Raw family dinner: “Rawvioli”

Cooking for a big family must be tough but cooking for one is not easy either. It’s not uncommon for me to way overestimate the amount of groceries I need and I can only eat leftovers from the same dish for so long. Our significant others are off chasing dreams in distant locations (aka working real jobs or also in graduate school not at Purdue) so we decided to have a “family dinner” in their stead.

The fare: raw and vegan. Neither of us have much experience prepping raw food and I recently purchased Gena Hamshaw’s cookbook, Choosing Raw and I’ve been itching to try out a few recipes. We decided on Root “Rawvioli” with Nut Cheese and Pesto.

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Begin with the beet slicing. A mandoline is a must for this dish. There’s just no way to safely slice the beets thin enough without it. Mandolines are not crazy expensive and they are so darn useful. I got mine this summer at H-E-B for like fifteen bucks–you can’t beet beat that. If you need some additional encouragement, you can find one here. Random and shameless mandoline plug concluded.

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Apron required. Beets are bursting with color and are likely to stain your hands and everything else.

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Monique was master chef of the nut cheese.

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The recipe requires the cashews to soak overnight. We’re grad students in business school…that did not happen. However, someone told me to boil water and do a quick 20-30 minute soak. It did the trick! The consistency of the final product was bit thicker than what is described in the recipe but whatever.

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Pistachio pesto. Raw pistachios were no where to be found in our midwestern college town so we settled with roasted and salted. If you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, just hold off on the salt called for in the recipe and you should be good. A few whirls around the food processor and boom! chopped nuts:

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The micro grater is super handy when mincing garlic. It’s quick and easy too.

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With the beets sliced and the nut cheese and pesto prepared, we were ready to assemble the RAWviolis!

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The final review: it. was. so. delicious. Our raw family dinner was a huge success! This dish is bursting with flavor: from the mild and possibly sweet cashew cheese with playful hints of oregano, to the bold and zesty flavors of garlic and basil in the pistachio pesto. Mmm! Beets were a perfect vehicle to these two rockstars. In truth, there was a lot of nut cheese and pesto leftover but be sure, we were not complaining. They will pair perfectly with crackers, chips, or even veggies. Gena nailed this one out of the park and we highly recommend it. Find her cookbook here.

Kitchen bloopers:

1. We had a side dish planned. It was a salad of sorts, where the homemade dressing was to be the featured item. It was a total bust and we ended up eating a bowl of romaine with whatever dressing I had in the fridge.

2. Looking glamorous and cooking doesn’t always work out… 😉 And food photography/quality food making action shots are not easy.

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3. I know I’ve had a successful cooking adventure when the kitchen is destroyed (see countertop in an earlier photo). It’s all in the HappiMess 🙂

4. Let’s not forget about failing to soak the cashews overnight. Lesson learned: read the recipe all the way before committing.

Purely fun:

Kitchen Gadgets MVP awards: the food processor and the mandoline.
Likelihood of making this dish again: pretty darn high.
Would I recommend this recipe to a friend: yes, I already did multiple times.
Currently craving: brownies and sleep

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Fancy Franks For the Fourth

All along on my Hot Dog Research Journey I knew that I would be purchasing my own weenies and take the inspirations from Happy Fatz and Frank along to make some bomb-dot-com hot dogs.

 

The 4th of July is this week and I want to share some information from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council from www.hot-dog.org,

On Independence Day, Americans will enjoy 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from D.C. to L.A. over five times.

During Hot Dog Season, Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs or 818 hot dogs consumed every second during that period.

Los Angeles residents consume more hot dogs than any other city (over 95 million), beating out Baltimore/Washington and New York.

 

As discussed in my previous post about Franks (address here) I found that I can dress a hot dog with any elements that I would usually pair with turkey, beef or pork. My all time favorite pizza is the Hawaiian with Canadian bacon and pineapple so I set my sights on making the Hawaiian Weenie.

 

I took myself to the grocery store in search of supplies for my dogs where I spent 20 minutes in front of the meats reading the back of hot dog packages, trying to determine which one’s had fewer mystery and unpronounceable ingredients. Lesson 1: Do not read the ingredients in hot dogs. There is nothing gross in them but there are many elements that are processed, it’s just like buying fast food or packaged meals, there are ingredients that you can’t pronounce so you decide to ignore them. I went with the Hebrew National’s because they’re Kosher. I myself do not require a Kosher diet but I felt like I was winning the mystery ingredient battle this way.

 

I do not own a grill, while I acknowledge that hot dogs taste a million times better when cooked on a grill outside while enjoying a cool beverage on a fine summer day, I have to work with what I’ve got, a pan and boiled water. I filled my pot and allowed the water to start simmering but not to a full boil, next I placed my weenies into the water for 8-10minutes. I removed them from the water after 8-10 minutes and let them sit as I finished up my dressings.

 

For my Hawaiian Weenie I created a smoky Hawaiian BBQ sauce with a combination of Sweet Baby Ray’s Hawaiian style BBQ sauce, Tomato Ketchup, Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce and brown sugar. Them I chopped up some pineapples to garnish and BOOM, hot dog perfection!

Smoky Hawaiian

Fast-forward a few hours from lunch and I hunger again, for dinner I made myself a Chipotle Chili Pork Dog. Combining mayonnaise, chipotle chili powder and lemon juice I had a small batch of chipotle chili mayo that I paired with two slices of cooked bacon and a freshly heated hot dog. Beware: First start with a small amount of chili pepper and increase as desired and add more mayo and lemon juice to the mix if it’s too spicy. By the end of my meal my nose was running it was so spicy!

Chipotle Chili Dog

 

Recipes

Smoky Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

¼ cup Ketchup

2 Tbsp. – Honey Mustard

1 Tbsp. – Sweet Baby Ray’s Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

1 ½ Tsp. – Packed Brown Sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix. Taste and add additional amounts of ingredients to desired taste.

 

Smoky Hawaiian Hot Dog

Ingredients:

Desired number of Hot Dogs

Smoky Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

Cut Pineapples

Optional Ingredients:

Cooked bacon

Grilled onions

 

Directions:

  1. Heat water in pan until simmering, not boiling
  2. Place hot dogs in simmering water for 8-10 minutes & remove from water after that duration
  3. Dress the dog!
  4. Insert food in mouth

 

I hope you enjoy these recipes & I hope you share your weenie-spirations with us in the future.

 

Have a fun & safe Fourth of July weekend with your friends & families!

Summer Veggies & Pasta

 

 

Lightly tossed with extra virgin olive oil and S&P

Zukes and cherry tomatoes ready for roasting.

 

Just look at them! Aren’t they beautiful?? I have been craving summer veggies like crazy. Maybe it’s because I have been eating out way more than I would like lately.

During the last few weeks of the spring semester, I had all these wonderful plans of how I would cook and bake and write blog posts and take lots of pictures because I would have all this newly acquired time, right? …wrong. I have been just as busy now but in a different way. So my goal is to post once a week, and it will probably happen on Sundays. Be on the look out and feel free to call me out if I don’t stick to it.

Ok, let’s talk summer veggies. Saturday night I waited way too long to figure out what I wanted to eat for dinner. Honestly, I was avoiding it because I knew that no matter what I decided to make, it would require a trip to the grocery store. That’s a bad place to be when you’re hungry. And here in Texas, where “everything is bigger”, it takes so long to get anywhere…Ok I must admit my concept of “long” might be a bit skewed – in Indiana we live less than 5 minutes away from the nearest grocery store. On the flip side, Austin has some really great natural food stores that make the extra drive well worth it (I’m looking at you, Whole Foods). 🙂

Anyway, I was lacking some serious motivation but I did make it to my laptop to start searching for what would satisfy my palate. I started with Gena’s vegan and raw food blog, Choosing Raw and landed me on this delightful dish. My dinner search was over and my motivation found! I made it to the grocery store and back with all my items just before 11pm. The only thing left to do was eat a bowl of cold cereal with almond milk and call it a night. The zukes, tomatoes, and fresh corn would have to wait.

Sunday afternoon, I prepped all the veggies while Christi, my partner in crime (and sister), made us pink smoothies (beets, carrots, strawberries, dates, water, and cashews) to get us through our hangry hankerings.

Pink smoothie - hangry crises averted. Thank you, Christi!

Pink smoothie – hangry crisis averted. Thank you, Christi!

We needed that smoothie too because the veggies require some serious oven time – 45 mins to be exact. I was pretty tempted to just sauté the veggies to speed up the process but that would have been a serious mistake. The oven time (and a little patience) allowed the veggies to marinate in the extra virgin olive oil and freshly crushed garlic. Mmm…. the smell radiating from the oven was divine.

The final fare was even better.

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It took some serious self-control to wait long enough to snap a couple quick photos of this and not just shovel it all in my mouth.

What’s to love about Gena’s penne with sweet summer vegetables, pine nuts, and herbs recipe @ChoosingRaw:

  • it’s easy to make
  • fresh summertime veggies, including zukes, cherry tomatoes, and corn (off the cob)
  • the fresh basil really brings it to the next level and the oregano too (you can settle for dried oregano if you don’t have the fresh stuff on hand but don’t skip out on the fresh basil)
  • it’s sauceless but you won’t miss it one bit
  • pine nuts – so the recipe clearly calls for it and I had them but…I forgot about them. They’ll make their first appearance in the left overs though
  • it’s vegan!

Subs or suggestions:

  • the recipe calls for onions but I opted out because sometimes they don’t agree with me.
  • try a yellow squash or another one of your favorite veggies.
  • the recipe recommends adding the corn in to roast for the last 15 minutes of oven time, but I think our corn could’ve had a little more roasting time. Maybe try adding them in a bit sooner.

So what’s the final consensus? I think it’s obvious by all my raving but just in case any shadow of doubt remains, it was an absolute hit. You should try it. Check out the recipe here.

Dessert: vegan chocolate chip cookies

xo

 

Love & Food – S+J Anniversary 2

6.21.12 That was the day. Exactly two years ago yesterday, James and I got married. Last year, we threw our bikes into the back of the van and we drove to Navy Pier in Chicago. We left the van at the pier and rode our bikes all around downtown Chicago and ate whatever we wanted. It was perfect. Here we are:

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This year is a little tougher – James is in Indiana doing research and I’m here in Texas for my summer internship – but we made the most of it through a FaceTime movie date and eating a lot of great food for breakfast and dinner. We took it easy for lunch.

S. Breakfast: Green pancakes
J Breakfast: German pancakes

S Dinner: red potato & pork sausage hash
D Dinner: sushi at Majé

I know what you’re thinking – James really out did me on both accounts. I can’t compete with German pancakes but stay with me for dinner though, you gotta see this. It was so good! But first, we will start with breakfast.

German Pancakes

These are, no joke, my favorite kind of pancakes. They’re quick and easy to make and absolutely delicious. First time I tried German Pancakes was my freshman year of college. Meridith Marie Petty – a kindred spirit – introduced me to this family tradition of hers and it quickly became a forever favorite of mine.

Best part of german pancakes, second only to shoveling them in your mouth, is seeing them right when they come out of the oven. They’re so fluffy and buttery and crispy!! Mmm. James chose well.

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup of butter
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
6 eggs
Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the butter in a 9×13 glass dish and place it in the oven while it preheats so the butter can melt.
  2. Meanwhile, place all the other ingredients in the blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Once the butter is melted, pour the batter into the glass dish and bake for 35 minutes.

Now, if you’re anything like me and get excited about taking pictures with/of food, then you need to be ready and I mean ready. These beauties only stay puffy for a minute. Snap a few shots and then let it go. Serve with pure maple syrup or maybe fresh fruit.

Green pancakes

I have to apologize, I don’t have a photo of the green pancakes. I promise you’re not missing much though. They look like normal pancakes, but they’re green. Basically, they’re just another “creative” way to get greens into your mouth before noon. Brit showed the family this recipe a while ago and I’ve lightly adapted it:

Ingredients:

1 cup milk alternative (I use almond milk)
1/2 cup coconut oil (make sure it’s melted)
3 eggs
1 tbls agave nectar
1/2 tsp salt
3 large handfuls of Spinach (or whatever fits into the blender on top of the other ingredients)
1 cup wheat kernels

Directions:

  1. Put everything into your high speed blender (I use a Blendtec) in the order listed above and blend on the Whole Juice setting twice. Just make sure it’s well blended.
  2. Allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
  3. Drop about a 1/2 cup of batter into a heated pan. Flip pancakes when little air bubbles start to form on the top.

I recommend spreading some of your favorite nut butter on top and drizzling with pure maple syrup.

Fast forward 8-9 hours and dinner time it is! James had sushi. I’m sure it was good. But let’s talk about my dinner…

Fresh Garden Veggies & Pork Sausage Hash

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Evidently this a breakfast dish but I know very few people that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to eat breakfast twice in one day. Just look at it. Isn’t it beautiful! This dish was inspired by Celeriac and Sausage Hash from the Against All Grain cookbook by Danielle Walker. You can check out her blog here.

Ingredients:

1 tbls coconut oil
2 cups red potatoes (leave the skin on, it’s good for you!)
1/2 lb breakfast sausage
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
3/4 cup finely diced zucchini
1/2 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste

Add-ins/toppings:

chopped radishes
chopped tomato
fried egg
chopped rosemary for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in the skillet over medium heat
  2. Place the potatoes in the skillet and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add in the sausage and carrots, cook until the meat is fully cooked through
  4. Add the in the remaining ingredients and cook until the mushrooms and zucchini are tender
  5. Top with your add-ins: radishes, tomato, fried egg and rosemary.

Enjoy! I’m sure this would be good with a number of different veggies. Use whatever you have in your fridge at the time. I honestly could’ve gone without the sausage but my siblings really liked the flavor it added.

I rounded out the night with dessert, of course, because anything less than that would just be unacceptable. Luckily for me, Brit had this frozen little delight ready for me (recipe cred: Angela Liddon at OhSheGlows):

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I think it’s safe to say that James and I ate well this year for our anniversary, even if we weren’t able to eat together. It would have been nice to go on some sort of adventure but the delicious food and our FaceTime movie date (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) made it manageable. 🙂

What do you and your significant other do to have fun when spread miles and miles apart?