Friday, November 12, 2010

Asparagus Pasta and Asian Pear Tempeh Salad

I was wary of asparagus at the market, since it is early November, but according to the CA Asparagus Commission, California asparagus growers harvest a small crop in September/October. I guess early November isn't that far off. Oh, and it was really inexpensive, so it must have been "in season". I learned recently that seasonal produce is usually cheaper since it doesn't have to travel far, or something like that.

Well, anyways, underneath all that freshly grated Parmesan cheese is one tasty pile 'o pasta.

jamie’s italian’s asparagus fettuccine
Courtesy of Jamie Oliver's website, I followed his recipe almost exactly. My only alterations were to omit the leeks (didn't have any) and used a tablespoon of dried basil in lieu of the fresh. Oh, and I didn't garnish with pea shoots. Um, what? I'm guessing they aren't readily available at Trader Joe's or Henry's. I'll look next time I'm shopping.

I served the lovely green sauce over Buitoni fresh fettuccine, which was very tender & a reasonable substitute for homemade. My husband had 2 servings, a good sign that he liked it. It also made it into his lunch this morning, so that is definitely a seal of approval. He doesn't wax poetic about food (unlike me, ha ha ha) so it's hard to figure out what he likes a lot of the time. It was a very quick recipe and we'll be making it again. The girls were too hungry to wait for the sauce, though and just had plain fettuccine with asparagus and parm. I did have to call the asparagus tips pinecones so my little squirrels would eat them. They ate all of them, so we weren't able to garnish our plates with them ;)

Asian Pear & Tempeh Salad with Wasabi Dressing

Another winner from Veganomicon. Man, this is one of my favorite things to eat. I don't know why I don't make it weekly. The baby pestered me all throughout my lunch wanting more and more tastes. This was after her own giant lunch. She saw my leftovers in the fridge later and wanted some, but by then the wasabi had gotten more spicy and she spit it right out!

CSA items used: zucchini, white onion

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"weird" stuff in my pantry

These items from my pantry are at least 6 months old because a.)I haven't figured out what to cook, b.) I'm intimidated by the ingredient, and/or c.) lazy
  • Hijiki. I was off seaweed for awhile because this type seems so, um, fishy.
  • Canned lychee. They just look so unappealing from their picture on the can. Why did I buy them?
  • Jarred hearts of palm. I never seem to have a coordinating ingredient to actually make a recipe.
  • Some sort of jarred thai soup base. The ingredients are in english, but there are no directions so I'm afraid to try to make something.
  • Tiny jar of pimentos. The idea of pimento cheese sounded good before I OD'd on cheese in Switzerland. Other ideas?
  • Kidney beans. The girls hate them. Maybe make chili for the grownups?
  • Wild rice. Super long cooking time.
  • Lots of dribs and drabs of miscellaneous dried pasta
I challenge myself to use these ingredients by the end of the month!

Last night we had green salad, homemade mac and cheese, sauteed zucchini and leftover squash.

CSA items used in last nights dinner: lettuce, yellow bell pepper, grape tomatoes, butternut squash, zucchini

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BeWise CSA Week of November 8th

Here's what was in our "small" white box of goodies, followed by my intended purpose for each.
Yellow cauliflower * will make a gratin

Zucchini * girls will eat sauteed

Yams * Red flannel hash. I also have a billion beets.

Red delicious (?) apples * lots of snacks

Green beans * steamed for the girls

Sahuaro peppers * Rajas con queso tacos

Grape tomatoes * snacks, the girls can't get enough

Limes * margaritas!

Carnival Squash * now I have 2. What to do? Something with latin flair?

Fuyu persimmons * snacks, maybe in a salad?

Double head of red leaf lettuce * um, a billion salads?

Check back to see what I actually make!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roasted butternut squash pizza and Waldorf Green Salad

Yes, preparing a giant butternut squash is sort of a pain. OK, not sort of, it is a pain. The one I started with was 2 1/2 pounds. It was a beast. Nice and solid inside, not too many seeds. You gotta have a super sharp knife and a great peeler to get this done. I roasted 2 pans, one plain for the girls, and one seasoned.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza
Toss 1 1/4 pounds diced squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a couple teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon eensy-weensy minced fresh rosemary. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast on parchment lined baking sheet at 425 for 25 minutes, don't need it overly-carmelized since it's gonna be a pizza topping. I also cooked down a small onion over low heat while the squash was roasting.
How was I able to hack into a giant squash with a preschooler and a toddler running around the house? Well, the older one was zoned out on Dora, and the other one was NOT watching Dora. She was doing this:
Well, at least she stayed out of the kitchen.
The finished pizza: Roasted squash, cooked onions, 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and topped with a couple tablespoons freshly grated parmesan. Baked at 450 for about 20 minutes to get good and toasty (used a preheated pizza stone with cornmeal). Man, oh so tasty! I can't wait to experiment with homemade pizza dough. I'll get there...
I also threw together a salad, we have a ton of lettuce from last week and we're due for more tonight!!! Yikes!

Waldorf Green Salad

Mixed greens, sliced celery, sliced apple, dried cranberries, feta cheese and Trader Joe's Sweet Poppy Seed Dressing.
CSA items used: butternut squash, onion, rosemary, apples, lettuce

Really tasty veggie burger

So I'd never actually made a veggie burger from scratch before. As a young vegetarian, I was introduced to Morningstar Farms veggie burgers by my aunt. They served me well for many years, until Gardenburgers came to Costco. Before that I could only get them at restaurants, but they were my favorite for a long time. I moved on briefly to Boca to increase my protein, but they were really just too heavy for me & don't actually taste very good. The last few years my husband have enjoyed the Morningstar Prime Grillers, which have a higher fat content and are a reasonable substitute for hamburger for omni-husband. But we're trying to move away from processed foods, as well as creatively incorporate more of our CSA haul every week.
One day I was watching the good old food network and Guy Fieri had his mom and sister on the show, and they were making veggie burgers. It seemed like there was a million ingredients, but the result sure looked tasty. I promptly forgot I ever knew they existed. Fast forward a couple years and I found the recipe during a random search. The recipe was accompanied by a 5 star review. (Granted the 89 reviews were bolstered by a ton of duplicate entries, but I went for it.)

Morgan's Veggie Patties

My only change: mash half the beans to help the patties stick together.
Garnish with red onion, horseradish mayo, avocado, lettuce and tomato. How can you go wrong?

CSA ingredients used: onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno, tomato, avocado, lettuce

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blog Redesign

Time to freshen up this old blog and get motivated to write! I need to create and share with friends and family and I want it to look good. I just reviewed my template and color choice and I guess I'm channeling a bit of Mondo (project runway, 2nd place, so unfair). My photography skills have improved exponentially due to the purchase of a new camera (thanks, Babe). Plus, it's been nearly a year since we signed up for the BeWise CSA and I really have made some tasty meals from their fabulous produce. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is our pickup day, and I'll be reviewing our haul for the week, making an intended list of meals and then I'll post the actual results. I'd also like to start adding my travelling with kids tips as well as pop in some of the girls' hilarious antics. Here's wishing myself luck!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Veggie veggie veggie

We are consuming mass quantities of veggies, no excuses since we get a mega box every Tuesday from our lovely CSA. I am proud/still embarrassed that since early December when we started the CSA we have only thrown out: 1 head of lettuce, 1/2 stalk of broccoli, 1 box of mushrooms (they were left out of the fridge & smelled AWFUL), and a couple tomatoes.
So if we are eating all these veggies, how am I preparing them? Well, we got a ton of broccoli 2 weeks in a row and although the girls love plain old steamed broccoli, I wanted something different. The weather dropped like 2o degrees since the weekend - down to 60 today, which meant: Soup Time!

This is the broccoli potato soup from Veganomicon. We sometimes unvegan it by stirring in a spoonful of plain yogurt at the table. Used 4 cups of broccoli, 2 pounds of potatoes (non local, but organic), 1/2 an onion, garlic (from the store), mint (from my patio), dill and tarragon. Totally yummy.

Soupy soup

Next we have massaged kale salad. What the heck? Yep, I literally massaged the kale to create this gorgeous and unbelievably tasty salad. I mean, it was really super great. And I love kale, and this would make anyone into a kale lover. The purple curly-leafed kale had the thinnest stems, so I didn't even take out the center rib before chopping. The whole head went into a bowl, with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (I think I can reduce this next time) & 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Then my hands went in the bowl and massaged it and son of a gun: the kale got all wilty! Magical massage. I added 1/2 of a small red bell pepper chopped up real small, one minced scallion, 2 teaspoons of brown sesame seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Except for the sesame seeds & olive oil it all came out of the CSA box. So awesome.

G-Rated Massaged Kale Salad

And next time I'll get back to talkin' bout our awesome camping trip!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

You are taking your baby camping?????

Yep, a few weeks ago my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to take our families camping. My mom had gone camping with a group in January to a place called Agua Caliente in the desert in far eastern San Diego county. The attraction to this particular campground is the hot springs. With our other friends included, there would be 3 families total. Each family has a 3 year old girl and a baby. 2 of the dads have camping experience (we would later learn one was an eagle scout) and one hadn’t been camping in 20 years. After some quick phone calls to check our spouses’ work schedules, we hopped online and grabbed the last 2 campsites available. The weekend we picked was 3 or 4 weeks out, and considered ourselves extremely lucky we got spots when we could all go.

The weather outlook looked like low 80s in the day & low 50s at night. That wouldn’t be too scorching during the day and not too cold at night for babies in tents. We had taken our 3 year old to Yosemite over 4th of July when she was 19 months and she woke up freezing the first night before I put her in my sleeping bag with me. I triple-checked the weather reports pretty much daily that the temps weren’t going to drop too low in the desert.

My other concern was the distance to the campground. It is about a 2 ½ hour drive, including a pretty windy section heading up to the local mountain town of Julian. The little bean gets SUPER carsick. I mean, this kid puked a ½ mile from our house once. I’ve even gotten sick on the way back from Julian (that could’ve been from all the aplle pie I ate, but that’s another story). The other route is flatter but goes south so takes 20 minutes longer & would have possible Friday traffic, delaying us further. Since we were leaving after preschool got out I wanted as much time for setup as possible. Hmmm, deal with a pukey kid or end up cooking, etc in the dark. I decided to risk puking…

Thursday, March 4, 2010


OK, after an hour-long trip to Von's with both girls, pushing the giant grocery store "car cart" and simulataneously feeding the baby as-yet-unpaid-for crackers, and after picking up our CSA share, and after sending my lovely husband to Joe's on his way home from work last night, and having Grandma here to distract the youngins', you would think I would be ready for a couple hours of serious make-ahead meal makin'.

You would be oh so wrong. We had vietnamese sandwiches for dinner last night, yep had all the ingredients for that one, even had nice leftover rolls and seitan for sammies for lunch. Well, I gets to cookin' this afternoon.
My plan: Spicy tempeh and broccoli rabe with bowtie pasta (dinner for tonight)
Steam broccoli and serve to kids with some of the pasta
Lentil soup
Vegan lasagna
Tempeh bacon

I get 2 bunches of broccoli rabe washed and chopped, about 1/2 head of garlic minced (all the recipes need garlic!), 2 bunches of kale washed and chopped. Cooked down both batches of greens. Washed, chopped and steamed a small head of broccoli. Made cashew/tofu ricotta (freakishly good), & pulled my favorite marinara from the pantry. This is round about when things went in the pooper. Realize that I've cooked teeny baby-friendly pasta and not the bowties I meant to. Oh, and I'm missing fennel seed for the sausage-flavored tempeh for the broccoli rabe pasta dish, I don't think I have enough lasagna noodles for the lasagna (the kale and ricotta were for this), no tomatoes fresh or otherwise for the lentil soup (didn't even get REMOTELY close to even starting this one), likewise for the bacon. At this point I TOTALLY threw in the towel. And picked up the phone so someone so nice would bring home thai food for dinner on his way home tonight.

He did and it was yummy. And the little bean and the mini bean ate a ton of steamed broccoli with their pasta. And I did find more lasagna noodles and put that together afterall (ONE make ahead meal complete!) And tomorrow I will go back to the store. And I'll start this process where I left off. Maybe after a beer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What the heck do you do with a half dozen parsnips?

You make parsnip cake! I followed the recipe from epicurious, using four of my CSA parsnips. Only major problem was the requested 13 inch pan was way too big for the batter. I was too lazy to scrape the batter out of the prepped pan, so I just planned for a mighty flat cake. Made just plain cream cheese frosting and it turned out great! Ugly as heck, but yummy. The little bean loved it and doesn't even know she ate some parsnips.
What else have I made from our CSA box in the last couple days? Baby bok choy and tofu stir fry over red quinoa. Really tasty, the little bean only wanted the tofu. Man, she's missing out :). Tonight was a crazy cabbage casserole, which was surprisingly good. Just a clean-out-the-fridge thing: mighty old tempeh goulash sauce from the freezer, leftover quinoa and the end of a jar salsa layered with shredded cabbage and baked an hour. Really quite grody sounding even now, but my lovely husband even had seconds.

Csa hooray!

This is a shot of last weeks CSA haul. And other than a few limes that have been stacking up we ate all those veggies & fruit :)
Tonight I made the mixed greens and potato gratin from Vegan Soul Kitchen. I used a mix of collard greens and some mystery greens (some sort of broccolli?) and roasted sweet potato, with a macadamia nut and breadcrumbs topping. We even got the little bean to eat it, the more "growing foods" the better. That makes up for cake for breakfast and soft serve after lunch...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tamale Pie

Now this is another recipe with unlimited options and possibilities. I have never had tamale pie, vegan, vegetarian or otherwise, but for some reason I just had to have some! My base recipe was from here. I also wanted to incorporate some tempeh, so here is my final result:

For the filling:
1 package tempeh, grated
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup of vegetable stock
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, minced up so the bean won't see it or she won't eat it
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, rinsed in a colander to get that yucky freezery taste off
handful of chopped cilantro
5 fresh from the CSA tomatoes, seeded and chopped. Sub a big ole can of tomatoes if you gotta.
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder (mine isn't too spicy)
some salt
1 cup of shredded jack cheese

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups corn meal
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Marinate the tempeh in the broth and soy sauce while you chop up everything else.

In a 12 inch cast iron skillet, saute the onion for about 10 minutes over medium low heat, or until just getting brown. Add in the bell pepper and garlic and cook until soft. Add the tempeh (drained if it looks too soggy) and cook 10 minutes until brown. Dump in the rest of the ingredients through the salt. Sprinkle the cheese over the top in a nice even layer.

Mix up the cornmeal, soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl mix together the egg, oil and buttermilk. Stir into the cornmeal mixture until smooth, then pour over the filling in the cast iron pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the cornbread top is browned and a knife comes out clean.

Makes for killer leftovers, and the little bean thought this was a great "pie", even if it wasn't sweet :) Oh, and it isn't too attractive so no picture for this one.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Going back in time...

I started this post about a month ago. Guess I'll finish it...
We started our CSA share pickup 2 weeks ago and that makes for the ingredients for lots of easy quick veggie/salad dishes. Not really "cooking". However, we got two pints of grape tomatoes last Tuesday and I was afraid we'd get more tomorrow (we did) here's what I found: Pasta with Kalamata Olives and Roasted Cherry Tomato from Epicurious. So super quick and Delicious. My only changes were to omit the capers, use 1/4 cup feta, and toast the pine nuts. Not bad for me, usually I tweak things a lot more. This was really really tasty. Unfortunately I discovered a horrifying result from eating certain pine nuts...for a week afterwards everytime I ate ANYTHING I had a terrible bitter taste in my mouth. Somewhat common, as I found from a quick google search. No one else in the family had the same reaction, but now I am pretty gunshy from pine nuts. These were Trader Joe's brand, guess I'll try another type if I ever get brave again.

The roasted tomatoes with plenty 'o garlic

Last night (this is back in early January) my dear husband made a Spicy Peanut Dressing from the lowfat Moosewood cookbook that was really tasty. It is a basic recipe and made in the blender so it is super easy. I made it again a week or so ago, & I made a few changes because I had a specific flavor I wanted. So here we go:
1/2 tomato, seeded and chopped
3 T creamy, salted peanut butter
1 tsp agave nectar
3 T lime juice
1 T soy sauce
1 minced garlic clove
handful chopped cilantro
splash of rice wine vinegar
The salad was composed of red leaf lettuce and scallions.
This was one of my first veggie cookbooks and I am having fun going back to this. However, I still get put off by the number of fish recipes. Ah, the vegetarian fish tree, where I pick all of my fish to eat ;)