Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This is NOT what I was going to cook today...

In fact, I left work this afternoon with every intention of coming home and creating a recipe for pizza scones! On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up pizza sauce and flour but somehow got a little bit sidetracked when I saw plantains for sale. I do like plantains but I have not eaten them in almost 2 years. This is likely due to the fact that 2 years ago when I was in Nigeria with a friend, many of my vegan food options were limited with the exception of this lovely fruit. Oh the joys of vegan dining in other countries!!! Haha. Truthfully, the trip was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed various vegetable dishes while I was there. But plantains were among the things that were ALWAYS available to me throughout the trip. Needless to say, after a few weeks of eating them at least once a day, they kind of lost their charm. Perhaps that is why it has been so long since I've wanted them. Well, until today that is... So home I went to whip up my own batch!

Fried Plantains:
(serves 2-3)

1 Plantain
Vegetable Oil
Salt or Sugar to season with (whichever you're in the mood for--salty or sweet)

Heat a skillet on medium heat and add the vegetable oil. The oil should be about 1/4 inch deep. While the oil warms, chop the plantain into diagonal slices about 1/2 inch thick. Add these to the oil. Be careful for any potential oil splattering as you do this! Fry the plantains for about a minute on each side. Using the back of a spatula, press down gently onto each plantain slice. Remove from the oil promptly thereafter and transfer to a plate that is covered with a paper towel. The towel should soak up excess oil as they cool. Season the plantains with either a dash of salt or sugar and then let them cool completely before enjoying.

* * * * *

What better accompaniment to fried plantains than black beans with spinach and a side of rice?! It was a simple thing to throw together and I tried to incorporate a rainbow of colors. What do you think?

Black Beans with Spinach, Avocado, Rice, & Fried Plantains

Black Beans:

1/2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Small Yellow Onion Diced
1/2 Cup of Corn
1 Can of Black Beans
1/4 Cup of Juliened Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Pinch of Italian Seasoning
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves (A couple of handfuls)

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they become slightly browned. Add the corn and sun-dried tomatoes and mix evenly. Stir in the black beans. Add the Italian Seasoning and Red Pepper flakes. When beans are almost done, add the spinach leaves and stir for a few minutes. The idea is not to really wilt the spinach but rather to heat it just slightly as you mix it into the beans. This way it will still keep it's color and still taste extra yummy!

* * * * *

Needless to say, after a meal like this, I was completely stuffed!!! And while I didn't make the pizza scones just yet, have no fear! They are still in my mind and therefore still to come! ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Family Style Dinner & A Banana Dessert!

Yesterday afternoon, my family (which included my parents, 2 younger brothers and 1 older sister) and I, along with my aunt, uncle and their 3 sons got together to go to lunch at an Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo. It's an Italian family-style restaurant that offers anything from your typical sit-down atmosphere. Bizarre (but definitely intriguing) imagery adorns the walls of not only the dining area but also the bathrooms! Red checkered table cloths clash incredulously against the various chotskis and Christmas lights composing the rooms. And here, when they say family-style dining, they mean FAMILY-style. The portion sizes are MAMMOTH. Good thing their food is pretty amazing! Below is a photo of the very tasty selections I was able to order with only minor accommodations needed:
From left to right, you can see a bit of the side salad, a slice of bruschetta (sans the Parmesan cheese) and a heaping pile of spaghetti with marinara sauce. A very classic meal but incredibly delightful nonetheless. The excited expression on my face pretty much sums up my experience at this wonderful restaurant. =)

* * * * *

After lunch, we all piled back into our vehicles and headed over to my house where I played host and baked a tasty evening treat. Behold the...
Banana Walnut Coffee Cake!

What began as a simple vegan coffee cake, transformed into a heavenly banana dessert when I realized the very ripe banana sitting on the counter practically begging to be used. After a quick mashing, into the batter it went! And what banana dessert couldn't use some chopped walnuts in the batter? Certainly not this one! A quick chop with the food processor and the walnuts were also ready for action!

After a brief wait in the oven and then a bit more on the counter, the dessert was finally ready to go. I sliced it up, served it on little plates and then we dug right in. Boy oh boy was it good! The texture of the bananas, the handful of crunchy walnuts baked inside the soft cake along with the crumbly topping was a perfect combination of flavors. Deee-lish! Not surprisingly, this cake was gobbled up in record time.

Alright, that's all for now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Obligatory First post: Here it goes...

For starters, I won't bore you with a lengthy discussion about why I created this blog because there's a very good chance you already know why: I like cooking vegan food and wanted to share my culinary adventures with wonderful people like YOU! I boil, steam, chop, bake and yes, sometimes burn (ack!), all kinds of fancy and sometimes not-so-fancy vegan treats! Regardless of the outcome, I enjoy every minute of it. Well...except for the cleaning up aspect...blah! That I could do without!

How's that? Succinct enough? Good. On to the food then...

* * * * *

Up first, photos of 3 tasty things that I've baked lately:

1) Check out these YumBerry Cupcakes! Freshly picked blueberries and strawberries as well as a handful of frozen raspberries make this a refreshing summer treat. The light swirl of frosting on top is a homemade citrusy blend of flavors enhanced by a splash of dark rum. Definite Yum!

2) Just in time for summer and the Fourth of July:
Vegan Hamburger Cupcakes! These little babies were a labor of love, but in the end, truly worth all of the effort. And bonus: no animals were harmed in the process. ;)

3) Last but certainly not least: Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, & Chocolate Chip Cookies! A single cookie with so many irresistible flavors all rolled into one! Can life get any better?! I submit that it cannot!

* * * * *

First Watch Daytime Cafe
Restaurant Review (sort of...)

So a couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to try this restaurant in the local Town Center by my house. I had heard good things about First Watch Daytime Cafe from friends but had not yet had a chance to visit it myself. We rolled out of bed around 11:30am on a lazy Sunday morning, decided we were in the mood for a late breakfast/brunch and so off we went!

Boy oh boy! Let me tell you: it did not disappoint! I'm always a little bit leery of breakfast restaurants where the potential for a lousy fruit cup or dry toast is about all I can order. Not here! At First Watch, I was treated to a fabulous sandwich wrap called the:

Not Guilty Your Honor ©

An explosive combination of flavors and textures made this meal both tasty and satisfying. The Not Guilty Your Honor © comes on a wheat tortilla filled with cucumber, spinach leaves, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, tomato slices and feta cheese. It's served with all of the following sides: hummus, potatoes, a small signature salad and a cup of mixed fruit.

I am pleased to note that the staff was very accommodating to my dietary needs and a quick swap of avocado instead of the feta cheese as well as the omission of the red peppers (I don't like them) yielded a wonderfully tasty meal! In fact, it was YUM*TASTIC! (Oh, c'mon. I had to use that word at least once in my first post! Haha!) Needless to say, Tom and I will definitely be trying this place again!

* * * * *

Alright folks, that's all I've got for you today. Stay tuned. There's loads more to come!
Related Posts with Thumbnails