Something sweet

13 Jun

My sweet tooth has acted up in unexpected ways so far during my pregnancy. I expected to want nothing but ice cream and candy bars, but instead it’s green apples, smoothies, cherries and all the seasonal fruits. That isn’t to say I haven’t been indulging a little, but (so far unfounded) fears of gestational diabetes have kept me from going overboard. Still, here are a few fun indulgences of late.

A coworker spent two weeks in Okinawa and brought us goodies. Mine was this incredibly fun Matcha Kit Kat:

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And the candy inside:

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I really enjoyed this treat! The aftertaste was like buttercream frosting — that’s the best comparison I can make. I didn’t notice a green tea flavor at all, thanks to all the sugar, but I would definitely sample one again.

She brought a beautiful tin box of these little guys to my boss, who has been generous enough to share with all of us:

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I forgot to take a picture out of the package, but they are little butter cookies filled with white chocolate. They are so rich and pack the perfect pick-me-up amount of sugar for the afternoon slump.

And last night, I had a rare burst of energy (thanks in part to Mr. X making dinner — details to come!) so I decided to make cookies. I had a pretty specific craving for chocolate and peanut butter cookies. I found this recipe and knew I had to adapt them immediately. Avocado as a secret ingredient was too much fun to pass up! Didn’t they turn out cute?

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I actually de-veganized them to work with what I had on hand. I also cut the recipe in half. Here’s what I came up with:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies with Avocado
Adapted from Veggie and the Beast

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup salted peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Preheat your oven to 350, and grease or line a cookie sheet. Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cut your avocado in half, remove the pit, and scrape it into a small bowl. Mash until it isn’t lumpy. In the base of your mixer or another bowl, beat the butter until it gets creamy. Add the avocado and beat together until they become uniform. Beat in the sugar and peanut butter, and then the egg and vanilla, until combined. Now slowly add your dry ingredients until all mixed together. Roll down into walnut-sized balls, flattening slightly into fat discs. Bake for 10 minutes on prepared cookie sheet. Let cool, as they will be very soft fresh from the oven.

    Makes about 20 little cookies.

    These are lightly sweet with great chocolate/peanut butter flavor. The avocado adds creaminess without a distinct taste, which is perfect for these little cookies. I will definitely experiment with avocado as a butter substitute again!

    Jacked-up Jackfruit

    10 Jun

    I have eaten jackfruit a few times and have long been curious to cook with it at home. Over a year ago, Mr. X and I tried some barbecue jackfruit tacos from the Seabirds truck, which we absolutely loved. When Elise posted about barbecue jackfruit recently and I already had a trip to the Thai market planned for our Sri Lanka meal, I knew the timing was meant to be.

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    I decided to go a step further and add fried avocado wedges, too, based on another Seabirds taco. The combination was wonderful! Here’s how it all goes down.

    Barbecue Jackfruit Tacos with Fried Avocado

  • 1-2 cups barbecue sauce (I made a batch of my usual recipe
  • 1 can green/young jackfruit in water/brine, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 cups black beans
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 avocados, sliced into 16 wedges total
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Splash of milk (any works)
  • 1/6 cup cornmeal
  • 1/6 cup wheat flour (any)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying (about 4 tablespoons)
  • Combine jackfruit with 1 cup of barbecue sauce either in a slow cooker or a pot on the stove. If using a slow cooker, set to low for 6 hours or high for 3. In a pot, bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. The goal is to get the jackfruit really tender. Once it reqches desired consistency, use two forks to shred the pieces until it resembles pulled pork. At this point, add black beans and more sauce to your desired level of sauciness. Let cook for another 20 minutes or so, until beans are hot.

    Toast or heat your tortillas using your preferred method. We put ours directly on a medium flame on the gas stove until they get some black marks, maybe 20 seconds per side. Set aside.

    Beat your eggs with milk in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dip your avocado into the flour mix, then the egg, and then the flour again. Place on a plate until all pieces are coated. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add just a few slices at a time and brown on all sides. It takes about a minute per side, depending on how hot your stove gets. Don’t be afraid to let it get truly brown (but not black). Set fried pieces on a paper towel. Top each taco with a slice or two of avocado.

    Serves 4.

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    We are eating these again tonight, so I will make a fresh batch of avocado tonight. Jackfruit has almost no flavor and barely any calories, so it relies on a delicious sauce. I added the beans for staying power, and they are a great addition. I suspect we may have a little filling left over, and I already have plans for topping some baked potatoes with it for lunch!

    Have you ever eaten or cooked with jackfruit? I plan to keep it in the rotation.

    Return to meal planning

    9 Jun

    I stopped meal planning for a while because nothing sounded appetizing, and I was too tired most nights to cook. I’m back in the saddle this week, though! Here’s our menu:

    Sunday:

  • Breakfast 1 — French toast
  • Breakfast 2 — Omelets and hash browns
  • Dinner — Barbecue jackfruit tacos
  • Monday:

  • Breakfast — Smoothie (repeated every weekday)
  • Lunch — Minestrone, fruit and nuts (repeated through Wednesday)
  • Dinner — Barbecue leftovers
  • Tuesday:

  • Dinner — Chana saag and rice (repeat Wednesday)
  • Thursday/Friday:

  • Lunch — Baked potato with black beans, fruit and nuts
  • Dinner — Soyrizo stew with chips and salsa
  • Saturday:

  • Breakfast — Pancakes and eggs
  • Lunch — Out
  • Dinner — Leftovers/use up veggies and pantry staples
  • That’s the plan! Three of the meals are slow cooker recipes from The Vegan Slow Cooker book that I just got. I’m excited to see how they turn out. I promise to report back!

    What’s on your menu this week?

    News and Global Food

    7 Jun

    Cooking has not been my friend lately, which is a big part of my recent radio silence. The reason for my kitchen absence:

    We’re expecting a baby!

    We are thrilled, as you can imagine, but pregnancy has certainly not been without it’s less-than-fun moments. Still, I think I’ve had it easier than most, so I can’t really complain. And even if I wanted to, this blog would not be the place to do it.

    Now that I’m beginning my second trimester (!!!), I am starting to feel normal-ish in the eating department, so I have an entire home-cooked meal to share.

    I know I’ve mentioned one of my favorite blogs, the Global Table Adventure, a few times on here. Sasha is now working through the letter T, if you can believe it! Anyway, I read her review of Sri Lanka recently and knew I had to recreate it in its entirety. Here’s Mr. X’s plate:

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    We actually cooked the rice in the rice cooker, and it turned out perfectly. It was my favorite part of the meal! I’m not usually big on the flavor of turmeric, but it wasn’t overwhelming here. It served as more of a back note to the vanilla-y pandan leaves, the delicate-but-exotic spice of the curry leaves, and the familiar creaminess of the coconut milk. We added a few peppercorns, but I didn’t notice them too much. The rice is just perfectly fluffy and flavorful. It’s going into our regular rotation, for sure.

    The white dal was surprisingly subtle but also tasty. Next time I would add some hot peppers for depth (and a little kick, of course), but it was a nice, mellow, creamy dish that I think kids would love. The coconut roti had a wonderful flavor and was very simple to make, but I would definitely use the recommended white flour next time. I subbed in white whole wheat because it’s what I keep on hand. The result was a little stiffer than the soft roti I’ve had in restaurants. The shredded coconut was really good in it. I am not a fan typically, but it just melts into the bread. And we have a ton left in the freezer!

    Now that I have — or rather my husband has — discovered the magic that is our local Thai market, I am a convert. My next experiment will be with jackfruit, hopefully this weekend.

    Do you ever shop at ethnic markets? Preparing for this meal was actually my first time, but I will be back. I mean, $.79 for a bottle of turmeric? Yes, please!

    Revised approach

    12 Apr

    Between my desk job and my smartphone, I have actually been on technology overload lately. Sometimes it feels luxurious to unplug and get back to basics, as ridiculous as that sounds (since, obviously, access to technology is a privilege, and whining about it invading your life is a total developed-world complaint). All the same, I’ve been enjoying reading actual books and writing with a pen as a break from my usual habits.

    Last week, I decided to shake up the medium I used for meal planning.
    Instead of the iPhone Notes app, I’ve started whipping out my old-school composition notebook and a pen. Something about the additional white space and the act of pen-to-paper writing has been inspirational, and it has greatly improved my organization. I receive my weekly CSA email on Thursdays with a list of the likely contents, so I have started making my plan for the following week that same day. Here is next week’s:

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    I have truly abysmal handwriting for a grown-up. Sorry. Anyway, my old method was just a quick list of what I planned to cook that week. This one has me write it out day by day, which makes a big difference for some reason. I’m a visual learner, so I think this method is better for me because, in part, it lets me see exactly how much I need of ingredients for each meal.

    I’m still making my shopping lists on my phone, since that seems to work best, but I am a convert to the physical act of writing my plan down, at least for now.

    And so this post isn’t too boring, check out this adorable picture of Poppy sleeping behind the curtains:

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    That spot of orange on her neck is from lying on her carrots when she eats them. Ha! It is her personal mission to destroy everything in the apartment, but she’s so cute that we’ve decided not to prepare her for stew meat.

    Lunch salads

    11 Apr

    I haven’t kept up with the Eat to Live diet strictly, but I did keep some of the habits since our last encounter in February. My favorite has been big lunch salads. Here are a couple from this week.

    First is Wednesday’s, which I also ate on Tuesday:

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    Mixed greens topped with roasted sweet potato, black beans, and peanut sauce (peanut butter, hot sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and hot water to thin). The salad kept me full through to dinner, which is the most important part, but it was also delicious! Peanut sauce and I have a longtime love affair, and sweet potatoes are my favorite pair for it.

    Here’s today’s salad that I plan to repeat tomorrow, too:

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    Greens with roasted beets and black-eyed peas tossed in pesto vinaigrette (just a tablespoon of my kale pesto thinned with red wine vinegar). It’s only 1:40 now, so only time will tell if it tides me over as well as yesterday’s.

    There are a million posts about building the perfect salad, so I’m not going to do one, too. And anyway, you can tell my method is pretty simple: greens with a good amount of another (often roasted) veggie, beans, and a flavorful dressing. That’s pretty much it. I’m planning more salads for next week (taco salad and another beet dish, though with different flavors). I will share those, too.

    What’s your favorite thing to bring for lunch? Soups and salads are my preference. Both offer lots of veggies and nutrition, but neither make me sleepy. Anything too heavy makes me crave an afternoon nap!

    Kale Pesto Pasta

    10 Apr

    Hi guys. It’s April, which means I disappeared for over a month again. Sorry. If you’ve been reading long, though, you know I do that kind of thing from time to time. There’s not always a good reason. Things just happen. I’m in no way a professional blogger — I’ve never made a dime from Vegging Out, and I’m more than ok with that. In fact, you’ll notice on the top right that I’m totally ad-free now. I want this blog to be a personal space and an opportunity to share some recipes with my handful of wonderful readers.

    So. Onto the good stuff: pasta.

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    This dish was dinner Monday and Tuesday, and it is my new favorite pasta recipe. It combines fresh spring vegetables with whole-wheat pasta and mushrooms (basically our favorite food).

    Kale Pesto Pasta with Seared Mushrooms

    Kale Pesto

  • 1/2 a bunch of kale
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dried Italian herbs (optional – to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pasta

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or a heavy spritz of spray oil
  • Handful of greens from spring onions, chopped (or shallot would be great)
  • 1 pint mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly (I used cremini, but wild mushrooms would be great)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 16 oz pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated gouda, fontina or mozzarella, or 1/4 to 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino (optional for a vegan dish)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Steam kale using your preferred method. Meanwhile, put garlic and cashews in the food processor and pulse until combined and in very small pieces (though not a fine powder). Add kale leaves and the rest of the pesto ingredients and pulse until it becomes a paste, tasting along the way. Place in the fridge.

    Start the water for the pasta in a large pot. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions (or shallot) and cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, stirring well. Let them reduce and release their liquid, and then add a pinch of salt, stirring again. Now step away from the pan and let them sear. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to directions/your preference.

    Check the mushrooms every three to five minutes. If they are sticking, add a little more oil. The goal is to brown them on both sides and draw out most of the moisture. Turn off the heat when they are done.

    When pasta is cooked, drain and them add to a large bowl. Toss with most of the cheese, if using, to distribute it evenly and get nice and melty. Now add half the pesto in small amounts at a time, stirring and tossing to coat. Add more as desired, though you will have some left over. Plate the pasta and top each serving with mushrooms, more cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh black pepper.

    Serves 4-6.

    We enjoyed our alongside an incredibly simple (read: just lettuce, parsley and dressing) salad.

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    The dressing was leftover vegan ranch. That stuff keeps a surprisingly long time and stays tasty.

    I hope the deliciousness of this recipe atones for my absence! Let me know how you all are doing, too. I have been way out of the loop.

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