Grocery Store Wars

September 21, 2009 by

While I head out shopping for inspiration for my $5 dinner, please enjoy this entertaining video I found over at Good Food & Bad Food:


Skirt Steak, Layer by Layer

September 19, 2009 by

A bit of food porn to start your weekend off courtesy of my husband’s dinner:

Baby Arugula

Caramelized onion sautéed in lard

Young Mahon Cheese (Spanish cow’s milk cheese from island of Menorca; sharp, lemony, salty)

Skirt Steak pan seared with Tom Douglas Rub With Love (Steak Rub)

New Episode: Vegan White Sauce

September 18, 2009 by

In this episode of Building Blocks Show, I show you how to make two versions of Vegan White Sauce, one plain and one with onion and garlic.  This was a really fun episode for me to put together because I’ve learned so much about dairy free cooking over the past few years and was excited to put that knowledge into some creative dishes.

In the video you can see we paired these sauces with fresh ingredients to make Creemy Shroomy Veggies on Crusty Bread* and Phyllo Wrapped Cod.  I also created two other recipes with Vegan White Sauce included on the recipe page for this show:  Vegan Creemed Spinach and Dairy Free Biscuits and Gravy, which uses the dairy free biscuit recipe found in the Making Lard episode.

Vegan White Sauce Part I:

Vegan White Sauce Part II:

Below are the white sauce recipes and you can find the recipes for the rest of the dishes listed above on the Vegan White Sauce Episode Page.

Vegan White Sauce (Makes 1 cup)

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp. vegan margarine
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • Salt, fresh ground white pepper
  • Spices (depending on final recipe)

Put it together:

  • Melt butter in small pot over medium heat
  • Whisk in flour
  • Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until light brown (roux should come together)
  • Add rice milk a few tablespoons at a time, mixing in between additions until it starts to look creamy, then add in ¼ cup at a time. You can add more or less milk depending on how thick you need the sauce for your recipe.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add spices

Wrapped in crispy phyllo, the cod in this dish comes out flaky and moist every time:

Vegan White Sauce with Onion (Makes 1 cup)

You will need:

  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tbsp. vegan margarine
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • Salt, fresh ground white pepper
  • Spices (depending on final recipe)

Put it together:

  • Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat
  • Sauté onion until soft
  • Add garlic to onion and sauté a couple of minutes
  • Melt margarine into onion
  • Add flour and stir to combiner
  • Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until light brown (roux should come together)
  • Add rice milk a few tablespoons at a time, mixing in between additions until it starts to look creamy, then add in ¼ cup at a time. You can add more or less milk depending on how thick you need the sauce for your recipe.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add spices

Versatile and summery Creemy Shroomy Veggies on Crusty Bread:

* No, this is not a misspelling, I’m told “creem” is the way vegans spell fake “cream.”

Time for Lunch

September 17, 2009 by

Do you remember school lunch?  I do.  Limp, green hot dogs.  Napoleon Dynamite-worthy tater tots.  It was not a pretty sight.

For many children in the United States, though, this meal provided through the National School Lunch Program is their only guaranteed meal of the day.  Schools struggle to provide balanced meals on $2.68 per student, relying on surplus agricultural stock and USDA “entitlement” foods (Source: USDA Fact Sheet).  To make matters worse, children avoid this lunch by purchasing sodas and junk through vending machines and in-house fast food joints.

Wouldn’t it be great if the food the children received in this program constituted a healthy and tasty meal full of fruits and vegetables and quality meats?  Well, there is a campaign right now to do just that and you can voice your opinion to make it happen.  Simply take a few minutes to read the Time for Lunch Platform (pdf).  Then take 30 more seconds to sign the petition for real food in schools.

Malissa’s Meal Planning – Sept 15th

September 15, 2009 by

Guest Post: I’m at it again! Last week’s meal plan was pretty successful, although I did stray from the plan slightly.

Tuesday: Soup and bread – I have a lot of veggies in my fridge, so it’ll be mystery soup consisting of those veggies, chicken stock and beans.

Wednesday: Whole wheat pumpkin pancakes, eggs and fruit – My kids’ picky eating habits always keep me guessing, but they love almost all breakfast foods. My favorite pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbucks and they’ve inspired me to find a pumpkin pancake recipe.

Thursday: I’m looking for a Pork Tenderloin recipe and thinking I’ll try this one – Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin. If you have a good recipe, I’d love to hear about it. The only problem is my picky husband, who doesn’t care for bbq sauce, mustard, or onions! I’m actually not sure if it’s harder to cook for him or the kids. 🙂

Friday: Dining out!

Saturday: The kids love to make their own pizzas. We often get the Boboli pizza crusts and let the girls add their own toppings, but I’m going to try making everything from scratch using this recipe for the sauce and dough.

Sunday: Leftovers

On the baking front, I’d love to find a good granola bar recipe. Any suggestions? I’ve yet to find the sweet spot where my kids enjoy the granola bar and I think it’s healthy enough. They really like something with the texture of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars. I don’t mind putting chocolate chips in the bars, but would like to cut out the other sugars. I like that the Quaker ones don’t have high fructose corn syrup, but I want to start baking our own so we can avoid the partially hydrogenated oils and preservatives.

Herb and Chili Flake Buttered Chicken

September 14, 2009 by

Recently Malissa and her family were generous enough to host my family for a couple of nights while our townhome association was making a clusterfrack of our little community. I thanked them the only way I knew how: with a bounty of savory foods.  They enjoyed the roast chicken so much Malissa asked for the recipe and so I thought I’d share it all with you as well.

Please don’t be scared off by the word “chili” if you have a sensitive palate.  The chilli flakes aren’t enough to add heat, just a savory flavor that complements the herbs wonderfully.   This recipe calls for one lemon, but it’s not the star of the show – it just brightens the herbs a bit.  Yes, you see it’s all about the herbs here, so make sure you have some lovely fresh herbs on hand.  Turning the chicken halfway through cooking keeps it nice and moist, so the lean breasts don’t get dried out baking under the element for two hours.

You will need:

  • 1 chicken (approx. 5 lbs)
  • 5 tbsp. butter (of course I used vegan margarine)
  • 1 tbsp. chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • couple sprigs fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped (reserve rest of bunch for stuffing cavity)
  • couple sprigs fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped (reserve rest of bunch for stuffing cavity)
  • 1 lemon

Here’s how I put it together:

First, I mixed with a fork the butter, chili flakes, garlic powder, salt, thyme and sage.

To put the butter on the flesh, I pulled up the skin covering the breasts and spread it under the skin.

If you look closely here, you can see the chili flakes and herbs under the skin:

Then I made a few slits in the skin of the thighs and wings and rubbed the butter mixture up under the skin.  Next I sliced open a lemon, squeezed and rubbed the juice of 1/2 the lemon over the skin of the chicken, tossed the rest of the thyme sprigs and sage leaves with the lemon halves in the cavity and it was ready to bake.

Up until this point I had been winging it (no pun intended), but I needed a little guidance on cooking times and temps.  I did a Food Blog Search and came up with this Honey Glazed Lemon Roast Chicken recipe from Simply Recipes.  The temps and times worked great for my chili buttered chicken.  The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat was visibly juicy as I carved it.

I served the chicken with pearled cous cous cooked in half chicken drippings/half water (a hit with the kids); green and yellow roasted zucchini; and mache and avocado salad with balsamic fig vinegarette.

The White House Garden Video

September 12, 2009 by

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s footage of the White House garden and First Lady Michelle Obama on teaching the next generation the importance of fresh, home-made family meals.  Chef Sam Kass discusses some of the history behind the White House garden.  I don’t care if it is propaganda, I enjoyed it and am glad to see this message coming out of the White House.

What the heck is vegan sugar???

September 11, 2009 by

Like the title says, what the heck is vegan sugar??? Please enlighten me. I was vegetarian and one-day-per-week vegan for three years and am clueless.

Update: 9/13/09 11:26 am: Elisa says cane sugar is often refined through charcoal made from animal bones and sends this link to read more:

It's taping day!

September 10, 2009 by

It’s taping day! Vegan White Sauce for Creemy Shroomy Veggies on Crusty Bread, Phyllo Wrapped Cod, Creemed Spinach, Biscuits n Gravy. *Hopefully* we’ll have it posted by the end of next week.

Cooking Course

September 9, 2009 by

I’m totally stoked!  I just signed up for a once-a-week four month cooking course taught by Carol Dearth at Sizzleworks.  Take a look at all the cool stuff I’ll be learning:

COOKWISE SERIES: Techniques Master Series

This in-depth series is for those who are passionate about food and cooking. From knife skills and mise en place to velvety sauces, from succulent meat and poultry to exceptional eggs, we teach the science and techniques behind great cuisine in our exclusive hands-on series. The classes in this particular series are designed to be more intense than regularly scheduled group classes, more like a professional cooking school environment and syllabus. Hone your skills, brush up those talents, and have a great time!