Leftovers Day

It was leftovers day here on this lazy Sunday, the last day of Spring Break. This didn’t really feel like Spring Break; the weather was not spring-like, and it wasn’t really a break for me. However, I did manage to do a lot of shopping and a good amount of cooking.

The most significant acquisition of my Spring Break shopping spree was this Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12 piece cookware set. It came highly recommended by a food blogger that I enjoy reading, Vegan Burnout. I still, of course, spent days reading reviews and whatnot. I definitely needed a new set of cookware. My existing hodge-podge of a set consisted of scratched-up nonstick pieces from when I got my first apartment 17 years ago (yikes! Math be damned!) and from a housewarming gift when I bought my first house 8 years ago. Every time I have gone to cook something recently, I have had to pretend I didn’t see the flaking nonstick stuff… which led to pretending that the pots weren’t leeching chemicals and carcinogens into my food…. It didn’t matter as much when I only cooked once a year, but now that I’m cooking at least several times a week, it concerns me.

So, enough of that! I chose stainless because I have 2 pots that I love. They’re both stainless, and are both pieces from a set of Revere cookware that my parents got as a wedding gift 37 years ago (awwww!). So it seems I like stainless steel, and will not have to fear the chemical nonstick stuff. Done and done.

I also added a Cuisinart Griddler Jr grill/griddle/panini press to my arsenal. I do own an ancient George Foreman grill (the first one ever made, I think). It just doesn’t work very well anymore – but it too is nearing a decade old. Like I said in my Welcome post – I really never cooked until 2010! These gadgets just collected dust in my cabinets.

Other nifty items of note: a cookbook holder, an olive oil spray bottle, a couple new cookbooks, and an Eye-Fi memory card for my little camera (that will hopefully result in me shooting more of my kitchen adventures to post here).

I tested out the Eye-Fi with today’s lunch. (Impressive little device, actually – I’m surprised at how much I like it. I wish they made it in a CF version for my big camera – but a friend mentioned the possibility of using an SD-to-CF convertor. Looking into that).

First up, I made a sandwich out of some leftover Falafel (from the recipe in Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction).

Outside, this sandwich used a special “ancient grains” bread from the local grocer’s bakery. It listed spelt flour and amaranth flour, amongst others. It was so crusty on the outside and soft on the middle! So good. I plan to get some more use out of my bread machine too – and recreating a bread like this is high on my list of things to do. Inside this sandwich, I stuffed leftover falafel, cucumbers, and some Sanctuary Dressing (also an Isa recipe), with more dressing on the side for dipping. I whipped out the new Griddler to try toasting this sandwich and.. mmm mmm mmm.

With it, I tossed together a salad of spring greens, crunchy tempeh crumbles, leftover grilled leeks and peppers (from yesterday’s pizza adventure), some alfalfa sprouts, and… I think that was it – with Sanctuary Dressing. (That stuff is SO delish, at only 40 calories per 1/4 cup!)

saladI try to have a giant bowl of greens, every single day.

I’ve still got some of that grilled leek & peppers pizza to finish up, and some no-meatballs in the infamous grape jelly/chili sauce marinade. (For the record, the omnivores at yesterday’s family gathering ate the no-meatballs right up – and my mother, the picky eater she is, even asked me to leave her some leftovers). Vegan meatballs ftw! Unfortunately, the marinate was chock full of high fructose corn syrup, as I was too time-pressed to make it from scratch for a nice organic version. Gotta pick your battles.

I hope to get in one more good bit of cooking on Monday before my schedule gets crazy again.

I’m looking at registering for the midwest Warrior Dash. Who’s in?! What’s better than a 5K through obstacles, mud, and fire?!

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!