Friday, December 31, 2010

Slow-Simmered Black Eyed Peas & Crispy Cornbread

Slow-Simmered Black-Eyed Peas
Olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1-2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
leaves from 1 bunch thyme
2 bay leaves
1 bag pre-soaked black-eyed peas (I soaked mine for 2 hours)
1 quart water (or more, if the peas absorb too much)
2 vegetable bullion cubes
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 small carrot, chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
salt & pepper

1. Heat a little olive oil in an enameled cast iron pot on medium-low. Add the shallot to the hot oil, season with salt, and cook until translucent.
2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and bay leaves and cook about 1 minute.
3. Add the peas, water, bullion, tomatoes, carrot, tomato paste, salt and pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to just above low, cover with a heavy lid and simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally.
4. During the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, check the water level in the peas. If the peas seem too soupy, you may want to remove the lid so more water evaporates. Likewise, you may need to add water if the mixture is too thick.  Remember that when the peas cool, they will thicken considerably.  They should be like stew.
Laurene’s Cornbread Recipe
1 egg
2 cups cornmeal mix
1 ½ cup milk
pat of salted butter

Preheat the oven and a six-inch cast iron skillet to 400 degrees F. Whisk the egg, cornmeal, and milk in a bowl until combined.  Add a pat of butter to the skillet to coat the bottom and sides (for a crisp crust), as well as a sprinkle of cornmeal (for easy removal, later).  Pour in the batter.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Both of these recipes are everything you could hope for in black-eyed peas and cornbread.  Crumble the cornbread and top with the peas... and if you're lucky enough to have tomato relish, top it all off with that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vegan Dad's Scalloped Potatoes & Butternut Squash with Roasted Chestnuts

I've been eating out a lot lately, which is actually a welcome change, but that eating out combined with all the holiday sweets and family get-together meals which aren't exactly catered towards vegans... and I'm looking forward to the New Year and all the healthy resolutions that go along with it.

That said, if you don't own The Kind Diet, and you have any interest at all in simultaneously delicious and healthy food, you should buy a copy ASAP.

I gave my own copy away, and took too long to replace it.  I finally bought myself another, and am once again inspired and sooooo ready to get back to simple, yummy, really good-for-me food.

And that second thing said, a couple nights ago I made scalloped potatoes and butternut squash with roasted chestnuts, recipe courtesy Vegan Dad.  Not exactly the lowest in calories, but obviously healthier than its dairy-laden, all-potato counterpart.

Honestly, I was underwhelmed.  And I am a big fan of many of Vegan Dad's recipes.  It could be I messed up the recipe, but either way, I think I prefer all potatoes in my scalloped dishes.  I felt confused; was I eating scalloped potatoes or sweet potato souffle (not that squash is sweet potatoes but you see the resemblance)?

Still, I definitely recommend his blog for a plethora of good vegan recipes and ideas.  In particular, I LOVE the tempeh meatballs.

Alright... enough rambling from me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Skillet Carrots from Orangette

I guess I was in the mood for rainbow root vegetables, because last week we had roasted fingerling potatoes in all colors, and this carrot recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Orangette.

The recipe is called Skillet Carrots, and Molly's host mother in Paris used to make them all the time as an easy side dish.  Molly makes them with those beautiful rainbow-colored carrots, so I did too.  Despite my picture, they really end up so pretty.

If you're looking for an easy, yet impressive way to cook carrots, this is definitely as good as a recipe gets for cooked carrots.  It will probably become my go-to for cooked carrots from now on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birthday Night - Vegetarians, Shield Your Eyes.

Fancy atmosphere...
Celebratory drinks...
and more drinks.
Forbidden food (sorry vegetarians, it wasn't my birthday :-)...
Dessert with a birthday candle (I just wanted the cookie; it was the perfect chewiness)!
Cirque du Soleil... Happy Birthday, Birthday Boy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chocolate Birthday Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting

Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Yum. I used sugar instead of agave this time, for the cake.  I've decided that from now on, whenever possible, I'll use agave.  Something about agave makes me not miss eggs in the cake.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe agave makes the cake more delicate, and sugar makes it a little... tougher?  Not that I'd describe this cake as tough.  It's moist and satisfying.  But agave creates a more tender crumb, I think.

Oh... for the recipe, just use Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World cookbook... or this recipe reprint. And increase the ingredients by one half.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Split Pea Soup Taken Up a Notch So It Becomes Delicious Plus Has Extra Veggies

Made some really really yummy split pea soup tonight.  I'm too lazy to write the recipe right now - sorry!  But basically, you start out by sauteeing onions, garlic, celery, green peppers, and mushrooms with fresh thyme and salt.

Once good and cooked down, you add some halved cherry tomatoes, carrots, split peas, and vegetable broth, as well as some smoked paprika, more salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to low, and simmer for about an hour, adding a whole bunch of chopped swiss chard during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

And you have something crazy flavorful and crazy healthy, especially if you add some garlic croutons as a garnish.

Salad With Glazed Tofu and Cilantro-Lime Dressing

This is the salad I calmly stood in the kitchen and assembled the night we came home to find our Christmas tree lying on the floor in a pool of its own water surrounded by broken candy canes.

I dry-fried tofu (crispy without the fat) while Chris cursed and bemoaned the wet wood floors.

I whisked a glaze of soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, and maple syrup while Chris lay under the tree like a mechanic, trying to secure the bastard.

I pureed herbs and lime juice and olive oil while he mopped, vacuumed, and rehung the ornaments one by one.

I dumped one of those little plastic containers full of goodies from the grocery store olive bar onto the salad, and we sat down and ate.  You may wonder why I wasn't in the living room helping, and that is because, like Meeks must have known as the tree began its decent, I, too, knew to stand clear.

Vegan Alfredo Pasta With Broccoli... and Ballerinas

I've been thinking.  I feel my blog has gotten a little stale, for me at least.  I continue to adore cooking and eating and anything food and nutrition-related.  But I'm not feeling as fulfilled in writing these posts.  I like posting the pictures, but I'm not talking about anything that truly matters to me... it seems I'm repeating myself now.

Yet, there is so much that does matter to me, that I'd love to talk about!  It just seems some things are more personal and difficult to share; yet I believe those things worth sharing.

I'm going to make a real effort to get out of this rut and offer something fresh and authentic, meaning, what I really feel and want to say.  And when I say offer, I don't know to whom I'm offering this information; maybe just to myself.

Anyway. I had one of those sweet dreams last night, after which I woke up resolved to take ballet lessons.  I’ve wished I were a ballerina my entire life, and while mine isn’t the least cliché of childish dreams, my longing will not go away.  Whenever I see a ballet or a modern dance show, my heart literally aches, as if I’m watching the love of my life marry someone else.  Why I didn’t take ballet lessons when I was younger?  Now I’ll never get to be a ballerina! :-/  Okay, maybe I am a very cliché case of ballerina regret, after all.

But that won’t stop me from taking lessons!  I can at least learn a proper pirouette, get in shape, and regain my high school flexibility, right?

And that brings me to vegan alfredo pasta with broccoli.  Vegan or not, we all crave something creamy and comforting occasionally, and moreso during the wintertime.  Vegans can have something just as rich, creamy, salty, and satisfying as traditional alfredo made with cream, butter, and cheese.  I actually think this vegan alfredo recipe has more flavor than regular alfredo.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cozy Happy Wonderfulness

Is spending a weekend dancing and celebrating the marriage of friends, shopping at the mall for new sweaters (and thanking God I'm not in that long line to see Santa), eating white chili and brownies and chips and salsa, and decorating the house until it's red and green and glowing.

Comparing Brownie Recipes

Ina Garten's recipe for fudge brownies with peanut butter swirls is not the best... I've got to be honest; when it comes to desserts, I love to get ideas and inspiration from Ina, but her actual recipes are way too buttery and sugary for me.  The cloyingness takes away from the taste of the food.  I like my pie crust to taste buttery, for example, but not like butter.  And I like my brownies to be rich and deeply chocolaty, not syrupy sweet and oily.

A MUCH better brownie recipe is Alton Brown's recipe for cocoa brownies.  His brownies are decadent, velvety, and somehow densely delicate - insanity.

My old roommate Bianca also makes a fantastic, chewy brownie that I love.

I've decided that cocoa powder works better for brownies than chocolate.  However, I will be adding a peanut butter swirl from now on to whatever brownie recipe I use.
P.S. Let's not forget about healthy brownies.