Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pierogi with The Candle Cafe's Tofu Alfredo and Spinach

I was super excited about this meal but it turned out just so-so because The Candle Cafe's tofu alfredo was a disappointment.  It's the first recipe I've tried from their cookbook, and I have a feeling it will be the only bad recipe in there, because I am way too excited about that cookbook!

It was just super garlicky, even after simmering an hour, and even on low I found that the tofu wanted to curdle.  So if you make it, take this into consideration and watch it carefully.  I think I'll try their concept again (after all, there's no butter or anything "bad" in there!) but cut back on the garlic (for me, this is saying alot because I love garlic), maybe use roasted instead of raw, and simmer on VERY low.

Here are the veggies (minus the spinach and fresh chopped cilantro, dill, and parsley) I added to the dish.
I'm super happy today.  I'm loving my job, loving my co-workers, loving my boyfriend, loving my family... Yesterday was my birthday. Last weekend and this week my family, my co-workers, and my boyfriend just went out of their way to make it so special.  I felt very lucky and didn't expect so much thoughtfulness.  I'm grateful for all of them. :-)

A Valentine's Day Lead-Up Meal

I like hearts and I like love and I like pink, so I feel free to use all of these Valentine's Day elements liberally throughout the entire month of February.

Use cookie cutters to cut hearts out of pre-made polenta, then grill or fry it.  Place the hearts on a bed of marinara sauce. Top with caramelized onions and sauteed kale. Cute.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Do Sometimes Hesitate

I do sometimes hesitate to post non-vegan things here. Because it's a sensitive subject for many, and I've (happily) acquired vegan guilt - meaning I feel it's wasteful and cruel to eat meat when I'm fortunate enough to have plenty of alternatives, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by surprising him or her with a photograph of a big slab of animal on a plate, after months of bok choy and rice.

But... I also believe in telling the truth.  And the truth is, I am not a perfect vegan.  In fact, I've been eating a lot of seafood lately.  It has always been my weakness.  Especially when prepared by a thoughtful and loving boyfriend for Valentine's Day.  He should be proud of himself because he made Valentine's Weekend and Day so fun and exciting for me.  I was a happy, happy girl.  Really, I was happiest just being with him.
He came in from long day at work and went straight to work.  Meanwhile, I watched him while sipping my fruity cocktail and nibbling on the appetizers he'd laid out - cheese - how dare he!  I am not a cheese eater.  I have given it up with very rare exception.  But he'd brought what used to be my very favorite cheese before I went vegan.  So I sighed and had cheese.
(It tasted good... but I don't miss cheese.)

I can't leave out that Monday morning, I woke to find him sneaking around downstairs with my favorite V-day candy and a vintage bracelet. Thank you, Boyfriend, for my Valentine's Day sweetness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spinach and Potato Curry (Aloo Palak)

Tonight was curry - Indian spinach and potato curry, or aloo palak.  I used this recipe as a guide but adjusted according to taste and such.

You may or may not appreciate a big pile of pureed spinach with some lumps in it, but if you're on the "not" side, you may feel otherwise if you taste it!  You know why I love curries (Thai and Indian both)?  Because curries are big plates full of healthy, amazingly-seasoned vegetables.  So comforting and so full of flavor and so, so nourishing.

(I'm having a hard time concentrating while writing this post because I'm watching Beyond Scared Straight).

Anyway, curry it was because I needed to use up a jumbo-sized box of spinach and these cute fingerling potatoes.
And here the sweet things are all chopped and ready to boil.
We finished it off with some dragonfruit, oranges, and passion fruit. The lineup:
And their insides... if you haven't tried passion fuit, there's nothing like it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Strawberry, Orange, Avocado and Spinach Salad With Ginger-Carrot Dressing

Been needing some raw foods after too much junk food since the Superbowl.  I don't crave salads too often during the winter.  During the summer I eat them every day.  But I made this salad and filled it with lots of tasty things including admittedly very not-in-season strawberries.  It was nice to have a big bowl full of juicy, flavorful fruits topped with a pungent ginger-carrot dressing.  My only complain was the spinach, which was a little tough this time.  I think I'll cook down the rest of the big container I bought in soup.

Strawberry Basil Rolls

I am lucky in that I work with some of the sweetest, most thoughtful people I know.  One of those people brought me some rice wrappers to make spring rolls.  I made six of them tonight, and packed them away for lunch tomorrow  (much to the disappointment of another who assumed they were to be his dinner).

I stuffed them with spinach, basil, cucumbers, avocado, and strawberries.  I'll have them tomorrow with plum sauce and chopped peanuts.

Pictured is the ginger carrot dressing from Goop's Detox post.  It's perfectly suitable for people who aren't detoxing, turns out.

UPDATE:  I ate these today.  I do believe they will become a staple!  Here's why.  1.) They keep excellently.  They hold up much better than a sandwich or wrap; no sogginess!  I made them yesterday and they were perfect today for lunch.  The herbs, fruits and vegetables inside were completely fresh and crisp.  The wrapper had the most fun texture.  I can't really describe it; you'll just have to try it for yourself!  2.) They're adorable.  And you're looking at the first wrap I made, so they can be made to look much neater once you get the hang of it.  3. They're versatile.  You could put just about anything in them.  I bet purple cabbage would be so pretty!  4.  Um, can you say gluten/soy/sugar-free?  5. Totally light and won't make you need to take a nap at your desk after lunch.

I know that when beach weather gets here (and it will, soon, right??), these sweet little things will make it into my margarita cooler.

Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Frosting

I made this chocolate cake for the superbowl... sadly, I wasn't too impressed with it.  It was totally edible, and it still calls my name from under the aluminum foil, but that's just the problem, because if it were as delicious as chocolate cake should be, there would be no cake left to tempt me at all.
I've been experimenting with chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and brownies. I have decided that I like brownies best when made from cocoa powder, not chocolate chips or bars.  And I think I like frosting or icing better with cocoa powder, too.  I feel like if I wanted to eat chocolate candy I would just eat the bar; why bother melting it just to harden it again in another form.  I guess if you are going to use chocolate chips to make your topping, they should be a really high quality chocolate.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Running

Since starting this blog, I’ve totally intended on writing about running.  I never knew my blog would be all about food; it just sort of evolved into a (mostly) vegan food blog.  I still meant to write about running, as it’s as much a cherished hobby as food.  I’ve even written posts about running and never published them because they struck me as wrong somehow – too cheesy, or whatever.

Then, this blogger started incorporating her training experiences into her own food blog, and I love reading about it, and it reminded me again that I want to talk about running.

So here I am to say that I absolutely love to run.  I like it like Sam does not like green eggs and ham.  More on running to come. J

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Listening to Cravings (the Healthy Kind)

Everything told me to make collards, collards, collards!  They'd been in the fridge for days, they're super good for us, and I eat them several times a week.

I even found the perfect recipe, and went to the store and bought chickpeas.

But I was secretly thinking lycopene (you know you're a health nut when you think in nutrients).  And it'd been forever since I'd had pasta.  Since I couldn't seem to get pasta with marinara off my mind, I made a garlicky, simmery, deliciously reduced-until-sweet marinara (with a little Field Roast Italian sausage) and some penne pasta (ingredients: semolina whole wheat - period).  I stirred in and topped off with a generous amount of nutritional yeast and this supper totally hit the spot!

Good morning :-)

I woke up extra early this morning, and also decided to skip my run, so here we are slowly waking up with some green tea and a blanket.

I have been meaning to update anyone who might be interested on the status of my quitting coffee.  I'm sorry to report that it wasn't a complete success.  While I stay away from it on the weekends and have cut way back on the amount, I found I simply need coffee for work.

I really am disappointed to arrive to that conclusion.  I also have not given up on the idea of being coffee free. I still want that.

But I am in an office working on a computer trying to come up with creative ideas and write witty, persuasive sentences and paragraphs and pages for 8 to 9 hours, 5 days a week.  I don't think humans were necessarily built for that, and I could probably manage 6 hours of quality computer work at a time, without coffee, before needing to switch gears into some other form of productivity, like running or cooking or cleaning.

As it stands, coffee helps me concentrate longer than I can without it.  So for now, I'll continue to appreciate the little boost it gives me.  Life is short, and coffee makes my life easier right now.

I still consider being coffee-free on weekends a big accomplishment!  Hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Split Pea Soup and Grilled Cheese & Tomato on Sourdough

Ohhhhhh.... how to make split pea soup look remotely appetizing.

Eh, forget it.  It looks terrible.  And actually, it didn't taste amazing either.  I've made much tastier split pea soup.  (Those chunks you see are Field Roast Italian sausage - I recommend!)

Let's skip to the really tasty part.
Pictures don't do it justice.  Because I used amazing homemade (in someone else's home) sourdough bread from the farmers market that I stuck in the freezer to pull out for occasions like this ("this" = thunderstorm outside and cold dark rainy gloom all day).  I put a little Vegenaise on the inside, Earth Balance on the outside, some Daiya cheddar (a real treat, we rarely buy it lest it wear out its welcome) and tomato slices, and then I put it in the George Forman and forgot about it until it was done.
I almost wonder if cheese eaters - though perhaps not cheese coinesseours - might not like a Daiya grilled cheese as much as a cow's grilled cheese.  I think when you eat it in moderation, on a pizza or a sandwich or to top a lasagna or stirred into a casserole or scattered over nachos - as opposed to in big blocks on a cutting board or enormous chunks encased in a calzone - the difference is insignificant. But the health benefits are not.

Rice Pilaf With Caramelized Onions from The Kind Diet

Another winner of a recipe from The Kind Diet.  I supplemented the caramelized onions with leeks, and used two carrots instead of one because I had no parsnips... Chris's comment as he ate a huge plateful was "How can it have so much flavor?"

(It's because of A.] The variety of textures and flavors in one dish B.] The brown rice vinegar, which makes things pop and C.] The caramelized onions' intense flavor.)

We ate our rice pilaf and caramelized onions with sides of purple yam chips (intended to be soft-roasted but turns out I don't know much about the cooking properties of yams) and steamed bok choy - a staple and favorite (not pictured).