Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two dinners... (Early Days #2 & 3)

Quick post!

Things are still going well here with the new baby. The Emperor is starting to return to normal, for which we're all thankful. He and Josh are heading out to go to a wedding at Disney (the one in Florida, I have no idea which one is "land" and which one is "world") on Thursday and Wren and I will be staying home. My mother-in-law, who is a really lovely person, has come to stay with us while the gentlemen are gone. (I always feel sad for people who have troublesome or unpleasant in-laws. The troublesome/unpleasant people are all on *my* side of the family.) Should be time for a little blogging but we'll see...

I cooked dinner two nights in a row! So I've now made dinner um... 3 out of the 9 nights that I've been home since the little guy was born. 1/3rd. Not bad. Not quite back to normal, but we're working on it.

Here's last night's:

Dinner 1/30

Baked sweet potato fries with smoked paprika, and tofu and bok choy sauteed in soy sauce and fresh orange juice.

And here's tonight's:

Dinner 1/31

The Oh She Glows squash mac'n'cheez with steamed fresh broccoli. Tasty. I always buy frozen broccoli because I have convinced myself that it's just as good, especially for mixing in things which is what I usually do with it... but this fresh broccoli was so delicious that I wonder if maybe I've just been lying to myself about the broc. Hmm.

And in case you forgot what they look like, here are the little gentlemen:

The Emperor in a truck.


The baby... sleeping. SURPRISE.

Passed out

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Noodles with sauce (Early days #1)

Hey there internet! Guess what I did today? I cooked dinner! Exactly one week after cooking dinner for the last time before popping out that new baby. (Who still doesn't have an internet nickname. I'm really failing on this front.) Nothing too terribly exciting, but it was good to make something... I literally spent the rest of the day sleeping and nursing, sleeping and nursing. Which is quite pleasant, to be honest. I've found these early days quite relaxing this time around. I have no idea why I feel so differently than I did when the Emperor was a newborn-- I was on the edge of hysterics more or less constantly when he was tiny and definitely did not feel well rested or cheerful a week into it.

Anyhow, foooooood!

First post-pregnancy meal

Just some brown rice noodles with red sauce (jarred) and spinach (frozen), and some broth bread. Broth bread? It's like garlic bread, except that I didn't have any garlic powder so I used broth powder.

Funny story... I realized we were out of garlic powder so I decided to use some vegetable broth I found in the spice drawer. Now, whenever I buy powdered broth, I take a minute to write the reconstitution info on the bag somewhere. You know, 1 tbsp powder + 1 c of water or whatever. It varies by brand, and I like to be able to see it right there when I go to make some broth. So I thought it was a little strange when I pulled out this bag of broth and it didn't have anything written on it.

I figured that Josh must have bought it (happens sometimes) and not written the instructions on it... so I go ahead and start sprinkling it on the bread. About 2/3rds of the way through, I think to myself: this broth smells really bizarre. Sort of... sweet? Huh.

And then I taste it.

It's not broth powder.

It's chickpea flour.


Well, I shook it off and found some actual broth powder and the toast was edible, so all's well that ends well. And I laughed pretty hard on realizing I was starting my return to the kitchen with a near disaster.

Speaking of minor disasters, heh... here's a lovely photograph of the Emperor looking like he's just crawled out of a cave somewhere:

My lovable urchin

And here's one of that other guy too:

Distant gaze

Monday, January 23, 2012

Leftover casserole, latchkey lime pie, and oh, this guy... (Still Baking #19/#20)

You may have noticed my absence... that's because I went into labor on Thursday afternoon while making this:

Latin leftovers casserole

And this:

Latchkey Lime Pie

And on Friday, this guy was born:


The first thing is a casserole made of Latin-themed leftovers we had on hand-- some tomato sauce flavored with cumin and oregano, a layer of polenta, a layer of leftover black bean filling, a layer of black bean-nooch sauce dip, and finally, some crushed tortilla chips. We ate it with homemade guac on top.

The second thing is Latchkey Lime Pie from the PPK blog. I made a cinnamon cookie crust that's not GF, but the filling is GF and would taste delicious in anything. Highly recommended. (Though next time I'll bump up the zest.)

The third thing is Wren! The Emperor's little brother! He doesn't have an internet nickname yet... I'll get back to you guys on that.

We got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon and things have been pretty smooth so far. The Emperor is handling the situation with as much grace and aplomb as a 2 year old possibly can, which is to say... some grace. Some aplomb.

I'm hoping to return to blogging (with a new theme!) by the end of the month at the latest. We'll see!

In the meantime, here's a late daily Emperor! With company!

Hi baby!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pizza night! (Still Baking #18)

Technically I think this only the 16th thing I've baked this month, but bear with me, people! Skipping days mixes me all up.

The Emperor and I had a great day today... library, two parks, visit to Josh at work, coffee date, long walk, long nap, all in one day (though not in quite that order). And then, as if that wasn't enough! We ended the day by making pizza at home!

Pizza night

Well, this is semi-homemade, anyway. The crust is the whole wheat dough from TJ's fridge section. It's topped with a little plain tomato sauce, a sprinkling of Daiya, and a sprinkling of TJ's soyrizo. Tasty tasty. The Emperor usually refuses pizza these days but he gobbled this up and kept telling us how much he loved it. I think he eats more at home on days he doesn't go to preschool... I think they must give him huge portions or something because I keep stuffing food in him and he keeps asking for more.

Here's a random picture of him during out adventures today:

Fountain fingers

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No baking tonight...

My stomach's in despair again. (Again!) I never get any sort of stomach upset in my normal life, and I have to tell you, it's one aspect of pregnancy I will absolutely not miss.

While I don't have any food to share, I did still get a great picture of the Emperor pulling a sour face at bedtime. Here he is:

Someone's in a mood

Monday, January 16, 2012

Delicata & black bean roastadas (Still Baking #16)

Still pregnant. Not much to say on the non-food front other than that!

So today I finally got around to making something I have been DYING to make for this month's blog series: some tostadas made with baked delicata squash. Once again, I owe this dish's inspiration to Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan cookbook. Man, I love that book. This is my take on the butternut & black eyed pea tostadas recipe, using techniques and ingredients I had on hand. I'm calling them "roastadas" because unlike normal tostadas, the tortillas are very very lightly fried and then baked rather than deep fried. (I am terrified of deep frying.)

Delicata & black bean roastadas

Delicata & black bean roastadas
Makes 8 (serves 4ish, with copious leftover black bean mixture)

Squash layer:
3 delicata squash, halved & seeded
canola oil for spraying/lightly brushing
kosher salt for sprinkling
chile powder for sprinkling
1 tsp olive oil

Black bean layer:
1 large onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 serrano peppers, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
half a bunch of cilantro, minced
2 cans cooked black beans
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin

8 small corn tortillas
canola oil for spraying/lightly brushing

vegan cheese for sprinkling on top (optional)
1 avocado, sliced (optional)

1. First start the delicata layer: preheat the oven to 425F.
2. Put the delicata in a baking pan, cut side up. Lightly spray with canola oil (or brush), then salt very lightly, then sprinkle with chile powder to taste.
3. Bake delicata squash for 30 minutes. Start black bean layer when you put squash in the oven.
Note: leave the oven ON when you take the squash out.
4. Use a spoon to scrape the baked delicata out of its peel; this should be very very easy. If it's not, they're not baked enough. (Note: you can eat the peel if you want, and I usually do, but I think it would not be great for the texture of the mash.)
5. Use a potato masher or a fork to mash up the delicata into a fairly smooth paste. If it seems to dry, stir in the olive oil.

6. Black bean layer: spray a saucepan with canola oil (or put in about 1 tsp) and heat up over medium heat.
7. Add in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the garlic and serranos and cook another 2 minutes or so, til fragrant.
9. Mix in tomatoes, cilantro, black beans, salt, and cumin. Stir well.
10. Use a potato masher (or similar implement) to mash up the contents of the pan. You're going for a slightly chunky liquid with bits (onions and cilantro, maybe a few stray beans).
11. Cook for 10 minutes or until somewhat thickened; you want it to be slightly more liquidy than refried beans typically are, but along those lines. While it's cooking down, start the tortilla steps.
Note: you will have a LOT of leftover filling-- about 3c. I didn't want to put half a can of tomatoes in the fridge is all.

12. Tortillas: spray a cast iron (or maybe nonstick?) pan lightly with canola oil and heat over medium heat.
13. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
14. Add tortillas 2 at a time and cook until slightly crispy, about 1 minute per side. As each set of tortillas finish cooking, place them on the baking sheet. They will not be as crispy as a deep fried tostada, but they shouldn't be limp or floppy either.

15. Assembly: divide the delicata mash evenly between your 8 tortillas and use a spatula to spread filling out to the edges. (I didn't measure, but I'd say I used about 1/4-1/3 c mash for each tortilla.)
16. Now add a layer of the black bean mixture and use a spatula to spread that filling evenly over the squash layer.
17. Add a light sprinkling of vegan cheese (I used cheddar Daiya) on top of each roastada.
18. Put in oven and bake 10 minutes or until cheese gets melty.
19. Remove from oven and top with avocado slices.

Phew. That's a lot of steps. But it actually came together quite easily, and it was soooo yummy. The delicata layer is so sweet and lovely next to the spicy black bean layer. Yummers.

Not convinced? Look at how good these squash looked:

Roasted delicata squash

Josh and I really enjoyed this, though they were suuuuper filling and we had a hard time getting through 2 each. The Emperor ate one bite of the black bean layer and one (separate) bite of the delicata layer-- he told me the black beans were too spicy and the delicata squash was too warm. Then he proceeded to eat an entire avocado and a plain corn tortilla. Hey, whatever works.

He and I had a fun day today, wandering around downtown in the morning and then going to the park in the afternoon. Here he is at the park, engaging in one of his favorite pastimes: playing with sticks:

Sticks and shrubs

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Vegan pigs in bisquick blankets (Still Baking #15)

We're halfway through the month of January, and here I still am, still baking things! I have a bunch more ideas, some exciting, some not, but we'll see how many we actually get through...


Tonight's an old favorite: vegan pigs in blankets. These are one of the first foods Josh ever cooked for me. We used to make them with pre-made biscuits (the kind that come in a tube) and Morningstar Farms sausage links, back before they added eggs to those. (Whyyyyy?) They've evolved over the years though, as our diets and tastes and available products have changed.

This version uses Bisquick for the biscuit part. Almost as lazy as the tube biscuits, but actually somewhat less sketchy ingredientswise. The biscuits are wrapped around Smart Dogs... or Tofu Pups... I don't really remember. Whichever were cheaper at Trader Joe's.

We had a pretty lazy day overall... which is good. I think the Emperor and I are going to have some sort of adventure tomorrow, as from now on he'll only have preschool on Tuesdays & Thursdays. So we may as well adventure while the adventuring is good, know what I mean?

Speaking of "adventures"... oy. He fought his nap for an hour and a half today, at which point we just let him get up. Two hours later, he passed out cold while we were driving home from the grocery store. Like so asleep that he didn't even stir when Josh took him out of the car to put him in his bed. Kind of annoying, but also totally adorable. Proof:

Carseat snooze

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ginger baked pears (Still Baking #14)

Today's my due date! Well, maybe. It's today or tomorrow. In any case, I'm still here, with fetus still baking away. I go back and forth between feeling very, very close and feeling like I am going to be pregnant forever. The first one is more likely, really, but... you know how it is.

Tonight I'm kind of phoning it in. I'm not really in the baking mood. To tell the truth, my stomach has been a bit iffy all day and I didn't even want to eat dinner. (I had some crackers instead.) We still have citrus galette left over from the other day, so no need for a new dessert either. We even already have leftover energy bars! So I can't make them (or a variant) again. Grumble grumble.

Instead I decided to do another take on one of the easier things I've done this month, baked apples. I bought a bag of pears at Trader Joe's for suuuuper cheap the other day, but much like the apples I bought there, they just weren't that good on their own. (When will I learn?!) So I'm baking them up tonight, with plans for eating them tomorrow morning. Maybe with... waffles?! Maybe that's a little ambitious, but we'll see where we're at.

Ginger baked pear on pancake

In any case, they're still in the oven now. I'll pop a picture into this post tomorrowish, assuming they don't come out totally grotesque. (Picture above.) Same exact idea/execution as the baked apples from the other day, except I couldn't find the cardamom (where is the cardamom?! did I use it all? Usually I can locate it in the kitchen by scent, it smells so strongly. But my nose is giving me nothing and it's not in any of the normal places. Maybe I finished it!) so I subbed in ginger instead. Ginger and pears are good together, right? Well, we'll see how we like it vs the cardamom apples...

We took the Emperor out for a drive today and ended up at one of our favorite parks in the San Jose area, Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. It's been many months since we took him there last, and we discovered that since then, he has learned how to climb up a ladder. So now he can get up this very tall play structure which has essentially a balance beam at the top of it. It looks like it was engineered specifically to scare the crap out of parents. He LOVED it, naturally, and had a great time playing up there while I silently tried not to puke from terror and Josh stood nearby waiting to catch him.

Here's a picture of him on the balance beam-y part, with Josh's head in for reference as to the height of the structure:

Balancing act

Friday, January 13, 2012

No baking tonight...

Don't worry, I haven't had a baby and forgotten to tell you about it. I'm just not feeling like baking anything today, so I am taking a blogcation until tomorrow!

Well, almost. I did want to give a quick vegan shoutout while I'm posting anyway. Towards the end of October, someone on the PPK linked me to a Kickstarter page for a vegan baker who was trying to raise funds for a commercial oven in order to open a vegan baked goods kitchen in a coffee shop in Milwaukee of all places. It sounded like such a sweet (no pun intended) project to me that I gave $25-- not a ton but hey, every bit counts, right? Today I received an awesome little thank you package in the mail with some stuff from the bakery, Compassionate Cake. (The coffee shop they sell at is Brewing Grounds for Change, which you can find on Facebook.)

Obviously I can't speak to the actual location as I'm on the other side of the country, but I can tell you that the treats they mailed me-- an assortment of vegan cookies-- are bangin'. The Emperor and I split a cinnamon-sugar biscotti, and as soon as I took a bite of it, I regretted agreeing to share it with him. That's right. It was so good, I didn't want to share it with my 2 year old. That's meaningful!

Anyway, if you're in the Milwaukee area, go eat something there and tell me about it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mixed citrus galette (Still Baking #12)

Do you ever wonder why it is that no one bakes with oranges? I think about this often. It seems so weird when you consider that other citrus-- lemons, limes, even grapefruits-- end up in baked desserts all the time. But you almost never see oranges in baking. I think maybe it's because they haven't got that strong of a flavor, or perhaps they're too... watery? I don't know. But every now and again I like to make a dessert with them anyway just to play around.

I bought 5 lbs of navel oranges for $5 at the farmer's market yesterday... they're so sweet and yummy and good that the Emperor and I ate three of them between the two of us for breakfast this morning. I used another five (!) in this dessert so we're already halfway through our oranges. Maybe I should have bought 10 lbs after all.

Here's what I made with them:

Mixed citrus galette

It's a galette with a layer of mixed citrus (several lemons from our tree, a cara cara orange, and two navels) curd topped with slices of lemon and orange. The recipe is not quite right yet so I'm not posting it (also I am very lazy). It's yummy but just not spot on.... I think I would have liked more lemon and less orange and probably less curd over all. The orange seems REALLY sweet to me, though everyone else in the house thought it was right on.

It's a good concept though, and one I'll have to work on...

Finally, daily Emperor:

A boy, an apple

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baked everything for dinner! (Still Baking #11)

Today I couldn't decide on something to bake. Then it hit me: bake ALL THE THINGS. I had a lovely trip to the farmer's market with friend Sophia and her gentleman, and then I came home and foraged around to see just how much of last week's produce I had left. Actually, I didn't have as much stuff as I thought I did, which was mildly disappointing (since I mostly bought oranges this week... sweet, sweet oranges), but I DID find some great things to bake. Enough to get me through to the weekend at least, and enough to bake a ton of stuff tonight!

Namely: a sweet potato and some broccoli! And some tofu. Here's the resulting plate:

Baked everything!  Even the broccoli

Sweet potato - I cut it into wedges, tossed them with 2 tsps of olive oil and baked at 400F for 35 minutes, then broiled for about 5 minutes on my broiler's low setting. I read somewhere that they stay crispier if you salt them after roasting, so I tested that theory and I'm suitably convinced. They weren't as mushy as when I roast them with salt on them first.

Broccoli - tossed with another tsp of olive oil and some salt (added pre-roasting), then roasted for 15 minutes.

Tofu - cut into sticks, tossed with about a tbsp soy sauce, a tsp sriracha, a tsp olive oil, juice and zest of one navel orange, and 2 tbsps water (it was a little too salty/spicy without), then baked at 400F for 35 minutes. Took it out right before I broiled the sweet potato wedges, and it was perfect.

I also made a creamy sriracha dipping sauce for the sweet potato fries. So technically we did eat something that wasn't baked. It was yummy though, so shhhhh.

The Emperor liked and ate all of it. I had put his plate on the table right before he got home from preschool and he ran to the table to see what we were having for dinner... saw the sweet potatoes on his plate... and shouted "OOOOH! We're having FRENCH FRIES!" then added "And BROCCOLI!" with equal enthusiasm. He too declared all components of the meal yummy.

Speaking of yummy, look at this snack I had earlier:

Happiness is... A ripe pomelo

That was an amazing pomelo.

And speaking of amazing, I never fail to be amazed by how much we generate in the way of fruit/vegetable scraps. This is ONE meal worth of compostables:

Compost makes the flowers grow

Vegans make the flowers grow! Well, these vegans make my landlords' flowers grow, anyway. (It's a good trade.)

While I'm posting a ton of photos, how about one of my crazy belly? Look at this thing. It's out of control:

39.5 weeks

I was in a greater amount of despair about my appearance by this point in my pregnancy with the Emperor, so I didn't take any pictures. That's kinda sad. I'd like to be able to compare.

And finally, of course, here is the Emperor, throwing his head back with glee and almost falling out of my lap as a result:


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Baked individual hash browns! (Still Baking #10)

Today ought to have added up to a great day for me-- I had a wonderful long bike ride in amazing weather, I spent several hours doing deep cleaning/reorganization stuff that I've been trying to find time to do for months, and I watched old Project Runway episodes. But thanks to the crazy hormonal rollercoaster I've been on for the past week or two (after a fairly even-tempered pregnancy), I am just down in the dumps all the same. SO bummed out that I didn't even want to make myself a dessert to cheer up. So instead: baked potatoes.

But cheer up, internet. Don't *you* be sad about this. They're GOOD potatoes. Lookit:

Individual baked hash browns

They're the baked hashbrowns from Vegan Brunch. This is a recipe I've passed over several times because I always think "oh I already know how to make hashbrowns." But I love the idea of doing individual servings rather than one huge pan of hashbrown, and well, they're a baked item so what the hey. I decided to give it a go.

Baked hash browns with tofu & kale

I only made a half batch which was wise-- we ate them with tofu scramble and sauteed kale and despite our combined eating effort (the Emperor ate them too!) we still had 2 of the 6 left. They turned out really tasty, and I actually enjoyed them more than many greasy pan hashbrowns I've had over the years.

And I have to admit, there's something that always cheers me up about breakfast for dinner... I may not be back to 100% cheerfulness but I do feel a little better.

Here's the Emperor reading before bed. This is his FAVORITE book lately. I don't like reading it to him (just not that into poo related books) but he and Josh have a great time with it.

A favorite book (of his)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Secret squash energy bars (Still Baking #9)

Okay, so this morning I got up with the Emperor and sat down to eat breakfast with him. Upon seeing leftover scone on his plate, his lip began trembling. Yes! Really! He gave me a 2 year old lip tremble! "Mommy, I don't want a scone for breakfast. I want a bar. Remember, we made bars? I want a bar."

And for the briefest glimmer of a moment, I felt like super mean mom as I informed him that we did not have any bars and he would be forced to eat a scone instead. Then I came to my senses and remembered that if it were just Josh at home with him, he'd be eating slices of dried mango and rice cakes for breakfast and that he is by no means underprivileged because he had to eat a SCONE of all things for breakfast!

But I *did* take it as an excuse to make more energy bars tonight after he went to bed. I played around with the ingredients enough that I want to record them again. I'm not going to write out the steps because they're basically the same as for the cranberry chocolate chip energy bars I posted last week.

More energy bars

GF Chocolate-cranberry energy bars... with secret squash!
makes 12 smallish bars

1c oats (regular)
1c steel cut oats (because I accidentally bought these when I meant to buy more normal oats!)
1/4c almond meal
2 tbsps soy flour
4 tbsps quinoa flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4c chocolate chips
1/2c dried cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2c peanut butter
1/4c agave nectar
1 1/4c canned butternut squash (or pumpkin)

I cut out the dry sugar because I thought they were too sweet last time. And I had half a can of butternut squash left after making the Oh She Glows butternut squash mac'n'cheeze (which is phenomenal! even the Emperor liked it!) for dinner tonight so I figured what the hey, might as well use that as our binder. Just a couple of other little tweaks... these are cooling right now so we'll see how I like them vs the last batch tomorrow. The uncooked batter tasted better though.

Sad to say, I didn't get to spend much time with the Emperor today... I got home late after a doctor appointment and he had to go to bed somewhat early after a busy day of preschool. So about the only time I got to spend with him was pre-bedtime prep-- book reading and tooth brushing. So today's picture is more tooth brushing:

Yet more dental hygiene

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Whole wheat cranberry scones (Still Baking #8)

Still here! Still pregnant! Today is a small milestone in that I'm now officially a week away from my due date, whether you use the 14th or the 15th. It could be either-- my OB has been using the 14th, I've been giving people the 15th. Whichever you use, I'm a week or less out from it! Which means that in 3 weeks or less, I'll be out the other side.

Yesterday while we were up in Los Gatos, I got a vegan cranberry scone from a coffee shop to eat on the way home because I was starving. The Emperor asked for a bite and proceeded to eat all but 3 small bites of it, which he gave to me over the course of his dining session while telling me "look mommy, I'm sharing. I'm doing a good job of sharing." Yeah, you're doing a great job of sharing... my snack! Oh well. I enjoyed the couple of bites I had of it, and it ended up inspiring today's baked goodies: a batch of cranberry scones for breakfast for the next couple of days!

After camera+ tweaking

I wanted to try de-glutenizing these but I chickened out. There's a LOT of flour relative to the other ingredients and I just wasn't up to the challenge at 6:30 a.m., which is when the Emperor woke me up and we started baking these. Maybe next time! They were so yummy that I'd love to be able to make them for anyone on short notice...

This is the basic scone recipe from Vegan Brunch (formerly published in Vegan with a Vengeance, I think) with 1 1/2c dried cranberries mixed in. And whole wheat flour subbed in for the AP. And earth balance for the vegetable shortening because I'm out of shortening. And some lemon extract thrown in because I love lemon extract.

Tasty, not too sweet, and satisfying to everyone in this house. I think the Emperor ate FOUR of them over the course of the day. (I got 18 out of the recipe, though, so these are smaller than some.)

He was in kind of a nutty mood today. I saw this face a LOT:

Candid photography

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Baked cardamom apples and vanilla ice cream (Still Baking #7)

Something simple tonight! I often forget to bake anything with apples because I like to eat them straight up so much. But then I'm always amazed by how freakin' tasty they are if you bake them. Really, doesn't matter what spices you use, whether or not you use additional sugar, etc, there's just something magical about a nice soft baked apple.

These are pretty all-out for baked apples. They're a nice way to dress up some apples you maybe got from Trader Joe's for $2 for a sack and then realized were kinda light on the flavor compared to the apples you usually eat. Or make them with really good apples for a super decadent apple treat sometime. Your call!

Baked cardamom apples

Baked cardamom apples
Serves 5 (or however many apples you make)

5 medium apples
10 tsps brown sugar (or 2 tsps per apple)
2 1/2 tsps cardamom (1/2 tsp per apple)
1 tsp cinnamon (like 1/4 tsp per apple, this one doesn't scale as well... just not a ton of cinnamon)

2 1/2 tsps earth balance or other vegan butter (1/2 tsp per apple)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Halve the apples and scoop out the seeds.
3. Put about 1/4 tsp earth balance in the emptied out portion of each half. (You want 1/2 tsp spread across the entire apple.)
4. Mix together the rest of the ingredients (sugar, cardamom, cinnamon) in a small bowl.
5. Spread about 1 tbsp of dry filling across one apple (so like 1/2 tbsp per half). Concentrate on the cavity with the EB, but feel free to sprinkle some around on the rest of the apple innard too.
6. Stick apple halves back together, and stand them up on end in a baking dish.
7. Bake for 45 minutes.

They'll look kinda like this when they're done:

Pan of baked apples

That's it! We ate ours with scoops of vanilla soy ice cream from TJ's. Super tasty.

Here's your daily Emperor. We went up to Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos today-- cool little park with a miniature train and a carousel as well as a gigantic playground. We mostly played on the playground today but also took the train once and rode the horsies once. You can see how excited the Emperor was about the train:

Train revisited

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baked stuffed kabocha squash (Still Baking #6)

So, last night: long story short, my uterus went CRAZY. I thought perhaps I was in early labor. But after about seven hours of madness, everything suddenly ceased and it's been all quiet on the western (southern?) front since then. Let me tell you, I grow extraordinarily weary of this.

ANYWAY, before that excitement happened, I finally got around to making something I've had in my queue for some time: this lovely kabocha squash that I bought in... hm... October, according to Flickr. Yes, it's THIS kabocha squash:

Pumpkin with a pumpkin

Really? Maybe I'm confused... I feel like I had Josh buy another one recently and we're back to 0 kabochas on hand now, so maybe it's a different one. I dunno.

I knew I wanted to bake/roast the squash but went back and forth on what to serve with it. Cut it into wedges and serve it as kabocha fries with tofu nuggets and some kale? Roast it and then puree it into soup? Etc. But when I looked around my kitchen and saw that I had two stale ends of bread loaves (the bread from Jan 1st), three partially used bunches of herbs, and some leeks and celery that didn't have a whole lot of life left in them, the answer became obvious: STUFFING!

Stuffed kabocha

Baked kabocha with bread stuffing
Serves 4-6

1 medium kabocha squash
canola oil for lightly brushing

1/4c earth balance or an equivalent amount of your favorite cooking oil
6 small leeks sliced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 package TJ's chicken-less strips (8 oz diced tofu would work well here too)

4c cubed stale bread
finely chopped herbs of your choice-- I used most of a bunch of sage, rosemary, and thyme-- divided in half
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

1. First, start the squash: preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Slice the kabocha squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the guts and set aside. (You can roast the seeds just like pumpkin seeds, but I didn't because I am lazy. To the compost bin!)
3. Lightly brush cut side of the squash with oil, then place cut side down on a prepared baking sheet. The squash will produce liquid as it bakes so I highly recommend a rimmed baking sheet/dish here!
4. Bake for 35 minutes.

5. Now, the stuffing: melt earth balance in a large saute pan over medium-low heat.
6. When EB is melted, increase heat to medium and add in sliced leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
7. Add in diced celery and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Finally, add in the protein (chicken-less strips or tofu) and half of your chopped herbs, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

9. While waiting in steps 6-8, mix together the remaining stuffing ingredients in a large bowl: stale bread, half of the chopped herbs, salt, black pepper.
10. When leek mixture is done cooking, pour/scrape into the bowl with the bread in and it and toss well. It should be somewhat moist-- if it seems bone dry, you can add 2 tbsps of soy milk or a little more earth balance.

11. When the squash has baked for 35 minutes, remove from oven and flip halves over so that they are bowls. Stuff each side with stuffing. You can pack it in as firmly as you please, but your squash will probably be pretty fragile so just be mindful that you're not splitting open the sides.
12. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until stuffing is browned on top.

We found that a quarter of a squash (half of one of the halves) made for a hearty dinner for each adult. Like so:

More kabocha

It turned out really yummy. To our surprise, the Emperor liked it too-- he tried everything except the celery and didn't freak out about the fact that there were like, herbs, TOUCHING THE REST OF HIS FOOD. This is big, people. He expressed mixed feelings about the squash itself-- "I don't know if this is yummy"-- but loved the cooked bread and chicken-less strips.

Here is a picture I snapped of him in bed. It's not very good but like I mentioned, I was pretty distracted at the time. It does capture our recent bedtime zeitgeists though:


Footie jammies (glow in the dark dinosaurs), Funny Baby, water bottle, and an awesome red quilt one of Josh's former co-workers made for him. All the important things for bedtime.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tapioca Macaroon Pie (Still Baking #5)

Today wasn't great for me. I was just very glum all day, didn't do much of consequence, felt physically crummy towards the end of the day. It was definitely a day where I needed a pick me up.

So naturally... I made pie!

I have to tell you that the photographs of this pie are really horrid, and I know that. But it is SO GOOD that I hope you'll consider giving it a try anyway. The crust is a variation on this one I found on Eat the Cookie. Oh man, I found that blog from random googling and I am SO excited to browse through it now-- though not a solely vegan blog, it looks like it has a ton of vegan yummies.

Tapioca macaroon pie

Tapioca Macaroon Pie
makes 1 9" pie

Macaroon crust:
1/4c soy-free Earth Balance (or your choice of vegan butter)
3 tbsps agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1c finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1c almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Tapioca filling:
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/4c water
3 tbsps tapioca pearls
3 tbsps tapioca flour
1/2c finely shredded unsweetened coconut
pinch of salt
1/4c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. First make the crust: preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9" pie plate.
2. Place Earth Balance & agave nectar in small saucepan over low heat and cook, whisking occasionally, until EB is melted.
3. While EB/agave combo cooks, mix together the dry ingredients (coconut, almond meal, baking powder, salt) in a mixing bowl.
4. When EB is melted, remove pan from heat and whisk in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
5. Pour the liquid in the bowl of dry ingredients and use a spatula to mix well.
6. Press mixture into a thin, even layer in your pie plate.
7. Cook for 14 minutes or until crust is a light, toasty brown and smells amazing.
8. Cool for about an hour.

9. While the crust is cooling, make the tapioca filling: combine all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan and allow to soak (to soften tapioca) for at least 30 minutes.
10. Heat over medium-low heat until bubbling. It will thicken VERY quickly-- mine started to get pretty thick before it even started to bubble.
11. Once bubbling, cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring constantly. Taste for doneness (who wants undercooked tapioca?) and provided it's not crunchy, remove from heat.
12. Whisk in your vanilla extract.

13. Pour tapioca filling into macaroon crust, smooth down with spatula, and put the whole thing in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

Here's another picture of a single slice of this:

Slice of pie

Ugh, SO good. Why have I never put tapioca in pie before?! I think this would be extra great with a layer of citrus curd in there somewhere-- perhaps a very thin layer between crust and tapioca. It's really tasty as is, though.

Finally, here's your daily Emperor. He's looking very serious while eating his dinner:

Thoughtful dinner

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Three Corn Casserole (Still Baking #4)

Today I had my first day of maternity leave, and it was blissful. I still woke up at 4:30 a.m. (oops) but lazed on the couch for a few hours afterwards, had a good snuggle with the Emperor, helped him get ready for preschool, went downtown and had a long leisurely coffee and did a bit of knitting, walked for an hour and ended up somewhere in SC I've never been before (Neary Lagoon, a beautiful little wildlife preserve/park), ate a bagel, and went to the farmer's market. At the market, I ran into my friends Amey and Sophia, which was a great surprise! It made a good day even better.

I mentioned that I was buying a few things (no spoilers!) at the market to use in this month's theme and Amey was surprised-- she said she thought I'd be doing all breads and cookies. Ha! Tempting! But I'm baking a few non-sweeties this month too, including tonight's dinner.

This is something I just slapped together but it turned out really well, so I'm going to post the recipe. It owes an inspirational debt to the tortilla casserole recipe in Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, one of my all time favorite cookbooks. I made that tortilla casserole many many moons ago and have thought of it many many times since... this is sort of like a lazier, cornier version of it with stuff I had on hand.

3 corn casserole

Three Corn Casserole
Serves 6-8

1c prepared enchilada sauce
1c leftover spaghetti sauce
(or another combo of red sauces, it doesn't really matter)
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped

1 batch cashew ricotta from Veganomicon
(or 2c of your favorite tofu/nut ricotta)

6 small corn tortillas
1 tube prepared polenta
1/2c coarsely crushed tortilla chips

1. Preheat oven to 375F and get out a large baking dish (I used a large oval dish, but your standard 9x13 should work here as well).
1. Combine your sauces and swiss chard in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
2. Simmer til swiss chard is tender and sauces are combined, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove sauce from heat.
4. Spoon about 1/2c of your sauce into bottom of baking dish.
5. Lay down 2 of the corn tortillas.
6. Spread a layer of cashew ricotta over the tortillas.
7. Crumble a layer of polenta on top of the ricotta.
8. Pour another 1/2c of sauce over the polenta layer.
9. Repeat steps 5-8 til you run out of sauce. You should have some cashew ricotta leftover at this point.
10. Cover baking dish with tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes.
11. Pull dish out and plop on the remaining ricotta by the small spoonful.
12. Sprinkle crushed chips over the top of the dish.
13. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Et voila! Lazy but tasty (and extraordinarily filling) tortilla casserole. We all really enjoyed it-- even the Emperor, who generally will not eat anything where the ingredients are mixed together like this but made an exception for a dish that contained tofu, polenta, tortillas, AND tortilla chips-- and have a ton leftover to put in the freezer for baby time. My only regret is the sauce... I wish I'd bought enough enchilada sauce to use that entirely instead of having to cut it with the spaghetti sauce, which was fine but reduced the flavor overall.

The Emperor did still ask for snack before bed (a demand we almost never acquiesce to; my general feeling is that he should eat enough at dinner to not be hungry again before bed) and since he had eaten a legit amount of dinner, he did get a cookie. Here he is enjoying it:

Eating a cookie

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Baked pancakes, a bit of a flop (Still Baking #3)

On the upside: today was my last day of work! I am on leave now! WOOOOOO!

On the downside: today I also had to take down the Christmas tree so that the city could recycle it. (They mulch the trees and use the mulch in playgrounds throughout the county. That's pretty sweet, you have to admit.) That made me really sad and totally threw my mood off...

And so I was in a haphazard mood when I entered the kitchen, and not paying a lot of attention to what I was doing...

Which is probably why I ended up with these:


Baked pancakes. They tasted better than they looked, which was almost a necessity considering just how bad they looked when they came out of the oven. They were a little on the too whole wheaty side (I'm out of white whole wheat flour and only have straight up gritty whole wheat flour) but once I spritzed them with lemon juice and sprinkled on some demerara sugar, they were passable. The Emperor really liked them-- he's always happy to have pancakes for dinner-- so I guess they weren't really a failure, they just felt that way.

Well, I did agree to embrace my failures in 2012, so I guess I may as well start Jan 3rd!

Last but not least, here's your daily Emperor. I think there's something adorable about him brushing his teeth. It may be a mom thing.

Teeth again

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gluten-free chocolate-cranberry energy bars (Still Baking #2)

Hey! You know what I haven't posted in a while? A recipe for something! I'm going to change that today with an easy energy bar recipe. This is based on a recipe in Sarah Matheny's Peas and Thank You. I de-glutenized it and added a few tweaks of my own, but if you like it, I recommend checking out her book... which has another super yummy (and already GF) energy bar recipe I keep meaning to try.

Energy bars

Here's my version, in any case:

GF Chocolate-cranberry energy bars
makes 12 smallish bars

3 tbsp ground flax seed
6 tbsps water

2c oats
1/4c almond meal
3 tbsps soy flour
3 tbsps quinoa flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4c sugar
1/4c chocolate chips
1/2c dried cranberries

6 tbsps peanut butter
2 tbsps tahini
1/4c agave nectar

1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper. (Or spray if you want to. I like parchment paper because I am so lazy.)
2. Mix together flax and water in a small bowl and set aside to get good and gooey.
3. Put all the dry ingredients (oats, almond meal, soy flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, chocolate chips, cranberries) in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
4. Dump flax-water mixture, peanut butter, tahini, and agave in on top of dry ingredients and mix vigorously.
5. Spread out the mixture (which will be ugly as sin) in your baking dish.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, then allow to cool for at least another 15 before digging in.

And that's it! You know how I am always hating on quinoa flour and how it tastes so quinoa-y. You actually can't taste it in this recipe. Must be hidden under all the other deliciousness.

I do think these came out a touch too sweet. I had already decreased the sweetener slightly from the P&TY recipe but would go further next time-- maybe cut out the dry sugar entirely and see how they hold up with just the agave. The cranberries and the chocolate chips make these sweet enough already.

We used up the end of the peanut butter making these, and the Emperor asked if he could have a taste of the PB so I just gave him the jar and a spoon, figuring he'd give up pretty soon after realizing there wasn't much left to scoop up. But he really went to town making sure he got every bit of peanut butter he could get out of that jar... here he is fishing for more:

Peanut butter problem

Obviously peanut butter is very serious business.