Many moons ago a good looking guy with curly dark hair asked the office HR girl if she would help him find an apartment. Seeing as how she had lived in the area for the better part of a decade she decided to help out, agreeing to meet him on Saturday at a local “fast food” place for a quick bite before looking at places. A few years down the road, wedding bells were ringing and as of tomorrow the software developer and (former) HR girl will have spent one year in wedded bliss. I still can’t believe it’s been a year since our wedding, and I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to be spending the rest of my life with such an amazing person.
In honor of our anniversary I decided to attempt to recreate that first lunch, which was spent at a Middle Eastern restaurant. This happened to fit perfectly with this week’s r/52weeksofcooking challenge as falafel is one of my go-to fast food options. I know it isn’t the “standard” concept of fast food but being vegetarian the standard fast food joint doesn’t really work for me. Luckily I’ve always worked near a place offering these delicious protein packed treats, be they in pita form or served with golden rice. Since Joe and I both got the falafel platter and not the pita, I decided to go that route and make some delicious coconut & tumeric rice to go with. I also made up some of my lazy Greek sauce which got drizzled on top of everything.
I can’t stress enough the importance to keep the falafels as cold as possible before cooking them up. This will help them keep their shape, something that is not so easy to do with vegan falafels. The other important thing is to make sure the oil is at the right temperature: too hot and the outside will burn leaving a raw middle; while too cold will cause the falafels to fall apart and cook unevenly.
Sweet Potato Chili
Looking out the window it’s more than a little clear Mother Nature has forgotten to take her medication. We’re almost a week in to spring yet there is snow on the ground and more falling from the sky, which isn’t exactly spring in my book. This is the time of year for starting a garden, looking at the Cherry Blossoms, and sorting through the past season’s clothes. Instead I’m pulling out my snow boots and trying to figure out how to navigate my curvy slightly hilly street in order to get to the main roads and work. However I have a secret recipe for days like this: sweet potato chili. My first experience with this vegan delight was at my in-laws the day we told them we were engaged, needless to say just one bite of this winter weather soup warms me up heart and soul. This is a slightly spicier version of that soup, but for a gentler variation just leave out the jalapeno and add chili powders to taste.
I enjoy topping mine with some Greek Yogurt while Joe tends to go for shredded cheese and sour cream – either option is delicious! This dish can also be done in the slow cooker, follow the above directions and after the onion/garlic have cooked just add everything to the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hrs or high for 2.5 hrs. For those seeking an even hotter chili, switch the jalapeno for a serrano (or habanaro!) pepper.
Note: So Delicious has no idea who I am, I just enjoy their products and more often then not they have awesome coupons on their website!
Second Note: Yes there is a hair on the lens but it wasn’t noticed until the picture was inserted and the last of the chili had been devoured – sorry!!!!
Quinoa Verde con Tostada
Not going to lie, the theme for r/52weeksofcooking had me more than a little nervous this week. I understand the importance of Presentation but I tend to focus more of the substance and taste of the dish and not so much of what it looks like – after all I’m not cooking for Gordon Ramsey or Anthony Bourdain or someone else who will comment on whether or not my dish resembles cat food. However I haven’t missed a challenge yet this year and wasn’t going to start now! So I thought about all the things I could do before deciding to go with color and vibrancy instead of knife skills or something insanely elaborate – after all I didn’t want to screw up the food in my quest for a pretty plate. I decided to make something with as many colors in it as possible without going too overboard while utilizing things I already had in my pantry. Watching an episode on Chopped gave me the inspiration, and confidence, to try making a tostada. I still had some tortillas left from the taco challenge and since tostadas are traditionally made with slightly stale tortillas the timing was perfect!
I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out the perfect way to plate this dish, I wanted to make sure everything could be seen and keep the picture from being too saturated. I wound up plating the dish four different ways before picking this option. Needless to say doing this dish gave me a great appreciation for people who do this on a regular basis and will probably result in much better pictures as I will be paying a lot more attention in the future!!!
Another week another challenge from /52weeks! This week the challenge was of the secret ingredient variety and we had to work with legumes. Legumes come in all sorts of varieties and are one of the primary components of our diets – excluding peanuts of course. I decided to go with kidney beans and tried to recreate a common dinner I had growing up, with a vegetarian twist. Dirty rice is extremely simple to make, and there are a few kits on store shelves to make it even easier. The first few times I made the dish I used one such kit until I figured out the right combination of spices and ingredients.
I decided to top mine with some sour cream but Greek yogurt would also work, or nothing at all. The best part is this is one of those dishes where the protein doesn’t really matter, making it one of those awesome cabinet emptying dishes. For an extra boost, and crunch, serve over kale or spinach!
Note: So Delicious is not an affiliate link – I just really like their products
Minty Vegetable Tagine
I’ll admit it, when it comes to herbs I tend to use the same ones over and over and over again. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, all are frequent additions to dishes in my kitchen. However this week the theme for /52weeks was more of a secret ingredient challenge requiring me to go outside the box and use mint. Now I have used mint leaves before, most notably when recreating a Thai dish when Thai basil was MIA, but for the most part the mint in my garden is for scent and looks. Luckily I received some awesome cookbooks over the holidays and turned to those for inspiration. One of those books contained an interesting sounding recipe for a Tagine of Lamb with Vegetables in a Mint Broth, and after reading through the recipe a few times I decided to attempt a vegetarian variation. In the end I wound up with an awesome vegan tagine, that came together incredibly quick once all the cutting was done.
The end result was a very warm dish that lent just a hint of mint, nothing overpowering in the least. I served it over some giant pearl couscous, and added some of the extra mint broth to the cooking liquid of the couscous. This was my first time using my tagine, and while it does have some quirks I look forward to giving it another whirl soon.
BBQ Pineapple Tofu Pizza (w/Cauliflower Crust!)
So it’s official: Joe and I are married! While it might have rained on our wedding day, it was still amazingly wonderful and perfect and I’m still giddy thinking about our special day.
I was hoping to have posts up and running while I was out but that didn’t happen and for that I’m sorry. Hopefully I’ll be more on top of things for the honeymoon, because I have some great late spring recipes to share. While I’m still on my quest to use more local and seasonal produce, I’m also trying to reduce waste by reusing leftovers in new and (hopefully) creative ways. This recipe might not be Le Cordon Bleu quality, however it is amazing and delicious and a great way to use up leftover tofu (or chicken). I decided to clean out the cauliflower in my drawer as well after seeing more than a few recipes featuring a cauliflower pizza crust. In the end I used a modified version from Eat.Drink.Smile since I don’t have a ricer and also have a need for large amounts of garlic in my pizza.
This took care of a fair amount of the veggies in my fridge, and I have a feeling that some swiss chard (or kale) also would have gone well on this pizza. The cauliflower crust also goes great with pesto sauce, just add some feta, red onion and eggplants and enjoy a modified take on a Greek Pizza.
Every had one of those moments where you think it’s about 2hrs earlier than it actually is? This recipe is the result of one of those nights. For some reason my internal clock was saying 5PM while the actual clock was saying something closer to 8PM…not really an issue unless one hasn’t even started thinking about dinner plans. I started searching the pantry and found some couscous and a new thing of spicy curry along with some beans, garlic, and red onion. Okay…I can work with this! Everything came together quickly and before I knew it, and before 9PM, dinner was served!
I also had some leftover banana bread to serve as a side along with some diced roma tomatoes left over from a salad the night before. This might not be the fanciest dish out there, but it was warm and filling which is all that really matters!