Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shabbat Cooking: Mushroom Tibs

Shavua tov!
It's been a long time since I've hosted a meal for my friends at my place and so I decided to organize a small one. I knew that except for the chicken that I was preparing for my guests that everything else would be WFPB. I made Isa's Smokey Split Pea Soup again (I made it exactly as the recipe stated this time and it was so good!), a batch of rice in the Instant Pot (not perfect yet!), a salad and these mushroom tibs.

I had been wanting to try these mushrooms for ages but couldn't figure out a way to incorporate them into my meal plans. Mushrooms are pricey here and it would take quite a lot of them to turn them into nightly dinners. I figured they would be appropriate for dinner and so they made it to the menu. This recipe also comes from Appetite for Reduction (when I say I'm cooking through a book, I mean it!). Isa explains this as an Ethiopian inspired recipe. I've never had Ethiopian food before so I took her word for it. I was a bit nervous that my friends wouldn't like these because they are loaded with pretty much every spice I have in my cabinet. (The curry stained my pan!!) Turns out, they were a hit. I really liked them myself and had the little bit that was leftover with some leftover Persian rice. Yum. This really is a winning side dish. Definitely try it. I doubled the recipe pretty much and I left out the oil as well. Another keeper!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Black Bean Spew and Impromptu Burgers

Riding high on my first soup success in the Instant Pot, I decided to give it another go. I had recently bought dried black beans and thought I'd cook them and freeze them in advance of needing some for next week's soup recipe.

Yesterday morning, before I left to work, I soaked the beans. When I came home, they were ready to cook. I got the Instant Pot set up, covering the beans with about two inches of water. I was cooking a lot of beans though so there was a lot of water in there.

How long to cook for? So here was where I wasn't quite sure. Some places said about 5-6 minutes for the soaked beans. I made the mistake of following the Instant Pot manual (never doing that again!) and cooked them for about 11 minutes at pressure. When the machine went off, I forgot to unplug it, so that it was accidentally continuing to cook. Eek! I finally remembered to unplug the machine. Then came the question of the pressure release. I started to release it.... until I remembered that there were black beans in the pot and that the liquid that was coming out was black. All over my white walls. Black. Bean. Spew. Eek! (Yes, there was counter climbing involved to clean it up!). I left it to sit for a bit before realizing that I was going to have mush on my hands if I didn't get the pressure out. I covered the pot with a towel and let the rest of the pressure out. I opened the pot and to my surprise (not!) I discovered.. mushy beans. What a bummer. I drained them and decided that they'd be perfect for burgers. I think I previously mentioned that my burgers always fall apart because the beans aren't mashed enough. Well, here's the solution-- mushy, easily mashed beans! I pulled out The Everyday Happy Herbivore and made a double batch of the easy burgers. The rest of the beans were portioned and frozen for future burger ventures.

I definitely have more to learn about this pot. The ability to cook beans fast was pretty much what led me to invest in it, so I definitely won't be giving up on it soon. Fingers crossed for a more successful cook next time. And cleaner walls.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meal Plan- Feb 22nd- Feb 26th: Butternut Apple Soup

I wanted February's meal plan to include a soup recipe to enjoy on these winter nights. My timing seems to have been right on the mark as the snow from a huge snowstorm (huge for us Jerusalemites!) has all but melted and I am recovering from a nasty cold. Butternut Apple Soup by Isa Chandra was on the menu and it would be the Instant Pot's inaugural dish. Super exciting!

I took the day off from work to get some R&R and decided to get to the supermarket early. My total this week came to 150 shekels! That is the most I've spent on groceries since I started keeping track. 60 shekels went to purchasing ten pounds of oats which takes me through a good few months. I came home with the usual salad suspects, apples, apple juice,  dried rosemary, sweet potatoes (no butternut squash!), a couple of onions, a sack of potatoes, and a hot water bottle. This brought my total spent on food (including six pounds of frozen berries) for the month of February to 650 shekels. Not bad at all and that is significant savings from previous months!

Anyway, back to the soup.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Meal Plan- Feb 15th- Feb 19th: Eggplant Chickpea Curry

So today is Wednesday, which means I'm a bit late with posting this week's recipe and shopping summary. Work has been quite overwhelming this week, there's been plenty of hullabaloo about getting a massive snow storm tomorrow, and I think I'm getting sick. Eek! Right now, I'm holding out for the weekend, as freezing cold as it might be!

This week's recipe was the Eggplant Chickpea Curry from Appetite for Reduction. The only thing I needed to make this recipe was eggplant, tomatoes, and couscous to serve it on. Everything else I had on hand which made this week's shopping trip very inexpensive. I picked up the usual peppers, corn, carrots, and cucumbers in addition to the eggplant, tomatoes and couscous all for a mere 45 shekels. Not bad. (I'll be making up for it next week seeing as I need to stock up on potatoes and oats.)

This recipe featured a different flavor profile than I'm used to. I've never cooked with really Indian flavors and it was my first time really featuring curry or garam masala in a recipe. It was pretty no frills and easy to put together. I accidentally defrosted 3 cups worth of chickpeas instead of 1.5 cups but I would keep that for next time. It took a while for me to adapt to the different flavor profile, but by yesterday, I actually really liked it! I hope to try more Indian style recipes in the future. As always, (except when I'm feeling rebellious) I left out the oil.. and the red pepper as well. Make it as you please. You can serve this over rice or couscous. Having sold my rice cooker (to buy the Instant Pot- woot woot!), I opted for the simpler couscous. Choice is yours.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Shabbat Cooking: Moroccan Spiced Couscous Salad

A lot of potluck Shabbat meals happen 'round these parts and while I enjoy them, coming up with something healthy and creative to make does not come easy. I was asked to make a side dish for dinner this Friday night. something that I myself could eat, considering that the remaining guests are omni eaters. I finally settled on some sort of grain salad. The options were either barley or couscous and seeing as couscous cooks faster, whole wheat couscous it was going to be. That was the easier part. Finding a recipe that worked with what I had around and that was appealing was the real challenge. What can I say? I'm picky. When I exhausted Pinterest and the rest of the internet, I turned to my book shelf. One of the first books I picked up was.. you guessed it, Thug Kitchen. Almost immediately I saw the recipe for the Moroccan Spiced Couscous. Although I gave the book a lukewarm review, I decided to give it a go knowing that I'd doctor it to bulk it up anyway.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Meal Plan: Feb 8th- Feb 12th- Baked Falafel

The second recipe I chose to make from Appetite for Reduction was Baked Falafel. For those of you that don't know, falafel is pretty much  one of Israel's national foods. A great fast food, but healthier than your average McDonald's, you can pretty much find it on every other street here; in some places, there are multiple falafel stands on one street. And the smell.. nothing like it!

Falafel is made out of ground chickpeas and herbs and spices, shaped into balls and then fried. It's traditionally served in a pita with Israeli salad, humus and tahini and various other toppings. Fried eggplant? Yes, please. Now, haven't had a falafel in a pita with the trimmings in years simply because it's so... greasy. Now that I eat a WFPBNO diet, it is certainly not something I would ever pick up. So when I saw that there was a recipe for Baked falafel in the book, I immediately incorporated it into the meal plan.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Meal Plan Feb 1st-Feb 5th Part 2: Fresh Corn and Scallion Cornbread

This recipe, in my humble opinion, was the star of this week's meal plan. Maybe I just love corn, maybe I just like quick bread type things, I don't really know- but it was and it really hit the spot.

I had all of the ingredients on hand for this recipe except for the scallions. I didn't realize how pricey they were and seeing as their flavor wasn't pronounced in the final product, I'd probably leave them out next time around. I used frozen corn as that's what I had, as well as soy milk and coconut oil as my chosen milk and oil. Not exactly McDougall friendly, in terms of the oil, but we all have our weeks.

There really isn't that much more to say about this recipe than that I loved that the corn flavor came through nice and sweet and that it reheats nicely. I'll be making this again and again. And again.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Coconut Pancakes

I interrupt this week's rigid meal plan to bring you.... Coconut Pancakes! This recipe was made on an impulse and my am I glad that I was impulsive! I finished my monthly stash of berries two days before I can pick up my order for a fresh supply so that left me without breakfast for a couple of days. That, coupled with the fact that I had leftover soy milk from making corn bread meant I had to be creative. Can't starve and certainly can't have any waste! Although I asked for suggestions on Facebook, my heart was telling me only one thing- pancakes! And so pancakes I would have. I checked online and a basic search told me that my favorite vegan chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, has a a few pancake recipes in the very book that showed up in my mailbox a couple of days ago. The coconut pancakes quickly caught my eye. Seeing as I had everything in my pantry (making this budget friendly) I set to work. These were easy peasy to make and behaved just as an egg-filled pancake would and my how delicious all the coconut was. I didn't use as much nutmeg as called for and I'm glad I didn't because then I would have been too overwhelmed by the flavor. The nutmeg really complemented the coconut well. Did I mention that I love coconut?! Being a McDougaller, I rarely use oil and almost never use coconut anymore but I figured that once in a while is okay. I'm hoping my heart will forgive me. As I still have another cup or so of soy milk left, I probably will make a batch of her plain pancakes tomorrow, the recipe being very similar to this one. Gosh, go make these already-- they are simply divine!

Meal Plan Feb 1st-Feb 5th Part 1- Lentil and Eggplant Chili Mole

A new month, a new set of meal plans! I have really been enjoying this whole meal planning thing. I come to the supermarket prepared, get just what I need and go in record time. I've managed to save a lot of money on my groceries all while being well fed and satisfied. Why didn't I start this sooner??
As I mentioned in my previous post, this month (and most likely next as well) I'll be cooking with Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction.

This week's supermarket bill was 75 shekel, a bit higher than in previous weeks but still amazing for a week's worth of meals. I bought the usual peppers, cucumbers, and potatoes. I opted for canned corn instead of the unfortunate looking tomatoes, bought scallions for the cornbread, eggplant, crushed tomatoes for the chili and bought a new container of cumin. The cumin and scallions were the biggest expense! The avocados were not good at all, so I passed them up this week.

For the longest time, I've been wanting chili and cornbread. That and lasagna have been on my mind for ages. Isa has a recipe for Lentil and Eggplant Mole Chili that sounded unique and she pairs it with a Fresh Corn and Scallion Cornbread. I knew that that was exactly the way I was going to ring in February. Yay for comfort food!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Cook Through-- Appetite for Reduction

In an effort to be more dollar conscious and put the books I own to good use, I've decided to cook through a book each month (or couple of months). For the last while, I was cooking through the Thug Kitchen. February (and possibly March) will feature recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. I've heard great things about this cookbook so I'm looking forward to loving it! Stay tuned for my thoughts and recipes and for a review when I finish trying recipes.