Baking · Dessert · Gluten Free · Slow Cooker · Vegan

Of Forever

Vegan Rice Pudding

Vegan Rice Pudding

Welcome to 2014!  I have high hopes for this year, as well as some lofty goals for myself.   In blogging world I’m hoping to up my posting schedule – and with that plan recipes in advance so that events in “real life” don’t effect my blogging world.  I had hoped to do this last year but as usual life got in the way, however I’m starting 2014 on the right foot with six posts mostly written and ready to go!  My ultimate plan for this year is to have three posts a week with 52weeksofcooking posts every Thursday in an attempt to keep that organized.  The first Monday of every month (starting in February) will still be Secret Recipe Club (!!!) with subsequent Mondays featuring other monthly blog challenges, including a return to Dom’s Random Recipes.   With that plan I’m currently looking to join at least two more monthly link-ups, so let me know if you have any suggestions 😀  This will leave one weekly post to highlight whatever ingredient or cooking technique or new toy or restaurant that I’m currently enjoying – which is where today’s recipe falls.

Ever since Joe and I started dated we have rotated off the major holidays with our respective families, and this year we decided to take advantage of (finally) having a dining room and hosting both of our family around the winter holidays.  First on the schedule was Joe’s family, for which I did an Italian dinner featuring a mix of old and new recipes.   One of the bigger challenges for me was figuring out a simple and delicious vegan dessert that could either be done well in advance or using my slow cooker – since I knew my burners and oven would already be occupied.  After tossing around a few ideas I decided to go with a Vegan Rice Pudding, which I could make in my slow cooker and then transfer to the fridge until it was time to serve.

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This recipe was a HUGE hit!  While I was more than a bit nervous about it, since I had never made rice pudding vegan or otherwise before – but it was fantastic.  It was also delicious the next day when my SiL enjoyed the few remains as a post shopping snack.  I can easily see this recipe becoming a staple, and enjoy trying different variations in the future.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store – new city, (hopefully) new job, and lots of new food!

52Weeks · Gluten Free · Mexican · Quick Weeknight Recipes · Vegan

Alright Already

Santa-Fe Rice & Beans

Santa-Fe Rice & Beans

When I saw the /52weeksofcooking challenge for last week, I was a bit thrown.  TV dinners aren’t something I grew up eating, outside of the rare kidcuisine, and most TV dinners follow a very standard non-vegetarian format.  While I debated replicating the format (1 meat, 2 veggies, 1 dessert), I also thought about some of the vegetarian friendly frozen dinners I enjoyed in high school.  When I first started out on the vegetarian path I had very limited cooking experience, and very little time to experiment since I had school, choir, and a part-time job.  When I got home from work at 10PM I wanted something quick and easy, so microwave dinners were perfect.  One of my favorites was called Santa Fe Rice & Beans, and while I haven’t had it in almost a decade I can still remember the “trick” to getting the rice to be warm without overcooking the beans.  So I set out to recreate this late childhood dish, with delicious (and healthier!) results.

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This might not be the standard TV dinner, but I can promise that I enjoyed this dinner many times while watching ER or Law & Order or whatever was on at 10 o’clock back in NBC’s glory days.   I used homemade salsa verde (tomatillo salsa) based on the recipe on this page, however jar salsa, or a tomato based salsa, would work just as well.

52Weeks · Baking · Gluten Free · Side Dish · Vegan

Moving on Up

Zucchini Tian

Zucchini Tian

Greetings!  Sorry for the long space between posts, turns out that running a food blog while moving is much harder than I thought.  Luckily I am all settled in my temp place so had lots of time test out some new recipes, and in theory should be covered until the official move ends.  Luckily this isn’t a long distance move, just heading on up 95 from DC to Baltimore – which is still enough of a transition to make things interesting.  Add in the gov’t shutdown and things have been a little more stressful than normal.  We are still hoping to close on our new place on time, but unless the IRS goes back to work (feels so wrong to say that) by the 8th our closing will most likely be delayed.   Until then I’ll be camping out at my mom’s place – and her awesome kitchen – while my hubby is up north starting his new position.  Not the most ideal living situation, but at least we can see each other on weekends so could be much worse.

This past week I decided to make a list of all the blog/cooking challenges that I have over the next month in an attempt to organize my life.  This first recipe comes from /52weeksofcooking who are just finishing up a week dedicated to the incredible Julia Child.  While most of her recipes aren’t exactly vegetarian, or vegan, friendly I found a few side dishes that needed just a bit of tweaking in order to go from awesome side to spectacular entree.  In the end I decided to go with her zucchini tian since squash in all forms are in abundance at the local markets – wahOo Indian Summer!!!   In order to make this in to a healthy veggie friendly entree I added some chickpeas for protein, switched the white rice for brown, and left the butter out.   I also used almond milk in place of dairy and vegan shredded cheese.

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When it came time for serving I enjoyed  it with just a bit more pepper while my mom went for Parmesan cheese, which is exactly how my hubby would enjoy this dish so I was entertained.  For lunch the next day I added a bit of fresh avocado to perk it up, after debating to serve it on top of salad greens.  This might not be the prettiest dish out there, but it’s certainly delicious.

Gluten Free · Home Cooking · Mexican · Secret Recipe Club · Side Dish · Vegan

Secrets that You Keep

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

Time for Part 1 of my August Secret Recipe Club entry! This month I was assigned my Group A blog and was also able to pick up an orphan blog from Group D.   First up: Cookin’ Mimi, a blog that has essentially been around since Micha was 4 years old and her first recipe published.  Needless to say her blog is stuffed full of delicious recipes.   I was able to narrow down to five recipes, some sweet and some savory, before finally narrowing it down to a final two recipes.  In the end, I had to go with her Mexican Rice as this is something I’m frequently making ala a box.  I was intrigued by the idea of making my own and the fact that it’s super easy makes it even better.  I did make some changes in order to add an extra kick to the dish, for those seeking a milder (and probably more traditional version) make to sure to head over to Cookin’ Mimi!

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I served mine topped with some shredded cheese, and with some enchiladas verde but have a feeling this rice would also go great inside of burritos.  I’m totally going to give her Irish Tea cake a try in the near future – gotta love a dessert where are all the ingredients are ones I always have on hand.

Make sure to check out the rest of Group A’s entries – including my second one!

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Asian · Home Cooking · Vegan

Trust in Me

Braised Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce

Braised Garlic Eggplant

Eggplant is a standard ingredient in my house, it can be cooked in so many ways and essentially goes with everything.  However I tend to always prep it the same way – pressed – and cook it one of two ways: stir fry or baked.  I’ve branched out once before with poached eggplant and wanted to do that again, even it meant having pasta on hand just in case.  So I searched the internet, and my cookbooks, and decided to give braised eggplant a whirl after seeing claims of a softer more flavorful dish.  It’s closer to how eggplant is cooked in most Oriental restaurants and I liked the idea of the eggplant absorbing more sauce, and with that more flavor.  This cooking method also meant I needed to salt my eggplant, instead of pressing it, to insure it was as “dry” as possible for maximum sauce.

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52Weeks · Gluten Free · Home Cooking · Quick Weeknight Recipes · Vegan

Your Heart Out

Dirty Rice 

Dirty Rice

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.

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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 

Casserole · Slow Cooker

Sun Come Up

Mexican Lasagna

I have a confession: some days I don’t feel like cooking.  These days are rare but they do happen, and lately they have been happening in large numbers.  I’m not sure why I’m hitting a cooking-block but I am in one and I’m hoping soon I’ll be out of this funk.  Since I have been in a slight cooking funk I’m going to start a new blog section, dedicated to going on vacation as a vegetarian.  I just went to the shore this weekend and I’m leaving tomorrow for GENCON, and trying to eat veggie while in the midwest is not exactly easy. I’ve been told that more restaurants have open near the Con Center that offer more diversity so hopefully this year I’ll be able to eat more than salads and grilled cheese.  Whatever the result I will be posting, although I’m not sure there will be photos of all locations since my favorite photographer is staying home with the furry ones.

This recipe is great for those days when motivation is low but budget is small.  Essentially everything is just layered in the slow cooker with very little work, perfect.  This is also a dish that is easy to adapt based on what you have on hand, and how spicy people like it.

Ingredients: (serves 5-6)

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups favorite enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup cooked brown (or white) rice, divided
  • 1 green pepper, diced and divided
  • 1 mayan onion, diced and divided
  • 2 tomatoes, diced and divided
  • 1 jalepeno, divided and divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided
  • 5 tortillas, fajita size
  • sour cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a large slow cooker with a liner (optional) and turn to high (2hrs) or low (6hrs).
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Layer tortillas on bottom without overlap.  Top with half of the peppers, onion, beans, rice, tomatoes, and jalepenos.  Place another layer of tortillas on top and repeat layering, adding the cheese.  Top with the last tortillas before adding the remaining cheese and the last cup of enchilada sauce.  Serve hot and top with sour cream!