Friday, August 22, 2008

a variety of dinners and some semi bad photos I took of them

So I have this problem where I drink a little bit before and during cooking so that by the time I need to take pictures of the food, I'm too tipsy to hold the camera steady. Since I eat dinner at like 11 pm every night (ugh!) the lighting is bad too. Therefore, if you ever wonder why sometimes my photos suck hard even though I have a masters in photography, now you know. Plus, I'm still not an expert at digital photography and the fact that the shutter doesn't click as soon as I want to, although my dad's camera is much better than the OTHER one I was using. Anyway. I just uploaded a bunch of craptastic pictures and wanted to explain ahead of time. On the plus side, there is someone who is happy about the fact that Michael and I drink a lot of beer:
ghostface's new home

And so he won't get jealous, here's Bill Murray, looking particularly evil:

Ok, so first off, a few photos of random stuff I've made that haven't fit into other posts so far. This one is a nice salad with calendula flowers (edible!). The petals are kind of buttery tasting. But don't eat the middle parts, they're just there for show for the photo.
mmmm flowers

This is one of our favorite, junky, go-to meals when no one feels like cooking. CroissantDogs! It's highly processed and not good for you. Best served with lots of ketchup and spicy mustard.
This is obviously fairly simple... Just wrap up some soydogs in croissants and bake them according to the croissant package. It's a nice twist on pigs in a blanket (ew!) with the flakiness of that croissant. It's better than it should be, actually. This time, we used Worthington's Linketts. WHAT! They are so good. Even better than Yves, despite their creepy light pink coloring. Michael says that's how real hot dogs look, but I'm not so sure.

Oh, and this is a chocolate pie I made for my grandmas' (plural!) birthday party. My one grandma used to be like... a baking expert and somehow I managed to catch this gene in my DNA. Yay! The only problem is that her best best best recipe is a chocolate pie that mostly consists of cook n serve pudding and butter and milk. And I veganized it, much to my family's surprise. I even made the crust. I suppose you want the recipe....

TOO BAD! It's a family secret, sorry. Well, the orginial recipe was a secret, and this is based on the original and tastes just like it. So... if you want to come over for dinner, I'll make it and you can taste it for yourself. Oh...maybe someday I'll post it. But not right now.
grandma's chocolate pie. VEGANIZED. check!

Ok, what's next.... *sigh*

(I can only upload pictures in batches of 5 so I might need to take a break here)

Remember how I got even MORE swiss chard at the farmers market? In a valiant effort to eat more leafy greens...this is what I keep doing. I buy them, and then have no idea how to make them edible. I can't stand the kale that's sold in our grocery stores (it's so bitter!) and the one time I tried just cooking chard, I made it really vinegary, and I kind of hate the taste of vinegar by itself, so for some reason that scared me off from cooking it like that. Anyway, so we stuck to stuffing it for this round. Also, Michael did saute some up that was really good, so maybe he should be the one who cooks it from now on. But this time, we went south of the border with Mexi Swiss Chard Rollups! Um... all the photos I took of prep turned out terrible, so you'll have to just listen to how we ate them with and what's inside them.
more creative swiss chard solutions

We put some brown rice with cumin in our rice cooker and let that cook up. After it was finished, we mixed in a can of kidney beans and seasoned to taste. Again, blanche the chard to make it easy to work with. Then, just a spoonful or two of the rice and beans went into the leaves and we rollllled em up and baked them at 350F for maybe 30-40 minutes. That's Follow Your Heart mozzarella on top. By the way, it only melts truly when you cover it with foil. We did not know this until this point, so foil yours. Served it all up with some homemade salsa and guacamole on a small bed of tortilla chips.

Next is something I AM SUPER PROUD OF!!!! No really, after I made this, I danced around the kitchen in complete ecstasy for about 10 minutes. And me dancing is like a combination of Elaine and Michelle Tanner. Bad. But humorous! Anyway, this is Sausage, adapted from Vegan Dad's recipe. I used a little less fennel, because I'm not a huge fan of the licorice taste, and added some thyme. Oh, and we didn't have pinto beans, so we used butter beans instead. Um, but, seriously.... amazing. You won't know what hit you. And it was so easy! Ok, enough gushing. We used these in a stew that was delicious, but photographed like babypoop, so I'm not showing it. There were lots of veggies, the sausage, a lot of soymilk, 'beef' broth, and Earth Balance. Rich, to say the least. But delicious.
better than any sausage on the planet

When we went camping, we took one of these links and sliced it very thin, left it in the oven on about 100F for around 2-3 hours and ended up with jerky! Which we took camping. Mmm.

Zucchini Bread Muffins

My buddy AllyChristine from VegWeb gave me this recipe. She sent me these muffins when we had a package exchange a couple months ago, and I literally needed the recipe. Like, I needed it. And you need it. She dusted hers with cocoa powder, which was awesome. But I was lazy, plus I don't have a sifter, so I didn't do that.

3 tbs ground flaxseed or 4.5 teaspoons (tsps) ener-g egg (I used ener-g)
.5 cup water or 6 tbs if using ener-g
1 cup neutral oil or 1/2 cup oil 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I actually used 3/4 C applesauce, 1/4 C canola oil)
1 tbs white distilled vinegar (I used redwine vinegar here cause i didn't have white and it was fine)
2 cups gran. sugar (I used Sucanat here)
2 cups grated zucchini (no need to peel)
2 tsps vanilla
3 cups unbleached AP or whole wheat pastry flour (I use the latter)
2 tsps cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
one tsp salt

Preheat to 325. Lightly grease 8x4x2 loaf pans, 4 mini loaf pans, or 2 muffin tins. In food processor or bowl (I just use a whisk), combine flaxseed and water...or ener-g and water. Whip until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add oil, vinegar, and sugar, and combine. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla. If using food processor, transfer oil/vinegar/sugar mix to large bowl before stirring in zucchini and vanilla.

In separate bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add nuts and raisins if using. Stir dry into wet until just combined. Divide into prepared pans, and bake 60-70 for standard loaves, 40-45 for mini, 30-35 for muffins (I did like 25). Check with toothpick!

Last night we made lasagna. The sauce is sauteed onion, zucchini, squash, and crumblers with some of our homemade marinara and some storebought as well.

oh yum.

So the noodles are layered with the sauce, some spinach, and my basil/spinach/tofu ricotta (huge bunch of basil, 3 garlic cloves, package of spinach, extra firm tofu, salt blended in a food processor) with a little Follow Your Heart mozzarella on top. This time, we foiled the top so the cheese would melt. But halfway through cooking I wanted to unfoil it in order to brown the cheesiness, but when we looked only half of the cheese was melty. I said it would be fine. It turned out just like the cheese on the mexi chard rollups. So guess which side of the lasagna I got to eat, since it was my fault? haha...I don't care, it was still delicious.

Ok, and finally I have a little Indian food for your tasting happiness. I was in a curry mood. And I had a lot of beets and sweet potatoes. This resulted in sweet potato and beet curry salad. Which was not good until the next day, but the next day, it was sooooo good. So if you make this, make it a day ahead and refrigerate until you're ready to eat it. I needed something to go with it, so I whipped up a quick Chana Masala to go over some brown rice. Chana Masala = chickpeas, onions, garlic, tomato paste, curry powder, soymilk, and salt. You can find a recipe you like online, yes? It's really simple.
Indian food does not photograph particularly well. especially when the photographer is a tad tipsy. oh well.

Here's the recipe for the Sweet Potato and Beet Curry Salad:

sweet potatoes (cubed)
beets (peeled and cubed)
plain soy yogurt
scallions (thinly sliced)
dijon mustard
red curry powder
a tiny amount of garam masala (optional)

I know there are no amounts up there. But this is pretty versatile, and you can just use as many beets and sweet potatoes as you like, then adjust the rest to fit. Ok, so cook your beets and sweet potatoes first. Note that it takes longer to cook beets than cubed sweet potatoes, so adjust your cooking time for this. I boiled all mine together and my potatoes were a tad mushy and the beets were a tad crunchy (they went on the stove for about 25 minutes, so I'd say 15-20 minutes for the potatoes, around 30 for the beets). Once the beets are cooked, peel them and cut them. To the lovely root veggies, add your tahini first. You will want to have like... a 2:1 tahini:yogurt ratio, however much you use. So, more tahini, ok? Then just add your mustard, scallions, curry (I used around 3-4 Tbsp here, but remember that RED curry is spicy, so be careful - do it to taste [and remember that the flavor will intensify and get better the next day]). Salt to taste, give it a really good stir, and plop in the fridge for several hours.

The sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the beets (and the earthiness of both) goes really well with the curry flavoring, while the tahini and yogurt make this creamy creamy creamy. You will be pleasantly surprised, I promise!

I'm done for now. I will (i will i will) post about our camping trip next, as I'm pretty much caught up on our meals now. I might even do it later tonight. But my hands are a little tired right now. Go make dinner! But don't drink so much you can't photograph it...

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