Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cookin' From "Isa Does It"

For some reason, even though "Isa Does It" came out a while back, I hadn't really delved into it -- until recently. In the last month or so, I've made so many recipes from IDI, and we've been eating well! I've been having lots of fun flipping through the pages (and photos!) and choosing recipes to make.

getting dinner ideas

Blogging in the winter time is a little sad, because we always sit down to eat well after dark, and it's not that fun to take yucky indoor food photos after dark. I've been making lots of delicious dinners and thinking "no one wants to see my yellowy photos from 9pm."

So, I made a bunch of recipes from Isa Does It and didn't even bother to photograph them. Like a totally rotten, no-good blogger. I made (and enjoyed!) the Lentil Quinoa Stew, the Orange Chicky Seitan, and a few others that all went undocumented. 

But then I thought, "this is ridiculous!"-- and I just decided to go forth into the stark reality of winter-time blogging and share with you my substandard pictures of some delicious meals. So there.

Sweet Potato and Red Curry Soup with Kale
For some reason, no one sells sweet potatoes at our farmers market, so I used a butternut squash instead. I loved the flavors and textures in this soup - and I always love a good one-pot meal like this. Hearty and warm and satisfying, but not too heavy. I used some store-bought red curry powder and added an extra tablespoon of the stuff, because it wasn't too intense. 

Roasted Yellow Beet Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing, with Tempeh Crouton Option

These little tempehs were the star of the show! So easy and yummy. Mr. VE&T was trying to eat them all out of the pan: hands off, dude!! I loved this salad, and I love golden beets and (secretly) I was also sneaking some of the tempeh croutons out of the pan before they made it to the salad bowls. Those buggers are good. Also, this dressing was essentially effortless to make and went great with the salad.

Ranch Salad with Potatoes and Smoky Chickpeas

Honestly, neither of us were big fans of the avocado ranch dressing for this salad -- but we both agreed that the toasty chickpeas were magical, and that the essential elements of the salad itself were totally great. So, I'm pretty sure I'll make this again and just use a different ranch dressing recipe. Plus, I really like cooked potatoes in salad. Somehow, they make a salad feel so much more substantial and like a valid dinner.

Citrus Tahini Bowl with Bok Choy and Grilled Tofu

The Citrus Bowl is one of my favorite Isa Does It recipes - it's quick and delicious. And, like any good "bowl," it has all your needs in one food experience: protein, veggies, sauce, grains, cooked and fresh components... So perfect! As you can see, I usually use my panino press for tofu and it works like a charm. I've seen all the "make tofu in your waffle iron" pics going around on the internet lately, but I'm sticking with my panino press. It's super easy to clean, which is definitely a major plus. Also, I won't have to worry about savory garlic bits tainting my next precious waffle experience. God Forbid.

Smoky Incan Stew

This was a great and easy dinner to throw together. A good stew - kinda like a good "bowl" - has everything in it: grains, veggies, greens, beans... The flavors in this were warming but not too intense in any one direction. I also got to use up some of my frozen corn and tomatoes from the summer... so this recipe helped me with my freezer-clearing project! 

Puffy Pillow Pancakes
(with added bananas and walnuts)

Here's a day time picture for you! On Valentine's Day, we made a special breakfast of Banana-Walnut Pancakes, Tofuevos, fresh OJ from our tree, hot coffee... and his and hers maple syrup. I'm all about the "real deal," and Mr. VE&T prefers the Log Cabin syrup. To each their own! Given our freakish summer-all-year weather, we even ate our breakfast outside in the sun. Of course, the pancakes were perfect. If you've never tried this recipe, you really should give it a go. It's my number one favorite pancake recipe. This time we added bananas and walnuts for an extra special treat. As you can see, there were more than we could eat that morning, so I had leftover pancakes for breakfast the next day too. Mmm.

There are so many more recipes from Isa Does It that I still want to try. I have a long list with "recipes to try" and I'll slowly make my way through it. I'm sure you'll be seeing another IDI post sometime soon! And, if you have any favorites from this book - please share your tips! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Overwhelmed With Oranges!

A couple of years ago I planted two orange trees and a lime tree. That lime tree went bonanza right away, but the orange trees have been a bit more slow to produce. At least, until this year. I planted two different varieties of oranges, and one of them is still kinda limping along... but - as you can see - tree #2 is going to town! We have SO MANY ORANGES.

just one of many giant batches of OJ

But, here's the dilemma: they really aren't the best oranges. Alas! Every week, when I go to the farmers market, I allow myself to buy one beautiful, perfect and delicious orange for a snack. It seems so ridiculous to buy oranges when I have so many oranges on my tree that I am literally harvesting off the ground... and yet, there you have it.

Our oranges are pretty good - but not very sweet... Pretty much the only way to get through them en masse is by juicing them.

I only have one of those little tiny glass juicer thingees, where you have to turn your wrist back and forth a million times to get out 3 tablespoons of juice. When you have giant cardboard boxes filled with oranges urgently awaiting your timely attention, this can seem a bit overwhelming. But, due to my absolute dedication to never letting food go to waste, I have tackled this project already a few times this season ... and I"m sure I have many more juice-a-thons in my future.

The actual juice is pretty good, but again, not too sweet. I figured out that if I think about grapefruit juice, then it's really good. It's just not as sweet as you'd except OJ to be, but it's a totally passable grapefruit juice. 

Besides just drinking the juice, I've been trying to use it up in other ways. I took some to a breakfast gathering, I gave some to my mom and dad (who admitted to adding sweetener, fair enough!), and I've been trying to find as many recipes as I can that call for orange juice. 

This is the Citrus Tahini Bowl from Isa Does It

In addition to the bowl above, I've made the Orange Chicky Seitan (also from Isa Does It), and lots of various salads with the Orange-Miso Dressing from "Oh She Glows Cookbook." That dressing is really quick and easy and uses up a little big of dressing. The Orange Chicky Seitan came and went without getting photographed - but it was a big hit. Very delicious, not too time-consuming to make, and used up a whole cup of OJ. I think I'll have to make it again soon!

I welcome your orange juice ideas! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

GreenPea Cookies - Kickstarter fun!

I sometimes get offers to review snacks and foods for my blog, and a lot of the time I turn them down, or never even write back at all (plus, most of them aren't even vegan!). But, when I got an email offering me a chance to try some tiny vegan cookies made out of roasted peas based on a recipe from Singapore, I wrote back right away. I was really curious! I mean, aren't you?


Soon, a box filled with three lovely little baggies of treats and the World's Cutest Logo arrived at my house. I may or may not have squeed. The folks at Green Pea Cookie sent me a larger bag of their original cookie ("Peater"), a small bag of gluten-free cookies, and a small bag of their new chocolate-dipped version "Dimpea." The chocolate-dipped variety are available at their Kickstarter page, which you should definitely check out! It's super cute, super informative, and it's a great chance to support a cool vegan company. 

fast friends

In the box was a charming little hand-written note telling me a bit about the cookies. There are 100 calories in six cookies, which is a pretty awesome deal. They're made with: roasted green peas, flour, sugar, salt, sunflower oil, and "lots of love."

clockwise from bottom left:
Original, Chocolate Dipped, and Gluten-free

So, what was the verdict? I love these little guys! They are tiny, bright green, and delicious. The very first bite is a bit of a surprise -- I mean, whose taste buds would know what to expect from a green pea cookie? But right away, they won me over. They're a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, a little bit pea-y, and super tasty. I also love their diminutive bite-sized shape. Fun to eat. I find that one or two of these tiny cookies feels like a perfect little treat.

You can see that my chocolate-dipped ones look a little worse for the wear... but that's no one's fault really. Who expects it to be 78 degrees in February??? They melted a little while they sat in my metal mailbox, but that didn't stop me from enjoying them. No siree.

And the gluten-free ones are good too. I think you can see in the picture that the gf variety are slightly more crumbly -- but not enough to negatively impact the experience. It's super cool that they make a gf version (that one uses brown rice flour).

Even though I'm usually of the belief that chocolate makes everything a little bit better, I think my favorites were actually the Original variety. I just really fell for these little cookies. In fact, I haven't even finished my bag of cookies and I've already gone over to Kickstarter and funded them because 1) I want more, and 2) the people there seem awesome, and 3) this is a super cool vegan treat that I'm eager to support. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Good Eats, Cute Cats

Lately I have been on a dedicated mission to reduce the volume of stuff in my freezer and in my pantry, and I've been making good progress. It feels so good! I had a big bag of frozen apricots from last summer - and decided that the middle of winter would be a good time to put them to use... just when you need a little seasonal pick-me-up.

I made the baked oatmeal recipe from Oh She Glows, and just used my frozen apricots instead of apples and pears. SO GOOD. I cut it into 6 servings and had fancy breakfast for a whole week!

You know how when you're reading magazines, you sometimes bookmark recipes that sound good, but you never actually go back and make them? Well, last month's Sunset magazine had this recipe for Creamy Spinach Chickpea Soup and I decided to make it! The soup itself was fairly simple, but the little garnishes of lime juice, curry powder warmed in oil, and fresh mint made it more special. I also used a really nice homemade broth, which always helps with simple soup recipes like this. 

Tortilla Soup from Real Food Daily

This was another freezer bonanza - I used cooked tomatoes, homemade tortillas, broth, and jalepenos all from the freezer to make this lovely soup. I really love this recipe. Usually I make the little crispy tortilla bits to sprinkle on top, but this time I ran out of tortillas (and refused to buy more!), so we had it as is. Such a great recipe and such a great winter time soup... it's just the right amount of light and hearty, and just the right amount of spicy to warm you up on the inside. 


In unrelated news, I realized that it has been far too long since I featured any cute cat pictures on my blog. What the heck is wrong with me!?

Yummers Potatoes in his boudoir

Yummers is 15 now, and still has quite a bit of spunk. During the day, he has been saving energy by resting in the sunshine in our bedroom all afternoon. That's where I snapped this debonaire shot. Having conserved his energy all day, he has plenty of stamina left to antagonize Footie relentlessly, and attack everyone before dinner time. Ha ha. He is still very upset about the presence of Footie in our family, but we're trying to give him lots of attention so that he won't be so darned rude all the time. I love him so much. He was our very first pet together, and I'm so grateful that he hasn't run off after each subsequent intruder entered our family.

Footie in the kitty spa

Footie is definitely the low guy on the totem pole and even after 1 1/2 years, he is meek and sheepish around our other pets - except when he decides to counter-attack Yummers. But the strength of the love-connection between Footie and Mr. VE&T is so strong that this keeps him going. He loves to hang out by the heating vent in our kitchen, so when I ended up with this odd spinach box with big holes on both sides, we turned it into a special safety toasty zone for the little guy. We left it there for about a week before we got tired of having a big box on the kitchen floor. He's still gradually warming up to me, bit by bit, giving me more snuggles - and it is just awesome. He is truly a championship snuggler - super cozy, head smooshes, little kitty squeaks and murmurs, paw kneading - the whole nine yards. More please, Footiekins!

(in case you were wondering)