Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hackberry's in La Crosse

Pretty fantastic portabello burger with arugula and sweet onion marmalade. They even had vegan mayo!

I've meant to try this restaurant each time I've been to the Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, WI. Finally I'm here. It's located above the People's Food Co-op.

Spiced Eggplant: A VT Recipe

I think I've been reading Vegetarian Times magazine since I was 11 or 12 years old.  It was pretty lonely as a vegetarian tween in Texas, at least in regards to food camaraderie.   This magazine was an older, wiser vegetarian, teaching me  not to rely only on veggie corn dogs and fake nuggets, but to actually eat mostly vegetables.

But I have something to confess. In all these years of reading the magazine, I have rarely used any of the recipes.  I love to flip through the magazine, noting interesting flavor combinations, cooking techniques or new products I'd like to try.  I read the articles and look at the pictures.  But I think it's been a year since I've used a recipe from this (or any) magazine.

When I saw the feature on pressure cooker recipes in the February issue, though, I knew I had to give them a try!  I love my pressure cooker, but mostly just use it for beans and broth.  The Spiced Eggplant with Feta (optional) and Pomegranate Seeds caught by eye right away.  I love that the dish calls for pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds and fresh mint- fantastic ingredients to compliment tomato-ey eggplant!

I did make a few substitutions to the recipe since I am physically incapable of following a recipe (including my own) exactly.  I used canned fava beans instead of canned chickpeas and I didn't have Aleppo pepper, so I used a combo of paprika and cayenne.  Maybe it's because of my substitutions, but I didn't think this dish was especially flavorful.  I ended up needing to pressure cook it for 10 minutes, rather than 6, but I think that's because I used regular eggplant instead of Japanese eggplant (to my credit, I did cut it smaller to compensate for the larger diameter and heartier texture).  

I loved the combo of pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses with the eggplant and will definitely be stealing that flavor combo for other dishes.  And the color combination is killer.  Maybe a marinade for eggplant kebabs with the molasses?  Or doing  a cold salad with these ingredients and roasted eggplant?  Or maybe just more spices with this same dish would bring it more into my favor?  Don't get me wrong- it's pretty good.  But it's just not quite as stellar as I imagined.

Next up is the pressure cooked curried cauliflower.  This one sounds promising!  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Belated Fat Bombs

This post is so late, I'm tempted to lie and tell you that I made this crazy indulgent appetizer for President's Day.  Because who doesn't celebrate President's Day with spicy, cream cheese stuffed fat bombs?

But the truth is that this was one of my Superbowl snacks.  I'm just belated in sharing it with you by about 2 weeks.  Just think of it this way, I'm 50 weeks early for Superbowl 2012!

I wanted to do this recipe after drooling over our co-op's cheese buyer's recipe for cream cheese stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon.  Sounds crazy good, right?!  As you can guess, they weren't vegan.

This version is, though.  Even those these are vegan, they aren't in any way healthy.  I can't in good conscience recommend consuming them more than once a year.  Here's how to make them.

Most of this recipe is just vegan versions of the ingredients  from the original recipe-- nothing too creative. I thought that the Tofutti might be lacking in a bit of flavor (or rather that it has a bit of its own weird flavor), so I added some Veganaise to make it a little more spreadable and flavorful.  I don't recommend doing this.  It made the final product taste TOO fatty and rich.  I did add in a dash of tamari and 3-4 minced green onions.  I think this was fantastic.

One change I'd like to try is to brush the bacon with coconut oil before baking.  I think it'll help it crisp up some since it's baked instead of fried up in a skillet.

Vegan Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños Wrapped in Bacon

6-8 jalapeños, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 tub Tofutti cream cheeze, room temperature
3-4 green onions, minced
Dash of tamari or soy sauce
1 package LightLife Smart Bacon
16 toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350F.  Make sure all seeds and most of the inner membranes are removed from the jalapeños, unless you like things pretty spicy.  Stir together cream cheeze, onions and tamari.  Using a spoon or knife, stuff jalapeño halves with cream cheeze mixture, just until level with the top, not overflowing too much.  Carefully separate the pieces of bacon from each other.  Wrap bacon around each jalapeño half and secure with a toothpick.  Place jalapeños on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until bacon is crisped slightly and cheeze is bubbly and hot.

Serve immediately... or enjoy cold the next day, straight out of the tupperware, while standing in front of the fridge.  I think they're best cold.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Delicious medicine

Despite tons of sugar, I'm pretty sure this sorbet float is medicinal.

Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet with Reed's extra ginger brew. I'm alternating hot broth with sorbet floats depending on whether I have chills or sweats at that moment.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Boomerang Errands

My vacation is coming to an end this weekend.  It's been a fabulous 11 days off of work with plenty of relaxation and family time.  I've never read so many forensic pathology mystery novels within such a short period of time (six?!).  With Mike injured and the kids sick, it's been like a hospital ward in our living room, but it was kind of nice to have everyone home and lounging around all week!

But you know me. I had to have a big to do list for the vacation, too.  I go crazy if I don't accomplish something each day, so this was really for my own sanity that  I set goals for my vacation.  The universe was working against me, though.  All of my errands were of the boomerang variety.

In The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, she writes about errands that result in more errands- She calls them boomerang errands.  These are rarely satisfying and end up lengthening your to do list rather than shortening it.  She advises that the important thing is to just get started on them. This was my week.

Task: Add a stabilizing back to my nose snail so it stops moving around. (The snail is a combo stud and ring designed by Verno at The Holy Mackerel)
  Resulting Task: Two days later, ring has loosened and I have to go back for another appt.  Maybe because I had the sniffles and kept blowing my nose?  Luckily, it's a free appt.

Task: Get the scratch on my car fixed (It was keyed in December)
  Resulting Task: After 2 appointments at the dealership during the vacation, they tell me that it won't buff out and will cost $1,200 to fix.  Then had to file a police report to file an insurance claim.  Now have to contact insurance agent and make another appt. at dealership and leave my car for 3-4 days.

Task: Get teeth cleaned
  Resulting Task: Teeth are clean, but have cavities (Noooooo!!!!!!!).  Two more appointments scheduled now.  Dentist says to buy an electric toothbrush so I stop over-brushing.

Task: Get my annual physical
  Resulting Task: Doc says to get massage or chiropractic care for my crazy tense shoulders/neck and headaches.  (Darn!  I have to get lots of massages? :)  )  More appointments scheduled.  Also must locate evening primrose oil in vegetarian capsules (my favorite brand discontinued it) because it is my wonder drug.

Task: Take Hannah to the vet for shots and check up
  Resulting Task: Increased her Benedryl to try to make her stop scratching her face off.  Didn't work.  Now need a follow-up appointment for steroids or prescription food.  Awesome.

Task: Meet with home insurance rep. to update coverage
  Resulting Task: Not done.  First need to get grandma's ring appraised.  7-10 days later I can pick it up and then schedule an appointment.

So while I know that I got plenty done during my vacation, I'm left with a longer list than I started with.  Oh, well.  At least I still found plenty of time to work out every day, read every day, eat good food, sleep late, and generally just lounge around.  Here's a great example of some of my favorite activities:

Eating almond milk ice cream, reading a mystery novel, snuggling with the animals and surrounded by the space heater and heating pad.  I love multi-tasking.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nothing Better

Is anything better than apricot-vanilla jam on a homemade biscuit?

The correct answer is no.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fire in a Jar

Tigress in a Pickle wasn't kidding when she said that anyone in snowy winter weather needs to make this mustard.  It's insane.  Firey.  Gingery.  Garlicky.  Mustardy.

So far I've eaten it on a Tofurky sandwich, dipped pretzels in it, and eaten it straight up off a spoon.  Oh, and on a pumpernickel bagel with Tofutti cream cheese.  I'm basically just grabbing anything I can and slathering it in mustard.  I'm deciding what to eat based on how well it will serve as a mustard delivery system.  

This is definitely a new staple in our house.  It takes all of about 2 minutes to mix the ingredients up.  Then it sits for 24 hours and you add a few more spices and then blend.  SIMPLE!!!

I went a little easy on the cayenne, though.  Instead of 3 tsp., I used only 2.  Maybe I wouldn't eat it quite as fast with more cayenne, but I'm not sure I could take that much more heat- This stuff is crazy hot and flavorful.  Be sure to check out Tigress' blog for the recipe.