Saturday, November 26, 2011

Polenta with a Southwest Kick

Well, the cilantro looks good.

The latest culinary experiment? Polenta with a southwest kick.

Ah, polenta. I've eaten you. You're good,... but what the *&^% are you?

If you, like me, want/need to know more about polenta, check out this website. There is a lot of info! My favorite line on this site, for multiple reasons is, "You must guard against lumps but it is actually difficult to ruin polenta." This is awesome! It just means that it's hard to screw up...but if you do, you should be very, very ashamed.

Anyway, the recipe below is one adapted from "Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" by Robin Robertson (awesome cookbook, by the way).
You can buy it right here! (...and for cheap...soooo worth it!)

To make this polenta-y dish, sautee a yellow onion (mince it first, obviously, or your "meal" will be whack).  Once done, put the onion, 1.5 cups of cornmeal, a few dashes of salt, .5 teaspoon of chili powder into a slow cooker (at least a 4 quart). After mixing ingredients together, mix in 4 cups of boiling water and thoroughly mix again. Set the slow cooker to low and cook the mixture together for about 6-7 hours.

At the end of those six-ish hours, add in 2.5 cups of pico de gallo, 1 can of pinto beans, a bag of frozen corn, a small can of green chilis, about 10 minced black olives (or less if you're not an olive freak like myself) and a tablespoon of chili powder. Add salt and pepper to your liking, and then cook on low for an additional half hour. 

When serving, add some cilantro, avocado or cheese. Very good!

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Whacko Cake with Demented Frosting": Or somethin' like that

It doesn't look bananas, but...they're there. Lurking.

 Okay, so there are no synonyms for banana, as in the fruit, so I got the title of this post by using synonyms for bananas, as in CRA-ZY! Besides, it was kinda flashy and alarmist, so I liked it. It was better than  the ol' "Banana Cake with Banana Frosting" blah.

Here's the recipe:

In a blender, or someother fast-moving mechanism, blend together 1/4 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of ground flax, 2 bananas, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of Earth Balance butter OR 1/4 cup of coconut oil. 

In another bowl, mix together 1/2 tsp baking soda, few dashes of salt, and 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

Mix together the banana, liquidy mix (above) and
the flour mixture. Put in a greased pan (8x8) and cook at 350 degrees for about a half hour (check with a fork. Poke the cake with a fork; if the fork comes out clean, it's done.)

Next step: THE FROSTING!!  Mix together a little less than 1/2 cup of Earth Balance butter (or real butter if you're not vegan), 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, a dash of salt, and 2 table spoons of soy milk (or the like). Blend together for 2-3 minutes and then let sit 2-3 hours before putting on the cake.

It's really good. Hope you like it!

(Adapted from: La Dolce Vegan: Vegan Living Made Easy by Sarah Kramer, pp. 214, 261, 299).

Friday, November 18, 2011

You lucious licuado, you!: Evolution of a banana smoothie

I lived in Mexico for a few years,  and my during first six months there I lived with a host family.

For the most part, our eating habits were mutually accepted and liked. I found it odd, though, that I was given a ham sandwich for breakfast each morning, and what concerned my host parents was that the bright orange Kraft Mac N Cheese I liked to make seemed "radioactivo".  They wouldn't even try it. Their facial expressions when looking into the pot turned from a jovial, inquistive "what's that?" into an emphatic, "Hell, no!"

 I don't blame them. Mac and cheese, of that particular brand, especially, does kinda suck, and I think people come to this realization somewhere around the age of 23.

One thing I loved that my host family regularly made for me (to go along with my ham sandwich) was a licuado, or smoothie.

The basic directions are as follows:  Put a banana, a glass of milk, a teeny, tiny bit of vanilla into a blender. Mix. Enjoy. If it's not sweet enough, add a bit of sugar and mix again.

Over the years, I have altered the recipe bit by bit (though the original is good, too).

My directions: Put a glass of Vanilla Silk Soy milk, a banana, a scoop of almond butter (or peanut butter), and a tablespoon of ground flax into a blender. Mix. Enjoy!

It's a great breakfast or snack! !!DisfrĂștalo!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sauteed Spinach and Garlic: Unbelievably scrumptious & simple!

If you've ever wondered what to do with a bunch of fresh spinach, look no further.

Tonight I made sauteed spinach and garlic, and IT WAS UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS and only took about 10 minutes. I had made it previously, but the following simple recipe (see link) was so good that my toddler was scarfing it down at lightning speed. In fact, she ate so much I had to cut her off!

All you need is a tub of spinach, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Try it and lemme know what you think! You won't be disappointed! :) Here's the recipe: Garlic Sauteed Spinach.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vegan Fried Cheerios: Oh, yes, I did!

Behold the fried cheerios in their glistening glory!
First of all, I've gotta give credit to dear ol' Dad for this one. He made fried cheerios for my sister and me a time or two when we were little. (Of course, he also called Cheerios 'donut seeds', so that gives you an idea of who we're dealing with here.)

If you cringe at the word 'fried' and want to sophisticate-'em-up, you could call them 'sauteed Cheerios'. That works, too.

So why try 'em? Well, if you're looking for a healthy vehicle for butter and salt and are too lazy to make popcorn, then, hey!, these are for you. They have iron, zinc, B12, folic acid, and a whole bunch of other good-for-you vitamins!

I use Earth Balance (vegan) butter, but you can obviously use whatever kind of butter you like. Just plop some butter in a frying pan, warm it up on medium/medium-high heat, and then pour in a bunch of Cheerios and stir a few times until they're deliciously brown. (I use Trader Joe's O's which are whole grain. Maybe Cheerios are, too, not sure.) Add salt, and there you go! You're welcome. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Easy Vegetable Soup, Slow Cooker Style

Ingredients in crockpot waiting to be cooked
I've just realized that making veggie soup in the crockpot is easy! Yes!

All you have to do is either sautee some onions and garlic and carrots (or cook them on 'high' in the crockpot with some oil oil for a few minutes). Then put them in the crockpot. Add some other veggies (potatoes, green beans, peas, corn,...anything, really). Add veggie broth (enough to barely cover the veggies in the pot) and VOILA! Cook on low for about 8 hours and then add in some salt and pepper and perhaps some spinach and canned or pre-cooked beans (kidney, navy, whatever....) for the last few minutes.

Easy! Plus the house will smell good! ( know, not to say that it doesn't already.)

If you don't have a crockpot or you need to make veggie soup a bit more quickly (in, say, a veggie soup emergency), this recipe from Nutrition MD looks good: Potato Vegetable Soup.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Slightly Altered Trader Joe's Cornbread Mix

Trader Joe's Cornbread Mix is da bomb! (Wait, I don't talk like that. I mean, it's totally awesome!)

If you want to make it EVEN BETTER and irresistible (like SAWYER from Lost), here are some substitutions I highly recommend.

Instead of milk, use either vanilla almond milk or vanilla soy milk. It'll make it a little sweeter and somewhat dessert-y). Also, instead of adding an egg, add 1/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of flax. That'll get you your omega-3s and additional fiber. Now that's my kinda substitution!

If you're an unlucky soul who doesn't know what Trader Joe's is and who doesn't have one nearby, you can use these same substitutions in other cornbread recipes. Heck, you can use them in any cake or cookie recipes, too. Yes!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baked Tofu Bites: You Know You Want Some!

I just made baked tofu bites. Yummm... they're great little snacks, especially for toddlers who like/need bite-sized, healthy, protein-filled snacks. And talk about easy to make!!

Use a block of firm tofu. Drain the water by pressing the tofu between to plates for 10-20 minutes (or you can use a tofu press, which I don't have).  After the water has been drained, wipe/squeeze the excess water off of the tofu with some paper towels. Cut the tofu into little squares and either throw in a marinade sauce (with soy sauce and/or olive oil. You can add other things into the marinade, too, if you'd like: garlic, onion, herbs, salt, pepper). Remember that tofu absorbs whatever flavor it is cooked with, so have fun experimenting, or just stick with the basics. Whatever!

Make sure to grease a pan. Drop in the cubes and then cook for about 30 minutes. Be sure to stir it around a time or two.  Here's a link to a good recipe: Easy Baked Tofu .

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lentil Soup: Ugly Name, Delicious Soup!

Assorted Lentils: Who Knew They Were So Flashy?!
So, today my big cooking adventure is to make "Lentil Soup with Ribbons of Kale", but since I don't have kale, I'm making "Lentil Soup with Wads of Spinach."

The recipe calls for brown lentils, but I bought a bag of assorted (and very colorful) lentils from Whole Foods a few weeks ago, so I'm throwing caution to the wind and using those. Hopefully it'll be good. If not, screw it! There's always pizza!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pieless Apple Pie: Whaaa...t?

Apples all dolled up and ready to cook.
 Okay, so today I made "Pieless Apples a la Mode" in the crockpot, which I should actually call the crackpot because I am so addicted to it!

The aforementioned pieless apple thingy was solidly good. Picture thinly sliced apples coated in cinnamon and brown sugar and then stewing in more brown sugar and oats for 4 hours and then topped with coconut, vanilla bean (dairy-free) ice cream.

Recipe from "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" by Robertson