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a cake of a different feather…

17 Dec

Look at this beautiful cake. So pretty. So elegant. What a perfect dinner.

Now, before you think I’m on a path straight to Type 2 diabetes, let me assure you that we have not digressed to eating cake for dinner (as tempting as it may often be). Several weeks ago, I was intrigued and humored by Mo’s “Meat” Cake. I’d wanted to run what that idea for Thanksgiving dinner, but with moving and what not, it wasn’t going to happen.

Until last weekend.

They say there is a first time for everything and I think that using my offset spatula and frosting tips on garlic mashed potatoes definitely fall into that category. I used my lentil and grain meatloaf recipe and made a double batch, which I baked in two 8 inch cake rounds. The center is filled with sweet potatoes, topped and frosted with garlic mashed potatoes and some cranberries and served with mushroom gravy. Strange but delicious, just the way I like it. 🙂

black friday fuel

25 Nov

Or lay-on-the-couch-and-watch-TV-all-day fuel. Or Tofurky-coma-hangover-need-energy-to-tolerate-family-I-only-see-this-time-of-year fuel. Whatevs. It works in any scenario.

While you worry about the food for today, let me worry about the food for tomorrow. Use some of the leftover elements of Thanksgiving that will be lurking in your fridge, destined to mold (ah, we all have such good intentions, don’t we?), and turn them into a hearty, delicious post-Thanksgiving breakfast. Creamy yet chewy steel cut oats join forces with that last little scrap of pumpkin puree, some spices and maple syrup to make an ultimate breakfast. And with leftover cranberries on top? Ooh yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

T-Day Oats

Serves 2

2 cups water
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/4- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (depending on taste)
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/8 teas. pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teas cinnamon
cranberry sauce (optional)

In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the oats and lower the temperature to a simmer. Let cook until oats absorb most of the water, about 15 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, maple syrup and spices and mix well. Let cook until oatmeal is bubbly and cooked to desired consistency.

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and some cranberry sauce, if using.

winner, winner, chickpea dinner!

23 Nov

When there are lots of things going on in your life at the same time, the first thing to usually go is a good meal plan. Quick fixes and faux meat tend to fill the gaps and I always can always feel it. It makes me sluggish and just feel icky, frankly.

We’re mid-move and I’m trying hard to not let that happen this time and it’s going much better than expected, thanks to my lovely rice/pressure cooker and some help from a bottle- Original Yumm! Sauce from Cafe Yumm! Yumm Sauce is an indescribable, tangy, cheezy sauce that makes everything delicious. Jess even made her own version of it (with links to other adaptations!), so you can try it, too!

yay! crappy cell phone pic!

Quinoa in the cooker, chickpeas from a can, some chopped up zucchini and carrots sticks on top and a drizzle of sauce on top- perfect, delicious and nutritious. Spot on when you need good food, fast and ready in about 15 minutes, with leftovers.

What satisfying eats do you enjoy when you’re short on time?

less space, more stuff!

22 Nov

I like to think that I have a very well-equipped kitchen. From utensils and gadgets to pans and hardware, I have a lot of really solid tools for my trade. Some might say I have too many kitchen toys… The things is, as you all know, finding places to put all this stuff. Storage! That is the one thing you can never have too much of.*

Thankfully, technology is my friend and helps me find more ways to save time and space in the kitchen!

Okay, but seriously. I used to own this:

a 4-quart crock pot, without that nasty stock photo meat in it

and this:

an 8-cup rice cooker

and this:

a 6-quart stove top pressure cooker

Whew! Large and in charge, all three of these items took up a ton of space. A few months ago, Jim and I were looking at getting a newer, nicer rice cooker and stumbled across this beast:

Fagor 3-in-1 6 quart multi-cooker

I immediate busted out my phone and did what I always do when I’m considering an unknown purchase- look at reviews on Amazon. It was looking pretty promising and the price was totally right, so we decided to take the plunge and get it. It has since taken the place of all three of the above, which I was liberating by releasing into the wild (of other people’s kitchens).

After several months of using it, here is my assessment:

Pros:
-Replaces 3 large kitchen appliances.
-Pressure cooking done on the counter top now, rather than taking up the stove!
-Rice/quinoa is cooked under pressure and cooks in just 6 minutes once the unit reaches pressure (so total time is about 10 minutes). I only need to run it for 2 cycles for wild rice! Nice.
-Rice texture is fluffy and great plus no more browning on the bottom of the pot when left on “warm”.
-Much quieter when pressure cooking than the stove top model.
-Beans are tender.
-Slow cooks perfectly.

Cons:

-Because there is only one way to release the pressure (valve), can’t employ the “quick release” method we were used to on the stove top. It’s not really a con, but has taken some getting used to in our bean preparation times based on our old habits. We haven’t ruined a batch yet, though, and we’re getting a better feel for it each time.
-The only option for slow cooking is the low setting, no high setting. This works fine for us because I never use the high setting, but could be a drawback for someone else.

So, you can see the pros outweigh the cons significantly. I’ve been incredibly happy with this purchase and keep recommending it to people, so I figured I should blog about it! The cost of a really good rice cooker alone is usually close to double the cost of the this unit. And, for the record, I am writing this review on my own accord. Cool companies never offer me swag. Alas, I buy my own gadgets. 🙂

What kitchen appliance or tool do you most love?

*This is a totally unrelated side note but whatever, I love tangents. I know there are a lot of grammarians and English majors who read this blog. As I was proofreading this entry, I noticed the above sentence, which I ended with a preposition. “Eeek!” I could collectively hear you saying. “You should never end a sentence with a preposition!” Little known fact, I used to be a Linguistics major in college, so here’s a story about the history of English and that silly rule.

Centuries ago, when more and more books and pamphlets were being put to print, grammarians were concerned about the degradation of the English language (when aren’t they concerned?). They decided it was time to put more rules and parameters around English. Latin was revered as the true, “educated” language to which we should aspire to emulate. It was natural to them that they decided in order to speak proper English, they would apply rules of Latin to it. In Latin, there is a rule which says you cannot end a sentence with a preposition because you literally cannot. Your sentence would not make sense because within the structure of Latin because it would not be reflecting back onto a noun, it would just hang there and be nonsense.

Now, being that we aren’t speaking Latin and that you can understand most English sentences with the preposition falling at the end of the sentence, it’s not actually necessary. Sure, sometimes a restructure of a sentence makes it sound better, but sometimes it sounds worse. As I always say, do what feels right to your ear. And if you’re interested in reading more about this misguided rule, click here or here.

tomay-to, tomah-to…

16 Nov

Okay, I’m kind of sucking at MoFo. I think November is not as good a month for it, it’s too busy. Plus, I have some news to share soon (no, I’m not pregnant) that has been tying up my time, but that will come.

I love me some tomato soup. It’s my go-to food when I’m feeling sick and there are lots of recipes for tomato soup out there, but a lot of them end up tasting like spaghetti sauce or salsa. Blech.

Elephant’s Deli, in Portland, is a beloved deli and catering place that is famous for their unique tomato soup. They are not famous for their vegan options. Needless to say, the soup is not vegan, but it’s so loved that they are nice enough to share the recipe on their site. Based on its cult status, I couldn’t resist whipping up a veganized batch of it… and it is seriously good. And the mystery ingredient that makes it so intriguing really does give it that je ne sais quoi.

I’m not going to repost their recipe since I already linked to it and didn’t get permissions to do so. All I substituted was plain soy milk for the cream and vegan margarine for the butter, obviously. The soy milk worked well, but I bet soy creamer would be even better. You’d expect it to curdle, especially with orange juice (fresh is a must, it’s so good!), but somehow it works.

What’s your most nostalgic comfort food during the dreary winter months?

garlic rehab

4 Nov

I have a dirty little secret. One of those things that foodie people mock loudly and then all their groupies join in, laughing, while some of us awkwardly chuckle as our eyes dart around, nervously, to see if we’ve been found.

For years, I primarily used jarred garlic. And you know what? I still have a jar in my fridge.

Sure, fresh garlic is cheap and tastes better. But getting those pesky skins off each clove was making me nuts! Then my fingers would stink for days, no matter how many times I ran cold water over my fingers while rubbing them over the back of a spoon or using lemon juice. Real garlic only got pulled out for company and jarred was good enough for us.

And then, last year, this little friend arrived in my stocking:

Sure, I’d seen these at the store before, but always thought, “Seriously? What a gimmick!” I mean, come on, a rubber tube? What good would that going to do? I thought it was sweet that Jim tried to get me a new gadget, even thought it wasn’t going to work. Right?

Oh boy, little rubber tube + fresh garlic = WIN! All it takes is a couple of seconds of rocking and rolling on the counter and the skins just shed off. Perfecto!

But now, to mince. Again, I don’t want stinky hands. Enter:

The GarlicZoom. It looks stupid, but works really, really well. Between the tube and the Zoom, I have freshly minced garlic in under 1 minute, no joke.

Now, you may have noticed that I said that I still have a jar of garlic. Sometimes I’m out of fresh or I’m really just that lazy. But I have to give it to these little, vampire-repellent tools of the trade. They rock.

*I just want to note that I was not paid or asked by either company to promote these products. I just has a luv.

cold weather = hearty food

21 Oct

HP friends, sorry to say there is nothing Harry Potter related in this post. Many more to come, though!

My life, as of late, has consisted of work and baking. LOTS of baking. Not to complain, but woman cannot live on cake alone. (You think I lie. For realz, though, if anyone could it would be me and I can’t.) Thankfully, Jim has started doing some cooking, which is great, but we mostly eat random stuff like really sad bowls of black beans and rice with salsa on top or pasta with red sauce. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you’ve got to mix it up.

Last weekend, inspired by Bianca’s recent post, I bought a spaghetti squash. Now, here’s what you have to understand. This is an annual thing, the purchase of the spaghetti squash. It goes a little like this:

Day 1: Purchase squash. “Yay, I’m so excited to make something with this!”
Day 4: Move squash from counter to sub-counter. “This dumb thing is in the way all the time!”
Day 7: Make excuses to husband about squash. “Yes, I’m going to do something with it! Geez…”
Day 14: Remember squash. “Oh, you. You’re still here, huh?”
Day 21: Become even more indignant to husband. “I am planning to make you a special meal with it. Give me some time!”
Day 28: Smell squash. “Hmm… maybe I should have put you in the pantry or fridge…”

You get the idea.

I don’t know what my problem is, there are just some things that I have no point of reference for and so I literally get freaked out when I think about cooking them. Squash is definitely one of them, as I never had any squash (save pumpkin pie, which doesn’t count) until moving to the Pacific Northwest 4 years ago, so I’m still getting my bearings.

So, after reading Bianca’s post I thought, “This is the year, dangit!” I bought the squash, came home, set it on the counter… and knew my cycle had begun again.

I knew I could break the cycle! So I decided to cook it right then and there. But what to have with it?

Something hearty and filling was in order, so I decided to make a veggie meatloaf, especially after reading somewhere online about how well they hold up in the Baker’s Edge pan. I look for any excuse to use that silly pan. Then, I decided to throw my spaghetti squash’s friend, butternut, into the mix.

Veggie meatloaf with roasted butternut squash sauce, steamed kale and, behold, herbed spaghetti squash!!! I pulled this veggie meatloaf recipe out of thin air and was so happy with it. We eagerly ate through it so quickly that I plan on making it again soon, I wanted to share it.

Veggie Meatloaf

1 medium sized onion, shredded or chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 teas. dried basil
1 teas. dried oregano
2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp. red win vinegar
1 1/2 cup cooked lentils (I used French, any variety would do)
1 1/2 cup cooked grain (I used buckwheat, brown rice would be good, too)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a loaf pan or Baker’s Edge pan.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the onions, carrots, sunflower seeds and olive oil. Process for 30 sec-1 minute, until it resembles a chunky paste. Add the herbs, soy sauce and vinegar and combine. Add lentils and grain to the processor and process until ingredients just come together, scraping down the bowl as needed. If there are still some discernible lentils, that’s fine, but overall it should be thick and paste-like. Hmm… paste-like doesn’t sound very appetizing.

Moving on, spread the loaf into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (closer to 40 for the loaf pan), depending on type of pan. The top of the loaf should brown and get a little crusty on the edges There should still be a little mush-factor if you gently push down on the top of the loaf, as it will continue to firm up as it cools.

Makes 6-7 servings, depending on how much you feel like sharing.

I know I can’t be alone- what foods are purchased with good intentions and then lurk in your fridge only to die a slow, lonely death?