Brown Sugar Beer Bread

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Beer bread has become one of my favorite recipes in the past couple months, and it’s my second favorite way of consuming beer. (1. Drinking it, 2. Eating it in bread, 3. Eating it in cheese.) It’s such an easy recipe and the beer lends this quick bread a really wonderful hoppy bite. It wasn’t long before I discovered that the slightly sweet addition of brown sugar is a great complement. It all started with an impulse purchase of Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ beer. I loved the festive name and label, as well as the promise of a sweet finish. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite what I expected so I figured if I’m not going to drink it, why don’t I eat it? And it’s called “Brown Shugga” so why don’t I add brown sugar?!?! Thus, brown sugar beer bread was born. It’s wonderful shortly out of the oven when it’s warm, but it’s just fine with me toasted or warmed in the microwave in the following days. It’s a hoppy, slightly sweet dense bread with a somewhat crunchy exterior. Definitely a winter guilty pleasure–although I’m on a healthy, whole foods kick, I wanted to share this recipe because it’s just so easy to make and very appropriate comfort food for the cold months. (Um, try it with chili and you’ll never be cold again.)

Just a note: you don’t have to use this particular beer. You can use what you have on hand. It comes together in less than 10 minutes (and it’s especially easy using a standing mixer though it’s certainly not required.)

Recipe after the jump!

Continue reading Brown Sugar Beer Bread

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I Need to Tell You About Chickpea Cutlets

If there’s one question I’m tired of hearing, it’s “But where do you get your protein?” You vegetarians & vegans out there know what I’m talking about. Turns out, there’s LOTS of alternative sources of proteins, and not just the fake meats you find in the freezer aisle.
For example, here are the grams of protein in a cup of various vegan foods.
  • Spinach, 5g
  • Peas, 9g
  • Quinoa, 9g
  • Tofu, 11g
  • Black beans, 15g
  • Buckwheat, 24g

And there’s more, trust.

Being a vegetarian who eats vegan most of the time, I’ve learned to get creative and try new things. I’m amazed at some of the incredible, creative vegan recipes I’ve found online. One of my favorite sources is Post Punk Kitchen, from one of the authors of Veganomicon, which is a crazy awesome vegan cookbook that belongs on your shelf.
It is from this glorious text that I first learned about chickpea cutlets. These cutlets make me want to go door to door and evangelize.
Ok, perhaps that’s an exaggeration…but there are so many things I love about this recipe:
  • It’s really easy to put together.
  • It’s a unique, delicious way to get protein and consume one of my favorite kinds of beans.
  • It’s easy to make a big batch to eat throughout the week. (Though I have been known to make a double batch only to eat most of it in one day.)
  • The cutlets have a slightly chewy toothsome texture is really satisfying. (Yep, I just used the word toothsome. So what?)
  • It’s versatile! You can dress these little cutlets anyway you want. They’re excellent with a vegetarian gravy or tossed in buffalo sauce.
You can find the recipe here on the Post Punk Kitchen website. I definitely encourage you to give it shot, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. Think of it as a little adventure.

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A chickpea cutlet with some mashed butternut squash and baby broccoli splashed with vegan worcestershire sauce.
A chickpea cutlet with some mashed butternut squash and baby broccoli splashed with vegan worcestershire sauce.
On a slightly different note, I’ve started some mindful eating strategies: trying to plate everything I eat, even it’s a snack, eating while sitting at a table with NO screens on (tv, phone, computer.) I’ve been following these rules faithfully for the most part, but I’ve definitely faltered. Today for example, I was so busy with work, for lunch I just took one of my extra chickpea cutlets out of the fridge and ate it cold while working on a project on my laptop. Then I washed it down with a few truffles from Christmas. That’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid doing. However, it’s a journey and I’ll get better. I’ve been having the most success with these strategies for breakfast so far. It’s really nice to start off the day quiet, enjoying a meal slowly. I just need to continue that peace for the rest of the day.
Adios and may your meals be mindful!
P.S. I looked up the word “toothsome” and as I suspected, it’s peak use was around 1900.
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Homemade Corn Tortillas Will Change Your Life

A week ago I learned how easy it is to make corn tortillas at home and how absolutely delicious they are fresh off the griddle. Want to guess how many times I’ve made them since then? Let’s just say it’s definitely closer to 7 than I care to admit…

All you need is masa corn flour (Maseca), water, and a little salt. That’s it. I pour a cup of masa into a bowl, add about 3/4 cup of warm water, throw in a pinch of salt, and mix to make a soft dough. I break off about 6-8 pieces and roll into balls.  Then I tear two square sheets of plastic wrap, place a ball in between and press. I don’t have a tortilla press (YET) so I just use my cutting board and a rolling pin to flatten it to about 1/8 inch thick. Heat a griddle or pan, carefully peel the tortilla off the plastic wrap, and place into the pan.  Heat it for about 1 minute then flip over to the other side for another minute.  Repeat with the rest of them and you have a hot stack of delicious corn tortillas that are much better than any cardboard imitations in the grocery store.

Maseca

There’s also something really therapeutic about pressing the dough into a delicate disk and placing it carefully in the pan. The attention it requires helps me slow down (even if I am moving fast) and clear my mind, like pressing pause on life outside my kitchen.

Now that I know how easy they are, corn tortillas will now be in my regular rotation.  The first time I made them, I used them for tofu breakfast tacos by making a tofu scramble and pairing with a sweet potato hash and Cholula.

Tofu B-Fast Taco

The second time I made tempeh tacos by crumbling up some tempeh and sautéing it with kale, tomato, and spices like adobo seasoning, chili powder, and oregano.

tempehtacos

I even made buffalo pear blue cheese tacos, which I regret not taking a picture of and will definitely have to revisit.  I topped a couple corn tortillas with sliced pears, crumbled blue cheese, and slashes of buffalo sauce, and then placed it under the broiler until the cheese melted. The combo of sweet pears, tangy blue cheese, and spicy buffalo sauce on a base of a fresh corn tortillas was a symphonic blend that put me in a state of pure bliss.

So in conclusion: Go out and buy Maseca. Make some corn tortillas. Change your life. Most delicious life hack ever.

My Favorite Vegetarian/Vegan Spots in Nashville

DCXV Mural
DCXV Mural
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I spent the past summer in Nashville for work, mostly stuck on a college campus with a mediocre cafeteria that lacked quality vegetarian options but was free for me while I was there. I quickly burned through the limp salad bar and ate more grilled cheeses than I care to remember, so whenever I got the chance I took advantage of Nashville’s numerous delicious restaurants, including a few spots with stellar vegetarian/vegan menus. If you’re ever in the Music City, give them a try!  (I’m currently deeply longing for dosa from Woodlands.) Here they are in no particular order:
Sunflower Cafe is a vegan cafe located in a small old house with two huge spools painted like sunflowers in the front. Their most popular item seems to be their veggie burger, which is no surprise. It is, no lie, one of the best veggie burgers I’ve had. In fact, I had many a veggie burger here during the summer and it definitely cost me; it was hard to leave here for no less than $13-15…but then again I was a sucker for the great sides, like the peanut noodles, and the vegan chocolate rose cupcake.  It also has a great deck to eat outside and enjoy a great summer read like Beautiful Ruins.
Sunflower Burger
Sunflower Burger
Woodlands is a cozy little restaurant tucked away on West End — and I’m not saying “tucked away” to be cute.  I completely missed it the first time I tried finding it since it is at the bottom level of a building that looks like a hotel or apartment building. The menu offers an extensive variety of Indian food, all of which is vegetarian. I had dosa for the first time here and I fell in love. A giant crepe stuffed with delicious fillings that is so huge it hangs off the already giant plate? Can’t go wrong. (Oh, and the naan and chana masala are also amazing.)
Dosa_Woodlands
The Wild Cow, located in east Nashville, is a favorite spot in the city for vegan food. I was addicted to their vegan buffalo wings but they’ve got lots of great options, like sweet potato black bean tacos. With salads, tacos, appetizers, sweets, sandwiches, and other entrees – there’s definitely a little something to fit whatever mood you’re in. Unfortunately, as many times as I ate there, I couldn’t find a picture so I’ll leave you with a drive-by of the Nashville skyline until I can visit once again.
Nashville Skyline

What I’ve Been Cooking Up

A lot has changed since I last wrote.  Well, really one thing has changed but it’s a big thing:  I adopted a dog!  He’s retired racing greyhound named Dreamer, to be exact. I adopted him through a great organization called Greyhounds Only that rescues retired racers from tracks in Florida.  I had been thinking about adopting a dog for about a year; then I finally went to a Meet & Greet and fell in love with this guy.  It’s been 2 and a half months and I already can’t imagine life without him.  He’s a big sweetheart who just wants to nap and be friends with everyone.

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I can’t believe that it’s already 2014.  What’s harder to believe is that I only wrote 2 blog posts last year.  When WordPress sent my 2013 stats and I read that, I was horrified.  I thought, how did I let this happen? I swear I cooked in 2013!

This jolted me to revive this blog as part of my 2014 resolution to get back into writing.  I’ve neglected my creative side too long, and this is the year to change that.

So as a little warm-up, here’s a few recipes that I’ve had on repeat the past few months, as well as a creation of my own:

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Pancake for One from Food.com.  I went through a pancake phase, indulging myself in a different kind of pancake every Sunday, and it escalated to me finding a single-serving recipe I could quickly make during the week.  I just omitted all the optional ingredients in this recipe including the sugar and added chocolate chips.  It is really simple; I had the recipe memorized by my 3rd personal pancake breakfast.

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Vegan Black-Bean Quesadillas from Love My Vegan Life.  This quesadilla recipe has chipotle hummus instead of cheese and, strangely enough, it’s an perfect substitute!  The hummus lends it the creaminess you’d get from the cheese so you don’t even miss it.  I didn’t have pre-made chipotle hummus so I pureed a couple of chipotle peppers in adobo with red pepper hummus.

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 Tofu Popcorn “Chicken” from The Vedge.  This.  Just…this.  I made this quite a bit towards the end of 2013.  I never got it to look quite as “chicken-y” as she does in the blog, but I loved the flavor.  The coating is spot-on and when you have these the next day, they’re so close in texture (and almost taste!) to the animal version, it’s scary.  (I added a little hot sauce droplets to mine and dipped them in soy sauce.)

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BBQ Seitan Stuffed Sweet Potato with Mojo-Marinated Kale from ME!  I love sauce.  When I wasn’t a vegetarian, I loved barbecue and wings so much simply because the meat was a receptacle for delicious tangy, spicy sauces.  Once I learned how to make my own seitan, it wasn’t long before I started dressing it up in my favorite sauces.

Making seitan is actually not too intense of a process.  I use Terry Romero’s recipe from Viva Vegan, my go-to cookbook, but there are countless recipes out there.  You can also just buy ready-made seitan at some grocery stores.  I try to have some loaves on hand to make throwing together recipes, like BBQ stuffed potatoes, very quick and easy.

First I poked holes in my sweet potato and put it in the microwave to “bake” it.  Then I heated a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and sauteed the seitan until it was browned.  Then I turned the heat off, added barbecue sauce, and sauteed it for a few more minutes so that the seitan absorbed some of the sauce.  Next I split open my sweet potato and used a fork to mash the insides up a bit.  Finally I stuffed the seitan inside the potato and swooned over the delicious smell of slightly caramelized bbq sauce.

The mojo-marinated kale is also easy if you have the pre-made marinade.  Mojo is a citrusy garlic marinade used in Cuban cooking, and you can sometimes find it in the Latin section of the grocery store.  While I’d prefer to make my own to control the salt content, I had Goya brand marinade in the fridge so I put it to use.  I heated a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and then added some shredded kale.  I sauteed that for a couple minutes til it cooked down slightly.  Then I added a few splashes of mojo, put the heat on the lowest setting, covered the pot, and let it simmer for a few more minutes.  The citric bite of the marinade made kale way more exciting and tasty than I’ve ever experienced, and it seemed to pair well with the smoky bbq stuffed sweet potato.

…Now I realize that I haven’t really written a recipe.  Since this is something I just threw together a few times, I don’t quite have exact measurements to share; but I’ll definitely be eating this probably another 5 times, so I’ll be sure to update this blog sometime with an actual recipe.  Nevertheless, I hope it’ll inspire someone to do a culinary experiment of their own.  :)

Cheers to a new year!