Tag Archives: A couple cooks

coconut bacon, anyone? or maybe tortilla pie?

IMG_1002Seriously, this is SO good. And the picture doesn’t remotely do it justice, but it’s amazing I stopped eating it long enough to hold my phone over the baking sheet. Cupcakes and Kale did a fantastic job with this recipe. I promise there is no actual bacon in it- in fact, it’s vegan- but it’s got a taste that is reminiscent of bacon. Well, I think it does. My husband disagrees but he was snarfing it down rapidly all the same. You’ll need liquid smoke on hand, as well as tamari, maple syrup, and sesame oil. That and some coconut flakes (not shreds) and you’ve got a topping for salads, eggs (my husband tried that one this morning- delicious!), pasta, anything. Or just eat it by the handful, as we all did last night.

The night before, I made a tortilla pie, using a recipe from my favorite A Couple Cooks. It was so good we barely had leftovers, and those leftovers were breakfast the next morning. Again, this-lazily-snapped- picture-in-poor-lighting doesn’t do it any favors- visit A Couple Cooks and see their gorgeous pictures of this dinner. It’s easy and quick! I left out the hot sauce, because my son isn’t a fan of spicy things. But it’s certainly easy to add the hot sauce on top of individual servings. We used La Tortilla Factory’s Fiber and Flax corn tortillas and it was great. IMG_0996

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red velvet cake, remix, with a dash of the holidays

IMG_0742Well, Christmas was awesome. Family, great friends, delicious food, a trip to Maine (with snow!!), and of course, lots of lovely gifts both given and received. Christmas dinner was simple- we’d had lasagna for Christmas Eve (and LOTS of Christmas cookies!). By the way, do make the Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats from Smitten Kitchen. Oh. my. deliciousness. Give them away quickly (to me is fine) or run the real risk of squirreling yourself away in a dark corner, eating the entire pan on your own. I won’t say I did that, exactly, but I will say this picture includes a lone treat from the second batch I made of those! Also included in this picture are “The Best” Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies from A Couple Cooks. And, yes, they are indeed the best!!IMG_0758 All of us wanted something lighter for Christmas Day. Fish, broccoli, a fantastic raw cranberry-and-orange relish, and mashed potatoes fit the bill perfectly. And it was pretty!IMG_0781

My very first Apron In The Window cake post (and the second post overall) last January was for my friend Nicole’s red velvet birthday cake. It seems appropriate that the first blog post of 2013 include at least a reference to her red velvet cake for this year! Wanting to avoid the copious amounts of food dye required to make red velvet cake red, I found a recipe on Oprah.com, also by that grand cook Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen, that called for the use of red wine versus red dye. This merlot-and-shiraz-loving girl was very happy! Here is a slightly  blurry picture of Red-Wine Velvet Cake:

Nicole's Birthday Cake, 2013

Nicole’s Birthday Cake, 2013

The cake isn’t exactly red. It’s a deep and pretty, chocolate-y rich brown. Maybe with hints of red. Anyway, it’s pretty tasty. Dense. Rich. Cocoa-y. Despite the amount of sugar in it, it’s not super-sweet.

I used only half the frosting- and I knew I would probably do that going in. Just in case, I made the whole amount called for, and ended up throwing half of it away. It is a VERY rich frosting and we found that having it on top and between the layers was more than enough. It was not necessary to cover the sides as well. IMG_0850

Sadly, Nicole got sick and we ate the cake without her (but left her thick slices of cake on her porch!). I think I’d make the cake again, but I’d definitely go ahead and halve the frosting recipe.

On a (much) healthier note, this Vegetarian Thai Quinoa Chili is very nice. I found it a bit bland, so next time I’ll play with the spices and remember the green onions/cilantro/Greek yogurt/avocado for toppings. As my friend Andraea pointed out, it’s better in a day or two, because the flavors blend deliciously. IMG_0858

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prize-winning chili

Seriously! This chili won a prize last night, “Best Vegetarian Chili”, at a neighborhood chili cook-off! Against some stiff competition, too, I must say. I thought they all were delicious. But A Couple Cooks never lets me down. Their Vegetarian Chili was a hit! 

No chiles were on hand, but there were canned tomatoes with chiles.  I used less than 1/4 cup instead of a 1/2 cup chili powder (I am pretty wimpy about hot spice), and bumped up the chipotle powder slightly (a 1/2 tsp instead of 1/8 tsp). About  2/3 cup more canned tomatoes were added than the recipe calls for, because after being in a slow cooker all afternoon, it became pretty thick. The onion, garlic, and spices  were sautéed together for a few minutes first before putting them in with the beans and tomatoes. After the beans/tomatoes/onion/garlic mixture warmed up, the bulgur wheat was added to the slow cooker.

Topped with shredded cheese, and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (my preference) this is a delicious and filling meal. Here’s my prize! :-) Nice, huh?

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quinoa salad

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a favorite of mine. Quinoa is actually a seed, but is considered a whole grain. For a vegetarian, it’s indispensable for it’s nutritional gifts. It cooks like white rice and is as versatile, but packs a protein punch that rice can’t beat. Quinoa is a complete protein- meaning it has all nine essential amino acids- and that is something a vegetarian can’t ignore!

I love mixing quinoa with beans and vegetables and a dressing. A Couple Cooks  have a recipe that I had to try as soon as I read it, and I’m so glad I did! They created a Summer Quinoa Salad with Corn and Tomatoes, and it is both beautiful and delicious. 

Not having had good luck with corn this summer (those poor farmers, how discouraging this drought must be), I skipped the corn. However, I’d just made a bountiful trip to the Farmer’s Market at the State House, and brought home some absolutely beautiful peppers. I used peppers, cherry tomatoes and basil from my garden, red onion, and didn’t tinker with their dressing recipe at all (why mess with perfection?). Served over a bed of greens from the market, it was a perfect dinner. And lunch. And dinner again. 

It was so nice to come home from work and yoga today and have dinner ready in the refrigerator. No need to heat it- just pile greens in a bowl, toss the quinoa salad on top, and, if you’re me, pour a nice glass of red wine, and voila. Dinner is served.

Now I need to make their Dark Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. Oh my goodness, that sounds amazingly delicious!!

 

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prom and a new favorite

My baby went to prom tonight. Yes, he’s nearly 17, but as any mother will affirm, your baby is your baby whatever his age. I know the next year is going to race by- we’ll have senior pictures soon, and senior dance, and college selection…aaaahhhh.

I’ll dry my eyes and bring my focus back to tonight, when my very handsome son, his beautiful girlfriend (her flowers pictured above) and her sweet friend, and our exchange student went to prom. We hosted a tiny “pre-prom” here, so proud parents could take far too many pictures. Food and drink was a necessity. Well, maybe not a necessity, but it was fun. And tasty. My favorite by far was, get this, sliced radishes on buttered bread with a pinch of a salt and a sprinkle of fresh dill. Dee-licious. The geniuses behind A Couple Cooks came to my rescue today when I was staring at the produce I’d bought at the market this morning, trying to come up with appetizers for the evening. I had fresh Easter Egg radishes, fresh bread, and good butter. Perfection. This will be made again in the very near future. 

I had bought some gorgeous basil, too, and my long-suffering husband made a run to the grocery for mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. Those and some toothpicks made a pretty and very good snack.

I sliced more of that bread thinly and spread cream cheese on each slice, topping them with watercress and cucumber slices and a touch of sea salt.

Epicurean Mom provided me with a way to incorporate the best eggs in the world (Schacht Farms) into the evening. Boiling them up and mashing the yolks with cream cheese, mustard, Vegannaise (I didn’t have mayo), and a tiny splash of white wine vinegar made for some very nice deviled eggs- I forgot to take pictures of those. Visit her blog- her pictures are awesome!

Cookies, popcorn, cheese and crackers, and nuts rounded out the mini-feast. Also red wine spritzers (only for the parents, of course). Half red wine, half club soda, with ice and fresh lime. The well-dressed nearly-adults had sparkling apple cider or ginger ale.

Now I’m snugged up on the couch, sipping a wine spritzer and eating leftovers (the perk of hosting! that and everyone brought us red wine. I like these people!), hoping my son and his friends are having an awesome prom night. I still remember mine, all these years later. If he’ll let me, I’ll post a prom picture or two here tomorrow. :-)

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it was an orange kind of week

Have I mentioned this roasted potato salad from A Couple Cooks yet? No? I am remiss. It is delicious!! I have made it three times already in the past two weeks. I leave out the egg, to make it vegan (although there is honey in the dressing so there’s that whole argument I choose to avoid), but I don’t change anything else if I can help it. It’s been a big hit in our house!

Then there is this delicious curried carrot dip from Veganonmicon- this is the first recipe I tried from that book and it is yum! You must use the right amount of carrots- this time, I used too many and it watered down the taste of the dip.

And then the vegan enchiladas I promised yesterday, from Gena at Choosing Raw again (what can I say? she makes good food). She also provides great nutritional information.

Do admire my beautiful new Cuisinart 3-qt saucepan. A downside to a budding chef in the house is the occasional misuse and even the demise of a pot or pan. An upside is then I have the perfect excuse to buy a new one. This one, however, is going to bear a sign that says: “If your name is not Kelly, put this down and back away. Now.” This little beauty cooked up those sweet potatoes in no time. Awesome. They became the filler, once mixed with black beans, black strap molasses, and a few other goodies, for the enchiladas. The funny thing about using Daiya “cheese” is that it doesn’t lose it’s shape when it melts. It tastes pretty good- almost a bit sweet- but it can’t really pass, in appearance, for cheese. This is after 30 minutes in the oven. I’ve not used the mozzarella one yet- I’m going to try that soon. Perhaps it will melt differently.

We have more recipes coming, including my sister-in-law’s peanut/broccoli/tofu dish I have now promised to post twice. See, I didn’t get good pictures of it. Picture chunks of tofu draped in beige sauce and you see my problem. Also, I made the chunks too big and didn’t add peanuts, (fresh dental work- crunchy peanuts sounded painful), so I want to make it again and this time make it pretty. All week we’ve been trying out new vegan recipes- including another one from A Couple Cooks that was a huge hit- their Two-Bean Sloppy Joes. That was delicious! My son gave it two thumbs up!

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I’m a dork

I am. I really am. In my line of work I’ve hung out with presidential candidates, with high-ranking officials of other countries, with the wealthy, and with the local celebrities. I have no problem with staying calm, cool, and collected with all of them- just people, you know, like me, with a hundred times more power and money, sure, but just people. I feel confident that if a movie star walked past me, I’d either simply not recognize them, or, I like to think, I’d quietly say hello. I would certainly not be so gauche as to ask for an autograph or a picture. I would emphatically not be one of those fans being dragged away, holding their pinky finger to their mouth and their thumb to their ear, simulating a phone, saying “I love you! Call me!!” as the celebrity is very careful to not make eye contact. You know what I mean- you’ve all seen it on TV.

But apparently, I’ve not tapped my star-struck geek potential. I have to find the right person, I’ve learned, to make me go all idiot on them. Yesterday’s post of mine featured a few recipes from Gena, of Choosing Raw fame, and I linked my blog to hers. And she read my post- and commented on it!! Do you comprehend this? It’s Gena, for crying out loud. The blogger I have followed for months, the one that taught me salad dressings and chia pudding and almond milk and vegan-beyond-delicious enchiladas. Gena!! So she commented on the one thing that hadn’t worked out for me- I’d sort of dissed an almond meal cookie recipe that didn’t work for me (my fault, I know! I love you Gena! Call me!) and I got all dorked out that Gena was reading my posts. It was hysterical. I called my husband in the room and excitedly said, “Gena’s reading my blog!” and he looked at me as though he wasn’t sure whether to sedate me or just back away slowly (both wise choices). I read him my gaga response to her comment and he just laughed at me. Appropriately so. But clearly, he didn’t understand. Now, if it had been a Maple Leafs hockey player, or an Indianapolis Colt (sniff sniff- Peyton? really? a Bronco? too sad. but I digress), that would have geeked him out for sure.
It has made me think about how we select our celebrities- the people we’ve never met but that we feel we connect with. People that impact our lives and have no idea they are doing so. The blogging world has opened us up to “meeting” some pretty incredible people who live their lives in such a way that they are an inspiration to us. Gena has become, without ever having met her, a “go-to” person for me- someone I trust for nutrition information and good food and creative ideas.  I enjoy her sense of humor and her writing and her take on life. I have “met” Ann, Coco, Sarah B., Katie, Elise, Matt (love my No Meat Athlete shirt!), Nada, Kristen, Yvonne, and Steph. Sonja and Alex.  Heidi. I have actually met another Katy, (she’s a neighbor!) and Ashley (talk about an inspiration). There are SO many others.So, I started out a bit embarrassed at my somewhat silly reaction to Gena’s comment last night, but I’m not any more. I like that I get geeked out at the thought of connecting with these people. They are my teachers. My guides.  I may never meet them, never so much as shake their hand, but I hope they know how much they bring to me and to the world. They are important to my growth as a human being. I laugh and learn, and sometimes cry, along with them. I root for them. I admire their work and their pictures and their writings.
What a gift it has been, and continues to be, to learn from these amazing people. They don’t just share my interests, they expand my interests. The world gets bigger for me and for you as they share their stories and talents with us.
My final words on the subject: Go read Gena’s blog. And Coco’s. And Sarah’s. And Katy’s. Read. Learn. Attempt. Leave comments for them. They are people, just like you and me. They are living life to the full, which challenges me and inspires me and, apparently, geeks me out. :-) Expanding my horizons makes me happy, and sometimes, even, a little silly. That is okay by me. 

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