Chickpea Cutlet Burger with frizzled leeks, Green Bean Fries, and Corn on the Cob

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

Make new friends, but keep the old…

My dinners these days often revolve around two central questions: what produce do I have in my fridge, and more importantly – what’s about to go bad? Today’s answer to the latter: green beans. I love me some fresh green beans, but the word “fresh” wasn’t really true any more in describing these particular beans. Still, I bravely picked through the container and separated the questionable beans from the salvageable ones. (If I die of green bean poisoning tomorrow, you read it here first).

Luckily for my green beans, I just picked up the sequel to one of my all time favorite cookbooks. I’m a huge fan of Clean Food by Terry Walters, and the new Clean Start looks to be even more exciting. Since I’ve of course already read the book cover to cover (yes, I read cookbooks for fun), I knew my green beans had a solid future.

They would become Green Fries.

I don’t think I’ve ever really fried anything, aside from the brief stretch of time when I actually owned a little deep frier. I’ve never fried on the stove-top, though. I tend to avoid frying things (pesky calories and all). Tonight, though, I had some green beans, and I had a new cookbook, and doggone it, I felt like frying something.

For the record, a) frying stuff is dangerous. I could’ve used a reminder before I embarked upon this journey. b) Fried green beans are good, but I’m not sure they’re better than roasting them to eat as fries. The texture is a little better, but might not be better enough to be worth the trouble (and calories) of frying. That said, I still ate a ton of them.

So, green bean fries are my new friend (roasted or fried!)

To go with my green bean fries, I made an old favorite standby – chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon. So easy. So good. Such awesome leftovers. And I actually remembered to add the spices this time.

And I grilled a corn-on-the-cob.

Nom.

Chickpea Cutlet Burger with frizzled leeks, Green Bean Fries, and Corn on the Cob

Chickpea Cutlet Burger with frizzled leeks, Green Bean Fries, and Corn on the Cob

Word to your mother. Now go be a good scout and eat some plants.

Pesto Pasta, Broccoli and Chickpeas with Mmm Sauce, & Asparagus

Let the Freezer Eats Begin

I told you it was about to get all crazy up in this hizzouse!

Pesto Pasta, Broccoli and Chickpeas with Mmm Sauce, & Asparagus

Pesto Pasta, Broccoli and Chickpeas with Mmm Sauce, & Asparagus

Ha!

You’re like, what the heck is that?!

Eatin’ good in the freezer-hood, my friends!

Gotta. Empty. Freezer. Can’t. Waste. Food.

(No worries – what I don’t eat or take with me will be bequeathed upon family members’ freezers).

It all started with a bag of frozen asparagus spears. I don’t even remember buying them, but when I saw the bag, I thought, “Genius! Frozen asparagus spears! Like, in spear form!” Too bad I didn’t realize they existed sooner. I could’ve eaten them when my fresh asparagus went limp way too soon last week.

So, I steamed that frozen asparagus (5 minutes in the micro – will probably go 5:30 next time), and coated it in my current obsession, Perfect Pinch veggie seasoning.

Then, I decided to make another batch of pesto. (I’m obsessed. What can I say?). Made the pesto, then realized I did not have the ingredients on hand to make my favorite Pesto Veggie sandwich.

Heavens, no! What would I do?!

OK. Change of plans. What’s in the fridge? I went for a big ol’ salad to use up the rest of my leftover spicy roasted chickpeas, and then realized I was out of salad greens. Well, heck. I need more greens!

I’ve got pesto. I’ve got asparagus. What can I do with pesto and asparagus?

I hobbled together an idea: in honor of the release of Mama Pea’s new cookbook (Peas and Thank You, which had just arrived at my door), I would try a recipe from her web site that I’d been meaning to make forever: Mmm Sauce. I’d mix that with the rest of my spicy roasted chickpeas, mix in some pasta and pesto, and throw some steamed broccoli in there. (I was too lazy to roast or grill anything – my preferred veggie cooking methods).

I got to work making Mmm sauce, only to realize I didn’t have the right spices on hand. Instead, I used oregano and basil and parsley. Italian Mmm sauce? I guess so!

So that, my friends, is what you’re looking at in the photo above. Frozen asparagus, steamed, with veggie seasoning. Whole wheat pasta topped with pesto. Steamed broccoli with chickpeas and Mmm sauce.

A weird plate – yes. But it was pretty darn tasty! So much so that I just had it again for lunch….

Stay tuned for more adventures in freezer eats!

Chickpea cutlet sandwich with creamy garlic

Sandwich Experimentation

I’m the happiest foodie version of myself when eating with my hands. I love sandwiches and finger-foods. After an accidentally awesome sandwich creation a couple weeks ago, I vowed to recreate my favorite pizza joint take-out sandwich: the Chicken Club from Nancy’s Pizza.

Last night, I attempted my first batch of the secret ingredient: the creamy garlic dressing.

Now, I don’t have the slightest idea of the ingredient list of the original dressing on this sandwich – so I’m just going to have to wing it by flavor!

After digging through my vegan cookbook collection and coming up empty, I searched the interwebs for a vegan creamy garlic dressing. My first attempt used this recipe, supposedly from the Chicago Diner (meat-free since ’83!). It turned out much too bland. I added some additional garlic, some fresh basil, and a sprinkle of Garlic Gold (the Italian herb blend) – and while that did make it quite tasty, it’s not quite there. Also, the consistency is much too thin.

Still, that didn’t prevent me from trying the dressing on a sandwich! I made up another batch of Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon (and had a total cutlet fail – forgot half of the seasonings. Funny, they still turned out alright – since I’m smothering them in dressing anyway).

Behold: phase one of my quest to veganize the Chicken Club sandwich from Nancy’s:

Chickpea cutlet sandwich with creamy ranchYeah, it’s not much of a club sandwich – I was too tired to make tempeh bacon. This was really just an attempt to get the dressing right, after which point I’ll proceed with the rest of the sandwich. But boy – it sure is a delicious process :)

I think my next attempt at the dressing will use silken tofu, similar to Isa’s Sanctuary Dressing recipe (which I am still enjoying almost daily!)

(There’s some Daiya mozzarella on there too). Kale chips and a ring of fresh pineapple on the side. Nom!

Golden Chickpea & Artichoke salad in a pita

Nice to Meet Ya, Artichoke

I fear artichokes.

Well, I did. I mean, they’re just weird. They look funny. They certainly don’t look edible; they look mean!

I’ve had a variety of food aversions in my life that really have no true foundation. I’ve dispelled many of them over the past year. Kiwis are one of my favorite fruits. (Former aversion: they’re furry and ugly… on the outside. Oh, what I could learn from the kiwi fruit!). Mushrooms, as weird as my brain still thinks they are, happen to be delicious. (Former aversion: they’re fungus. Who eats fungus?!). I had no “real” reasons to dislike these foods – just head games.

And so it is with the artichoke. I’ve actually been psyching myself up all year to “try” artichokes. I’ve had them in the form of spinach and artichoke dip, a small handful of times. I like that dip. But tonight, after much kitchen talk with my cousin’s wife (and her reaction of sheer joy and passion for the weird artichoke), I decided to finally pull the trigger and make something with an artichoke in it.

I flipped through my growing collection of cookbooks, and found myself back in the sweet embrace of my latest cookbook crush: the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. (I can’t help but feel I’m cheating on Isa. I’m so sorry, Isa!) I love that every recipe in VYY has a photograph to accompany it. And so far, I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried from this book. For as much gushing as my friends have done over artichokes, I was surprised to find very few artichoke recipes in my collection. That’s fine – Vegan Yum Yum it is!

I made the Golden Chickpea and Artichoke salad, and stuffed it into a pita. (I like food I can eat with my hands, and for something that felt as daring and scary as eating artichokes, I needed the comfort factor for my inner utensil-shunning child). I toasted the pita-wich on the panini press, and behold:

Golden Chickpea & Artichoke salad in a pita

Golden Chickpea & Artichoke salad in a pita with kale chips on the side

Whoa, Nellie!

I must admit – with such a simple ingredient list, I wasn’t sure this was going to work. I had visions of tossing the pita to the birds and hoofing it to the fridge for a bowl of cereal for dinner. The first bite actually scared me a little – it seems I didn’t mix the lemon juice well enough and I got a really smirky first bite.

But after that…

Chickpeas and artichokes were in the hizzouse!

I got more excited with every bite; it was delicious!

Chickpea artichoke pita

Gratuitous chickpea action

What can I say? VYY is 3/3. 100% yum. And this one was super easy, to boot.

So, to the artichoke: I’m sorry I ignored you for so long. You’re tasty and I can’t wait to try you in more dishes.

Side note: I didn’t have any almonds on hand, so I used cashews instead. Nom.

Other side note: the blob on the plate is Isa’s Sanctuary Dressing – a veganized ranch stand-in that I am currently obsessed with. It’s from her Appetite for Reduction cookbook. Great for dipping!

Side side note (how many sides does this thing have?!): the co-star here was kale chips. They’re my uber favorite way to eat greens. Nutritious and dippable! They’re ridiculously simple to make. Someday I’ll write a tribute to kale chips, but in the meantime, Kath has done a video on how to make them:

 

My Buddy Isa

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is my buddy – at least, in my imagination. I imagine that she’s a pretty cool chick. I know for a fact I can learn tons from her in the kitchen. She could probably school me at being post-punk-rock, too. Isa runs a former cooking show turned web site, The Post Punk Kitchen. She also writes the most awesome cookbooks ever.

Being spring break and all, I’ve been goofing around in the kitchen again. I recently added Isa’s “Appetite for Reduction” cookbook to my arsenal, and have been cooking my way through it this week. (Check it out – if only to see the cover of the book. Total take on the old Guns n’ Roses album of a similar title. How cool is that?!)

Tonight, I made Baked Falafel from Appetite for Reduction. I also made Sanctuary Dressing, a cow-friendly ranch-style affair. The result:

Baked Falafel, from Appetite for Reduction Oh. My. Gawd.

Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!

I’m new to the world of falafel. This past December, I was in Las Vegas for a poker tournament with my poker blogger friends. (Wow – never thought my foodie world and poker world would cross!) We were at the Aria poker room, hours and hours into the tournament. I’m not sure I had really expected to last so long in the game, and I was starving famished. On a break between levels, I ran next door to the little food bar to see what I could grab within 10 minutes (as the clock was counting down). The only vegetarian thing on the menu was falafel.

“WTF is falafel?” I asked.

“It’s good – you’ll like it!” CA April told me.

(For the record – falafel is a fried ball or patty of spiced chickpeas, usually served with a tahini-based sauce, often in a pita).

I tried it (served exactly as described above), and it was ridiculous-good. YUM. Apparently, I like Egyptian food. Who knew?

I’ve been yearning for falafel ever since! I even bought a boxed falafel mix, but when I paid closer attention to the ingredient list… yuck. So I was pretty excited to see a baked falafel recipe in Isa’s new cookbook.

This falafel was awesome – and way healthier than the fried variety. Spicy and substantial and yummy. And super easy to make. The recipe claims to make 12 falafel, but it seems my idea of a golf-ball size must be off, because I only got 9 falafel out of mine (3 servings instead of 4). That’s OK – there’s only one of me, anyway. Here’s the nutrition breakdown (based on 3 servings in the entire recipe):

Falafel NutritionNot bad, eh?

I ate mine over a bed of organic spring greens, about 1/4 of a cucumber, and a handful of sundried tomatoes – smothered in Isa’s Sanctuary ranch-like dressing (which, I am happy to report, is the first homemade dressing I’ve ever made that I actually really liked! And, only 40 calories per 1/4 cup… because really, who uses only 2 tablespoons of dressing?). That’s what I like about Isa. She’s a realist.

While I’m bragging about Isa’s food-smarts, I might as well add that I finally got around to trying her Chickpea Cutlet recipe from Veganomicon. It too was a smashing success, served over some whole wheat penne with her Mom’s Marinara recipe from Appetite for Reduction. The marinara was so simple and so delicious that I can’t figure out why anybody eats the junk from the jars! OK, jarred sauces are convenient – but it took practically no time at all to make this marinara, and it was infinitely more delicious. Real food ftw, again.

My tummy is happy this week!