Thursday, February 25, 2010

Baking for Boobies

As many of you know, I organize a hike to benefit the Breast Cancer Fund and the Wellness Community here in AZ called the Joanne Wood March Madness for Mammaries Hike. It is coming up very quickly on Saturday, March 13th. Each hiker has to raise $250.00 in donations to be eligible to participate. This year people are still feeling the pain of pay cuts, lost jobs, and other crap. It has made fund raising even more challenging than usual. The hikers and teams have gotten pretty creative to make donating easy and fun. Tomorrow a couple of the hikers are holding a bake sale. Coincidentally, I am now testing for a new baking book. (I will post more info on that as it becomes available). I can tell you that I've tested 6 recipes and all of them came out fantastic. Put the two together and you have a baking explosion in my kitchen.

If you haven't made you annual charitable contribution commitments yet, consider donating to our hiking team by clicking here. Yes that was a shameless plug, so sue me :)

I tried my hand at biscotti for the first time. It was fun and pretty easy to make.

The cranberry scones were quite fab too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Navy Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Bake...Bonus New Camera!!!!

I was under the incorrect assumption that Fred and I had agreed to refrain from gift giving on this, our first Valentine's Day as married folk. When will this girl learn? Last night when I got home Fred was very excited and said there was something for me in the kitchen. Hmmmm. I thought maybe he made dinner. Oh no! There was a pretty good sized box wrapped up on the table for me. I opened it up and much to my great surprise was a brand new camera!

This happens to be the second camera he's gotten me since we met. The first one he felt obligated (silly!) because he dropped my old camera and the door to the battery would not close. It still works, but it drove him crazy. The last one he bought has been used and abused. They just don't make them like they used to I guess, because after only 1 1/2 years of use it is on it's last leg. Boo for planned obselescence.

Anyhow the new beauty is a Sony DSC-HX1. It is really cool. Way more fancy pants than the last one, which was pretty awesome as well. It has lots of special functions for all different shooting conditions. I was super excited that it has a "gourmet" mode. Seriously. It is a mode specifically for photographing food. Is it just me, or are the colors in the picture below really vibrant. Hurrah gourmet mode!!

Today as always I am always thinking of more ways to get my beans and greens for extra iron. I took a look around the pantry to see what I could come up with at 5am for lunch today. Here's what developed. It is a warm homey simple dish. It only requires one pan for easy clean up. Enjoy in good health!

Navy Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Bake

4 servings

2 large yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, sliced in half then thinly sliced
1 (15 oz.) can navy beans
2 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Blend seasoning (I like Penzey's)
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt (again Penzey's 4S is recommended) or to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large bunch lacinto kale, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable broth or water

Preheat oven to 350.

In 9 x 13 glass baking dish toss all ingredients except for kale. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes until sweet potatoes are just barely soft. Remove from oven and toss in kale and water or broth. Bake for 10 more minutes or until kale is slightly wilted.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kimmy's Dutch Apple Pie

There are those days where you just want some comfort foody goodness. To me, the smell of an apple pie baking brings back cozy fond memories of my grandma. I have to admit, fruit pies were not my thing as a kid, but Grandma's apple pie was the exception. She was truly a master of pie crust. It was crispy on top, perfectly flaky and crusted with sugar. I'm certain it was chock full of shortening of the non-vegan kind.

Sometimes a cook is in no mood to do a double crust on a pie. This is a great alternative when you aren't feeling the crust love. The pie is easy peasy with only a bottom crust. You can take the super easy way out and buy a pre-made vegan crust, but I prefer to make it from scratch. My favorite recipe is from Isa's Veganomicon. This is one crust recipe that consistently give excellent results. You just have to make sure your ingredients are very cold! The crumbly top on this is so yummy and far easier than making that second crust.

I like to use a variety of apples to give a good variety of textures and flavors. The mixture of tart and sweet apples and the sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg give this pie it's homey appeal.

Kimmy's Dutch Apple Pie

1 single 9" pie crust (not baked)

Pie Filling:

1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 large pink lady apples
2 large fuji apples
2 large granny smith apples
2 large gala apples
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Crumble Topping

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup Earth balance
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450.

If you are making your pie crust, make the dough well ahead of time so it can chill in the fridge. Roll out crust and put into a 9" pie pan.

Make the crumble topping before peeling your apples. Mix flour, oats and cinnamon until evenly distributed. Cut in Earth balance until mixture resembles a very corse meal. Set aside.

Place lemon juice in large bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the apples. As you are slicing the apples toss them into the lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Once you have all of the apples sliced, toss in the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

Pull pie out of the oven. Sprinkle topping in and even layer over pie, making sure it is covered. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes until the filling starts to bubble.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spicy Orange Run Through the Garden "Duck"

The other day I spent a lot of time and money on fabulous vegetables for a dish I wanted to make from an excellent cookbook. After all was said and done, the sauce overpowered the lovely vegetables and left me wanting more of the natural veggie goodness to shine through. To me, the veggies often times should be the star of the dish. That is the premise of how this recipe came into being.

Vegan "Duck"

I had this intriguing can of vegetarian Peking "duck" sitting in my pantry for some time now. I bought it a while back at Lee Lee market in Chandler to send to a fellow PPK-er for a swap and then decided to go all Southwest with the box. It needed to find a use. I thought about creating something out of my normal box...which I guess is silly because I don't find I have much of a normal box these days. I don't tend to make fruity or sweet sauces, so I thought I should do that today. Our oranges are so wonderful right now, I headed to the back yard to get one. Here is what came out of the brainstorm.

Spicy Orange Run Through the Garden "Duck"

Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (canola)
1 can vegetarian peking duck cubed (can sub chicken or beef seitan cubed)
1 large carrot, sliced into thin discs
1 tablespoon mirin
2 cloves garlic minced
1 head broccoli crowns, cut into bite sized pieces
2 heads baby bok choy, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 very large portobello mushroom sliced into 1" chunks
4 oz pkg soba noodles cooked and cooled

For Sauce
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon mellow miso
1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium shoyu or soy sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

1 tablespoons black sesame seeds for garnish.

Make sure to prep and chop all of your veggies before starting to cook. It's stir fry, so it will go fast. Whisk sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Heat oil in a wok or very large saute pan over medium high heat. Toss in diced "duck" and carrots. Saute for about 3 minutes until "duck" starts to brown and carrots are slightly soft. Deglaze pan with mirin. Add garlic, broccoli and bok choy and saute for about 2 minutes. Add red peppers and portobello mushrooms and saute for about 5 more minutes, until all vegetables are al dente. You don't want them to be overcooked or mushy. Add sauce and stir until it is well incorporated. Add soba noodles and heat for about 2 more minutes until heated through. Garnish with black sesame seeds and serve.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Congrats Saints!!!

First and foremost, I have to say congrats to the Saints. What a great thing to happen for the city and state. I have a special place in my heart for the Saints, because I am a big Ditka fan and he was once their coach. It was nice to have a team to be rooting for this year.

We went to a really fun Superbowl party. Our hosts were really cool about our veggie-ness. They made chicken fajitas for all of the other guests and made sure to cook veggies separately for us. So nice. Anyway, I had my first King Cake experience. If you don't know about king cakes they are a NOLA tradition Click here for history. Part of the tradition is that there is a baby (supposedly baby Jesus) hidden somewhere in the cake. The person who finds the baby in their slice has to make the next cake. Well our host found it in the very last piece!

Here are a couple of shots of the cake. One before it got cut into.

One after it was cut. Show me the money honey!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mediterranean Mix Salad

We have been getting some good stuff from the garden. The first bed is producing some great greens. Today Fred put in the 2nd bed. We can hardly wait to see how this one does. My brother send us some great heirloom tomato seeds. We are starting those inside to transplant in a couple of weeks when it gets a little bit warmer. We are learning how and when to plant things in the desert. We're total amateurs. So far, we are having pretty good results. Here are the greens we planted at the end of October in Bed #1.


Bed #2 going in.

We had a dinner party to go to tonight and I volunteered to make salad. I must admit, I wanted to show off some of the goodies from the garden. I picked green leaf lettuce, arugula, and baby purple kale. Man, I just love veggies fresh out of the garden! Nothing tastes better! I used the greens as a base for this very flavorful and colorful salad. This one is definitely one to serve to a crowd and it should get a thumbs up!

Mediterranean Mix Salad

8-10 servings

14.5 ounce can of quartered artichoke hearts
14.5 ounce can of hearts of palm (sliced into medallions)
5 ounces of pitted Kalamata olives
16 oz jar roasted red peppers (or 5 fresh red peppers roasted and peeled) sliced into strips
1/2 red onion halved and thinly sliced
1 large cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes sliced into thin wedges
1 cup arugula
5 cups mixed greens
1 recipe pesto-oregano vinaigrette

Pesto-Oregano Vinaigrette

makes 3/4 cup

1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons vegan pesto
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh oregano (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until well combined. 

Toss all salad ingredients together. Gently toss with dressing. Serve immediately.