom or completely vegan - do you add the chocolate chips or swirl of peanut butter? lastly, it is easy, sometimes even proper, to declare that the most recent incarnation of it is the best, even if your eye is already moving onto the next recipe. ahem...

for this particular offering i give you a version that is both dairy free and gluten free. tho i have no intolerance for grains/flours/gluten, it's nice to use softer ingredients like almond or coconut flour sometimes. plus i find them much easier to manage by hand.

i threw in a handful of dried cranberries into the batter, as been done before, and in lieu of the butter, i used coconut oil. for the coconut milk, i used so delicious's coconut creamer, which is my new jam to add to my morning cup of coffee. click here for the recipe.

banana bread

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pretzel Challah Balls ~ victories

pretzel challah

i guess i should make it widely known (or as widely known as this blog readership is...) that i base a great deal of my cooking and baking endeavors not only on the usuals, like pantry staples, seasons, and palette desires, but also on success expectancy. i am a true believer that failure is an excuse to try again, that getting back on one's feet is not only an indication of character and moral fiber, but true grit.

rejection is a hard thing, it can be a siege to your confidence. there's a reason why you need to get right back on the horse if you fall off, cus if you don't then, you won't ever again.

i remember when i was a kid, maybe 6th grade? the cute boy across the street was skateboarding outside and offered to let me try. i fell, hit my face on the curb, broke my glasses and scabbed my knee. the right thing to do, after, you know, wiping the blood, making sure my face wasn't broken and grabbing my extra pair of specs, was to get back on the board, actually listen to him as he explained the intricacies of balance and all that stuff. instead, i pretended that i wasn't hurt, i took my broke ass, as well as my wounded pride, into the house where i got cleaned up. to this day, skateboarding is dead to me.

pretzel challah

my experience with pretzel making has been iffy. the first time i made it i was disappointed that my shaping skills were lacking. the 2nd time i made it was to serve chicken pot pie in it and while it tasted good, it certainly didn't taste like a pretzel. however, i got back on the proverbial saddle and tried again, this time pretzel challah, cus you know, why not add another challenge?

i like challah, because it is always dairy free, so therefore, angry asian friendly. this particular recipe was posted on the huffington post and i had to try my hand at it. i'm glad i did. the only things i did differently was i used bread flour instead of regular AP (very slowly but surely using up the last of my stash of gluten flours) and i broke down the steps into a two day process, shaping the challah and allowing it to rest overnight.

finally, victory was mine. i can now move onto something else. meanwhile this week our country was in the throes of election mania. to some people it was defeat, for others it was vindication, victory. regardless of party affiliation the fact of the matter is that women came out to be heard, Latinos showed their support, and the younger generation stepped up. that is victory. this was my 2nd time voting and i'm glad for the opportunity to do so.

pretzel challah

my other challah recipes:
chocolate challah ball ~ speaking of failures! i was so dramatic in this post...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Braised Venison with Potatoes & Carrots

venison stew

i don't know how it was for you growing up but dinner was a big thing in both households i grew up in. i always ate at the table with my grandparents, silently picking at my bowl of rice, observing my gpa dipping a morsel of meat into the chili fish sauce, and mainly resisting the urge to ask if i could have a sip of water. when i lived with my parents it was a little more formal, complete with napkins and our very own place mats. moral of this story: we always ate dinner as a family.

in my own household now it's no different. ok, fine, it is different in that i am allowed to have a beverage with my meal, and if i so choose, i can have dessert first.

these days dinner is a faux formal affair. we have our beverages, linen napkins (dw is so very civilized, i love it) plate or bowl of food on the coffee table and jeopardy on the tube. we don't say grace, nor do we ask to be excused, but we do try to keep our noise level to a minimum as we attempt to show alex trebek that we're really smart.

venison stew

being smart aside, it's venison season again and i've stocked up the freezer with recently hunted deer.

this is my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. this week was sponsored by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

venison stew

my other venison posts:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

homemade chicken + orzo soup

chicken soup 3

when the weather (that again!) finally catches up to you, and slips past your best sickness defenses, fret not, for here is a recipe versatile enough to accommodate the most picky of palettes but warm & soothing enough to combat the seasonal aches. my beloved fell ill recently, what started out with a murmured tickle in his throat metamorphasized into a full blown cold.

i have never been known to be sympathetic to illness, in fact, he previously declared me "the shittiest nurse in the world". this time i endeavored to overturn such a damning title. tasked with soothing his overly-warmed brow i set about clearing the fridge of scraps of vegetables and herbs, and finally grabbing the bag of chicken bones from the freezer to make a hearty stock, which is the base for this soup.

i never make the same stock every time, but the premise is the same: in a crock pot add in a gallon full bag of chicken bones that you've hopefully been collecting/saving, 2 bay leaves, palm-full of peppercorns, 2 cinnamon sticks, 12 cloves, and whatever random herbs like thyme or even rosemary. add water to cover, healthy sprinkle of salt, set to low and ignore overnight. you can then divide into containers to freeze or use immediately. just be sure to skim off the fat on top (if you're not using) and to strain the liquid thru a cheese cloth.

this is a very simple soup, it satisfies hunger but also works to fortify the system. your body is a perishable commodity, protect it from the coming season's onslaught while still reveling in what it has to offer. stay healthy friends!

also, we were lucky and blessed in that Hurricane Sandy passed over us with minimal damage to our home. i wish we could say the same for our friends/neighbors/fellow humans up along the east coast, particularly down in the eastern shore, nyc and jersey areas. any discomfort and inconvenience i am experiencing is trivial compared to their loss and my thoughts are with those affected by the storm. take good care, dear friends.

homemade chicken + orzo soup

homemade stock, or canned
3 large carrots, skinned & diced
3 large celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1/2 container of dried orzo pasta
olive oil
shredded chicken, i used an already made kosher rotisserie chicken
2 TBL raw cider vinegar (optional)

in a big pot heat up some olive oil. in layers, add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. season each layer with salt & pepper. this is important as the stock has minimal seasoning. when the carrots have softened a smidge and the onions are turning translucent add the stock.

bring to a brisk boil, at high.

add the orzo pasta. lower temp to maybe medium high. it should take about 7-9 minutes for the orzo to cook thru. this is a big pot of soup that you will not finish in one sitting, unless you have plenty of people over dinner, so the subsequent bowls you'll have will have overdone or even mushy orzo but don't worry, it's still good.

season according to taste, add in the cider vinegar if using

in a bowl, ladle the soup in and top with as much shredded chicken as you want. personally, when i have a cold i like to sweat it out and adding a bit of heat to soup does that. i added a healthy sprinkling of sriracha to my bowl and it was fantastic.

Monday, October 29, 2012

pumpkin carve-off 2012


this weekend came in with a lion's roar, full speed and with the flurry of activity only double booking can cause.
for a moment's peace dw + i sat down friday night and debated what to create with our pumpkin,
bottom line, i wanted a hello kitty, dw wanted bowser.
he carved the thing up
and so we now have have bowser gracing our sofa table.
it kinda glares at me, taunting me that it would beat up a hello kitty pumpkin anyway,
as well as hopefully any other carved pumpkin in the contest.

and to that, i say, COME AT ME, BRO.
please head over to Movita Beaucoup and vote for my pumpkin.

tauntaun + bowser

this is also my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. this week was sponsored by Sandra of Meadowsknits. if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

Monday, October 22, 2012

butternut squash + almond muffins with toasted walnuts

butternut squash muffins

my beloved & i are in the south right now, ensconced in the warm arms of family. a much needed respite from urban living, we're enjoying a slower pace, strolling among tall, golden ginkgos, and looking up at skies so blue it looks fake. our hearts beat with content, our steps much lighter, we read books and conversation flows easily, while a cool breeze swirls around us.

this is my contribution for this week's the food matters project, hosted by Erin of the Goodness Life.

butternut squash + almond muffins topped with toasted walnuts
slightly adapted from Roost
makes 12 muffins

2 cups almond flour (not meal)
healthy pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
healthy dash of cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 - 1/3 cup honey, depending on how sweet you want it
1 cup of pureed roasted (cooked) butternut squash
walnuts, rough chopped

preheat oven to 350F
in a bowl mix all the ingredients (save the walnuts for garnish/topping)
scoop mixture into muffin molds
top with chopped walnuts

bake for 30 minutes

these beauties are super moist, store in covered in fridge. best slightly warmed with a cup of coffee

Thursday, October 18, 2012

autumn apple crisps

apple chips

the month has come and somehow is almost over. i know i talk about the season, the weather, the time passing often, but it's only because it is such a part of my everyday. and what has become part of my every october is apple picking. this year was slightly different in that i kept a lid on exactly how many we picked, the kind we picked, all with the thought in mind that we're travelling this week and like i said before, i'm kinda over the fruit.

so there we were on sunday, a blustery morning but sunny, me fighting with the wind and dw ahead of me. we're with friends, i'm trying to keep my potty mouth on the DL and all i really want to do is quality check every single pomme that is placed in the basket - i only want the small cute ones, firm to the touch, shiny to the eye, because unless they're camera worthy, they're not worthy. {because, all of sudden i was the walking editor for Vogue Apples or something...)

apple chips 2

the inevitable question is asked: whatever will i do with these gems? somehow saying that i wish to chuck them at people doesn't seem friendly so i simply say chips and call it a day. i had vague notions of sprinkling cinnamon or something on them but what ends up happening is we slice them with a mandolin, slap them on baking sheets and set them in the oven at the lowest possible temperature. the first night we didn't use parchment paper and the slices stuck like glue to the sheets. we also kinda sorta forgot about them & almost went to bed with the oven still on. the most recent batch tho? i jacked up the temp 50 degrees higher, flipped them when it struck my fancy and the end result was chewy and crispy and all sorts of naturally sweet.

this is the most lazy "recipe" ever.

autumn apple crisps

apple, we used ONE out of the bunch we picked, sliced thin as possible. place on parchment papered baking/cookie sheets. line them up, militant style, and bake on the lowest setting possible, or maybe 50F hotter.
optional: sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, cloves, nutmeg...
bake for 2 hours, or until crispy golden, all the moisture heated away, flip halfway thru but it's not necessary.

previous apple recipes:

apple chips 4

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tofu + Kale Balls with Pasta

pasta + tofu balls

these days coming home is a dark affair, gone are the days when the rooms were well lit and warmed by the setting sun. instead, there is a disquiet quality to the air, almost resentful. when we arrive home, what i like to do is make a mad dash to our tiny kitchen, throw the light switch on to dispel the mood a little. then, dw + i, side by side, start dinner preparations, maybe laugh in low, post-dusk voices, sharing tidbits of our day to each other, all the while our respective chores are done without much thought, in unison. a dish hand dried, a pot brought to boil, csa loot being divvied up for the evening's meal.

this dish is a typical weeknight meal. pasta + protein. it's versatile because you can use any greens you have on hand, i happened to use kale, but spinach, chard, beet greens or even just parsley would work well. we don't eat much meat at home but always have tofu on hand. because tofu can be rather bland you want to be generous with the seasoning, especially if the sauce is a simple garlic + olive oil dressing. i did not keep track of measurements so what i have here is more of a guideline, and use what you have on hand or is seasonal.

once the rush & hub is done, the abode is much lighter, friendlier and the night beckons warmly for cozy in front of the tv snuggling, making the season much more bearable. life is so much better on a full stomach, yes?

this is my contribution for this week's The Food Matters Project, hosted by Matt + Claire.

Tofu + kale balls and pasta

Tofu + Kale Balls with Pasta

1 container of firm tofu
kale, as little or as much as you want, rough chopped. i usually use the entire bunch of kale
2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
2 shallots or a small onion, diced
very generous sprinkling of salt/pepper for taste
red pepper flakes
handful bread or panko crumbs
olive oil to quick fry the balls and cook up the vegs

optional fillings: finely shredded carrots, cheese, nutritional yeast, the sky is pretty much the limit.

pasta, like spaghetti, prepared according to package instructions
olive oil
1 garlic clove minced

for the tofu, squeeze as much water out of it as possible. what i do is wrap the block in a kitchen towel and press a heavy pan on it for about an hour or so.

meanwhile, in a pan, heat up some olive oil. when hot add in the onions/shallots and garlic. saute until fragrant and translucent, anywhere from 3-8 minutes. add in kale (or whatever greens) and ensure the oily mixture coats the bunch thoroughly. season generously. set aside to cool.

bring a pot of water to boil.

in a mixing bowl crumble the tofu. add in the sauteed veggies, mix well. if it cool enough, use your hands. at your discretion add in the crumbs, a little at a time until you're able to shape the mixture into balls. fry them up in a bit of oil until you get a nice browning on the edges.

cook up the spaghetti. in the same saute pan toss the pasta in warmed olive oil + minced garlic. when you plate the pasta, add in the tofu balls.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

harvest carrot cake ~ vegan

harvest carrot cake 3

outside the trees are damp, they cling to that cold, moldy sheen that is so reminiscent of autumn. you know what i mean. inside, we are doing our various daily tasks: in the kitchen, i'm washing the dishes and dw is at the stove making our breakfast. it's a usual suspect of a day, mundane in its ordinariness, but still special in that we are spending it together. it's october, which means we're folding & putting away our summer garb and we're incorporating the long sleeve shirts, cowls and knee high socks back into our wardrobe. i might even pick up my crochet hooks! (when i find them...)

we're also thinking about stews, baked goods and possibly apple picking. i've been reluctant to do much with these fruits; i started seeing posts about them as early as august! i'm already kinda over them. however, i can't seem to get enough of squash, beets and get this: carrots. i've said it before, i don't like the stuff but again, i found myself with another 5lb bag of it and well, cake + proper icing seemed like a good idea.

harvest cake

in vain i have tried, for days, to come up with the proper words to tell you how good this cake is. it's not possible. it's difficult to convey exactly how one is bland without the other, the other is cloying without one, but. But together, it's indescribably good.

there i said it. twas good. i'm already thinking about making it again, cupcake versions for ease of freezing options. snap. what has this world come to?

recipe collage

before i get to the dairy-free cream cheese frosting, i will tell you that i don't know if squeezing the water from the grated carrots was the way to go or if i should've just let them be. either way, the cakes came out dense and moist and absolutely delicious. i actually made one cupcake from the batter and then divvied it up between the two pans.

cream cheese frosting

1 cup soy margarine, softened
12 oz vegan cream cheese, i used tofutti, softened
5 cups sifted powdered sugar

with a mixer, beat everything together until smooth, going cup by cup.

assemble/decorate cake as desired. i went simple and garnished with fresh figs and pistachios

both recipes adapted from Sticky Fingers' Sweets by Doron Petersan, published by Avery, a member of Penguin Group USA, reprinted with permission.

other carrot concoctions:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

coconut rice + mango tart

rice + mango tart
coconut rice + mango tart

i spend an alarming amount of time thinking about what to feed dw. does that seem weird to you? well, i suppose it's odd to obsess about a grown man's eating habits but let me explain: i enjoy feeding this man. he will eat pretty much anything i put in front of him: some random concoction of ingredients i've thrown together, a meal i've slaved over, all the while with a grateful heart and words of encouragement. there is no dish too garbage looking that i cook up that he would not at least try to eat.

i say it often, he is too good to me, for me, and i have every intention of keeping him.

lately i've been fretting over our breakfasts. i daydream about what i can bake up sunday night or monday morning that will last us the week, goods that won't spoil or get boring. i've had some successes, and the cooling temps have me craving to be in the kitchen, with the oven on.

this past weekend i asked some friends what i should bake for the week, only to realize, with abject horror, that i did not have all the necessary ingredients. instead, i had pantry staples for dessert, and so, dessert for breakfast this week!

i followed leela's filling recipe for Mango & Rice tart but made up a coconut + almond crust, to keep it gluten free. just a tip about coconut cream: i didn't have any handy so i used a can of whole fat coconut milk and reduced it down a smidge, until it was thicker. keep in fridge, covered, but best eaten at room temperature. use only ripe mangos. leela's recipe called for 3 mangos, i only had 2 which was barely enough. 

sweet treat

coconut + almond flour crust
makes one 11" tart crust

1 cup almond flour (not meal)
1 cup coconut flour (more as needed)
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 TBL sugar (or honey)

preheat oven to 400F.

in a food processor, add all ingredients and mix until a loose dough forms. dump into tart pan and press down evenly. it won't roll out like a normal pie crust, coat fingers/hands with some coconut flour to keep it from sticking to you and be patient. press down and up the sides as best you can.

prick bottom of tart with fork and bake in oven for about 12 minutes, until golden brown. allow to cool completely.

continue with filling recipe as dictated.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Grilled Vegan Cheese + Tomato Sandwich

vegan grilled cheese

when i was in 4th grade (i told you, it was a pivotal year for me) i read a book called Harriet the Spy. somehow i had managed to land myself in the Advanced Reading Group and this was the first chapter book we were assigned to read, on our own. i don't remember how i did in the class, i can't recall if we had deep discussions about the plot, but thus began my love affair of reading beyond chapters assigned and not paying any mind to the rules of book clubs.

the protagonist, Harriet, had many quirks, some of which i picked up on: she wrote in a journal, everyday. i did too, and if you count this here space, i still do. she watched people, after all, Harriet was training to be a spy. as a shy kid, i observed situations and people, and today, all i do is judge people i still enjoy being an observer. most importantly about Harriet is that she only ate tomato sandwiches for lunch. i went thru a phase where that was all i ate too. i don't have that proclivity any longer, especially since i do prefer to eat my tomatoes in season now, but recently, i found that old book in some boxes and i wanted to recreate some of that childhood nostalgia.

i made vegan cheese, a surprisingly unintimidating process and with it, dw made us grilled vegan cheese + tomato sandwiches on gluten-free bread. he slathered on tomato paste for added depth and we shared a bowl of butternut squash soup.

i'm so pleased to say that grilled cheese sandwiches can now return to my diet.

a side note, anyone who knows me in real life has heard me exclaim "jesus wept!" when i'm exasperated. it was from this book that i picked up that random saying. it's amazing how one little book had such an impact in my life.

what about you, any books that have touched you?

this is my contribution for this week's The Food Matters Project, hosted by
Jessica of Cheese Please.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

roasted butternut squash bulgur wheat salad


this week i attended 1.5 concerts:
i saw them, and they blew
my mind.
i also went to see her, but
due to a severe reaction
to the metro
we left during her opening act,
a dj who bore a striking
resemblance to Robert Downy Jr.

i wish i could say i'm sad i missed the show,
but i'm not.
i can say i'm disappointed tho.
i heard she didn't even take the stage until

school night & illness aside,
i'm a stickler for being
On Time.

and as such i present this salad,
a Pile, really,
of csa ingredients mixed
with bulgur wheat,
dressed simply with
olive oil + lemon juice.

just in time for autumn,
quick to put together,
best slowly savored
while you listen to music that is
Present, and
probably Timeless.

in addition to The Carpenter album,
which was on heavy rotation last month,
might i suggest
which is on heavy rotation
Right Now.

butternut squash tabbouleh 3

Roasted Butternut Squash Bulgur Wheat Salad

1 cup of cooked bulgur wheat prepared based on package instructions (no need to soak over night)
1 small butternut squash
olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
small green pepper, diced
salt/pepper to taste

cube up butternut squash (or you can buy it pre-chopped). what i normally do is cut it half and roast in oven for 17-20 minutes at 350F, to soften the meat until easy to cut.

drizzle some olive oil, season with salt/pepper and finish roasting the cubes in oven for another 15 minutes, or until tender.

meanwhile, cook up the bulgur wheat according to package instructions. you can use regular water or if you want to get fancy, use broth/stock.

chop up green pepper (at this point, depending on what you have handy, add whatever vegs you want)

mix everything in a bowl, drizzle olive oil + lemon juice. serve warm or cold.

butternut squash tabbouleh 2

Monday, September 24, 2012

csa pizza with cauliflower crust

cauliflower crusted pizza

you guys. i'm almost in my mid 30s. lest you think this is about me lamenting over it, rest assured, it's not. i'm glad i'm out of my twenties, a time in which i felt was the second coming of my adolescence, even more riddled with self-absorption and doom laden than the first. it was a time full of petulance, laziness, pretentiousness; i was self-indulgent, self-important, self-righteous, even self-loathing, all the countless selfs but not self-confident, the one self that i needed the most.

so now i'm sitting here, reflecting a bit (ok, a lot) about the lessons i've learned on the way to where i am today. here are my top five:

lesson #1: when doing laundry, separate. thankfully dw does that now.
lesson #3: having romantically barren years is ok.
lesson #5: comparing yourself to someone else's best is soul crushing.

and now i feel self-smug cus it seems like i know it all. i don't. i'm still taking lessons, i'm still learning from them, only this time i'm more self-aware to not be an asshole while i'm doing it.

cauliflower crusted pizza 2

this cauliflower crust pizza was a lesson for me: i was skeptical, i may have even scoffed when i first read about it from food loves writing. i have since learned a few things: pizza can now return to my diet, crust does not have to fill you up in such a way that you feel sick after, and trying to flip this crust is a bad idea. what is a good idea tho topping it with fresh, local produce from the csa, like a harvest of all that is good during the season.

CSA Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

the first time i made this, i used brown rice flour which made the crust crisper, whereas the second time almost a cup of almond flour was used and it was chewier, dw thought it was more like a traditional pizza crust. i preferred the first.

460gr ground raw cauliflower flourettes
3/4 cups *some kind of flour, such as brown rice flour, almond flour if you're gluten free or reg. AP is fine
3 eggs
3 TBL nutritional yeast
3 TBL dried italian seasoning

toppings, whatever you want, i used:
soy cheese
sliced green pepper
sliced tomato

pre-heat oven to 450F

pulse cauliflower in a food processor, but don't get crazy, you don't want it to get mushy. aim for small rice kernel consistency.

whisk 3 eggs and mix all the other ingredients of crust together. i'll be honest, the mixture was kinda wet, i added maybe 1/3 cup of extra flour in but it never really formed a ball and i read a variation of this recipe where the blogger was able to flip her dough a few times. yeah, i wasn't able to. it's ok, i'm not a failure and if you can't do it, you're not either.

pour half the mixture on parchment paper. spread it out as thin as you want. it might be messy, but it'll mainly be awesome.

bake crust alone for 15 minutes. take out of oven and top however you want, spreading stuff, dolloping it, or whatever. bake an additional 10 minutes. remove from oven, enjoy.

repeat with remaining crust mixture.

cauliflower crusted pizza 3

this is my contribution for the food matters project, hosted by Gracie of Food Fascination.