Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

I set out to make my own breakfast burritos with these three main flavors from things I had in my house. a quick salsa (I can't call it pico de gallo because I left out the raw onions. I detest raw onions), eggs and cheese. I also threw in some black beans just for fun. This recipe I made serves about 5 people or if you're like me, you can wrap them up in aluminum foil and have a quick breakfast on the go. I really love breakfast burritos but ordering them out in a restaurant scares me. I found a piece of bacon in mine once and have been traumatized ever since. Most diners are like that where everything is just cooked communally on a big griddle, it's a bit scary if you ask me. I think I watched a forensic files or CSI one time where they were trying to confirm whether this man had eaten at this diner based on the contents of his stomach. The cook insisted that it was impossible because he hadn't put onions in his eggs or whatever he was making but it turned out that he had without knowing it because his cooking on this big griddle was so frantic. Well I know for sure that there will not be any unwanted ingredients in my own burritos and truth be told they ended up tasting as good as if not better than the ones I would order from a diner. If only I had green chile to smother them in. But some hot sauce will have to do for now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes in nearly everything. I love them just baked and eating them right out of the skin (maybe with a heap of brown sugar). Lately though, I really enjoy them in savory applications like in these sweet potato and black bean burritos I made. Turns out too, that they are supposed to be very healthy for you providing you with necessary Vitamin A and C as well as potassium and calcium apparently. O! and the folate! Of course that is simply me justifying my new love. I think it's better than the time I tried to justify my love of twizzlers though so bear with me.

So where has my love of sweet potatoes taken me? To the wonderful realm of pasta. Especially that type of pasta that requires no special equipment, not even a rolling pin. I'm talking about gnocchi. The little "clouds" of the pasta world. The dumplings that are often described as light and airy when they are good or heavy and mushy when they are bad. It's not difficult to spot a bad piece of gnocchi as it will stick to the roof of the mouth as you try to chew it. I had one piece in my batch like this but I think it was because I got a little bit impatient towards the end and may not have waited for my second round to cook all the way through. O well. The rest were awesome. I should add a disclaimer to this recipe though because it requires a lot of intuition with the ingredients. A cook here will have to be in tune with their potatoes!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fluff-tastic Lemon Ricotta Muffins

So I never know what to do with ricotta. I buy it for one specific recipe that calls for it and then I have a ton left over that usually ends up getting thrown out (sad). This time I had a lot left over from my lasagna from back in the day seeing as apparently this cheese keeps forever. Not that long because I'm posting this pretty late but still a substantial amount of time when compared to many other dairy products. The point is that I had an abundance of ricotta and nothing to do with it. I didn't want to make lasagna again, that would just be boring and in this house I don't like to repeat meals very often since with school and work I rarely have time to cook so when I have an opportunity, I take it to try something new and exciting. This is turning into a paragraph of pretty intense tangents so I think I will just get to the point here. I was looking at some recipes online (I think I googled ricotta recipes) and I began to get results for french toast and breakfast food. For some reason, the idea of ricotta in a sweet treat was unheard of to me. This is the part where it gets a bit confusing because I literally worship the cannoli and yet I have always tied ricotta to pasta dishes. I finally found the perfect recipe for me, a lemon ricotta muffin, and set off on making them.

Someone may be curious about the modifier I have bestowed upon these muffins. Yes, they are indeed fluff-tastic.The lemon may be the star flavor wise in this recipe but the ricotta definitely pulls its weight making for a very light and airy batter and thus a fluffy muffin unlike nay I have ever had before. They are definitely worth a try if you have some extra ricotta but hell, I'd buy ricotta just to make these.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Almond Butter

So I never really buy almond butter because despite how delicious it looks, it's incredibly expensive. Like beyond any reasonable price for any condiment unless it's gold flake. Which I think is more of a decoration than a condiment. I can certainly understand the argument for all of these natural butters though since the ingredient and nutrition label on my normal jar of kroger peanut butter is a bit scary to look at. Of course, being the obsessive person that I am, I've decided to make my own nut butter. I found raw almonds at I think Sprouts for 3 dollars a pound. I love sales.

I have other motives for making almond butter. Now that I'm in school I need highly portable snacks and Almond butter works as a great dipping sauce for apple slices, celery sticks, carrot sticks, or bananas which are a bit more difficult to dip. Also as a vegetarian I am often desperate for happy protein loaded snacks. Finally, it just tastes really good and I was able to make it for very cheap.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

I don't know that I have ever really had a shepherd's pie and I question whether a vegetarian version can even be called shepherds pie. The main characteristic to me is the mashed potatoes on top (of course) but shepherds don't grow mashed potatoes, they grow sheep so without any sheep in this, is it still a shepherd's pie? And therein lies the philosophical dilemma that surrounds most vegetarian food. Or perhaps it is called shepherd's pie because shepherds possess a particular fondness for it. Well it doesn't matter because I possessed a certain fondness for it and I also feel quite partial to call it shepherds pie. Mine did not have any sheep in it, my pie only had broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini and onions in it and with a ton of creamy mashed potatoes on top, it turned out really well. It felt really hearty which is not something one often comes across in vegetarian dinners. I felt like I was out on the farm! That was a bit of a stretch but this really was good. A bit time consuming though and requiring a lot of attention.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greek Nachos

So the one person who reads this blog may have noticed that my cooking has been a little bit less intense lately and much more sporadic. The incredibly intuitive reader may have picked up on my new inclination for desserts and snacks. Well everyone is right. I've returned to school now and due to my hectic schedule I can't really cook and when I do, it's just for myself. As it turns out, cooking for one's self is both much less rewarding and more difficult. So why do it? Well I do it when I find a recipe like this one that is easily amended to feed just myself and such a pleasant after school treat that I can hold off on decimating an entire box of wheat thins for dinner or that bag of ramen. It's so quick too that after a 9 hour day trapped on campus I'm willing to wait the extra few minutes and put in a little bit of effort in chopping to do it.  A lot of recipes I find online seem to be geared towards cooking for a family of four or a larger group and I would have to imagine that this turns off a lot of people to cooking for themselves and perpetuates this notion that the only people who cook or enjoy being in the kitchen are housewives. I  think I may be thinking about this too much so it's time to talk about the nachos.

I like nachos. Usually when I need a quick meal I like chips with some beans and cheese and corn on top baked until they are awesome and served with guacamole and salsa on the side. This night I wanted to try something different though (and eat up a cucumber) so I searched for greek nachos. There was only one recipe that it seemed everyone and there mother was trying and naturally it contained meat. Other than that though, the flavors seemed great and just what I wanted. I used some sundried tomatoes and some cucumbers for my toppings with a delicious yogurt sauce but this is open to interpretation. I think that maybe some chickpeas or something would be great too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

So here is one of the many recipes that I have been enjoying since I was a wee girl. Probably not so wee but it is definitely such an easy recipe that I could make it at a younger age. I guess these aren't technically macaroons but I think this sounds better than coconut balls or something. I made them because I accidentally bought a new bag of coconut without realizing I had another almost full bag lurking in the dark realms of my cabinet. It was a sad day but luckily for me I have this recipe which is excellent for eating up large quantities of coconut and I just so happen to love the cookies that result. Perfect! All of the other ingredients are definitely things that I normally have on hand anyway so it was a very quick result. My only problem is that it has a pretty small yield so if anyone plans on making these for a group of people I would double the recipe.

I also think that this recipe is so basic so it would be easy to mess around with it a bit. While baking, I was thinking that a maraschino cherry on top would look great and taste pretty fantastic too. Or maybe an almond. This time around though, I'm very happy to just eat them plain.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cherry Tomato Bruschetta

Don't you just want to put it on a crostini and eat it? Well guess what! thats the plan! Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I made these delicious. It's cherry tomatoes and olive oil for crying out loud. How much preparation could they need before they taste amazing? And really, this recipe is painfully easy and the results are amazing. The sweet tomatoes are cooked in some olive oil infused with mint and garlic until the split open and are just about to lose their shape. Put them on top of some thin slices of baguette with maybe a little bit of goat cheese and suddenly the world doesn't seem such a bad place after all.

I was a little bit picky with this one. I decided that I wanted a box of cherry tomatoes that had the yellow ones in there too so that the dish would look even prettier. It took a while to find but Whole Foods had the goods for me. Unfortunately, my pickiness as to color distracted me from the size which led to a wide range of sizes. In the recipe, the authors told me to avoid this at all costs but I didn't really notice a difference. Who knows. I got it from one of the home-y magazines, either Good Housekeeping or Better Home and Gardens but I couldn't find the recipe online.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

Here are my peanut butter cookies and surprise! They're vegan. This was terribly exciting to me because while I realize that these cookies are probably no more healthy for me than if I had just made normal peanut butter cookies, it's fun to find out how versatile everything is and how many viable substitutes there are for things I would consider baking staples like butter and eggs. I also like scouring the internet for things that I become temporarily obsessed with... That last statement is only half true. I didn't want to go shopping so I really did have to scour for a recipe that didn't call for crazy vegan things (no, I don't have ground flax seed on hand).  

Which brings me to my second point. Did anyone see the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? It was really fun and you should see it but the reason I bring it up is for their inclusion of vegans. The vegan academy cracked me up but it kind of has ties back in to real life where vegans are part of this elite club and they look down upon people who are only vegetarians. I have been vegan before and I like to make vegan meals occasionally but one can only go so far. There is no way for me to give up everything out there that employs questionable practices. In my apartment that is, if I had a ten acre farm and the hired help to run it things might be different (I can't make strawberry Twizzlers from scratch). What I'm getting  at is that I think it is good enough to give up what really bothers you and to be mindful about your other choices. Essentially, this is me preaching about how everyone should stop preaching about lifestyle choices. I'm a vegetarian, you're a pescetarian, you're a vegan, you eat meat. Whatever, It's all cool.

But these cookies. They're amazing. And they just so happen to be vegan. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Strawberry Banana Bread

I think we've all been here with bananas that are just impossible to eat plain anymore. There are quite a few possibilities when one encounters this situation. There are smoothies and baked goods and the less desirable act of just grinning and bearing it and eating the mushy thing. There is always the ubiquitous banana bread of course. I won't patronize anybody by putting up a plain banana bread recipe. I think most people have their own recipe that they follow religiously any time they accidentally (it was an accident right?) let their bananas get to an inedible state. Sometimes though, you may crave something a bit unusual and more exciting. That's where I come in with the addition of fresh strawberries. I don't know why I had never thought of this before considering strawberry-banana must be one of the most popular fruity flavors in everything. I don't think a smoothie shop can exist without a strawberry banana smoothie. The flavor combination works just as well in a bread.