Monday, June 28, 2010

{Experiments from the Kitchen}

I'm really enjoying being a cook! At least pretending to be, anyway. :)

One of my goals for this month, as you might remember me prattling on about, is to try
some new vegetarian dishes that are full of produce. The long term plan -- to form better
cooking habits that lead to healthier eating patterns and to have fun with food, experimenting
with flavors that I love. The result -- It's happening, and I'm totally digging the process.
New recipes, quality ingredients, the feeling of accomplishment at following through.

For the most part, the stuff I've made has been well received! David said, and I quote, "I
have to say, I've really enjoyed our food lately." That was nice to hear. (Of course, there
was some less flattering commentary, too, but you can't win 'em all!) So, it's with general
confidence and feel goodery that I move forward to do more. Everything below is a new-
to-me recipe, made from the 11th 'til now, and they're all vegetarian.

Black Bean Stuffed Peppers --Another recipe borrowed from Cooking From Home, All
Year Long. I did half sweet potatoes and half yams ... just for color. They turned out okay.
The filling tasted great, but the peppers themselves were too soft and flat tasting. Next
time, I'd season the peppers before filling them, add cheese to the stuffing and cook them
for half the time. I think I'd add some jalapeƱos, too! This one has potential.

Tabbouleh-inspired salad with whole grain pilaf. I originally heard of Kashi Whole Grain Pilaf
from Liz. It looked right up my alley, and I meant to buy some but forgot about it soon after.
Then I saw it again in Body+Soul Magazine, (I think they're changing the name to Whole
Living, btw). They suggested this salad that includes some of my very favorite flavors. I
immediately got busy putting it together, and I loved it! So hearty and full of flavor. I felt
like I was taking care of myself with every bite. It includes the cooked pilaf, cucumbers,
scallion, tomato, parsley, lemon, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Delish!

Again, I used Kashi Whole Grain Pilaf, but I made a delicious, nutritious warm breakfast
cereal out of it. This idea also came from Body+Soul Magazine. I added milk, peaches, dried
cherries, sliced almonds, cinnamon, pure vanilla extract, and honey. Divine. (You could sub
any fresh or dried fruit.) It was a little on the sweet side. So, I could see making it without
the vanilla and honey, too, depending on the mood.

Sauce -- I had to make a tomato sauce for the cabbage rolls (below), but it just called for
putting whole canned tomatoes and onion in the food processor. I thought it might be a tad
boring. So, I punched it up -- adding mushroom, parsley, a few dried cherries, oregano, basil,
tomato paste, a scallion, crushed red pepper, garlic, and a few other things, it seems. When I
was done, I realized I just made sauce! It was so easy, and it gave me an opportunity to use
up some things from the vegetable drawer. Plus, no preservatives or added sugar. (Insert
angels singing.) It felt like a culinary victory for this girl who usually relies on recipes and
has always used store bought sauce. :)

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls -- This is one of those meals I have always loved but have never
made at home. In the an effort to change that, I Googled recipes and combined a few. Then,
I ad-libbed the sauce. I thought these were great. David -- not so much. He's not a huge fan
of the cabbage. The flavor was there, for sure, thanks to the sauce. But the sauce was thicker
then what tradition calls for with this dish. Also, the filling wasn't as dense or maybe even as
dynamic as you'd normally find in cabbage rolls. Still, I happily ate the whole batch through
the course of the week, and thought they were fabulous. I will experiment with these again.

And that ends my experimentation with food to date. It's been fun to try some new things
this month. I might have a chance to squeeze in one or two other new dishes before June is
over. I think a light salad will be in order tonight though, after all the eating and libations
from the long weekend away. Cheers!

1 comment:

Alejandra said...

Great job Sam. The food looks just beautiful. One fun thing that you may want to do is to start 'copying' dishes from your fave restaurants. It is always fun to taste something and try to replicate the dish at home. We found a ton of our books that were in storage. I will go through them to give you some recipes. Hugs.