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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Polenta Pizza

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Polenta Pizza

This is actually going to be a pretty long post.  There are effectively 5 recipes that will be included.  While I may not be currently following Weight Watchers, I have in the past.  I also still lurk on the 20s message board, even if I am not in that decade anymore.  I have teamed up with a few other bloggers on the boards to do a recipe challenge.  We all have to make something healthy with the items, post it on our blog, then we all rate each others recipes.  Whoever wins gets to chose the ingredients for the next month.  This month’s ingredients are kale, stock, polenta, and cream cheese.  I saw this as a PERFECT opportunity to try and make vegan cream cheese for the first time.  I also didn’t want to do a standard creamy polenta topped with kale.  So, I made this recipe awhile back and liked it.  I thought a cream cheeze topped polenta base would work well.

Polenta Base

Polenta Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry corn meal
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 TBSP dry thyme
  • 1 TBSP dry rosemary

Place the dry ingredients in a pot. Whisk in the stock and turn the heat on medium.  Keep whisking.

Polenta coming together

It will come together in just five minutes.  That’s it.  Really.  Use this polenta for a base for other meals.  If you want, you could put it in a pan and bake it until firm and have a more firm polenta vs. the creamy version.

Polenta

Nutrition (whole recipe): 486 calories, 4 grams fat, 100 grams carbs, 10 grams protein, 9.6 grams fiber

Herb Cream Cheeze

Cheeze Ingredients

  • 1 package Mori-Nu silken firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 TBSP parsley
  • 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1 TSP salt

Add cashews to a blender and grind up until they are almost completely dust.

Ground cashews

Add the package of drained tofu to the blender along with the spices and blend until combined.  If it’s not coming together well, add water a tablespoon at a time to the mixture.  This gets better after 12 or more hours.  You can definitely change this recipe up to suit your tastes.  If you wanted a more sweet cream cheeze, I would keep the first two ingredients and add in sugar, honey, agave nectar, cinnamon, etc.

Finished cheeze

Nutrition (whole recipe): 428 calories, 25 grams fat, 22 grams carbs, 31 grams protein, 3 grams fiber

Braised Kale

Kale ingredients

  • 2 cups kale (curly and dinosaur are great)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • hot sauce to taste (I prefer Frank’s or Tabasco Chipotle)

Clean kale well.  Remove the tough stems, but keep the leaf part.  In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.

onions

Add the kale to the pan in batches.  With the first batch, add about half the vinegar and a few shakes of the hot sauce.  Cover the pan and allow the greens to cook down.

Kale in pan

In about three minutes, the greens should be wilted enough you can add the rest of the ingredients.  Cover the pan again.  Allow to cook for about five more minutes.  Stir the greens and the sauce.  Turn the heat down to medium and allow the mixture to cook.  You can allow this to cook on the stove from 10 minutes to half an hour.  Just make sure there is some kind of liquid in the pan.  You could also add some liquid smoke to the mixture.

Nutrition (whole recipe): 153 calories, 1 gram fat, 34 grams carbs, 6 grams protein, 7 grams fiber

Asparagus “Fries”

  • 1.5 pounds asparagus (thin stalks are better)

    Asparagus Fries Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP thyme
  • 1 TBSP rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP black pepper

Set the oven to 400 F.  Rinse off the asparagus.  Find an average length piece and bend the bottom of the stalk until it breaks.  Toss the bottom (smaller) piece.  Align the stalk at the top with the others.  Using a knife, cut off the bottoms of the rest of the other stalks.  Lay the stalks down on a greased (no calorie spray) baking sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil on the stalks.  Add the spices on top and put in the oven for 20ish minutes.  We call these fries as they get pretty crispy.  If the stalks are bigger, you will need more time.

Asparagus ready to go in the oven

Nutrition (whole recipe, it usually makes 3 servings): 209 calories, 15 grams fat, 18 grams carbs, 5 grams protein, 8 grams fiber

Polenta Pizza

  • 1 serving polenta base
  • 2/3 serving herb cream cheeze
  • 1 serving braised kale
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

Heat the oven to 400 F.  In a 12 inch cast iron skillet add the tablespoon of oil and spread around evenly.  Add the polenta while still warm to the skillet, which allows it to spread easier.  Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the polenta evenly around the skillet. Place the skillet in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Cooked base

The polenta will be done when the sides are browned and the top is very firm.  When the polenta comes out, spread the cream cheeze on the polenta.

Base plus cheeze

Add the kale and onions on top the cheeze.  If there is any extra sauce still in the pan, just leave it.

Fully Assembled Pizza

Put the polenta and toppings back in the oven for 15 minutes or until the tops of the kale are just crunchy.  Let the pizza rest for about five minutes before cutting into eight slices.  Enjoy!

Polenta Pizza

Meal

Meal with some roasted cherry tomatoes on top

Nutrition (whole recipe): 1044.75 calories, 21.75 grams fat, 162.75 grams carbs, 36.77 grams protein, 18.61 grams fiber

Nutrition (per slice): 130.6 calories, 2.7 grams fat, 20.3 grams carbs, 4.6 grams protein, 2.3 grams fiber

Book Review

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Book Review

I love to read.  Like really love to read.  I would devour whole books in a day’s time during the summer growing up.  I have trouble remembering some things about my childhood, but I can distinctly remember reading the Anne of Green Gables series while listening to REM Monster on my discman.

But on to the book I most recently read…  I joined a book club recently and this was my first meeting.  We did brunch, which is probably the best meal of the day.  But, the book we read is called The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.  I would not have chosen this book in a million years to read.  It’s a western, though it’s a comedy as well.  I think it being written as a comedy, really helped me get through the book.

I actually LIKED this book.  It’s written in the perspective of one of the Sisters brothers, Eli.  The brothers are contract killers for a man called the Commodore in Oregon City.  Their current task is to go to California and find a man in San Francisco that the Commodore wants dead.  Their journey does not go well.  Charlie, the other Sisters brother, is a drunk who loves his brandy.  He is also cruel to everyone around him, including his brother.  Eli on the other hand is a dreamer.  He wants nothing more than to quit the business he is currently in and become a merchant.  And to marry a woman and bring her home to his mother.  On the way to California the boys meet up with calamities including a witch, a mauled horse, a random kid who gets his head hit a lot, a red bear, and plenty of others that would do them harm.

The brothers eventually get to San Francisco and find that their contact, a dandy of a man, has run off with the guy they are supposed to kill.  Eventually the brothers find out that the reason that the man, Warm, is to be killed is that he has a formula that illuminates gold, making mining that much easier.  Here, nothing good comes from anything.

I won’t tell the ending of the book, only that I liked the end in that the dynamic of the brothers’ relationship was very much changed.  Charlie wasn’t allowed to be his usual cruel self in the end.  Eli gets to take charge and make his stand and get to go home to his mother’s.

I promise

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I’m so sorry it’s been so long since I posted.  I really have meant to post sooner.  I want to get into a schedule to post about 2-3 times a week.  Hopefully I should be posting a recipe (part of a weight watchers blog challenge), a book review (from a book club), and a movie (Rango).

Here’s a picture of my cat Punim to tide you over 🙂

Image

Vegetable Tian

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Vegetable Tian

I originally wanted to make this recipe for Thanksgiving this next year.  I have it in my recipes on my Pinterest as a recipe that I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving.  With Passover being here, I wanted to make something visually appealing and delicious as well, so this recipe seemed to fit the bill.  There is nothing in it that makes it specifically FOR Passover, which is why I like it even more!

If you’ve never used a mandolin before, you are missing out.  It makes slicing vegetables in precise widths SO much easier.  And there are other inserts to use, including ones to julienne as well.  Caution: BE CAREFUL.  I totally sliced my thumb while slicing my potato.  Secondly, only FIRM vegetables can be used on a mandolin.  Do not try to cut the tomato unless you have a really nice one with serrated edges or something of that sort.  My $20 mandolin from Bed, Bath, and Beyond is not the most sophisticated piece of equipment.

Vegetable Tian

  • 2 TBSP  olive oil (divided)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 3 large roma tomatoes
  • Salt, black pepper, and thyme
  • Optional: parmesan cheese or possibly nutritional yeast

Preheat the oven to 375.  Coat your baking dish with olive oil non-stick spray (use a round baking dish since it looks better).  Heat a pan to medium then add the olive oil and onion.  Cook until the onions are translucent, about eight minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, until the garlic is softened.  Add the onion and garlic to the baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in 1/4 in slices.  Or use the mandolin.  In a single layer, arrange the vegetables in the pan on top of the onions and garlic.  If using a circular dish, layer one vegetable on top of the next, leaving a slight overhang with each vegetable.  Keep going around the edge and then add to the middle.  Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, and thyme.  Drizzle the last tablespoon of olive oil on top.

Cover the dish with tinfoil and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.  Uncover the dish and grate the cheese on top if you plan on using it.  Bake for another 25-30 minutes to allow the dish to crisp up.  Enjoy!

Note: I cooked this dish to the point of cooking the potatoes through, then planned on finishing it at my mom’s, which would crisp up the veggies.  It didn’t happen.  It also wasn’t in the oven long enough.  So, make sure you get it nice and crisp at the end so it doesn’t get soggy.

Carrot Macaroons

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Carrot Macaroons

Well now that Passover is just about done, I am finally getting around to posting about my treats that I’ve been eating all week.  I figured cookies that included carrots are better for me than cookies that don’t.  Right??  They also happen to have coconut and chocolate on top.  I found the inspiration for the recipe on No Meat Athlete‘s blog.  The recipe that’s posted is gluten free, but the one I made is not.  Next time I make them, I think I’ll leave out the matzoh meal.  Again, it might be that I’m using whole wheat matzoh meal, but the taste of the meal definitely came through in the flavoring.

Carrot Macaroons

(makes 24-30)

  • 1 packed cup grated raw carrots (about 2-3 medium carrots)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup matzoh meal
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 TBSP sweetener of choice (agave, honey, maple syrup, or molasses)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The easiest way to grate your carrots is to use a food processor.  If you don’t have one, you can grate by hand, but it will take awhile.

Add all ingredients except the chocolate into a bowl and mix.  Split the vanilla bean with a paring knife and using the tip, scrape the insides of the bean into your dough.  The coconut oil is a semi-solid and therefore it might be easiest to incorporate by mixing with your hands.  It allows the oil to liquify into the mix.

Grease a baking sheet or use a silicone baking sheet for easy removal of the cookies later.  Using WET hands, roll your dough into balls and place on your sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.

When the cookies are done, melt your chocolate and either dip the tops of the cookies or use a spoon to put a dollop on top.  Enjoy!

Options: Next time I think I’ll just use REAL vanilla flavoring rather than a bean.  I also think I won’t use the matzoh meal.

Chocolate Cherry Bites

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Passover can be a difficult holiday, especially if you are vegetarian.  In years past I’ve spent much of the holiday eating a lot of dairy products.  This was also one of two times of the year I would also eat egg salad.  I wasn’t happy with it, but it seemed like the right thing to eat to get protein.  I’ve recently decided that I have no desire to eat eggs.  I haven’t given up all things (cookies) where eggs may be in, but I’m not actively cooking with them and I’m trying to avoid eggs as much as possible.

Welp, I needed to find something I could eat that was both portable, delicious, and had some protein in it.  I found this recipe from Oh She Glows.  I’ve eyed a few of her recipes, and I found this one to be very approachable and PERFECT for Passover.  The bonus is there is chocolate involved and I could use them for long run nutrition!

Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 10 pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1/4 cup chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Add the almonds to the food processor and work almonds until they are in small pieces but not to the flour stage.  Remove 1/3 cup of the almonds for later.  Add in the dates and process until the mixture starts to come together.  Add in the cherries and process until they are incorporated into the mix.  Lastly, add in the pecans, honey, and chocolate.  If you are using pecans that have added salt, don’t add extra salt, or add it at this point as well.  Mix until all items are equally incorporated.  Pulse in the reserved almonds.

With WET hands, pull off some dough and roll into a ball.  You should be able to get 15 to 18 golf ball sized bites from this recipe.  The bites can be stored at room temp, in the fridge, or the freezer.

Engery Bites

I used these on a 15 mile run the other day (fyi, that sucked!) and they were amazing.  There’s something about chocolate that keeps you going :).

Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup

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So, my intent was to write multiple blog posts starting before Passover with all the food I was planning on making.  That obviously didn’t happen.  It seems no matter how much time before the holiday I start planning, I’m ALWAYS rushed.  It never ceases to amaze me.  And this year, I had off the WHOLE week before Passover started.  I did go on vacation from Sunday to Tuesday and had ran a half marathon on the Saturday before….  But still!

One of the first things I wanted to try to make was matzoh balls.  I knew I would not be making the soup til I came home from the seders as we were going to be in Delaware for both.  But, I wanted to try to at least get the kinks out of the veganized version of matzoh balls before I got too deep into cooking.

I took a three prong approach.  I was going to try three different binders/egg subs and see what works best.  As for the other parts of the matzoh balls, I used a package mix to keep the consistency between binders the same.  The first was 2.5 tbsp ground flax plus 3 tbsp water sub for an egg.  The second was 2.5 tbsp ground chia seeds plus 3 tbsp water sub for an egg.  The last was 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce as the sub for an egg.  In each bowl I mixed the egg sub, 1 tbsp olive oil, matzoh ball mix, and enough water to keep the dough together.  I then let each sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.

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Balls in!

At this point I got a pot of salted water going.  I actually used the base I was going to use for the soup anyway, so it seemed like a plus.  I got that water boiling.  After the 30 minutes in the fridge, I took the dough and rolled it (gently, being careful not to overwork) into as many golf ball sized balls as the dough would allow.  The flax and chia both had about 8 balls, whereas the applesauce only made about 4.  Into the water it went, I turned the heat down to a low simmer, and walked away for 30 minutes.

When I returned I saw nothing.  Well, I saw cloudy broth.  The matzoh balls had all disintegrated into the broth.  I dug in with a spoon and found some strange gelatinous balls sitting at the bottom of the pot.  I think they were the chia ones, but I just chucked the pot of gunk.  Ew.  I was REALLY discouraged about this!

Ball Failure

But I persevered.  My next thoughts were to either bake or pan fry/sauté the balls, but I really wanted to make them traditionally.  So, I tried a hybrid chia/flax creation and didn’t allow the mixture to over cook, and BAM! This was it!

Disclaimer: These matzoh balls are NOT like the kind your grandmother makes.  They are not big, fluffy and white.  Due to the whole wheat, chia, and flax the balls are much more chewy.  If you want a slightly more traditional, you could try regular matzoh meal versus whole wheat.

Matzoh Balls

  • 1 package whole wheat matzoh ball mix
    • Option: ¾ cup whole wheat matzoh meal, ¼ tsp each salt, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, and baking soda/powder (whatever’s kosher for Passover)
  • 1.5 TBSP ground chia seeds
  • 4.5 TBSP ground flax seeds
  • 1 TBSP olive oil (or up to ¼ cup)
  • 6+ TBSP water

Mix together the chia, flax, and water to create the binder.  Add in the olive oil and dry mix.  If the dough doesn’t bind together, add more water 1 TBSP at a time until dough is just barely formed.  Set the dough aside in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes.  Get a pot of salted water going to boil.  Just before adding the dough in, turn the heat down on the water to low so that there are no more bubbles, but it stays hot.  Form the dough into balls, making sure to not overwork the dough.  Drop in the water and cover.  Make sure the water doesn’t start bubbling again.  Cook for 20 minutes.

Success!