My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ravioli, Bananas and Orange Seitan

Happy Friday! We've only made a few proper meals this week. Otherwise, we've been eating non-blog worthy like veggie burgers with sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms, chips and salsa, quesadillas, and other meal leftovers.

Here's an idea I got from watching the new Rachael Ray talk show. It's a ravioli lasagna and quite easy to make. Instead of doing a sauce from scratch, Ryan used a canned sauce with Morningstar Farms "beef" crumbles and layered it in a dish with cooked ravoli and topped it with mozzarella cheese. It's suggested as a great potluck dish because you just pop it in the oven for 10 minutes once you arrive.

Then, Ryan treated me to a dessert of bananas wrapped in tortillas, crisped up in some oil and drizzled with a brown sugar-butter sauce. We served it alongside Dreena's Banana Ice Cream. Yum!

Last night I decided to use up the leftover seitan which I had put in the freezer a few weeks ago. I went with Vivacious Vegan's idea of breading it and finishing it with an orange juice/soy sauce combo. It was great! I was craving some veggies too, so added green beans to the meal.

On Wednesday, Catherine from Food Snob and I had a blogger meet-up at the Mall of America. It was really cool to meet her and we spent 2 1/2 hours shopping together...well, I admit, I did all the shopping while Catherine showed great restraint. We had a fantastic time and will be meeting up again in the near future.

On a side note, I start a new job on Monday (yes, I resigned from my old job and have had a few days off). I'm not sure how that is going to affect my cooking and blogging, but we'll see what the first few weeks hold. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Loads of Appetizers

I still have more to post from this weekend and since we ate leftovers, I figure I'll take this opportunity to share some more.

Since Ryan had tons of studying to do this weekend, I was able to make a lot of things in the kitchen. I tried a Sangiovese Vinaigrette recipe from my new cookbook, The Spirited Vegetarian. It was made with Sangiovese that was reduced to about half, balsamic vinegar (which we now realize is not TRUE balsamic –argh!), brown sugar, garlic, parsley, dried mustard and olive oil.

Oh yeah, the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, but for some reason I read it as 1 tablespoon and didn’t realize until after I took the picture.

We then drizzled this over tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and served it with a foccicia bread for a post-workout meal.

On Sunday, I wanted to try out some appetizers for the Vikings game. I made Stuffed and Marinated Portobello Mushrooms from Gourmet Magazine and Phyllo Triangles with Artichoke Dip from The Everyday Vegan.

The mushrooms were awesome. We served them on some of our salad mix tossed with the vinaigrette marinade. I think this would be an awesome starter dish if we had company over. I used a little bacon for the stuffing, but could have used Smart Bacon or even omitted it altogether as it wasn’t the main highlight.

The Phyllo Triangles with Artichoke Dip were a bit messy to fold, but I managed it. I think the key is to use less filling. I like mine crispier, so now I know for next time. Also, I cheated a bit – since I didn’t have vegan parmesan, I used regular dairy parmesan. These were a great appetizer for a football game. No need for hand-eye coordination while dipping since the dip is wrapped up in a neat little package.

Since the oven was still on, I popped in a few frozen chocolate chip cookies.

I did use vegan chocolate chips, but not a vegan cookie recipe, so it kinda defeats the purpose – BUT, those chocolate chips do rock!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Crop Share #8 & Popcorn

I picked up our 8th crop share in the rain on Thursday, but luckily the boxes were pretty sheltered so our crops were quite dry.

Here is what we received:
Baby Bolero carrots
Green beans
Fennel and dill fronds
Baby Eggplant
Sweet peppers
Salad mix
Mini potatoes
Red Onions

I think we have just a couple crop shares left, and then we’re on our own at the grocery store again. I know we want to keep up our vegetable intake, but will miss the good organic veggies we receive biweekly.

Ryan and I weren’t that hungry for dinner on Friday night, so we popped some popcorn from a dried ear of corn that I received from Danny and Rachel and that was our dinner.

It was super cool. I’ve never popped popcorn like this before. You place the ear in the bag that was provided and let it pop away and season as desired. We like ours with butter (or Earth Balance depending on the day), salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. This time we used some nutritional yeast and that was good too.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Writing, Beans and Tofu

Last night I attended my first writing class. It was a small group, but pretty neat. I look forward to the writing exercises and compiling a notebook of memories and thoughts. It’s the type of class that’s left for you to interpret and use how you want. It should be neat!

While I was at class, Ryan made up some baked tofu and used up some of our old sauces in the fridge. This time it was Spicy Garlic sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings. Spicy! We also had some purple green beans and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes. It’s so crazy how the purple beans turn green so fast.

Some other presents I received for my birthday were various hemp powders from Living Harvest. Megan the Vegan got us interested in these and lucky me, Ryan bought it for me. I tried it in a smoothie this morning and thought it was pretty good. Still tastes a little powdery/chalky, but good for a boost.

This afternoon I pick up another crop share. We’ve been having some really cold weather – in the low 30’s overnight and in the 40’s (maybe 50’s) during the day so I hope the crops are doing well! I don’t want it to be winter yet.

Then I’m off to Book Club at my friend, Stephanie’s new house. It will be nice to hang out with the girls again and discuss the book we read, The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. It was a great book with lots of suspense and history.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Smells Like Curry

Another busy and fantastic weekend has come and gone. Bar Abilene was a total blast with good food, great tequilas and fun music from the DJ. On Saturday night, we went to my brother’s new house for the first time. We ordered pizza, ate Blue Sky ice cream and opened presents from my family.

Speaking of presents, I received a number of cookbooks! I got Dreena Burton’s cookbooks; The Everyday Vegan and Vive le Vegan, and I got The Spirited Vegetarian by Paulette Mitchell, which is a book by a Minnesota author who uses wines and spirits in her dishes, and Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country, which has suggestions for wine with each meal.

Of course, I had to get to work and start cooking. Right away I made Creamy Raspberry Oatmeal from Vive le Vegan and loved it drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with hemp seeds.

Then I made the Banana Ice Cream from Everyday Vegan. It was so easy and we usually have frozen bananas in the freezer. What a great snack!

I also made up some chili from Everyday Vegan although it was a bit tomato-y for us. I doctored it by adding some more beans and spices. This will be for lunches this week. I guess I never took a picture of it...oops!

I made some granola from our own recipe since we have been out for awhile.

Finally, as the title of my post says, it does smell like curry in our house. We made a Tofu Curry last night. We used a recipe from Cooking Light, but omitted the chicken and potatoes and substituted tofu, which we crisped up in olive oil, ginger and garlic.

I love curry and can’t wait to eat the leftovers on this. The tofu was fantastic! We put some in the sauce and also crisped some on their own. Both versions were very good.

Our fridge is now stocked with food, so I won’t need to cook for a couple days.

Oh, on the Spinach Scare of ’06, we were lucky. Of course we had eaten it for dinner, added it to smoothies and sautéed it for lunches before the news story had come out on Friday. We threw out the rest just in case. Thanks for all our concern on it. Can’t wait for the “all clear” on spinach again!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Birthday Week Busyness

Whew! I can’t believe it’s been so long since we last posted. It’s also been awhile since we have been in the kitchen cooking a proper meal, but it happened last night!

First, let’s jump back a couple days. We did go raspberry picking on Saturday morning and it was fun, but quite chilly out. We picked about 5 pounds of raspberries and most of them went straight into the freezer. Of course some went straight into our mouths, but I also made a raspberry puree with pomegranate-cherry juice and poured a pina colada over it. Yum!

Tuesday was my birthday and Ryan was in charge of the surprise outing. He took me on a drive through many cities and side roads and eventually ended up at Midtown Global Market. This place has been on my to-do list all summer, so it was the perfect surprise! Midtown Global Market is in Minneapolis and was opened a few months ago. It’s an open setting for many global vendors to sell clothes, jewelry, groceries, produce, and even has food vendors. We split a vegetarian tamale and a strawberry smoothie before heading to Pepitos for my birthday meal. Here are our goods from the market:

Last night we were finally organized enough to make a meal. We had a bunch of beets that needed to be cooked, so we roasted them per Melody’s suggestion in orange juice, thyme, Dijon mustard, and red onion.

They turned out okay. I guess I wasn’t really clear on how to roast them. Was I supposed to cook them in the liquid, or roast them and then pour the liquid over them? Any insight? They took a long time to cook, so I’ll be trying them with some blue cheese for lunch today.

Then, I used a recipe from Real Food Daily for Blackened Tempeh and Caesar Salad. The tempeh was marinated all day in soy sauce, brown rice syrup and herbs. Then it was dusted with spelt flour and spices and baked.

The Caesar dressing was made with silken tofu, miso, lemon juice, capers, veganaise, olive oil and nori sheets (for the anchovy flavor).

This turned out really well. The dressing was great and we had almost all ingredients except for the miso. I also picked up some veganaise and I am amazed – the previous vegan mayo that I had was the texture of silken tofu and didn’t spread. I’m so excited to use the veganaise more.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!! We’re off to Bar Abilene for yet another birthday celebration for me tonight. The tequila is calling my name.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Crop Share #7 & Grilled Tomato Salsa

I picked up our 7th crop share Thursday night and of course it was filled with goodies. Here is what we have this time:

Baby Danvers carrots
Purple and green beans
Sweet red peppers (6)
Salad Mix
Mesclun Mix – arugula, mizuna, purple mustard greens
Tomatoes – heirloom, romas, cherry
Swiss Chard
Garlic – Inchelium Red

I am so excited that there is no dill in the salad mix again this week. When we were visiting the farm, Laura mentioned that dill was kinda done with, so we were excited to be able to eat the salad again. I really want to make a green tea tofu salad that I have a recipe for. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Also, amidst the pressure of making the Seitan Portobello Stroganoff, I managed to grill up a couple eggplants from my mom (for sandwiches), a jalapeno and the remainder of our tomatoes (some from our crop share and some from my mom’s garden). I chopped up the grilled jalapeno and grilled tomatoes to make a Grilled Tomato Salsa from Martha Stewart. After letting it sit overnight, I tried it and it was sPiCy!

Ryan will be excited about this one. I also added some red onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt and served it with Blue Corn chips from Garden of Eatin. Yum!

Hope everyone has a great weekend. My birthday is on Tuesday, so the weeklong celebration began last night. Not sure what's on tap for tonight, but I'm hoping to go raspberry picking this weekend.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Seitan Portobello Stroganoff & Carrot Cake

I have a couple more successes from VwaV to share with you. On Tuesday night, I made the seitan and was going to make Seitan-Portobello Stroganoff but I hadn’t planned for enough time. So, once the seitan had cooled, I stuck it in the fridge to use last night.

For those of you who don’t know what seitan is, it is a meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten, flour, and spices. It’s kinda like making bread, but it gets kneaded into a loaf and simmered in broth or water. You can make it like beef, pork, or chicken depending on the seasonings you use.

This was my first time making seitan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I looked at the final product, I have to admit, I wasn’t too impressed – it looked like a big old brown sponge! However, after sitting overnight in the fridge, it looked like a bunch of meatloaf so I figured I’d give it a try in this recipe.

The stroganoff took forever to make, but it was totally worth it. Ryan loved it and kept singing its praises. I thought it was a little on the salty side (I even omitted the salt from the recipe and used low-sodium soy sauce). The seitan browned up nicely and the mushroom, shallot, onion combo was very tasty.

Here’s the finished product from last night:

Remember my carrot cupcake disaster from the other day? Well, I redeemed myself by making my first vegan cake, also from VwaV, Ginger-Pecan-Coconut Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing. This stuff is so good! The spices are perfect, the cake actually rose, and the frosting is incredible especially after sitting in the fridge overnight. Yay me!

As you can see, it looks great…so much better than those stupid other carrot cupcakes.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

BBQ Pomegranate Tofu & Disaster Muffins

I hope everyone had a great long weekend as I know we did. My 3-year old nephew slept over for the first time and it was a success. We made individual pizzas and fruit pancakes and I think he had more fun eating all the toppings than he did eating the final products. Kids! Ryan also let him play his guitar (it's one of my nephew's favorite activities at our house) and he actually got a blister on his little finger from playing so much!

Monday night we went to the Jurassic 5 concert at First Ave. and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to! We even got to get autographs afterwards and the group members were so friendly and down to earth. It was great!

On to the food…I pulled out Vegan with a Vengeance for some tofu ideas as I was on my own for dinner. I settled with BBQ Pomegranate Tofu. It was so easy to make and I had almost all the ingredients. I didn’t have pomegranate molasses, but added splash of pomegranate-cherry juice to regular molasses.

Here’s the tofu after baking:

I only made half the recipe thinking I would have it for dinner and then lunch the next day and make something else with the rest of the tofu. Well, my lunch went to Ryan, so I made this all over again the next day. Luckily, I had extra BBQ sauce so I didn’t have to do that one again.

Here’s the final product with a side salad with homemade French dressing and steamed beans:

Did you notice the purple beans from our crop share in the picture? They are purple when raw and green when cooked. I dropped them in boiling water for about 15 seconds and they stayed purple for a little while, but eventually turned green. How neat!

I also attempted to make a carrot cake with the abundance of carrots we have. I don’t usually get excited by cakes, so I was going to make it into cupcakes. After a lot of hard work, and an hour of baking, I ended up with this:

Almost burnt on the outside and icky gooey on the inside and they didn't rise at all! I was so bummed because I made a TON of cupcakes and now the whole house smelled gross. I am not sure what happened, but it was a disaster. Boo! I'm sure I'll have better luck next time.

Oh yeah...almost forgot! We were tagged by Carrie and Jeff and on the way to the concert, we came up with our top 5 foods folks must try. Although there's a lot that I want to put on this list, we narrowed it down to 5. Here's our list:

1.) Crepes in Paris
-We were lucky enough to spend some time in Paris and enjoy many, many crepes. We love them.

2.) Cannoli from Mike's Pastry in Boston
-Over the past few years, I've made quite a few trips to Boston and I always have to make the trek to the North End for ricotta cannoli from Mike's. There's always a line, but well worth the wait. The hardest part is not eating them while flying home to Minneapolis! *Ok, I just checked their website and found they ship anywhere in the U.S. (dangerous for me!)

3.) Ice Wine
-The first time we had ice wine was in the Canadian Niagra Falls wine region a few years ago and it was fantastic! It truly is a treat and we order from Magnotta winery in Canada from time to time. However, lucky us, our favorite winery, Wollersheim has started making ice wine and we get first dibs each time it's offered! They are getting a lot of attention for this effort and have been successful.

4.) Hemp Sprouted Bread from French Meadow Bakery
-French Meadow is a vegetarian friendly restaurant and bakery in Minneapolis and a frequent lunch spot for myself and friends. They make a Hemp Bread that is awesome. It's chock full of all kinds of seeds and is great with peanut butter (or other nut butters)

5.) Bubble Tea
-Bubble Tea with pearls or jellies is a must! We first tried this in Toronto at 368 Cafe (I think that's the name) and we were hooked! When we got back home, we found Bobalicious and made frequent trips there only for it to close down. Now we frequent The Tea Garden which has locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Although we like all flavors, our all time favorites would be Lychee and Taro.

There you go - our top 5. I'm not going to tag anyone else, but if you weren't tagged, feel free to share your top 5 in the comments. I always love hearing about new things :)
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