Monthly Archives: March 2013

Potato and Vegetable Stir-Fry (compliments of The Grit)

005

This meal is truly one of my favorite things in existence.

Ahhh… the Grit… If you are ever traveling near Athens GA, you would be wise to check it out. The Grit is one of my all-time favorite vegetarian restaurants, one of where I am never disappointed. I could eat there every day of the week and never tire of it. This is one meal that I order every time we go out for breakfast or for weekend brunch.  This recipe is featured in the Grit Cookbook.

This makes 8 servings, so feel free to halve it! It really makes a lot (even a half batch), which is awesome since its great for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I like to serve mine over brown rice with a side of toast (or a biscuit) and grits.

The Grit’s Potato & Vegetable Stir Fry

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes, such as round white, round red or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (I prefer using small red potatoes, scrubbed well and unpeeled)
  • soy sauce
  • 1 cup button or crimini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly julienned
  • 1 small head cabbage (preferably red) shredded or sliced thin
  • 2 small yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (or red bell pepper)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, cut into thin crescents
  • nutritional yeast
  • 1 batch of golden tofu
  • brown rice, or rice of choice… this could also be served over quinoa!

003

1) Prepare golden tofu and set aside.

2) In a large non-stick skillet (or wok) coated with a minimal amount of vegetable oil, saute potatoes over high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with soy sauce as they cook. Set aside.

3) Stir fry mushrooms until tender and golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add vegetables, pepper and onion. Using minimal oil and sprinkling lightly with soy sauce, cook until vegetables are crisp-tender and somewhat seared, about 3 minutes.

4) Return potatoes and golden tofu to skillet and stir to mix with vegetables, then add nutritional yeast to taste and toss to cover completely. Serve over brown rice. Devour!

006

I apologize… I could’ve taken a prettier picture, but we could barely wait to eat!! I basically threw it onto our plates and served it right up –  without our usual sides of toast and grits! Mmmm! Sometimes you just cant wait for a good thing!!

Advertisements

Homemade Pita Bread

021

As much as I love baking bread, I admit that I let my bread baking skills slack off majorly the last few years after my kids were born… I guess I felt that I didn’t have the time to bake fresh bread with a newborn… then I found another excuse when the toddler age stuck. But don’t fool yourself like I did. All you really need to make some kind of awesome homemade bread is a few minutes here and there.  The actual hands-on action (especially for loaves) is surprisingly minimal and you will find that fresh bread is worth the extra effort. Also, not only is homemade bread made to order & delicious, I personally feel a sense of real accomplishment serving and eating bread that I baked!  I am hereby swear I am going to bake more bread!!

I have a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a bread hook, which is totally worth investing in. I use mine often, mainly for making bread dough, pizza dough, cake batter and cookies. Mine was a gift from my husband (thank you, Steven!)… And no, I’m not one of those women who get offended getting kitchen items as gifts – in fact, they are among my favorite gifts to receive because I truly love to create things in the kitchen! If you don’t have a bread mixer, you will have to knead the dough by hand… but don’t frown just yet – and I speak from experience – this makes for some killer arm toning!!

Somehow, this was my first time making homemade pita pockets. I was so pleased at how simple and delicious these were! I think now that my family knows I can make these, I’m in real trouble! Next time, I’m definitely going to mix in some whole wheat flour to make them a little less white-bready tasting. We are usually whole wheat/mixed grain people over here… with occasional local sourdough 🙂

I mistakenly poked holes into the pitas with a fork before baking… Oops. I think I was remembering when we made pita-pizzas at a bakery where I used to work, not pita-pockets. My holes caused the dough to not poof out completely, so I ended up having to cut the insides of my pitas apart with a knife (which still worked fine… they all came apart easily). Anyway, you live and you learn, right?! So, unless you are trying to make pita-pizzas, don’t poke the dough with a fork!!

023

Oh, and please don’t let the long instructions below deceive you! Sometimes I have a tendency to over-explain things! It’s really quite simple! I should mention that my kids were dying to help roll out the dough into pitas! If you don’t want little hands helping, you better set them up with some playdough and let them make their own “pitas” 😉

HOMEMADE PITA POCKETS

  •  2  1/4 tsp of jarred yeast – I used Fleishmans  (1 envelope of quick rising yeast should be the same amount)
  • 1  1/2 cup very warm water, plus extra for warming the mixing bowl*
  • > 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached bread flour, but next time I will be using whole wheat flour for half of this amount)
  • 1  1/4 tsp salt

* First warm up your bread bowl by letting it sit full of hot water. Now, pour 1 cup of very hot water into a large measuring cup and then add cold water to fill it up to the 1  1/2 cup mark. Sometimes I have to dump some water out to add more hot or cold water until the temperature is “just right”, which to me means you can stick your finger in it, it feels pretty hot, but it’s not going to burn you. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die. If it’s too cold, the yeast wont grow.

1) Dont forget to dump your bowl-warming water before you add your measured water!!  Now, pour in your measured water and sugar.  Stir.  Add yeast. Wait 2-3 minutes. Your yeast should start to look frothy/foamy. That means you did it right!! YAY!  (If nothing happens after several minutes, your water was either too hot or cold or your yeast is dead. Try again!)

014

Foamy looking areas means you are good to go!

2) Add about half your flour and add the salt and turn on the mixer. Then gradually add the last half of the flour as it begins to mix. It may look sticky or dry, but just let it mix around a minute to come together. (At first, mine looked sticky but then it came together well and I didn’t have to add any more flour or water.) Let it mix 5- 6 minutes on medium speed. I like to turn up the speed a little faster at the end for about a minute. The dough should be smooth and elasticky… A good dough feels a little sticky but comes out of the bowl pretty cleanly. It shouldnt be acting like gum! It should feel more like soft warm slightly sticky play dough! 🙂

016

Here is my finished dough ball. Nice and soft.

3) Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (I did this right in my mixing bowl, pictured below.) Let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in size. This took my dough about 45 minutes. The dough is ready when you poke it and the indention remains. If it bounces back out, give it a little more time. It may take an hour or more if your kitchen is cold!

017

I picked up my dough, oiled the bowl and then put the dough back in there, covered, to rise.

4) Punch it down and roll it out like a rope so you can cut it into 10-12 pieces. I made 12 but my pitas were pretty small. Form balls with the dough. Sit the balls on a floured surface, cover with towel and let rise another 10 minutes. (Bakers tip: shaping the balls can be very quick if you take a dough ball in your dominant hand and roll it in circles against a wooden cutting board, pulling it tighter with your curved fingers as you go. Once you get good, you will be rolling dough balls in both hands at once!)

019

Separating the dough and rolling it into balls…

5) Preheat oven to 500 and place your oven rack on the lowest setting. (It also helps to pre-heat your baking sheet). I hear you can also use a cast-iron skillet for this to add extra iron. I may try that next time.

6) Roll out each dough ball into circles about 5 – 6″ across and 1/4″ thick.

020

Rolling the balls out into pitas…

7) Bake 4-5 minutes until they are puffy. Smash down with spatula. Flip and bake them 2 more minutes. Smash again if necessary. Repeat until all are baked.

022

Ta-Da! The finished pitas!

Stuff them, use them for dipping… whatever you wish! These should freeze well (in a freezer bag) up to 1 month. They last about 1 week fresh.

025

First we served these right from the oven with some baba ganoush and cucumber slices.

NOTE: They are AMAZING if you lightly brown them up on a cast iron skillet in a tiny bit of olive oil… We did that (pictured below) and cut them into triangles for dipping into baba ganoush with some shredded and sliced vegetables. You could also serve these pita triangles with hummus. Mmmm! I never knew pita making was so easy! I will probably be making these for my family several times a month!

039

Homemade pitas make for a seriously impressive and scrumptious appetizer… or sandwich!

Celebrating Dr. Seuss

Hey everybody! Did you know that tomorrow is Dr. Seuss’ birthday?! If you missed it last year, you gotta try our vegan version of “green eggs and ham” (pictured below)! I think our green eggs are especially special because they are made green with spinach instead of food coloring 🙂

0171

Make a tofu omelet & crack a book instead of an egg!

What makes this batter taste “eggy” is the black salt (a.k.a “kala namuk”) which you can order online, or find at a health food or specialty store. (FYI black salt has a sand-like texture and is dirty-pinkish in color. It isn’t actually black.) You could always leave it out as well, but it is the sulfur in the black salt that really gives it that eggy flavor.

So… in preparation for Dr. Seuss birthday, we made something to wear for our Dr. Seuss breakfast tomorrow… just some fun cutting & pasting, which the kids always LOVE!! Drum-roll please… announcing… Cat in the Hat HATS and Thing 1 & Thing 2 Popsicle Stick Toys!! The best thing about these 2 projects is that I already had everything in our art box to make them! 🙂

To make a Cat in the Hat hat: (2)

  • 1 sheet red construction paper, cut into 1″ red strips, lengthwise
  • 3-4 sheets white cardstock (this will make the hat, the bottom part of the hat, and the headband straps
  • glue stick

First cut one hat shape out of each piece of white cardstock. Then use another piece of white cardstock for the 2 bottom parts of the hat.  Then you will need several long strips of white cardstock that you will use to tape together for the headband part (last). Cut a bunch (like 10) of red construction paper stripes.

007

Your basic hat making supplies… here is everything all cut out and ready to go! (note: we did end up cutting the bottom hat piece skinnier).

Now, the fun part! Let your kids glue the red stripes onto the hat! We used a glue stick to keep it from getting bumpy from using too much glue. Make sure the kids cover the strips completely and then smooth them down well. After all the stripes are glued on, trim the excess of the edges.

008

My kids LOVE cutting and pasting!!

Next, I glued the bottom part of their hats on and set them under something heavy to flatten them while they dried.

Once dry, staple 1 headband strap to each side of the bottom of the hat with 2-3 staples and fold edge slightly (I stapled vertically)… and I ran out of staples, which is why my kids arent pictured together!

009

Here you can see how i folded and stapled the straps to each side, and taped the middle after “the fitting”.

Fit your hat around your child’s head and tape the straps together where they meet!  Voila! Your kids look just like the Cat in the Hat (but without all the hair!). You could even paint their faces like cats, if you so desire! I know my little cat lovin’ girl would be all about that!

013

There’s a spunky new cat in town, Dr. Seuss!!

To make a Thing 1 & Thing 2:

  • 2 big fat popsicle sticks, any color will do
  • blue yarn (cut into 2″ pieces) or some blue fuzzy hair
  • some little googly-eyes
  • two small white cardstock circles to label “Thing 1” & “Thing 2”
  • craft glue
004

If you have this stuff, you can make a Thing!

First glue the yarn-hair on. I did this part myself because it was a little tricky and sticky. First generously apply glue (real glue, not a glue stick) to about 1″ of the end of the popsicle stick. Lay hair across it horizontally and then generously add more glue and lay more hair vertically. Tap it gently to push it down (be careful! It gets sticky fast and then it tries to glue the yarn to your finger!). Set aside until completely dry (several hours).

005

First glue yarn sideways and wait several minutes

006

Now carefully glue some yarn in the other direction. Let dry for several hours!

Next, decide where you want to glue on the googly eyes and the circular name-tags. You can add a mouth, eyebrows, etc. if you want to give it an expression! Voila! Your very own Thing 1 & Thing 2 to play with… guaranteed to be less trouble than the real ones!!

(The “Things” pictured below are still drying… which is why we havent drawn on faces yet. I just placed the eyes and nametags on in different ways so you can see different ways of designing your Things!)

010

At first I thought the glued part of hair would be the back… but maybe not! The first one looks more like a  “wild thing” Thing! I like him!

011

You could even position their name-tags up top of the yarn. You decide how you’d like your Thing to look!

I hope you liked our crafts today, it was too cold to go out and play!  So go buy your tofu & your kala namuk… cook up a green breakfast and then go read a book! Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!

173

This little trickster cat looks ready to get into SOME kind of trouble!

P.S. I tagged this in the “Dinner and a Movie” category since there are several Dr. Seuss movies you could use this food/craft with (including the Cat and the Hat cartoon and/or the Mike Myers version)!! 🙂