Monday, June 25, 2012

salads and baking

It's been a busy first couple weeks of summer vacation.  I have watched my niece for most of those two weeks which has been fun.  But having to adjust to preparing 5 lunches instead of two meant that my lunch salads had to go by the wayside.  They usually aren't that time consuming to prepare, but when you have 4 hungry kiddos who are ready for seconds before I have had the chance to begin preparing my lunch, re-heated leftovers from the night before turns out to be much faster than spinning some greens, chopping veggies, and adding whatever else looks good from the night before.  Today I had the extra time (plus some pre-spun greens from last nights dinner...did you happen to see my Vegan Chopped entry?).  While I was slicing the grapes and getting the salad assembled (and getting seconds for my boys' lunches) I toasted a few almonds.  I also had a little bit of an oil-free dressing that I've been loving, that I used.  And voila!  Lunch is ready!


When cooking or baking I tend to go all out.  When it's baking day, I'm known for baking 3 different things right after another.  Maybe a batch of muffins, some cookies, and then some granola.  It's easier for me.  I have all of the ingredients out on my counter, my measuring cups and spoons are there, I just wash out my mixing bowl and spoon in between.  Why mess up the kitchen three times when I can really mess it up just once? 



Today I only had 2 things on my list to bake:  granola and brownies.  

 The cashews were soaking, the wet and dry ingredients for the granola were ready to be combined.  While the granola was baking, I assembled the brownies.  The oven temps were different, but I just bumped it up a bit and it was ready when the brownies were ready to go in.  Easy peasy.

The best part is being able to take the day off tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chopped - Vegan!

Isa Moskowitz cookbook author (Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegonomicon, Appetite for Reduction, Vegan Pie in the Sky, etc,) and of Post Punk Kitchen fame announced on Facebook last week a vegan version of the popular Food Network show, Chopped.  You know the show...four contestants compete preparing first an appetizer, then an entree, and finally a dessert.  Secret ingredients are revealed before each round and one person is eliminated after each round, leaving a victor at the end of the dessert round.  It's a fun show to watch, however the gross meat that they have is really gross.  Sadly, I'd had enough of the gross meat and had to stop watching.

But Chopped vegan-style?  Right up my alley!  It's odd that it is right up my alley actually.  I follow recipes to a T.  I'm not creative in my life at all and that goes for my cooking in the kitchen too.  But I love the idea behind the show.  The food is judged by how well you incorporate the ingredients, presentation, and taste.

So the challenge for us was to create an entree using the following secret ingredients:

The secret ingredients are blackberries, black eyed peas, fresh mint, and bittersweet chocolate.  I had a bit of trouble locating bittersweet chocolate without milk fat.  I finally found this Ghiradelli that didn't have any milk fat in it.

Before sharing my recipe I must begin my saying that I used Dreena Burton's Moroccan-Infused Vegetable Phyllo Rolls as a source of inspiration.  Her Balsamic Maple sauce was an inspiration as well for my sauce that I made.  Many contestants on Chopped use recipes familiar to them while on the show and I felt inspired by Dreena's recipe and thought the ingredients would go well together in this way.

Now, without further hesitation....let me introduce to you my very first recipe I have ever created...

Drum roll please...

Black Eyed Pea Phyllo Rolls with a Blackberry Balsamic Sauce with Chocolate and Mint.  I served it with a garden salad.

Here is the recipe:

For the rolls:
1 can of black eyed peas
1 medium-sized zucchini, chopped
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 peppers, seeded and chopped (I used one red, one yellow)
4 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 sheets of phyllo dough
3 TBS olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp sage
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1/2 cup frozen blackberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 TBS maple syrup
4 fresh mint leaves
1 square Ghiradelli chocolate
1/4 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large sauce pan over medium high heat combine 1 TBS olive oil, onion, and potato.  Cook until onion is caramelized and  potato begins to brown, about 8 minutes.  Add zucchini, thyme, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, sage, salt and pepper (to taste) and cook until soft, about another 5 minutes.  Add peppers and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or until soft.




Prepare the phyllo by unwrapping from the packaging and placing a damp towel over the top of the phyllo to prevent it from drying out.  Carefully take one sheet of dough (remember to replace the wet towel on top of the other sheets so they don't dry out) and spread a small amount of the oil (use a pastry brush) over the entire surface of the sheet.  Place another sheet directly on top of the first sheet and spread this with oil too.  Place a third sheet on top of the second but do not spread with oil.  Spread half of the black eyed pea and vegetable mixture, lengthwise on the phyllo dough and carefully roll up.  Yours may burst out, as mine worries.


Carefully transfer the roll to a baking dish.  You may need to curve yours around to fit the dish, like I did for mine.  Repeat the process using the second half of the bean and vegetable mixture.  Brush the tops of both rolls with a little bit of oil.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden.


While the rolls are baking you can prepare the sauce.  Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pot over medium low heat.  Stir frequently to prevent the chocolate from scorching.  I used a small whisk and broke up my blackberries and crushed the mint a bit to get it incorporated.  Once the berries are thawed and the chocolate is melted, pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the berry seeds and the mint leaves.  Serve on top or as a dipping sauce with your rolls.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

what's for dinner?

Dinner tonight was a work in progress for most of the afternoon.  I love to take my time in the kitchen, to get things ready while my youngest naps so I can play when he's up.  Then when I bring dinner to the table, it feels easier than it actually was.

Tonight I made curried chickpeas, a recipe from the workshop I'm attending.

Simple roasted asparagus from Dreena's latest cookbook.

Roasted zucchini, along with some quinoa and my favorite new sauce from Dreena...Citrus Tahini Sauce.  sigh... It is great on grains, roasted veggies, or straight out of the jar.  Delicious.

Now, time to pop some corn.