Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weeknight Meal: Italian Baked Beans over Polenta

Last night we ate Italian Baked Butter Beans over polenta for dinner. Believe it or not, this was a pantry dinner. Frozen butter beans, canned tomatoes, a carrot, an onion, some spices, and stone ground cornmeal.

While polenta isn't usually considered an easy weeknight meal, it doesn't haven to be complicated. You really only need to stir every ten minutes or so. This meal bubbled on the stove and in the oven while I emptied the dishwasher, paid bills, and futzed around on the internet.

The bean recipe is a slight variation on the Italian Baked Lima Beans from Veganomicon. Dewey thought this meal tasted like lasagne. I haven't made many of the bean dishes from Veganomicon yet, and I think it's time to change that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weeknight meal: Baked Potato

We've added another meal to our easy meal list. This meal relies a lot more on convenience foods than most of the other meals on our list, but we need more variety on our list if we're going to stick with eating more meals at home.

We've made this a few times now. It's a baked potato, with Upton's Naturals seitan, broccoli, and locally-made Nacho Mom's vegan queso. The Upton's Naturals seitan has been sneaking into a lot of our meals, lately. It freezes well and defrosts fast, and it's great in spaghetti sauce, casseroles, and anywhere else you might use ground meat. In the past, we've made our own cheese sauce, and I think we'll continue to do that in the future since it's cheaper and we can make it exactly how we want it.

To make a quick cheesy sauce for baked potatoes or broccoli: saute a few tablespoons of flour in nonhyrdogenated margarine or neutral oil for about two minutes over medium low heat. Slowly pour in a cup of unsweetened plant milk, stirring with a fork as your pour. Turn the heat to medium-high. As the sauce warms, sprinkle in a few handfuls of your favorite vegan cheese. (I've used both Daiya and Tofutti slices for this.) Stir until the cheese melts into the sauce. Add a pinch or two of paprika, and season with salt to taste.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brunch: Raised Waffles

Dewey and I eat brunch out every Sunday. Since we're trying to eat in more often, we're going to eat brunch at home once a month.

This Sunday we made raised waffles from Vegan Brunch. These are the best waffles I've ever had. I've been getting more and more confident with yeasty recipes the past two years, and I wish I'd tried this one before. It doesn't have any of the fussiness of a lot of yeasted recipes: it only needs to rise for an hour, and you don't need to knead it at all.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Home Cooking

Kris over at Two Vegan Boys has challenged everyone to eat more at home and less at restaurants. Really she challenged everyone to eat entirely at home for a year, but Dewey and I aren't up for that challenge yet. She'll be blogging what she eats for dinner every night here.

We have noticed over the past few months a rapidly rising food budget. Or maybe just a lack of a food budget. Either way, I'm committing to cooking more of our meals at home, and doing so with my eye on the food budget.

As part of this, I'm going to be posting more of our ordinary home dinners. They aren't always exciting, they won't always come with recipes, and (this one kills me) the photos won't always be pretty. But they'll show what one vegan and one along-for-the-ride omnivore eat for dinner. I'm also committing to trying more recipes from the cookbooks I've been buying faster than I can use them.

Above is last night's dinner. A thrown-together enchilada soup made from all the leftovers in the house: enchilada sauce, corn, carrot sticks, black beans, potatoes (leftover from making latkes), a minced chipotle chili, tofutti sour cream, and some seasonings. The only thing we bought to make this was a can of beans.

The biscuits are cornmeal biscuits from Vegan Brunch, and they're amazing. Really easy to make and the perfect pair for some Tex-Mex-inspired soup. I mixed the dough and put half of them in the oven, and while they baked I made the soup. I think the entire meal took about 35 minutes to make, including clean up. Half the rolls went in to the freezer for future lunches and dinners.

If you've hesitated about buying Vegan Brunch because you rarely eat brunch, don't let that stop you! I've made lots of great recipes from this cookbook, and rarely before 6PM. I think with the exception of cinnamon rolls, most of the recipes in the book make great dinners. And I promise not to judge you if you eat cinnamon rolls for dinner occasionally.