Friday, April 6, 2012

Vive Vegan and Other Good Eats!

So my Pantry Challenge has been going quite well. I managed to use up some of my pantry basics, like brown sugar and rice noodles, and a few boxed items, like GF pancake mix. I was even able to give away a few ingredients to my mom so that she could make some homemade peanut butter doggie biscuits. Progress has been slow, but steady, and after this week's cooking bonanza from Terry Hope Romero's Vive Vegan, I was able to knock a LOT of stuff out of my pantry. More about that in a minute. But first, let's talk about Whole Foods!

I had the day off the other day and I realized that I was out of tea (Republic of Tea's Vanilla Almond to be exact). Apparently in my book, being out of tea (and craving the WF salad bar) makes a 65 minute drive completely justifiable. Of course, I also needed some groceries, so I took this trip as an opportunity to do a little stocking up (on things that I would actually use over the next six weeks!!). Since I love the salad bar, I decided to take the salad bar home with me! I got a to-go box of all the things I love on my salad (shredded beets, zucchini, daikon; marinated gigante beans, and green onions.. because I felt lazy) and then I bought the lettuce parts separately. WF has much cheaper organic produce than my HyVee so I got a bag of romaine hearts and a 50/50 box of spring mix and baby spinach. While I was over in the refrigerated section, I also noticed my favorite dressing: Follow Your Heart's Organic Tamari-Miso. I had looked all over the store for that stuff, at least everywhere but the produce aisle!

Then I did something I've always meant to do but have never gotten around to doing. I prewashed and chopped all my salad greens and tossed them together in a huge bowl. That way, when I wanted a salad, all I had to do was grab my greens out of the big bowl. I used a salad spinner so that the greens were nice and dry before they were stored. Please don't store wet greens. Food poisoning really sucks. Trust me on that one! I also ate them within 3-4 days of chopping.

Once home I cooked up quinoa and toasted up some pepitas to complete my WF salad. Two pantry items knocked out!


Then, during a fit of serious PMS, I wound up craving a milkshake (which I haven't had in years and have never made a vegan one!). I went a little Thai with this one though, and blended together coconut milk ice cream, ginger beer (it's non-alcoholic), a banana, and enough coconut-almond milk to get it to the consistency I wanted. It was quite warm that day, so it really hit the spot. It was different (taste-wise) but it was exactly what I wanted! Bonus: it used up the ginger beer I had stashed back for who knows how long and one of my many frozen bananas!

Frosty!

So here's the biggest use of my pantry by far. I've packed up most of my cookbooks, but I left out a couple that I thought I might use. One of the ones I left unpacked was Vive Vegan. I'm definitely a Latin-food lover and I knew that with all the beans and spices I got hanging around that it would be a good book to cook from. In just this past week I've made two of her recipes, plus I've prepped to make two more. That way, when leftovers run out on Tuesday, I'll have stuff ready to just toss together.

I was real proud of myself here: I used all my dried black beans (which was only about a pound, lol). With most of them I made the Homestyle Refried Beans (subbed black for pinto), but I set aside two cups to make Isa's Black Bean-Zucchini-Olive Tacos from Appetite for Reduction. It's definitely one of my favorite taco recipes. I then mixed up some Curdito (from VV) which is a vinegar-based slaw, some homemade pico (my recipe), and two kinds of seitan. I did a half recipe each of the White Seitan and the Chorizo. It was quite a day of cooking! Right now I'm munching up the tacos with a side of curdito, refried beans, and pico. It's sooo good:

Please ignore the dry refried beans!

Since the seitan has a longer shelf life, I'm saving those dishes for later in the week. Next up, I'm making the Chorizo-Spinach Sopes (also served with a side of refried beans and curdito), and then Tuesday (or so) I'm making the Green Posole, which is kind of a corn and bean-based soup with spinach, seitan, and pumpkin seeds, and lots of garnishes (tortilla chips, avocado, slaw). I'll post all those pictures on here as well.

With all this cooking, I've been able / will be able to use a lot of stuff: dry and canned beans, frozen greens, spices, posole (dried corn), canned tomatoes, masa harina, vital wheat gluten and other various flours, and I even used up the last of my olive oil (at least I still have coconut and canola! LOL.) If all else fails and I don't get stuff used up, I'll probably give some stuff to my mom and donate others.

But lastly, I couldn't send you away without a recipe. This recipe is the only pico I make and it can easily be adjusted for your taste my adding more or less jalapeno, salt, or lime. People get excited when I bring out the homemade pico and guac!

Jess's Only Pico Recipe:
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped (I use these because they have less seeds/juice)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 a large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 a fresh jalapeno, minced
juice of 1/2 a fresh lime
a pinch of sugar (about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp.)
about 1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste. I don't usually measure)

Put the tomatoes into a small bowl or serving dish and drain off any extra juice that settles to the bottom. Add the cilantro, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, sugar, and salt, and mix well. Let chill for at least an hour for the flavors to blend, and always taste test! You can also blend the ingredients together with a touch of olive oil to make a sort-of salsa fresca for your tacos or what not.

Buen provecho!