12 May 2016

Smoky Rotini Dinner

The semester is over, my grades are entered, and I'm looking at all the things I neglected over the past few months. Although this blog is one of those neglected items, it hasn't been far from my mind. I have loads of new recipes lined up to post.

Although the weather the past couple of days was quite warm, the week before had been rainy and cool and reminiscent of fall, which led to Shana and I seeking warmth and comfort. Given that it was also finals week for me, we also needed speed and ease. Luckily, we've been enjoying just the thing over the past couple of months: this smokey, savory, and speedy dinner that we adapted from Robin Robertson's More Quick-Fix Vegan cookbook. I've had this cookbook for a while, but we hadn't given it much of a chance. If this recipe is anything like the others in this cookbook, I have a feeling we'll be coming back to it over and over.

But back to the food! This dish has so many amazing flavors and textures in it! Even though the ingredients list looks long, you can find what you need in nearly any grocery store and you really only need to be able to boil water to make it. With all that going for it, the complexity of the flavors makes this meal something you can serve at a dinner party. Just make sure to double what I've listed below, as you and your guests will go back for more.

You can't see them, but there are chickpeas hiding in there, too!

18 March 2016

Veganomicon's Chickpeas Romesco

Every so often I just get sick of everything we eat. It usually happens once or twice a year, such that when Shana and I plan our meals absolutely nothing sounds delicious. It was in a bout of hating everything that I turned to my cookbooks to find inspiration. Upon paging through my trusty copy of Veganomicon, I came across something that tickled my taste buds, simply upon reading the recipe. The recipe in question was one for Chickpeas Romesco.

Romesco sauce is of Spanish origin (northeastern Spain, arguably Tarragona according to this NYTimes article), although similar types of sauces exist in other places. Generally, romesco is a pepper, tomato, and nut-based mixture, ranging from thin-ish to spreadably thick. This recipe takes a bit of prep-work, only because you need to toast almonds and roast peppers before you can actually make the sauce. But! The extra steps of preparation really ARE worth it, as they add such wonderful depth to the flavor. If that still seems out of reach for you, many grocery stores carry toasted almonds and roasted red peppers, but make sure they are not packed in brine.*

This dish is worthy of your next dinner party, especially if you serve it over saffron-garlic rice (recipe forthcoming)! We brought it to our monthly vegan potluck in February and it got rave reviews. We always share recipes, but forgot after February's dinner. This month, people pointedly asked for this recipe, which I'll take as a good sign that it was well-received.
You can see the chickpeas romesco over the saffron-garlic rice we like,
as well as another dish from February's vegan potluck. 

21 February 2016

TJ's Hearty Grains Dinner

It's been far too long since my last post! I've made a number of delicious things in my absence from the blog, so there should be some good new posts coming. I've got one tonight, I'm hopeful to have one later this week (I'm making something delicious for our monthly vegan potluck), and have some fun new recipes coming in the next few ways.

Anyway, this recipe is something that our awesome friends Max and Sara made for us ages ago. The four of us eat together at least three times a month, generally alternating who does the cooking. When they cook, they sometimes choose to cook something from my blog, but other times they feed us delicious new foods that fit our veganness and Shana's food idiosyncrasies. This dish was one of those delicious options. Max and Sara lived close to a Trader Joe's, so they have been able to use some great foods we haven't been able to access (although there are Trader Joe's in many places we used to live, they weren't there when we were living there). If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, don't worry, you can order a number of Trader Joe's products online. Anyway, without access to a TJs, I didn't know this awesome grain blend existed. With a few added ingredients, it makes an amazing dinner.

02 January 2016

Sports Day Nachos

Sometimes you just need a meal you can put together in almost no time at all. Something that will work when you're focused on something other than the food, but still need something that will fill your tummy and taste great. I think Sports Day Nachos are just the meal for times like that.

This particular iteration of Sports Day Nachos was enjoyed with The Bests (what Shana and I call our best friends), who are visiting over the New Year holiday from Pennsylvania. Since Shana and The Bests went to Penn State for their undergrad degrees and that's where my PhD is from, we're spending the afternoon watching Penn State in their football bowl game (well, they are watching and I'm posting here, but I am on the couch in the same room). We decided that Sports Day Nachos would be a perfect meal for us to eat while we watch.

In addition to the speed of this meal, the other nice thing about Sports Day Nachos is that you can add whatever you'd like to make them your own. Whatever you choose to add, everything comes together in no time and you've got a great meal.

24 December 2015

Vegan Viands #18: Christmas Spritz Cookies


Shana, my culturally Jewish wife, had no idea what Christmas was like the first year she joined my family at Christmas. The second year, the words above were her refrain; she had the excitement of a 6-year old. The third year, we'd set rules about what time she was allowed to wake everyone else.

If you've been an even somewhat-regular reader of this blog, you'll already know that I love traditions. Although sometimes traditions can stifle, when there's room to take them or leave them or change them to suit your needs/life, they can be wonderful, providing things to anticipate and/or structure in a chaotic world. No matter what (if any) religious faith you follow or grew up with, religious holidays are filled with tradition. One of the Christmas traditions at my house has been spritz cookies. Spritz Christmas cookies come from a long history in Germany or Sweden. Given that Germans and Swedes are two of the major immigrant groups who settled Minnesota, it's no surprise that these cookies make an appearance at Christmas time. They are a sweet, buttery cookie that is squeezed* out of a tube through a disk with a shape cut into it.

Therein lies the difficulty, you can't make these cookies without a spritz cookie machine. Machine isn't a really accurate word for the tool, as the machine is kind of a glorified plunger. But anyway, you need the tool! Although the one I use at my family's house is ancient, one of the more highly rated ones can be found here. After you have the spritz cookie tool, you're on your way to quick, easy, and tradition-filled cookies.

12 December 2015

Killer Kale Salad

This is the weekend in between the last week of classes and finals week.  I've assigned final papers in two of my classes and an exam in one of them. If the lapse between my last post and this one is any indication, it's safe to say this has been a busy semester for me, as well as for my students. I'm a bit behind on grading, though I think that most faculty members are at this point in the semester. Although I'm behind, I am feeling remarkably okay about it. I know it will all get done, and have the perspective-taking abilities to recognize that this is where I am at the end of every semester. In contrast, for most of my students, this is the point of the semester where their "stuffing begins to show," as one of my colleagues says. I think if my students were eating this kale salad, their stuffing wouldn't be showing at all.

This is another recipe that came from our monthly vegan potlucks, which I mentioned in my last post. Shana and I have eaten it a ton and fed it to numerous friends, including one who has never found a way to eat kale that she's enjoyed. This salad has been a hit with everyone. It's so simple, yet there is something magical about it. In all seriousness, the magic is real enough that we've had this twice in the past three days. Once you eat it, you'll believe in its magic.

04 November 2015

J & L's West African Peanut Stew

There is a big vegan event occurring in our small mid-western town: I've started a monthly vegan potluck! September was our first and was a great success. Although I knew many of the people who came the first night, there were still some folks new to me, and many of the people who came didn't really know each other. Regardless, we all laughed, shared feelings about how amazing it was to be able to eat everything on the table, and joked that it was nice to be in a place where we didn't have to explain our food choices or be "jokingly" offered a bit of someone's steak/burger/bacon. Our second potluck went as well as the first and November's gathering is just around the corner! We're building a little community of vegans, which is just so awesome.

For me, one of the most fun parts of these monthly gatherings (aside from feeling less isolated) is the ability to try and share new recipes with other vegans. After every potluck, we've compiled our recipes and shared them with the others on the email list. I've eaten some amazing new things and even my food neophobic wife has tried (and enjoyed) everything. The recipe below arrived at our first vegan potluck from our new vegan friends J & L (I'm not sure if they would want me to post their names, so I'm refraining). This dish was SO good that Shana and I have made it twice since our first potluck, which is more than we've made anything - aside from soup, because soup - since then. This really is a winner of a dish - delicious, easy, and inexpensive! You may even have all of the ingredients in your pantry already, so what are you waiting for?!