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Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

The October Farmer’s Markets were full of lovely pumpkins and I could not resist their siren song.  So, this year I bought a Halloween pumpkin with wonderful intentions of carving it into a masterpiece… but that didn’t happen.  Halloween came and went and my pumpkin sat on my porch looking very autumnal but not very scary. 

On Monday night I was feeling inspired by all of the posts I have been reading about roasting pumpkins.  I figured that since my pumpkin hadn’t quite turned out to be the ultimate Halloween decoration I could still get my money’s worth.  All needed to do was roast it and turn it into tasty pumpkin puree.  Such a wonderful idea, at least in theory.  When I actually set about roasting and pureeing, my brilliant inspiration gradually turned to determined frustration and ended in exhausted triumph.

At this point I should probably mention that I was not using a “cooking” pumpkin.  My pumpkin was about 19 inches tall and 16 inches around.  The Pumkin as compared to my 12 cup tea kettle

The size should have been my first clue that this would not be a quick task.  I also got a bit of a surprise when I cut my giant pumpkin open.  I was expecting it to have an 1-1/2 inches or so of meat to it.  Boy was I wrong!  The walls were about 3 inches thick on the sides and 4 inches thick towards the bottom.

Pictures 006

Okay, we have now established that this pumpkin was no shrinking violet.  I fact only 1/4 of the pumpkin fit into my modest oven at a time.  It took 30 minutes at 450 degrees for the pumpkin to become perfectly roasted.  When the roasted pumpkin became cool enough to handle it was time to remove the skin and puree it.

Now is a good time to mention that the sole blending device in my kitchen is a blender.  Not a fancy vita-mix type blender either.  Just a run of the mill 6 cup Oster blender.  It has always served me well and makes a mean smoothie, but I was about to discover that blending frozen fruit and blending roasted pumpkin don’t even come close in comparison. 

I peeled and sliced roughly 1 cup of pumpkin and proceeded to attempted to puree it.  My blender put out an awesome effort….for the first 5 seconds.  After the addition of some water and some coaxing with a spoon I got my first bit of pumpkin puree.  2 hours, a bit of cursing and a few tears later I had pureed half of the pumpkin.  You may be asking yourself, exactly how much puree can one make from half a giant pumpkin?

  The answer, 23 cups.23 cups o' pumpkin

Half of this pumpkin is still sitting in my fridge, sliced and waiting to be roasted this weekend.  I decided that pumpkin roasting/pureeing  is not a great weekday activity for me.  I definitely won’t be doing this on a Monday night ever again.

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I am finally back on my feet, and after a course of antibiotics and lots of sleep I am ready to start cooking again.  While I was down for the count most of my meals consisted of canned soup, fruit and whatever else was lying around.  So, needless to say, I have been itching to get in the kitchen and cook some real food.  This weekend provided the perfect opportunity to whip up some of my favorite comfort foods. 

For me comfort food is seasonal.  Something that hits the spot in winter or fall, may not do the trick in spring or summer.  Since we are in the midst of fall (with occasional winter tendencies) comfort food favorites include potatoes, homemade applesauce, cornbread and muffins.  Yum!  Just thinking about them gives me the warm fuzzies. 

For this adventure in comfort I made use of one new recipe and one old favorite.  The new recipe is for Sizzlin’ Home Fries.  It takes the classic goodness of pan fried potatoes and kicks it up a notch with some spicy goodness.  The old favorite is my Struselicious Banana Mini Muffin recipe, which has all of the flavor of banana bread packed into tasty little bite-sized morsels.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Sizzlin’ Home Fries

2-3 potatoes (I like Reds or Yukon Golds)

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Diced

1/2 Medium onion, chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia onions)

1/4-1/2 cup Water

1/2 tbsp. Garlic, minced

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Black Pepper

Wash potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch  cubes.  Put the olive oil and potatoes in a large skillet and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the bell peppers, onion and water to the skillet then cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  (You may need to add a bit more water as the vegetables cook.)  Removed the lid from the skillet and add the garlic and seasonings.  Cook uncovered for about 5 more minutes.  Serve just as they are or with your favorite hot sauce.

If you like a bit more heat you can add a diced jalapeno chile or for a different flavor add a diced chipotle chili.  If you want a more mild version just switch up the seasonings.  Keep it simple by using just salt and pepper or be as creative as you want. 

Struselicious Banana Mini MuffinsStrucelicious Banana Nut Muffins

1 cup Unbleached White flour

1 cup Whole Wheat pastry  flour

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1 cup mashed Banana

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

3 tbsp. Your favorite Non-Dairy milk or Water

1 tsp. Vanilla

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda then set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance Buttery spread and brown sugar.  Beat the mashed banana into the sugar mixture.  Add the non-dairy milk or water and vanilla into the banana mixture then add the flour mixture.  Stir until well combined.  If you like you can fold in 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. (I like pecans but I know a lot of people like walnuts.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spoon batter into a well-oiled mini muffin tin so that each cup is about 3/4 full.  Then mix strusel as follows:

1/3 cup Unbleached White or Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1/3 cup White Sugar

3-4 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg

A generous dash of Clove

Using a fork, combine the above ingredients in a small bowl until it forms small pea-sized clumps.  Spoon strusel mix over the muffin batter so that it fills the rest of each cup.

Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Cooking times may vary depending on your oven so keep a close eye on you muffins while they are baking.  If you want full-sized muffins prepare them the same way as the minis but use a regular-sized muffin tin and increase baking time to 25-30 minutes.

Now that I have shared some of my vegan comfort food favorites I would love to know what your favorite comfort foods are.

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In The Veganing…

To say that I am truly a virgin to the ways of vegany goodness is only about 70% true.  I’ve dabbled in the world of vegan cuisine off and on for several years.  I’ve also been primarily vegetarian for quite sometime.  But  lately I have been thinking about the benefits that a vegan diet would have to my health, environmental sustainability and… my wallet.  With these thoughts in mind I have decided that for the good of the world, or more importantly myself, to go vegan for 1 year.

I know.  Some may find this daunting and even crazy but let me explain.  Despite being raised by very meat and potatoes type parents I’ve never been overly fond of meat.  Ground meats in particular have been low on my list of culinary favorites.  At the tender age of 5, the cheeseburger in my Happy Meal “crunched” as I bit into it.  There was pretty much no going back to after that.  As to eggs and dairy products, I will be mourning some hefty losses.  Eggs have always been a cheap and easy meal when money is short.  And omelettes are always my go to breakfast item when eating out.  While milk will not be missed at all, I will be very sad to give up the melty goodness of cheese. 

Upon embarking on this vegan journey I decided to start this blog.  It will not only serve as a motivational tool for me, but will hopefully help others who have toyed with the idea of veganism.  I will share my  discoveries, challenges, frustrations and recipes in hopes of creating an accurate look at the transition to becoming vegan. 

V-day is October 1st.  In leading up to that I would love suggestions and recommendations from all you vegans out there.  Especially revolving around substitutes for cheese as I know that will be the hardest thing to give up.

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