Friday, August 14, 2009

Warm Rotini Ssalad w/Balsamic Vinaigrette(Vegan); BacoBits; Coconut Veggie Curry(vegan)

Today is the fourth day in a row that I've been out of work. This could become a habit, lol. I so enjoy being home, but, the rent must be paid, one needs to buy groceries, pay the utilities, etc., so one goes back to work tomorrow morning. Sigh. The reason that I took Thursday off, is that I'm in a bit of an arthritic/fibro flare-uup:swollen hands and fingers, back aches, ankles hurt, etc., so being home hasn't been as much fun as I would've liked. Sigh again, lol. But, I found out yesterday that my boss has allegedly changed my schedule...yet that I will be off on M-W-F, which is fine by me, because it means that after a horrendous two days over the weekend, I no longer will have to drag in again on Monday mornings. That's good. That's very good! Anyway, I'll find out for sure when I go to work in the AM.

When I bought groceries this past Tuesday, I found a really inexpensive brand of coconut milk, so I splurged and bought four cans. Last night I came up with a way to use one of them, a vegetable coconut curry. Not the most original thing, I realize, as I've seen recipes for something very similar all over the net, but I did this one without a written recipe, and it turned out wonderfully.

JB's Coconut Vegetable Curry
A couple good handsful of frozen cauliflower
A good handful of frozen green peas
About two medium carrots, sliced into very thin "coins"
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp. curry powder, more or less to YOUR taste(two worked fine for me)
To taste: ginger(about 1/4 tsp.), garlic, nutmeg(about 1/4 tsp.), black pepper, cinnmon and sugar(about a tsp. of a mix for making toast)

Put the carrots in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, turn heat down, and allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes, or until carrots are as tender as YOU want them. Oh...the pan should be covered. When the carrots are just about done, add the frozen cauliflower and green peas, bring back to a boil, and simmer a few minutes, or until the cauliflower and peas are tender. When they're as tender as YOU want them, drain most of the water from the pan, and pour in the whole can of coconut milk, along with all the spices. Keep the pan over medium-low heat until everything is heated thru. Serve over rice(I used a baked potato). Enjoy.

I thought this was wonderful, and it could easily become one of my favorite comfort foods. It's rich, mildly spicy, creamy, and just plain good, lol. It made enough for two people for one meal, but for me, it made enough for two meals, so it's going to be my supper again tonight. Will I make it again? Undoubtedly!!!

This pasta salad comes from the "Vegetarian Times: Low-Fat and Fast" cookbook, published in 1997. It's one of the ones I've checked out of the library. The way I happened to make this salad was that I simply closed my eyes, flipped thru the pages a few times, and then just stopped and opened my eyes: there was the salad, so that was supper one night this past week, lol. I was lucky that time, but then I tried to "blind pick" again, from a couple other cookbooks, and didn't fare so well, as I came up with some that had ingredients that I just plain dislike, or that I didn't have. Anyway, I did the best I could with the salad, even tho there were a few things I didn't have, lol.

Warm Rotini Salad w/Balsamic Vinaigrette
8 pz. uncooked rotini

Vinaigrette: 1/3C chopped basil
3 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Salad: Nonstick cooking spray
2C sliced fresh mushrooms
1 med. yellow bell pepper, seeded, and cut into strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2C halved cherry tomatoes
1/4C(1 oz.)cubed mozzeralla(optional)Vegans can omit entirely, or use a vegan "cheese," such as the Tofutti brand(which I think isn't very good, btw.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare rotini according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine vinaigrette ingredients. Whisk until well blended. Set aside.
For the salad, spray a medium nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the mushrooms, bell pepper, and garlic, stirring, over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cook, stirring constantly, until heated through.
Drain the rotini. In a large bowl, combine rotini and vegetable mixture. Add vinaigrette and chesse, if using; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes six servings.

Well, ok, there's the real recipe, which to me, looks really tasty. But, I had to make some changes: I don't like basil, and I didn't have any mushrooms, yellow bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes. So, uh, what did I have, right? LOL! Ok. Instead of the mushrooms, I diced up half a medium onion and sauteed that with a green bell pepper I just happened to have, as well as...ready for this?...8 frozen Brussels sprouts, and one small carrot, sliced into really thin matchsticks. I had some frozen yellow tomatoes from the bounty that my co-worker had given me earlier this year, so I let two of those thaw. When a frozen tomato thaws, btw, the peels slips off as easily as if you had done the boiling water procedure with it. Anyway. I let the tomatoes sit in a colander while everything else was sauteeing, and then chopped 'em up and put 'em in the pan with the sprouts, onions, carrots, etc. And, when everything was tender enough to suit me, I finished the salad according to the recipe...except that the vinaigrette didn't have basil, it had about 1/6C of dried oregano, and the vinaigrette was wonderful, seriously.

Ok, so I royally changed the recipe, but believe it or not, it was really good. Oh, yeah, I did have some vegan mozzeralla, so I used a couple slices of that, plus I threw in some vegetarian smoked provolone. Goat cheese would've been absolutely fantastic in this, but I didn't have any. The salad fed me for a couple days, but after the second day, I didn't want any more, I got tired of it. I don't know if I'll make it again or not, but I think I will, hopefully with goat cheese and fresh tomatoes. I'm also wondering if a different type of dressing would be as good as the Balsamic vinaigrette was?

Now, about those BacoBits! I just happened to see them at Kroger the other day, didn't have them on my list, and wasn't looking for them. A container of the BettyCrocker brand just jumped off the shelf into my grocery cart, lol, so I had no choice but to buy it and take it home. As near as I can tell, they are vegan, which means that everyone can use them. The only meal I've made with them so far was a "breakfast for dinner" type of thing: Fried 'taters with onions and BacoBits, and then some eggs cracked over the top of the 'taters, a cover put on the skillet, and the eggs allowed to cook and set, sort of a cross between over light, poached, and sunny side up, lol. Good? OHHELLYEAH! Very good, and I ate every single bite of it, too. I think that the Bits would be good in an scrambled turnip/collard/mustard greens, or even in green beans. I am really pleased that I brought them home and tried them.

One more thing and I'll go quietly away and let you get on with your day. I've added another website to "JB'S Favorites," on the top lefthand of the page. The site is another one that has the recipe ingredient search function, i.e., put in the ingredients, hit search, and it brings up recipes using those ingredients. That's how I happened to make the veggie curry last night: I entered chickpeas and coconut milk, and it brought up a chickpea coconut milk curry. I didn't especially like the looks of that, but thought that coconut and curry would be good, so figured out the rest of it from stuff I had here already. Anyway, the site is
Give it a try.

Until next time, Happy Eating!!!

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