FOOD fit for a Rockstar

Deena Kamm's recipe book and always evolving food philosophy

The Vitamix has arrived! Day 56 of my Food Journey.

March1

Well… Everyday my intentions are good in that I will put up a quick Food Journey Post – and everyday seems to be crazier and crazier. Sadly, this blog is the very last thing to get done, as you can see by my 2 week absence. Actually – my nails are the very last thing to get done, but it’s been so long since that’s happened it’s not even on the list anymore.  But here’s the latest up-to-date goings on regarding the clean, vegan, organic, sugar-free food in The Kamm Fam household.

If you know my husband Zeke, then you already know that he can get intense about things.  More intense than me, which is pretty darn extreme. He recently decided that we need, let me stress NEED, a Vitamix Blender.  Well, right this moment money is tight, and those babies are not cheap – and we already have a blender, food processor, mixer, and juicer, so do we really NEED another appliance?  Turns out we do. As my husband puts it: “we are losing money by NOT having a Vitamix.”  A bit overboard, but he’s very persistent when he has his mind set on something.  Well, turns out my always thoughtful and generous In-Laws, Mark and Angela, have been waiting for the perfect thing to give us as a housewarming gift, and after finding out that Zeke was on a mission, they decided to save me from one more argument about needing to wait.  I love them for many reasons.  This is just another one.

So last Tuesday, while Zeke and I were eating our way through Portland on a  business trip, our brand spanking new (refurbished) Vitamix arrived on our doorstep! Needless to say, we celebrated by eating yet another fantastic meal in one of Portland’s countless vegan restaurants.  I love living 3 hours from the only city in the world to have animal-free fine dinning everywhere you turn.  Pure coincidence? I think maybe the universe is just looking out for us. I love Bend, but most of the food in our town is meat and potatoesque.  Paleo athletes everywhere you turn and beer drinking bar-food everywhere else.  Happy and fun, but not our idea of clean eating.  Sorry Bend, it’s the only thing you are lacking.

What started out as a 90 day Food journey has just been combined with a 30 day Vitamix Journey to finish it smoothly.  Literally – super smooth style.

Me with the newest member of our Kitchen.

Me with the newest member of our Kitchen.

We have already used our new gadget 7 times in the last three days.  Have we saved money yet? Probably not, but it’s been really fun trying out all the features and options and learning how to make new things that simply weren’t possible before.  It really isn’t just a blender.  It’s a Food Transformer!  We already have made smoothies, milkshakes, soup, and sauces.  Last night I made a cheese sauce for the Vitamix Macaroni and Cheese that was SO good, I felt like I was back at Dodger stadium pumping guilt-free Velveeta Cheese sauce all over my nachos.  You won’t believe the recipe.  It’s so easy and so good… it’s totally worth the half a grand my wonderful In-laws dropped on this machine.  Here it is – straight off the Vitamix website:

Not-So-Cheese-Sauce

notsocheesesaucemainjpg

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) canned pimentos, drained
  • 2/3 cup (70 g) whole raw almonds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 3 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.

Okay – so that’s it.  3 Minutes.  4 if you count the time it takes to squeeze the lemon and put everything in the container. Can you believe it?  I made TJ’s Brown Rice Penne Pasta, Steamed Broccoli and Blanched Kale to go under this sauce. We also added some Field Roast Frankfurters cut up for fun (and extra protein.) Half way through the meal I decided I wanted extra sauce for the steamed broccoli.  How indulgent!  Extra cheese sauce to smother my veggies with?  Teaching my son to cover up his greens?!?  Well did you see that list of ingredients?  Next to actual fresh broccoli and kale, there really isn’t a list of healthier foods around.  How amazing.  I am totally sold on this thing and, once again, my husband was right.  I am going to make this sauce tomorrow night for my annual Oscar party with my Mom. I’ll be bringing tortilla chips and nacho (or “not-so”) cheese sauce to try out on her, as she is one of the best cooks I know, and is always happy to try new things.

If you have any great vegan Vitamix recipes that you want to share… PLEASE let me know .  I am all over this appliance.

Until I can pull it together again for another post… Happy Clean Eating!
D-

Husband Rating 3.5-4 star:gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star stars : “It’s like a cheese milkshake. I love this Vitamix!”
Kid Rating 2 smiley faces: “Pretty good – but too lemony”

Today is a good day for soup… Day 6 on the Food Journey

January10

Soup is SUCH an easy standby for a healthy balanced dinner. My 5 year old will eat just about any vegetable I puree in the form of soup. So will my husband and myself for that matter!  And since it’s cold and wintry and dark out there right now, we should all be making homemade soup at least once a week! It’s so easy! Who’s with me??!!??

I really get bored with the same 25 things I tend to cook and need new ideas all the time.  Here’s a healthy recipe that my friend Sue, who’s way way way down in Los Angeles, emailed me so I could post it on the blog way over here on the World Wide Web. It looks pretty darn delicioso (that’s Spanish for delicious – in case you’re not from LA like me and Sue) and I am going to make it for dinner in the next few days. NOTE: This is a plan ahead recipe so… plan ahead.

Ingredients
1 cauliflower head, roasted
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped
1 cup celery (about two stalks), chopped
1 head roasted garlic, peeled
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs unsalted butter (for Vegan try using Earth Balance or Coconut Oil)
1 tbs fresh parsley, minced
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems
4 cups vegetable stock
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
Optional: (not for Vegans obviously – and not needed if you’re trying to health it up!)
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
In advance -up to a day ahead- roast the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 375º. Meanwhile, break down the head of cauliflower into individual florets. Layer the cauliflower on to a large, rimmed sheetpan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork-tender and begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a large stock-pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion, leeks and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic, and using a wooden spoon, smash the garlic into a paste. Add the butter, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and let cook until the butter melts.
Add the roasted cauliflower and vegetable stock. Stir to combine. Let the soup come to a boil, then turn the heat to low, and let simmer 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, and using an immersion blender, blend the soup to a smooth consistency.
If using, add the cream and/or Parmesan, and stir to combine. Serve hot with crispy bread or fresh croutons and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Then Sue tops it with her own creation of curry croutons: take day old crusty bread and cut into cubes then in a pan melt 2T butter and a little olive oil add 1T curry power then add bread and cook until toasty!
Smart – and it sounds like a delicious addition, but I think I will opt out on this for my 90 day food journey and keep it in mind for another time.

As a Thank You gift to Sue M. who offered up her recipe (I honestly don’t know where she got it from, but I’m not getting paid – so who cares) I have purchased her this fine piece of Addict apparel:

cauliflower_addict_tshirt

I hope you love it Sue – wear it proudly!
D-

Someone finally got Kale Chips right…

October22

I got this recipe from another site – here: A Cup Of Jo: The Best Kale Chips
They were the best I’ve had/made yet! Thanks A Cup Of Jo!  I’ll keep this one on hand… here on my blog.

You’ll need:
A bunch of kale (either curly or lacinato—they’re both good, but texturally, I prefer curly), center stems removed, washed and dried thoroughly
About 1 tbsp. sesame oil or olive oil
1 to 2 tsp. soy sauce
About 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

What to do:
Preheat your oven to 350F.

Tear the kale into large pieces and place them in a bowl. (NOTE: I have to stress how important it is that your kale is dry. Otherwise, the chips will turn out soggy.) Next, add the oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, and toss it all together with your hands. You want each piece to be glistening, but not so much that any of the oil or seasoning pools at the bottom of the bowl. You can also taste a piece at this point. It shouldn’t be too salty, because the taste will condense in the final chip. Feel free to add a little more soy sauce if you’d like, though.

On 1 or 2 baking sheets (with or without parchment paper), lay the pieces out flat.

Bake 6 to 7 minutes. (Note, however, that these aren’t hard figures because I know my oven is hotter than average. I’ve seen times ranging from 6 minutes to 12, so the first time you make these, keep a close eye on the chips. You want to take them out before they’re completely crisped—they’ll still be a little soft in the middle.) You may need to experiment a little with the timing to get it right.

The Quickest, Easiest, and Healthiest BURGER you can make from The Quickest, Easiest, and Healthiest LEFTOVERS!

June8

If you saw and subsequently tried my previous post about a basic Macro Meal… you inevitably made too much. Don’t feel bad – this is a common problem with such a basic meal.  You think there’ s NO WAY in Bend that food is going to fill you up so quickly and for so long… so you overdid it.  You threw in 3 carrots instead of one.  The entire bunch of Kale instead of a few leaves and then you excitedly made 2 cups of rice because it’s so cheap – what’s the difference? Right?  Face it – you got overzealous and were feeling really good about the prospect of feeling really good.  I know how it goes…  I am always SO gung ho because we love that meal so much, and it makes us feel SO happy and healthy and wise…. then the next day… the day after that… and the dreaded day after that… I can’t bear the idea of opening the fridge to see what’s in there to eat, let alone eating leftovers AGAIN!!!! So before you let that “kids are starving all over the world” guilt kick in and then hover shamefully over the sink shoving perfectly good food down the garbage disposal, try this one out!

Deena’s “Macro Burger” in 10 easy steps.

1.)  Get out your Food Processor.
2.)  Throw everything in there – beans, rice, veggies, tofu, temphe… all of it.
3.)  Pulse.
4.)  Add olive oil if the mixture is too dry or bread crumbs if it’s too wet (you’re looking for burger consistency somewhere in the middle)
5.)  Mold it into small patties that will fit perfectly onto your whole grain organic bun (preferably one without added sugars) or toast.
6.)  Fry in a skillet with a little Safflower or Sunflower oil – An Iron skillet works great for these and there’s no worry about how long to cook them – just cook until it looks good to you and you think it’s burger worthy.  Everything is already fully cooked so you really can’t screw this part up!

  
7.)  Add whatever you would normally have with burgers ie: sauteed mushrooms and onions, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, condiments, sauces, WHATEVER!
8.)  Don’t tell you’re family it’s leftovers.
9.)  Enjoy
10.)  (This is my favorite and most ironic part)  FREEZE the leftovers!!! The leftover burger leftovers reheat great anytime you need a quick meal!!  I often put them in my sons lunch the next day – he thinks it’s fun times.

London would not sit still for this picture. But this WAS his second burger and he was all hopped up on health.

 

Now you are the star of the kitchen and your family just ate the healthiest burger you can possibly ever have. Win win win win win! It’s like being in Vegas without the cigarette smoke.  Right?
As always I can’t stress enough – don’t be afraid… I figured this out by just throwing stuff in and giving it a literal whirl. They are slightly different burgers every time because you’ll never have the exact same ingredients twice, but they always work and they are always good.

Try it out and tell me how it goes!
D-

Husband Rating 5 star:gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star“Can I pour my Agave BBQ Sauce all over it?  Then yes, 5 stars.”
Kid Rating 5 smiley faces  “Mommy – can you make them look like Chicken Nuggets?”  He has no idea what that actually means.

The Quickest, Easiest and Healthiest meal you can make from scratch!

May18

The meal in this picture is the standby – go to – get centered and back on track meal in our house, that we try to eat at least once a week if not more. It’s basically a standard plate from a Macrobiotic diet. If you don’t know about Macrobiotics, don’t worry… You wont turn into the six million dollar man, or the terminator, or R2D2 if you eat this. It’s not a fancy as it sounds. It’s actually the exact opposite. Thanks to our very good friends James, Allison and Lydia Taylor, we were turned on to and subsequently adopted a Macrobiotic approach to life when I became pregnant with my son in 2008.  Over the last 4-5 years I have learned A LOT about the fundamentals and principals of Macrobiotics – both the food and the lifestyle, and it has served our family incredibly well.  But you don’t need to know any of that to eat this easy simple HEALTHY meal. So don’t worry about it too much. Just eat!! If you love it and it speaks to you every time you eat it, then you can look for more information on your own or email me and I’ll help you with what I know.  Here is all you need to know right now:  Macro=BIG   Biotics=LIFE.  This meal is about eating food that is full of “Big Life.”  Why? Because there is nothing in it except whole foods that are steamed or simmered. Clean clean clean.  Give your body a rest from the barrage of oils, salts, seasonings, sauces, etc. that you find even in healthy, organic, vegan food.  This is the highest octane food your body can eat and it will LOVE you for it.  Trust me – we prove it to ourselves every time we eat this meal…

Here are the basic elements of a simple, balanced plate of macrobiotic food:

  • Organic BROWN Rice (Brown short or long grain is the most basic and common.  But Sweet brown or Brown Basmati are also good)
  • Organic dried Beans that have been soaked and slow cooked (IE: NOT canned or microwaved!!) I used lentils here because I didn’t have time to soak anything and they cook pretty fast – around 30 minutes, but you want to try to soak dried beans overnight  if you can plan it out.  Try Adzuki Bean, Mung Beans, Chickpeas, Black Soybeans… There are so many great beans!  Just try some out – who cares!  It’s one time.
  • A Variety of Steamed Veggies – I have super basic veggies on this plate (for fear of scaring you away)  Broccoli, Carrots, Purple Cabbage, Kale, Onions (always throw an onion in – they are SO GOOD FOR YOU!!!).  But here are some other great choices that will expand your palate and up the health (make you feel good!!) Diakon Radish, Lotus root, Parsnips, Bok Choy, ANY AND ALL leafy greens, Winter Squash, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Turnips.  Basically – if they don’t sell it in Safeway, Vons or Costco, try it.  It’s most likely something your body desperately needs. And try to stay away from night shades for this meal: spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, or anything in the nightshade family.  Why?  Eh – It’s complicated.  If you REALLY want to know Google it.  You’ll get tons of info!!!
  • Organic Fermented Veggies like sauerkraut, or Kim-Chi. ( I buy these.  I know you can make them pretty easily, but they take many days to ferment.  I have only ventured into this world once and it was an inedible disaster.  One day I will try again, but for now I buy it.)
  • Additional Organic Protein optional like Sprouted Tofu or Temphe cut into bite size chunks or pieces.
  • Bonus Items if you think you can’t handle it THAT plain can be lemon, Nato Miso, Tekka (miso condiment), Apple Cider Vinegar or Umoboshi Plum Vinegar, Olive Oil lightly drizzled.  I usually stick to Lemon and Tekka on everything, but I love the other items I listed too.  My 3 year old will eat a plate full of leafy greens if they have lemon juice squeezed on it, so you can too!!

There are many many many incredible foods that fall into a macrobiotic diet, but this is not that site (although I think sometimes it should be) I posted this meal for two reasons only:

  1. It’s the quickest, easiest meal I make all week.
  2. It’s the cheapest, cleanest, most balanced and nutritious combo of foods I know of and it always makes us FEEL good.

Don’t worry about how you cut or prepare any of it.  It’s very hard to screw up steamed veggies.  I usually start with the things that take longest to cook and throw the rest in one by one as I clean and cut them.  (ie: carrots, then the onions, then brocolli, then cabbage, lastly the greens, tofu doesn’t need to be cooked so I just heat it real quick after I turn off the stove)  As long as you don’t overcook everything they are perfect.  Same with the rice and beans.  Just double the water to the dried amount, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes (45 for rice.)  Always wash your grains and beans before you cook them.  If you have time to soak the rice too, go for it – it makes it extremely easy for your body to pull out nutrients and digest it efficiently, making it great fuel for your body.

Another nice thing to try is switching up the grain.  Instead of brown rice, which after a while gets too repetitive, try quinoa, millet, or barley.  And a great trick I learned early on is that you don’t have to refrigerate grains for a least 24 hours after they have been cooked.  So I cook them whenever it’s convenient and leave them covered in the pot on the stove until I am ready to serve it.  They are usually very good at room temperature and I love that I don’t have to clean another dish or put it BACK in the pot to reheat it.  It’s a time saver.  I do the same with beans as well.

Side note for emphasis: NEVER use a microwave to cook your food and ALWAYS buy organic.  Please.

Try it!!  You will be amazed at how easy it is and how happy you feel afterward.
Happy Clean Eating!
D-

Husband Rating 4 star:gold-stargold-stargold-star gold-star“You’ll love how good I feel after you eat this dinner.”
Kid Rating 4 smiley faces a magical combination of food that makes him clean his plate every time.

GUEST POST!!!! Kei’s Temphe Burgers!

February8

Kei Ogawa is a good friend of mine from California. She eats like we do (only better) and we used to compare notes all the time before we moved to Oregon. I recently saw this info on her husband Donny’s facebook status and asked her to give me the recipe for my blog. So here it is… Thanks Kei!!!!

Hi mamas. Here is the recipe for you! It is super easy to make.

Tempeh Burger (one person)

Tempeh – 1
Bun -1
Veggie Mayo
Lettuce
Avocado
Sprouts
Mustard

(Sauce)
Warter-1/2cup
Veggie concentrate powder -1tsp
Tomato puree or ketchup -2tbsp
Beet sugar -1/2tbsp
Vinegar -2tsp
Tamari-1/2tbsp
Garlic(grounded)-1/2tsp

Panfry tempeh (I cut a TJ tempeh in a half thickness so that it absorbs the sauce easy) with olive oil until the both sides get brown. Heat up all sauce ingredients and once it’s boiled, add tempeh and turn the stove to low. Keep boiling until it gets less watery. I have made it without garlic and it still tastes good! Sorry that this is not a good recipe for Pitta people like Don though!

I personally have not tried it yet – but judging by the recipe and what I know about Temphe and how much I cook Temphe, it looks good.  I will be making it for my Temphe-Crazed husband, Zeke just as soon as he gets back from his trip to China (where they eat battered and deep fried cuckoo bird!!  WTF?????) So for now our husband rating is being taken right off Donny’s post as testimonial of this delicious meat alternative!!

Enjoy! (Should be easy to do when there are no beaks, eyes, flesh, etc… ugh.)
Deena

Husband Rating 5 star:gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star “ My wife just made the most kick a$$ tempeh burgers! Seriously and you’re not vegetarian why again? You think you’re going to miss out, but you’re really missing out right now.”

 

Thanks for the contribution, Kei and Donny!  Give that baby a kiss for me.

11 year old tells it like it is… better than I EVER could!!

January10

If you aren’t convinced that you need to buy organic., maybe this little dude can help you.  I wish I was as cool as he is.

And I am happy to say that my 3 year old is already on the way to being as savy about his food as this little man.  WATCH IT!!!
…and please buy organic food whenever possible.  We’re all killing ourselves otherwise.  Stop acting like it’s not important and not real.  YOU ARE EATING poison and it’s destroying the world.
D-

 

Vegan Thumbprint Cookies

January8

I used to buy these cookies every single time I went to Whole Foods.  They charge a very unreasonable amount of $1.25 per cookie and they are individually wrapped in saran (which I am NOT a fan of – that stuff is omitting god knows what kind of pvc chemicals right onto our food!!  Here’s a link to some basic info on that, if you’re interested) AND they are not organic!!!  What!!  Why am I paying for these??  But I was lazy and didn’t want to add something else to my list of things to do in the day so I kept buying them.  Until… one day Zeke asked the nice people at WF’s if he could buy some unbaked dough so we could make them fresh (because they always seemed too hard) and that’s when we found out that they are baked, frozen, shipped and then thawed and put on the shelf.  No wonder they are hard as a rock!  Why are we still buying these???

We aren’t… anymore.  Because I straight up stole the recipe and figured out my own better, healthier version, amounts, and bake time.  They are THE easiest dessert I make now and I can give them to London guilt free and even sometimes for Breakfast in a pinch because they are pretty healthy.  So here’s how I do it:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the following ingredients together in a mixer or bowl:

3/4 Cup – Maple Syrup
1 1/2 Cup – Almond Meal
1 Cup – Oat Flour
1/2 cup – Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup – Safflower Oil (or Sunflower, or Walnut,… – just stay away from Canola as it is highly processed and hard on your blood)
1/2 Cup – Finely Chopped Walnuts (you can/should use a food processor for this, if you have one.)
1/4 Cup – Quinoa Flour (Grind whole Quinoa in a [coffee] grinder for this if you can’t find Quinoa Flour or don’t want to spend the money.  Or you can also use Barley flour, but Quinoa is so much healthier and tastes identical in this recipe.)
1/2 Tsp – Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp – Nutmeg (ground)
1/4 Tsp – Sea Salt
One or more Jam, Jelly, Fruit Spread of your choice (I only use Jams that contain NOTHING but fruit. Trader Joe’s carries several great organic fruit jams, as well as Whole Foods. You just have to read the ingredients before you buy!! BUT, we love the Fiordifrutta brand and order many of the varieties by the case. They only use apple juice to sweeten so it is lower fructose.)

Using a regular size ice cream scooper, scoop out a ball of dough, round it out with your hand, flatten it half way on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (if you don’t have paper, just do without it. No big deal) take a small spoon, like a demitasse spoon, or your thumb (thus the name) and create an indent in the middle that you will later fill with jam.
Bake unfilled cookies for 5 minutes, remove from oven and fill with Fruit Spreads, continue baking for another 12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled.
Make approximately a dozen cookies.

This is the above recipe DOUBLED.

This is my nutty son eating his second cookie right off the rack.

What a face! Crumbs and all.

 

Husband Rating (a very dramatic) 10 star:gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star “ Thumb-prints? Print out this recipe because these are the best cookies ever!”
Kid Rating 5 smiley faces “Mommy – I only like the strawberry but I want one of the lemon because it’s reeeeeally good.”

Thanks to Whole Foods for listing the ingredients and giving me a huge head start on this one!
Enjoy!
D-

Two-Timing me with a Kabocha Squash.

September4

My husband is having some kind of crazy love affair with Kabocha Squash.  Every time we see it in Whole Foods he acts like it’s his long lost lover from college who performed private strip tease dances for him in his dorm and then did his laundry.  He practically cradles it romantically when he sees it – he gives it so much love from the bin to the cart to the bag to the house to the cutting board to the stove/oven to the plate, it’s embarrassing.  He LOVES Kabocha.  If I was the jealous type I would NEVER let that bitch back in my house.  But actually, I think she’s pretty nice myself.  So when she’s in season, we buy her any chance we can get.

We started eating Kabocha when we were eating a macrobiotic diet a few years back.  Our good friends and food mentors, J & A Taylor, had us over for dinner one night and the rest is history…  I have found that not only do most people not have a clue what Kabocha Squash is, but they are afraid to try it when they learn about it.  Silly.

Here are a few pictures I took of the Kabocha I used today – (I always forget to take pictures until after I have half eaten something or already chopped it up a bit – sorry.  Google Images is great for things like this if you need more detail)

So, Kabocha is a squash, or a pumpkin, or a potato… okay – it’s definitely not a potato I just like to type in threes.  Either way it is SO easy to make and SO good for you!!  You can cut it in quarters and roast it in the oven just like you would an acorn squash or spaghetti squash.  You can cut it into chunks and steam it.  That’s always a super healthy and easy way to eat just about any Veggie.  I sometimes pressure cook it and then mash it up with Earth Balance “Butter” (This is Zeke’s favorite way to eat it – he refers to this as “Squash Squash.”  He’s clever, and corny) Or you can cut it up and roast it with other delightful goodness like I did tonight.  As usual, I took a crappy picture AFTER we ate.  Blogging in my kitchen is usually an after-thought.  I’m working on this.  Here’s what I did – it was SERIOUSLY delicioso:

Let’s call this: Roasted Kabocha with Fresh Fig

-1/2 of a Kabocha Squash, gut the seeds and peel the green stuff off.  You CAN eat the green stuff but I don’t like it – my husband thinks Kabocha can do no wrong and he emphatically claims to like the green stuff.  But he is still in the honeymoon phase.  Trust me – peel it.
-1 produce basket of fresh RIPE figs (about 10-15??)
-2 to 3 yellow onions – cut in large chunks
-2 to 3 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
-1 to 2 tablespoons of dried Oregano (I never measure – but don’t overdo it – just add some flavor to enhance the Fig)
-1 tablespoons of dried rosemary ground up in your hands as much as possible (I think fresh rosemary would also be great, but I still wouldn’t use too much)
-Salt to taste
-3 to 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Mix all the ingredients together in a roasting dish or pan and bake in a preheated oven at 400° for about 45 min to an hour. Check after 30 minutes and stir everything up to coat it evenly.
I added chopped up tofu in the last 15 minutes and it was a hit with the boys. You might be able to add Tempeh into it in the beginning for an alternate healthy, high protein version. I will try that next time… Zeke is also having an unreasonable love affair with Tempeh these days, but that’s another post.

Side note: I recently learned from a local farmer that Kabocha and most hard shelled squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, etc…) need at least a month to properly cure once cut off the vine.  That means you can, and should, buy and store squash for two to three months from the time it was picked to get the best flavor and the most nutrients out of it.  If you know when it was cut then you can wait a few months to use it.  If you don’t know when it was cut then you can still let it sit (room temp) for at least a month before you have to worry.  We didn’t do that this time because I couldn’t bear to listen to Zeke romance the squash for another second.  But I did buy two small Red Curry Squash and I don’t plan on eating them anytime soon!!

Husband Rating 5 star:gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star “I missed my Kabocha so much. Next time we go to WF’s let’s buy every one they have.”  and   “I actually thought the figs were great in this. I love this dish so much!!”
Kid Rating 3 smiley faces “I don’t like that fig.  But I love these onions and squash squash!”

Vegan Enchiladas

July28

I WISH I had a picture of all the steps I took to make these little lovelies, but I don’t have any.  I was too busy cooking and eating.  I hate when I get caught up in the moment and forget that I might want to post my creation.  Oh well – use your imagination… They didn’t LOOK particularly special anyway.

Timing: I have made these three times now and I can tell you they came out amazing both times and I did something different each time.  One time I made them for a big dinner party I threw and I made three trays – one for kids (with cheese) , one mild and one super spicy.  They went over huge with everyone in the room.  BUT let me just say – they are time consuming, so get a glass of wine going and don’t be afraid to do everything but assemble early in the day so you don’t put any stress into your food and onto the plate.  Assembly also takes time.  Don’t think you can do whip these up in under an hour.  Give yourself about two to three the first time you make them.

First the sauce: I have learned that sauce is sauce is sauce is gravy.  (Vegan Gray is so easy to make.  I’ll do a post on that soon.) Enchilada sauce is nothing more than regular gravy (however you make it) with the addition of tomato paste, Cumin, Oregano, Chilli Powder and fresh chiles if you want to add more heat.  (My Momma taught me that – I called her with no idea what I was doing and she gave me a quick rundown and I was off… as usual, Mom comes to my rescue in the kitchen.)  I don’t measure. I know that’s not much help, but use your nose.  You’ll figure it out.  And taste it!!  If it’s boring add more spice.  Make the sauce first so it has time to thicken and the flavors can blend a bit.  When you think you have it where you like it, set it on a flame-less burner and come back to it when you’re ready to put the dish together.

The Filling: I always like use whatever I have in the house but I will say don’t use mushrooms – yuk.  I tried that once and pulled them all out once we were eating them.  Here are some basic ingredients: saute diced onions and minced garlic (always – with everything) add chopped up zucchini or other summer squash, corn (frozen is fine, but add it last) carrots (must be cooked first – I usually chop and steam them) black olives, chopped chiles or jalapenos,  if you have and eat Kale put it in – small shredded Kale is great in stuff like this – you can’t taste it but your body loves you for it.  Saute away until everything is soft and cooked well through, add some of your sauce to start getting it juicy and looking like pot pie filling, add chopped cilantro when your mixture is done cooking and cools off just a bit.  Turn off burner and set aside.

Tortillas: Of course you want to use corn tortillas for Enchiladas, but I personally don’t make them. I’m assuming you don’t either, so – open your tortilla package up and get a wet dish towel.  Put 4-5 tortillas in the towel and wrap them up so they are completely covered.  Put them in the microwave for I think 30 seconds or so on high.  You just want them warm enough that they are soft and wont break or tear when you roll them up.  This is the only thing I have used a microwave for in about 10 years, so I really don’t know the full technique.  I also recommend that if you have time and want to steam them DO THAT!  Always avoid that creepy, mysterious “cooking” box if possible (how does it do that??).  Use the batch that you just steamed right away.  Spoon some filling into the tortilla, roll it up so the stuff isn’t falling out but also isn’t too tight to have any food inside, put the seam side down in a large baking pan so it won’t pop open, repeat until you have either no filling or no tortillas left.  Put sauce down on the bottom of the pan before you start filling the tortillas.  Not too much, just enough so that the tortillas are covered and juicy all around. Line them up as close as possible together and generously apply tons of sauce on top.

The Oven: Put your lovely pan of happiness in a preheated oven at about 350°. Bake about 20-30 minutes or until it looks bubbly and yummy.  If you must add cheese on top, use a combo of shredded Jack, Pepper Jack and Cheddar and you only need it on top.  Don’t worry about adding it inside each tortilla – there wont be room anyway.  Sprinkle the cheese on top before it goes in the oven and let it get bubbly and crispy.  But trust me – we didn’t miss it.  And why not give your body a break from the non stop barrage of dairy you load up on everyday??

Serve: If you like sour-cream with your enchiladas I encourage you to try either plain yogurt (SO much better for you) or plain soy yogurt (even better yet!) We used to be sour cream addicts and now we use these two things as replacements and don’t miss the sour cream at all… unless your referring to the pounds we no longer see on the scale.  I also like to make  black or pinto beans and mash them up with a little almond milk  (makes them feel and taste like re-fried beans without any added oil, or fat – so yummy and easy.)  I also serve this with brown rice that I have sauteed up with a little of my enchilada sauce so it’s wet and Mexican (that sounds a bit X-rated, but it’s not THAT good).  Sprinkle a little finely chopped cilantro on the whole plate and wait for the praise!!

Husband Rating 5 star:  gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star “You could serve these in any gourmet Mexican Restaurant and they would stand up to anything else there.”

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