Monday, September 20, 2010

Roasted + Stuffed Delicata Squash

Something about setting a place for myself at the end of the day always makes me feel much better taken care of than I am. 

Roasted + Stuffed Delicata Squash
1 Delicata squash, halved and seeds removed
olive oil

1/4 cup sweet onion, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 t Aleppo Pepper (Could sub 1/2 t red pepper flakes)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups red kale, de-stemmed, rinsed and torn into small pieces
1/4 cup chunky almond meal (pulse a handful of raw almonds in your food processor until they are half the texture of flour and half very small chunks)
1 T nutritional yeast
2 T tomato paste
1 cup cooked adzuki beans with about 2 T of their cooking water (can sub veggie stock for the cooking water)
1 t orange zest

1/2 t fennel seeds
1/2 t mustard seeds

5- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly brush the squash with olive oil and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. When you can handle the squash, scoop a little of the flesh out of each half to make larger boats for the filling. Reserve the scooped out squash.

While the squash is roasting, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and shallots and cook slowly so that they caramelize a bit. I don't mean brown the onions, I mean cook them low and slow so that they get nice and sweet (about 10 minutes). Add the Aleppo pepper and red pepper and cook for another couple of minutes until soft. Add the kale and allow it to gently wilt. Stir in the almond meal, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked adzuki beans, the cooking water and the orange zest.

In a small, covered frying pan heat 1 T olive oil and add the fennel seeds and mustard seeds. Remove from the heat when you hear the seeds start to pop. Stir the oil and the whole spices into the filling with the scooped out squash. Taste for salt (I didn't need any).

Mound the filling evenly into the squash halves. Decorate the tops with the halved tomatoes, face down. Place the squash back into the oven for 15 minutes. When the squash is done cooking, allow it to settle for a couple of minutes before serving as it will be very hot. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stress--> Baking

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1/2 c Earth Balance
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c vegan sugar
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1.5 T flax meal blended with 3 T non-dairy milk

1 c quick cook oats
3/4 c vegan chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped dried tart cherries

Line a cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper and place in the freezer.

Sift the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the earth balance and sugar for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, cinammon and flax/milk "egg" and beat for one more minute.

Fold in the dry ingredients until you have a sticky dough. Mix in the oats, chocolate chips and cherries. If the dough is still really wet, add another 1- 2 T flour.

Place the cookie dough in the fridge for 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350.

Scoop the dough (about 1.5 T/ cookie) onto the cold cookie sheet and bake in the top of the oven for 15 minutes, turning the sheet halfway through. Let the cookies cool on a rack...And try not to eat them all yourself.

Depending on how much cookie dough you eat, this recipe makes about 20 large-ish cookies.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quinoa salad inspired by Kelly + an interlude about a boy

On a bed of delicious greens.

Quinoa salad with herbs, tahini and fresh veggies
1 cup quinoa cooked
4 Thai eggplants, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
3 carrots, shredded
1 beet, shredded
1/3 cup tart dried cherries

3 T roasted sesame tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic

1/2 cup mint, chopped
1/2 cup parsely, chopped

unbleached salt + pepper + olive oil

Rinse the quinoa and then toast lightly in 1 T olive oil. Add 1.5 cups of water and cook until done, but not mushy. Set aside.

Generously salt the eggplant after dicing and set aside while you chop the other veggies. Try to get a consistent size on everything. Drain, rinse and dry the eggplant after about 10 minutes.

Heat about 2 T olive oil in a large skillet. Add the eggplant and let cook for 2 minutes before adding the bell pepper, tomato and cherries. Cook together for about 5 minutes. Everything should stay pretty al dente, but you want the flavors to marry.

In a small food processor make an emulsion with the tahini and lemon (it will turn into a mayonnaise-y consistency) and then add the minced garlic.

When the veggies are done dump them in a big bowl with the cooked quinoa, shredded beets and carrots, and tahini dressing. Stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. When the salad has cooled stir in the green herbs and serve.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's that cool crisp feeling?

Earlier this week Chicago was hot and sticky. The last drags of Summer hanging around like little temptations as what might be my last school year began. Tuesday night I was drunkenly skinny dipping in Lake Michigan, riding my bike home in damp shorts, and reveling in the heavy air. By Friday the air was cold, and I felt the need to put on gloves to bike home. (I didn't have gloves so I pussied out and popped my bike on the blue line so that I could ride home with a friend.) This morning, I woke up early to a bluebird day with muscles that feel sore in the best possible way. I jumped out of bed to seriously chilly air, made some tea, moved through some sun salutations to get my body moving and my blood warmed up, and hit the grocery store. (Last night's dinner consisted of a So Delicious yogurt, a slab of baked tofu and some chips...So, things were getting a little desperate.) Walking down Division at 8am on the first autumnal day of the year was like a little revelation. I may be a big fan of Summer, but my heart belongs to the Fall. The slight change in the angle of the sun, the feeling of being neatly contained in a sweater and jacket, the rustle of leaves...the smell. I just love it. I will be really sad to be boxed into a regular job (FINGERS CROSSED!) this time next year. 

Anyway, last night, after eating a totally unsatisfactory dinner and passing out watching the really, really terrible Benjamin Button with a friend, I woke up around midnight and set some beans to soak in order to avoid another day of irresponsible eating. (It's been a long, long week of picking at crudité platters at orientation events my friends...A long week of vats of not so tasty hummus and sad looking carrot sticks.) I've been craving Sweet Potatoes with alarming regularity and I was thinking all week about a brothy, miso-based sweet potato/adzuki/kale soup. But, this turn in the weather made me want something a little bit heartier. I cooked up batches of black beans, adzukis, and chick peas this morning and put together a little mixed bean salad and a really nice sweet potato and adzuki soup.

Quick Gingered Sweet Potato Soup with Adzuki Beans and Miso
1 T olive oil
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed (skin on)
1 sweet onion minced
1 bay leaf
2" of ginger minced
1/2 t fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 t red miso
1/2 vegan bouillon cube
1/2 cup adzuki beans, cooked (I cook mine with just a 1" piece of kombu for flavor and add a little salt at the end)
1/2 t smoked paprika
cilantro for garnish

Sweat the onions in a large sauce pan with the olive oil. When the onions start to become fragrant (about 5 minutes) add the cubed sweet potato and continue to stir until the sweet potato becomes fragrant. Toss in the fennel seeds, ginger and bay leaf. Stir for a minute or two before adding the water, miso and bouillon. Simmer until the sweet potato starts to fall apart, then remove the bay leaf and buzz lightly with an immersion blender. The soup should be chunky rather than silky. Add the adzukis and the smoked paprika and remove from the heat. Serve garnished with cilantro. 

Just for fun, here's a shot of my bean salad. It's delicious, but doesn't really merit a recipe as its just beans, a little herbed vinaigrette, chopped bell pepper, dill and tarragon. 

As ready as I am for Fall, I'm really hoping for one last look at Summer this weekend, and maybe a Labor Day BBQ at the beach?! But, I'm glad for the cool weather today...I'm hoping it will be a good incentive to get some reading done (homework!) and I think dates always go better when the weather is cool...Oh, right...I'm going on a date, like a real date with a pre-appointed time and a meal involved. I'm not really sure about how this works. I thought dates were where two people who kind of know each other put some wine in a brown bag and sit in a park and talk until they accidentally-on purpose make out. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Skin Magic

I've had terrible skin my entire life--acne ridden, simultaneously oily and dry, prone to red flushes. But, here's the thing...It has always had a lot of potential. Sometimes, with the right magic combo of cleansers and medication I've seen this potential realized. But, it has never lasted long. I did three courses of Accutane which left me with chronic stomach trouble, but I still don't have clear skin. About a year ago, I went off of my hormonal birth control. Despite my total commitment to not being pregnant, the HBC makes me kookoo bananas. And, while I feel a million times better emotionally, this little change has done nothing but make the skin issue worse. That is, until I found the world's best cleanser...Oh, wait, its not just an amazing skin loving magic elixir, its also vegan and smells really, really good. 

Made by a company called Earth Science, this cleanser is similar to Cetaphil, but isn't tested on animals and doesn't contain all the nasty chemicals that the dermatologist's favorite does. I've been using it as part of my Proactiv routine--in place of the scrubby cleanser at night. I like it so much that I've been using it in place of the Proactiv cleanser in the morning many days too. It takes make-up off like a dream, my skin has this amazing glow, and best of all...NO NEW BREAK OUTS. I'm thrilled. If this keeps on going my skin might actually start living up to its potential and I might be able to stop researching crazy holistic treatments like peeing on my face. And, I can stick to my only mascara make-up routine for my date on Saturday.