Tuesday, May 31

American Vegan Kitchen.. revisited!

We've been doing a pretty good job keeping our cookbooks active since the challenge ended.  We've probably made something out of American Vegan Kitchen at least once a week.  One of our favorites is still the Coconut Bacon Bits, but here are some other goodies:

Seitan Po' Boys
These were the perfect flavorful and messy sandwich!  Aside from making the seitan (which I did the day before) they were also pretty quick to make.  We served them on French bread, as suggested, with pickles, mustard and a little extra mayo.

Brew City Stew
We used the extra seitan to make this stew.  The seitan really picked up the flavor of the beer, which I didn't expect.  It was really hearty and gave us enough to dinner and leftovers for lunch.

Brewpub Tater-Tot Pie
This might not be the prettiest dish, but it was definitely one of my favorites from this book.  We used a can of kidney beans in place of the TVP and omitted the mushrooms, otherwise we followed the recipe.  Again, the flavor of the beer really came through in this, so pick a beer that you like!  This is a relatively quick meal to keep in mind for the fall or winter.

Monday, May 30

Unhealthy splurge

I'm not saying I eat healthy all the time, but I try to stay away from greasy, fried foods.  If I have chips, I make sure I'm at least eating them with some fresh salsa.  I bake almost exclusively with whole wheat pastry flour.  But.  These cheese curds have nothing healthy about them; they were a total splurge (which we ate with a big, green salad loaded with veggies, if that's any consolation) and totally worth it.  I used the batter for beer-battered tofu from "Vegan Brunch" and cubed up half a brick of Follow Your Heart nacho cheese (that was Chad's pick; I would have gone for almond cheddar).  Although the result was melty, greasy and delicious, it will probably be a while before I make these again!

Keep the burgers coming!

I thought another post about burgers would be fitting for Memorial Day.  We've still been loving "The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet" and it seems like every recipe we try is better than the last.

Pintos and Rice Burger
This burger is so easy!  Joni even says something like, just mash all the ingredients together.  It takes no time (unless you forget to make some rice ahead of time, in which it will take you almost an hour.  Ugh.) and is so delicious.  We cooked these on our George Foreman grill, which we probably haven't used in two or three years.  They had a nice crispy, crunchy crust and were dense, but chewy on the inside-- just perfect.  We topped them with a healthy scoop of guacamole, some green onions and a few cilantro leaves.  I think these would hold up well on the grill and can't wait to make these again and share their deliciousness.

Potato Samosa Burger
I've never made a real samosa before, but we bought a big bag of potatoes from Trader Joe's, so I thought I would give this a try.  They turned out super tasty, almost like a fancy mashed potato-ish burger.  There were lots of seasonings, but next time I might even double them.  We ate this with a smear of vegan mayo.

Super Quinoa Burger
Chad did most of the work for this burger.  The ingredients are pretty simple, quinoa (2 cups!), beans, peas, cashews, tahini and a couple spices.  They are super flavorful and have very little oil, so they're a healthy choice, too.  We made these on the Foreman grill and they turned out great.  Joni also suggests that this can be used as a side if you don't form the "batter" into burgers, which is definitely something I'm going to keep in mind this summer!

Bacon Cheeseburger
We saved these to grill outside today-- with the temps over 90 and humidity through the roof, I didn't want to turn on the stove or oven and it was a good excuse to leave the air conditioning for a bit.  Plus, I worked up a sweat just kneading this dough for five minutes!  I made a few adjustments to the recipe, subbing a mix of barley and cracked wheat for the TVP and cutting the oil in half.  They have a ton of flavor going on, from the bacon (we used coconut bacon bits from AVK), peanut butter, liquid smoke, nooch and more.  After I formed the patties (which were about 1/2 c each), I stuck them in the freezer for just about 15 minutes to firm while we preheated the grill.  They held up well and since I oiled them, even got great grill marks!  They turned out perfect-- a little crunch from the grill, super flavorful and a little chewy in the center.  Next time, I might even make a double batch, just to have some extras on hand in the freezer.

Sunday, May 29

Farmers' Market #2

Date:  Saturday, May 28
Location:  Springfield, IL
Total Purchase:  $12.75
Organic Lettuce 2 bags at $3.00/bag
Radishes $1.25
Green Tomatoes 2 medium at $1.25
Asparagus just over a pound at $3.00/pound
Dog treats $1.00

I don't think I've ever bought radishes, but these were so pretty I couldn't say no!  Schatzi was apparently intrigued also!

Saturday, May 28

Gardening.. To Go!

Since we are back and forth all summer, we never get to plant a real garden.  This year, I decided that I wanted to at least try some herbs, so in early April I bought top soil, organic seeds and colorful pots and planted our favorites.  We have cilantro, basil, parsley (this is the little gray pot, which I obviously didn't grow from a seed), sweet red pepper seedlings and tomatoes (which have already been sent to my mom's for transplant).  So far, the basil has yielded enough for two small batches of pesto and seasoning for other dishes.  We've also used the parsley and cilantro for a few things.  It's so nice to just pick and cook, instead of running to the store and hoping for something fresh.  Next year, I think I'll branch out.. hopefully to some bigger pots and more veggies.  For this year, I'm content with my mini-garden to go!

What are your favorite fresh herbs to plant?  What have you had the most luck growing?  Least luck?  Good luck to all the other gardeners out there!

Summer is in sight!

The end of the school year is quickly approaching.  My desk is scattered with papers and final exams.  In less then one week, I will be enjoying another beautiful summer break!

This is my fourth year teaching in my current position, so in high school terms, it's kind of like I'm a senior.  Actually, it means that the Freshman I taught my first year are all grown up and graduating!  I've had only one student who has been in German all four years and one student who I've taught three of the four years, so I had to take the opportunity for a picture with them before they went out into the big, real world!  (One of them even built me the awesome podium a few years ago in his shop class!)

Monday, May 23

Farmers' Market #1

Date: Saturday, May 21
Location:  Medford, WI
Total Purchase: $13.00
Maple Syrup $10.00
Rhubarb $3.00

Monday, May 16

Cousins' Weekend 2011

My mom has five sisters (and one sister-in-law who you would think, if not for her height, was one of the sisters) who are all really close.  Those five sisters and one brother have more than a dozen children, over half of which are girls, who are also really close.  For years, the sisters have planned yearly "Sisters' Weekend," where they all meet up somewhere fun and have a weekend filled with sister stuff.  For the last few years, the cousins have followed suite and have planned "Cousins' Weekend."  Cousins' Weekend is usually something cheap, such as camping, as the six regular participants have been in some stage of schooling, unemployment, or otherwise short on cash.

This year, we finally went close to all-out-- we rented a beach house in North Carolina, where my cousin Alyssa just finished an internship.  Spring in the Midwest has been rather undesirable, so we were all looking forward to a bit of sunshine and warm weather.  I got up early two mornings and ran along the beach (one morning barefoot, which was awesome!)...  We watched the sun rise over the ocean...  We spent a whole day being lazy on the beach...  We decorated foam visors with puffy paint and seashells...  We crammed into the backseat of Alyssa's car and explored the city.  It was by far the best cousins' weekend to date and will be hard to top next year!  Here are a two of my favorite pictures from the weekend...

Friday, May 13

Bring on the Burgers!

My latest addition to my cookbook collection is "The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet: 101 Globally Inspired Vegan Creations Packed with Fresh Flavors and Exciting New Tastes" by Joni Marie Newman that came out on May 1.  I pre-ordered it through Amazon was excited to find it at my door when I came home from school the last week in April.  This looked like it would be the perfect book for summer grilling.  Well, first of all, the book itself it gorgeous.  It's heavy for a paperback, with thick,colorful pages and pictures for about every third recipe.  To boot, the recipes are great too!

So far, we have tried three burgers:

grilled, topped and ready to eat!
Our first burger adventure was the Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger.  Chad and I love all things chipotle, so this was an easy choice.  The burger had a great texture from a combination of baked sweet potato, tofu and cashews.  We grilled these outside, which could have gone better.  Next time I will take Joni's advice and freeze the burgers before grilling them.  We had a lot of burger stuck to the grill, but they were delicious, regardless.  We topped them with avocado and tomatoes and skipped the buns.  I also made a side of black bean and rice salad with some homemade chipotle mayo.

baked to (almost) perfection
The next burger was the Jamaican Jerk Burger.  We had some leftover seitan from making Seitan Brew Stew (from American Vegan Kitchen) earlier in the week, so this burger was really easy to throw together.  I don't know if I added too much liquid or not enough dry or what I did, but this burger never really held together.  We baked it, so it wasn't a big deal, but it turned out to be a crumbly, yet tasty, burger.  We'll definitely have to experiment a bit more with this one if we want to grill it.  I enjoyed the flavor from the pineapple and hot peppers. 

Tonight we made Garlicky Ranch Potato Burgers.  I am pretty much in love with these burgers.  They were SO easy to make and were FULL of flavor, despite an ingredient list shorter than 10 ingredients.  This is definitely a recipe to keep in mind, because usually have everything on hand.  They were like bulked up, super tasty hash browns in burger form.