Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Meal Plan: March 29th- April 2nd- Moroccan Chickpeas and Zucchini

This is going to be a quick and snappy post. Pesach is only a couple of days away and things are starting to get busy. My parents have arrived (!!) and there is so much to do to get ready.

This week's recipe (and the final one from Appetite for Reduction) was the Moroccan Chickpeas and Zucchini. I didn't bother trying to brave the supermarket, knowing how crazy the pre-Pesach rush would be. Instead, I picked up all my vegetables from the shuk. I think I spent 30 shekels on cucumbers, carrots, peppers, potatoes, and zucchini. Yes, the price difference between supermarkets and the shuk is significant. Everything else I had at home and I opted to serve this with whole wheat pasta because I have some laying around. I had previously cooked and frozen chickpeas in anticipation of this recipe, so I just used some of those.

I made this in the IP (again, using too much liquid!). This recipe was a bit underwhelming. Not bad but just okay. Comforting flavors and textures that I'm used to. I don't know that I would run to make it again but definitely did the trick.

That's all for now until after Pesach. Stay tuned for my review of Appetite for Reduction.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meal Plan: March 22-March 26th- Second Avenue Vegetable Korma

This week brings us one of the last recipes that I'll be making from Appetite for Reduction. Officially, spring has arrived (hallelujah!) but the weather has been a bit fickle. I'm taking advantage of these last weeks to make soup/stews before I transition to lighter fare.  Essentially this vegetable korma is a curry, with lots of spices and a bit of coconut milk.

This week at the supermarket I spent about 80 shekels. The usual peppers, corn, cucumbers, potatoes and carrots along with a huge bag of dried chickpeas (for next week's recipe), some drain cleaner, zucchini, and some sweet potatoes to go along with the korma. Not too bad considering that the chickpeas will be stretched for a good while after next week's recipe. I had leftover red onion from a salad I made over the weekend, ginger still from my most recent tofu experiment and I made homemade coconut milk!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shabbat Cooking: Miso-Apple Tofu

Dinner Friday night was a surprise pre-birthday dinner for a good friend. While she knew that her roommates were hosting a meal and that I was coming, she didn't realize it was in her honor! I asked her what she wanted to me to make and she suggested tofu. She had really liked the hoisin-mustard tofu that I made a few weeks ago but I told her up front that I wouldn't be making the same recipe. Life's too short not to keep trying new recipes! I had a specific recipe in mind, the Apple Miso Tofu, that also comes from Appetite for Reduction. (I'm so not looking forward to finishing this cook through. I'll probably cook with some of her other books next. Anyway...) 

Apple and miso kind of sound odd together but many bloggers out there have offered rave reviews of this recipe. Honestly, just the sauce alone on tofu would have been perfect, it's that yummy. The apple does lend a bit of sweetness, but I don't think it was that present. Maybe I needed more apple, or to use a more apple-y apple. That being said, I really loved this tofu. The white miso called for in this recipe is a lot more mellow but really, you probably could win me over with any fermented soy product. Miso, soy.. I'm there.

I'm glad to have a couple of go-to, tried and true tofu recipes should I ever need to please a crowd or if I ever decide to host that vegan meal that I've been wanting to do for a while. I doubled the recipe and set some aside to have with basmati rice for Friday lunch and so I would recommend serving with rice, although you can certainly choose something else. I left out the sesame oil; the recipe doesn't indicate what to do with it anyway and it wasn't missed here. Because I doubled the recipe, I allowed it to cook a lot longer to get some nice darkened pieces. It probably would have been wise to use a larger pan. Oh well. 

On  a side note, I'll just mention that it seems to be that rice is my evening starch of choice. I cook up a batch and serve it with almost every dinner I make. I'm trying to lay off of more refined starches like pasta or couscous and rice is the perfect fit for me especially since cooking a batch in my Instant-Pot is super easy and fast. It's a staple here in Israel so it's pretty inexpensive as well.  Oats are my breakfast starch and potatoes are my lunch starch. I'm thinking that with spring/summer fast approaching, I will make breakfast all about  the fruit, particularly melons. I love melons because they are both delicious and abundant here in those months. They are also full of water and I love being able to eat my water instead of having to force myself to drink. It keeps my tummy very happy.

Now, about that tofu...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Meal Plan: March 15th- March 19th: Red Thai Tofu and (Bhutanese) Pineapple Rice

Happy election day! Here in Israel, election day is a national holiday, meaning a day off from work! It's already coming to an end but I can say that I got a lot of Pesach cleaning done and my room is looking a lot tidier and less dusty. Trying to focus on getting as minimalist as possible and getting rid of things that I don't need, have any use for, or have simply expired. I'm making progress but it's not always easy!

In any case, this week, I put the second package of tofu to use in the recipe for Red Thai Tofu. (Tofu, being from soy is not allowed to be consumed by Ashkenazi Jews on Pesach which is approaching faster than I can say chametz! Gotta get a move on the rest that I have laying around!) I made the Bhutanese Pineapple Rice, which was pretty good, to go along with it. 

This week I spent 71 shekels. (Btw, I am already five pounds into my ten pounds of oats! Yikes!) I picked up red onion, frozen cauliflower (for next week's dinner), potatoes, pepper, cucumber, corn, fresh ginger, canned pineapple for the rice, and garlic. 

Isa's tofu recipes are a bit labor intensive, for me at least. Lots of chopping, for both the tofu and the rice and then all of the tofu needs to be browned before the sauce gets made. The component of this dish that makes this a Thai dish is the red curry paste. It adds a little spice to the tofu. Honestly, I really like tofu in any form so it can't really be bad to me, but this dish didn't wow me as much as the previous tofu recipe I made. I would be much more inclined to make the soy-hoisin tofu again if I would be asked. Therefore, I won't include the recipe here. won'That said, there wont be leftovers of this in my fridge by the end of the week- no tofu goes to waste here. I'm really curious to try the Apple-Miso tofu.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Meal Plan: March 8th- March 12th- Kidney Bean and Butternut Jamba Stew

This week's recipe was the Kidney Bean and Butternut Jamba Stew. Apparently, it's meant to be a riff on a jambalaya but growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I never had any. I do love me some butternut squash and beans so I figured it was a good fit. (This recipe was supposed to be in a couple of weeks but because Im going to be away for the weekend and I thought I should put some more time between me and my tofu, I made this now. Also, the weather is getting delightful here. Hot stew during a heat wave? Not fun!)

Enough babbling. This week's supermarket run cost me only 67 shekel. 67.44 to be exact. What did I buy? Let's see... I picked up peppers (yellow this week but 1 green one for the stew), a few cucumbers, corn, a few onions, a butternut squash, corn, rice, bay leaves, celery (so expensive!) and 1 can of whole tomatoes. Not bad at all.

I made this stew in the Instant Pot. I started by sauteing the onion, pepper and celery. (Left out the oil!) Add some spices, broth, tomatoes and a bunch of other stuff and pressure cooked it for about 9 minutes. Initially, I thought to leave the rice out but then I realized it wouldn't have any thickener in it so I kept it in. When I opened the pot, I was happy to see that everything was perfectly cooked but saddened to see that it was nothing like the thick stews I like and very much on the thin side. I ate this over fresh Basmati rice (also made in the IP) and I thought it was yummy. Thankfully, this baby thickened up into more of a stew-like texture overnight in the fridge- that made me very happy, indeed. The butternut squash is so sweet and the green pepper really gives it that jambalaya flavor. I really liked this and how hearty it is; a perfect meal for a cold night and another winner from Isa.

Update: I'm realizing that I must decrease the amount of liquid when using the IP as the liquid doesn't evaporate as it would using a regular pot. I will learn my lesson eventually!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Black Bean Brownies

Remember those mushy black beans I stashed in the freezer? Well, I figured it was time to put some of them to use, seeing as we're heading towards Pesach. While they're not strictly forbidden (only for the Ashkenazim among us), they gotta be used eventually. I was inspired to make Black Bean Brownies... actually, I'm not quite sure what triggered that thought process. In any case, I thought to make some and started doing some Googling, After a bit of searching, I came across this recipe from Oatmeal With a Fork. My hosts for my Friday morning Purim meal needed to delay the start of the meal by a bit which was fine by me as it gave me ample time to get this batter whipped up and in the oven.

I did adapt the recipe quite a bit, lowering the amount of oil, omitting the stevia, and adding a bit more cacao since after tasting the batter, the honey flavor came through stronger then the cacao. Oh, and I used cacao and not cocoa-- total risk, having no clue how it would interact with the baking soda. I think I did ok? I left out the chocolate chips as well since I don't keep those on hand.

These brownies don't look like any brownie I've ever made. They actually look like an earthquake hit them; not so attractive. I refrigerated them immediately as the recipe says that because they contain no binders, they need to be chilled to hold their shape. When I came home from my Purim meal, I gave them a taste. Although they are a bit crumbly, they held up the cutting just fine. The flavor was also quite different; not chocolate-y as I know it, but rather a deep, rich cocoa flavor. Pretty different, but pretty good. I would definitely say that they hit their mark. I carefully portioned the brownies out, wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and froze them. I think these will be good for a special treat, for dessert when I feel like I need a boost, or for a day that I'm up and traveling for work, such as tomorrow, and I'm not sure how much WFPB based food I'll be able to get my hands on. I will say that I have realized that I'm kind of a sugar addict (I guess I get it from my dad) in the sense that when I have a little, I want more. I don't keep sugar or candy in the house, but if I have it, it's bad news. I try to not have it as it doesnt lead to good things. In that sense, maybe having these brownies around werent such a bright idea. On the other hand, I could do A LOT worse. UPDATE: These brownies are so yummy out of the freezer! They are soft and melt in your mouth and are just like Devil Dogs to me in flavor! That's a win! Anyway, recipe after the jump.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shabbat Cooking Part 2: Unfried Fried Rice

Isa suggested that the Hoisin Mustard Tofu be served with her Unfried Fried Rice. Who am I to object? I should mention, that I loooove fried rice so that was a no-brainer. Turns out it was the perfect accompaniment to the tofu. I had leftovers for Shabbat lunch and they just hit. the. spot.  I'm going to take a break from tofu this week before trying another recipe.

I started by cooking the rice in the Instant Pot and then used the saute function to finish it off. I love the ease of using the same pot for one recipe and really like getting use out of the IP. I opted to add frozen peas to the recipe as that's what I had on hand. Pesach is coming and I gotta use things up! I made a double recipe of the rice.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Shabbat Cooking Part 1: Hoisin Mustard Tofu

Purim is in full swing! I gotta say, it is NOT my favorite holiday on the Jewish calendar, not even close. This year, most of my focus was on reading Megillah. I spent the last few months learning how and preparing for my grand debut. ;) I was very nervous leading up to it but I pulled it off! Very proud of myself. This year, Purim falls out on Friday, which is right into Shabbat, making this day quite rushed. One who celebrates Purim in Jerusalem has to prepare and eat a meal in honor of Purim and then prepare another one for Shabbat. Eek! For me? I need a relaxing Shabbat after all this hulabaloo. I'm eating with a couple of friends at her apartment and then at home in the morning. Need me some quiet after all those firecrackers!

It was a while before I figured out what I wanted to make as I am WFPB and wanted to go as unprocessed as possible. I don't know that I succeeded but I decided to make tofu and rice. I finished all the cooking Thursday afternoon so I wouldn't be rushed on Friday. Obviously, I turned to my go to girl right now, Isa Chandra and decided to make the Hoisin Mustard Tofu and the Unfried Fried Rice. That girl hasn't let me down yet!

First things first. That tofu? Amazing. I really am a savory over sweet girl and I just love some soy. The tofu did not disappoint. Im so excited that I made a triple batch and have leftover for Shabbat morning. (I missed tofu so much that I decided to change up this week's meal plan!) I started by pressing the tofu and then cubing it. I dry fried it (not even cooking spray!) and that turned out well. I tossed it with some soy sauce and set it aside. Next came sauteeing some vegetables in sesame oil and then adding some mirin, hoisin and mustard. So simple, but so flavorful. This recipe is a freakin' winner! If ever I need a protein rich dish to bring to a meal, I can guarantee you, this is going to be it!

As I mentioned, I tripled the recipe but didn't use as much oil as called for. Below is the recipe as it appears in the book. Gosh, make this and stat!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Quick Health Update

And the diagnosis is..........

Turns out, the tests that the doctors and endocrinologist ordered have all come up clean. Which is a relief, but perhaps also a bit frustrating.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence that my hair started falling out once I went 100% vegan. I suppose I'll never really know.

In any case, I will keep taking my iron and Vitamin D and hopefully will see renewed growth and thickness in the coming months. A girl can hope :)

To health!

Meal Plan- March 1st- March 5th: Yam and Black Bean Soup with Orange

The past few days have been quite a whirlwind! Purim is only a couple of days away and Ive been practicing hard to get my reading perfect. That coupled doctor's appointments and such and I'm already wiped out. This week's recipe is the Yam and Black Bean Soup with Orange and Cilantro from Appetite for Reduction. (Yup, I'm continuing to cook through it until the end of March; after Pesach, I'll be cooking with something else.

Although I did my regular shopping on Sunday (it was a madhouse!), I didn't get around to making this soup until Monday night. I had about a serving of leftover split pea soup from Shabbat that I didnt want to go to waste so I had that instead.

My grocery bill this week was only 80 shekels, which is pretty good considering it included two jars of raspberry jelly (each thirteen, down from the usual twenty) and a bag of sugar (for the hamentashen that I'll make tomorrow). I also got peppers, cucumbers, some tomatoes for the soup, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes for the soup, orange juice (which I'll use for the hamentashen as well) and carrots.

The soup was pretty easy to make and pretty hands off, considering I made it in the Instant Pot. My, I love that thing! I started by sauteing some red onion eventually adding some sriracha and garlic. To that I added some freshly chopped tomatoes. I added most everything else and then set the pressure cooker to about seven minutes at pressure. The sweet potatoes were perfectly cooked. I opted to puree the soup with an immersion blender, but I was sure to leave a bit of texture in there. Added the orange juice and beans and voila! (I left out the cilantro.) The soup was pretty good. (I wonder if the flavors will have developed just chilling in the fridge.) The orange gives it a bit of a zing and I like the addition of the black beans. I thought this was a rather different soup and I enjoyed it. A salad would definitely be appropriate with it.  As per usual, I omitted the oil in the recipe.