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a Reno post…

Reno (22 months)

I thought I’d just do a quick Reno post tonight. Yesterday was her first trip to the beach this summer. Last year was a success at the beach for her as was this day trip on Wednesday with myself and my mother in law. We might even go again tomorrow!

The past few months have been really cool and frustrating at the same time..she runs, jumps, climbs, and talks now. She is obsessed and I mean OBSESSED with BOYS!! A bunch of boys will walk by and all of a sudden she is saying out the window “Hiiiii boooys!” She takes swimming lessons and has gone to some toddler gym classes.  She selfed named one of her dolls Coco. She like vegetables but has no idea she is actually eating them because if she did she would promptly spit them out. Her favorite food is seitan and she likes to drink Coconut Water.  She loves our 2 cats but they do not love her. CB bites her once a week and Riley hides in the closet and only comes out during nap time and bed time. She has recently developed her first fear. She is afraid of “fireBOOMS” more traditionally known as fireworks. On August 31st she will turn 2!


Beer Battered Seitan with Hidden Green Bean Mashed Potatoes

I love fried food. I wish it was good for you. Since it’s not I don’t eat it all the time but if I am going to eat it I want it to be battered in some way. Beer battered! Yum Yum! I can’t get enough of this stuff. It reminds me of my disgusting days when I would eat Chicken Crisper’s dipped in Honey Mustard from a popular chain restaurant. I would feel disgustingly sick after eat those and vow never to eat them again even though I would. I don’t feel sick after eating my own which is a good thing.

I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for awhile. The spices in it don’t give it a super specific taste but definitely add something to the flavor of the whole thing. I served this particular meal with some Hidden Green Bean Mashed Potatoes which is just my sneaky way to get Reno to eat her veggies which she is not doing these days. You basically throw in some frozen green beans into the boiling potatoes when they are just about done and mash them how you usually do. Its quite tasty.

Beer Battered Seitan

1 12oz bottle beer
1 to 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon chili powder

1 pound seitan, cut into strips about 1/2 in thick, boiled seitan works best
canola oil (or preferred oil of your choice)

Pour the beer in a large bowl then whisk in the first 1 cup of flour. It should resemble a nice thick pancake batter if it’s really thin then add the 1/2 cup of flour slowly until you have a nice thick batter. Stir in the salt, garlic powder, mustard powder and chili powder until combined. You don’t want to over stir the batter. Add the strips of seitan and toss until they are fully coated with the batter.

Fill a large frying pan about 1/2 an inch with canola oil and heat on high heat. When heated carefully place battered seitan into the oil, lower the flame to medium-high and fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Have a plate covered with paper towels or a clean paper bag to help absorb some of the excess oil.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or give everyone 1/2 a lemon to squeeze onto their beer battered seitan!

Maple-Buffalo Chickpea Nuggets

Maple-Buffalo Chickpea Nuggets w. Brussels Sprouts

I hate the word nuggets but still can’t think of anything better to call these and I’m not to fond of wingz either. I got the lovely idea from this post by the fabulous Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel. I’m a huge fan of the Chickpea Cutlets in Veganomicon and like to use them in a variety of ways but have never thought to use them in this way. I usually just use seitan or tofu when I make buffalo-style anything but the chickpea cutlets were perfect for it. Just perfect. They are so easy to make as well.

I followed Celine’s directions only up to the point of of baking them in the oven. I wanted to then bread and fry them like I usually do and like she did put I was all out of panko breadcrumbs and I don’t like to really use regular bread crumbs. So I baked them and then covered them in my Maple-Buffalo Sauce. I served them up with some sauteed Brussels Sprouts and then my sister and I dug in and our taste buds and bellies were completely satisfied.

I will definitely be bringing these to a potluck and serving them at my next party/gathering of sorts.

Vegan Soul Kitchen

Jamaican Veggie Patties

Have you ever gotten a new cookbook that was just love at first sight? I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry to review and it truly was love at first site. What’s not to love about a book that has a whole chapter on using the ENTIRE Watermelon! Zero waste watermelon! I’m still amazed at the concept. As I was quickly flipping through it and seeing the titles of all the recipes I realized that this would be a book that I would read from front to back (that night) just to make sure I didn’t miss a single thing.

As I usually do with new cookbooks I make a list of recipes I want to make right away and a grocery list. The problem was I wanted to make at least 15 dishes right away so I had to just narrow it down and save some for later.

I first went for the Jamaican Veggie Patties. I found them very easy to make even though I couldn’t find my rolling pin and just pressed out dough in single pieces to make “circles” for the filling. The crust was amazingly flaky and tasty and the veggie filling was creamy and delicious. I ate one cold out of the fridge the next day which sealed the deal that I will double the recipe every time I make it from now on.

Other recipes I tried were 2 sides. Simple Seared Green Beans and Roasted Sweet Potato Puree w. Coconut Milk. The Green Beans were good but you have to make a garlic oil first to make them. Which is a technique I can appreciate because I use to do it all the time in restaurants but to be honest I want to see the garlic in my green beans when I eat them. The Sweet Potato Puree was heavenly. You could totally skip the pureeing part of the recipe and have a damn good side dish for you meal.

I really can’t wait to cook more recipes from this book. It will be covered in food stains before you know it.

I beg you all to go out and buy this book and love it as much as I do. (and I’m not just saying that because the author went to the Natural Gourmet like I did.)

Daring Cooks

Ricotta Gnocchi

The people behind the Daring Bakers have started a new monthly cooking challenge called the Daring Cooks. I thought I’d sign myself up and give it a go. I’m glad I did. I’m beyond thrilled with the first challenge, Ricotta Gnocchi.

The very first thing that popped into my brain was the tofu ricotta recipe found in both Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance. I thought it would make a great base recipe for these delicate gnocchi. As I set out to make these I was pretty sure that it was going to be a huge FAIL, which has been a common feeling for me lately while trying out new ideas. Was it dumb to add some vital wheat gluten and miso paste? What about the tablespoon of melted butter that the original (non vegan) recipe called for? Why did I just ignore the fact that the recipe called for 2 eggs and I used no egg replacement at all?  I pretty much felt like I was wasting my precious Reno is napping I can do whatever I want time.

After I dropped my test piece of gnocchi into the simmering water my hopes were lifted since it didn’t just disintegrate into nothing. It dropped to the bottom and a minute or two later it floated to the top of the pot and was cooked. I fished it out and let it rest on the cutting board for a minute before cutting it in 1/2 and tasting it. Delicious! It was cheesy, it was pillowy, it was everything I thought it WOULDN’T be!!!! I was so surprised that it wasn’t just some ball of tofu that had all the flavor boiled out of it. I can’t wait to eat these again!

Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi

1 recipe of V’cons or VwaV tofu ricotta
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, melted
1 tablespoon mellow miso
about 2 cups All-purpose flour

1. Make the tofu ricotta according to the recipe in either book. Just make sure to mash it well until it is as smooth as you can make it. I use a spatula and press it against the bowl.

2. Stir in the Vital Wheat Gluten. Mix for a minute to help get the sticky gluten going.

3. Add the melted butter and miso paste and stir until all the ingredients are combined.

At this point bring a medium size pot of salted water to a boil and then lower to a simmer.

4. Dump the flour into a shallow dish.

5. Scoop 2-3 teaspoons of ricotta and form into oval shaped gnocchi and drop onto the flour plate. Cover the entire ball with flour. ONLY MAKE 1 GNOCCHI TO START. THIS IS YOUR TEST PIECE

6. Drop the single gnocchi into the simmering water. It should hold together*** and fall straight to the bottom of the pot. After a minute or 2 it will rise to the top. Remove it immediately.

7. If the test piece of gnocchi comes out in one piece then congratulations! Finish making the rest of them and cook a few at a time.

***If it breaks apart there is probably too much liquid in the dough. I didn’t have this problem but if you do I would suggest adding more vital wheat gluten or maybe some all purpose flour to the rest of the gnocchi dough to help hold it together more.

8. Serve ASAP with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

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