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Something sweet

13 Jun

My sweet tooth has acted up in unexpected ways so far during my pregnancy. I expected to want nothing but ice cream and candy bars, but instead it’s green apples, smoothies, cherries and all the seasonal fruits. That isn’t to say I haven’t been indulging a little, but (so far unfounded) fears of gestational diabetes have kept me from going overboard. Still, here are a few fun indulgences of late.

A coworker spent two weeks in Okinawa and brought us goodies. Mine was this incredibly fun Matcha Kit Kat:

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And the candy inside:

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I really enjoyed this treat! The aftertaste was like buttercream frosting — that’s the best comparison I can make. I didn’t notice a green tea flavor at all, thanks to all the sugar, but I would definitely sample one again.

She brought a beautiful tin box of these little guys to my boss, who has been generous enough to share with all of us:

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I forgot to take a picture out of the package, but they are little butter cookies filled with white chocolate. They are so rich and pack the perfect pick-me-up amount of sugar for the afternoon slump.

And last night, I had a rare burst of energy (thanks in part to Mr. X making dinner — details to come!) so I decided to make cookies. I had a pretty specific craving for chocolate and peanut butter cookies. I found this recipe and knew I had to adapt them immediately. Avocado as a secret ingredient was too much fun to pass up! Didn’t they turn out cute?

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I actually de-veganized them to work with what I had on hand. I also cut the recipe in half. Here’s what I came up with:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies with Avocado
Adapted from Veggie and the Beast

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup salted peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Preheat your oven to 350, and grease or line a cookie sheet. Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cut your avocado in half, remove the pit, and scrape it into a small bowl. Mash until it isn’t lumpy. In the base of your mixer or another bowl, beat the butter until it gets creamy. Add the avocado and beat together until they become uniform. Beat in the sugar and peanut butter, and then the egg and vanilla, until combined. Now slowly add your dry ingredients until all mixed together. Roll down into walnut-sized balls, flattening slightly into fat discs. Bake for 10 minutes on prepared cookie sheet. Let cool, as they will be very soft fresh from the oven.

    Makes about 20 little cookies.

    These are lightly sweet with great chocolate/peanut butter flavor. The avocado adds creaminess without a distinct taste, which is perfect for these little cookies. I will definitely experiment with avocado as a butter substitute again!

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    Jacked-up Jackfruit

    10 Jun

    I have eaten jackfruit a few times and have long been curious to cook with it at home. Over a year ago, Mr. X and I tried some barbecue jackfruit tacos from the Seabirds truck, which we absolutely loved. When Elise posted about barbecue jackfruit recently and I already had a trip to the Thai market planned for our Sri Lanka meal, I knew the timing was meant to be.

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    I decided to go a step further and add fried avocado wedges, too, based on another Seabirds taco. The combination was wonderful! Here’s how it all goes down.

    Barbecue Jackfruit Tacos with Fried Avocado

  • 1-2 cups barbecue sauce (I made a batch of my usual recipe
  • 1 can green/young jackfruit in water/brine, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 cups black beans
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 avocados, sliced into 16 wedges total
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Splash of milk (any works)
  • 1/6 cup cornmeal
  • 1/6 cup wheat flour (any)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying (about 4 tablespoons)
  • Combine jackfruit with 1 cup of barbecue sauce either in a slow cooker or a pot on the stove. If using a slow cooker, set to low for 6 hours or high for 3. In a pot, bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. The goal is to get the jackfruit really tender. Once it reqches desired consistency, use two forks to shred the pieces until it resembles pulled pork. At this point, add black beans and more sauce to your desired level of sauciness. Let cook for another 20 minutes or so, until beans are hot.

    Toast or heat your tortillas using your preferred method. We put ours directly on a medium flame on the gas stove until they get some black marks, maybe 20 seconds per side. Set aside.

    Beat your eggs with milk in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dip your avocado into the flour mix, then the egg, and then the flour again. Place on a plate until all pieces are coated. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add just a few slices at a time and brown on all sides. It takes about a minute per side, depending on how hot your stove gets. Don’t be afraid to let it get truly brown (but not black). Set fried pieces on a paper towel. Top each taco with a slice or two of avocado.

    Serves 4.

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    We are eating these again tonight, so I will make a fresh batch of avocado tonight. Jackfruit has almost no flavor and barely any calories, so it relies on a delicious sauce. I added the beans for staying power, and they are a great addition. I suspect we may have a little filling left over, and I already have plans for topping some baked potatoes with it for lunch!

    Have you ever eaten or cooked with jackfruit? I plan to keep it in the rotation.

    Kale Pesto Pasta

    10 Apr

    Hi guys. It’s April, which means I disappeared for over a month again. Sorry. If you’ve been reading long, though, you know I do that kind of thing from time to time. There’s not always a good reason. Things just happen. I’m in no way a professional blogger — I’ve never made a dime from Vegging Out, and I’m more than ok with that. In fact, you’ll notice on the top right that I’m totally ad-free now. I want this blog to be a personal space and an opportunity to share some recipes with my handful of wonderful readers.

    So. Onto the good stuff: pasta.

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    This dish was dinner Monday and Tuesday, and it is my new favorite pasta recipe. It combines fresh spring vegetables with whole-wheat pasta and mushrooms (basically our favorite food).

    Kale Pesto Pasta with Seared Mushrooms

    Kale Pesto

  • 1/2 a bunch of kale
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dried Italian herbs (optional – to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pasta

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or a heavy spritz of spray oil
  • Handful of greens from spring onions, chopped (or shallot would be great)
  • 1 pint mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly (I used cremini, but wild mushrooms would be great)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 16 oz pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated gouda, fontina or mozzarella, or 1/4 to 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino (optional for a vegan dish)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Steam kale using your preferred method. Meanwhile, put garlic and cashews in the food processor and pulse until combined and in very small pieces (though not a fine powder). Add kale leaves and the rest of the pesto ingredients and pulse until it becomes a paste, tasting along the way. Place in the fridge.

    Start the water for the pasta in a large pot. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions (or shallot) and cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, stirring well. Let them reduce and release their liquid, and then add a pinch of salt, stirring again. Now step away from the pan and let them sear. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to directions/your preference.

    Check the mushrooms every three to five minutes. If they are sticking, add a little more oil. The goal is to brown them on both sides and draw out most of the moisture. Turn off the heat when they are done.

    When pasta is cooked, drain and them add to a large bowl. Toss with most of the cheese, if using, to distribute it evenly and get nice and melty. Now add half the pesto in small amounts at a time, stirring and tossing to coat. Add more as desired, though you will have some left over. Plate the pasta and top each serving with mushrooms, more cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh black pepper.

    Serves 4-6.

    We enjoyed our alongside an incredibly simple (read: just lettuce, parsley and dressing) salad.

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    The dressing was leftover vegan ranch. That stuff keeps a surprisingly long time and stays tasty.

    I hope the deliciousness of this recipe atones for my absence! Let me know how you all are doing, too. I have been way out of the loop.

    Seitanic Piccata

    7 Feb

    I recently hot a wild hair and decided I had to make piccata. I’m not sure why — it may have been placed there by this comment on the Hungry Hungry Hippie’s blog. I’ve not really sure I’ve ever had proper in my life, but the combination of tart lemon, salty capers, and some kind of chewy faux meat just sounded irresistible. I attended a cooking demo at Native Foods a few weeks ago that was all about seitan, so I decided to use wheat meat as the base instead of tofu or tempeh. This recipe originally from Candle 79 is all over the web, so I used it as my basis. Here’s  the result, served atop whole wheat spaghetti:

    PiccataOMG IT’S AMAZING AND WONDERFUL AND I WISH I COULD EAT IT EVERY DAY. But seriously.

    So let’s break it down. First you make seitan using your preferred/pretty much any method. I used Native Foods’ recipe, which is here. My only alterations were not using kombu in the broth (since I didn’t have any) and mincing instead of microplaning the garlic (since I don’t have a microplane). I follow Chef Kendall’s note of rolling it into one log/loaf, though I wrap it in foil (agian, because I did not have cheesecloth). It’s a great recipe, and I highly recommend it! Oh, and it makes up really well in a mixer if you have one. I use the paddle for the basic mixing and then the dough hook for kneading. If it appears too wet (and mine did both times I made it), just add a little more vital wheat gluten.

    Once the seitan has simmered and cooled enough to handle — and you can easily make it a day or two in advance — cut it into six cutlets. I did so by cutting the whole log in half  and then cutting each half into three pieces that were similar in size. Now follow the Candle 79 recipe. My only changes:

    • Used less oil, though it was still more than I usually would (maybe three tablespoons total)
    • Subbed an onion for the leeks and shallots
    • Omitted the parsley because I plain forgot about it
    • Used dried thyme (~1/2 teaspoon) instead of fresh
    • Omitted turmeric (I didn’t have any, and I frankly don’t like the taste of it)

    I recommend a nice dry, acidic, and citrusy white wine. I used a sauvignon blanc, and while it was a little lacklustre on its own, it had the right properties. An unoaked chardonnay might work, but a very crisp pinot grigio would be my second choice after the sauv. Make sure it’s a drinkable wine because you’ll have plenty left from the bottle, and it will make a great accompaniment to the piccata. Anyway, the sauce comes together in no time and it seriously tastes like heaven in a saute pan. Plate whatever grain you choose — the noodles were great, but I imagine millet, cous cous, or rice would be awesome — then top with the seitan and then the sauce. Glamour shot:

    More piccataIt is delicious fresh and hot. It is delicious refrigerated, or so Mr. X tells me. It’s delicious reheated in a pan on the stove. It’s just delicious.

    And a note: for us, this was three servings, not six. If you’re eating as part of a larger meal, you might be able to stretch it to more, but it’s so tasty that you won’t want to!

    Cheesy Cornbread Casserole

    27 Nov

    I wanted something substantial as my vegetarian entree on Thanksgiving, so I reached into my wayback machine and pulled out this dish that I haven’t made since, oh, 2007. I tweaked the recipe and loved the result, thus I decided to share it with all of you.

    Cheesy Cornbread Casserole

    • 1 recipe of your favorite cornbread (I used this one, but you could also use a mix)
    • 1/2 block (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
    • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cup corn
    • 1 cup black beans
    • 1 4 oz can diced green chiles
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 2 teaspoons cayenne
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease or spray an 8×8″ baking dish and set aside.

    In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for your cornbread and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, butter, and eggs until smooth. Pour into the large bowl and add the corn, beans, green chiles, and spices. Stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Add the cheese to the top and cook for another 10 to 20 minutes, until the casserole is set.

    Let cool slightly then enjoy! Make 9 small servings.

    The casserole isn’t dry like regular cornbread but isn’t a sopping mess like green bean casserole (which I loathe). I love that the beans and corn make it perfectly filling, and the cheesy top has great flavor without adding to much heaviness. I like topping it with plenty of pepper sauce.

     

    Thanksgiving aftermath

    26 Nov

    Hello, everyone! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday — or, if you’re not American, a lovely weekend. I decided to take a break from blogging, too, so I could enjoy family time with Mr. X and his brother. It was such a great visit. And today, it’s back to life and food made without whole sticks of butter.

    But before that, I thought I should still share our Thanksgiving spread. Here’s all of it, including the smoked turkey the boys bought for themselves:

    And here’s my (first) plate:

    Two slices of Cheesy Cornbread Casserole (recipe to come this week), Lemony Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, homemade sourdough rolls, and roasted corn. I also made a pecan pie, which was so pretty:

    I admittedly do not like pecan pie, so I thought the result was only ok, but Mr. X really liked it. I followed this recipe (the sugar method, not maple syrup), which was surprisingly easy. I made the crust from scratch, too, and it was the worst. I mean, flavor-wise it was fine, but I will never, ever, ever make an all-butter (as opposed to half-butter, half-shortening) crust again. It melted WAY too fast, so it was a nightmare to work with. I won’t link to the specific one I followed out of propriety, but I’ve made a decent number of pie crusts in my life, and just take my advice and ALWAYS use shortening. (I like the Earth Balance brand.)

    As for the other dishes, everything turned out delicious, so I wanted to share some easy recipes with you. They were great at Thanksgiving, but there’s no reason not to eat them year-round!

    Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (for a group!)

    • 1/2 head of garlic
    • 5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered
    • 2 tablespoons butter (vegan butter works, too)
    • ~1/2 cup vegetable broth
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat the oven to 350° F. Take half a head of garlic and cut off the stem end, just enough to reveal the cloves inside. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake until the garlic is soft to the touch, about 30 minutes. Set aside. You can do this step the night before or right before.

    Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook until they are fork tender. I like mine fairly soft. The cooking time really varies based on how big your potatoes are, but I think mine took 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the base of your mixer or a large bowl. Add the butter and begin mixing/mashing. I used my KitchenAid, and the result was deliciously fluffy and lump-free potatoes. After a minute or two, start adding your roasted garlic by just squeezing it from the skins. Taste after each additions to reach your desired level of spice. Add small amounts of the veggie broth as you go, too, to add a little flavor and fluffiness. Finally, season with salt and pepper, give a final mix/mash, and then serve.

    Makes a ton — maybe 8-10 servings. They don’t even need gravy.

    The potatoes were my favorite part of the meal. I will never make mashed potatoes without my KitchenAid ever again. They just had the perfect texture.

    And here’s another tasty vegetable recipe for you:

    Lemony Brussels Sprouts
    (based on a dish from Boon in Guerneville, which we had on our honeymoon)

    • 1 pound (or stalk from Trader Joe’s) Brussels sprouts, cleaned and dried
    • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt to taste
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 5 capers
    • Black pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Toss your Brussels sprouts with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Pour them into an even layer on a baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to brown them evenly. They are ready when a fork pierces them easily and they are deliciously browned all over. Remove from oven. Now pour a little more olive oil into a frying pan and set it over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is ready, add the Brussels sprouts, half the lemon juice, and the capers. Stir around and mash the capers as you pan-fry. Once the juice is absorbed, add the rest along with some black pepper. Cook for a couple more minutes until the oil and juice are absorbed. Serve hot and delicious.

    Makes 4 small servings or 2 more substantial ones.

    These were a big hit, and they are almost as good as the ones I remember from wine country.

    So there you go. Like everyone else in this country, today begins a return to healthier foods. Here’s our tentative meal plan for the week:

    Breakfast:

    Lunches:

    • Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday — Leftover Cheesy Cornbread Casserole and carrot sticks
    • Thursday/Friday — Leftovers?/TBD
    • Saturday — Veggie wraps

    Dinners:

    • Monday/TuesdayChili (which is almost fat-free) and sauteed Swiss chard
    • Wednesday/Thursday — Giant salad with roasted veggies and tempeh
    • Friday — Veggie wraps
    • Saturday — Possibly dinner out, since I may drag Mr. X to look at Christmas lights

    Obviously we’re not talking about a detox here — just a return to the kind of cooking I usually do, with lots of veggies. Today I’m attempting to regain balance in my body by drinking tons of water, and it’s already helping. My poor system has been on salt-and-fat overload!

    New favorite breakfast

    20 Nov

    My blood sugar has been giving me trouble lately — as in, I’ve been crashing almost every day this past week. It usually means my B12 and magnesium are low, so I bought eggs to help with the former and started taking my multivitamin again to help with both. I’m already feeling a little better, so that’s half the good news. The other half is that I found a new favorite breakfast:

    Polenta topped with a fried egg. The recipe is pretty easy, but it’s insanely delicious and perfect for a cold morning. Or afternoon. Or evening.

    Polenta Topped with a Fried Egg

    • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/3 cup cornmeal
    • Salt, pepper, and other spices to taste
    • Handful of arugula
    • Cooking spray
    • 1 egg

    Add the faux milk and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cornmeal slowly in small amounts at a time to the pan, stirring with a whisk or a fork thoroughly before adding the next increment. The goal is to prevent lumps. Once it is all added, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue stirring. Add salt, pepper, and another other spices you want to taste. (I used oregano, nutritional yeast, and crushed red pepper.) Stir, stir, stir until it’s thickened and creamy. It takes about 10 minutes. Right before you remove the pan from the heat, stir in the arugula. Pour the polenta into a bowl and set aside. In a frying pan, quickly cook the egg in spray oil to your desired doneness. Place it on top of the polenta and add additional salt and pepper to taste.

    Serves 1.

    The first time I made it, I overcooked the yolk. I highly recommend a runnier yolk, like this one, if you’re down with that. It adds more flavor to the dish. I used beautiful eggs from Healthy Family Farms, as always, and they are leaps and bounds better than store-bought, cruelly raised eggs. The yolks are bright, and the whole egg is so flavorful.

    This weekend, I had some left over canned pumpkin from my oatmeal, so I decided to try making a pumpkin latte of sorts. I’ve only tried the Starbucks variety once, and I did not like it at all. I am clearly not normal. All the same, I wanted to see if something homemade (and vegan) (and not full of chemicals) was more up my alley. I looked at some renditions online and then winged my own. Also, I didn’t have coffee, so I went for a tea latte instead.

    All I did was boil water and then brew strong black tea. Then I added 1 cup of coconut milk, 4 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a small saucepan. I brought it to a boil and then reduced to a simmer. To the pan I then added 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla. When it was all combined, I stirred in an attempt to get some foam, but that failed, so I just poured half over the top of the hot tea. After tasting, I thought it should be sweeter, so I added another pinch of sugar. I also didn’t think the spiciness was enough, so I dumped in some cinnamon. All in all, it was decent, but I much prefer chai or Swahili Ginger ‘n Milk Tea. Starbucks can keep their pumpkin spice.