Grilled Eggplant Wraps with Spinach and Olive-Artichoke Heart Spread

I really should call these ‘derivative wraps’. I got the idea from browsing Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Veganomicon cookbook (a great resource, if you don’t already have it). She has a recipe for a sandwich based on the New Orleans’ Muffaletta. I’ve never had a muffaletta, never seen one, never talked to anyone who ate one. I have no idea what an authentic muffaletta is. Then, to make it even more derivative, I completely did not follow the recipe. I read it a few days ago and ended up making this without looking at it again. So, I guess it’s fair to say that this recipe is inspired by Isa’s recipe, which was in turn inspired by the New Orleans sandwich.

Please don’t judge this meal by my horrible photography. I would have taken more pictures, but we ate it too fast to get any more!

Regardless….this was surprisingly good. I think it’s going to make it into our regular meal rotation, at least for summer meals. It is fast, reasonably healthy, and SO tasty. The saltiness of the olives and artichoke hearts blends really well with the smoothness and bite of the eggplant, and the spinach has a strong enough flavor to complete with the olives and eggplant. There’s a lot of flavor, without a lot of ingredients or fuss. It came together really quickly, which is nice for weekday meals.

(serves 4)

fresh baby spinach, about 1/2 of a bag

1 large eggplant

olive oil, about 1-2 teaspoons

about 1/2 cup olives

about 3/4-1 cup artichoke hearts

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

tortillas or wraps (I used my standard homemade flax-flour tortillas; you could use regular tortillas, wraps, bread, rolls, etc.)

Peel the eggplant. Slice it really, really thinly. Rub a tiny bit of olive oil on each slice – a drop or so. Cook the eggplant on a stove-top grill for 5-10 minutes, or until it has those nice brown grill marks. It took two batches to cook on my grill.

Meanwhile, chop the olives and artichoke hearts finely (or use a Magic Bullet); add the garlic and mustard, and stir well.

Cook your tortillas, if you’re making them.

To assemble: Spread a tablespoon or two of the olive-artichoke heart spread in the middle of a tortilla; add a nice healthy layer of spinach, and top with a few slices of grilled eggplant.

Blog help question:

Whenever I click on my own blog, I notice that it lists TONS of posts and takes forever to scroll through. When I look at other people’s blogs, there’s just the most recent posts (maybe 3-4) on the home page. How do I change this? Does anyone know? Thanks!!

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Sunday Running Round-up and Vegan Doughnuts from Revolution Doughnuts

This was a decent running week!
Monday and Tuesday: 3 miles each. Wednesday: 1 mile (cough, cough). Thursday: 5 miles, on a completely new route. Friday: 0. Saturday: 5-6 miles with my new running buddy! Today: just under 15 miles, in wretchedly hot and humid weather. I could have wrung out my shorts when I got home, it was that hot. Ugh. Total: about 32 miles.

My new running buddy has one of those fancy-schmancy running watches that calculates your pace and your miles (through gps). I have been toying with the idea of buying either a GPS or a Kindle for the past few years and have never been able to decide between the two. When I learned about this watch, it made that decision easy: I just ordered a Garmin running watch in lieu of either a GPS or Kindle. I’m very, very exciting about it. Today I meant to do 15 miles; I ended up doing 14.7, and if I had a watch that calculating distance, I would have run around the block to make it an even 15. Do any of you use any kind of tracking gadget while exercising? Do you like it? What do you use?

Yesterday I got to try some vegan doughnuts from Revolution Doughnuts in Decatur/Atlanta. Doughnuts are something I love and miss, and something I have not been able to make very successfully. These were GREAT doughnuts. They have both cake and yeast style; in Boston I grew up eating cake style, and had never had a yeast doughnut, but after having tried them yesterday, I think I’m sold on them. I still like the cake doughnuts, but there’s something so satisfying about the spring and chew of a yeast doughnut. We got a variety of flavors: cinnamon sugar (cake), chocolate glazed (both cake and yeast), strawberry lemonade (yeast), vanilla glazed (yeast), coconut (cake), and almond-covered (cake). My favorite was the vanilla glazed (gasp! what a shock!) but they were all good. It seemed like they used the same dough for each doughnut and the flavor was all in the glaze; this is probably typical, but somehow I was expecting the vanilla and strawberry lemonade doughnuts to have more flavor than just the flavored glaze. Still, though, delicious. It does bring up my never-ending desire to create the perfect at-home vegan doughnut recipe. The baked ones never are quite the same, and yet I cannot get the hang of frying; plus, I have never achieved the perfect dough consistency. I think this is a project I will embark upon in the fall. ūüôā

I have some new recipes coming up, for some new no-bake bars, and ice cream. I had pictures of both but somehow they’ve disappeared from my picture list (AND I think I already deleted them from the camera….UGH!). I guess I’ll just have to make more and take more pictures. ūüôā

 

 

Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

It has been SO HOT here that it’s been hard to rationalize turning on the stove. A recent favorite meal is summer rolls¬†-basically, spring rolls that are just not fried. These are so easy to make, and really tasty. I am not good about eating raw veggies, so an added bonus of this recipe is that you get a good dose of raw veggies.

We’ve added seitan and tofu to these, but usually we just make them with veggies, served with peanut sauce.

This isn’t a great picture, but I had to include it because of the 1 1/2 year old’s hand coming in for a grab!

Rice paper rolls can be found in Asian stores or Whole Foods, in the dry section (i.e. NOT the egg roll wrappers in the refrigerator section). There are LOTS in a package; one package will last a long time. All you do to prepare the wrappers is put them in hot water for a minute or so, until the wrapper is pliable and soft. They will seem delicate and fussy and first, but trust me – you can’t mess these up. The soaked wrappers are a lot hardier than they appear; even if they do tear, you are going to wrap them anyways, which will reinforce any structural defects.

For veggies, I like zucchini, squash, carrots, and maybe some scallions Рall sliced nice and thin. In this round, I also added sesame seeds. Yum.

i don’t slice veggies as thinly or uniformly as my French brother-in-law. His summer rolls are a work of art.

Once your rice paper wrapper is pliable, put it on a plate, pile it with fresh veggies, and roll! The ends will stick together easily.

I like a nice peanut sauce on top. Balsamic glaze is also good on these. For peanut sauce, I just mix about x3-4 tablespoons of peanut butter, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a splash of srirachi (optional), one clove of garlic, a¬† little fresh ginger, a tiny bit of rice wine vinegar, and a touch of brown sugar – mix all together, then mix in about 1/4 cup hot water, adding more to get to desire consistency. This is a most basic peanut sauce recipe; if you don’t have all the ingredients, try it anyways because it is a very flexible recipe.

Another favorite quick hot-weather recipe is cubed tofu, in the cast iron skillet. It only takes  a few minutes to pan-fry pressed tofu into a delicious treat or main meal.

I am completely dependent on my tofu press. I got it a few years ago as a present for my husband; we’d been using various combinations of towels, canned goods, and plates to press tofu, and finally decided that we ate enough tofu to warrant a press. We. LOVE. It. It is probably my favorite indulgent kitchen appliance. A tofu press is not a necessity, but it sure is nice to have.

What’s your favorite indulgent (i.e. non-necessity) kitchen gadget? A close second for me might be our coffee machine, but that might be considered a true necessity for some….

Sunday Running Round-up (on a Monday) and Authentic Mumbai Vegan Recipes

Garnishes for the Indian dishes – so pretty! (and yummy)

Wow. I knew I hadn’t posted in a while, but I did not realize it had been 2 weeks! We were on vacation with my in-laws for more than half of that time, so I couldn’t blog then, but really I should have blogged as soon as I got back on Saturday. It’s not like I spent the time unpacking or anything….

As with most of the rest of the nation, it has been brutally hot here in the south. We reached temperatures above 100. This Northern girl does not tolerate heat well. I always feel like I will actually perish one of these days. Seriously, 100 degrees??? Crazy.  It was slightly cooler in the mountains, and I managed to get some good runs in.

Last Saturday: 5 miles, with a new runing buddy (a woman from my book club)

Sunday: 3 miles; Monday: 4-5 miles; Tuesday: 3 miles; Wednesday, 3 ish miles; Thursday: 14+ miles (hilly and hot – go me!); Friday: 3 miles; Saturday: 3 miles. Sunday: no run.

I need to do about 15-16 miles this weekend. We’ll see how that goes. If it doesn’t cool down I will just expect to have a miserably slow and hot run.

My Ipod died a few weeks ago, so with the exception of the 14-miler, I’ve been running sans-Ipod. (I borrowed my husband’s Ipod for my long run). I kind of like running sans-Ipod. It makes me think more and concentrate more on running and thinking through things I need to think through. I probably will be replacing the Ipod, though, just for convenience.

Before leaving for the mountains, I hosted our monthly book club meeting. The book club I am in is truly a beautiful thing. It is a group of about 10 women (we’ve had some leave and some come over the years) who all love thinking, reading, sharing, and being together. Particularly in a rural, unprogressive, largely un-educated area, it is a godsend to have a group of intelligent women with whom to discuss books. I am very grateful for my group. We read a mix of fiction and non-fiction; generally, the host picks the book. I picked “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo; it is a narrative, journalistic account of the lives of several people who live in a slum in Mumbai. The author is a reporter and basically lived in the slums for a few years, following several individuals and getting to know them, their lives, their families, and their stories. It is an amazing, breath-taking, beautiful book. It is also a quick, engaging read. I highly, highly recommend it. It is a very honest account and does not try to glorify the situation, or make it look like the people in the book are desparate to get out and be ‘saved’ from their situation – it is really a complete, developed society. Great book, if you are looking for something to read.

Anyways…normally, we just have desserts/snacks for bookgroup, but I decided to make some authentic Indian food, since the book was about India and I just happen to have a good friend who is Indian, a great cook, and a fellow blogger. I made two of her recipes: Peas Ragda, and Pav Bhaji. I also made chai-spiced cookies. The food was a huge hit! I especially liked the Pav Phaji. My friend Geeta blogged about this recipe on her own blog; it is apparently a common street carat food in Mumbia. I would eat it all the time, if given the chance!

The topping for Pav Bhaji it is served on bread and garnished with onions and cilantro

Pav Bhaji

Geeta’s post about Pav Bhaji is found here: http://foodiemomscookbook.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2012-06-15T20:52:00-04:00&max-results=1¬†¬†¬† She also takes beautiful photographs – much better than mine, but I will include a few of my own just for fun.

peas Ragda

The peas ragda is a dish made with spiced potato patties, covered in split pea sauce (I used red lentils for the sauce because that’s what I had on hand), and then garnished with onions and cilantro. It was so good. My girls liked both dishes, as did my mother-in-law, who enjoyed some leftovers. This¬†are great recipes for kids, company, yourself!

The split pea (red lentil, in my case) sauce that is served over the potato patties

The potato patties used in peas Ragda

Sunday Running Round-up and Minty Chocolate No-Bake Bars

This week’s runs were sort of pitiful. I need to get into marathon-training mode! Since my 15-miler a few weeks ago, I’ve had mostly uninspired runs. I had a few good hilly runs while in Boston a few weeks ago, but that’s about it.

too much light, but you can see the three distinct layers: slightly crunchy crust with a wholesome texture from oats; smooth frosting-ish layer with strong flavors of mint and vanilla; and soft, sweet chocolate on top. Divine.

This week’s runs: Monday 0, Tuesday and Wednesday,¬† 3 each; Thursday 0; Friday 3; Saturday 5; and today, a sloggish 10. I woke up at 4:30 (!!!!) today in order to get up and at ’em prior to the wretched heat setting in too badly. It was still pretty darn hot, but at least the sun was mostly not out. I went through almost all of the water in my CamelBak, which is somewhat shocking for only a 10-miler. I dread longer runs in August….I may end up having to buy a new, bigger CamelBak. Ugh.

To reward myself, and to help with end-of-the-semester grading, I made some minty chocolate no- bake bars, based loosely on this recipe from www.loveveggiesandyoga.com: http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2009/11/vegan-creme-de-menthe-bars-no.html¬†It is WAY too hot to turn on the oven; luckily, with this recipe you don’t have to! I used the microwave for the second and third layers, and only used the stove for the crust layer.

not enough light! You get the idea, though.

I’ve made this recipe a number of times, but I’ve never followed it exactly because I’ve never used nuts in the crust.

This is the only piece I ate. Right. Ahem.

Here’s what I did this time. I think the bars came out the best ever, and will make it this way again:

-I used all ground oats for the crust, and I melted the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder in with the margarine. This made the crust layer all fudgy. In fact, it was so good I think it could stand on its own. Note to self: make no-cook fudge using ground oats, cocoa powder, and confectioners’ sugar. NOW.

-I used just a tablespoon or so of cocoa powder in the crust layer, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons of margarine

-I used quite a bit of vanilla in the crust –¬†2 teaspoons, maybe?

-I used 2 tablespoons of margarine in the frosting layer, and lots of vanilla and peppermint extract

-I used about 2 tablespoons of margarine in the chocolate topping

Other variations I’ve made: crushed Oreos and margarine for the crust (yummy but crumbly) and combinations of whole and ground oats in the crust.

Vegan Peach-Blackberry Crisp and PureFit Bars

Peach Blackberry Crisp with Almond Topping and the BEST homemade vegan ice cream EVER (recipe coming soon!)

 

Oh my GOODNESS, it is hot here in the South! I stumbled through a 5-ish mile run this morning, and I really need to walk the dogs….but it is SO HOT! I’m not sure they even want to go.

The less cooking/baking in this weather, the better. Tonight’s dinner was a massive Thai curry, with tons of farmers’ market veggies: zucchini, squash, white eggplant, carrots, kale – YUM! The white egglants were surprisingly tender and did not have a strong flavor, as purple eggplants usually have. I also made some spring rolls, which I’ll post about later.

I haven’t turned on the oven in almost a week! Last week I made this crisp/cobbler (what’s the difference, anyways?), also with farmers’ market peaches and blackberries.¬† It was so good! We served it to two sets of guests and everyone loved it. I used almond extract in the crisp topping because I was out of vanilla (gasp! horrors!) and I really like almond, particularly with fruit. Use either or both!

Fruit:

1 dozen peaches, sliced

3-4 cups fresh blackberries

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white flour

Topping:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

salt, to taste (1/2 – 1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract, optional (but totally delicious!)

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance or Fleischmann’s unsalted

1/4 cup coconut oil

Method:

Put the fruit in a bowl; sprinkle with flour and sugar and stir gently until well-combined.

Peaches and blackberries mixed with the sugar and flour

 

Put flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the margarine and coconut oil until the mixture resembles coarse sand with  a few pebbles thrown in. Add the extract(s) and stir to combine.

Put fruit into 2 9 x 13 pans, or other similarly sized pans. Pour topping on top and press down gently to ensure the fruit is covered. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and topping is a nice light brown. Serve with your favorite vegan ice cream.

A few weeks ago, I won a box of PureFit bars, www.purefit.com,  from Averie over at www.loveveggiesandyoga.com.

These. Bars. Are. AMAZING. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as I’ve never had one before, and they were billed as high-protein and I’m not usually a high-protein kind of gal. Every now and then I buy¬†a Luna or Clif bar, but in general I don’t buy bars. However, I will buy PureFit if I happen to see them at Whole Foods (or anywhere else). I got the Almond Crunch flavor. There was a distinct, but not too strong or bitter, almond flavor. I was worried that there would be too much crunch for my taste, but instead of being crunchy, the bar was dense and chewy with just little pieces (tiny) of almond that gave the bar¬† a nice texture. I don’t like big chunks of nuts in my food, and these bars definitely did not have that. The bar is not a granola bar; it is denser and chewier than a granola bar. However, as the wrapper proclaims, it does not melt – even after being left in a car in the southern heat! The bar was sweet without being overly sweet. I find Luna and Clif bars to be too sweet, most of the time; these were NOT too sweet. Score!

I’m not big on calorie counting or fat counting or any of that, but these seemed to have good nutrition. The Almond Crunch bars have 220 calories and 18 (!!!) grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber. I like a bar/snack witha¬† good amount of fiber and/or fat, to help keep me full. These bars were GREAT in that regard – as a quick breakfast or snack, they really tided me over to the next meal. I have started stashing one in my bag on the days I’m running from one courthouse to another – they are a tasty, wholesome, filling snack on the go.

http://purefit.com/nutrition-info

PureFit has several flavors РCherry Almond, Brownie, Peanut Butter Crunch, Granola Crunch РAND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM IS VEGAN!!! That is just totally awesome. I love finding a product line that is 100% vegan Рit is so convenient to NOT have to read labels. They are all gluten-free, too. Definitely worth trying, especially if you want  a bar that is not sickeningly sweet and has a solid dose of protein.

Friday Fun, and Roasted Tomato Sauce

Today wasn’t as fun as most Fridays, as it was blastedly hot out, and we did not have time for the playground, library, OR coffee shop because the youngest had to get shots and I had to visit a client in jail…..but it was still reasonably fun because it was an office-less Friday! Always good, right? Plus, we are babysitting our friends’ dog, so now we have three dogs in the house, which again is always good! Husband and oldest child did a farmers’ market run while youngest and I were at the doctor’s office, so now we are fully stocked with more fresh veggies. I love summer veggies!

Look at those delicious roasted veggies! All set to be pureed into sauce.

I really need to post about the following: PureFit bars (thanks, www.loveveggiesandyoga.com!), my New Balance loot, including new running sneakers and some fun running clothes, and the totally hip new sandals I got at Okabashi. All very worthy posts. However, my camera is out of batteries so I kind of have to post about stuff for which I already have pictures. Hence, this super simple recipe for roasted tomato sauce. This is based on the tomato sauce recipe that goes with the paella recipe in The Voluptuous Vegan. The paella recipe is pretty involved, but this sauce is easy and SO GOOD. It is a bummer to have to turn on the oven in the summer, but if we have it on for something else – bread, cookies, eggplant for babaganoush (have I told you about our 3-year-old’s obsession with babaganoush?)¬†– then I try to throw in some tomatoes and onions for this sauce. I really hope to freeze some for the winter, but somehow there’s never enough left.

I also thought the tomatoes and onions just looked really beautiful coming out of the oven. I didn’t get a picture of the finished sauce, but it is an interesting orangey/pink/red color – far less red than traditional jarred tomato sauce, which is probably due to the onions and olive oil.

8-10 tomatoes

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

olive oil

coarse salt

pepper

several sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary, if you have it

Roughly chop the tomatoes and onions. Place in one or two 9 x 13 pans; it’s okay if they are layered, but you don’t want them totally crowded. Liberally sprinkle olive oil over them, and spinkle with salt and pepper. Throw in the garlic cloves, unpeeled, and the rosemary or thyme, if using.

Heat oven to 375. Roast for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are slightly shrivelled and browned, and the onions are also slightly browned.

Let cool so that you can handle the veggies without burning yourself. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin; pick off a few of the leaves of thyme or rosemary; all those to the tomatoes and onions.

Put the tomato and onion mixture in a blender. Be sure to scrape in all of that yummy olive oil…..it has its own flavor, plus that of the onions, garlic, and herb!

Blend until smooth. Enjoy over rice, veggies, pasta, whatever.

On a side note, my husband has been making some fresh-from-the-farmers’ market peach milkshakes, to which he’s been adding Whole Foods animal crackers – sort of like¬†peach speculoss, right? Ground up animal crackers…yum!

Question: I’ve been thinking about changing my blog layout. I didn’t realize how dark it was, and how the posts overlapped on each other in a most annoying way, until very recently when I checked it without signing in. What makes a food blog easy to read? What sort of features should I look for (without leaving WordPress)?