Monday, February 28, 2011

the great bedroom furniture re-arranging of 2011

our bedroom furniture has been in the exact same place ever since we moved here in 2005. we felt a little constrained by the air vent & tv cable placement.  last week we got an ikea expedit bookcase for the living room (record storage!) so we did a little switcheroo in that room. the yellow painted glass-door cabinet was temporarily moved into the bedroom.  then i started thinking about moving the bed to the wall with the windows, and a quick measurement proved that our queen-sized bed would fit (and it wouldn't block the air vent).  and the tv could move walls because we downgraded our cable package and got rid of the receiver in the bedroom.

of course, i decide to do all of this furniture moving 1) at 10 pm 2) when the mister is out of town. i guess adrenaline kicked in, and i have bruises all over my legs and a backache to prove it.  we had discussed making the painted yellow cabinet our living room entertainment center, so i moved that back into the living room, unhooked all the tv stuff, and tried it out. it was way too tall, so back into the bedroom it went. i also had to remove all the books from my bookcase in order to move it. and all of the mister's books too.
 the bed used to be on this wall

then the dresser with the tv lost one of the wheels/casters, and that brought my HGTV-inspired decorating dreams to a halt.  our dressers are part of my great uncle's furniture set and are probably about 70 years old. we no longer use the headboard because it's full size, but we do still have the 2 dressers and nightstand. seems like years of moving from dorm room to apartment to duplex and back again {coupled with the extremely heavy tv on top} finally took it's toll on the poor old thing.   anyway, at this point, it was around 1 am so i finished up what i could, took a benedryl (thanks, dust!) and went to bed. it was strange falling asleep facing a different direction (and my mind couldn't stop racing with what i could do to fix the dresser situation).

this morning, i measured the caster and figured that a cinder block was the PERFECT size to use on the wonky dresser. yay!  so i finished the final piece of my decorating puzzle (and went to target and got a new brown hamper to take the place of our silly plastic ikea one).

i plan on hanging up some more art eventually (especially on the wall below) and probably re-doing some of the knick-knacks, but i feel pretty happy with it.

 i am a little concerned that the yellow painted cabinet + the quilt look a little shabby chic/country cottage (barf!!!)...opinions?  it doesn't seem that way in person, but in the photos it kinda does.

i also would like to re-paint the room soon. when we painted a few years ago, it was so much better than the original puke-green color that i failed to realize the color is kind of baby-boy-nursery-blue.

sorry i don't have any "before" pictures.

Friday, February 25, 2011

pineapple cookies (vegan recipe)

i bought one of those grocery store pre-cored (sounds like an emo-based music genre) pineapples and didn't know what to do with it. i didn't want to make muffins since i'm still polishing off some scones and don't need another breakfast bread around. i was going to make some sort of pineapple fried rice dish, but i've cooked a few different dinners for myself this week and still need to eat those leftovers (i've been cooking regular-sized recipes for my (temporarily) single self, so that means a lot of extra food!)
i decided on cookies. i browsed around the net and came up with my own concoction based on approx 10 different recipes.

vegan pineapple cookies
makes: about 30 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick/8 TBS) earth balance shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup pineapple, crushed

-preheat the oven to 350. line baking sheets with parchment paper
-cream the shortening and sugar together in a stand mixer. (my shortening came straight from the fridge, so it took several minutes to achieve a creamy state)
-add extracts & pumpkin and mix to combine
-combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
-slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.
-add the crushed pineapple and mix just to combine.
-drop tablespoon-sized balls onto the cookie sheets and bake 'til golden, around 16-18 minutes. let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

-i crushed/chopped the pineapple in a small food processor (just a few quick pulses).  you can it cut by hand, just make sure to get pieces chopped up fine. alternately, you can use canned crushed pineapple, just make sure to drain off most of the juice.
-the parchment paper thing didn't hit me until i had already baked 2 dozen cookies. since they're kind of cake-like and moist, it created a bit of a problem when trying to remove the cookies from the ungreased cookie sheet. i used parchment for the final batch and it worked a lot better.
-at first the idea of pureed pumpkin for my "vegan egg" seemed strange (mixing an autumn staple with a tropical fruit?!), but i didn't think the flax/water thing would work for such a delicate cookie.  (click here for a list of vegan egg substitutes). the pumpkin provides more of a fluffy-textural element and these don't taste the slightest bit pumpkiny.

and now for a song:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

black eyed peas and kale from "appetite for reduction"

this is another one of those meals in which i could tell i was eating something wholesome, delicious, and nutritious the minute i bit into it. "thanks for not eating pizza leftovers again, katie!" my body said to me. just furthur proof that you should pick up the 'appetite for reduction' cookbook (i know it probably seems like i must be getting kickbacks from all these isa chandra moskowitz shout-outs, but i promise i'm not... i wouldn't even bother mentioning the food on here if it wasn't awesome). it comes together pretty fast & couldn't be easier. the recipe calls for a TBS of hot sauce, so i used a combo of:
pickapeppa red hot sauce 
and captain rodney's corazon del fuego 
did you know captain rodney's is made in bell buckle, tn? their mango pepper jelly is awesome too, especially with cream cheese + triscuits.  
i much prefer hot sauces when they have a hint of sweetness, rather than the taste of tabasco sauce (which i actually don't really like at all), so these caribbean/jamaican-ish ones really hit the spot.  my lips are still burning, but in a happy sort of way.  i served it over brown rice, and i can't wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow.  
TMI ALERT:   3 beanos beforehand. wondering if they'll do what they're supposed to do. if there ever was a meal to test this theory, it would be this one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

yet another reason you should buy the 'vegan brunch' cookbook...

...english muffins! 
seriously, vegan or not, buy this cookbook!

pizza time!

there are as many pizza dough recipes on the internet as there are chocolate chip cookie & brownie recipes (i'm sure you have googled "best ____ recipe" before). after looking at a few on the 'net, i looked at my cookbooks and decided to modify mark bittman's 'how to cook everything vegetarian' pizza dough recipe (by "modify", i mean follow exactly as-is, except i added a teaspoon of sugar & lengthened the rise time).

recipe can be found here.

notes: for my flour mixture, i used 2 cups bread flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour.
rise time: 3-4 hrs instead of 1-2 (i went to target).  when i got back, i put half the dough in the freezer for later, so the cooking method below assumes you're using half the dough.
toppings: a little salt & dried basil, muir glen organic canned pizza sauce & galbani mozzarella fresca
cooking method: dust a little cornmeal on a pizza stone and preheat it in 500 degree oven. roll out the dough to a good-sized circle (probably about 12 inches...the dough wasn't sticky at all & very easy to work with. i rolled mine out on a floured silipat).  place on a floured pizza peel. brush a little olive oil on the crust and put your toppings on. slide onto pizza stone and cook for approx 6-8 minutes (i turned my oven light on and watched it like a hawk the entire time...turned it occasionally since my oven heat was obviously stronger in the back).

it was DELICIOUS. the crust is a perfect blend of crispy & chewy. i am exercising great restraint because the mister is out of town and i have no one  to share this with. i would really like to eat the whole darn thing but limited myself to 3 slices.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

a note about how i eat

from the looks of all my posts recently, it seems as if i've gone totally vegan. just to clarify: i am defintely not 100% vegan, although i've been dabbling in that way-of-cooking more and more lately.  i still eat some cheese. i still use half and half in my coffee (whenever i'm out of the coconut milk alternative). i don't scour the label on my loaf of bread to make sure there's no honey or milk ingredients.  i've been intrigued by vegan baking (especially scones and muffins) and i've gotten a few awesome vegan cookbooks that i've been using. at home, where i have 100% control of what i am cooking and eating, i have definitely become more aware of cooking with no animal stuff (as opposed to when i'm out in public and am force-fed cheese - ha ha). i've read books and articles on the matter, and although i am close as i've ever been to being a full-fledged vegan, i am not ready to make a commitment of it just yet.  especially since after almost 2 years of vegetarianism, i still have to explain to my dad that i don't eat chicken. i would blow his wisconsin-bred mind if i told him i am giving up cheese, too. 

anyway, i just wanted to make this clarification, especially since people might be visiting my blog after linking here from finding vegan, only to discover archived recipes for buttery cookies and cheesecakes and whatnot.

highly recommended (vegan) cookbooks:
appetite for reduction
vegan brunch
highly recommended (vegetarian) cookbooks:
how to cook everything vegetarian 
moosewood restaurant low fat favorites
vegetarian classics
passionate vegetarian

"chickpea salad"...kinda like tuna salad (vegan)

not the most photogenic thing, but i promise it's delicious

i didn't eat tuna (or anything else from the sea) prior to becoming a vegetarian, so it's not as if i've been sitting here missing the wonders of tuna salad sandwiches or tuna casserole. but i saw this on a blog & realized i had everything on hand, so i threw it together for lunch the other day. AND IT'S ROCKED MY WORLD ever since. it's fantastic on toasted wheat bread. or with whole wheat crackers. or as a sandwich with lettuce & tomato. and now it's all gone, so my life can go back to not-at-all rocking.

vegan yumyum's chickpea salad
1 15oz can Chickpeas, rinsed well
3-4 Tbs Vegenaise
2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp Mustard
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked)
1/2 tsp Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Mash all the ingredients to form a chunky spread. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

notes: i added some finely diced red onion. i also made it in my small food processor, just a few quick pulses since i wanted the chickpeas to keep some of their integrity. 

spinach salad with quinoa, apples & peppadew dressing (vegan)

this was inspired by the "catalan couscous salad with pears" recipe from isa chandra moskowitz's appetite for reduction cookbook.   i had a craving for kale, but it was kinda moldy at food lion, so i ended up buying a bag of baby spinach. when i got home, i flipped though the cookbook and realized i could throw this salad together with what i had on hand.  sorry, kale craving.

for the salad:
-put baby spinach in a bowl. add however much quinoa you desire (make sure it's cooled, see below for cooking directions). chop up your apple. add however much dressing you want.

-original recipe calls for whole wheat couscous; i used 1/2 red & 1/2 white quinoa. 
-original recipe calls for a pear; i used an apple.
-switched up a few ingredients for the dressing

"peppadew" dressing, modified version of "romesco dressing"
3 TBS toasted slivered almonds
2 TBS chopped red onion
1/4 cup peppadew peppers (jar available at trader joe's)
1/2 cup water
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp agave nectar
3/4 tsp salt

pulse the almonds and the onion in a food processor. add everything else and blend until smooth. store leftovers in a jar in the fridge.

to cook quinoa:
add 1 cup quinoa & 2 cups water to a small pan. bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  fluff, cool, serve.  store whatever you don't use for the salad in the fridge.