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News and Global Food

7 Jun

Cooking has not been my friend lately, which is a big part of my recent radio silence. The reason for my kitchen absence:

We’re expecting a baby!

We are thrilled, as you can imagine, but pregnancy has certainly not been without it’s less-than-fun moments. Still, I think I’ve had it easier than most, so I can’t really complain. And even if I wanted to, this blog would not be the place to do it.

Now that I’m beginning my second trimester (!!!), I am starting to feel normal-ish in the eating department, so I have an entire home-cooked meal to share.

I know I’ve mentioned one of my favorite blogs, the Global Table Adventure, a few times on here. Sasha is now working through the letter T, if you can believe it! Anyway, I read her review of Sri Lanka recently and knew I had to recreate it in its entirety. Here’s Mr. X’s plate:


We actually cooked the rice in the rice cooker, and it turned out perfectly. It was my favorite part of the meal! I’m not usually big on the flavor of turmeric, but it wasn’t overwhelming here. It served as more of a back note to the vanilla-y pandan leaves, the delicate-but-exotic spice of the curry leaves, and the familiar creaminess of the coconut milk. We added a few peppercorns, but I didn’t notice them too much. The rice is just perfectly fluffy and flavorful. It’s going into our regular rotation, for sure.

The white dal was surprisingly subtle but also tasty. Next time I would add some hot peppers for depth (and a little kick, of course), but it was a nice, mellow, creamy dish that I think kids would love. The coconut roti had a wonderful flavor and was very simple to make, but I would definitely use the recommended white flour next time. I subbed in white whole wheat because it’s what I keep on hand. The result was a little stiffer than the soft roti I’ve had in restaurants. The shredded coconut was really good in it. I am not a fan typically, but it just melts into the bread. And we have a ton left in the freezer!

Now that I have — or rather my husband has — discovered the magic that is our local Thai market, I am a convert. My next experiment will be with jackfruit, hopefully this weekend.

Do you ever shop at ethnic markets? Preparing for this meal was actually my first time, but I will be back. I mean, $.79 for a bottle of turmeric? Yes, please!


Lunch salads

11 Apr

I haven’t kept up with the Eat to Live diet strictly, but I did keep some of the habits since our last encounter in February. My favorite has been big lunch salads. Here are a couple from this week.

First is Wednesday’s, which I also ate on Tuesday:


Mixed greens topped with roasted sweet potato, black beans, and peanut sauce (peanut butter, hot sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and hot water to thin). The salad kept me full through to dinner, which is the most important part, but it was also delicious! Peanut sauce and I have a longtime love affair, and sweet potatoes are my favorite pair for it.

Here’s today’s salad that I plan to repeat tomorrow, too:


Greens with roasted beets and black-eyed peas tossed in pesto vinaigrette (just a tablespoon of my kale pesto thinned with red wine vinegar). It’s only 1:40 now, so only time will tell if it tides me over as well as yesterday’s.

There are a million posts about building the perfect salad, so I’m not going to do one, too. And anyway, you can tell my method is pretty simple: greens with a good amount of another (often roasted) veggie, beans, and a flavorful dressing. That’s pretty much it. I’m planning more salads for next week (taco salad and another beet dish, though with different flavors). I will share those, too.

What’s your favorite thing to bring for lunch? Soups and salads are my preference. Both offer lots of veggies and nutrition, but neither make me sleepy. Anything too heavy makes me crave an afternoon nap!

Chocolate Orange Sables

29 Jan

Ever since I abandoned my Google Reader and its hundreds of bloggy contents, there are a few of my past daily reads that have fallen by the wayside. One of them was Smitten Kitchen for some reason, even though I adore her content and writing style. This weekend, I reignited my regular reading of the site and made not just the pumpernickel bread but — gasp — cookies!

CookiesDeb posted her recipe for Intensely Chocolate Sables on Friday, and as soon as I saw the post on Saturday, I knew I had to make them. Looking through my kitchen stuff drawer, I found only two cookie cutters: the heart above (which is really large) and a plastic novelty cutter of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story. The latter did not work at all for this dough, hence you will not see any in that absurd shape. Instead, I used a tiny tea/sake cup I rarely pull out of the cupboard.

Little cookieAnyway, to make these cookies vegan, I made the following alterations:

  • Used regular cocoa instead of Dutch processed, since that’s what I had
  • Used unsweetened baking chocolate instead of bittersweet and went with the full 2/3 cup of sugar to compensate
  • Subbed Earth Balance for regular butter
  • Instead of the egg yolk and vanilla, I used 1.5 tablespoons of fresh cara cara orange juice

I followed all of the original directions and was very, very pleased with the result. The orange flavor isn’t terribly pronounced, but it adds a little subtlety. I think adding a teaspoon of zest would be good if you want to intensify it. In all, I made out 32 cookies — four large hearts and 28 little rounds — and baked each pan for 10 minutes. I also found it necessary to re-roll and re-refrigerate twice, since the presence of baking chocolate quickly softens at room temperature/exposure to your hands.

HeartThese cookies are delicate and rich at the same time. They are very easy to prepare if you have an electric mixer, and even though I typically shy away from any baked good that needs to be rolled out, the flavor and light crispness were well worth the effort.

What’s your favorite cookie flavor combination? I love chocolate and orange, but cinnamon and pumpkin is pretty great, too.

In queso emergency

23 Jan

I used to have a ridiculous T-shirt from a chain restaurant I grew up going to called El Chico that had “in queso emergency” printed on it and some kind of stick-figure-esque guy heading towards an emergency exit. It made no sense, and it still doesn’t, but it was awesome.

Anyway, it does relate to my post! This weekend, Mr. X and I were very excited to watch the playoffs to see if it was possible for me to be 100% wrong in all my predictions (spoiler: it was), so I built lunch around a football snacks theme. Here was the result:

DipsVegan queso dip, homemade tortilla chips, curry hummus, and carrots. I have been eying Alicia’s Queso Dip with Raw Cashews since, like, forever, and I finally got around to making it. Holy freaking Hades! It was incredible. Seriously. Mr. X went crazy for it. I made a few tweaks:

  • Added 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (per Alicia’s suggestion)
  • Omitted onion flakes and turmeric (didn’t have any on hand)
  • Used TJ’s Chipotle Garlic Salsa
  • Subbed hot sauce for the crushed hot peppers (again, didn’t have any)

We were so in love with this vegan queso that we built two more meals around it. The first was for dinner Sunday night:

Egg burritoThis picture is horrid (our lighting situation after dark is pretty pathetic), but that’s the inside of an egg-mushroom-scallion-vegan queso burrito in a flour tortilla. We had salad on the side, which went unpictured but was just TJ’s Champs Elysees mix topped with a lemon juice-Dijon dressing.

And then dinner Monday and Tuesday was this similarly unphotogenic guy:

BurritoThe filling is a combination of sauteed onion, garlic and mushrooms to which I added precooked black, pinto and garbanzo beans and finally a bunch of kale until it wilted. It was seasoned with hot sauce, chili powder and cumin. To make the burritos, I layered the queso first followed by the filling, rolled it up, and then heated for 8 minutes in 300° F oven. We topped each one with more hot sauce, scallions and cilantro. Love in a flour tortilla.

If you haven’t made Alicia’s recipe, you should do it immediately. We will have to bust it out again very soon.

Menu update from last week

21 Jan

I have something delicious to share from this weekend, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow since I owe you some food recaps from last week. It’s amazing how being sick for barely more than a day can throw off so much!

Anyway, I followed my meal plan pretty well and, as promised, I will share my triumphs and tweaks with you.

First up is the red beans, barley and Swiss chard:

Red beansThe beans were based on this recipe from the Fat Free Vegan blog (one of my favorites). Here are my tweaks:

  • I precooked the kidney beans and then let them simmer all day in the slow cooker
  • Halved the recipe
  • Omitted the celery

The end result was almost perfect except for one thing to which, I fear, I must admit: I burned the beans. I was in a bad mood last Sunday, which is when I precooked them, and I accidentally burned them. They weren’t destroyed, just a little charred, but the end result wasn’t as delicious as it should have been. Otherwise, though, the spices were wonderful, and simmering everything in the slow cooker was easy and yielded a great consistency. Also, obviously, we served ours with barley instead of rice, since I’m currently freaked out about the whole arsenic thing.

The next meal I wanted to share was the Butternut Poblano Soup, which made a wonderful lunch:

Butternut soupI tweaked this one quite a bit:

  • Used one small butternut squash and one medium sweet potato
  • WAY reduced the fat — more like 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Omitted the celery (sensing a theme? I don’t like celery!)
  • Used about four large cloves of garlic
  • Omitted the cinnamon and parsley in favor of more cumin and chile powder
  • Added 1/2 cup dry red lentils

I really loved this soup. It was hearty, creamy, and had a great balance of flavors. I imagine it would be good with any winter squash (other than spaghetti, of course) or just straight sweet potato. You could also use two poblanos and leave some of the seeds in for more of that great spicy, smoky flavor. It was a perfect lunch.

And finally, here is another creamy, delicious soup from this week:

Creamy chickpea soupI used the Chickpea & Rice Soup with a Little Kale recipe from Post Punk Kitchen and made the follow alterations:

  • Say it with me now: I omitted the celery. Also the carrots because I was sick and could not muster the energy to chop anything else.
  • Again, swapped in barley for rice
  • Upped the veggie broth to six cups
  • Used closer to 4 cups of freshly cooked chickpeas

The soup is impossibly creamy and filling. The flavors were surprisingly mellow, though, so we topped each serving with lots of black pepper and a little hot sauce. It was very soothing on my sick day and it reheats well. I will be enjoying the last tiny bowl for lunch today. Be forewarned, though: this recipe (well, my version of it) has more calories than I was expecting. It is very filling, so it’s not too terribly surprising, but I was a little shocked when I ran the nutrition information. I just wanted to point that out so, if you decide to make the soup, you plan the rest of your menu accordingly.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, whether you’re at home or the office!

Barbecue, vegetarian-style

15 Jan

Last week, I really wanted to try making homemade barbecue sauce. I did it once before with decent results, but I wanted something thick and flavorful to eat this week with mushrooms. I decided to try out the Backyard BBQ Sauce recipe from Veganomicon (which you can also see here) and was quite pleased with the results. I used diced tomatoes instead of canned and pureed the whole thing with my immersion blender at the end. It made one piece of a delicious dinner (well, two, actually):

BBQDinner had a good-ol’ Okie vibe with a healthy spin, as you can see. Sorry it’s so dark but, well, it was dark outside. Ha. Clockwise from left is roasted garlic mashed potatoes and kohlrabi (made this way, but way less and using half potatoes and half kohlrabi), sauteed Swiss chard (it has become my favorite green), and barley and portobellos in the homemade sauce. The night before, we just had the potatoes (but a lot more than that serving) and mushrooms. I preferred the better rounded version.

Even after cooking four big mushrooms in it, we still had about a cup of the barbecue sauce left. What’s a girl to do?

Whole pizzaPizza! This was a Sunday meal. As in, this was basically all we ate on Sunday. It was huge and very filling. On top of the crust (made following this easy recipe), I layered barbecue sauce, jalapeno jack cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, artichoke hearts, and then a little more cheese. Fifteen minutes in the oven, and it came out delicious. Here’s a slice:

Pizza sliceI’m telling you: this sauce is perfect for pizza. It’s thick and a little spicy, but it still beautifully complements are favorite pizza toppings. I bet crumbled tempeh would be a great addition, too, and I think you could easily leave off the cheese or sub in Daiya for a vegan meal.

Salad and Smoothie

8 Jan

Hey guys! How is your Tuesday? Mine is being spent in spreadsheet hell, but I wanted to break free long enough to share a little food love. Sorry for the brevity!

This week marks the return of the green smoothie into my life:


That’s Monday’s, which featured a combination of spinach, banana, mango, strawberry, and coconut milk. Today’s was spinach, banana, mango, almond milk, almonds, cinnamon, and ginger. I have them alongside a hot mug of green tea sweetened with some allergy-fighting local honey and an unpictured glass of water.

Last night, we enjoyed a delicious beet salad:


I chopped the three peeled beets, tossed with a little olive oil, and roasted it topped with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, I took a defrosted half block of tofu, sliced it into strips, and marinated it similarly to this tempeh. I baked it in a glass dish for about 10 minutes, and then I sauteed it in a little oil. When it was done, I removed the tofu and added chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan, followed by the cleaned beet greens. The tofu and the fully cooked beets then went into the pan, and I tossed everything together. Each salad got a topping of Dijon/vinegar and a few little cubes of Trader Joe’s Parmesan & Gouda cheese. The end result was delicious and surprisingly filling.

So that’s all I have for you today. I hope everyone else’s Tuesday is devoid of tiny Excel cells!