Sometimes there is so much going on that you do not know what to say. This is one of those times. I wish my life was a little less dramatic right now and different outcomes had taken place but I can only try to make things better. Maybe I will share some of what I am talking about later but for now, suffice it to say that I am still grinding it out and working hard. My motivation for cooking has been slipping with spending so much time alone but it will get better. Here are a few things that have been on the menu in my kitchen over the last week.
chocolate covered strawberries
vanilla cake with peanut butter icing
chocolate covered raisin oat stuff
With so many thing on my mind and in my life I should find more motivation to cook and create so that I can occupy my mind. We will see.
Yesterday was, overall, a good day. I tagged along on Ashley's errands, we hit up a thrift store, and had some needed conversation. For dinner, I made myself one of my favorite dished found at a local vegetarian place called Green Sprout. Sweet Sesame Mushrooms.
It is fun to make dishes that I have enjoyed at restaurants and much cheaper. There version was still a little better so I will put a bit more effort into it and then maybe I will share the recipe.
After weeks of working on them, I have finally came up with my new chocolate chip recipe. I think this really hits the spot and does not have an overwhelming amount of ingredients like my last recipe. I am very pleased with it, the salty and sweet combine perfectly to create a savory snack.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups of flour
1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of oil
1/4 cup of water
1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 tablespoon of peanut pieces (optional)
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, add flour, white sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, peanut pieces, and chocolate chips and mix well. Then add the peanut butter, oil, vanilla, and water and mix until all the flour is moist. It should be a nice brown color and fairly dense.
Take a tablespoon and a half of the cookie dough, form it into a ball and flatten it onto a baking sheet. This should net around 20 cookies. Bake for 14 minutes and place of a paper bag to let cook and soak up the excess oil.
I am so relieved that I have finally completed this recipe. It is funny that it takes me months to complete a baking recipe but I can whip up an entree recipe in minutes and generally on the first try.
Saturday, was a great morning. Ashley came over, we tried to find a few lawn sales, she cut my hair, and we had a nice lunch before she had to go home and study.
She wanted to have some sort of alfredo like pasta but she feel asleep on the couch while I was cooking and I changed it up a bit. We ended up having a nice garlic sauce pasta with some veggies and spicy soy chicken. It came out good and was a nice lunch to complete a nice mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
I wish there was more to report, but honestly, there is not. I have been laying low and spending most of my time home alone which is not conducive to cooking for me. I struggle to motivate myself to cook, when I am the only one to cook for.
Anyone want to come over for a meal?
On a side note, today is my dad's birthday. Happy Birthday Dad! I hope he has a great day today.
This has been a tough week. I have many things going on and it is difficult to keep them straight. I am diligently making tough choices and hope it works out for everyone involved. It has left me little opportunity to get any cooking done.
With a few days off, I got some things accomplished outside of the kitchen, taxes, new work schedule, etc. Now it is Friday, the beginning of my work week. I made some nice bar-b-que tempeh and potato salad for lunch, with a nice strawberry & banana coconut ice cream shake. I made enough potato salad to bring to work tonight as well. It has now been nearly 6 months nice I have purchased anything at the store on a lunch break. It has saved me a tremendous amount of money.
My nice Saturday was topped off with a great bedtime snack. Using the rocky road cookies that I had made earlier that afternoon, I smeared some vanilla soy ice cream and re-froze it. It was amazing and I gobbled it up like it was my job.
Saturday was a great day off. I got many things done as well as ate and made some amazing foods, I even got the chance to watch a movie I had been indenting to see for quite some time. The day began with some house shopping when I stumbled on a gem. I may put in an offer on it, we shall see.
Then came some shopping for food. Although I strongly dislike buying, I really enjoy shopping, especially for food. One of the places that we stopped at had a pet adoption fair going on next door. I met this great little guy named Sarge. After getting the chance to walk him and play with him a bit, I sadly had to return him to his cage and continue with my day. He seemed like a great guy!
That evening, it was beans and cornbread (had a fight)! Ashley had been wanting to try my chili and cornbread fit in great with it. Chili is another recipe that will be held off until the cookbook but I may share the cornbread at some point.
While the chili was simmering flavor, I also took the suggestion of many reads and made the rocky road cookies from the Vegan Cookies Cookbook. Everyone was right, they are stellar! Nice and rich with a complex flavor. It was well worth the wait.
I had a couple of Seitan Steaks left over from last week. They keep incredibly well as long as they are moist. I was racking my brain trying to come up with something to make with them. Ashley was going to have lunch with me since we both had the day off. She wanted to have avocados since she recently discovered how amazing they are. She was thinking burritos, I was thinking something bigger and better.
Vegan Carne Asada
1 avocado (sliced)
1 tomato (cubed)
2 Seitan Steaks (about 1/2 lb of seitan)
3-4 oz of salad greens
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 1/2 cups of gachamole
1/2 cup of cilantro
1/2 cup of oil
2 tablespoons of vegan sour cream (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of onion (sliced)
1.2 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of jalapeno pepper (chopped)
1 teaspoon of hot sauce
1 teaspoon of salt
In a saute pan, add 1/4 cup of oil and bring to med heat. Once the oil it hot, tear a tortilla in two halves and drop one half in the oil. Allow to fry for about 1 minute and flip. Dust with a touch of the salt and remove from the heat. Set aside on a paper town to soak of some of the oil and repeat the process for the other half. With the remaining two tortillas, tear them into pieces and fry them in the same fashion that they halves were fried. More oil may need to be added to keep the tortillas frying. Set all tortillas aside to cool. They may taste slightly stale when hot.
Slice Seitan Steaks into thin pieces. Reduce the heat to low-med and add the remaining oil. Once the oil has come down in temperature, add the jalapeno pepper, onion, and garlic. Allow to fry for 1 minute. Add the seitan strips and mix well. Add the cumin, hot sauce, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper to the seitan and mix well. Increase the heat to med. Stir frequently and fry until the seitan has a slight crisp to it. This should take about 6-10 minutes depending on the pan, the heat, and the frequency of stirring.
With two plates, assemble each the same as instructed. Place the half torilla on the bottom, the next layer in the salad greens. I used a mixed arugula but most any could be used. Then use 3/4 cup of guacamole on the next layer. Then spread the "chip" tortillas on the next layer (all of the chips may not be needed). Then use 1 tablespoon of vegan sour cream for the following layer. Cilantro is the next layer. Add the seitan strips next. Then top with both the tomato cubes and avocado slices.
I have a special guacamole that I make but that will have to wait until the cookbook. I am sure that most people have their own recipe that they can use here.
Carne Asada is a very traditional meal in Mexico. It is one of the many flavorful and fairly healthy dishes that often gets over looked by the assimilation of the Mexican menu. It is a lot of fun to make, was delicious, a ton of food, and felt so fresh and hearty. Another great recipe to use the seitan steaks with.
Although I often thing awards are silly, these blog awards are something I enjoy. I think they are a great way to network and get share readers of like-minded blogs.
Here are the rules for this award:
1. Make a post & link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Award ten recently discovered great bloggers (sorry to the folks I have been reading for a long time, you get left out of this one).
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve won.
1. I do not like tomatoes. If they appear in my salad photos, someone else is at my house and enjoys them. After the photo, I pick them out!
2. I play a lot of games. Silly games.
3. Ironically, seitan is not one of my favorite foods.
4. I am drug free.
5. Most people think I am intimidating.
6.I hate the Los Angeles Lakers.
7. I may be doing something awesome as you read this.
I have had a few people have some issues with making their own seitan and ask me for my opinion. Some were using my recipes and some were not. I wanted to offer some tips for those of you that have run into a few problems. As other issues come up, I will continue to edit this post. I will also link if from some of the other posts that have my seitan recipes for easy access. If you have any questions, please ask.
Is your seitan mushy?
There are two common reasons that your seitan could come out mushy, both are simple to correct.
1.) Too much water may have been added. Use less water than wheat gluten. If you use 1 cup of seitan, you want to use slightly less than 1 cup of water (or broth). If adding a significant amount of another liquid (soy sauce, hot sauce, etc), decrease the amount of water (or broth) used.
2.) Occasionally, adding to may non-binding ingredients (spices, nutritional yeast, herbs, etc) will cause the wheat gluten to not set correctly. It may fall apart a bit and have a somewhat mushy texture. This is just finding a balance of flavor and texture you are comfortable with.
Is your seitan too tough?
There are two reasons that I have found that seitan could come out too tough.
1.) Not enough water is a common reason. The less liquid that is added to the wheat gluten, the more firm it will become. Gluten is extremely binding and finding the balance of liquid to gluten is important. See image above.
2.) The other common reason that sietan gets tough is too much kneading. After the liquid has been added and mixed in, you will need to kneed the dough. The dough will have pockets of air inside and the kneeding will help to get rid of this.If you kneed it for too long or too aggressively, if may become more firm.
I have still been making smoothies often, although not daily. Recently, peach smoothies have been getting a lot of attention. Today I even made a pineapple smoothie. They are all so good and my blender is taking it like a champ.
I also made a nice stir-fry with some soy chicken and veggies recently. I used to make stir-fry often but it seems that now I can not eat it all myself and never really bother to make it. It was also much easier when I only lived 5 minutes from the farmers market and was cooking everyday.
It was a mildly productive monday. I got several needed phone calls taken care of and even and errand or two. Nothing special but certainly some needed things. It is strange how accomplished I can feel just taking care of a few small tasks.
Saturday night, I made some great soup to take to work for a couple of days. It was a great Potato Steak and Cheese soup that really saved well. I used some of the remaining cheese sauce from the mac and cheese the other night and the seitan from the seitan steaks. It was really tasty, creamy, and rich.
It is nice to find another great thing I can do with the seitan steaks. When I perfect the cheese sauce, I will post a recipe for this as well.
I have had a bag of vegan marshmallows in the cupboard for awhile. Ashley has been making not to subtle comments about turning them into rice crispy treats. Today, after a day willed with errands and a dinner out, we tried our collective hand at it.
As a kid, I was never much for the puffed rice snack. I am not sure what it was but they did not appeal much to me. Needless to say, making rice crispy treats was not high on my bedtime snacks list. I was wrong. It was only 30 minutes after we began, I was scarfing them down like I had found a new favorite bedtime snack. These were great.
I had a couple of dinner guests last night so I made an old classic with some new additions. It was the classic seitan steaks, a new mac & cheeze recipe I working on with some garlic fried asparagus and a salad. I made a sesame vinaigrette dressing that I enjoyed but did not seem to be hit with the rest of the table. Maybe I just have a jaded palate? Either way, I may work on it a bit more and post it regardless.
I realize that I have been talking about cookies for some time now. I have really been working on a new recipe and it is not yet perfected. It is just a simple chocolate chip recipe but since I am not a baker, it has been a struggle. This will be the last post I will talk about the cookies without posting a recipe. I am close to the final product.
These are the "almost there" products. Not yet perfect but still a great bedtime snack for me, two at a time of course. Speaking of bedtime snacks, I came home the other night to find the blondies waiting for me! It is nice to come home to treats.
My new computer is working out well. I think it is a keeper. I will give it another few days to make sure but it feels good. That is saying a lot because I am the king of buyers regret.
I also made it through a long weekend at the jobby job with the corporate types, unscathed. I even got a few nice jabs in to appease my desire for risky behavior. I am glad it is over, now it is back to the mundane.
Real Estate looks like it is picking up. I hope to be able to do it full time by the end of the year. It is a nice goal and it is all in my hands.
My first day off in several, will be a relaxing one. Some nice soup for lunch, topped with some evening basketball. It should be a good day.
Chipotle Lentil Bean Soup
2 chipotle peppers (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
15 oz white beans
3 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of red lentils
1/2 cup of carrots (sliced)
1/2 cup of onions (chopped)
1/4 cup of celery (chopped)
1/4 cup of cilantro (chopped)
2 teaspoons of jalapeno peppers (chopped)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
In a pot, add the vegetable oil, garlic, cilantro, onion, jalapeno pepper, celery, and chipotle peppers and fry for about 8-10 minutes. Pour the vegetable broth into a blender with the fried mixture and liquid smoke and puree. This should only take about 30 seconds with so much liquid.
Return the broth mixture to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the lentils, carrots, and simmer for 15 minutes until almost soft. Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve topped with cilantro.