Saturday, January 31, 2009

At last, end of the fast!

Pigs in pigsuit

This is probably the most unhealthy food that I enjoy (in moderation)... a creation my mom makes for big family functions, bacon wrapped hotdogs caramelized in brown sugar are not for the faint of heart. But with only three ingredients they're a ridiculously easy way to raise your bad cholesterol.

Spinach miso soup

Normally this soup would have seaweed, but I ran out ;-) I'm actually not joking. I do usually keep dried seaweed for soups in my cupboard but I haven't been to the Asian grocery in a while.

Joe and I enjoyed two soups during our last week of the fast. We supplemented a hearty vegetable stew and this soup with baked potatoes, whole wheat pasta, quinoa and a veggie stir-fry. Oh, and I big tub of chickpea/great northern bean hummus.

Sorry I didn't detail each day's meal. Long days, frigid temps, ice everywhere. It all seemed to run together after a while!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

sweet potato gnocchi and eggplant

Now I've got a proper picture of the stuff! I sauteed cubes of eggplant in olive oil and chopped garlic. The gnocchi are topped with fresh tomato, basil and olives.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Camera working again

Here is the quinoa photo I promised earlier in the week... I don't have an XD card reader so it was stuck on my camera after the batteries died. Quinoa (say keen-wa) is a an excellent alternative to brown rice. Then again just about anything is an excellent alternative to brown rice in my book.
The South American grain (at least that's what it says on my package) has a slightly flattened round shape with a thin white ring around it. After steaming for about 20 minutes the white ring falls off and the round grains plump up and become tender. The white part has a crispy texture and the whole thing is nutty flavored. I served it plain with sauteed vegetables, but it would have been good with nuts and seeds too.
I also made peanut noodles for lunch several days back. I used a little rice vinegar, lemon juice and natural peanut butter, then sprinkled on some sesame seeds for crunch. Green onions would have been good, but I didn't have any on hand.

Indian meal

Earlier this week, Joe and I were eating Indian for lunch and dinner. This plate includes: Aloo gobi, spiced spinach, papad, behl puri, tandoori tofu and chapati.

Sweet potato gnocchi

Camera still not working, so you have to put up with some blurry videos and screen grabs :-(

This morning when I got up to feed Stephen at 4:45 I had a vision of sweet potato gnocchi-- gnocchi are fat doughy pasta nuggets usually made with regular spuds. We already used all of our potatoes in the behl puri and in aloo gobi.

Here's how I made them:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup packed cooked sweet potato (7 minutes in the microwave made it nice and mushy and sweet)
1/2 cup water
garlic powder, lemon pepper, salt and oregano to taste.

Knead the dough until a ball forms, then divide into six balls. roll each ball into a rope with 3/4 inch diameter. cut into one-inch pieces, press lightly with tines of a fork.

drop into boiling water and cook until they float. Serve with fresh chopped basil, sliced olives, salt and olive oil... MMMMM!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Popped it myself

Last night I made popcorn on the stovetop for the first time...and even though my nose is stuffed and I can hardly taste anything, I can't believe how much yummier real popcorn is than the microwave version I've been living on most of my life.

Oh-- If you're wondering how to make your own popcorn (now that I'm the "expert" ha ha) Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a 3 quart pot on medium high heat. Add three kernels and put the lid on. Pour 1/3 cup of kernels into a measuring cup and wait until you hear the first kernel pop. When you do, add the rest and put the lid back on and shake the pot gently. Keep shaking until you don't hear any more popping. Remove the lid and let the steam escape for a moment. Then transfer into a big bowl, add salt or seasonings to taste and enjoy.

I think this might be really good with garlic-infused oil or some other flavored oil...

Camera troubles

My batteries died and I have yet to get out to the store to get some more.
But Joe and I have been eating plenty... here's a really lame-o video of our Indian meal, Behl Puri.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Angel hair & olive crackers

It's not that I like to eat processed foods, but I've been craving instant meals lately. This isn't one of them, but it's a fairly quick, Daniel fast-friendly dinner.

Main dish: whole wheat angel air tossed with a sauce of canned tomatoes, chopped onions, garlic, olive oil, parsley, basil and oregano.

Side (not pictured): Sauteed chopped spinach with lemon pepper and onions.

Side 2: Whole wheat "crackers" made by mixing 1/4 cup flour with a little bit of tomato juice from the can (or water), kneading it into two balls, rolling them out a little thinner than a tortilla, brushing with olive oil and sprinkling with seasonings and chopped olives and salt. Baking at 450 until crunchy.

Vegetable nut quinoa, simple salad

Words to come... quinoa pic also forthcoming.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Odds and Ends

There was one decent creation this week, today's lunch of cucumber, sweet potato and avocado temaki with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, salt and rice vinegar. If I was ambitious, I could have added brown rice, but since sushi rice is typically short grain and it really requires sugar to taste authentic, I decided to skip it.

These quick wraps worked for me because the sweet potato tricked my tongue into thinking there was the right balance of lightly sweet and tangy flavors that make sushi so refreshing. If I had pencil-thin asparagus, these would have been even better. But I'm not complaining. Especially coming off that big vat of broccoli goop, I mean, soup.

Daniel Fast Day 5: Broccoli soup & sweet tater fries

It's not very pretty. And Joe warned me beforehand that he didn't like broccoli soup. But for some reason, I just had to make the stuff last night. I poured a bag of broccoli, a bag of cauliflower and a handful of baby carrots into my stockpot and began boiling. In the skillet, I caramelized some of those overly zesty onions (see vegan taco salad post) to try to coax some sweetness out of them. All of this got zizzed by my stick blender until it was the color of your grandma's Osterizer. Like all the colors that your grandma's Osterizer could possibly be: olive green, mustard yellow, burnt orange. Flecks of all those unappetizing hues were whipped into this stew. Despite appearances, it didn't taste too bad, and there wasn't an overwhelming quantity of the stuff. But no, Emily just couldn't stop there. She had to add another bag of broccoli -- to bring it to a prettier shade of green -- and a package of silken tofu, for protein. The end result was a really big pot of lumpy, light green mush with the flavor and fluffiness of baby food (and I oughtta know what that's like since I started making Munchie's meals).

Now I don't know if being sick has got my taste buds and my texture buds and my smell buds all messed up, but this meal just repulsed me. The sweet potato oven fries that were supposed to be my bright and cheery comfort food amid the fast were also misbehaving. We've eaten a lot of parsley, lemon pepper, oregano and basil recently so I thought I'd switch it up and open a new shaker of thyme. For the record, thyme is not good with sweet potatoes. It's great on fish and chicken. But the overt Pinesol pungency seemed to get amplified in the 450 degree oven and was assaulting my nostrils before I even opened the door. And then I didn't add enough olive oil, so my fries had to be peeled off the foil one by one. Bleck.

"Emily, it's not like it's unpalatable," my husband said to comfort me.

So anyhow. That's why it's called the Moody Foodie.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Daniel Fast Day 4: Penne and vegetables

Stephen and I are both under the weather with cough and congestion... so it's been difficult not to crave some hot chicken noodle soup. Instead, we had whole wheat penne topped with a bag of Kroger frozen italian mix veggies-- Carrots, lima beans, flat green beans, zucchini, red bell pepper and cauliflower. I've never thought of carrots as Italian, but I've never been to Italy and I'm sure there are lots of things they eat in Italy that you wouldn't find in an Italian restaurante stateside... like octopus in its own ink sauce...

Yeah. not feeling well. not making much sense today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Daniel Fast Day 3: Power porridge

OK, I think I might have stolen that title from something I read somewhere... if you're out there, I'm sorry for infringing. Joe and I have been eating hot oatmeal with crunchy and chewy toppings and plain soymilk. Today's bowl features flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, chopped dates and chopped apple.

Baked potatoes with sauteed vegetables

I know this looks an awful lot like yesterday's main meal, but I had a busy day so please excuse me for the cop out :-)

For dinner last night I popped some organic potatoes in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. When they were nice and soft, I split them and piled a nice juicy pile of diced zucchini sauteed with some leftover corn salsa and seasoned with lemon pepper. Yesterday's salsa, with its angry onions, mellowed nicely once it met the skillet.

We had canned fruit cocktail in fruit juice for dessert. And I've been snacking on Ryvita crackers to try to fill my tummy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vegan taco salad

The Daniel Fast has commenced at Parrino's. This morning we had oatmeal with plain soymilk, chopped dates, pumpkin seeds and a little pineapple juice skimmed from a can. I thought it was pretty good. Joe ate his... but he didn't have much to say :)

I had a Larabar at church for a snack while I fed Stephen... it just has dates and nuts. No added sugar. No dairy. No gluten. Just nuts and dates.

For lunch we had taco salad with baked corn chips (Tostitos); broiled tofu seasoned with oil, paprika, pepper flakes, garlic powder, oregano, salt, chives and pepper; a salsa of corn, black beans, avocado, onion, garlic and lime juice; crushed pineapple, chopped romaine and tomatoes.

My only regret is that I used half a small onion in the salsa, and thought the sticker said "sweet onion", the thing must have grown in extremely sulferous soil because it overpowered the entire meal for me. I'm still tasting, breathing and feeling onion. Boo on false advertising. Boo on me for buying three of those stinking onions.

Dinner is going to be a simple veggie stirfy with brown rice.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Australian licorice

One more thing I won't be eating after tomorrow... Australian licorice is softer and less waxy, less artificial tasting (though I'm sure it's got plenty of artificial in it) and more fruity than your regular Twizzlers. This batch came from Valli's in Schaumburg.

Still in the process of weeding. I just realized my big tub of Korean miso, which I was going to rely on for "umami" (the meaty fifth flavor after sweet, salty, sour and bitter), has msg and wheat in it. :-(

I don't know if the wheat was whole or not when it got fermented into this largely soy-based paste, but I do know that monosodium glutamate is a no go on Daniel Fast. If you wanted to get really technical, I'm pretty sure Daniel wasn't eating soybeans during his fast. But I'm not going to get technical. I'm gonna get me some organic miso... somewheres.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pantry Purge

It's not even 7 a.m. and I've already been at weeding the shelves of my fridge and cabinets for an hour.

6 a.m. found me wolfing the last wedge of Christmas pannatone, plucked from its oily paper lining, and washing it down with gulps of guava nectar. Goodbye refined flour. So long friendly little yeast. Adios, pure cane juice. Candied orange peel, 'til we meet again.

Three moldy mozzerella balls went on a trip down the Disposal. A forgotten hardboiled egg went down my gullet, minus the grayed yolk. One piece of dried mango, with its gritty coating of sugar, made it to my mouth, but the rest of the package is destined for Joe's lunch, along with chicken fajita filling and some Swedish cookies.

Why all this madness, and why at such an odd hour? I've got a deadline. All these things need to disappear before Sunday, when Joe and I join our church in a "Daniel Fast" --basically a vegan diet minus refined flour, added sweeteners, caffeine and other chemicals. There are a few versions out there, but our church has decided to allow whole grains, all fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, legumes and lots and lots of water.

Joe intends to follow the fast to the letter, but since I'm a nursing mom, I'll probably supplement with egg whites and maybe some fish for protein.

I've been cooking up all kinds of imaginary Daniel-approved dishes in my head these last few wee hour feeding sessions, and hopefully many of them will make it to your screen in coming blog posts.

As always, I'm going to trawl the world's cuisines for variety. I've got a taco salad in the works. There'll be lots of hummus. Hummus on potatoes, hummus in hardboiled egg halves (for me), hummus on crudites, hummus on whole wheat wraps and baked corn chips. Pineapple fried brown rice. Polenta. Portabellas. Pesto. Eggplant. Edamame. Temaki rolls. And TONS of tofu in all sorts of incarnations.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Fajitas without fuss

I don't know about the rest of you, but I hate having raw chicken fat stuck in my fingernails... something that inevitably happens whenever I have to chop the slimy stuff for a recipe. To avoid that most abhorrent sensation, I try to bake chicken in whatever form it left the grocery store. These fajitas use baked chicken breast tenderloins and tri-color bell peppers. As a bonus, they're easy enough to put together in between Munchie duties.

Arrange 8-10 small chicken breast tenders in a single layer on a foil-covered baking sheet for the toaster oven. Spoon your favorite salsa evenly over the meat and then drizzle with canola oil and salt to taste.

Cut 1 medium sweet onion and 1 each of green, red and yellow peppers into thin strips. Coarsely chop 4 cloves garlic. Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet then add vegetables and cook until onions begin to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Season with red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt and chopped chives.

Tortilla: After removing the pepper mixture, heat flour tortillas, one at a time, in the skillet until browned on one side. Then flip and allow tortilla to bubble.

Add one chicken tender and a scoop of peppers to a tortilla, fold and eat!

Mexican Bakery

In Salem Plaza, within walking distance of my parent's house, and just a few storefronts down from the ballet academy I used to attend long, long ago, is a Mexican bakery. With shelves stacked high with all kinds of oversized buns and pastries and cookies, it looks like a wonderland for sweet teeth. But actually, Mexican bakery goods aren't very sweet or salty-- the main flavor that comes through is the mild flavor of fat... my guess is lard or someother shortening.

I'm a big fan of "estrelletas" or chunky star-shaped cookies covered in cinnamon and sugar. Unfortunately, the photo I took is on my mom's camera. The picture above is a pumpkin empanada. Instead of the deep fried pastry crust I usually associate with empanadas, it had a bready outside that reminded me of coffee cake. It made a great car trip treat as my mom and I drove from Hoffman Estates to Hopkinsville.