Archive for the 'Vegetarian' Category

04
Jan
14

Hella Hot Jalapeno Pizza

I don’t consider myself a total wimp when it comes to spicy food.  In fact I prefer food to be a bit on the zippy side.  But I made a pizza for last night’s dinner that burned my fingers!  I’m not talkin’ burnt from heat.  The peppers made my fingers burn!  And they still smarted this morning.  Here’s how it all started:

 blog shots 2014 002-001blog shots 2014 004-001I didn’t have a lot of topping stuff on hand last night, so I decided to load the piazza up with fresh jalapeños and the nacho style jarred variety. There is also fresh pineapple, onions, soyrizo, chopped tomatoes and cheese in there.  so, I load it all up and slide into  the hot oven.

blog shots 2014 012-001And there it is, starting to cook.  You can see all of those peppers in there, looking all innocent.

blog shots 2014 014-001It’s almost ready.

blog shots 2014 021-001It’s go time.  Normally, I can eat three slices of my homemade pizza, no problem.  Seriously, I could only make it through 2 slices, and that second one took me a while.  I was savoring it, right?  Actually, I had to let my mouth cool down in between bites.  Can you believe Katie not only put crushed red pepper on her slices but also a TON of cayenne pepper!?!  Ok, I put crushed red pepper on mine, too, out of habit.  I really didn’t need to do that.

I noticed my hands were burning a bit all evening after dinner.  At least I had the foresight to remove my contacts before concocting this blistering affair, but I still managed to rub my eyes during the course of the evening, causing a bit of pain there.

Leftovers for lunch today.  Where are my food safety gloves?

06
Nov
11

On Board the Crazy Train of Inspiration

Inspiration. I love that word. I love the idea of inspired thoughts and action. As human beings we are inspired by our world around us, every day, every moment. We just have to be aware of it.

For example, a few weeks ago as I was quickly breezing through the produce department on my way to the time clock, I overheard a snatch of a conversation between two co-workers. They were talking about Ozzy Osbourne. Bam! It hit me. I knew what I was going to be for Halloween this year. It was that simple and inspired.

Vampire Gran as Ozzy

Ozzy as Ozzy

A little scary

I’m not the only one lookin’ a little old

This was everyone’s favorite shot

Looking at some over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl this morning, I knew some baking had to occur today. Would it be muffins or waffles? I’ve fallen in love with two recipes lately and have been making them weekly. The muffins won the mental coin toss, so I commenced to prepare the pan, mash bananas, and gather my ingredients. The last time I made these muffins I added some sweetened flaked coconut. Everyone raved. I always put chopped nuts in the muffins, usually walnuts or pecans. Inspiration reared up and the bright light came streaming in. I heard the faint angelic voices in my head sing out in unearthly splendor. What if I add cocoa powder today? Chocolate, coconut and pecans = German chocolate goodness. German Chocolate Banana Muffins!

 

Holy breakfast break though, Batman! These are some fantastic treats. But are they really muffins? Or are they naked cupcakes? Cuppins? Muffcakes? (oh, that sounds kinda naughty). Breakfast cupcakes? Whatever we call them, they are inspired goodness. You be the judge.

German Chocolate Banana Muffins

1 ¾ cups spelt flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt (Kosher or sea salt)

¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 ½ cups ripe mashed bananas (about 3 large or 4 medium bananas)

2/3 cups pure maple syrup

1/3 cup canola, sunflower or extra virgin coconut oil, melted

½ cup chocolate chips (use dairy free if making vegan muffins)

½ cup chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375° Prepare 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or light coating of oil

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cocoa powder in large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl mash bananas, oil, and maple syrup together.

Stir wet into dry ingredients until just mixed. Add chocolate chips, pecans and coconut.

Divide evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Store in airtight container for up to 3 days. These freeze beautifully. Double wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer Zip Lock baggie.

Crazy full of chocolaty coco nutty Germany goodness

14
Aug
11

Where’s the Beak?

The Artful Dodger hipping Oliver to street lingo

“You do know what a beak is, don’t cha?” “It’s a birds mouth, isn’t it?” “For your information, a beak’s a magistrate.” That line from “Oliver”never made sense to me. Where is the connection? Anyone?

The Spanish word for beak is pico. I had a friend in Mexico nick named Pico because he was blessed with a hooter resembling that of Ringo Starr.

Pico de gallo is a popular salsa we like to pour over our tacos and enchiladas. But why is it called “rooster’s beak?” Again, where is the connection?

I consulted the “Food Lover’s Companion”, my first go-to book when I have a culinary connected conundrum. According to that source, “Pico de gallo [PEE-koh day GI-yoh] ….is a relish made of finely chopped ingredients like jicama, oranges, onions, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and cucumbers along with various seasonings. This condiment was so named because it was once purportedly eaten with the thumb and finger, an action that resembles a rooster’s pecking beak.” Ok, I guess that makes some sense.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

Another suggested etymology is that pico is derived from the verb picar, which has two meanings: 1) to mince or chop, and 2) to bite, sting or peck. The rooster, gallo inSpanish, is a common metaphor for the hyper-masculine (“macho“) male in Mexican culture. One example of such machismo is taking pride in withstanding the spicy burn of chilis.

However, neither theory can be considered definite, as they assume the use of hot chilis. In many regions of Mexico the term “pico de gallo” refers to any of a variety of salads, condiments or fillings made with sweet fruitstomatoestomatillosavocado or mild chilis — not necessarily with hot chilis, or any chilis at all. Thus, the name could be a simple allusion to the bird feed-like minced texture and appearance of the sauce.[2]

The pico de gallo I am used to seeing and eating in California and the Pacific Northwest is more of a salsa or salsa fresca. Tomatoes, onion and garlic are the staple. And it’s chunky yet a bit on the soupy side, so I can’t imagine trying to peck that up with your dedos (that’s Spanish for fingers).

My simple, spicy version of Pico de Gallo

Enough scratching and pecking for the significance of the name of this spicy concoction. Here is my simple version of Pico de Gallo:

3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 large jalapeño, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro (optional)

Rough to finely chop the ripe tomatoes

These summer beauties were the perfect ripeness!

chop the onions

make sure they are pretty fine

ditto the jalapenos - keep the seeds if you want the heat or remove for a less heated condiment

Remove the skins from the garlic cloves

The easiest way to remove the skins from garlic is to chop off the hard, woody end and using the flat of your chefs knife, give it a good firm bash with your fist.  Did that make sense?  Place the knife on it’s side over the garlic clove.  Make a fist like you are playing one-potato-two-potato and smash it down on the knife.  One smash is all you need do.

Finely chop all of that beautiful garlic

Place it all in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste,  You can also add chopped cilantro if you like.  I didn’t have any on hand the day I made this, otherwise it would have made it in there too.

Spoon over your favorite Mexican dishes or anything that you like. It's great on it's own with some tortilla chips.

Whether you call it pico de gallo, salsa fresca, tomato relish or Mexican ketchup, it doesn’t get any easier to make.  Team it up with some guacamole and get the party started.  Hmmm….where’s that avocado?

28
Jul
11

Buckwheat is O-Tay!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “buckwheat”? Kid with a funny name on the Little Rascals? Pancakes? Something that pillow you heat in the microwave is stuffed with, perhaps? If you are in the know, maybe soba noodles? I just found out that soba noodles were made from buckwheat. I did preface that sentence with “if you are in the know”, which, obviously I am not. I’d be willing to bet that blueberry muffins and granola might not make it into the top answers on “Family Feud” when they surveyed 100 people about buckwheat usage.

Be that as it may, I’m here to tell you that buckwheat makes both great granola and muffins! And that both are vegan AND gluten free. And they taste great. Who knew? Another tid bit of information that I’d like to pass along is that buckwheat is another one of those power foods that helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The fact that buckwheat is so good for us is reason alone for adding it to our diet, and the fact that it makes killer treats is a plus.

Moist, buckwheaty blueberry muffins


Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins

adapted from “Get it Ripe” by Jae Steele

1 3/4 cups whole buckwheat groats (raw, not toasted)

2 cups filtered water (room temp or just-boiled)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 organic non-dairy milk

1/3 cup flax seeds (golden preferred) I used ground flax seeds and they worked great!

1/4 cup softened non-hydrogenated coconut oil or sunflower oil (plus extra for coating the pan)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 organic lemon (if unavailable, skip it)

1 tsp anise seeds, ground (optional) I used cinnamon instead because a: I didn’t have any anise and b: I don’t really care for the flavor of anise

1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Rinse the buckwheat, then combine it in a bowl with the room temperature water and soak overnight (or combine with the just-boiled water and soak for an hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degfrees F.

Prepare muffin pan with paper liners or a light coating of oil (you’ll need tp prepare 16 cups instead of the standard 12)

Poar the soaked buckwheat (along with any unabsorbed water) into the bowl of a food processer or blender; add syrup, milk, flax seeds, oil, lemon juice, zest, anise (or cinnamon)

and salt, and give it a whirl for about a minute, until the buckwheat kernels are broken down. Add the baking powder and baking soda, and whirl again for another 10 seconds to combine. Srape with a silicone spatula and give it another pulse or two.

Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl and, using a silicone spatula, fold in the blueberries.

Portion batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top (I like to sprinkle the muffin tops with turbinado sugar to give them a sweet, crunchy crust) and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack and remove from pan while still a bit warm.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

ready for it's close up

and here's a peek inside

These muffins are seriously good.  I shared one with my friend, Emily, and she made them for breakfast the very next day!

buckwheat groats

Buckwheat groats are hulled, crushed grain.  Some of you may know them by a different name, kasha.  What ever you call them, they are super easy to work with.  You can roast them or cook them like rice.

Here is another easy recipe that makes a low fat granola everyone loves.  Seriously, everyone who has tried this stuff at our house has asked for the recipe. And here it is:

BUCKWHEAT GRANOLA

3 cups raw buckwheat groats

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or other dry sugar)

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

a dash or two of ground nutmeg or a few grates of fresh nutmeg – even better!

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)

3/4 – 1 cup dried fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Lightly oil or use silicone liner (my preferred method) on baking sheet

Place buckwheat in strainer and rinse throughly

Place buckwheat in large mixing bowl and add sugar, spices and nuts.

all that goodness in a bowl (the buckwheat groats are underneath)

Spread evenly on baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Bake an additional 20 minutes, or until lightly brown

'till it looks like this

After removing from oven, pour the contents of the baking sheet back into the bowl and add nut butter and mix thoroughly while still hot.

stirring in the peanut butter

Add dried fruit and let cool in bowl to crisp up.

I added dried apricots and dates to this batch

all mixed in

Store in air tight container.

looks good enough to eat

This granola is great as a snack, as a topping on ice cream or mixed into yogurt.  I hope you try these recipes, especially if you have someone in your life who is gluten intolerant.  They will love you for it.

11
Jan
11

The world needs another Kale Salad recipe

The top selling salad at work is the Kale Carrot.  I made a batch of it yesterday.  It will all be sold out by the end of today.  How much kale is in a batch at a busy deli?  20 large bunches.  8 cups of toasted sunflower seeds and about 25 carrots. 

A few posts back I gave you the recipe for the kale salad we sell at work.  Kale is our new green at home.  I used to make dinner salad with romaine, but it has been replaced with kale.  I love it!  Plus, it has to be better for us than romaine or leafy green lettuce, right?

Lots of good nutrition in that bowl

According to Food Lover’s Companion, kale is a member of the cabbage family.  It is a cruciferous plant (having four-petaled flowers, suggestive of a cross) that provides ample amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron.  I knew it was better for us than romaine!

So, last night our salad consisted of kale, shredded carrot, red onion, thinly sliced, a handful of chopped walnuts and satsuma wedges.  The satsumas are in season now and are oh, so sweet and juicy.  Be sure to remove the stems from the kale and wash the leaves.  Slice the leaves into thin strips.

Pretty little citrusy dressing

The dressing is what really made this salad outstanding.   Here goes:

1 large spoonful (2 tablespoons) of vegenaise

1 heaping tablespoon of frozen orange juice conentrate

1 tablespoon of orange muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

zest of one orange

Whisk it all together in a small bowl and dress salad.  Salad is best if the dressing has a chance to soak into the kale for about 30 minutes or more before serving.  I usually make the salad first and then prepare the rest of our meal.

A microplane is a great tool for zesting

If you don’t have a microplane, you can use a cheese grater.  A microplane is just so much easier to use and you get a finer zest.

A lovely salad for any time of the year

I hope you give this one a try.  We really liked it.  What did I serve this with?  Butternut Squash Ravioli in a garlic veloute sauce topped with Parmesan cheese and sweet and spicy roasted Brussel sprouts.  But it would be good just on it’s own with perhaps a hunk of garlic bread.

23
Nov
10

Everyday is Thanksgiving at our House

We don’t need a once a year holiday to feel grateful or to eat a big dinner.  Katie and I exchange gratitude lists every day and have since the beginning of our relationship of over 3 years.  I often talk about what I’m grateful for at work and my co-workers share in this as well.  It just feels good to talk about the good stuff in life rather than dwell on the crappy side of things.

As far as food goes, I make dinner every night and it pretty much always looks like this.

Dinner is served!

I don’t always have a centerpiece decoration on the table,  but I like it.  There is, however, always a tablecloth and place mats.  I’m just funny that way (Ok, I’m funny in a lot of ways!).  Dinner at our place always has a green salad of some sort, a grain, some sort of vegetarian protein and at least two vegetables.  We’ve cut way back on bread, pasta and cheese, so we tend to eat semi vegan meals.

Tonight I made a quinoa pilaf with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, from our garden, paired with Fuji apple and Field Roast Applewood Smoked Sausage (it’s vegan, of course), steamed broccoli and kale and mesclan salad (also from the garden).

 It was delicious!

A full plate of food, we get full, yet never feel stuffed eating like this

Yummy quinoa pilaf. don't worry, I'll give you the recipe.

QUINOA PILAF

serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup mushroom broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
olive oil, salt and pepper

In a small pan, bring broth to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, cover and lower heat to simmer.   Steam for 19 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat a small amount of oil and saute onion until a bit browned.  Add nuts and cranberries.   Stir and heat through until nuts impart a wonderful fragrance.  Stir into cooked quinoa and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Butternut squash, Fuji apple and Applewood smoked Vegan sausage tossed in olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper, place in baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 35 -40 minutes at 350 degrees.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Katie and I will probably do our usual routine:  stay in our jammies, make homemade pizza, watch movies, play pool and eat pumpkin pie!

16
Jul
10

Electrolux #splits: Split from Tradition

Perfectly decadent summer treat

Many of you regular readers may have noticed the nifty badges to the right.  That’s right, Vampire Gran is  now a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher. Yay!  That said, I am joining with other Foodbuzz publishers in helping to raise money for OCRF, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.  Foodbuzz has teamed with Electrolux and actress Kelly Ripa to raise money for OCRF.  For more information about this important cause, please go to Kelly Confidential

Foodbuzz has a little something they like to call Top 9 Takeover.  They ask all of us Featured Publishers to construct a post around a theme, then for one day only, all Top 9 posts reflect that theme.  Sounds pretty straight forward. 

How am I contributing to OCRF, you may wonder?  Well, here’s something pretty cool.  For every Banana Split posted by a Featured Publisher created by July 16th, Foodbuzz will contribute $50.00 to OCRF.  So, by tempting you all with my wicked goodness, I am helping ovarian cancer research.  My ovaries would probably thank me, if I had any! 

I opted for using zero fat sorbet instead of traditional ice cream

Katie and I have been eating so healthy these days that the thought of a traditional Banana Split kinda gave me nightmares.  Since I am a total newbie to Foodbuzz and I really, really wanted to participate in this challenge, I decided to make my entry a more healthy version of the soda fountain staple.   My banana split is a  Tropical Treat.  Tropical, Raspberry and Mango sorbets with layers of banana and a fresh pineapple, mango, peach salsa.  I topped it off with a not-so-healthy swirl of coconut whipped cream, toasted almonds and a beautiful Bing cherry! 

The only thing with fat in it, Coconut Whipped Cream. Oh, yeah!

 Here’s how I made the fruit salsa: 

Start with a sweet, fresh pineapple

I actually had the produce guy at Safeway cut a couple pineapples to try before I purchased one.  A lot of people don’t know that you can do this, ya know.  Trust me, I work in a grocery store.  They would rather have you try before you buy so they have a happy customer. 

Chop the pineapple up as fine or as chunky as you like

The produce man picked out a great mango for me. 

Perfectly sweet and juicy mango. Yum!

Remove the pit and peel and start chopping. 

Chop the same as the pineapple

I also bought a decent peach.  I really love summer fruit. 

summertime = peaches

Combine the fruit and chill

I added a little honey to make it a wee bit more saucy and a pinch sweeter.  

Slice a banana and whip some cream

After you whip and sweeten your heavy cream, fold in a couple handfulls of sweetened, shredded coconut.  I used a large pastry tip to pipe my cream on top of  my banana split, but you could also use a spoon. 

You will not miss the ice cream or sugary sauces, trust me

I put a few slices of banana in first because I want that last bite to contain banana.  Next I added a scoop of tropical sorbet.  Top with fruit salsa and a few more banana slices.  Scoop of raspberry sorbet, more salsa and banana.  Mango sorbet, salsa and banana.  Top with coconut whipped cream, toasted almond slices and a cherry on top.  Viola!  A banana split that won’t split your pants. 

I can't help it, I just want you to keep looking at it




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