Sunday, November 23, 2014

chile verde and jalapeno scallion cornbread

Drew is a peculiar vegetarian: he doesn't consider beans to be a main dish or a "real" source of protein. I've tried, but I cannot convince him otherwise. Though he's a fan of beans (particularly baked beans), he just doesn't think that they're main dish worthy, at least not on their own. For him, a meal has to have a "real" protein source: tofu, tempeh, seitan, or a mock meat (he is aware that this doesn't make sense and that he's being irrational). I, however, am a huge fan of beans and add them to whatever I'm eating whenever I can. I say that Drew's peculiar because shouldn't the vegetarian be trying to convince the meat-eater that beans can be a main dish and not the other way around? 

Since Drew's return from China, we've fallen into a routine where we cook two days a week and eat leftovers on the remaining days (except Saturdays, when we go out to eat). We each choose a meal for the week, and we serve as executive chef when cooking our selected meal while the other serves as sous chef. 

With the weather cooling off and as we transitioned into fall and then into winter, I wanted to make lots of soups and stews. The problem was that beans were the primary protein source in any soups and stews I wanted to make, and I had to figure out a way to get buy-in from Drew (we can always veto one another's meal selection). Somehow, I figured out that if I just agreed to add seitan or tempeh to the stew, Drew was satisfied. I can't remember how I stumbled upon this solution, but I'm happy I did.

We made a chile verde with white beans, seitan, potatoes, and tomatillos. 
 To go with it, I made a jalapeno scallion cornbread.
Both recipes are from Veganomicon, which is pretty much the vegan cooking bible. 

fall food

Fall is my favorite time of year, but I never felt like I had one when I lived in Southern California. The natives will disagree, but there is no such thing as seasons in SoCal. Sure, there are those rare days when the temperature dips below 75 degrees or the sun refuses to shine, but there are no distinct seasons. 

Fall was much too short in Green Bay, but I was grateful for it anyway. One minute I was admiring the fall foliage and then suddenly, the trees were bare. But I made the most of it! Fall is the time for pumpkin, of course. I made these pumpkin pie bars, from Food & Wine. I had intended to make these last year, but then the job market happened, and I just didn't have the time. They don't look like much, but they were phenomenal. 
In my opinion (but not Drew's, who does not share my pumpkin enthusiasm), I took it easy on the pumpkin this fall. In addition to the pumpkin pie bars, I made a pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting, pumpkin pecan scones with a brown butter glaze, pumpkin pancakes, and a pumpkin loaf (but that wasn't very good so I'm not linking to the recipe). 

I also made a cinnamon ice cream, which seems very fall-like, and I'm trying to remember why. 
I believe that this was an effort to replicate Drew's favorite Ben and Jerry's flavors, Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. It was mostly successful; the ice cream was amazing, but the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies weren't. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

chopped salad, parmesan rosemary biscotti, chai-spiced chocolate ice cream

This week, we made a hefty chopped salad for dinner. I know, a salad for a vegetarian and a mostly vegetarian, right? Lame. But this is a really good salad. The recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen, and instead of salami, we used Italian veggie sausage. The only other changed I'd make in the future is to use half the salt called for in the recipe. 

To go with the salad, I made parmesan rosemary biscotti, from My Name is Yeh. I made these when Drew wasn't home and they were so good that I shamelessly ate two right away.
I also made chai-spiced chocolate ice cream, from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, whose authors opened up the Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco. Drew and I stopped there on our road trip from California to Wisconsin and loved the place. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Don't laugh, but the first time I had paella was in Shanghai. Drew's friend got a promotion and he wanted to celebrate at this fancy tapas restaurant. So we gorged on paella (well, me and Drew's friend since Drew's a vegetarian) and tapas and it was one of the best meals ever.

The second time I ate paella was at La Tasca in Washington, D.C. a couple months ago. I don't remember how it compared to the paella I ate in Shanghai, but it was really good and I loved the sangria.
Drew had never eaten paella, so we made it the other day. The recipe is from the Candle 79 cookbook, which  is a legendary vegan restaurant in New York City. Drew and I ate there a couple years ago, and while it was very good and we'd eat there again, all I remember is that we ate this amazing smoked paprika hummus. 

I cannot articulate how much we enjoyed this paella. This is a meal that you could make for special occasions or for guests, but it's so easy to make that you could easily make it on a weeknight. 

salted caramel brownies

Caramel is my nemesis, and I get it right only about 50% of the time. Yet, I keep at it, hoping to perfect it and also because sometimes I have a hankering for caramel brownies and just can't bring myself to make them with store bought caramels or caramel sauce (though I will confess that I had a moment of weakness and desperation and almost caved and bought the Ghirardelli caramel turtle brownie mix). 
Anyway, I made salted caramel brownies, from the Smitten Kitchen blog. As expected, I messed up the caramel before getting it right. Turns out that it needs your undivided attention and you can't multitask and make granola at the same time. 

I'm so glad I didn't cave and buy the mix. These brownies are super good, and while I kind of wish I could share them with you, I kind of like having them (almost) all to myself (I do have to share with Drew).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

days 5, 6, 7: Portland to Green Bay

After a nice rest in Portland, we hauled ass to the middle of Montana, where we spent the night at my cousin's house. And then we drove through North Dakota and spent the night in Bismarck, which was quite an experience. First off, let me say that driving through North Dakota was not nearly as painful as I'd anticipated. I thought it would be incredibly boring, but it wasn't. From the highway, we saw the world's largest metal sculpture and the world's largest Holstein cow. We also saw signs directing people to the world's largest sand crane and the world's largest...hmmm, I can't remember and neither can Drew. 

Anyway, in Bismarck, we ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Now, having just spent a year in China, Drew got into the habit (and even enjoys it) of eating authentic Chinese food the authentic Chinese way, which involves seasoning your food with vinegar. So, he asks our server for some vinegar, and while she goes to get it, I say "You know she's going to come back with white vinegar, right?" But Drew is optimistic and even though we are at an American Chinese restaurant in the midwest, he maintains hope that she'll come back with table vinegar. She didn't, and I totally called it because she returned with white vinegar.

After our short stay in Bismarck, we continued on to Minnesota and went to my grandparents' house, where we spent the night and saw my parents and aunts and uncles. Finally, we headed to Green Bay, and even thought we were thwarted by a flat tire about 25 miles away, we made it!

days 3 and 4: Portland

From the looks of it, it seems like we got stuck in Portland and never left, but we did, and in fact, we've been Green Bay residents now for a little over a week. It's just that I didn't have internet access for a while, and then we we got it, I didn't have time to update my blog.

We spent a couple days in Portland, hanging out with Drew's friends. We went on a nice hike, ate awesome vegan bbq at the Homegrown Smoker, had a vegan brunch at the Hungry Tiger, drank craft beer, browsed at Powell's Books, and ate donuts at Blue Star Donuts and Voodoo Doughnut (in case you're wondering, Blue Star beats Voodoo). Basically, we fell in love with Portland and weren't sure if we wanted to leave.