Polenta Casserole with Seitan

It was an adventurous day today! First, I braved the mud at Messenger Woods to get a nice walk in. Then, I took a few bold new steps at Whole Foods, buying bulk dried beans for the first time, along with some exotic-to-me ingredients like sea vegetables for my upcoming kitchen adventures. I’m on spring break this week, so I plan to do a lot of cooking! I’m not sure where I’ll store all of the leftovers, but I’ll figure it out.

Tonight, I made my first vegan recipe out of Alicia Silverstone’s book, The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet: Polenta Casserole with Seitan. It contained a few of those adventurous ingredients, so for those new to them, I’ll explain:

  • Seitan – “wheat meat” – a protein-rich food made from wheat gluten that resembles the texture and taste of meat
  • Tamari – a soy sauce made from soybeans, water, and sea salt, usually wheat-free
  • Umeboshi vinegar (or ume vinegar) – technically not a vinegar, but a fruity, salty, sour product made from Japanese umeboshi plums
  • Tahini – nut butter made from sesame seeds

OK, that covers all of the ingredients that I hadn’t heard of prior to reading this book! I was able to find them all at Whole Foods Market.

Step 1: seitan, asparagus, and corn.Step 1: Seitan, corn, and asparagus

Next, I employed my new kitchen laptop to look up how to chop parsley. I’ve never used fresh herbs before, and wow – fresh parsley smells amazing! I also felt like a freakin’ chef chop-chop-chopping by the time I was done with the parsley. Such a pro I am. (LOL!)


Parsley, Pre-chop


Chopped fresh parsley

I over-estimated how many parsley stems I’d need to end up with 1/4 cup of fresh chopped leaves, so hopefully I can think of something to do with my leftover chopped parsley soon. For those new to chopping parsley, you pretty much hold the knife as usual in one hand, then place your other hand on top to guide the knife as sort of a rocker back and forth over the parsley leaves.

Next up – the cornmeal mixture got spread on top of the seitan mixture, with some tamari sprinkled on top:

Polenta casserole with seitan, ready to bakeAfter baking, I did not read the instructions closely enough. They said to let the casserole sit for 15 minutes before cutting it into squares. I did not wait, and my casserole was mushy (though I also didn’t use as much cauliflower as the recipe called for, so that might have contributed to my mush-factor).


Polenta casserole with seitan - doneI got 9 servings out of this recipe, though I used a 9×13″ pan instead of the recommended 8×8″ pan (couldn’t find my 8×8!) The original recipe notes 6 servings.

And here’s what dinner looked like! I served the casserole with a side of spring greens with organic caesar dressing:

Polenta casserole with seitan and a side of spring greensThe meal turned out delicious. I like seitan – if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was meat (minus the cholesterol and saturated fat and other bad-ness that comes along with animal based meat). I have happily survived my first vegan meal!

[recipe-show recipe=polenta-seitan]


Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment: Prep

*queue Mission Impossible music*

Actually, I think this mission is quite possible! I am embarking upon what I call the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment. You are about to bear witness to Phase 1: Prep.

It all started when my sister in law Amanda suggested that I check out this book: Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry’s wife). Since I was already sold on the possibility of hiding veggies in my smoothies, I thought this book might hold some promise (though I’d be attempting to deceive myself, not kids). I picked it up at my local library (Homer Township Library ftw!) and decided to give it a test-drive.Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

The basic premise of the book is that you puree a variety of vegetables and store them in 1/2 cup portions in little ziplock baggies, then sneak them into recipes as needed. Sounds good to me!

Flatlander Chili

Chili is a big hit amongst my family and friends. My dad was the chili master. He used to joke that he would take his chili recipe to the grave… well, we thought he was joking, but doggone it, he wasn’t! A few of us will forever shake our fists at the sky when remembering Bob’s chili.

There’s no way I could replicate my dad’s chili, but I decided to try to find a recipe that at least reminds me of his chili and pays a little homage to the chili tradition he left behind. His recipe was a little sweet, a little spicy, and very flavorful. I came across a recipe on AllRecipes.com and modified it a bit. The result: a delicious chili that is pretty darn close to what my dad used to make. Read on for my secrets!

Adventures in Chopping

Tonight I bring you the first in a series called, “Adventures in Chopping.” Sure, wielding a big, sharp knife may be child’s play to most of you, but to me? It’s confusing, intriguing, and simultaneously terrifying.

You see, I’m clumsy. ’nuff said.

At any rate, I’ve got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, and I know I will not be waking up early enough to feed myself properly. Since I now have a fridge full of produce (thanks to Peapod), I thought I’d better get chopping (literally and figuratively). I decided to make tomorrow’s breakfast tonight, so I can just grab it and go as I sleepwalk out the door in the morning.

The adventure started like this:
Googling how to chop peppers

Yes, I had to Google how to chop a bell pepper. I also had to Google how to chop an onion. Now you hush with the laughing!

It took me a good half hour to chop up one red pepper and one onion, but there was no bloodshed – and that’s a primary goal, right?

chopped red peppers

Mission accomplished.

On a side note, I have to share tonight’s dinner. I wouldn’t normally be so ga-ga over a sandwich, but this was the most delicious lunch meat I’ve ever had in my life… no joke. I will have to review it properly at some point. It was deli sliced herb turkey breast made by Applegate Farms – the organic meat company that touts, “There is no mystery to our meat!” The product description: “Our tender juicy turkey breast meat is lightly salted, coated with an earthy herb mix of parsley, rosemary and sage, then slowly roasted.”

I think that herb mix was more heavenly than earthy! Mighty tasty.

Applegate Farms Herb Turkey Sandwich

I wish I’d have gotten out the fine china for a sandwich of that caliber of deliciousness! (For the record: the sandwich was turkey breast with lettuce, mild cheddar cheese, and a little mayo on whole grain bread, with a side of vanilla yogurt with blueberries – all organic, of course!)