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


carrie said...

I love your challenges. I quit both napkis and papertowels not too long ago. Switching 100% to cloth napkins was easy, 100% quitting paper towels is not. I still have a roll, and I do give in and use one every now and again.

I love that salsa verde recipe, gonna try it soon

Anonymous said...

You are doing some seriously good eating around your house. I'm not surprised that Silas likes the noodles with peanut sauce. My little one loves slurping up spaghetti and soba! I'm not so sure she likes the taste as much as she just thinks it's fun to eat. :-)

Love the salsa verde recipe! Seems a lot less expensive than making it with tomatillos.

Good luck on all your challenges and I can't wait to see more of your meals!

Chile said...

Boy, I am sooo hungry now! All of it looks good (except the tofu - I'm allergic). That balsamic sauce looks awesome.

Chessa said...

carrie - yeah, napkins are good, but paper towels are so dang hard! I just have to get over using cloth for gross things. try the salsa! It's soooo goooood.

jenny - Thanks! And yeah, silas loves his "past-y"! He'll pretty much eat any kind with anything on it. It's a good vehicle. ;) And the salsa is so good! Definitely try it. I have some more herbs in my fridge that are begging to be used for it!

Chile - I didn't know you had a soy allergy! Kudos to you for being such a healthy vegan despite that. The balsamic sauce IS awesome - tangy and sweet. I can see transforming lots of veggie patties into more gourmet deals with the aid of it. ;)

Chile said...

Chessa, it's only a tofu allergy. I'm fine with non-fermented soy. I suspect it's the coagulant in tofu, of which 3 different types can be used. However, I'm not willing to fool around testing the 3 kinds to see which it is as my reaction is bad (throat closes up restricting breathing!)

I use soymilk regularly and love edamame.

Chessa said...

Chile - wow, yeah that would be one not to mess around with. We are no strangers to the weirder allergies - my husband is allergic to caffeine, chocolate, caramel color (which is in lots of processed foods, so a good reason to avoid that!), and who knows what else. But it just gives him weird headaches and fluid dumps, nothing so bad as throat closings!

Jenny said...

Kudos for all of your challenges! They are very interesting, it will be great to see how you are doing!

I am so jealous of all of your CSA foods! :)

McMama said...

Woman, have I told you you're my inspiration? I've been thinking a lot lately that we need to make some changes, and I always think of you! I don't know HOW you do the cooking all the time thing. I need to see your kitchen, cause mine is NOT conducive to good cooking.

I've also been meaning to e-mail you about your tv-free ness.

Anyway, keep up the good posting! :)

Rural Vegan said...

I love your challenges and know you'll succeed! I quit the paper towel addiction a couple years ago, but now I am in the same boat trying to give up the "whites". About a month ago I pledged to stop buying all those delicious, refined white goodies - so I'm going it with you there!

BTW - those Parm cutlets look AMAZING!

VeganCowGirl said...

The salsa verde looks great, and I hear you about experimenting with patties - I have been on a bean burger kick lately.

Great blog.

I Heart Kale said...

Two things to help with your challenges, if you don't already know about them. Number one, we are really getting into white whole wheat flour as a sub for a-p flour (which isn't refined--it's just from a softer variety than regular red whole wheat flour). Number two, I kicked coffee a few years ago and am finding that sipping green tea throughout the day really does the trick. Good luck with both!

Chessa said...

Jenny - thanks, it looks like I need some of this luck, but I'll update about that soon. ;)

McMama - Well, one thing is that you have double the children I do! ;) I also just LOVE to cook, so you know how you make time for the things you love. My idea of a good time is a food market of some kind and then a couple of hours alone in my kitchen. I don't get the alone part very often, but I feel like it's Christmas when I do. ;) Email me about the TV-free thing! We are more into it than ever since we moved.

Rural Vegan - those parm cutlets were amazing, you should totally make them! The challenge thing is fun, because I know at the end of the week I have to go to blog confession and own up to how well/not so well I did. It's a good incentive to try harder. ;)

Vegancowgirl - the salsa verde is soooo good! Definitely try it, it couldn't be easier. I made it once without fresh lime juice (used a bottle in the fridge) and so didn't have lime zest and it wasn't as good, so the fresh lime really does add something special.

I heart kale - thanks for the tip about white whole wheat, I'll have to see if I can find it organic. I've been using some reallllly soft whole wheat pastry flour lately, but my baked goods (biscuits, muffins) have come out realllllllly crumbly, almost falling apart when you pick them up, if that makes sense. They're super tender, just fally-apart-y. Maybe the whole wheat white will provide more stickyness?