Tag Archives: vegan

First Time Trying Polenta!

25 Aug

My tastebuds no longer find polenta shrouded in mystery. I’ve seen polenta in so many vegetarian recipes, but have had yet to try it and experiment with it. At its most basic, polenta is just corn grits that is boiled until a thick paste and can pretty much take the form of whatever dish you’re thinking of (sweet or savory!) I just picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill corn grits, googled for some general advice/ideas on what to do with polenta and pretty much just made it to see if I would even like it. This really isn’t a recipe or specific dish per se because I just wanted to use up some veggies I had sitting around. And the avocado was staring deep into my soul, beckoning me to devour it. So it goes. I am loving all the roma tomatoes I keep picking from our garden! They are small, sweet and beefy and I seem to be eating them with every meal. Yay lycopene! Overall, I really enjoyed the polenta! It was creamy and I can see it having much potential to develop into any sort of dish. I baked my polenta because I wasn’t too in the mood for mush! This went well with some roasted veggies on the side.

Basic Polenta

  • 1 cup corn grits / meal/ polenta stuff
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups milk of choice (I used almond)
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Spices of choice (i.e. onion powder, garlic, chili powder, sage, rosemary…depends on the dish you’re looking to make!)
  • 1 cup of shredded vegan cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Tbsp of favorite sweetener (this was an afterthought to the dish–just a hint of sweetness would make this even better)
Bring liquids to a boil in a large pot. Slowly whisk in corn grits and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until thick, being sure to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. The polenta can be eaten this way or fried in a pan for a few minutes, spread into a thin layer on a greased baking sheet and cooked for about 10-15 minutes, flipping once during that time. There are also many other ways to prepare polenta! Just do some googling and experimenting. Leftover polenta is awesome. I think I will be slicing some of mine up and grilling it! Yum.


First week of fall semester has been conquered! Just 14 more…eeek! I really think I’m going to enjoy my “Religious Movements of the US” class. I am constantly fascinated by the objective study of religions, their ideologies and effects on society and truly get sucked in by learning about cultural taboos, similarities between all religions and their historical background, whether rooted in fact or fiction. This can be a touchy subject for many people, but I love this sort of controversy and seeing what it stems from. Thank you, anthropology! :) My professor for the course is definitely a button-pusher–from the moment she made her grand entrance into the classroom, she’s been dropping f-bombs, pushing boundaries and forcing us to think about our own beliefs. I really feel I learn the most from eccentric, critical professors that force your to think outside the box. Classes such as this one make me feel like the amount of money I’m putting toward my education is worth it. :) But now, it’s late and I have to get up early! Goodnight moon!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with a Creamy (Cashew) Rosemary/Garlic Sauce

18 Aug

The only things getting me through the day today were coffee and the thought that I will be heading to Palisade, Colorado this weekend and then running the Warrior Dash on Sunday! Super excited for Palisade because this weekend is the Palisade Peach festival and Palisade is known for their orchards and vineyards. Looking forward to sipping on some wine and unwinding a bit. Even though I was thoroughly tired after getting home from work, I was in the mood to make something that would be satisfying and make me feel accomplished!

I’ve made gnocchi quite a few times in the past, sometimes without much success. Not the easiest dish to make, but I can’t get enough of those fluffy clouds of goodness. Making gnocchi really makes me want to buy a potato ricer…definitely a good thing to have. My gnocchi have always been made with the very basic of ingredients: potatoes, salt, flour and a bit of oil. Tonight? Butternut squash was on the menu. I love the color! There was also a hint of sweetness in the gnocchi, so it could definitely go well with a variety of sauces.

Creamy Cashew Rosemary/Garlic Sauce

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours
  • Garlic powder, dried rosemary, onion powder
  • Water!

Drain the cashews. Place everything in a high-quality blender and blend to desired consistency. Mine was super thick, should have added more water. Use vegetable stock for extra flavor instead of water. Warm up in a saucepan and add whatever flavors you like! Another approach to this would be to make a roux, bechamel or mornay sauce to go with this dish. Simple white sauces are amazingly versatile!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

  • 1 Medium Butternut Squash, halved
  • Salt+Pepper to taste
  • A few sprinkles of garlic powder
  • All-purpose flour

Bake butternut squash at 375 degrees until soft (this takes awhile, about 40 minutes). Scoop soft squash and spices into a blender and and blend until thick and pasty. Place the squash paste into a large bowl and begin working flour into it. I don’t have an exact measurement, since I just kept adding flour until it had the correct consistency. You want the dough to be soft and smooth, not dry nor sticky. Let dough rest for a few minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Take a small hunk of the dough and roll it into a thin, round tube. Cut into 1/2″ long bits. Using a fork, smoosh the gnocchi into fun shapes. Experiment! Who cares if it’s authentic or traditional! Make bunny heads or stars! ;) Make the gnocchi in small batches. Place in boiling water and when they float to the top, they are done! Fish them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Top with tasty sauce of your choice!

 

obligatory schnozz action.

I made my gnocchi quite large and beefy, so they were more chewy than fluffy. Still filling and delicious! I served this with fresh heirloom roma tomatoes that I picked from the garden today. It’s true–vegetables/fruits that you grow yourself taste so much better.

Not sure if I will be able to post tomorrow since I have much to do before leaving, so have a great weekend everyone! Cook some good things while I’m gone…

Grilled Vegetable Salad & Fruit Smoothie

17 Aug

We have a problem. The significant other and I tend to buy way too many Groupons & Livingsocial deals…and then forget about them until right before they expire. We bought a voucher for $30 worth of organic, local vegetables delivered to our door like three months ago…and got out veggies this morning! The tub was packed full of leafy greens, potatoes, corn, broccoli, eggplant and carrots. Now to find a way to use all this!

Lunch was easy to throw together. I salted and let eggplants slices sweat for about 30 minutes. I sliced some zucchini squash and heirloom beefsteak tomatoes and let those marinate in garlic powder, salt+pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil while the eggplant was sweating. The grill was then fired up and everything thrown on for about 10 minutes. Grilled Vegetable Salad!  The great thing about marinating vegetables is that the leftover marinade doesn’t go to waste, unlike when you marinate meat stuffs. Leftover marinade = lazy man’s salad dressing. The salad was gorgeous and bright BUT unfortunately, the eggplant was SO BITTER! Such a bummer. I know salting/sweating helps with the bitterness, but wow, it was pretty much inedible. It made my mouth hurt so much! Oh well! I devoured the rest of the salad and ended up pitching the eggplant. Not sure what went wrong, maybe just a bad aubergine?

I also made a fruit smoothie to add a bit of sweetness + daily serving of fruits to the meal. LOVE smoothies, especially on hot summer days! We try to buy and use fresh fruit as much as possible, but sometimes it’s too expensive or not available! When fruit is on sale, we buy a lot of it and freeze it. Perfect for smoothie making because you don’t need to add any ice. This smoothie consisted of: pineapple slices, strawberries (with the greens still on top), blueberries, and orange juice. Simple, but so sweet and refreshing!

 

Super excited to be seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, Incubus, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre tonight! Just hoping the thunderstorms roll right on past us :) Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Quick, Easy Zucchini, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

16 Aug

I was in no mood for a laborious, time-consuming dinner tonight. I found the solution sitting on my kitchen counter. I’ve been making an effort to buy much of the produce we love locally. There’s a small farm stand across the street from the library that I frequent and they have amazing heirloom beefsteak tomatoes. We also go to the farmer’s market at City Park on Sundays ($.25 jalapenos? awesome.), where we also get to pick up our share of the ELA Family Farms fruit CSA that we are a part of. ELA Family Farms is located in Hotchkiss, CO (about 240 miles away from Denver) and grow a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. We picked up our first share this past Sunday consisting of a bag of heirloom tomatoes, a bag of peaches and applesauce made from their own apples! As the season progresses, we will be expecting different varieties of tomatoes, peaches, plums, pears, apples and CIDER! For the entire month of October, we will receive a half gallon of cider every week. I love fall and cider and pumpkins and apples and orchards! If there’s one thing I miss about Michigan, it’s the sunny, brisk Fall days spent apple picking and devouring freshly made donuts at a cider mill.

With little inspiration or motivation toward making a grand meal tonight, I whipped up an easy, flavorful vegetable pasta dish that took about 20 minutes. The dry sherry used really helped bring the dish together and mellow the balsamic vinegar. This can be thrown together using pretty much any vegetables you have on hand, though I highly recommend some fresh, juicy beefsteak tomatoes as the main ingredient.

Quick, Easy Zucchini, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

  • 3 Fresh beefsteak tomatoes (also threw in a couple of romas we had on hand)
  • Half a zucchini squash, sliced and then cut in half
  • Fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • About 1/4 cup of dry sherry
  • a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 servings of whole wheat pasta

pretty pyrex :)

Boil water! Cook pasta! Meanwhile…in a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and minced garlic (since I didn’t have any on hand, I just threw in some garlic powder later on). Wilt the spinach leaves by covering the pan for a few minutes. Add zucchini and beefsteak tomatoes, stir and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add spices to taste (basil would be a great addition). Add sherry and balsamic vinegar and simmer for about 5 more minutes until the sherry flavor has mellowed a bit. Taste and make sure it is savory and everything you hoped and dreamed for. Throw on top of the cooked pasta and, if you have any, garnish with fresh basil leaves.

 

I was super excited to see the tea towels I ordered from Etsy seller Zen Threads waiting for me in the mail today. I love functional, vintage-looking tea towels and these are super high quality. Look out for them in upcoming food pictures :)

I’m loving these cool summer nights…Autumn is in the air! My favorite season. Can’t wait for the Aspens to start changing colors because you know what that means…WINTER IS COMING! I’m already itching to slap my skis on and tear down the mountains. But it’s still August. And it’s still in the 90s during the day. Reality check.

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