Creamy Fettucine with Squash Sauce

January 21, 2007 at 7:03 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Pasta, Ron Pickarski, Soymilk, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

I have fond memories of this creamy vegan squash sauce from my co-op days in college. It was a regular on our menu, and always popular. It’s from the cookbook Friendly Foods by Brother Ron Pickarski. Read the rest of this entry »

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Smoothies and “Milkshakes”

January 21, 2007 at 7:35 am (Beverage, breakfast, Derek's faves, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, The Vegan Gourmet, unrated, Website / blog)

When I was growing up my mom called any thick beverage made with fruit juice a “smoothie” and anything made with soymilk a “milkshake.” Derek, however, insists that milkshakes must include cow’s milk and ice cream. Whatever you call them, there are a million variations out there, and I’m on a quest to find my favorite combinations. So far I’ve only taken a few steps. But don’t worry, give me time. I’ll get there eventually! Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinoa and Butternut Squash Risotto

January 20, 2007 at 9:58 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Grains, Peter Berley, Starches)

I normally get nervous when I see risottos which call for grains other than rice.  I avoid barley risotto like the plague. But this recipe in The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley has quinoa and arborio rice, so I figured it was safe to risk it. This dish doesn’t quite taste like a traditional risotto.  The quinoa adds a slightly herbaceous note, which melds well with the other flavors.  Plus it’s vegan, and more nutritious than traditional risotto.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes

January 13, 2007 at 8:06 pm (B_(3 stars, like), Cook's Illustrated, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

For the past two years in a row I’ve made massive amounts of mashed sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. I bake the potatoes on a cookie sheet until they’re meltingly soft, then let them cool a bit and peel off most of the peel (and eat about half of the peel while doing so–the carmelized soft bit that was touching the cookie sheet is so sweet and delicious). I put them all in a big bowl and mash them. The question is then how to season them, and how much fat and sweet to add?

This year I added salt, a touch of brown sugar, and a whole bunch of fresh chopped sage (one of those plastic boxes full). It was good but was missing something Derek and his father thought. So we sautéed about 2 Tbs. of chopped garlic in a little olive oil. Much, much better. The sweet potatoes had a fuller, more savory flavory.

Last year I added orange juice and zest. They were good too.

I was just reading the recipe for Mashed Sweet Potatoes in Cook’s Illustrated The Best Light Recipe cookbook. They say they tried all kinds of ways of cooking the potatoes. Baking was excellent, but it took over an hour and then you had to cool them before you could peel them. Boiling sweet potatoes in their skins and boiling pieces of peeled potato were equally bad–little flavor and a wet puree. The microwave cooked the potatoes unevenly, and they went instantly from undercooked to overdone. They ended up suggesting braising peeled, sliced sweet potatoes in a little water. They say it yields a luxurious texture that is neither loose nor gluey. I decided to try it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Avocado Ideas

January 11, 2007 at 4:24 am (My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Uncategorized, unrated)

It seems so silly. I’m always lusting after avocados, and here I am with two avocados sitting in the fridge, perfectly ripe, maybe even heading past ripe, and no idea what to do with them!

Normally I eat avocado (or guacamole) with pinto beans or black beans. But I’m out of both of those beans. I like avocado mixed with greens like chard, but I don’t have any greens either. I love avocados in salad, but I have no lettuce or other salad-type ingredients. And that’s it–that’s my avocado repertoire. I clearly need more ideas for a food as scrumptilicious as avocado.

I called my mom and she said to mash the avocado and spread it on toast, then sprinkle with salt. I did that, and it was quite tasty, then I remembered some sage I had lolling about in the fridge. I tore it up and added it to my “sandwich.” Yum. Delish. Excellent.

Later I dug out a tortilla from the freezer, and some overcooked black eyed peas (20 hours in a crockpot yields a very carmelized tasting pea). I made a “burrito” with 1/4 cup black eyes, 1/4 of an avocado, 3 sage leaves, and salsa. Wow, it hit the spot. The burrito was reminiscint of the vegan burrito from Kiva Han (a local coffee shop), but much, much better.

I just searched my blog for avocado and found stuffed hashbrowns, spring rolls, and hominy and tomatillo stew. I’m out of hominy/tomatillos, but I am definitely making some stuffed hashbrowns for breakfast. I have spring roll wrappers but no cabbage or mushrooms… Maybe I can improvise?

I’m still open for more avocado ideas. I have another 1.5 avocados that desperately need to get eaten.

Today I tried a “pizza”: Muir Glen pizza sauce on a blue corn tortilla topped with avocado slices. It was tasty, but not stellar.

I’ve gotten some responses offline:

  • avocado pudding with cream and sugar (or soymilk and honey?)
  • on a veggie or bean burger
  • avocado banana yogurt soup
  • nori rolls
  • diced, with grapefruit (and a dressing?)
  • in an omelette, or on toast with a poached egg
  • a banana avocado smoothie

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Candied Sweet Potatoes

January 9, 2007 at 7:14 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

This recipe is from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. It’s supposed to be a traditional Thanksgiving recipe, except for the addition of ginger. For a more up-to-date post see this one.

  • 2 pounds garnet yams or other sweet potatoes
  • 3 (2-inch) strips orange zest, white spongy pith removed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. pure olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. peeled and finely chopped gingerroot
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel and halve the yams crosswise. cut each half lengthwise into 4 wedges. Place the yams in a baking dish that will hold them in a snug single layer. Tuck the orange zest and cinnamon sticks among the yams.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, maple syrup, oil, lemon juice, ginger, and salt. (Note, if you’re using butter, omit it in this step, but dot the assembled casserole with small pieces of it before it goes into the oven.) Pour the mixture over the yams.
  4. Bake for 1 1/4 hours, basting every15 minutes, until the yams are tender and glazed and the pan juices are syrupy.
  5. Remove the orange zest and cinnamon sticks before servings.

Yields 4 servings.
My Notes:

I tried slicing off orange zest but got tons of pith, so I ended up just using my zester to zest the whole orange right into the pan. The cinnamon sticks added almost no flavor I thought. If you want cinnamon flavor I think it would be more effective to add ground cinnamon. I didn’t want to waste my fresh orange so I ate it and used organic frozen concentrate instead. I used the butter not the oil.

I think if I make this again I might try leaving the peels ons the sweet potatoes. I bet in the glaze they’d get nice and soft.

I didn’t have a baster, so I flipped them after 30 minutes and mixed the glaze around. After 45 minutes though the glaze was starting to solidify and after 50 minutes it was starting to burn. I removed it from the oven. The sweet potatoes were cooked but not quite meltingly soft. I think if you don’t have a baster (or maybe even if you do), it would be better to cover the sweet potatoes for the first half an hour or 45 minutes.

When I first tasted these right out of the oven I liked the seasoning but thought it was way too sparse. The potatoes are cut quite thickly, and there’s not enough “candy” for all that potato. Plus, even though it’s a lighter recipe than many recipes, it’s still not low calorie (about 300 calories for 1/4 of the dish). It works as a side or a dessert but not a main course. I put it in the fridge and have been eating a few pieces a day as a late afternoon treat, and they’re growing on me. Maybe it’s just that these later pieces have been sitting around in the tupperware absorbing the sauce longer, or maybe they just got more of the sauce than their fare share, but they taste more candied. They’re still pretty high calorie for a “vegetable dish”, and I’d still like more of that yummy sauce, but they’re pretty good anyhow. I like the ginger/orange flavor.

When all the sweet potatoes were gone I added the leftover orange zest, cinnamon sticks, and ginger goo to my chai tea. Yowza! That was some yummy chai. Then I left the cinnamon sticks in the tea overnight, and when I got in in the morning it tasted just exactly like Good Earth tea.

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What’s (not) in a name?

January 8, 2007 at 12:37 am (Uncategorized)

I just noticed that another blogger (who I don’t know) linked to my blog on their sidebar. How exciting! Then I noticed that my blog had the longest name of all the 20 or so vegetarian cooking blogs she linked to. Oy.

When my blog was over at blogger it was called veggieheaven. But blogger’s search was totally broken, so I came over here to wordpress. When I moved the blog I decided that veggieheaven was a bit too optimistic and/or egotistical. So I changed it to the current title, which is supposed to reflect more of my nit-picky approach to recipe blogging. When I chose this title, I had no idea that no one, not one of my Phd-pursuing peers, knows what captious means. The only person I’ve met who’d even heard the word captious before was my father. But he didn’t like the title–said captious had overly negative connotations. Derek didn’t like it either–at first. He wanted me to change it to veggiesaurus. I was hesitant–it seems like what you’d call a vegetarian thesaurus or dictionary or something, not a recipe blog. In any case, now he claims captious is fine–it’s grown on him he says.

But I thought I’d ask my loyal readers–all five of you. How’s the name? Too long? Too esoteric? Just right?

If you don’t like it, have any better ideas? I really like vegendary, which is supposed to be a play on vegetarian and legendary, but my brother says it sounds like vegetables and dairy. But isn’t that what I eat???

In any case, I’m counting on you for feedback and/or new ideas. After all, it is the new year. Maybe it’s time for my blog to get a new name.

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Tasty yogurt snack combos

January 5, 2007 at 5:42 am (breakfast, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated)

I typically eat yogurt and fruit as a snack. I usually get nonfat yogurt, but that’s not optimal for a snack with fruit because then there’s no fat at all. Hmm, maybe I could add a few nuts? Or maybe I’ll switch back to lowfat yogurt, especially since my favorite east coast nonfat yogurt (Stonyfield Farm) stopped making organic nonfat. In any case, I’m always looking for yogurt seasoning ideas. So far here’s what I’ve tried:

In the summer I was eating my yogurt with berries. It was pretty good, but sometimes I felt like I was wasting the berries and I should just eat them plain for maximal berry-ness.

In the fall I always ate yogurt with a small diced apple from my CSA and lots of cinnamon. I liked it a lot.

I bought some pomegranate blueberry juice from Trader Joe’s and used a few spoonfuls to season my yogurt. It was reasonably good.

But lately I’ve discovered something even better. I prepare half a grapefruit using a grapefruit knife, dish out 1/2 cup of nonfat yogurt, then squeeze the grapefruit pieces and juice right into the bowl with the yogurt. Then I use my spoon to scrape out any pulp I missed as well. The combo is great. You’d think it would be too tart/sour but not with those Rio Star grapefruits from Texas.

Today I decided to try a variation and used a clementine rather than a grapefruit. It wasn’t nearly as good. It might be because I just put the clementine pieces in and there was no juice to season the whole thing. Or maybe I just missed the tartness from the grapefruit.

I tried wallaby yogurt with an apple, 2 dole pineapple rings cut into chunks, a splash of pineapple juice, and cinnamon. I really like it. The pineapple added a touch of acidity, which I always love.

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Cabbage carrot salad with peanut dressing

January 5, 2007 at 4:41 am (B_(3 stars, like), Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Sauce/dressing)

This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that I’ve made a few times, and quite enjoy. It’s a piquant alternative to traditional coleslaw.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Product Review: recommended grocery items

January 2, 2007 at 6:58 am (Product Reviews)

I thought I’d share some of my favorite grocery store branded items. For now it’s just a list but eventually I will get around to writing some enticing tidbits about each.

  • Amore Tomato Paste in a Tube
  • Annie’s Goddess Salad Dressing
  • Tropical Source chocolate chips
  • Muir glen canned tomatoes
  • Whole foods whole wheat pasta, esp. the linguine
  • Whole foods peanut butter made from honey roasted peanuts
  • Muir glen pizza sauce
  • Ezekiel Sesame bread and Bran for Life bread
  • Whole Foods red chile tortillas
  • SunGold Sunbutter

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