Back in the (New York) Groove

Alright, first off, I am NOT listening to Ace Frehley right now. Just clearing that up. I did however, have a bit of a Throwback Thursday (on a Friday) moment this morning, and decided to check up on this blog that I abandoned 3.5 years ago. Whaaaat?! Crazy how time flies. Perhaps you'll be happy to know that I have decided to resume writing. Perhaps you don't really care. Either way, I am doing this because I realized that, A) 'I am a fairly decent writer', and B) I'm a fairly decent cook. I grew overwhelmed before due to the frequency of my posts, but I think that one or two new updates /week in conjunction with other social media will suffice. So, to welcome this blog as officially Back In Business, I am going to start with a list of some things that have grown to be tried and true favorites of mine over this bit of time. Think of it as a mid-2014 recap:

Beyond Sushi- all vegan, super tasty sushi in NYC; they have been in business for about two years now, and I can't rave enough about them. No fake fish products are used; only creative veggie combos.  They catered the cocktail hour at my wedding and the sushi flew off of the trays. Highly recommended if you are in the East Village or Chelsea Market area for lunch or dinner.  They also have a great blog here.

Homemade coconut milk ice cream. Don't worry, pictures and recipes will be coming soon.

The Juice Press- I know, I know. We all can make juice at home, but sometimes, you just need a good juice when you are out and on the go. Made with a Norwalk,  these are some of the best tasting juices I have had, ever. They are not pasteurized, and are heavy on the things that are truly good for you. My favorite kick-starter is the Mother Earth, a combo of dandelion, lemon, kale, chard, parsley,   cucumber, and ginger. Not for the faint of heart. Good for your liver. And dare I say... Better than   coffee?

Black chickpeas. Just like regular chickpeas, except black. Which we all know is more bad-ass than beige. I also feel like they have a meatier bite to them. They look great in all sorts of dishes (black hummus, anyone?) and have a slightly different nutritional profile due to the darker color. For more information on this, a decent article can be found here. Worth seeking out in your local grocery or Indian market, where they will most likely be labeled as Kala Chana or Bengal Gram. 

My new 11 cup food processor. I know... many people own these. I did not until a few months ago. Want shredded cabbage in less than 30 seconds? All I have to say is: Yes please. 

Two new cookbooks, by two great vegan bloggers: 
Isa Does It!- The new offering by Isa Chandra Moskowitz- easy, quick, and tasty meals. Sooo good!
Oh She Glows cookbook- the first book from Angela Liddon, focusing on healthy and innovative recipes, many gluten free options, and more. 

So there you have it. My first foray back into the blogosphere. Signing out for now kids. 

Getting Back to Bean Basics

There tends to be debate over time/convenience/cooking meals quite often on message forums and even within your own home. Many of us lead busy, multi-tasking filled lives that do not allow for proper meal preparation, nutrition, or even just sitting down to eat at all. I find that the act of sitting down to eat a meal in the evening, whether it be at 7PM or at 9:30PM, is relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time.There is certainly something to be said for preparing a meal and enjoying the final outcome- you created it for yourself and family/friends; it was your desire to provide without the ruling hand of someone else leaning over you. Even after a long day at work, the act of cooking can be something that calms us, inspires us, and brings us back to homeostasis. I placed a picture of chickpeas (and an awesome skull shot glass) at the top of this post for the following reasons: 

a) to show that it is easy to master a task that is viewed as unattainable by some
b) to encourage you to adopt more basic, homespun, wholesome elements into your cooking process. 

Recently I became involved in a discussion on a message board regarding cooking beans and fitting it into a weekly/nitely dinner schedule. Many people on the board felt that cooking beans took too much time to invest in on a day to day cooking basis, even though the cost was considerably less expensive for organic dried beans, the taste and texture superior to canned, and added BPA and other chemicals non-existent (I don't need to tell you about BPA's, do I?) . Now allow me to offer up a bit of reality: Frank and I both work full-time jobs and engage in other outside activities as well. Granted we are only providing for the two of us, but time is still a precious commodity. And yet after a whole winter of talking about it last year, we managed to incorporate cooking dried beans into our weekly dinners this year. Here are some time-saving tips and ideas for you to incorporate punk-rock kick-ass home cooked beans into your schedule:

-We buy our beans in bulk, and for organic beans, they are less expensive and fresher than the non-organic Goyas that sit on the shelves for months at a time. Fresh dried beans will cook in very little time, especially with a nice long soak. We soak the beans from the morning when we leave for work (so 7:30), or if we remember, the nite before. This gives the beans at least a solid 10 hours of soaking time. With this amount of time, even chickpeas cook up for us in under an hour.

-Many people will cook beans in a pressure cooker; if that works for you, great. We live in an apartment in Brooklyn, and while decently sized, apartment dwelling keeps unnecessary owning at bay. Thus, we cook them on the stove, the boring way. Stove top cooking is greatly benefited by the use of a cast iron pot that will maintain even heat.

-Cooking beans in bulk and freezing for future use or using them throughout the week is a great way to maximize time. Conversely, if the thought of cooking 2 pounds of beans scares you, or you are the menu-planning type who also leads a busy schedule, figure out a day that is most convenient for you to cook your beans. Some people prefer weekends, etc. That way, when you need the beans later in the week for a quick meal, they are there.

-Start cooking your soaked beans either when you get in from work (you aren't going to start cooking right away, are you?!) or as you start prepping your vegetables, etc for your meal. Most beans do not need to be added until the end of cooking a dish anyways. 
If you put the beans up to cook when you get home, you can do whatever you need to do to unwind, and by the time you start dinner, they should be done. How easy is that? Not only did you just listen to your newly purchased She & Him record, but you have food too! Beans are pretty low key if you allow them to be. And they totally dig records.

-If you are intimidated, start with quick-cooking no-soak beans like lentils, black-eyed peas, and split peas.

So now! Go cook some beans!

Pop Art Stuffed Peppers

The winter here has been a bit bogged with mundane slumps and wretched snowstorms, which I am sure many of you are familiar with. How does one escape from winter? We could say vacation in exotic locales, listening to tropicalia music, or we could even say reading a fantastic book (I Am Not Sidney Poitier, by Percival Everett comes to mind), but I am a firm believer that colorful, exciting food helps as well. Hence, stuffed peppers. But not any stuffed peppers. Pop art. They are boldly colorful and just as flavorful, and in a winter where peppers have been at times 4 dollars/pound and tomatoes are reaching the throes of $6/pint, this warming south western-tinged dish is a breath of fresh air. The dish is even prepared a bit exotically by using a stovetop steaming for the peppers, which is perfect for a weeknite dinner for Frank and myself.  Serve with a contrasting green vegetable and perhaps a dollop of your favorite non-dairy sour cream for extra flair.

Pop-Art Stuffed Peppers

3-4 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (3 if super big, 4 if normal-sized)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1-2 chipotle peppers, depending on your heat tolerance
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup quinoa
24 oz. stewed or canned tomatoes (preferably golden tomatoes for contrast- ours were frozen from our CSA)
1 1/4 c. pinto beans

Directions for peppers: 
Cut peppers in half, either into long boats or into cups. If cutting into cups, leave stem tip in so pepper remains sealed. 
Trim out membrane and seeds, and place facedown in a 12-inch skillet filled with water. Steam over medium heat until crisp-tender, roughly 20-25 minutes.

Directions for quinoa filling:
In a medium sized dutch oven, steam saute onion and garlic until soft. 
Add in spices and chipotle, toasting for 1 minute. 
Stir in quinoa and tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then lower heat to simmer until liquid has been absorbed. The tomato liquid will act as a water substitute in this recipe; if you need more liquid add in water by 1/4 cup until quinoa is soft. When quinoa mixture has finished cooking, stir in beans to heat through.

To serve:
Using tongs, remove pepper halves from pan, and place in a colander to drain of excess water. Move peppers to a cutting board, and spoon filling into each pepper half. Place 2 halves on the most colorful plates you own alongside a green of your choice.

Back to Home Back to Top Red Beets & Rock and Roll. Theme ligneous by Bloggerized by Chica Blogger.