Wednesday, March 11, 2009

back to the books

It's been awhile, eh?  I'll give it to you straight: it's been beautiful here this past week.  This basically means that I never know what I'm going to be doing in the evenings because it's finally comfortable enough to go outside, out and about.  This could include trips to the park to fly kites (hi, Dad!), impromptu croquet games, a day at a friend's house doing laundry, random walks, and/or learning how to play shuffleboard (rules!).  I've been enjoying the weather and my life to the fullest, in other words.  That also means less planned meals and just grabbing easy stuff that's not really worth blogging about.  However!

At the beginning of last week, Michael and I decided to utilize more of our cookbooks and shopped for specific ingredients to do so.  We chose a few recipes out of each book we felt was gathering dust.  This went strong for exactly two meals, both from Yellow Rose Recipes, strangely enough.  You get to see those first, then a couple of randoms that were pretty darned good.

First up is the tamale pie:
oh so mexi

There were parts of this that I loved and parts that I was pretty 'meh' about.  Loved: the cheesy nacho sauce.  Holy mother nature.  I almost didn't make the recipe for this from the book (opting to make my own version) because it seemed too simple to be good.  Which is dumb.  Because it freaking rules!  Michael and I decided that it tasted identical to the nacho sauce from various snack bars of our youths such as the pool (for me) and the bowling alley (for him).  And I know the recipe only says to use 1/2 cup of it, but I just poured the entire batch on top.  It was that crazydelicious.  Oh, here's my plate, by the way:
showstopping avocado love

I will admit that I put this in a bowl and ate it with a spoon after this shot.  It's total bowl-food, guys.  Ok, so...meh: I made the chicken style seitan from the book for this.  The flavor was good, but, as is the case with every single batch of seitan I've ever simmered, it had the texture of wet bread.  In fact, I tried making a sammich out of a cutlet of it the next day and it just became one with the bread and was a complete soggy mess.  Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I'm finished with ruining my seitan.  I'm gonna stick to steaming, no matter what the recipe says.  It just always, always works that way.  Also kind of meh: while this was a yumtastic casserole, overall it really just tasted like mushy nachos.  Not that that in and of itself is a bad thing, but it was an awful lot of work for something that tasted like nachos.  Next time I might just use certain elements and pile it up on some chips, because that would be way easier.  And crunchier.

Next up was the butternut squash lasagna.  This was so easy to make, with a little teamwork.  Once we divided up who was doing what, it came together in a flash.  On a Wednesday, nonetheless.

So, it's not so pretty.  So what.  I put the end of our Teese on the bottom bit (which was awesome, btw).  I really have no complaints about this recipe, honestly.  It was even better the next day after the flavors had concentrated.
such a looker

It's prettier once it's sliced.  And garnished.  We ate this with slices of roasted garlic bread (it has whole cloves of garlic in it!  what!).  Michael and I have picked up a new habit: perusing the day old bread section at Kroger.  We get like 5 loaves/baguettes/whathaveyou for like 89 cents apiece and put them in the freezer.  Anytime we need or want some bread, just pop it in the oven for a few minutes.  It's never tasted stale or off.  Bargain shopping rules the school, kids.  Back to the's the perfect combination of salty and sweet.  Comfort foodiness.  

Oh, bonus shot of the squashes after they were roasty...

Ok, so that is it for planned meals.  The rest of this stuff was good, but definitely came together in a hurry.  First is a wonderful lunch that Michael and I made together on Sunday that includes everything I love (his idea, so sweet!).

That's some bowties with Morningstar Chickn Strips (they were on sale, come on), peas, capers, sherry, balsamic vinegar (I don't like this, but it was good by the end), lemon juice, grape tomatoes, parsley, artichokes, shallots, garlic, and oyster mushrooms.  We had it for lunch, then ate it again for dinner since it was so rad.  This was probably my favorite meal this past week.  Simple and heavenly.

Oh!  I had almost forgotten about this one.  My mom called me last Sunday (a week ago) and told me that it was St. David's day and he's the patron saint of Wales and leeks are the official veggie of Wales and that I needed to eat a leek today.  Mom.  As if I need an excuse to eat leeks.  But thanks for letting me know, regardless.
probably not the best use of leeks, but whatever

I had meant to make the lasagna Sunday and add the leeks into the sauce, but by the time dinner came grumbling at my tummy, I was exhausted.  And I just wanted something easy and tasty.  Solution?  Sauteed leeks with green beans and vinegar and salt and then some boxed couscous mix that Michael likes.  Don't let the grossness of that picture fool you - it was nummy.

Do any of you other food bloggers get tired of trying to think of alternate words for 'delicious'?  I'm out of synonyms.  Time to find my thesaurus.

Here's a bread success:
not dense

I splurged on some white whole wheat flour.  King Arthur makes damn good flour, but it is hella expensive.  Kroger brand flour is like a buck and this kind is around 4 bucks.  Alas, flour is apparently the one thing that Kroger doesn't make well.  For bread anyway.  (You should see our cabinets.  Everything that isn't a specialty item is Kroger brand.  I's cheaper and their stuff doesn't suck.)  Blah blah, so I've made some sammiches with this bread and they didn't suck, either.  And the flavor is pretty good, too.  Woo!

A not so successful bread attempt were these hot dog buns:

They were doing great until I uncovered the formed buns before putting them in the oven and they deflated like it was their job or something.  There was an upside, though!  The outsides got crispy, so when we cut the slits for the dogs, the buns made these awesomely sturdy shells for holding loads of condiments.  Any excuse to put more mustard on something is fine by me.  

This meal was Michael's idea and was made on the first really nice day this past week.  Summer food.  We'd got that corn on the cob (just...corn?) for 50 cents apiece at the store expecting it to be terrible, but it ruled pretty hard.  Nice and sweet.  The potato salad is an invention of ours that is based on a recipe from The Accidental Vegan, but we put too much red onion in it and it hurt my mouth.  That's pretty easy to pick out though.  Once summer hits, I'll post the recipe, but I'm not feeling it right now.  We make this potato salad practically once a week once it gets warm.  It's that good.  You're just gonna have to wait and come back to find out how to make it.  That's some incentive if I've ever heard any.  

Hey, have a good rest of your weeks.  It's almost Friday, but as everyone that works a crappy job knows, each day lasts like a millenium until the weekend, and then every day is like 3 seconds long.'s hoping that your days are more like 24 hours long this week.

PS - one of my brothers and his wife are going vegetarian for Lent.  For Lent, I gave up Veganomicon.  So they could use it, you know.  Wish us both luck.


Anonymous said...

I would love to try that nacho cheese! It sounds so delicious! Is it a noochy sauce or non-dairy cheese based?

I've never had leeks before, but that picture is making me want to try try them!

Yummy bread, I love how high it rose!

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

Yay for that summer food! Everything looks great.

You might want to try the chicken cutlets from EveryDayDish. I think they're only on the dvd though. They're actually baked on low.

Or maybe try doing your in a crockpot? Steamed seitan is good, but I don't know what I'd do without simmered/crockpotted.

Katy said...

Ok, I HAVE to try that nacho cheese! I just love vegan cheese sauces!

Also, I totally feel you on the "delicious" quandary. I mean, I'm no walking thesaurus. And sometimes three meals in a row really are just delicious! I say we forgo the complicated word game and call the food what it is - delicious.

But all that food really does look nummy! :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the reply, i'm giving that a shot so wish me luck! i'll let you know how that turns out!

aTxVegn said...

I love to see recipe reviews. Now I can't wait to try YRR cheese sauce.

Your bread looks good! I splurge on KA white whole wheat flour too.

PJH said...

Wes, King Arthur definitely does make good flour. I know because I work there and I see how much effort goes into ensuring it's the best flour - always, anywhere, anytime. Thanks for noticing! PJ Hamel, King Arthur Flour baker/blogger P.S. My favorite is the organic white wheat - it's awesome. Going to make a 100% ww pain de mie with it right now.

Virginia said...

yay on your brother and sis-in-law trying vegetarianism! maybe it will stick!

i have told you this before but i am right there with ya on kroger being the best!!! loooooove me some kroger shopping!

everything looks delicious (yeah, i use that word too much too!), even the "mushy nachos", hehe

Anonymous said...

Yellow Rose Recipes is one of those books that I'd really, really like to get. It's so frustrating that my shipping costs as much as the book. Grr.
You've got so much tasty goodness here, Jessica, I don't know where to start! First, you're such a cutie pie giving up Vcon for Lent! But I totally get it! Second, I only EVER steam seitan. Ever. Ever never ever.
Your bread looks so lovely - starting to feel the non-baking pangs, but I'll be strong!

miss v said...

i just say de-lish. :)

missed you! i totally know what you mean about the weather... i've been eating a lot of quickie non-blog worthy stuff too.

and i totally dig the bargain shopping. we have a bakery that sells bread for 75 cents, and i will drive the extra mile to go get that bread (plus it's naturally vegan). i'm a nut when it comes to sales...

and i just want to eat those squashes with a spoon. i love that pic.

don't be a stranger!

veggievixen said...

yum-tastic! i loooove butternut squash, but i've never used it in lasagna!

jessy said...

my copy of yellow rose recipes is gathering a good bit of dust as well. actually, thinking of it now - i bought that bitch over xmas for myself and haven't actually made anything from it! (shame! shame!) you've inspired me to try a recipe or two in the coming weeks, Jessica! w00t! thanks for the reviews, too! i loooove the added bonus shot of all that roasted squash of butternutty gloriousness! mmmmmmm!

totally agree - trying to come up with other words for delicious is tiresome at times. for fun (it's a really slow day here in the office) i'm gonna list what i use/used so far (come on, you know you'll love it! muahhahahaa!): stellar, fantastical, yummers, scrummy (got that one from you), super deeeelicious, deeeelish, damn tasty, fantabulous, rock'n, rad (another one from you), seriously gooooood, wonderful, excellent, damn delightful, awesome, heavenly, absolutely _____ (enter any word from above there), oh-so ____ (enter any work from above there), and scrumtrulescent (thank you SNL). titillating is also a word that you can use to describe delicious (thank you 'ol online thesaurus), but i think that sounds just a weeeeeee bit weird. ahahahahaa! huzzah!

it was really nice for a few days here, too! and shuffleboard = the shiznit. i love that game. dan kicks my ass every damn time we play, but i still love it the most! superw00t!

that's so super sweet of Michael to make you a pasta bowl full of everything that you love the most! and my buns deflate like that sometimes as well! drive me batshit insane (i have totally cried over that happening before. i get sensitive with bread stuff!) when that happens, but i'm glad they were still yummers & damn fine mustard holders! mmmmm, veggiedogs! and we have Kroger brand shiz in our house, too. i also enjoy most of their brands and such - they have whole wheat pasta, some organics - man, i love it! but i do buy the king arthur flour (at least the whole wheat flour) - and sometimes i get bulk flour, which rocks! (by the way - your loaf of bread is most fantabulous!) kind arthur goes on sale every once in a while - which = sweet. but what = stupid is that even on sale it's still $4.49! what the hell?! some 'sale". jerks!

i think your pile of leeks looks deeeeelish, and yeah - now i'm hungry again! ahahahahahahaa!

huzzah for your bro & his spouse going veggie for lent! that's too sweet of you to lend them Vcon! yay! (it just occured to me now that i use A LOT of exclamation points. damn!)

hope your weekend is full of super awesome and fantastically delightful things! wahoooooooooo!

p.s. - i love your new word "fabulosity". gonna have to start using that. fo 'sho!

(longest comment ever. sorry! i just get so excitedfaced when i read your posts and then i blab on and on and on.....)

Anonymous said...

You have been eating lots of amazingly yummy foods!!!! Wait, I meant to say, delicious (smirk!). The story about your mom and leeks made me laugh! Haaaa! Hmmm... what else... Oh! It isn't too late to be interviewed! Here are your questions:

1. What is a food you disliked before going vegan, but now enjoy?

2. If you could convince one person to go vegan, who would it be, and why?

3. What is the kitchen appliance you can't live without?

4. What is your favorite veg restaurant you have eaten at (or your fave restaurant in general)?

5. Do you face any dilemmas/struggles as a vegan?

Have fun! I can't wait to see your answers!!!!

saveyrgeneration said...

you get the scones when you reveal yo' bread makin' recipe to meeeee!

Mihl said...

Ha, ha, yes I am totally out of synonyms for delicious! Wait, your food looks amazing, tasty, fabulous. That's it :D

Anna said...

I can't simmer seitan either without it going horrible. I've discovered that if you cover it and put it in the oven at 325 for as long as the recipe says to simmer it comes out much firmer, only the outside bits are a little soggy. A tip I picked up from a few blogs, not my own idea!

Erin said...

Everything look super tasty! I think I especially like the butternut lasagna.

I made Joanna's chicken seitan cutlets (from her blog) last week and they turned out REALLY well. I was nervous because I really didn't like the VCON cutlets, but these were great. I think it's the chickpea flour. So I would recommend them for sure.

Anonymous said...

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