Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Risky Business

Today was an epic day. I. Invented. A. Recipe. This is a big deal. As adept as I may have felt in the kitchen before now, it was always as a result of my faith in the trustworthiness of recipes. I followed them to the letter, and most of the time, I liked the results. But lately, as I've been cooking more and cooking healthier, there have been times where I'll come across a recipe and think, "Hmm, that sounds decent, but adding *blank* or removing *blank* or substituting *blank* for *blank* might make it even better!" The results of my additions and alterations were also generally good and all of this confidence-building led up to tonight, where I decided to make something to go with some leftover polenta.

(Side note: When I was in college, I tasted polenta for the first time and thought it was disgusting. Then, a few weeks ago at the bakery, one of the owners made us polenta for lunch. I originally turned my nose up at it, explaining my hatred for it, only to be cajoled into trying it and discovered that polenta is by no means disgusting, it is FREAKING DELICIOUS. Which then inspired me to make my own polenta, so I pulled out my trusty vegan cookbook and found a recipe for Pesto-Infused Polenta with Portobellos. Then I made that, adding my own flare of balsamic vinegar to the cooking mushrooms and we ended up with a meal of pesto polenta with garlickly, vinegary, tender mushrooms to heap on top. The only hiccup to that meal was that because the floor of our apartment slants, the stove is also slanted, and two of the polenta slices slid off the cookie sheet in the oven, falling through the grates and onto the flaming gas. They were recovered, slightly mangled, but still edible. We ate all the mushrooms that night and so I had some leftover polenta to deal with.)

So we've had a 28 oz can of whole stewed tomatoes with basil in the cupboard for over a year. Because of the basil, I've never used it in a recipe - until now. I was determined. I built a dinner around the jar of freaking tomatoes. It was so easy, I can't wait to make up more recipes. First, I sauteed some garlic and onions in olive oil until the onions were soft (I love this beginning to almost any recipe, especially when there are lots of onions involved. Alix can live with my bad breath, I don't care.). Then, I cut up the tomatoes in irregular chunks and added them to the pot over low heat. I also added a can of white cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), as well as salt, pepper, oregano, and hot pepper flakes. I let it all simmer while I pan-seared the polenta with some cooking spray, and voila - dinner! I grated some parmesan cheese on top of the whole mess and the meal was enjoyed by all.

Because today was my day off, I got super industrious and made two kinds of bread. The one that was more effort, a whole wheat egg bread was less than spectacular. It tasted like dense, healthy challah, and we all know that challah is only good if it is fluffy and bad for you. The other bread was from my vegan book, and it was a quick bread that took less than ten minutes to put together, and an hour to bake. It was flavored with molasses, chopped pecans (the recipe called for walnuts, but we didn't have any), and raisins. The bread was dense, dark, not too sweet, and perfect warm from the oven. I'm so excited by all of the delicious vegan things I'm finding I can make without noticing anything "missing"! Even the dinner tonight would have been vegan if the pesto didn't contain cheese (easy enough to leave out) and we hadn't put cheese on top (also easy to leave out).

In working out news - Alix is studying for finals and so is off the hook for now. I, however, have no such excuse and so am back to the regimen. I sadly gained back the 4-5 pounds I had lost during the Thanksgiving/vacation laziness, but this is the third day in a row that I have Jillian Michaels-ed it all on my own and I'm keeping track of my food again so we'll do a weigh-in at the end of the week and see where I'm at. All in all, I had a wonderful day off. I'm finishing this blog post just in time to watch the season finale of Biggest Loser...where my bestest friend Jillian will be present, hopefully looking as desperately attractive as she always does. No, I don't have a crush on my virtual personal trainer, what are you talking about?!

No comments: