Sunday, August 31, 2008

Falafel and tzatziki

Baked Falafel from Kalyn's Kitchen and Greek tzatziki sauce

The theme of tonight's Sunday dinner was "bring what you make best", but I was a rebel and wanted to try something new.  I've been craving falafel ever since I had some in Amsterdam, so tonight was finally the night to make some.  I made a baked version that I found on Kalyn's Kitchen (a great website that I just discovered), and for once I followed the recipe exactly (but tripled it).  It's not the same as fried falafel, but it also isn't as heavy and I thought it was good.  It was a little bit dry, but I don't know that it would have held together before baking with more moisture, so I think it'll have to stay that way.  I'm not sure how it will stand up to reheating, but I'll find out in the next few days...

Instead of the tahini sauce that Kalyn recommends, I made some tzatziki sauce.  I started with this recipe, but made quite a few changes.  I only made a half recipe, drained the yogurt for about 45 min, added about 1/2 cup of red onion, and used dried dill weed.  I didn't measure most of the ingredients and added them until I was satisfied.  I also stirred them by hand instead of using the food processor because I like the chunky consistency.  After a couple of hours in the refrigerator, the flavors went together really well.  It was gone really quickly (apparently I should have made a whole batch), and at one point I saw Jess eating a spoonful of it by itself.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good (not yet great) eats

I've been searching for the perfect granola bar for over a year now.  Either they have tons of calories and/or sugar, have artificial sweetener (which I've been torn about for a while now), or taste like cardboard.  Ideally I want something that has lots of fiber and protein to keep me full (and the protein is nice after a workout, too).  The closest thing I've found is Kashi bars, but they're still not perfect.

I finally came to the conclusion that I need to make my own so that I can put exactly what I want in them (and avoid all of those artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners and random other processed crap).  A few weeks ago I saw an episode of Good Eats devoted to healthier granola and protein bars, so I decided to try Alton's protein bar recipe.  I made a few changes: whey protein isolate instead of the soy (don't get me started on soy...), applesauce instead of juice, and some honey (about 1/4 cup) instead of brown sugar.  Oh, and for the fruit I used raisins, bing cherries, tart cherries, and papaya because that's what I had on hand.  

They turned out pretty tasty.  It's not the absolute best thing ever (which is probably good because I might be tempted to eat a lot of them), but they're definitely good and have a lot of protein.  It's definitely a recipe that will be fun to tweak... oats, flax meal, and various nuts would be good additions, and maybe even some unsweetened coconut.  I also think it would be good with a little bit less fruit (it's a bit overpowering).  There are several other granola bar recipes that I want to try, too, but it looks like overall this is going to be a much better solution than continuing to search for packaged ones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm never buying bread again

Today the bread adventures began.  I was nervous because my machine doesn't have a whole wheat cycle, so I've been trying to read up on what wheat flour needs.  With the addition of a little bit of gluten and allowing it to rise longer, I wound up with the most delicious bread I've ever tasted.  And with only a few simple ingredients (whole white wheat flour, sunflower seeds, gluten, yeast, salt, olive oil, honey, and water)!  If 100% whole wheat bread can turn out this light and fluffy (and yummy!), I'm not really sure why people still make white bread.  It probably helps that I'm using quality flour that Jess brought me.  I've been nervous about how it would turn out for a few days now, but it turns out that I got it right.  And the sunflower seeds give it a great crunch.  Now I can start experimenting with new flours/nuts/fruits :)

I also cooked the patty pans tonight - I stuffed them with onions, tomatoes, a little bit of bread crumbs, and mozzarella (adapted from My Culinary Sanctuary).  They're tasty, but it was my fourth serving of squash today, so I probably didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.  With the addition of lots of tomatoes, I ended up with way too much stuffing, so I baked that separately and I'm looking forward to a tasty snack tomorrow.  I also sliced and roasted the japanese eggplant and sauteed the beans.  I couldn't stop eating both of those while the patty pans cooked.

I didn't think I would post this much when I started this blog, but with so many fresh veggies to use this week I've done a lot.  It will probably calm down for the next few days as I try to eat up all of the leftovers.  I'm excited to try a few new things this weekend (protein bars, baked falafel, and maybe even pita bread!).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tomatillo salsa

I got around to making the tomatillo salsa today, using a recipe from Simply Recipes. I only had a taste, but it's delicious and has quite a bit of heat to it (probably because I didn't quite have 1.5 pounds of tomatillos, but didn't adjust the other ingredients much). Unfortunately my hands are still on fire from touching the jalapenos, and I'm dreading taking my contacts out tonight. It was quite an easy recipe, and I highly recommend it if you happen to find yourself with some tomatillos.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Christmas in August!

My friend Jessica visited her mom and mom's boyfriend Steve this weekend.  She warned me not to buy too much at the farmer's market because she would be bringing me veggies from Steve's garden, but I wasn't expecting this:

vegetables from Jessica
There are several kinds of potatoes, several kinds of tomatoes, beets, squash (both patty pan and cocozelle), beans, japanese eggplant, and lots of tomatillos.  This is on top of the large bags of whole white wheat flour, flax meal, sunflower seeds, and yeast that she bought in bulk for my bread-making adventures.  Oh, and also a few slices of Steve's homemade bread that is quickly disappearing.

Tonight I cooked the cocozelle, beets, and some of the tomatoes, as well as some yellow squash and zucchini that I already had.  I love sauteed squash with onions and greek seasoning, so that's how I cooked the cocozelle.  It was a nice change - still delicious, but with a slightly different flavor.  I sliced the yellow squash for snacks, and baked the zucchini with tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and mozzarella.  I ate some of the cocozelle with leftover eggplant and zucchini lasagna that I had frozen (and was reminded of thanks to my last post).  I was so full that I couldn't even try the zucchini.  I'm sure it will make its way on my plate tomorrow.

Then I baked the beets for a nice dessert.  I thought I hated beets.  That's because I had only eaten them pickled, which I still think is quite disgusting.  But I went to Jess's house for dinner a few weeks ago and she was baking some.  She too thought she didn't like them, but couldn't waste what Steve had given her.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that they are delicious!  Now that I've scratched that off the list, I think the list of vegetables I don't like is empty.

Now I'll have to figure out how to cook the patty pans (I'm thinking stuffed and baked?), and I'm planning to make some tomatillo salsa.

In "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (a great book, by the way), Barbara Kingsolver describes her family's year of local eating (only eating what they produce on their farm or things they can buy that came from less than 100 miles away).  She tells stories of being inundated with squash and zucchini and trying to trick neighbors into taking some.  I think I finally understand what she means...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Adventures in food...

Dad made a good suggestion to start a log of everything I've made.  I decided to take it one step further and make a blog.  This way I'll know what I liked, and maybe I'll keep some of you entertained in the process.

Today at the farmer's market, I was pleasantly surprised to find some okra.  You can usually find okra in the grocery store here, but it ranges anywhere from slightly sketchy looking to completely inedible.  But this farm had some of the most beautiful okra I've ever seen, so I couldn't pass it up.  Last time I made okra it was for a bunch of my friends (I wanted to introduce it to all of the midwesterners), and I decided to stew it with some tomatoes to reduce the sliminess.  But honestly, I don't mind the sliminess and I think it gives okra a certain charm.  So I considered boiling it today, but I decided to try something different.  I found a very simple recipe for roasted okra at FatFree Vegan Recipes, and decided to try it out.  I used greek seasoning instead of salt and pepper, and added some minced garlic.  It was quite delicious (and so easy!).  The roasting does get rid of the sliminess, but that was ok.  They're right about only using the small pods.  I had a good mix of small and large and decided to try them all, but the really big ones ended up hard as a rock.  Now I know for next time...

While I'm at it, I'll also mention this delicious eggplant and zucchini lasagna that I made a few weeks ago.  Cooking Light is one of my favorite recipe websites, and when I needed an Italian dish for Sunday night dinner, that's where I looked first.  It was very tasty, and everyone else seemed to think so too.  I'll definitely be making that again (with whole wheat pasta this time).