Wednesday, April 22, 2009

you call that a bar-be-cue?

i do.

Indeed.  After we grilled out on Friday (our first really nice day here...followed by almost a straight week of rain/cold/wind/lame), I mentioned to Michael that, though we BBQ'd, nothing we actually ate was...BBQ flavor.  He informed me that BBQ is also a verb, so we're good.

Anyway, our friend Jared, who is a culinary student here in town and is straight up awesome about eating food we make and making food we can eat, asked Michael and I over to grill out in honor of the beautiful spring day.  How could we refuse?  At first, he was going to grill some meat for himself, but once we got to the grocery store, he decided that he just wanted to make a bunch of stuff we all could eat, and I couldn't have been happier!  

Here's a crappy flash shot of some stuff on the grill.
yeah, we grilled bread.  wanna make something of it?

Man, that grilled bread was good.  It was a rosemary focaccia to begin with, then we brushed it with olive oil and a balsamic reduction.  It made a perfect vehicle for this amazing stuff:
avocado relishhhhh

This was Jared's doing.  He makes this avocado relish that's crazy delicious (avocado, red onion, habenero and jalepeno peppers, roma tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice...).  Well, the avocado we got at the store was beyond hard.  They all were.  I had the brilliant idea to throw them (peeled) on the grill for a few, to see if they softened up.  I mean, it's not like we had anything to lose.  But everything to gain!  Because grilled avocado is freaking fabulous!  It got all black on the outside because I wasn't paying attention, but that just added some great smokey flavor.  

We also grilled up loads of veggies, some marinated tofu, and some veggie italian sausages.
feast your eyes on that

It all came together beautifully to become this:
best. bbq. ever.

So all in all we had: skewers of green and yellow bell peppers, yellow squash, zuchinni, and marinated tofu; sliced portobellas, veggie sausages, corn (on the cob), grilled bread, and that knock your socks off relish.  Jared said he didn't miss there being meat at all, that the tofu was awesome, and that even his culinary professor wouldn't be able to tell the sausages weren't real meat (which is awesome, but also kind of gross, if you think about it).  We were all stuffed to the max, but there was just enough room for this little fella:
amuse bouche!

In classic Top Chef style, Jared created the perfect bite.  I was so jealous.

Oh, I got a request to show a pic of my new haircut...  I don't really have any of the full on haircut because I've taken them all myself, but here's one, sort of (it used to be down to my chin, with no bangs):

Saturday, April 18, 2009

busy week!

This has been an awesomely busy week, and am I ever glad to see the weekend!  Between friendly hang-out times, work, and new haircuts (for Michael and me both), it's been a whirlwind.  I don't have a lot, foodwise, to show for myself right now, but I do want to show what I ate at my parents' house for Easter and a couple lovely meals in between then and now.

Once I got back to the old home on Saturday, I learned that my parents had a fun and easy meal planned out - burgers!
i know i'm not the only one eating veggie burgers on easter.

Mom and Dad got me the original vegan Boca burgers (yum!) and I whipped up fries for all of us.  Three kinds: regular potato for my dad, sweet potato with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese for my mom, and sweet potato with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper for me.  I don't know about the other two, but mine were awesome and went perfectly with my burger.  I could definitely just eat veggie burgers and sweet potato fries for just about every meal...  But that wouldn't be very interesting, would it?

In the morning, my brother and his family came over and we all had a nice brunch together.  The only thing I couldn't (and obviously didn't want to) eat was the turkey.  Long live my awesome family for being so darned accomodating!  My mom made some asparagus with olive oil and lemon and Dad made mashed potatoes with soymilk and no butter, which I mushed up with an avocado for me (so, so good).
asparagus heap

I made a tofu scramble that everyone seemed to like, and these freaking amazing pancakes from Veganomicon:
could eat one million of these, please

They're the blueberry corn pancakes, and if you haven't made them yet, please.  Please.  Do it.  Everyone in my family thought they were fantastic, and really, they were.  The only thing is that I found I needed to add an extra 1/4 cup of flour to the batter because it was really watery.  I don't know if this was a typo in the book (like it should've called for 1 cup flour instead of 3/4 cup) or if I messed up, but I was being pretty careful, so I don't think it was me.  But you never know.  Anyway, if your batter seems too watery, don't be afraid to add in that extra bit of flour.  They were perfect.

As if that wasn't enough - my lovely Mom and Dad made an Easter basket for Michael and I to share that was full of vegan candy and other awesome stuff!
jealous much?

They printed the candy list off Peta and were able to find such radness as: twizzlers, jolly ranchers, ring pops, cracker jacks (omg omg omg!), and these little sour bunnies that are like sour patch kids, but way better.  They also got me these little prep bowls that RULE.  They have measurements on the insides of the bowls so I don't even need to use my measuring cups (if they're dirty and in the sink, which is often the case).  Those are all the food/cooking related gifties, but you can see if you look close that they extended their radness into gaming territory.  Plus some stuff for my skin that's great, too.

Soooo that was Easter.  All in all, it was filled with fun, food, and hilarious children hopped up on so much sugar that I definitely did not envy my brother's drive back home.  2 hours of pure insanity, I'm sure!

So this week, we've extended our pantry challenge, but I did break and go buy some vegetables after I realized one day that all I had eaten the day before was basically bread.  And now I'm trying to not eat so much bread in order to detox from it (though I broke on that last night as well, but not too bad).  Therefore when I got soydogs on sale to surprise Michael with, I needed to figure out what to eat mine with, since I didn't want a bun.  I came up with this:
sauteed veggies and brown rice

I cooked a giant mass of brown rice to eat with dinner and as leftovers throughout the week with various things.  The veggies are some yellow squash, zucchini (both on sale really cheap, yay!), onions, garlic, and cherry tomatoes, plus a bunch of dried dill.  They made a perfectly filling side next to a couple bunless soydogs.  

Then I used the leftovers the next day to made these bad boys:
collard wraps, what what!

I got this totally rad idea from our good buddy Melomeals over at her blog which showcases her and her family eating for $3.33 a day.  She's doing something really great over there, by the way, so you really need to check it out.  Her food is amazing, it's super inexpensive, and you have to admire her for making the best out of tough times.  As far as I can tell, there is not a specific post about her using collard green leaves for wraps instead of bread, but she does it quite often for her lunches.  It's such an awesome idea!  And delicious, I might add.  The bitterness of the collards is cut by all the fillings you put inside.  I did blanch my leaves for about 30 seconds to make them more bendy, but I guess you don't really need to do that.  Try it out!  

Also at the grocery store, I found some pasta shells on the super cheap since their box was dented (um...who cares?!  but thanks for the discount, Kroger).  I made a nice little mac n cheeze with them, plus frozen brussels (thank goodness for Kroger card savings, seriously).
yurm yurm yurm

I based my sauce off the nacho sauce recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes...  except for some changes.  I subbed in unsweetened soymilk for the water, took out the jalepenos, realized I didn't have any turmeric so added paprika and mustard powder instead, then decided that it wasn't sweet enough so I added about a teaspoon of agave nectar.  It was kind of haphazard, but turned out pretty great.  We were watching LOST anyway, so it's not like we were paying too much attention to our plates.  

This next one was from before the grocery shopping this week, and is pretty impressive as such, I think.  Sesame baked tofu from Accidental Vegan with peas 'n' corn (woo frozen veggies last forever), and some couscous that Michael had made over the weekend while I was gone.  
unfortunately, that tofu looked better than it tasted

Well, let me correct tasted fine - it was just way, way too salty.  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup soy sauce, and next time I make it, I will absolutely sub in water for half of that.  Or use reduced sodium soy sauce or something.  The flavor was really great though...  lots of tahini and nutritional yeast.  But we ended up scraping off the outside crust and just eating the baked tofu goodness inside, because we simply could not handle all that salt (and I'm usually a much have been unbearable then).  Still, the veggies and the couscous were yummy.  All in all, it was a decent, and very quick, meal.

Last night, Michael got a sweets craving.
and made these

'These' being the white chocolate macadamia cookies from Eat, Drink & be Vegan...  except with cashews and peanut butter instead of macadamias and macadamia butter.  They're really great!  And apparently, fast and easy, because he basically had them in the oven before I even realized he was making them.  Treats and surprises!  What more could you ask for?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

please excuse this post full of pictures of awesome food

I'm so far behind!  Really, this is just going to be mostly pictures from meals that I barely remember eating.  It's been way too long since I've posted, so here's my catchup work:

There's no rhyme or reason to the ordering here...  I'm just going down my list in alphabetical order, then Blogger is going to switch them around backwards for me (hey, thanks, Blogger).  Therefore first up is our dinner from last night!  Michael and I have been doing a bit of a pantry challenge due to some lack in funds for ...well, everything.  Earlier this week I cooked up a pot of kidney beans (my first dried bean experience!  I overcooked them!...oh well).  From the leftovers, I made these kidney bean burgers.
it looks like it's going to eat me instead

These were a concoction of beans, a little wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, spinach, basil, oregano, dill, and tahini.  Baked for about 30 minutes on each side at 350F.  They were downright tasty!  Though I could have added more salt to them, for sure.

Next up we have some Indian food that I made based on a cookbook recipe.  I have this cookbook that's all curries that I hadn't looked at in forever...then a friend wanted to borrow it, but left it at the house and, flipping through, I realized that not only could I veganize a crapload of the recipes, but there were also many that were already vegan.  Doh!  This is one of them...  It's chickpeas with lots of cilantro (I do like it in Indian food, after all), cumin, dried coriander, tomatoes, carrots, soy yogurt (my addition), peas, coconut milk (also my addition)...  
also good for breakfast 2 days later

Those are supposed to be spiced potato  pancakes in the background, but they fell apart in the skillet and became fried mashed potatoes instead.  This was really delicious...and I can't wait to revisit this cookbook!

Oh...haha....  And here is something I veganized from Paula Deen.  Yeah, you read that right.  
waffles with chili

See, except she put butter in every single waffle hole, then put chili on top, then added cheese and sour cream.  We got a waffle maker from Michael's parents a few weeks ago and this was our first (and so far, only) endeavor.  I used the lemon corn waffle recipe from VWAV, except without the lemons.  They tasted nicely like cornbread in waffle form.  Except the recipe made so much batter that we basically just ate waffles all day long in various forms.  

Here we have a pasta salad that we added Boca chicken patties to:
creamy and fabulous

We used my basic awesome pasta salad recipe, and it was rad.  I'll get you that recipe at some point, but not today, my loves.

Oh, here's some of that cashew cheese (the blue algae kind) with crackers.
happy snacky

Seriously, Dr. Cow cheese is the best fake cheese ever ever ever.

Now for some seitan.
steamed to perfection

I generally use the basic seitan recipe from VWAV, then tweak it here and there.  And I steam it instead of simmering it, because I just like steamed seitan better.  And so does Michael.  So there.  Anyway, these we tried to make like steaks and used some steak seasoning on both sides before steaming, so that it kind of got embedded on the outsides.  

Then we did this with them:
proper awesomeness

After grilling them on the Foreman, these were perfect sliced super thin and served with lemony couscous and green beans.  I did make the seitan a tad too salty, but I cured that with the leftovers...  I sliced up another and put it in a pita with some sweet poppyseed salad dressing.  The sweetness balanced out the salt perfectly.  

And now for a sausage overload.
oh tofurkey

As you can see, some of this is from before our pantry challenge.  We went on a sort of Tofurkey sausage binge a couple weeks ago.  For this one, I made a tofu scramble with kale (awesome!) and Michael roasted some potatoes and baby sweet peppers.

And here's more:
sausage sausage sausage

These were a different flavor, but I don't know which.  Roasted all together with fingerling potatoes and more baby sweet peppers.  All of this was stuff Michael brought back with him from when he was out of town.  We can't afford the fingerling potatoes here!  It's weird, one of those sausage flavors reminded me of a food from my childhood...  My family used to go to Christmas dinners at the house of my Polish godparents.  They always had stuffed clam shells.  The sausages tasted identical to whatever was inside those clam shells.  Weird!

Oh, here's some canned minestrone that I took a pretty picture of:

Ate that with the cheese and crackers you saw earlier.  Nice little lunch, really!

Wow, this one's really old.
but really good

That's the Thai Chick-un Pizza from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan.  It was uhhhhmaaaaazing.
like, so amazing.

I highly reccommend that you make this pizza.  Right away.  We had loads of the sauce leftover, so a couple nights later I used it to make some Thai peanut veggies over rice.
also really good.

Even if you don't feel like making the whole pizza (which you must be crazy, if that's the case), at least make the sauce.  It's freaking delicious.

Ah, here's the first dinner I made out of the pot 'o' beans from earlier this week.
taco casserole

This is beans and corn with a packet of fajita seasoning layered with mini corn tortillas that I got on sale forever ago, the nacho sauce from Yellow Rose Recipes, tomatoes, and black olives, all baked for about 30 minutes together.

Then, we did this to it:

Topped off with lettuce, guacomole, and scallions.  This was seriously so delicious.  You can imagine how pissed I was when I dropped a plateful of it on the floor.

Next up's another little snack that Michael brought back from Indiana.
spring rolls

Well, frozen spring rolls that we baked in the oven.  They were really good.  Gingery.  We ate them with different sauce packets that were in the sauce, soy sauce, hot mustard.  By the way, Evansville, Indiana, has a crapload of vegan food available.  Awesome!

And here's something that was just ok:
falafel from like 3 weeks ago

I used the recipe from VWAV, and...  it tasted good.  But when I went to fry it, the balls literally melted in the oil.  Maybe my oil was too hot.  Anyway, we had to fish out the bits and reform it all into balls and then broil it to get them to stay together.  They were still mushy.  Tasty though.

Last but not least was another on the fly dinner made from the last of the treats Michael brought with him.
wild rice tempeh

We roasted the wild rice tempeh (the only kind we can get here is plain old soy) with carrots, leeks, and potatoes (and some more wild rice) in a fake beefy broth.  I made a stuffing with almonds, dried cranberries, and cayenne pepper (the stuffing bread I used was leftover from Thanksgiving!).  It was a tad too moist, but tasted good.  Brussels sprouts rounded it all out.

And I'm done!  If you've made it this far, congratulations.  I promise from now on to be as prompt as possible with my posts so that they don't drag on quite so much!

Monday, April 6, 2009

big surprise, not really.

The internet at home isn't working. Again. When I'm supposed to have time to call them during business hours, I do not know. Plus, we need a new wireless router because ours is kaput.

I really, really want to blog, I really do. I have lots of food to show you. But I can't blog from work (with pictures).

Anyway. That's what's happening in my neck of the woods (thanks to Al Roker for getting that stuck in my head for life).