Archive for the ‘Week-long Dinners’ Category

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Moroccan Quinoa Salad Remix

October 3, 2010

Hi all!

Since the fall semester started, I’ve adopted a new cooking strategy: Do a lot of cooking on the weekends, using the leftovers as on-the-go lunches throughout the week, and stick with easy super salads for my dinners. So far, this has been working great! It really helps me manage my time throughout the week, and lets me try out exciting new recipes (or revisit old favorites) on the weekend when I have more time. And so I’m here today to share with you one of the excellent culinary concoctions that emerged from this weekend’s marathon kitchen session.

I took as my starting point this recipe for Moroccan Roasted Carrot and Chickpea Quinoa Salad from Closet Cooking, which Caitlin and I actually made a while ago once and really enjoyed. It’s enhanced by this wonderful Moroccan spice blend (also included on the same recipe page), which finds its way into basically every part of the dish. And as I still had a lot of this spice blend leftover from the last time we made it, I thought that now was a good time to revisit this recipe and put a few new twists on it.

My general idea was to combine the basics of this recipe with pieces from another similar recipe which I absolutely adore, Veganomicon’s Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Figs, featured once previously on this blog here (which was additionally convenient, as I still had several parts of this recipe leftover from the last time I made it a couple of weeks ago). Here’s a close up of my finished product—can you spot all the differences?

Okay, I don’t really expect you to be able to spot all the differences all on your own, so here’s a quick run-down. First, along with quinoa, as Closet Cooking’s original recipe calls for, I added in some Israeli couscous and regular couscous as well, which created an amazing grain combination. And along with the originally called for pine nuts, I threw in a big handful of pistachios, which added both extra flavor and color. And instead of raisins, I used figs, which was a wonderful idea. But my best idea for this recipe was definitely my chosen replacement for chickpeas: beets! Now, beets may not seem like the most logical substitute for something like chickpeas, but I think they actually worked much better alongside the roasted carrots (I roasted the beets as well). With the addition of some lime juice and zest, this hodgepodge grain salad was completed, and quite amazingly delicious. Here’s one more shot:

What surprised me most about this recipe, and what I liked most about it, was how much of a spicy kick it had. (I think I had forgotten how much paprika and cayenne pepper went into the spice blend.) But at the same time, the spiciness was not overwhelming; it was really the perfect amount. In addition, I am proud to say that this is definitely one of the most colorful dishes I’ve ever made, and really a pleasure to look at. But the real pleasure is in the eating, and if you want to experience that, you’ll have to make it for yourself!

But before I leave you today, I wanted to share with you the special baked good I made this weekend for my friend’s potluck dinner party: an absolutely delectable “Can’t Be Beet” Chocolate Cake with Almond Butter Banana Frosting!

Caitlin has made this recipe from Fat Free Vegan for me before, and I really have to say that it’s one of the best vegan cake recipes I’ve tasted. The frosting is (literally, I have to admit) finger-licking good, and the cake really lives it up to its name: it is both incredibly scrumptious (“it can’t be beat!”) and made with one large, yet undetectable, beet (“it can’t be beet!”). If you’re looking for a good time, make this cake for your next dinner party, and try to get the other guests to guess the secret ingredient. If your friends are anything like mine, they will run through the gamut of vegetables and other food items before hitting on the correct answer. Happy eating!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Beans and Greens

March 6, 2010

Going to graduate school full time and working two internships can really make it tough to experiment very much in the kitchen. I have found that I really need to have a game plan set for the week by Sunday night, or by Wednesday night I’ll probably end up stuffing my face with stuff like this:

(thanks for the pic wikipedia!)

Recently, the solution to my post-night-class hangry-ness has been greens and beans:

The beans are soaked, cooked and stowed away by Monday evening and, most importantly, ready to be heated up with greens and a tasty sauce. The above bowl is composed of Carribean red beans and braised mustard greens in a Jamaican jerk sauce over quinoa. The jerk sauce is a jar my sister brought back after her last trip to Jamaica, watered down considerably though, because that stuff is intense.

Now, I don’t have any specific measurements, I usually base my proportions on taste and, you know, just how hangry I really am.

To break down the method in some very unscientific terms:

  • I would guess that the bean to green ratio is about 2 cups of tightly packed chopped greens to 1/2 to 3/4 cup beans.
  • dry cook the greens quickly (possibly with garlic and onion, if you’re into that kind of thing)
  • add a little liquid (in the above dish, I added water, braggs and about a tablespoon of jerk sauce). Add the pre-cooked (or canned) beans and simmer until the greens get nice and tender.
  • This process really only takes 10 minutes tops, so if you are going to pair it with a tasty grain, I would suggest you start the grain a little earlier.

These dishes have been a great and quick way to fill me up on nights following days that look like this:

(you really thought I could go without photo-documenting snowpocalypse 2010?)

Another variation that was not quite as spicy, but just as tasty was mustardy white bean bowl:

This bowl was a mix of white beans, black-eyed peas and mustard greens in a braggs-mustard sauce.

Honestly, if you haven’t tried mustard greens go out and do it now. When raw, they have an light peppery taste and, when cooked, they becomes much more mild but much richer. Also, they are currently in season. Yay for seasonal veggies!

Until We Eat Again,

Caitlin

P.S. By the way blogosphere, I have a new series of review posts that I simply can’t wait to share with you, so stick around if you are so inclined!

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Cooking For One: Magical Loafs

September 7, 2009

Dear Caitlin et al.,

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When one is cooking primarily for oneself, sometimes it helps to plan in advance and keep your fridge stocked with some quick ‘n’ easy options for those times when you’re just too busy or exhausted to make a meal from scratch. But when eating healthy is also a concern, microwave or pre-made meals are not an acceptable option. So what, then, is one to do? One great option is the magical loaf!

To me, Sunday is the day for loafs. It’s really the perfect time; the simplicity and ease of preparing a loaf seems to coincide perfectly with the idleness of any proper Sunday. Plus, and this is the real advantage, loafs are the perfect way to use up all the leftover groceries and foodstuffs you have sitting in your fridge and pantry.

So what do you do? Well, first, go to this website: The Magical Loaf Studio. Currently, this amazing web resource is not exactly what it used to be (due to the lack of CGI-support on its new webhost), but it still has all you need to know to make yourself a tasty—and totally original—vegan loaf. It’s simple! Just combine your choice of protein, carbohydrate, nuts & seeds, veggies, liquid, binder, and seasonings, mix ’em all together, and bake!

The loaf I made this past Sunday was an interesting combination, unlike anything I’d ever made before. Here’s my list of ingredients:

  • PROTEIN: Red lentils
  • CARBOHYDRATE: Red quinoa
  • NUTS & SEEDS: Ground almonds, sunflower seeds, and pepitas
  • VEGGIES: Onions and mushrooms
  • LIQUID: None required
  • BINDER: Flaxseed meal
  • HERBS & SEASONINGS: Basil, thyme, sage, oregano

This turned out very interesting; not the best loaf I ever made, but with some Tonkatsu Vegetable Sauce squirted on top, it made for a tasty and protein-rich meal. Here’s the obligatory close-up:

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The one bad thing about this loaf was that it didn’t keep shape very well, although with loafs this isn’t a big deal, especially if you’re not serving them to someone else and thus worried about presentation. Mine kind of just feel apart on my plate:

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The best part about this loaf was that I’ll still probably be able to get another three or four servings from it throughout the week, making it perfect for me as I begin my first week of classes!

I hope you all enjoy making your own magical loafs, and I’m sure I’ll have more magical loafs to share as the semester continues!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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