polenta with tomatillo and avocado salsa, two ways

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Yesterday I bought some tomatillos at the farmer’s market. I’ve never cooked with them before, but I thought it would be fun to experiment with a new ingredient. I have had tomatillo sauces and salsas on occasion but I haven’t worked with them first hand. I started thinking about the different ingredients I had in my fridge and headed to my trusty recipe book: Google. I finally settled upon what turned out to be a Weight Watchers recipe: Mexican Poached Eggs Over Polenta with Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa.

Aside from desserts, I don’t think I could find many dishes that couldn’t be improved by putting a fried or poached egg on top. In fact, if I had to come up with a second choice for my blog title, it would probably be “Put An Egg On It.” This dish was great. I left out the tomatoes because I thought the tomatillos added enough tomato-like consistency and I didn’t have jalapeños on hand. I’ll have to pick some up this weekend at the farmer’s market. I liked the sweet and sour tartness of the tomatillos, the creaminess of the avocado and polenta, the kick from the chili powder and red onion, and the runny yolk of the poached egg melded everything together really well. It was filling and satisfying and one I would happily pay money for at my favorite restaurants.

Tonight I decided to change the recipe a little bit since I had meat at lunch this afternoon. As part of the Vegan Before 6 diet, I need to eat vegan for two meals a day so I decided to substitute tofu for the poached egg. I had about a half-sized portion of the salsa left over from last night, so I cut up a peach and threw that in with the avocado and tomatillos. I also thought I’d kick it up a notch and added cayenne pepper and smoked paprika to the dusting on the polenta and tofu. For the sake of presentation, I cut the tofu into a circle the same size as my polenta rounds and stacked it polenta-tofu-polenta, but you can do it however you want.

Tofu will never replace eggs permanently for me, but this dish was still quite good. The addition of the peaches counteracted the extra kick from the cayenne and I think will make a regular appearance in this salsa whenever I make it. I left my tofu to drain while I was out for a couple of hours, thinking it would save me time when I go home, but I think I ended up drying it out a bit too much. I might also try it with firm instead of extra-firm tofu next time to see if it will stay creamier like the polenta. I still really enjoyed it despite the tofu being a bit dry.

The recipe is below with the notes for making it vegan.

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mexican poached egg over polenta with tomatillo-avocado salsa

ingredients

  • 1 tsp white vinegar (for poaching the egg)
  • 1 egg (or a 1/2-inch thick slice of firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into a circle the same size as the polenta)
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • a pinch of garlic powder
  • a pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • a pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/2- to 1-inch thick slice of polenta from a prepared polenta log
  • 3-4 chopped tomatillos, boiled until soft (about 2-3 minutes)
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium peach, chopped (optional)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

directions

To poach the egg, fill a small saucepan half way up with water and place over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil and add the vinegar. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Crack the egg into a small dish or cup and gently slide the egg into the simmering water. Cook until the egg white has set, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel and cover to keep warm.

(If using tofu instead of an egg: Fold up a paper towel in a square large enough for your tofu to sit on. Place the paper towel on a small plate. Set the tofu on top of the paper towel, and take another paper towel and place it on top of the tofu. Set another plate on top of this and put a heavy weight on top of the plate — I used a can of pumpkin purée. Let your tofu drain for 10-15 minutes. Then follow the directions for the polenta below with regards to spicing it and frying it. You can use more than one tofu round if you want to make your stacks taller.)

Take your slice of polenta and sprinkle one side with the chili powder and garlic powder. If desired, you can add cayenne, paprika, or any other spice of your choosing. Place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add some olive oil. Cook polenta (and tofu) for 2-3 minutes on the non-spiced side. Flip over and dust the other side with spices and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The time will vary based on the thickness of your polenta (and tofu).

To make the salsa, combine the avocado, tomatillo, red onion, peach (optional) and cilantro in a bowl. Lightly coat with olive oil and lime juice, mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble, place your polenta round on a plate. Top with the poached egg and about 1 cup of the salsa. (I also splashed a bit of tabasco over the egg on a whim). Save any extra salsa as an accompaniment to your lunch or dinner the next day. (For the vegan option, stack your polenta and tofu rounds — I used two rounds of polenta and one round of tofu, but you could make it taller — start with polenta on the bottom and alternate with the tofu. Top with salsa and enjoy!)

Serves 1

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ginger peach muffins

This is the recipe I’ve been waiting for. As soon as I read this in the Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook the other night, I was chomping at the bit to make it. The only problem was that I didn’t have my grinder yet to grind up the flax seeds to make the flax egg. I’m not comfortable enough with baking yet, let alone vegan/plant-based baking, to make a substitution on my own. So I patiently bided my time until the UPS guy delivered my grinder. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I only had to wait two days, but it was a very long two days.

These muffins are amazing. Chock full of peaches, lots of spicy ginger, warm and gooey. I made one modification to the recipe, one that I was confident would improve upon these muffins. I grated a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger and folded it in with the peaches. I think it gives it an extra kick and takes these muffins over the edge. I might even like this better than the peach and ginger pie I made a few weeks ago — it’s a close call. The ginger-peach combination is really quite a perfect match!

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ginger peach muffins

from Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/4 cups spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup dry sweetener (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 medium peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated (optional)

 

directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with silicone liners or have ready a nonstick or silicone muffin pan. (Mine made 18 muffins, filled to the brim).

2. In a large measuring cup, use a fork to vigorously mix together the milk, flaxseed, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, or until it appears foamy. Set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, dry sweetener, baking powder, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Add the applesauce and vanilla and stir together with the milk mixture in the well. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the well just until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the peaches (and grated ginger, optional).

4. Fill each muffin cup all the way to the top. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center comes out clean.

5. Remove the pan from the oven. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove.

 

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banana bread, plant-based

It was back to school this week for me and I decided to try to find some plant-based baked goods that I could grab and go in the morning when I don’t have time to eat at home. I just finished reading through the Forks Over Knives cookbook and when I hit the dessert section, there were some fantastic baked goods in there that could easily be used as a breakfast. The first recipe I tried, since I had all the ingredients at hand, was the “Better-Than-Mom’s Banana Bread”. It’s made with whole wheat pastry flour so it’s a lot more bread-like than banana bread I’ve had in the past, which I think is closer to cake than bread. It was still very good and tasty, but I think I want to experiment with the recipe in the future to see if I can get it as moist as the banana bread I’m used to.

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better-than-mom’s banana bread

from Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Have ready an 8×4-inch nonstick or silicone baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana, maple syrup, applesauce, milk, and vanilla.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, mixing just until everything is evenly moistened.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Distribute the batter evenly along the length of the pan but don’t spread the batter to the edges; the batter will spread as it bakes. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. (Mine was done in 50 minutes). It’s hard to test for doneness with a knife because the banana tends to stay moist, so judge by the edges of bread. They should be golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan.

6. Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and carefully invert the loaf onto a cooling rack. Be sure it is fully cooled before slicing.

 

mung bean and lentil curry with eggplant and green tomato

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mung bean and lentil curry with eggplant and green tomato

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried mung beans
  • 1/2 cup dried green lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • half an onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 large green tomato, chopped
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 red chilis, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 cups mung bean water* (or vegetable stock or water)
  • ground cumin
  • ground coriander
  • turmeric
  • curry powder
  • ground chili
  • garam masala
  • salt
  • pepper
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice

directions

1. Rinse mung beans and bring to a boil in a pot with 3 cups of water. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour. Rinse lentils and add to the pot after the mung beans have cooked for one hour. (If using split mung beans, cook together with the lentils from the beginning). Add a little more water if necessary. Continue to simmer for 15-30 more minutes until the water has been absorbed and the beans and lentils are tender.  After you add the lentils to the pot, you can begin chopping and slicing your other ingredients.

2. In a large pan, add 1/2 cup of mung bean water (or stock or water) and bring to a boil. Add the onions and cook until water has evaporated. Add another 1/2 cup of mung bean water to deglaze the pan. Add the eggplant and green tomato and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the mung bean and lentil mixture to the pan and stir to incorporate with the onions, eggplant, and tomato. Add the grated ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, turmeric, curry powder, salt and pepper. I didn’t measure my spices, just added and adjusted to taste. I would suggest starting with approximately 1/2 tsp of each and adjust according to your liking — you really can’t go wrong with these spices (except the chili powder — if you don’t like a lot of heat, start with 1/4 tsp and taste before adding more). Stir to incorporate the spices into the bean mixture and cook for a few minutes. Add 2 more cups of the mung bean water or stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, continuing to cook for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, add a little bit of oil and toast the coriander seeds for 30 seconds. Add the crushed garlic and red chilis and continue cooking for a few minutes, being careful not to burn them. Add the garlic, chili, and coriander mixture to the beans and lentils and stir in. Continue simmering the bean and lentil mixture until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the beans, stirring occasionally, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Adjust the seasoning as needed throughout. Add a dash of garam masala and a squeeze of lemon juice before serving. Top with chopped cilantro and/or yogurt, if desired.

 

*What the heck is mung bean water? It’s the water I soaked my mung beans in. I’m in the process of sprouting my own mung bean sprouts (post to follow in a few days), and one of the first steps is to soak the beans in water for 8-12 hours. The website I’m following for sprouting instructions said that this water could be used for stock since it’s full of nutrients. So there you have it.

japanese potato salad

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I’ve been doing a lot of food blog surfing lately and stumbled upon a number of great Japanese home-cooking blogs. These are the foods that I miss the most — not sushi and the basic American-friendly foods you might find in the Japanese restaurants around here. The foods I miss are the ones that my friends’ mothers would serve us when they had us over for dinner. The mother in one household that my sisters and I visited often was a wonderful cook — I have great memories of the amazing dishes she would serve us. Before my parents moved away from Japan permanently, they had us all over for a farewell meal and she prepared all of my favorite dishes, included potato salad bread. I know, it’s starch on starch, but it was absolutely amazing.  Continue reading

peach and ginger pie

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I’m not a baker. I rarely make desserts. The main reason for this is that most dessert/baking requires precision and measuring, things that I’m not really inclined to do when I cook. Many baked goods can go horribly wrong if you’re not exact with your measurements and it’s just not what I’m comfortable with. Tonight, my shepherding group at church was having a corn roast and everyone was asked to bring a fruit pie for an informal pie contest. (!!!!!!!) I was perturbed at first, then I thought maybe I would just buy a pie and not enter it in the contest, and finally decided I would attempt to make one. Continue reading

shiitake and scallion japchae

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Japchae is a Korean noodle dish that you can make as simple or as complicated as you want. I chose to go simple last night and used shiitake mushrooms, scallions, and bean sprouts as my accompaniment to the bean threads. Bean threads are also known as Chinese vermicelli, glass noodles, cellophane noodles, crystal noodles and more. They are sold in a dry form and then boiled to reconstitute them to use in stir fries, soups, or spring rolls. When cooked, they become almost clear, glass-like. They don’t have any taste on their own, but they absorb the flavors of the other ingredients. Continue reading

bananas foster baked oatmeal

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Tonight was a breakfast for dinner kind of night. I don’t generally like to spend a lot of time preparing breakfast in the morning, so something that takes 40 minutes to bake isn’t going to happen, not even on a Saturday. Breakfast for dinner is the perfect opportunity to make something that takes a while to cook and usually isn’t too complicated. I find breakfast dishes to be comforting so it’s nice to eat them in the evening when I have time to really enjoy them. I didn’t plan on making this for dinner tonight, but things don’t usually go according to plan in my house. I adapted this recipe to what I had in my pantry, and I actually measured for a change since I’ve never baked oatmeal before. Mine isn’t as pretty as the original recipe because I forgot to layer bananas on top, and I didn’t bother with topping it with anything fancy for the photo since I wanted to hurry up and eat it!  Continue reading

mushroom, potato, barley soup

It’s July and I made soup for dinner. We’ve been having some unseasonably mild weather lately, so I decided to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and make some soup. I have been doing a lot of food blog surfing, looking for good vegan recipes to inspire me and I found a great one here. I made some variations since I wanted to use what I had on hand, and you already know I don’t usually bother with measuring unless absolutely necessary.  Continue reading

un-food post, photos from my garden

This post has nothing to do with food, lemons, or VB6. Enjoy a walk through my flower garden. If only everything were actually in bloom all at once as in these photos…that would truly be a sight to behold!

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