Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Some Food, Some Challenges

It's August! Woo-hoo! That magical time of bounteous produce, that gateway to the wonders of autumn (by far my favorite time of year), the days grow just a little shorter but the nights are still warm. Hooray!

And so it's a time for challenges. I'm participating in two challenges this month - Jennifer's Quit Now Challenge and Chile's Discretionary Eating Challenge.

I'm Quitting: Bananas and trying real darn hard to quit paper towels. So far, so good.

For the Discretionary Eating Challenge I'm in for 50% BUZZ (trying to have no more than 1 cup of coffee OR alcohol a day; ideally having no alcohol and very few coffee drinks in a week and only purchased during Espresso Happy Hour for half off!!!). I'm also in 100% for LITE (eliminating "white", refined products, except for sweets) and SOW (seconds only when hungry).

I'm doing well on this challenge so far, EXCEPT for this past weekend. We unexpectedly went to visit my parents in Portland and I ended up cooking a fair bit (blueberry muffins, biscuits) with white flour, because that's all my mom had. Like I said, last minute trip. I will say this as a consolation though: I made my blueberry muffins from scratch and my mom made non-vegan ones from a mix. There were 6 adults (2 were vegan) and one toddler (vegan). At the end of the meal, all 12 of my scratch muffins were gone but only FOUR of the mix muffins were eaten! It's clear that homemade (and vegan!) totally kicks Betty Crocker's ass.

It's fun to challenge yourself! And it's not too late to join, so if you haven't already, check them out and sign UP!

And now back to our regularly scheduled foodiness....

We've been chowing down on some fabulous eats this past week. It was the first week in a while that I PLANNED MY MEALS. Holy crap, but it's true. I don't know why I ever stop planning them, because everything is infinitely easier/better/amazing when I do. Even when I don't stick to the list, having the list there is a life saver. Because I forget things. I'm scatter brained. You know when you used to walk into the video store and stare and the movies blindly like here are all these movies and I can't remember the ones I really wanted to see? So you walk out with nothing or something really crappy? Yeah? Well the meal plan saves you from that feeling, seriously. Even when you decide to eat (or rent) something else instead, the list is good to have for when you feel uninspired.

The Ubiquitous CSA Stir-Fry Extravaganza!
Local: tofu, snap peas, green onion, mushrooms and garlic. Yum! Over rice. I thickened the sauce with some cornstarch this time, which I will do again. It was glossy and tasty!

Chickpea Sensation Patties with Balsamic Maple Sauce
(And oven roasted potatoes!)
This meal was FABULOUS. The roasted potatoes were just thinly sliced yukon golds from our CSA share, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted at about 400F for 30-40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes or so I added FRESH (from the backyard) rosemary and it made them crazyOMGdelicious. The husband was almost frantic with his worship of the potatoes.

I love experimenting with veggie patties, so I dove into this one from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. I made a LOT of substitutions and they were still amazing. Especially with Balsamic Maple Sauce!

Spicy Italian Cutlet Parmesan with Fresh Peas and More Potatoes!
Sorry for the sucky photo. I NEVER claimed to really know how to use my camera!

Anyway, this recipe utilizes Julie Hasson's recipe for spicy italian vegetarian sausages, only instead of sausages you make cutlet patties for steaming. Then you bread and fry those puppies up and (in my case anyway) with the aid of a half-used jar of marinara sauce and the hunk of Teese that is begging to be used, you transform them into something magical AND thrifty!

These were so great. Not a terribly fast recipe, but not hard either if you know what I mean. I will definitely make them again, they are great. And who can deny the wonder of freshly shelled peas? Or more rosemary potatoes?!

Perfect Pasta with Peanut Sauce and Green Beans
This is a recipe that I tested for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's new cookbook, and it's tasty AND easy. It's just noodles, fresh lightly steamed green beans and a peanut sauce. YUM! Silas is a big fan.

Refried Bean Burritos with Funky Salsa Verde
Last week's bean was the chickpea. This weeks? The Pinto!!! I'm always kind of "eh.." when I think of pintos, but when I make them and eat them I remember why my husband always wants them - they're so good and creamy!

This was just a refried bean recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, with this amazingly delicious "salsa verde" - recipe courtesy of my CSA. I can't imagine that this is authentic salsa verde, but I don't care - it's soooooo good! I want more! I want to eat it on eveything! Anything is a vehicle for this delicious sauce! And in case you were wondering, that is a WHOLE WHEAT tortilla - I'm totally doing well on my challenge!

This is taken from the CSA's newsletter:
Salsa Verde:
We have made this sauce with marjoram, basil and cilantro so far and all have been incredibly yummy! The amount/variety of herbs doesn’t seem to be that important, but the lime zest and juice is! Serve with quesadillas, tacos, or roasted potatoes.

-Roughly chop up 1 bunch of dill and ½ bunch of chives and put them in a blender.
-Add the zest and juice of 1 lime, 2 TBS olive oil, 1 clove of garlic and a big pinch of salt.
-Blend until smooth.

That's all for now! Hopefully this week's meal plan will hold and I'll have some more goodies to showcase soon. :D