April 28, 2011

Recipe - Potato Tacos with Romesco Sauce & Pickled Red Onions

Howdy pardners! Long time no see. This will be a two parter as it comes from a meal so epic it had to be split up lest the awesomeness go all supernova and short circuit the internet. (I exaggerate a little sometimes.)

I was inspired by the tacos I ate at Teqa a few weeks back, but I wanted to change things up a bit and add some of my own flair. I am a big fan of potato tacos - essentially mashed potatoes in a fried corn tortilla shell - but haven't made my own before. I checked out a few recipes on-line and got to work, quickly figuring out some of the pitfalls. For one, my potato mixture (of which I made way too much) was pretty dry and tended to fall apart, so I couldn't overstuff the tacos or the filling came out in the frying pan and made a big ol' mess of my cooking oil. (If anyone has any suggestions for a potato filling that is a bit more sticky, please let me know!) The end result was tasty, but I think adding some liquid to the potatoes could be beneficial. Speaking of oil, I added WAY too much to the pan the first round and ruined a few tacos. But you live and learn, right? Or you learn from my mistakes and do it the right way the first go!

I also made a romesco sauce from scratch and I was so impressed with myself! I usually shy away from complicated sauces as they can be so time consuming, but I'm coming to realize that the more time you spend on the details, the bigger the reward. This sauce is to die for! It's smoky and rich and has so many flavors that I kept sampling it and saying, "...woah." It would also be delicious just tossed with some pasta, or as a dipping sauce for some grilled bread or potato pancakes.

And finally, the piece de resistance, the pickled red onions. Growing up, I would say 80% of my friends were Mexican, and they taught me about the finest Mexican delicacies. Everytime they made a trip across the border, they would come home loaded with Mexican candy - Pica, Duvalin (aka frosting with a spoon!), tamarindo, mazapan, obleas... oh jeez, my mouth is watering now! - and the enamel on my front teeth is completely gone thanks to childhood binges on lemons with saladitos stuck in the middle. I spent a lot of time at my friend Mary's house, consuming every dish her mom cooked up and put in front of me. I was so spoiled! One of my favorite things were the pickled red onions she always had in the refrigerator. They're vibrant purple and the flavor is simple and mind-blowingly delectable. They can work as an addition to many different meals, and now that I know how to make them, I think I'll start keeping a batch in my fridge, too. They're good just by themselves!

Johnny powered through three tacos, to the point where he had to stop and say, "I think I'm eating too fast." THEY'RE THAT GOOD. He was skeptical of the pickled red onions (again, it's all in the name for him), but after giving one a try he was a big fan. He suggested adding some pico de gallo on top to give an extra crunch.

Tomorrow, I'll post about the Charro Beans that I made to go on the side. The whole meal took about two hours to cook, but if you're just making the tacos I'd say it's closer to an hour.

There's a LOT going on here.

Potato Tacos with Romesco Sauce and Pickled Red Onions
Serves 4

One dozen corn tortillas
2-3 large potatoes
1 spring onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
Romesco Sauce (recipe follows)
Pickled Red Onions (recipe follows)
1 avocado
1 small can diced green chiles
Juice of 1/2 lime
Lettuce (optional)

Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a gentle boil. Cook until potatoes are tender all the way through, about 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Chop your onion (white and light green parts only) and add to potatoes. Add the salt, pepper and cumin and mash with a potato masher or fork. Set aside.

Microwave your tortillas on a small plate for about a minute, or until pliable. (This step is muy importante or your shells will break.) Scoop a few tablespoons of the potato mixture onto half of a tortilla being careful to leave a border near the edge of the tortilla. Press the potato mixture with your fingers so it sticks together, then fold your tortilla in half and press again so it stays closed. Repeat until you have used all your tortillas.

Heat a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet for 5 minutes. When the oil is ready, you will see some wavy lines appear in it. Cook the tacos in batches for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until browned. If your tacos are not browning and are soggy, increase the heat. Add additional oil as you go to maintain a thin layer in the bottom of your pan. Transfer the cooked tacos to a plate lined with paper towels to remove some of the oil.

In a small bowl, mash your avocado with the green chiles, lime juice and a dash of salt.

To assemble the tacos, place the tacos on a plate and top with Romesco sauce, guacamole, lettuce, and pickled red onions.

Romesco Sauce
Makes about 4 cups
(Based on this recipe with some changes)

1 red pepper
1/2 cup + 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
3 tomatoes, halved
6 garlic cloves, skin removed
1/2 cup whole almonds with skin
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 slices crusty bread (I used semolina)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp sea salt

To roast your red pepper, remove the stem, seeds, and pith and cut the pepper in half. Rub the skin with 1/2 tsp olive oil and place on a small baking sheet. Cook under a broiler for 10-15 minutes on each side until the skin is blackened and the flesh is soft. When it's cool enough to handle, remove the skin and set the pepper aside.

Heat your oven to 450 degrees. On the same baking sheet, arrange your tomatoes, garlic cloves, almonds, and pine nuts. Cook for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven, scoop the pine nuts out (which should be nicely toasted) and replace with the two pieces of bread. Place back in the oven for another 7-8 minutes.

Transfer all ingredients into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add in the red wine vinegar, smoked paprika, and salt and process until very smooth. Pour into a bowl and allow to sit for as lot as possible before using to allow the flavors to combine.

Pickled Red Onions
Makes 1 cup
(Recipe by one of my foodie loves, Rick Bayless)

1 small red onion, peeled
1/2 cup lime juice
1 1/2 tsps salt

Thinly slice the red onion and separate the rings. Place into a non-reactive bowl (I used glass). Boil some water in a tea kettle and pour over the onion until covered. Ten seconds later, drain the onions and return to the bowl. Add the lime juice and salt and toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. These will last a week or more in the refrigerator.

Nutritional info: It all depends on how much cooking oil you use, etc. It's safe to say this isn't health food, so let's just leave the nutritional info out on this one, shall we? (If you'd really like to know, just email me and I'll be happy to post!) 

April 19, 2011

Sabor de Soledad - Part I

In my lifelong quest to be more like Andy Rooney, "Sabor de Soledad" is a new column in which I will share amusing, food-related items from the internet with you. If you have any suggestions, send them to me at hally.thornton@gmail.com

In writing my recipe for Potato Tacos with Romesco Sauce and Pickled Red Onions (post coming tomorrow!) I make mention of certain Mexican candies I grew up eating. I decided to Google "Mexican candy" to see what some of the ingredients in my faves were and whether or not they are vegan. (A lot of them apparently contain lead, which explains so, so much....) I stumbled across this web site called The Latin Products, a shopping destination for food, cooking utensils, cleaning products and everything "Latin". 

Let me preface this by saying that I have always been a big fan of things that get a bit... lost in translation. One clear memory from a trip my sister and I took to Europe a few years back is a sign in the B&B where we stayed in Florence. It gently asked of the guests: "Close you sweetly every door." So poetic, so adorable. I also have an amazing user's manual that came with a mini-TV I won at an office holiday party. The TV was manufactured in Japan and the manual was written by someone who obviously spoke English as a second language (or third... maybe forth?). The TV is long gone, but I've held on to that manual with a vengeance, because it is the funniest thing I've ever read!

Well, it may have competition now. The descriptions on The Latin Products web site itself are generally grammatically correct and straightforward. But there is a strange "blog" associated with The Latin Products on which someone waxes poetic about some of the things they sell, and they do so in a way that has me positively spellbound. SPELLBOUND.

I'm scared!
Take, for example, the De La Rosa Giant Marshmallows (my comments in italics):

"Giant Marshmallows: Get Tempted Looking Along Their Length" Nice headline. Way to pull the readers in.

"The De La Rosa Marshmallow is practically the largest you will ever come across. Size is not the main issue here, though, but the savor is. Even before you open the packet, your nostrils are teased by the tempting aroma of these De La Rosa Marshmallows. Once you open the packet, all you feel like doing is just sit on the couch all day long as you enjoy your favorite marshmallows while watching your favorite show." I just like the visual of nostrils being teased. Moving on...

"If you are bored with the monotony of having cake, ice cream or fruits for dessert after a sumptuous meal, the De La Rosa Marshmallows is the only way to go. This snack of giant marshmallows is more than just perfect for desserts. What’s more, it is a sweet tasting candy that even kids will enjoy eating! Make them eat as much as they can, and turn them into sweet-toothed kids. Its fun you know!Whaaaaa?! Guess it's a step  up from shoving lead in their mouths, but holy crap!

"The De La Rosa Marshmallow is a snack that has all goodness wrapped up in its sugary form. Pick one up and take some time to push it into your mouth until its full length is in your mouth. Don’t wolf it down as you may lose its original taste as you hustle." I am reading this at work and every time I read it again I can barely stop myself from laughing so hard as to make people worry. WHOA!

I mean it just goes on and on! They sort of make it seem like each post is written by a different person, but it's confusing. "Someone else" with a stronger grasp on the English language, but no obvious sense of decency, writes about these mutant marshmallows:

"These are such large marshmallows that sometimes it’s difficult to get your mouth around the whole thing. My kids play a game called Chubby Bunny with them, where you put one large marshmallow in your mouth and say the words “chubby bunny.” A friend does the same thing, and then you put a second large marshmallow in your mouth without chewing the first one. Continue this until one person’s mouth is so full it is impossible to get the words out." I can't get the words out... you've rendered me speechless, Latin Products.

What's in that cup, Granny?
Let's not forget this sensual description of Abuelita's Mexican Chocolate:

"My personal favorite way to use Abuelita Mexican chocolate is to enjoy it as a warm drink on those winter nights to drive the chill away.  It is indeed a divine feeling to hold the tumbler of that delicious drink and sip it up till the last drop. Not to mention that freaky attempt of extending my tongue out and wait patiently till I enjoy that last drop which just refuses to come. As I cannot restrain my craze to taste such scrumptious delights made with Abuelita chocolate, I never feel bad for doing such mad tricks. After all, it boils down to anything for the Abuelita chocolate." You talk about your grandma with that mouth?!?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the site here and let me know what other gems you uncover. I'm going to try to scrub myself clean in the shower now. <shudder>

April 18, 2011

Vegans can be fashionable, too!

One of the unexpected side effects of going vegan for me was taking a long, hard look at my wardrobe. Aside from the obvious offender - leather - I never realized how much clothing is made from some form of animal product. Wool seems to be in everything, down is a big part of winter clothing, silk and cashmere (while usually out of my budget) had to be crossed off the list, and, of course, fur is heinous. Poor animals! I had no idea how much I'd been contributing to animal suffering just by buying a sweater. 

Rather than get rid of everything I'd purchased prior to going vegan, I made the choice to keep what I have and use it until it's worn out. But every purchase going forward has been free of animal products and I'm not gonna lie, it's taken some research! As a recent transplant to somewhere that actually HAS a Winter, I needed some cold weather gear and had a tough time finding items that weren't made with down, wool, etc. I think I managed to piece together some adorable and conscious staples that got me through the Winter. Now I get to shop for Spring/Summer! (PS - These pics are taken from various spots on the internets as they do way more justice to the products than my crappy photography ever could!)


It was quite the task to find a vegan boot that was sturdy, comfy, and cute. I lucked out by stumbling across the Colorado Vegan Boot by Jambu. As someone who suffers from plantar fasciitis and who does quite a bit of walking, I need lots of support in my shoes. I have literally worn these boots everyday this Winter through rain and snow and walked for miles on end, but my feet remain happy! I've gotten a ton of compliments on them, too, so I know they're not only cute by vegan standards. And the fact that they have "vegan" right in the name means there are no hidden animal products (like in the glue).


Winter coats are generally made of wool or stuffed with down. There is an amazing company called Vaute Couture that makes vegan, eco-friendly coats, but they are a bit out of my price range. I found this coat made by American Rag at Macy's on-line (the one I purchased is black). It's made of all man-made materials and it is SO soft and warm! The buttons and detailing make it very trendy and it got me through some tough 20 degree days.


I saw my first Big Buddha purse while living in Tucson, before I became a vegan. I was instantly in love with their asthetic and counted the days until I could call one my own. My parents bought me the pink Mia bag for Christmas and I am still in love with it! Again, I've received more compliments on it than I can count, and I definitely plan on buying one of their many other adorable styles for Spring.


I love to support the little guy when I can and I'm so happy that I stumbled across Couch Guitar Straps and Wallets one day on Etsy. This company is based on Long Beach, CA and uses new or recycled automotive upholstery vinyl or seatbelt material to make some of the most creative and rad guitar straps and wallets I've ever seen! They're always cruelty-free (vegan) and sweatshop-free and each item is handcrafted with love. I bought myself the Oldsmobile Station Wagon Wallet which I think is meant for dudes, but who cares? I've always loved mixing feminine and masculine styles, and there's no better representation of that than by having a men's wallet hanging out in my pink, flowery Mia purse! Check them out next time you want to buy your dad or significant other a cool gift.

What are some of your favorite eco-friendly or vegan clothing companies?

April 15, 2011

Recipe - Veggie Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of Johnny's *favorite* meals. I held off on attempting to veganize it for one reason: I was scared of making the crust! Homemade pastry always seems so time consuming and messy. An easier option would be to do a top crust only version using frozen puff pastry, but Johnny has to have his pot pie a certain way - crust on top AND bottom. What a diva.  

A few weeks back, I finally decided to give it a go after a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket. I picked up some crimini mushrooms, onions, new potatoes, and the biggest carrots I've ever seen! I didn't have a plan in mind, but the ingredients just screamed "POT PIE" so I set out to find a base recipe as I've never made a pot pie from scratch. I settled on one from Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes, a really beautiful blog by Vaishali who has allowed me to share her recipe with you! I made the crust exactly as she did, but changed up the filling a bit. I wasn't too keen on using sweet potato or tofu in my pie as I wanted it to be as authentic as possible, so instead I added mushrooms, celery, and corn. 

The crust was really tasty, not quite as flaky as I'd thought it would be, but I think it's due to the size of the baking dish I used (a 8 1/2" x 11" glass dish). I had to roll out the pastry pretty thin to cover the top and bottom, but I didn't want to use a smaller dish and waste a bunch of filling. Vaishali uses a round pie plate and her crust looks a lot thicker and flakier. Crust envy! I also used regular whole wheat flour rather than whole wheat pastry flour, so that probably had an effect. As for the filling, it was like a cornucopia of veggies! Next time, I may scale back on the types of veggies I use and add in some cooked and diced Gardein Chick'n Scallopini. 

Johnny seemed to really enjoy it and went back for seconds - love it when that happens! This version is so much healthier than any pot pie you would find at a restaurant (have you ever looked at the nutrition info on one of those Marie Callendar's frozen pot pies? Makes you wanna grab a chair and go all Chris Brown on the nearest window). So give it a try, mix it up, try some new fillings and let me know how it goes!

Vegan Pot Pie
Serves 8
(I am posting the recipe as I cooked it, but click here for the original)

For the crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp vegetable shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried herbs
1/4 cup very cold water

Combine the flours, salt and herbs in a large mixing bowl. Add in the shortening and use a fork to cut it into the flour until no large chunks remain. Slowly drizzle in the water and mix until a dough forms and no loose flour remains (you may not use the entire 1/4 cup of water). Divide the dough in two and form two balls. Cover each in plastic wrap and refrigerate as you make your filling.

For the filling:

1 tbsp olive oil
3 small onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (Or one Schwarzenegger carrot)
4-5 small thin skinned potatotes, skin left on, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used crimini)
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp fresh diced thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plain soymilk
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until transluscent, but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, potatoes, peas, corn, mushrooms, celery, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes stirring occasionally. Add the soymilk, flour, and margarine and stir until combined. Cook for 5-10 more minutes until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray your baking dish with canola oil spray. Lightly flour a surface and roll out one portion of the dough until it is in the shape of your baking dish. Transfer to the dish ensuring that about 1 inch hangs over the sides of the dish. Pour your filling into the baking dish and smooth out the top. Roll out the rest of the dough and place on top of the filling. Seal the top and bottom crusts by using a fork to crimp the edges.

(The original recipe stated to brush the top of the crust with a mixture of 1 tbsp soymilk and 1 tbsp oil, but I don't think this assisted the browning process much. Next time I will brush with melted Earth Balance or spray with canola oil spray.)

Cut an X in the middle of the pie to allow it to vent while cooking. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. The pie is done when the crust turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before cutting and serving.

Nutrition info per serving: Calories 292; Total Fat 11.3 g; Saturated Fat 2.5g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 375 mg; Carbohydrates 41g; Dietary Fiber 4.2g; Sugars 5.4g; Protein 7.6g; Vitamin A 97%; Vitamin C 18%; Calcium 7%; Iron 9%

April 13, 2011

Odds and Ends

Hi guys! Sorry my posts have been so infrequent. My cold stuck around long after I'd given it an eviction notice, but it seems to finally be gone now. Tomorrow I am getting an upper endoscopy (where they stick a scope down your throat) to find out why I've had acid reflux for the past three months, so that oughta be totally rad. Sometimes I feel like an old lady! At least I will be sedated so I should be in a great mood for a few hours afterward. :-)

Anyhow, still haven't been doing much cooking, but I do have a few restaurants on which to report as well as some other miscellaneous items. So here we go with the most random blog post of all time!

Steel Cut Oats

Every vegan blog posts about them at least once and I am no exception. Have you guys tried them? I gotta say, I'm a big fan. Apparently the only real difference between these and regular "oats" is that they have not been pressed (or rolled) to be flat, therefore they take a bit longer to cook. This gives them a rounder, heartier texture and they pop a bit when you chew them. I like to make a big pot of them then store them in the fridge. I don't add mix-ins to the entire pot, because then you're stuck eating the same type of oatmeal everyday and no one wants that. Instead, I heat up my individual portion each day and add in whatever the heck I feel like! One day I used the same type of filling from my failed Farina Cake - I toasted walnuts in a dry pan, then added a bit of sugar, some orange blossom water, dried cherries, and a little water. I let it simmer until a syrup formed and then mixed it in to my oats - WOW! So, so good. I've also been known to add combinations of almond or soy milk, maple syrup, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, bananas, apples, nut butter, maple sugar, jam... you get the point. The possibilities are endless. And steel cut oats are a great source of fiber and protein, so it's much better than starting your day with tater tots (the cafeteria at work calls them "breakfast potatoes", but I realize this does not absolve me of my guilt). 

Moo Shu Vegetables at Wild Ginger. Isn't the lighting positively seductive?
Wild Ginger

A few weeks back Johnny and I went to an Asian vegan restaurant called Wild Ginger in NoLita. It is tucked away in quiet neighborhood on Broome Street. It's a tiny restaurant and they don't take reservations for small parties, but we went a bit early on a Saturday night and had no problem getting a table. Dim lighting, tropical decor, and a candle on every table make for a very romantic setting. We started with their version of a Scallion Pancake - one large, crispy pancake topped with a fresh mango salad. If it's any indication of it's tastiness, Johnny insisted on ordering a second one because he liked it so much! For our entrees, Johnny went with the Orange Seitan at the suggestion of our server. Yum! Thin slices of seitan, breaded and fried, dipped in orange sauce and served over broccoli. The seitan was really tasty, my only criticism was that the sauce was a bit too thick, but still yum. I ordered the Moo Shu Vegetables: a huge serving of stir-fried veggies with Moo Shu pancake wrappers and hoisin sauce. Loved it! It was fun to make little burritos and dip them in the sauce and all the flavors worked so well together. For dessert we "shared" a sundae of vanilla soy ice cream, mango puree, and fresh fruit on top. This was a piece of heaven to me -so creamy, just the right amount of sweetness, and the crispness of fresh pineapple... Johnny hated it! Don't know why, but I was happy to eat his share, too. An adorable family was celebrating their mom's birthday and at one point, the staff turned down all the lights and the whole restaurant sang her "Happy Birthday"! I love stuff like that. And did I mention how insanely cheap this place is? All the food mentioned, plus a small pot of tea for me and iced tea for Johnny for... $40? We thought we had the wrong check, but no, this place is just that awesome! I also love how close it is to Little Italy, we took a romantic stroll down Mulberry Street after dinner and Johnny got some cherry italian ice, much to his satisfaction. We will definitely be back to Wild Ginger!

Cherry Ices are the other woman in our relationship. Look at that face... so ADORABLE!

This past weekend, we tried a new place in our neighborhood called Teqa. They advertise it as a Taqueria/Tequileria, but it's much more. I had been intrigued by it because the restaurant itself is just gorgeous! It recently opened and I often walk by it on my way home, so it was fun to watch it transform from a hole in the wall to a beautiful space. We started with the All Greens salad: baby spinach, asparagus, roasted Poblanos, and avocado. I didn't even use dressing because the grilled asparagus and roasted poblano provided a perfect amount of flavor. This salad was HUGE and I was shoveled forkful after forkful into my mouth until it was all but gone. I'm pretty sure I made Johnny swoon a few times it was so attractive. I told my server I'm vegan and she told me they could make the veggie tacos for me and leave off the non-vegan elements. The finished product was three corn tortillas stuffed with mushrooms, peppers, caramelized onions, crispy potatoes and a romesco sauce. Amazeballs! That romesco sauce was SO good, I am definitely gonna be trying that at home.  All recipes I've found for it are 100% vegan! Johnny went for the shredded chicken quesadilla and was so enamored of it that he was ready to go back and get it again the next day! Unlike Wild Ginger, this place is pretty darn expensive, even by trendy Murray Hill standards ($14 for chips and guac? Ohhellno.) but if you order wisely you can escape with your limbs intact. And the quality of the food makes you forget how much you're paying anyway. Typical, New York. Typical.

Isn't it pretty? Just wish they'd get rid of the cowhide chairs.... ewww.
We went to the famed Apollo Theater for the first time that night, too, to see one of Johnny's favorite singers, Salif Keita. This man is amazing! To give you a little background: he's from Mali and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire. However, Salif was born with albinism and he was cast out by his family and ostracized by society because of it. His decision to pursue a career in music was also not considered suitable for a member of the royal family, but his passion for music was unstoppable. He is often called the "Golden Voice of Africa" and is one of the most successful African recording artists of all time. How's that for inspiration?

This show was so amazing! A group call the Pedrito Martinez Trio from Cuba opened the show and they totally blew me away - lots of percussion, male and female vocals, and piano made me wanna go to the nearest class and learn how to salsa dance! Then Salif took the stage with a group of about ten musicians and two gorgeous back-up singers. His voice is truly unmistakable and rich and the rest of the group was so talented, some playing instruments I have never even seen before. I was surprised when during his first song, a woman from the audience walked up on-stage, handed Salif some money, danced for a minute or two, then walked back offstage. I thought she was very brave for walking straight past security to do this as they were a bit aggressive that night. But into Salif's second song, another woman, then a group of men, even some children did the same thing! One after another, showering him with money, hugging and kissing him, dancing around the stage... woah! This continued on for the rest of the show and security was totally cool with it, even helping people come off the stage so they didn't fall. It was refreshing to see someone this famous be so accessible to his fans! Everyone seemed so joyful to be in his presence, it was really incredible to watch. He also started a charity called The Salif Keita Global Foundation to bring attention and support to those affected by albinism. In Africa, many babies who are born Albino are killed due to superstition and ignorance. The Foundation  educates about albinism and collects donations of sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. Pretty amazing guy, huh?

Anyway, I've rambled long enough, hopefully I will be sharing a recipe or two with you very soon! xoxo

April 8, 2011

Just checking in...

Hey guys. How's it going? Good? That's good. I've had a cold since Sunday. I think it's bronchitis. I was stuck on the couch for 4 days, watching terrible TV and going out of my mind. (I did gain a new found love for "Bethenny Ever After". She's actually really funny and smart. Johnny no likey.) I haven't cooked all week and I am absolutely DONE with delivery food, but also too tired to go shopping and slave over a hot stove. It has been overcast and rainy in New York for days now, adding to the doom and gloom. I really wish Spring would hurry up and get here with all its new produce, flowering plants (achoo!), and outdoor activities.  I want to have a picnic in the park or go to a drive-in movie or take a walk on a beach. Alas, I am relegated to wearing my tired old winter coat and carrying my umbrella in my purse for at least a few more weeks. Harumph.

My plan is to get back in the kitchen this weekend and shake things up. I want to make a batch of potato tacos with some fun toppings like pickled red onion, homemade salsa, cashew cream and maybe a side of homemade frijoles. I have the urge to make sugary cupcakes and baked goods, too, but that might be counterproductive to feeling good. Any other ideas to culinarily reinvigorate me? Maybe it's time for a cleanse or something. I dunno.

Anyway, here's a picture to pull you out of the hole I just pushed you in. Wish I had one of these cuties to cuddle with!

I'm really good at naming pets: (L-R) Joe Biden, Sniffles, Skepticon, and Bernard Black.

April 1, 2011

Recipe - Chick'n Noodle Ssssoup

IT IS SNOWING IN NEW YORK TODAY. Can you believe it? It's like the worst April Fool's joke ever! It's probably warmer where you are, but I wanted to share my recipe for a delicious soup that I made this week. Johnny's had a nagging cold and all he's wanted is soup. He was eating can after can of that nasty supermarket Chicken Noodle Soup that is so high in sodium and cholesterol. I couldn't stand to watch it anymore, so into the kitchen I went!

This recipe keeps it simple with classic, subtle flavors and lots of hot, delicious broth. Perfect for an unseasonably cold day or for the next time you catch a bug. The carrots mean this soup fulfills your daily RDA for Vitamin A and the Gardein adds a lot of protein. 

The name is a tribute to the Bronx Zoo Cobra who escaped from her habitat this week and had the city going crazy! Her Twitter feed had me cracking up, she took a fictional tour of NYC while on the lam. My favorite tweets were: "Got a bagel at H & H Bagels on upper west side. When I ordered I said, 'I'll have the snakes on a PLAIN.' He did not laugh. Tough crowd." and "There are hundreds of sports bars in this city, but I can't find one reality show bar! Where am I gonna watch the Top Chef finale?!" And when Bergdorf's invited her to their store, she tweeted "If I recognize one belt..." HA! She was found yesterday safe and sound, turns out she never left the Reptile House, she was just playing an epic game of hide-and-go-seek. I think she'd appreciate this animal-free soup so, BZC, this one's for you.

Johnny gave the soup a "ten out of ten" review (WOW!) and was very grateful for it. He seems to be on the mend now, so I have a sneaking suspicion that my soup may have magical healing powers.**

**This claim has not been substantiated by the FDA. Yet.

Chick'n Noodle Ssssoup
Serves 8

2 vegan bouillon cubes (I used Rapunzel brand with Sea Salt & Herbs)
8 cups water
8 oz. dried farfalle pasta (may substitute other pasta if you wish)
1 package Gardein Chick'n Scallopini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tsps fresh rosemary
2 tsps dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper

First, make your broth by crumbling the bouillon cubes and adding to 4 cups of boiling water. (I do this in my big glass measuring cup.) Set aside and stir occasionally until bouillon has completely dissolved. Prepare your Chick'n by heating a medium skillet over medium heat for several minutes. Spray with canola or olive oil and add the Chick'n Scallopini, cooking on each side for 3-4 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat. When cool enough to handle, dice the Chick'n.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent, but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the celery, carrots and herbs and cook for 5 more minutes or until celery and carrots are tender. Add the 4 cups broth and an additional 4 cups of water. Add the pasta and Chick'n and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover, continuing to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

Nutrition info per serving: Calories 197; Total Fat 4.5g; Saturated Fat 1g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 708mg; Carbohydrate 28.8g; Dietary Fiber 3.4g; Sugars 3.1g; Protein 11.2g; Vitamin A 143%; Vitamin C 9%; Calcium 6%; Iron 23%.

Wait a minute, that's not soup...
Bonus dish! I made the Rustic Bread & Eggplant Lasagna from VeganYumYum this week and was blown away by how good it is! For some reason I thought it would be a quick dish to prepare, but 2 1/2 hours later I realized how wrong I was. Luckily, the hard work paid off. As the name indicates, it uses grilled bread instead of noodles and the result is like a savory bread pudding. The grilled bread soaks up the tomato sauce, but is in no way soggy, and the breadcrumbs on top give the perfect crunch. I honestly did not miss the cheese in this lasagna AT ALL! Try making it on a Saturday or Sunday when you have some leisure time to cook. (What the heck happened to VeganYumYum, BTW? It is one of the best vegan blogs ever, but Lauren hasn't posted anything since January 2010! Where'd she go? Still enjoying working through her archives, her food and photography are stunning!)