Archive for November, 2010
Lasagna, the Oil-Free Way
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OK, I will admit that I talk a big game when it comes to McDougalling. In October, I made it a full two weeks on the McDougall plan (with some minor deviations), but that was all it lasted. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a great lifestyle, but even I had a very difficult time keeping up with all the at-home cooking required. Also, many of the recipes that we tried left us feeling a little underwhelmed. I think it’s great to be aware of and limit your intake of oils (or any processed food for that matter), but I’ve hung up my McDougall hat once-again. I do know, however, that some of my readers are curious about the plan and would appreciate some tested recipes. So, here is one for a vegan tofu ricotta. It was a little too cheesy for my tastes, and I would reduce the nutritional yeast if I went back and did it again. I would also probably substitute fresh basil for the dried basil, because it might have livened up the flavors a little bit. I used this “ricotta” in a vegetable lasagna, where I layered brown rice lasagna noodles with spinach, zucchini, these cheese, and tomato sauce.  It was pretty good, but it’s telling when something like this lasts in our refrigerator for more than a week.

I Got a Rock
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Bonus points to any commenter who can spot the connection between the title and the recipe.

Let me tell you, I am a girl who loves herself some risotto. I put together this

paired with baked carrots and delicious asparagus

particular recipe hoping to get it up before Thanksgiving, because I know that some of you will be entertaining guests with gluten issues. However, my trip to Vegas and deathly sickness (more on both in different posts) made that a bit difficult. Don’t worry though, because the T-Joe’s and Whole Foods are still full of canned pumpkin, and this risotto is the cure to any boring weeknight meal. It takes a little while to put together, just because of all the stirring, but it’s creamy and filling and just seasonal enough. It’s only fair to mention that I tried bringing some in for work the next day, and I just wasn’t feeling it the second time around. Risotto tends to get too soggy if you leave it in the fridge, but something about the ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin sitting together for too long just didn’t work out. It’s perfect the day-off though, so just use it as an excuse to not leave any leftovers.

Baked Carrots
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This Thanksgiving, I want to try something a little different. Usually, my Look at how delicious that broth is!Thanksgiving is made up of creamy casseroles and sugar-laden side-dishes. It would be easy for me to veganize those dishes and call it a day. But, knowing that the average American consumes something north of 3000 calories on Thanksgiving, I’m going to go another way. Sure, I’m still going to serve up the sweet potato casserole (with reduced fat and sugar), and I’ll probably even go with the string bean and mushroom casserole with french fried onions. However, I’m also actively seeking out side dishes that feature  fall vegetables paired with delicious spices.

So, instead of taking some carrots out of a can and slathering them in butter and brown sugar, I decided to find a savory side dish that would give the root vegetables all the credit they deserve.

Just Like Mom Used to Make
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Cream of mushroom soup: anyone from my generation knows that there are many different

Mine is brown because I used soy sauce in the gravy. You shouldn't do that and I shouldn't have either.

things one can do with a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.  You can pour it over chicken for a fancy dinner dish, you can use it in a chicken pot pie, and sometimes, if it’s a major holiday, you can mix it with string beans and bake it into a casserole.

Which brings me to an interesting conversation I had the other day. Allegedly, in the midwestern states, a casserole is a dish that is always made with Ritz crackers and Jello. What I call a casserole is referred to as a “hot dish”.  I would appreciate it greatly if anyone out there could shed some light on this for me. A quick google search did turn up some evidence in favor of this assertion, but I would really love it if someone actually from the mid-west could corroborate.

Anyway, this is the first of my Thanksgiving posts. During the month of November, we will be test-driving recipes for the end of the month. Hopefully we’ll be able to scare up enough people to actually host a Thanksgiving dinner, but if not, at least there will be plenty of seasonal fun for us and plenty of ideas for you.

C’est Le Pumpkin
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Bonjour and welcome to a French-themed edition of Mis-Adventures. My boyfriend and I are both hard at work with our Rosetta Stone, and by hard at work I mean that some days when we’re not too busy, we work in a lesson. He is better about it than I am, but I also took French in college, so it’s mostly been review for me. The other day, I decided to help him with his studies by creating some flash cards. They included handy sayings such as “I am a vegetarian”,  “I do not eat dairy products”, and most importantly “Where is the House of Chanel?”.  To help get us in the spirit (and also to satisfy my insatiable appetite for pumpkin), we came up with a way to make pumpkin french toast. This is based off a recipe that uses bananas in place of eggs, but we substituted pumpkin for the banana and reintroduced egg replacer powder to bind it all together. Since this was a part of my Mcdougal week, we broiled the french toast instead of frying it up in a pan. It was not only brilliant, but it was also delicious.

Shitake Mushrooms #fail
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You take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and then you have?

A food blog. The other day I picked up shitake mushrooms at the farmer’s market to put into a soup. This is when I realized that I don’t really like shitake mushrooms, especially if they are in a soup. I would have fared better if I had been using crimini mushrooms or button mushrooms, because they tend to be a little firmer and would have held up better in the soup. If I were to do this recipe over, I would use different mushrooms, or maybe even experiment with dried mushrooms. Othat than that, the blend of warm vegetable broth, udon noodles, and bok choy (my favorite superfood!). For a spicy kick, you could add a dash of red pepper flakes.

Pasta Primavera: An Iteration
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I’m not going to be coy about it. I was born and raised in New Jersey, and I blame my upbringing for my love of pasta. In a past life, I enjoyed all sorts of oily and creamy sauces for my pasta, but lately I have been opting to toss it with fresh vegetables instead. Since this is a McDougall-friendly recipe, I also added a bit of vegetable broth to the mix. The recipe for this is so simple that I won’t even post it after the jump. Take a cup of vegetables (I used asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes) and sautee them in half a cup of vegetable broth until tender. Then, toss in one serving of your favorite pasta. You can garnish with a little fresh ground black pepper or perhaps some nutritional yeast. I used this really cute pasta that I found at Jordan Middle Eastern market in Westwood.

Spooooky Cupcakes
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I know I’m a day late and a dollar short with my Halloween post, but I put these cupcakes together last weekend for a vegetarian potluck and havent had the time to post until now. I think that we can all agree that, however tardy, these cupcakes are absolutely adorable. The cake is a ginger spice cake (which I recently found out was one of my boyfriend’s favorites), and I topped it off with a classic vegan cream cheese frosting. The best part about the spice cake is that it’s completely oil-free. It could always be served with a similiarly oil-free frosting, but I wasn’t going to subject an entire room of people to that kind of cooking. If I were going to do this cake oil-free, I would probably just use a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Let’s talk about how freakin’ adorable those little bat toothpicks are. They came as part of a cupcake wrapper/toothpick combo that I picked up at the craft store. They were having some kind of ridiculous 60% off sale, so the perceived value on this particular item was pretty high. The recipe for ginger spice cake can be found after the jump, and I promise that I will do a better job of posting Thanksgiving recipes well in advance of the actual holiday.

Tofu Francaise
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Lately, my boyfriend and I have been focusing our efforts on cultivating our appreciation of the french language. He set us up with Rosetta Stone,which has taught me (among important words like mange) that my 3 semesters of french at USC were practically wasted. For those of you who don’t know, Rosetta Stone uses flash cards and only speaks to you in French, kind of like trial by fire. It also makes you repeat after it and uses voice recognition technology to either build you up or shame you until you get it right. According to the evil lady robot, who I like to call Rosie, my pronunciation is absolutely atrocious. Last night, Rosie took particular offense to my butchering of the word “boit”.  In honor of the french, here is my recipe for tofu francais, which is a vegan take on an italian recipe with a french name. My serving suggestion is to pair it with some lightly steamed haricort vert (that’s green beans for those of you who only speak languages where they pronounce all the letters). I added some whole wheat garlic knots to the mix, which is my new favorite way to deal with leftover pizza dough.

Pumpkin Soup
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a cozy little dinner

As part of my newfound commitment to oil-free living, I whipped up a delicious pumpkin soup the other day. Lately I’ve been all about the pumpkin, and maybe it’s because Trader Joes is helpfully stocking piles and piles of it in every aisle (except for 2 Saturdays ago when the TJs on Pico was sold out of every seasonal item, lame). Having already conquered the pumpkin pie and wrestled with pumpkin muffins(amazing), I had to come up with a way to enjoy my new favorite flavor at dinnertime. While one option was having pancakes for dinner, I decided to go in another direction with this pumpkin soup. I served it with whole wheat toast, which was perfect for dipping, and pumpkin butter, which has replaced regular butter in our house.

It was delicious at dinner, but I will admit that it didn’t taste quite the same the next day at lunch. Part of this may be psychological. Since it’s very difficult to find McDougall-approved food out in the wild, I have been following a pattern of cooking one night and bringing in leftovers the next day for lunch. It works, but it’s been getting a little predictable. I’m going to start popping over to Mrs. Winston’s every few days to mix things up a bit. I’m curious if anyone has any good oil-free lunch ideas, maybe something I can just toss into my lunch tote in the morning without cooking? That would be a godsend.