Posts Tagged squash

VeganMoFo: Adzuki Beans & Winter Squash Saute

I made my way to Whole Foods today to get the ingredient I couldn’t find in town (adzuki beans), and so I made another recipe from my list – Adzuki Beans & Winter Squash Saute from Vegan Planet.

I had my doubts about how good a recipe like this would be, as there were only six ingredients, one being water.  But I wanted to try adzuki beans, and it seemed like a nice, simple way to introduce myself.  I’m glad I tried this recipe.  The tamari and shallots did something magical to the carnival squash, and the adzuki beans were a nice complement.  I’m not in love with the beans after my first try, but they’re tasty enough.  It was my first time trying a carnival squash too, it tasted kind of like acorn squash.

Plain steamed brussels sprouts on the side.  I normally roast my brussels, but bf and I had like four kitchen projects going on at the same time and the oven was occupied.  I had planned to make brown rice to go along as well but I didn’t remember until it was much too late, so I took a cue from Katie at Chocolate Covered Vegan and made savory oat bran.  It’s good!  I treated it like I do grits, adding a bit of earth balance, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and parsley.  It kind of tasted like grits.  Oaty grits.

A lot of people say the same thing about Vegan Planet, that it’s such a big cookbook that they rarely actually make anything out of it.  I say take a look and give it a try!  I’ve made six recipes from VP now, and they were all excellent.  I’ll surely be digging through for more recipes to try soon.

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First Fall Flavors = Soup

I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that after only two and a half weeks at my job, I was laid off.  More than not having income, the bad part is that this will hold up our progress on finding a place to live.  We’re tired of being homeless!

The good news is that while I’m looking for a job (again) I’ll have time to cook.  For the past few weeks I’ve started to notice the pumpkins and fall produce in stores, unable to make anything with them.  I feel like I’ve been missing out on a whole season’s worth of produce.  In reality, it’s only been a few weeks and I’m just being dramatic.

I’m sure we’ve all had creamy butternut squash soups, but I was craving it bigtime so soup is what you get.  I think this one was pretty special though, as three certified meat eating boys all agreed that it was quite tasty.

Roasted Garlic, Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup with Caramelized Onions

1 medium butternut squash, seeded, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
3/4 lb (12 oz) baby carrots
8 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
dash cayenne pepper
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
paprika

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place squash, carrots and garlic on a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil. Drizzle on a few Tbs olive oil and stir to coat. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs olive in a large pot. Add sliced onion and turn heat to low. Cook onions, stirring frequently, until soft and caramelized, 30 minutes or more. Remove onions from the pot.
3. Transfer half the roasted vegetables to a blender, add half of the broth and puree. Pour into the pot used to cook the onions. Put the other half of the vegetables and broth in the blender and add most of the caramelized onions, reserving a few for garnish. Puree and pour into the pot.
4. Add the seasonings (curry powder through cayenne pepper), stir, and heat soup until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Garnish each bowl with caramelized onions, paprika and more black pepper.

Makes 5-6 servings as a side.

While you’re at it, why not roast some brussel sprouts?

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Whirlwind Weekend

Greetings.  I had a great food and friends weekend, and I wanted to write this post Monday morning, but I woke up with a terrible sore throat.  Soon it became the kind of sickness that completely knocks you out, and by nighttime I had a fever.  Yesterday I went to the doctor and found out I have strep throat so I filled her prescriptions, took the pills, and again was knocked out.  Last night I was far too lethargic and nauseous to type anything, so here I am Wednesday morning, pre-med ingestion, to write out this post that’s been hanging over my head then resign myself to another day of boredom and nausea.

When I was in high school, if I spent a Friday night alone I would get really depressed.  Now I find I’m perfectly content to spend an entire Friday night at home cooking, and that is what I did on Friday.  I knew Saturday I was going to have no free time, so I cooked and prepped everything Friday night.  I also made pesto pizza for dinner using farmers market basil and tomatoes and VWAV pizza crust from the freezer.

pesto pizza

Upon taking the crust out of the freezer, I was reminded how awesome I am, because I had included this note to myself on how to bake it, so I wouldn’t have to look it up again.

pizza note

The pesto recipe and tofu ricotta were also from VWAV.  I put the red onion on sparingly, but afterwords wished I had put more on, because it was really yummy.

pesto pizza

Janeen had invited me to brunch Saturday morning, so I got up and finished up the food to take to her place.  I made what I’m calling Monkey Rolls – banana-chocolate-walnut cinnamon rolls.  I made the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from the Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk zine, subbing mashed banana for the pumpkin and adding chocolate chips and chopped toasted walnuts to the filling.  I also subbed canola oil for the margarine in both the rolls and the filling, as Janeen is allergic to soy.  I was most nervous about that substitution, but they turned out great.

monkey rolls

I had intentions of icing them with both vanilla and chocolate and almost skipped the chocolate part for lack of time, but I’m glad I went with both because I think the chocolate icing was the part that really took them over the top.

monkey rolls

I also made what I envisioned to be baked black bean & sweet potato taquitos.  Friday night I made the fillings, which were Refried Black Beans from Yellow Rose Recipes, and a sweet potato mash with lime juice, cilantro and minced chipotles.  Saturday morning I made my first homemade wheat tortillas from this recipe.  I made 12 tortillas instead of the 8 the recipe calls for, to make them smaller.

tortillas

They turned out really well for a first attempt, but they weren’t as pliable as I had hoped.  I wrapped each one around some of the black beans and sweet potato, secured them with a toothpick, and baked for about 15 minutes.  Right around the time I was trying to finish photgraphing and pack up for Janeen’s house, a crazy storm started rolling in and took all my light.  So I skeedaddled to Janeen’s just in time to beat the rain and took the rest of the photos by flash, and candlelight because Janeen is romantic like that.

taquitos

So the taquitos didn’t wrap up as I had hoped, but they tasted really good.  I served them with a quick guacamole and homemade enchilada sauce.  I like the enchilada sauce you can buy at the store (Old El Paso?) but felt like trying homemade.  I figured it couldn’t be too difficult.  I was skeptical about just how much a roux would do for an enchilada sauce, but it really did the trick.  The sauce had a silky mouthfeel that couldn’t have been acheived by just mixing ingredients together.  The only change I made was to add 2 tsp of sugar.  I like a sweet sauce.

Janeen made some excellent potatoes, cooked with a bruschetta mix and mushrooms.  These were really good.

She also put together a pretty fruit plate.

fruit plate

Here’s our candlelit spread.

brunch spread

We had planned a bike ride after brunch, but since it was storming we stayed in and ate like piggies.

brunch

Afterwards we went to watch bf’s band play at an afternoon benefit show, then retired to his house for a bbq.  I came home in between to clean up, and by the time I got there this was the spread on the coffee table.  Normally we’ll have out a bag or two of chips, but apparently that day we were partying like there were 20 of us even though there were only really 8.

chips

And for further exhibit of “how we roll”, here is the top shelf of the beer fridge.  Yes, there are two fridges and one is just for beer.

beer

For the bbq I made Apricot BBQ Sauce from VCon.  I was skeptical about how good this could be with no vinegar and such a small amount of tomato, but this is really good.  Make it now while apricots are in season!

apricot bbq sauce

I used this sauce to baste FatFree Vegan’s Barbecued Seitan Ribz.  So good.

ribz

I also made squash pickles.  You may recall that I first made them a while back, and wasn’t quite happy with the seasoning.  This time I got it right.  Nobody else seems to like these as much as I do, but I do like them.  So if you like squash and pickles, give them a try.

squash pickles

Squash Pickles

2 yellow squash and 1 zucchini, or 4 yellow squash, sliced
1 c vinegar (1/2 c apple cider, 1/2 c white)
1 c sugar
heaping tsp kosher salt
2 c water or enough to cover squash
medium to large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 tsp pickling spice
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp celery seed

Put all ingredients in a non-reactive container and stir. Refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

For crisper pickles, salt the squash slices and let sit in a colander for a half hour. Rinse before adding to other ingredients.

My plate, with some grilled asparagus.

bbq

That’s it for now.  I have friends visiting this weekend and am concentrating on getting well before then.  And maybe going back to work, since that’s how I get paid.

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You-Pick Blueberry Crisp, Faux Pho & Laptop Lunches

My friend Jackie asked last week if I wanted to go blueberry picking on Saturday, and of course my answer was yes.  We wanted to pick blueberries a month or two ago but it was too early in the season.  So Saturday around 12:30 we set out to meet her friend Jenny at a local blueberry farm.  Why we went during the hottest part of the day I’m not sure, it just seemed like the time to go.

The blueberry farm turned out to be not so much a farm setup, but a house with a little sign in the front that said “for berries go around to back porch and ring the bell”.  With trepidation we walked toward these people’s backyard, and the lady was on the porch finishing up with another customer.  She then turned her attention to us and said “You guys ready to pick some blueberries?”.  I kind of felt like a kindergartner being psyched up to go on a field trip, but I appreciated her pep.  She gave us some insect repellent and warned about snakes.  Eep!  We set off toward the farthest field where we had been advised there were plentiful ripe berries, and after about a half hour in the hot, hot sun we came back sweaty, tired, non snake-attacked, and each with 1 1/2 – 2 pounds blueberries.  My haul only cost three dollars!

blueberries

I was glad when Jenny suggested lunch at Satchel’s, a trendy little pizza place that I like but never go to because bf doesn’t care for it.  They have a killer salad of lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, apples and nuts with their secret dressing.  I also ordered an “indy” pizza with mushrooms and spinach.  Their sauce is just a bit spicy.  According to the menu the small salad feeds 2-4 (as a side I assume), but I was famished – I ate my whole salad and half of the 10-inch-or-so pizza, only stopping because I wanted to save the rest of the pizza for dinner.

Soon as I got home I jumped in the shower, a cool shower since I had gotten a little too much sun while berry picking.  When I came out, Jake the monster was being super adorable, so I had to stop and take some pictures.  First he had decided to use my backpack as a bed.  Cats really do love to lay on things.

jake

Then somehow he got himself through the strap.

jake

Such a handsome man.  Then while I was getting dressed he tried to eat the Target bag.

jake

And again managed to get semi-tangled in it.

jake

Yes, those are a couple new melamine plates from Target under the fat boy.  I needed some other supplies from there (gigantic Method laundry detergent, anyone?) and the plates were only like two dollars!  Hi, my name is Erin and I’m addicted to buying cute, cheap plates.

Back to the food.  I didn’t have any specific plans for my blueberries, but we were having a few people over to grill that night so I decided a crisp was in order.  For tried and true Southern style recipes I turn to the Betty Crocker Cookbook, and it really never fails me.  I went with blueberries and peaches for the fruit layer.

blueberry crisp

I patted the crust on and packed it up to bake later at bf’s house.

blueberry crisp

At this point I was a bit wary of the recipe because I thought that most pie/crisp/crumble recipes added stuff to the fruit, like sugar or flour, and this recipe called for the fruit to be naked.  But like I said, I trust Betty Crocker.

BF and co. were grilling mostly meats that night, so I took along the rest of my pizza from lunch.  Tom did bring over some zucchini and squash though, so I sliced it fairly thick and dressed it simply with olive oil, sliced garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.

pizza & squash

The squash was AMAZING.  I assume it was the combo of prep and cooking it in foil directly over the coals that had died down a bit, and I also assume we’ll never achieve this squash nirvana again.  They were soft but not falling apart, and tasted almost buttery.  I was sad there weren’t leftovers.

Meanwhile I baked the crisp, then forgot to take a picture until I had dished out many servings.

blueberry crisp

Verdict:  Everyone loved this.  I liked that all the sugary sweetness resided in the crust, and the fruits were left to speak for themselves.  The blueberries made this amazing syrup.  I even reduced the original amount of sugar called for, so to me it was perfectly sweet.  I ate mine with a dollop of vanilla soy yogurt.  Before…

blueberry crisp

…and after.  (But before I licked the plate.)

blueberry crisp

Fruit Crisp
adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

4 cups of sliced or chopped fruit (apples, blueberries, peaches, etc)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup margarine, softened
heaping tsp cinnamon
heaping tsp nutmeg

Heat oven to 375.  Grease an 8×8″ baking dish.

Spread fruit in dish. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients until well mixed; sprinkle over fruit and pat down gently.

Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is tender. Serve warm with ice cream or soy yogurt. 

Sunday night bf was in the mood for “big soup”.  There is a Vietnamese place called Taste of Saigon II that we go to every once in a while, and pretty much only order the huge bowls of pho.  Two or three meats for bf, vegetarian with oyster mushrooms and tofu for me, and everybody’s happy.  But we’re both trying to save money right now, and I got to thinking that it shouldn’t be too hard to at least make an unauthentic dumbed-down version of pho.  After some help from the internets and a trip to the store this is what we came up with.

pho

I’m not going to write up a recipe because it wasn’t that great, but it definitely hit the spot for what we were craving, made four meals instead of two for about the same price, and saved us from a drive across town.

The general method is to bring the veggie broth, some water, half a sliced onion, 1/2 lb mushrooms, lime juice, a dash of sugar, and salt, soy sauce and five spice powder to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the rice noodles according to the package, and cook any proteins you want to add.

Make a pretty plate of condiments:  bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro, sliced jalapeno, scallions, sriracha and hoisin sauce.  Basil probably would’ve been good too.

pho

Put some broth in a huge bowl and add some noodles and optional protein.

pho

Yes, I ate out of a casserole dish  That’s why it’s “big soup”.  Add your garnishes, stir, and eat with chopsticks and a big spoon.

pho

And finally, a wrap up of last week’s lunches.

6-2 lunch

6-2-08  spaghetti, steamed kale, grilled marinated portobello, corn off the cob,
garlic bread, choco-choco chip-walnut cookie

6-3 lunch

6-3-08  wheat toast, green beans, eggplant parmesan, roasted red pepper-lentil-basil sauce, cherries

6-4 lunch

6-4-08  stir-fried eggplant, carrot, kale & basil, sweet & sour peanut sauce,
white rice w/ toasted peanuts, cherries

6-5 lunch

6-5-08  pb&j on wheat, half strawberry jam half peach spread, baby carrots,
two dill pickles, pickled mushrooms, cherries

Friday I was mostly out of fresh food so I grabbed an Amy’s non-dairy pot pie and the rest of the green beans.  I actually microwaved it and ate a hot lunch for a change.

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Wednesday Farmers Market

One of the weekly farmers markets here in Gainesville is held downtown on Wednesday afternoons.  I pretty much always want to go but used to forget 98% of the time, plus parking is hard to come by.  It just so happens that the job I’m working at right now is downtown, located right across the street from the market.  I take the bus to work daily, so today after work I purchased some wares then caught the bus that came 30 minutes later than the one I normally take.  It worked out pretty darned perfectly, so I think this is what I will do most every Wednesday for the next couple months.

I have to say, the farmers market is continually just a little bit disappointing.  There are plenty of booths and plenty to choose from at each one, but it seems like most of the booths have the same selection the other ones do.  It makes sense that each farm located near here would do well growing the same stuff, but I guess I wish someone would offer something different or spectacular.

Anywho, I did get some good stuff.  Red swiss chard, cucumber, red bell pepper, blueberries and patty pan squash.  I’ve never had patty pan squash before, so I guess I can’t really complain about the selection at the market.  Aren’t the patty pans adorable?

farmers market

All for $9, and the blueberries alone were $4.  It’s a lot of blueberries though.  Hooray for the start of blueberry season!  Hopefully soon the u-pick farms will start up.

blueberries

The lady at the squash booth suggested grilling the patty pans when I asked about them, so that is what I did.  I sliced them vertically to keep the shape, and once on the grill pan they reminded me of the underside of a manta ray, how they look like they’re smiling at you.

patty pan squash

manta ray

As the squash were grilling I noticed the distinct scent of cooking pepperoni.  I’m not even kidding.  I did put freshly ground black pepper on them, but not more than I normally would have added.

patty pan squash

I tasted one, and it totally tasted like spicy pepperoni mixed with squash.  I’m so confused.  I’ve consulted the internets and nobody else seems to have experienced this phenomenon.  I haven’t used my grill pan in a long time, so maybe there’s residue from something else, but I wouldn’t think residue could impart such a strong flavor onto squash.  Anybody have a theory?  By the way, check out those grill marks.

I also made wheat orzo with red bell pepper, swiss chard ribbons and lemon butter sauce, and topped it with toasted pine nuts and almond parmesan.  Sounds fancy, huh?

orzo & squash

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