Tag Archives: avocado

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!

Seitan (Carne) Asada & Spanish Rice

10 Aug

I always forget to put an apron on. I have a perfectly awesome apron that my mother made just for me! BUT I ALWAYS FORGET TO WEAR IT. My vigorous stirring of Arborio rice left me with tomato splatter all over my shirt. The things I do for good food!

Seitan is definitely my favorite out of all the meat-alternatives out there. It’s chewy and flavorful, but isn’t soggy and strangely textured like some of those “others” out there (*ahem* tofu). I’ve made it a few times before, but always find it to be an annoying process even though there’s only a few steps involved. There are so many different ways to prepare it and I decided to use the Bible of all the vegan cookbooks: Veganomicon. It’s a basic seitan recipe that you can shape to your own tastes or to match whatever recipe you’ll be using it for. Definitely better than store-bought!

Seitan Recipe (in Veganomicon & The PPK)

The only changes I made to the recipe were spices, in order to complement the carna asada marinade that I would be using for the seitan. I added lots of garlic powder, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and omitted the lemon juice. Prepared as the recipes states, except I just left my hunk of gluten in one blob instead of dividing into two.  I wanted something that I could make slices out of and felt this was a good approach.

Carne Asada Marinade

Seeing that I was missing quite a few vital ingredients to the carne asada marinade and didn’t feel like meandering to the grocery store, I winged it. I combined elements from recipes on AllRecipes and Simply Recipes to come up with a quasi-carne asada marinade. If you have a reliable and authentic recipe, use that. The marinade I whipped up was great, but needed a bit more spice to it (jalapenos would have solved this problem). Also, I was only able to marinade the seitan, zucchini and bell peppers for an hour. The longer the better! Two very essential ingredients to the marinade (in my humble opinion): fresh garlic cloves and fresh cilantro!

Slice the seitan into long strips and place in non-reactive bowl with sliced zucchini and bell peppers. Pour marinade over and let sit for at least a couple of hours. Fire up the ol’ grill and cook until desired crunchiness in vegetables. Roll in a whole wheat tortilla, drizzle with some leftover marinade and serve with fresh avocado, pico de gallo or spanish rice!

Spanish Rice

When I learned that one of the best ways to prepare rice is to saute it in some garlic and oil before adding water, rice became a whole lot more exciting. For spanish rice, I prepared some arborio rice (the stuff you use for risotto) using a can of unsalted diced tomatoes and low sodium vegetable stock. Towards the end I stirred in more garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and chili powder. Easy! Not particularly authentic, but delicious.


Wednesday already? Hard to believe that my classes start in 12 days…and I’m running the Warrior Dash in 11 days…eek! This also means that the kids that incessantly loiter at the library will also be back in school very soon…yeeeeeessssss…! Happy Hump Day, everyone! 🙂 The weekend will be here soon!

Taco Pizza

7 Aug


I saw Pioneer Woman’s post on Taco Pizza back in May and was intrigued. A combination of two things I adore: taco + pizza.  PW made the recipe very easy to follow and rather a quick meal to throw together, as long as you have the ingredients. I tweaked it a bit for my own tastes (and made it vegan!)

Taco Pizza, originally by the Pioneer Woman!

I only changed a few things, but followed her recipe pretty closely. Instead of black beans, I used vegetarian refried beans as the base (or sauce, I guess) of the pizza. I also used Mexican-style veggie crumbles, heated in a pan with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder + some water. I smooshed the pizza onto my Silpat, making it thinner than I normally would. I assembled it as such: refried beans generously spread around, veggie crumbles, & vegan cheese (I grated some Follow Your Heart cheddar…not as good as Daiya, but it got the job done.) This was baked for about 20 minutes. Once done, I spread some homemade salsa on top with chopped fresh baby spinach.

My favorite part of this dish was the sour cream mixture drizzled on top. I made this using raw cashews (soaked for one hour), lemon juice and salt. Processed until smooth, then added one avocado. Along the way, just to help with texture and thinness, I added some water. Lastly, Cholula hot sauce was folded in and voila! A very flavorful, but dairy-free sour cream substitute. It was very rich-tasting and creamy, thanks to one of my favorite things in the world: the avocado. This had a sort of refreshing, cooling effect to the spiciness of the fresh salsa and pizza. YUM. Happiness.

Black Bean Pupusas with Homemade Salsa & Guacamole

1 Aug

om nom nom nom.

Ever since I tried pupusas at the farmer’s market last weekend, I’ve been wanting to make them on my own! Not an easy task. The dough is a bit hard to work with (it’s just masa harina and water) and it kept cracking on me when I was forming the tasty little pupusas. Ack! So, mine aren’t the prettiest or most accurate looking, but it was a fun experience and I want to try again with different flavors!

For those of you who don’t know what a pupusa is (like me two weeks ago), it’s a “traditional Salvadoran dish made of thick, hand-made corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese, cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency, refried beans, or queso con loroco (loroco is a vine flower bud from Central America)”. As usual, Wikipedia has all the answers (just not for your college thesis).

This was basically the recipe I used, but the ratio of water to flour was way off. Followed exactly, my dough was overly dry and not pliable. I added at least another 1/2 cup-3/4 cup of water while working with it. The site was a good resource for the method of how exactly to form them, but I would make sure that your dough is wet enough before jumping in to rolling the pupusa (unlike me, who was impatient and ended up with the black bean filling oozing out through all the cracks). Mine were much MUCH thicker than an actual pupusa should be and you typically got a mouthful of the corn tortilla more than the black bean filling. Still, very good and filling! Especially with fresh, homemade salsa and guac on the side!

Black Bean Pupusas (Adapted from this recipe)

  • 2 cups masa harina (pretty easy to find–I got the Bob’s Red Mill kind!)
  • 1 cup warm water (I needed MUCH more than this)
  • 1 cup of whatever filling you like (in my case, black beans and green onions!)
In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoonful at a time if needed, to make a moist, yet firm dough. (It should not crack at the edges when you press down on it.) This was a little tricky to do because it seemed like either the dough was too wet or too dry. Cover and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of desired filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that that the filling doesn’t spill out. In an ideal world, this would have happened. Mine just kept cracking, no matter what I did. Ugly food can be tasty food too!

Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5 or 6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don’t have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin. Or just press them between your palms like me since you don’t have a tortilla press or wax paper!

Heat a greased skillet (or a griddle) over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupusas are done. EAT.

  • I definitely think this is a great, basic recipe. There’s so much you can do to create more variety and different flavors, even if it isn’t traditional! A cheesy spinach-artichoke mix or something sweet like a berry mash might be interesting to try!
  • I made all my pupusas first and then threw them all onto my griddle. Yes, the griddle you make pancakes on. Didn’t even need to use any oil, but I’m sure they would have tasted even better fried…
  • Guac and salsa made this dish. Dippable foods are just so much more fun.
  • Though I had some issues with the dough, I will definitely be trying this out again. So much potential!

bright and delicious!

I HAD to find an excuse to use some of my new/used pyrex…so we made some honey-sweetened lemonade! I think it’s a little absurd for lemonade to have 2 cups of refined sugar in it! Really not good for you. Honey, agave nectar, stevia or maple syrup are far superior sweeteners! Side note: need to buy a little citrus juicer. It was so tedious hand-squeezing 9 lemons (though my significant other did 7 of them) 🙂 I think I’ll have to make an “Arnold Palmer” tonight…

Avocado Sushi Makes Everything Better

25 Jul

One of my favorite things to make when I have an abundance of avocados!

Yum! I had two very ripe avocados sitting on my counter just waiting to be turned into something delish! Rolling sushi takes some practice, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s crazy how expensive simple rolls like avocado or veggie can be at some sushi bars! This is cheap. and tasty. Great lunch!

I have to mentally prepare myself for work on Mondays. It’s always crazy at the library after the weekend! The children seem to be especially insane since they don’t have access to our computers/internet for the ENTIRE weekend (OH THE HORROR!) Mondays also mean that I’m ready to check out more cookbooks. I have a complete library of my own, made up of library books. I have a problem with checking things out and not returning them! Good thing I tend to check out unpopular books so I can renew and hoard them for a long long time (one of the perks of being a staff member!)

I hope the garden is ok, I completely forgot to water it yesterday! Can’t wait for the little jalapenos to be ready to become SALSA!